Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Two Fer One - Grilled Herb Shrimp and Spring Green Risotto

I finally got a new computer.  This is a good thing.  This is a frustrating thing.  This has been an on-going nightmare of sorts.  Not a nightmare with the new computer....but, the old.  Have you ever tried to transfer files from a computer that should have been pushed off the edge of a cliff?  It is not an easy task.  Old computers get picky.  They pick and choose which files to copy regardless of your command. 

You now know why I haven't posted.  It has to do with pictures, software, compatibility and a new speedy Windows 7.  Yes, I had to buy new software.  My pictures aren't even moseying over to the new computer! 

All that said, I am making an attempt to share with you a great meal!  We enjoyed the Barefoot Blogger choices for the month of May at dinner last week.  Kimberly at Indulge and Enjoy selected Spring Green Risotto and Penny from Lake Lure Cottage selected Grilled Herb Shrimp.  It was as though the ladies got together and planned their selections!  Everything went together perfectly.  I even went a step farther...the Grilled Herb Shrimp was to be served with Mango Salsa!  Yummy!!

The flavors were tastebuds were dancing!!

I marvel at the Barefoot Contessa recipes.  Most all of them are absolutely delicious and easy to prepare.  Each of the cookbooks is packed with great dishes.  If you don't have one, you might want to think about adding one to your library.  The Grilled Herb Shrimp is from Barefoot Contessa Parties!.  The Spring Green Risotto can be found in Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics.

Grilled Herb Shrimp
Barefoot Contessa Parties!

Serves 6

2 pounds large shrimp (16 to 20 per pound), peeled and deveined (see note)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, small-diced
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 lemon, juiced

Combine all the ingredients and allow them to marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Skewer the shrimp. I use 3 or 4 shrimp on a 12-inch skewer for dinner. Heat a grill with coals and brush the grill with oil to prevent the shrimp from sticking. Grill the shrimp for only 1 1/2 minutes on each side.

Note: I leave the tails on when I'm peeling the shrimp.


Spring Green Risotto
Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

Serves 4-6

1 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1 cup chopped fennel
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 to 5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 pound thin asparagus
10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted, or 1 1/2 cups shelled fresh peas
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, preferably Italian
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving

Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water. (If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes until the starchiness is gone.)
When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.

Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together in a small bowl. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture plus the Parmesan cheese and chives. Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and more Parmesan cheese.


I had never made risotto before.  I have always asked why I would want to be tied to a stove for 45 minutes...I now know why!  This was absolutely delicious.  It received rave reviews multiple times!  It was great as leftovers the next day.  I know that I will make it again and again.  It was perfect!  There isn't much more I can say other than my tastebuds truly did dance all the way through the meal!!

In May Barefoot Bloggers are posting about Grilled Herb Shrimp and Spring Green Risotto.  Stop by to see what other BB Bloggers are saying.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Seafood Mold

 My friend brought a molded appetizer to work last week.  We were having one of our "eating days".  I work with a fabulous group of ladies who are dedicated to their work, centered around family, and are all great cooks!  Going to work each day is a pleasure when one can be with a group of ladies such as this.  Next to working together, we like cooking and/or eating together.  We can come up with great ideas for celebrating birthdays, cold days, hot days, and just because days!

The molded seafood appetizer appealed to me because I was in need of an appetizer for Mother's Day and it was different.  I needed to break out of my "mold"!

What do we know about a molded salad?  Molded fruited/jello salads were first popular in the 1920's.  They were very popular in 1950's and they appear again in the 60's and 70's.  In the 60's and 70's they take a on a different look.  According to The Food Timeline Cocktail Buffets featured a Sardine Mold.  Please do not serve me that!  I would much prefer the Lobster Mold!

My friend's appetizer was really tasty and disappeared quickly.  There was one ingredient, though, that made me take pause....soup, yep, Cream of Mushroom Soup.  Hmmm....  I needed something different, I knew it was good, so I decided to make it and take my friend's advice.  She said she preferred to use Cream of Celery Soup.  That has a nice flavor and I thought it would go great.

