Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wine Lover's Rice

The first year that the gourmet group was together we had some wonderful recipes. Wine Lover's Rice comes from a fall menu that was delicious. It is a wonderful combination of rice and vermicelli. This quick and easy side dish immediately went on the rotation. We have been making it for about thirty years!

Wine Lover's Rice
Serves 4

2 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup long grain white rice
1/2 cup vermicelli, broken into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 tsp Italian herb seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp oregano
Dash of lemon pepper
2 cups hot chicken broth
1/2 cup California Dry Vermouth

Melt the butter in a large pan. Saute the rice and vermicelli until browned. As it is cooking, season with the spices, stirring often so the rice and vermicelli does not stick. When browned, stir in the hot chicken broth and Vermouth. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.


Wine Lover's Rice accompanied the Baked Shrimp Scampi. It was perfect!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Baked Shrimp Scampi

Seafood was not something that we ate when I was little. In fact, I didn't start to eat seafood until I met the Kitchen Gnome. He took me out to the Tam O'Shanter for dinner when we first met. The TamO'Shanter was a very popular place in the day...everybody went there. There was always a live band playing great music to accompany great food! On this particular date he said he was having seafood. I looked at the seafood section of the menu and it meant nothing to me. I had never heard of or eaten most of what was listed in this section of the menu! He suggested that I try the Shrimp Scampi. I did. With one bite, I was in heaven.

So what type of seafood did I order after that? Good guess, the shrimp scampi! You know, then, how excited I was to see that Jill of Insanely Good Food selected Baked Shrimp Scampi for the Barefoot Blogger's this month. Go Jill!! I think it is safe to say that this will go on the rotation. We enjoyed every bite!

Don't forget to take the butter out ahead of really must be at room temperature.

Baked Shrimp Scampi

2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 extra-large egg yolk
2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.

In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.

Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

I served the scampi with Wine Lover's Rice. It was a perfect match! I will be sharing that recipe later in the week.
We enjoyed Ina Garten's Baked Shrimp Scampi. The recipe can be found in her cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics and on Food Network.
Every cook needs to have one or two of Ina's cookbooks. The recipes are really consistent and always incredibly delicious!

This was a fun recipe for me to prepare. It was easy and the shrimp were cooked perfectly. I did have to extend the cooking time for the shrimp in the middle of the dish but it was not a problem for the shrimp around the outer edges. Every bite was perfection!
What is even more fun? I have a date for the Tam O'Shanter! It has changed ownership quite a few times over the years...we shall see if their menu stands the test of time!

Monday, February 15, 2010


On my walk I was fascinated with the stillness around me. There was the sound of water and the sound of birds...Join me as we walk through the Nature Preserve.

I was hoping to see the Kingfisher. They chatter so but there wasn't one to lead the way...

My friend, the egret, is never too far away.

Everything was so still.

Thank you for joining me on my walk. Today is Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer. Please stop by to see all of this week's outdoor adventures.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chocolate Valentines and Port

Today is Chocolate Heart Day brought to you by Kate at Serendipity! A few weeks ago I received some chocolate that Kate had sent from Belgium. The idea was to use it to make something and post it on Valentine's Day. That was a challenge. In my mind I made quite a few different things and finally settled on two different dishes. They were both delicious as was the Port!

This month's Fine Cooking had a number of chocolate temptations. I kept gravitating toward the recipe for Devil's Food Cake Verrine. It was involved but I couldn't pull myself away from the magazine! It looked too good to pass up. This was well worth the time and effort. It wasn't that it was complicated, it was that there are four different layers to make...chocolate sauce, devil's food cake, chocolate mousse, and chocolate streusel. All layers were quite delicious.

Served with Robert Hall Vintage Ruby Port 2006, to die for...

I also saw a recipe in Sunset Magazine for Two-Bite Chocolate Cream Pies! What could be more cute than these?

