Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A LITTLE OF THIS AND THAT...

What strange and disturbing times we are all living through. My husband and I are extremely fortunate that our small, rural community in southern Arizona seems to have very few cases of the Coronavirus, but we are taking the extra precaution of "sheltering in place"; "staying at home". I have been to the grocery store once in 2 weeks (very unusual for me!) and should have enough provisions to last another couple of weeks. Because I am unsettled and disconcerted, I am cooking a lot, which always makes me feel better. This morning I spatchcocked a chicken, which I will roast with garlic, lemon juice and zest and lots of fresh herbs from my garden. Last week I made a huge batch of beans and a chili con carne. Bread, cookies, and even tomato aspic has been on the menu. Here are a few things I've been making recently...

ROSEMARY LEMON SALT
It's easy and so much fresher than store-bought
to make your own herbed salts.
Ingredients:
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped.
Zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups Kosher salt

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 110 degrees. Finely chop rosemary, leaves only; discard the stems. Zest the lemon. Mix rosemary and zest with the salt and spread onto a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 just enough to release some of the moisture. Cool and store in glass jars. If you're making as a gift you can garnish the container with a fresh rosemary sprig tied with raffia. Here in Arizona my rosemary is ready to pick year round!

In times of uncertainty a tasty Margarita does not hurt...
TIN CAN MARGARITAS
I brought these margaritas to our neighbors family birthday party before we decided to discontinue socializing. I found the recipe online, but altered it a bit for maximum flavor! I am not a big margarita fan, but the reviews were favorable at the party and I really enjoyed them, too! Possibly I will become a convert. I LOVE the name!
I was running late for the party so had
no time to take pics. I nabbed this one online.
Ingredients:
2 12 oz. cans frozen limade, slightly thawed. I used Minute Maid.
2 cans tequilla, I used Jose Cuervo Gold, plus a little extra splash
1 can triple sec liquer
Juice from 12+ key limes, more limes to float in the pitcher and use as garnish
2 cans water

Lime wedges and coarse salt for serving

Preparation:
In a blender add limade, tequilla, triple sec, lime juice and water. Blend thoroughly. Taste and add more freshly squeezed lime juice, tequilla, triple sec if you like sweeter, as is necessary. This will depend on how juicy your limes are, too.

Use a lime wedge to moisten rim of glass. Dip and coat rim of glass in a saucer of coarse salt. Add ice and fill with the Margarita. Salud!

MONTE CRISTO'S
Our son, Michael was recently here for a visit (also before Coronavirus) and one of my favorite things is asking the kids what they want for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and then being able to come up with it on the spot! Mike requested Monte Cristo's for breakfast one morning. I didn't have quite the exact ingredients for the classic, but this came close enough! A Monte Cristo is a variation of a French Croque Monsieur; fried ham and cheese sandwich, but is so much more! Traditionally both ham and turkey are used, but I had no turkey. Also Gouda is the cheese of choice, but I had only Swiss and Provolone, which worked perfectly! Usually white bread, sometimes with crust removed, but I only had a whole grain seed and nut bread.

Ingredients:
4 slices bread (for 2 sandwiches)
Enough mayonnaise to liberally cover each slice
Cheese: at least 4 slices per sandwich
Ham: at least 4 slices per sandwich unless you're using turkey, too; then 2 and 2
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
Splash of milk
Salt/Pepper
1 Tbsp. butter/1 Tbsp. olive oil

Preparation:
Either remove crusts (if you are serving for a Brunch you might want to do this; fancier!) or just open the bread and lay on slices of cheese. You want the cheese closest to the bread so it gets very melted. Next, slather with mayonnaise on each open face. Then add the ham (and/or turkey). I also added a very thin coating of grainy mustard. Close the sandwich carefully. In a bowl, beat 2 eggs, add a splash of milk, salt and pepper. Very carefully dredge the sandwiches in the egg bath and let it get soaked until it takes all the egg. Some suggest just slightly coating it in the egg, but this sandwich is much better totally saturated! I like to use a cast iron skillet for these Croque Monsieurs, but any heavy bottom skillet is good. Get your skillet very hot and add butter/olive oil. VERY carefully place the sandwiches (It's easy for them to slip and slide and fall apart) in the skillet and cook thoroughly on each side; about 5-7 minutes per side. This depends how thick your bread is.


