Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fig Upside-Down Tart

What to do when the figs on your tree all ripen at just about the same time?  You kindly put some in a bag and walk them across the street.  That is what my wonderful neighbor did last week.  Thank you, neighbor.  They were delicious.

They remind me of the fig tree we had in our backyard in our previous home.  The tree produced and produced...crop after crop.  Alas, one can only eat so many figs in so many dishes! So, we also bagged them up and shared.

I also learned that the fig leaf is the absolute best leaf for making leaf prints.  During the years that I was in the classroom, we always made fall leaf prints....the leaves held up really well and the end result became bulletin board borders.  They always ushered in the fall colors and looked so pretty.  I guess because of the figs, fig leaves, the starting of school and the prints I associate fig trees with the fall...but, today, I am premature. We are in the middle of another heat wave and fall is far off in the distance.

As I searched for fig recipes, I found myself paging through Nigel Slater's cookbook, Ripe.  It is a wonderful combination of fruit history, personal experience in the garden and cooking.  He makes everything appear so easy to make which is why I decided to make the Fig Upside-Down Tart.  You know how I shy away from making things with a crust.....  I like having a resource like Ripe in the kitchen and I believe that you would find it a great resource, also.

Fig Upside-Down Tart
adapted from Ripe, by Nigel Slater

Yield:  8 servings

3/4 cup butter, unsalted, and cut into small cubes
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp baker's sugar

5 Tbsp butter, unsalted
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
10 figs, halved and tough stems removed
1/2 tsp vanilla

Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or cream fraiche.

In a medium bowl cut the butter into the flour for the pastry.  Use your fingers rubbing until the combination looks like bread crumbs.  (A food processor may be used, if preferred.)  Mix in the egg yolks and sugar until combined.  Form the mixture into a disk.  Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for twenty minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

In a fry pan or saute pan (measuring 8-9 inches) melt the butter and brown sugar, over medium heat. Stir occasionally. When the mixture appears syrupy and begins to brown, add the figs, cut side down. Cook the figs for three to five minutes, until they soften and start to darken.  Remove the pan from the heat.

Roll out the pastry to make a circle that is about 3/4 inch larger than the diameter of the pan.  Fold the extra pastry over to make a rim around the edge.  Carefully move the pastry by wrapping it lightly around the rolling pin and then move it onto the pan.  Place the pastry rim-side down over top of the figs.

Place in the oven and bake for about 18-23 minutes, until the pastry is browned.  Remove from the oven to cool to room temperature. Cut into slices and serve with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of cream fraiche.


The tart had great flavor.  The sugars had caramelized around the figs making them taste really nice.....the pastry was quite buttery and even though it was a challenge moving it, I would make it again!

The only thing I questioned was the baking temperature and time.  The original recipe said to bake the tart at 425° F. for 40 minutes.  I didn't think that there was enough liquid in the filling to bake it that long so I checked on it at about 23 minutes.  It had browned up nicely so I removed it from the oven.  I adjusted the baking time to reflect what I did.  If you decide to make this tart I suggest that you keep an eye on it!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Creole Jambalaya with Chicken, Hot Sausage and Shrimp

A few years ago, Terry received a small pocket-sized cookbook for Christmas entitled Recipes Every Man Should Know by Susan Russo and Brett Cohen.  As he was planning the meals for the guys' camping trip, he said he wanted to make the Jambalya that was in his cookbook.  I read through the recipe and saw that it was fairly easy and straight-forward.  The summary said it was gut-filling and they would need that for the adventures that they had planned.

The only thing we did differently was to use Louisiana Hot Sausage and skip the addition of a hot sauce at serving.  It was spicy-hot so if you prefer a more calm jambalaya I would suggest using an andouille or kielbasa sausage.

Creole Jambalaya 
with Chicken, Hot Sausage and Shrimp

Yield:  6-8 servings

1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound Louisiana Hot Sausage (or andouille, kielbasa or other smoked sausage), cut into thick slices
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (a combination of thigh and breast meat), cut into pieces
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large bell pepper, diced
4 stalks celery, sliced
1 Tbsp Creole seasoning
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 1/2 cups rice, uncooked
5 cups chicken broth or stock
1 28 oz-can diced tomatoes, with juices
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup flat parsley, chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste

In a heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil.  Add the chicken and cook until browned, about 7 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the sausage and good until browned, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to the bowl with the chicken and set aside.

Add additional olive oil, if needed.  Add the onion, garlic, green pepper and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 7 minutes.

Return the chicken and sausage to the pot.  Add the seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, rice, broth, and tomatoes.  Stir well to mix.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the rice is fully cooked and has absorbed most of the liquid, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the shrimp and cook until pink and opaque, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in the parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Serve in bowls with crusty bread.


This was a truly a "gut-filling" dish.  I am certain the guys had enough fuel to get them started on their first hike!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Soft Shell Crabs with Garlic and Butter

Answering the phone at our house has become a joke.  Our phone calls seem to be limited to robocalls, donation requests, political garbage, surveys, general sales pitches and the "Call of the Hour" deals!  I have been keeping a running list of the number calling, the time and the company name...if available.  Sometimes they need reminded that they have called three times in the last four hours and that I want to be on their no call list!  I don't listen to them if I can avoid it. They get a few seconds to respond to my "Hello".  If they don't respond, I am gone.