Two Bite Chocolate Cream Pies
Sunset Magazine, February 2010
Yield: Makes 24

Cooking-oil spray
About 30 chocolate cookies, such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 large eggs (1 separated)
1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons cornstarch
5 teaspoons Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 2 mini-muffin trays (12 muffin cups each) with cooking spray. In a food processor, whirl cookies into fine crumbs. Measure; return 1 1/2 cups crumbs to food processor, along with 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar, the salt, and 1 egg white. Pulse to blend evenly.
Spoon 1 tbsp. crumb mixture into each muffin cup. Press crumbs over bottom and up sides of cups. Bake until set, 15 minutes.

Put chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe container and heat in 30-second intervals, stirring often, until melted.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar, the cornstarch, and 4 tsp. cocoa. Pour in a few tbsp. of the milk and whisk into a smooth paste; whisk in remaining milk. Transfer to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened and large bubbles appear, about 3 minutes.

Put reserved yolk and remaining egg into a medium bowl. Whisk in about 1/2 cup hot milk mixture. Scrape egg-milk mixture into milk mixture in pan and cook, whisking, until just starting to boil, about 30 seconds. Whisk in melted chocolate and butter.

Spoon hot filling into chocolate shells. Press plastic wrap over surface of mini pies to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until set, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Remove pies from trays. Whisk cream with remaining 2 tbsp. sugar into soft peaks. Spoon a dollop of cream onto each mini pie. Dust pies with remaining cocoa.


I have mentioned that I am not a fan of dark chocolate. I think I need to revise that statement. I had absolutely no trouble biting into these!

Each chocolate dessert was different and delicious. I would make either one a second time!
Do visit Kate at Serendipity today to see the other exciting chocolate surprises!
On my quest for chocolate ideas, I found a few cocktail recipes in Sunset Magazine that couldn't be passed up! I had to try them out.

Ruby Port Sparklers

For each cocktail, pour 2 tbsp. each chocolate liqueur (such as Godiva) and ruby port into a Champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a lemon-zest strip.

Chocolate and Port Sippers

For each drink, pour 2 tbsp. each chocolate liqueur (such as Godiva) and ruby port in a 4 oz. highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

These cocktails are not on my list of favorite drinks. I prefer my port in a glass by itself. The Godiva might best be enjoyed in a martini...I certainly would not recommend mixing any of these together. I thought they were....well, horrible.

All in all it was a Chocolate Valentine Day and I really enjoyed making something special for my Valentine!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Classic Cream Scones

Sunny Saturday mornings mean it is time to hit the kitchen with an apron and a smile! It had been stormy all week and the sun was a welcome sight. Everybody was gone for the day so I decided that a leisurely breakfast with scones and tea was in order.

Scones can vary greatly and I wasn't truly a fan of them until I tried this recipe from the December 2004 Fine Cooking Magazine. Everybody has a preference...I like my scones to be light and moist as opposed to heavy blocks of baked dough! These are quick and easy to make with just a hint of sweetness. The only change that I made was that I sprinkled the scones with raw sugar instead of granulated. I have made them with and without currants.

Classic Cream Scones
Fine Cooking, December 2004
Preheat oven: 400 degrees F.
Yields: 8 large scones

9 oz. (2 cups) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. table salt
2-3/4 oz. (1/2 cup) dried currants (optional)
3 oz. (6 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

For finishing:
1 large egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk for glazing
1 to 1-1/2 tsp. granulated sugar

Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the currants, if using, tossing until evenly distributed and coated with flour. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two table knives until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of peas.

In a small bowl, stir the cream and egg yolks just to blend. Add this all at once to the flour mixture. Stir with a fork to begin combining the wet and dry ingredients and then use your hands to gently knead the mixture together until all the dry ingredients are absorbed into the dough and it can be gathered into a moist, shaggy ball. Don’t overknead: This dough is sticky but benefits from minimal handling. Set the rough ball in the center of the prepared baking sheet and pat it gently into a round about 1 inch thick and 7 inches in diameter. Don’t be tempted to make the round any flatter.

With a sharp knife or a pastry scraper, cut the round into eight wedges; separate the wedges. Brush the scones with the egg-milk glaze (you won’t need to use all of it) and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake until the scones are deep golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a wedge comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Slide the parchment onto a rack and let the scones cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.