After the sandwiches are cooked, cut in half and serve with strawberries, oranges or other fruit. Some like to dust with confectioners sugar, but I like it savory, and you may also serve with a dollop of fruit preserves. This is a hearty, ooey, gooey, wonderful Brunch treat. Thanks, Mike, for suggesting.

I think our pets know when we are feeling uncertainty. Not that it is USUAL for JoJo to join us at the table, but we have made some exceptions.
I'm going to close with a couple shots of other food I have been making in the last couple weeks of such unsettled time.
Gelatin can be made with either sweet or savory juice.
This time I used 2 envelopes gelatin; 1 cup cold V-8.
Sprinkle gelatin over the cold juice.
3 cups hot V-8 heated to boiling.
Mix together and stir until dissolved. Chill.
The secret to really great cookies is European style butter!
This is the Spetzzatino, which I will tell you about soon!
And finally, the spatchcocked chicken, which we will have tonight.
http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=spatchcock

TOGETHER WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS.
WE TRY TO FIND A LITTLE JOY
IN EACH DAY (AND, DO!)
AND HOPE YOU DO, TOO!
 
LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH, AND
REMEMBER
WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT...
 
LOVE!
 
UNTIL NEXT TIME...
 
 

 



Monday, March 9, 2020

SCRUMPTIOUS SHRIMP SCAMPI!

Shrimp Scampi is one of those meals that comes together very quickly. The hardest part is peeling and deveining the shrimp, but this time my husband, Jerry did it for me! I used large wild-caught Argentine red shrimp, which really made this meal delicious.

Ingredients:
6 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. olive oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
Shrimp, peeled and deveined. I use 5 to 6 shrimps per person depending on the size.
1/2 cup dry white wine, I used Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, but any white wine works.
Salt/Pepper
Dash of red pepper flake
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 1/2 the lemon
Generous amount fresh parsley, both for cooking and for garnishing; about 1/4 cup in total.

Preparation:
Bring large pot of salted water to boil, then reduce heat while you are preparing the scampi. Peel and devein the shrimp. Place the cleaned shrimp on paper towels so they are dry by the time you place them in the hot butter. Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet until sizzling. Add garlic and reduce heat as you don't want the garlic to brown.  Add salt/pepper, then drop in the shrimp and cook until just pink, about 2-3 minutes per side, again depending on size of shrimp. Add 1/2 cup white wine and gently simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Add parsley, red pepper flake, lemon juice lemon zest and adjust salt/pepper.

I served over a Barilla spaghetti which takes about 10 minutes to cook to al dente. Once the pasta is cooked, drain leaving a small amount of pasta cooking liquid (about 1/4 cup) and add the pasta and liquid to the shrimp. Stir thoroughly to coat the spaghetti with the sauce. Serve at once. Top with freshly chopped parsley. I served with roasted asparagus, big, chunky pieces of garlic bread and a simple side salad made with local hydroponically grown lettuce and radish sprouts. I topped the green salad with balsamic, citrus vinaigrette.


ON TO DESSERT...

I have always wanted to try this "guilt-free" 1 ingredient ice cream.
 
ONE-INGREDIENT BANANA ICE CREAM
Ingredients:
4 very ripe bananas, plan on one banana per person/serving

Preparation:
Peel bananas and cut into 1 inch pieces. Place in a zip-lock baggie and freeze for at least 6 hours.

Remove from freezer and blend thoroughly in a food processor. I tried blending in my blender, but it was not powerful enough.

That's it! Either eat right away (consistency will be quite soft) or place in an air-tight container and freeze for a couple hours. This is not a perfect ice cream, as the consistency, even after freezing, is a bit odd, but it tastes delicious, despite no cream or eggs, and if you're dieting and looking for a low-cal treat, this is it!
I served on a slice of buttery grilled banana bread.
There goes the diet!
NEXT TIME I'M GOING TO SHARE
A LITTLE OF THIS AND THAT...
 
STAY TUNED!
 
OUR SON, MIKE HAS BEEN VISITING THIS LAST WEEK. WE'VE HAD A FABULOUS TIME COOKING TOGETHER, EATING, IMBIBING, ENJOYING EACH OTHERS COMPANY AND SEEING SOME BEAUTIFUL SIGHTS
IN SOUTHERN ARIZONA!
Jer and Mike at Patagonia Lake State Park.
 
The Café, Sonoita, AZ