On this day, though, I got a phone call that was a pleasure to take!  My neighbor was driving into town and stopped off to do some shopping.  She said that she would be home in an hour and was bringing us some soft shell crabs!  How cool is that?!  I knew what I was having for dinner!

I quickly went in search of the recipe I had used the last time we prepared soft shell crabs....and I found it!   While the recipe calls for a bit of essence...I didn't have any and didn't have time to make it so we opted not to sprinkle anything on top.  The capers and green onion were just fine with us.  I would make this recipe again and was just right!

Soft Shell Crabs with Garlic and Butter

3 soft-shell crabs, cleaned and patted dry
Fresh ground black pepper
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp capers, drained
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tbsp butter, unsalted
Chopped chives (5) or 3 green onion tops

Season crabs with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour, shaking off excess. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium and add oil and sauté the crabs until they are soft, about 2 minutes on each side.  Remove the crabs, place them on a plate, cover with foil and set aside.

Add the garlic to the skillet and cook for a minute.  Add the wine and the capers.  Cook until the wine has reduced by half.  Add the butter and the chopped chives. Stir until combined.  Season with salt and pepper,

Transfer the crabs to a serving plate and spoon the sauce over them.  Serve immediately.


Thank you dear neighbor for thinking of us when you were out and about!   

The crabs were delicious!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Mexican Chocolate Brownies, SRC

Halt!  No need to look any farther.
This Mexican Chocolate Brownie recipe will hold your attention bite after bite!  
It is a winner.

As I reviewed the recipe I kept asking myself why it was called Mexican Chocolate Brownies...well, it had to be the addition of cayenne pepper which gives your palate a little bit of a a good way.

I came across the recipe when I was looking through Nichole's blog, Cookaholic Wife.  In fact, it practically leaped off the page and onto the desk!  I couldn't stop going back to it....  I did, however, keep scrolling....I looked at Nichole's Famous Crab Dip, an original recipe, and one that is very popular.  Since I am in Oregon on vacation and there is crab all around me, it will be coming to you soon!   I also pinned the Twice Baked Bourbon Sweet Potatoes with a Pecan Streusel for a later time. I love sweet potatoes and these look really tasty...maybe they will be perfect for dinner and dessert all in one!

Mexican Chocolate Brownies

Yield:  16
Preheat oven:  325° F.

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 sticks butter, unsalted
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 heaping tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Whipped Cream
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne (depending on your taste...start with 1/4 tsp....)

Optional Additions
Salted Caramel Sauce (I found some at Trader Joe's that is wonderful.)
Vanilla Ice Cream
Sliced almonds
Shaved Chocolate

Preheat oven to 325° F.  Line a baking dish with foil, allowing for extra foil to hang over two of the sides.  Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter and the chopped chocolates.  Stir frequently until the mixture is smooth.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the brown sugar and the granulated sugar until the mixture is lump-free and smooth.

Whisk in the egg, vanilla and almond extract until combined.  Add the flour in increments and mix after each addition, until combined.  Then mix in the cinnamon, salt and cayenne.  Stir the batter until it is smooth.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the tester has moist crumbs when removed.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Using a mixer, prepare the whipped cream by beating the heavy cream and sugar until soft peaks form.  Add the cayenne pepper and stir until just combined.

Using the overhanging foil, left the brownies from the baking dish.  Cut into squares.

Serve topped with ice cream, spiced whipped cream, some salted caramel and topped with sliced almonds and/or chocolate shavings.


It is July and time for The Secret Recipe Club reveal day!  I found my recipe immediately...I did not stop.  I passed go and went directly to the kitchen!  There was no question in my mind about what I was going to be making.

Nichole, the Cookaholic Wife, loves to be in the kitchen cooking and baking.  She says that she grew up eating food that was overcooked and underseasoned and swears that her mom can burn water. That would be motivation to learn to cook and to cook well.  I would say that Nichole is well on her way.  She cooks daily and with variety.  Her retirement goal is to be a beachbum....but I am certain she won't go hungry.  I would bet she could cook well over a campfire, too!  It was a pleasure to be assigned Nichole's blog this month!  Thank you for sharing your cooking adventure with us.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Grilled Salmon with Mojo de Ajo, Blogger CLUE

We had company for dinner last week and we made the most amazing grilled salmon!  I knew when I saw the recipe that it would be wonderful and it was more than just wonderful...I can't even begin to think of an adjective to describe it!

When I saw the recipe I mentioned to my daughter what I was making...she laughed and told me that they were talking about making a Mojo de Ajo that weekend....I guess they have made it many times...where have I been?  Obviously they never shared with me.  But, Aly, at Cooking in Stilettos did...and I have been doing a happy dance all week!