Ahhh...a fresh baked scone with a little sunshine, a little butter, a little jam,
a cup of tea...
what could be better?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Salmon and Roasted Root Vegetables

I found some lovely salmon at the market this week. Just looking at the filets in the case made me hungry! I knew that raining or not we would be having barbecued salmon for dinner. (Thank goodness we are between storms and it wasn't an unreasonable request!)

The Kitchen Gnome works magic on salmon. This time I was determined to watch closely so that I could share his magic! No, he doesn't isn't an exact science so you can adjust to your liking.

It is important to get a salmon filet with the skin in tact. Lay the salmon on a piece of foil that will serve as the "pan" on the grill. Mix together equal parts of white wine and soy sauce. Add olive oil just under the amount of white wine and soy and some lemon juice. Add a clove or two of garlic, crushed. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and dill. Salt and pepper.

Barbecue on medium. If there is no lid on the barbecue, tent the salmon over the long sides, do not close the ends. About halfway through, punch holes in the foil to drain the liquid. It is done when the thickest part of the salmon will flake. Do not over cook.

Roasted Vegetables

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut any combination of root vegetables into chunks. I used potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams and carrots. Place the vegetables in a bowl. Drizzle with about 3-4 Tbsp olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Mix with hands.

Spread on a sheet pan. Roast 35-40 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and additional salt and pepper if desired. Place in serving dish.


A delicious meal on a cold, damp day!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mississippi Mud Cake

My mother-in-law was a special lady. Most important to her was her love of family. She showed her love everyday in every way. She loved to cook and prepared many family dinners. She loved to read. She loved to ride horses with Grandpa.

She was an excellent home cook and every summer canned fruit and vegetables from the garden. I remember the homemade pickles. They were so good that I had to learn how to do it! For years she always prepared a special birthday meal for each family member, it was made up of their favorites, Navajo tacos, angel biscuits, chicken and dumplings and prime rib. There wasn't anything that she couldn't cook.

I tell you this because as a tribute to my mother-in-law's love of life, family and cooking I want to share some of the wonderful recipes that she shared with me.

One should always start with dessert first. Since apricots are not in season I cannot share her apricot cobbler recipe with you. Her cobbler was the absolute best! I can share, however, Mississippi Mud Cake. I had never had a dessert like this until she served it to me. Oh my goodness, love at first bite! I know a little piece should be fine but it is hard to restrain one's self when this dessert is in the house.

Mississippi Mud Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 cup Margarine, melted
2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp cocoa
1 1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup coconut
1 jar Marshmallow Creme

Mix margarine and sugar with mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat after each. Add vanilla.

Sift flour and cocoa. Add to cream mixture. Fold in nuts and coconut.

Bake in a 9 X 13 pan at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. When out of the oven, poke holes in the top of the cake and spread the marshmallow creme over the top and then frost.


1 box powdered sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup margarine, melted
1/2 cup cocoa

Sift the powdered sugar and add the other ingredients. Beat well until creamy.


It has all things caloric in it! But, it is worth every bite.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Surf's Up!

Surf's Up! There was a high surf advisory this week end due to all of the storms but that did not stop us from taking a trip to the Central Coast. It had been a long time since we had taken a weekend trip. My goal was to sit on a rock and listen to the waves crash! The water was really rough but it certainly didn't phase the surfers. The weather was wonderful. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. I almost felt guilty for enjoying myself so much especially when I have friends who are experiencing so much rain and tons of snow. One friend claims she is inside a snow globe! Sorry Sandi!

It looks calm enough, doesn't it? The rock marks one side of the entrance to the bay. There is a jetty that extends from the rock across part of the opening...let me show you.

I walked to the right and climbed through the rocks to get into a position that would let me see the west side of the jetty! Okay, so it sounds crazy but it was safe. Let me show you what I watched!!

It was exciting to watch the waves crash. I am always amazed at the force of the ocean.

It is Outdoor Wednesday and it was a sunny and partly cloudy day at the beach. Please visit all of the other folks who are sharing their outdoor experiences today. Outdoor Wednesday is being hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.