She also shared that she has made it with shrimp, crab, or imitation crab.  She said that the flavor is milder with the imitation crab so I used that.

The family loved it!  I will definitely make this again.  Thank you, friend, for sharing.

Seafood Mold

6 oz cream cheese
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 Tbsp Knox gelatin
3 Tbsp water
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup celery, finely chopped
2 green onions, chopped
Crab or shrimp
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

Heat soup and cream cheese until stir until smooth.  Dissolve gelatin in water.  Add to soup mixture.  Set aside to cool.

When cool, add all other ingredients (except the crackers!).  Stir well.  Pour into a greased mold.  Chill overnight.


Many of you will recognize that I used a Tuperware mold that I found hiding in the back of a cupboard.  It hadn't been used in a very long time.  It was fun to try something different and give myself a reason to not toss out items that I haven't been using.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad

Sometimes we need a recipe that is quick and easy.  This salad fits that description.  In addition, though, it is really flavorful and quickly became popular at our house.  I am sharing a recipe today that came from Penny's blog,  Lake Lure Cottage.  Penny's blog always has great recipes. After you visit her blog, you will become a regular!  I am sharing as part of the Saturday Blog Showcase. 

 The idea is to try a recipe posted by a fellow blogger and then post it on Saturday for all to see.   Today the Saturday Blog Showcase is being hosted by Lori at All That Splatters.  She and Ann at Thibeault's Table share the hostessing responsibility by alternating weeks.

Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad is a layered salad.  The ingredients are simple and are layered starting with the spinach.

Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad

Baby spinach
Fresh strawberries, quartered
avocado, large chop
green onion, chopped
Poppy Seed Dressing
(Penny recommends Old Cape Cod Poppy Seed Dressing.  I could not find it so I bought another brand.)

Layer the ingredients from the bottom to the top in a shallow bowl.  toss with the poppy seed dressing and serve!

What an easy, flavorful salad! 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Blackened Fish

 When I was little cast iron skillets were all that we had at my house.  I recall that cast iron was what I always had to wash.  I hated trying to scour them to the point where they met my mom's inspection.  At some point in my married life, I ended up with a cast iron skillet.  They are perfect when you want to prepare blackened fish.

We prepare it outside on the burner of the barbecue! You want the skillet to be super hot.  There is not oil in the skillet, no nothing!  Just bare metal.

The recipe called for redfish or red snapper.  I couldn't find either variety on Saturday so I bought Ling Cod.

Blackened Fish

6 (9 oz) redfish fillets (red snapper may be substituted)
12 bay leaves, finely crushed
2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 oregano
1/4 thyme
1/2 granulated onion
1/2 granulated garlic
3 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 sticks butter, melted

Dry the fish fillets and chill them in the refrigerator.  Redfish is excellent for this recipe but any heavy-bodied firm fish will work fine. The important thing to remember is the size of the fillet.  It cannot weigh less than 8 ounces or more than 12 ounces; otherwise it doesn't cook properly.

Place a cast iron skillet or iron Dutch oven on the burner and turn the heat up to high.  A cast iron skillet/Dutch oven must be used.  No other metal can take the heat.  Prepare the fish outside as there is also a lot of smoke.  Using a grill outdoors is ideal.  The skillet should be almost white hot, hot enough to see a "flame circle" in the center.  Remember the pot is bare:  no oil, shortening, etc.  Just bare metal.

Lay the fillets on a sheet of waxed paper.  Mix all of the above ingredients (except the butter) in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the mix over the fillets.  Do it lightly, but distribute the mixture evenly.  Then dip the fillets in the melted butter so that they are completely coated.  Immediately drop them into the hot skillet or Dutch oven.