You might be wondering just what Mojo de Ajo is, well, per Aly and Rick Bayless, it is liquid gold...and, I might add, not the Beverly Hillbillies' kind of liquid gold!  This liquid gold is made by slowly roasting garlic in the oven...but not by itself, in a good quality olive oil!  Aly said to try it, enjoy it, and thank her later...."Thank you, Aly!"

The Mojo de Ajo is only the first part.  On this evening, it was paired with seafood and not just any seafood, a gorgeous filet of wild King Salmon laying on a bed of Yukon potatoes, a spring onion and then topped with thyme.  Aly adapted a Rick Bayless recipe for this wonderfully grilled dinner and mojo.  When I saw it, I knew I had found the recipe for Blogger CLUE.  The theme this month is grilling and Cooking in Stilettos is the blog I was assigned...It has been a delicious month!  As I perused Aly's blog I was constantly distracted from the theme....the Southern Meatballs was a tempting appetizer and the Cherry Sangria looked so refreshing....but, as I mentioned, I was a magnet on the Grilled Salmon with Mojo de Ajo!

Mojo de Ajo
adapted from Cooking in Stilettos

4 heads of garlic, peeled
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 limes, zested and juiced

Preheat  oven: 325° F.

Peel garlic and place the whole cloves in a baking dish (8" X 8").  Sprinkle the salt over the cloves.

Pour the olive oil over the peeled garlic. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven after 45 minutes and add the lime juice, lime zest, and the red pepper flakes.

Place back in the oven for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and using a potato masher, mash the garlic.

Let the mixture cool slightly and pour into a jar.  Refrigerate immediately.  The Mojo de Ajo will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 months as long as the mashed garlic remains under the oil.


Grilled Salmon with Mojo de Ajo
adapted from Cooking in Stilettos

Yield: Serves 4

4 salmon filets (about 6 ounces), skin removed
4 medium-sized Yukon potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), parboiled
8 Tbsp. (approximately) Mojo de Ajo (slow-roasted garlic in oil)
2 spring onions, ends and tips trimmed, sliced in half lengthwise (optional)
Thyme sprigs (2-3 per filet) (Or, another favorite herb, such as cilantro, marjoram, parsley or basil.)
Sea Salt
Fresh ground pepper
Lime wedges

Preheat the grill to medium high/high setting.

Place the potatoes in a 4-quart pot.  Cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook potatoes until just cooked through, approximately 25 minutes.  Drain.  Cool potatoes completely.  Peel the potatoes, slice into 3/8" slices.  Potatoes may be cooked a day ahead.

Cut six pieces of foil, each about 12" X 24".  Lay the foil with the dull side up.  Fold in half to mark the middle.  Open and spray each piece with cooking spray.  Place 3 to 4 slices of potato in a row, down the middle of the sheet of foil.  Spoon 1 tablespoon of the Mojo de Ajo over the potatoes, sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Place the spring onion on the potatoes.  

Place the salmon filet on top of the onion, if using.  Drizzle another tablespoon of Mojo de Ajo over the salmon.  Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Place several sprigs of thyme or your preferred herb on top.  Repeat for the remaining pieces of salmon.

Seal the package by bringing the two end pieces of foil together and folding twice.  Fold the sides inward twice to create an airtight package.

Slide the packets onto a medium-high grill and cook for 10 to 20 minutes depending upon the thickness of the salmon.

Remove from the grill and place on individual plates, along with several lime wedges.  Let each guest open their own packet, squeeze with lime, savor and enjoy!

This was a memorable meal!!  Thank you Aly, for sharing this delicious Mojo de Ajo and Salmon recipe!!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Sweet and Spicy Plum Chicken

I am always looking for a quick and easy chicken recipe for dinner.  That is why when I saw this recipe for 1-2-3 Chicken aka Tangy-Sweet Plum-Spiced Chicken posted on Nobel Pig, and read the description, I knew that I had to give it a try.  Cathy's blog has been one that I have followed for a long time.  She has great recipes and a great sense of humor, too!

Anyway, when I saw this come across my Facebook feed, I knew that I had to try it right away.  Who wouldn't like a sweet and spicy plum sauce for their chicken?  The only thing I did differently was to use chunks of chicken breast as I didn't have thighs in the freezer.  It was a tasty meal and one that I will is easy as 1-2-3!

Sweet and Spicy Plum Chicken
adapted from Noble Pig

1 1/4 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breasts cut into 3 pieces (chunks)
1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
green onions, chopped (more for garnish)
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup plum jam
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a bowl, toss the chicken thighs together with Chinese five-spice powder and salt.

In a nonstick skillet, heat extra-virgin olive oil until hot. Add chicken thighs and cook 5 minutes on each side, until browned and juices run clear. Transfer thighs to a plate; cover to keep warm.

In drippings in skillet, on medium heat, cook chopped green onions until browned, about three to four minutes.

Stir in chicken broth, plum jam and balsamic vinegar; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium and reduce down until sauce is syrupy; about four minutes. Return the chicken thighs to the skillet and coat with the sauce. Garnish with green onion.


Finding plum jam wasn't as easy as it sounds.  I was happy that I planned ahead.  I made four different stops before I finally got on-line to see who might carry it!