The fish will sputter and jump and sizzle and smoke, that is what it is supposed to do!  It will be quick, too.  In about  one minute it will be time to flip the fillet over.  The cooked side should be dark brown, almost charred.  That's the way you want it.  Cook the flip side another 40 seconds to a minute and remove the fillet from the skillet.  Your blackened fish is done!

Judge the amount of time by the thickness of the fish.  It may take a little longer.


This is a spicy fish.  Coleslaw is a perfect accompaniment to the fish.

Don't send that cast iron skillet to the Goodwill.  
Put it to good use preparing Blackened Fish!!

I am participating in Foodie Friday at Designs By Gollum.  Thank you Michael for hosting us each Friday!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Introduction to Agility

My daughter and the grandpuppy went to school on Saturday.  The grandpuppy, Abigail, is going to Agility Class!  She is such a cute puppy.  She has all of the characteristics to be a great success at agility class!  I am a proud grandparent!

Please join me on the tour!!

The low jump was a piece of cake for Abigail.  She is part kangaroo!

Going up the plank was pretty easy, also.

Going up the ramp and pausing on the way down didn't seem to be a challenge.

Jumping through the tire was okay as long as a treat was imminent.

The tunnel was a different story!

She did get the hang of it, though!

It was a beautiful day.  I was proud!

I am participating in Outdoor Wednesday.   Each week, Susan, at A Southern Daydreamer, hosts Outdoor Wednesday.  I am happy to have the opportunity to participate.  Thank you, Susan!!  Please stop by and take a look at what is happening across the country.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Time Management and a Quick Dessert

Time management.  I think I need it.   I have not been very good about posting during the last month.  I have not been very good about visiting your blog.  (I know when I get to your blog I will have some good reading and cooking in my future!)  Where has the time gone?  It is May!  I thought back and realized that I didn't cook much last month.  I got home late on most days and there wasn't much energy left in me.  I wasn't eating right either...I seemed to grab something here and there and never really sat down for a home-cooked meal that I had prepared.  The Kitchen Gnome and my daughter helped out but I must admit that their schedules were as bad as mine!

I must also admit that I have been doing a few extra things along the way...I have two quilts going.  Working, quilting, cooking, blogging, meetings, exhaustion!!  That says it all.  Then there is the oldest daughter whose blog is becoming popular.  She sent me emails to see, she had photo after photo accepted at did she do that?  Natural light?  She is in Seattle, what sunshine?  It is too early in the season, isn't it? 

I accepted her challenge...I sent my photos, rejection once, twice, thrice...I get it.  I need to take a photography course!!  Maybe I need to buy another new camera....Maybe I chose the wrong one.  I do love my camera, though.  It must be the user.

I want to share my quilts with you.  No, they are not finished.  They are waiting for me to put on the binding.

This is the Rail Fence Quilt.  I just finished the class.  I have been quilting for a while but wanted to take the class to learn a few new methods and tricks.

Below is the fun one, the Princess Quilt.  This was a project with my co-workers.  There were nine of us, each making the same quilt.  Each person took the quilt down a different path with color but we all used the same appliques.  It was so much fun.  We met one night a week to share our quilt progress and challenges. It was fun to work together.  There will be nine lucky princesses out there!

Each of the appliques had jewels, ribbons, embroidery, buttons, sequins...everything befitting a princess!

So now that you know where I have been you will understand about needing a quick dessert.  One that is fresh and easy.  It is strawberry season.  They are abundant.  Many come from the coastal area and are sold on the "corner", a mini one man farmer's market, so to speak.  They are so sweet.

Many years ago at one of our gourmet dinners.  This was our dessert.  It is really quite simple.  Select beautiful, ripe strawberries.  Place sour cream in one dish, place brown sugar in another.  Dip a strawberry into the sour cream and then into the brown sugar...your taste buds will love you for this one!!

 Enjoy one, two, three, ten strawberries....
oh dear, you will need a few baskets of berries, not just one!