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Archive for June, 2010

Remember the blueberry muffins post from Christmas? And the more recent one about hot dogs, baked beans, and brown bread? Well, my inner Mainer seems to be back. I wanted blueberries, and blueberries were on sale at the grocery store 4 pints for $5. It was fate. I also wanted to try a smoothie. I knew I needed to get more healthy fruit in to my stressful days somehow. I underutilize my Cuisinart kitchen center in the extreme, but I’m giving it a good workout this year. So, I found this easy-easy blueberry cinnamon smoothie recipe. Just make sure you blitz it enough to break down the blueberry skins, or else your smoothie will be kind of…not.

Blueberry Cinnamon Smoothie
serves 2

1 c. blueberries
1 ripe banana
1/2 c. nonfat vanilla yoghurt
5 ice cubes
Pinch of cinnamon (or as much cinnamon as you prefer)

Put everything in your blender and whirr away until the ice is reduced, the fruits are all incorporated, and you break up the blueberry skins as much as possible. The end result is nice and thick, creamy, and airy.

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Do you have a crock pot or slow cooker? Do you like barbeque? Do you like pork? Then chances are you will like this recipe, especially in the summer when it is too hot to stand over a stovetop or let the oven run too long. Just get through the parboiling early in the day, then let the cooker run on its merry own.

BBQ Pork

About 3 lbs. boneless country-style pork ribs
One bottle of BBQ sauce, your preference*
Water

Mum’s directions:
I start with the meat frozen, but it doesn’t have to be. I put the ribs, frozen or not, in a 4 quart pan (the Dutch oven) and cover with water If the ribs are not frozen, remove as much outside fat as you can.. Par boil for about 30 minutes. Frozen ribs will come apart by that time and all the fat will be sitting disgustingly on the top.**

Remove ribs from water and place in Crock Pot. Add entire bottle of BBQ sauce. Using empty bottle, add about one half bottle of water. Stir to mix.

Set Crock Pot on low and cook about 6 hours. Once in a while, spoon the sauce over meat to keep it form drying out. Add more water if it seems like the sauce is evaporating too much.*** Skim off the liquid fat that rises to the top. I use a spoon, baster or paper towel.

Serve with rice.

I usually start par boiling at about 11 AM to serve at 5 P

*I use World Harbors Buccaneer Blends Sticky Rum barbeque sauce. It is a bit more peppery than I like in a barbeque sauce, but we’ve noticed that whatever sauce you use in this recipe will get sweeter and sweeter as it cooks. So if you start out with a sweet barbeque sauce, the end result may be too sweet to eat. After 6 hours in the cooker, the Sticky Rum sauce just becomes a smoother, slightly sweeter version of itself — like someone took all the rough edges off it. In our house the everyday-use barbeque sauce is Sweet Baby Ray’s Original, which would be way, way too sweet to use for barbeque pork. Try a few different brands and different flavors until you find the one that’s just right for you.

**I skim the fat off with a large serving spoon as it accumulates. It’s disgusting. It’s really disgusting. But I’d rather skim it off at this stage than later. I also try to start with thawed ribs, so I can cut off as much fat as possible before we even get to the parboiling.

**You definitely know it’s done when you go in with your spoon to baste the sauce around and the meat breaks apart.

Happy summer barbecuing!

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Crispy Tilapia

It’s summer by the seaside… Time for some lightly dressed up fish with plenty of summer veggies. This one wins “Willing to Make Again” and “Good Dish To Make For Company” status. There isn’t a lot of prep work and it’s easy to put together. It doesn’t need much to round it out as a meal except maybe a slice of bread with butter and a really cold drink on the side.

Crispy Tilapia with Lemon
serves 4 (or more!)

Vegetables
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 c. sliced zucchini/green squash (4 squash)
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1/4 c. diced red sweet pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Fish
1 1/2 c. Panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 lbs. tilapia filets*
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
salt and pepper
lemon wedges**

*I asked for 1 1/2 pounds of tilapia filets and received 7 pieces. The recipe is supposed to serve 4. I’d suggest getting one filet per person you plan to serve, or for a smaller family or just a couple, one per person plus however many leftover pieces you’d be willing to eat.

**Next time, instead of serving with the lemon wedges as the recipe suggests, I’m going to put the lemon wedges in with the vegetables so the lemon flavor gets in to the fish as it cooks.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place all the “Vegetables” ingredients in a 3 qt baking dish and toss to combine. (This is where I’m going to add the lemon wedges next time around.) In addition to the green squash, onion, and red sweet pepper, I suppose you could also add yellow squash and cherry tomatoes.

In a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, and Parmesan cheese.

Dip tilapia in the (slightly cooled) melted butter, then coat fully in the seasoned breadcrumbs. Place breaded filets in a single layer over the vegetables.

Pour any remaining butter (and any remaining breadcrumbs, if you wish) over the baking dish, including the vegetables.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the filets are crunchy on the outside and flaky on the inside.

Now, see how easy that was?

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Another Nigella Lawson gem, this time for a snappy dinner party entree out of Express. It’s in the section entitled “Quick Quick Slow,” and boy is it ever. The recipe recommends serving the lamb with beans, but we substituted the beans out for a forbidden rice-and-vegetable cold salad that was not too shabby.

This recipe won the hearts of one person who’d never had lamb and one person who hadn’t had lamb in 15 years, but was pretty sure they didn’t like it.

Lamb Shanks in Red Currant Jelly Sauce
serves 6

6 lamb shanks

For the marinade:
1 c. white wine
4 Tbsp. red currant jelly
1/4 c. garlic oil
2 onions, quartered

Get out two freezer-weight plastic bags and divide the marinade ingredients between them. Add three shanks to each bag, seal, roll about to distribute the marinade, and stash in the back of your cold refrigerator. I rolled my bags up as tight as I could to get all the air out and nestled them in a casserole dish to prevent any leakage. Do this at least the night before your party or up to 2 days in advance. I did it on a Wednesday afternoon for a Friday evening dinner.

When the shanks have had their time in the sun — er, the marinade –, take them out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Tip the contents of both bags in to a foil-lined roasting pan and toss this in the oven. Immediately turn the oven down to 325 degrees. Subsequently ignore the oven for the next hour and a half. After an hour and a half, remove the shanks from the oven to a warmed dish, or to individual plates for service.

We skipped the mixed beans that Nigella recommends, but I’ll put the recipe down at the bottom anyway for those of you who’d like it. We did make the sauce, however, that she makes for garnishing the beans, and it was excellent just over the lamb and across the rice and vegetables we had for sides.

For the sauce:
1/4 c. water
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. garlic oil
1 tsp. red currant jelly

Warm all this together on the stovetop, whisking to incorporate. I started this about 15 minutes before I expected the lamb to be done, and warmed it on the lowest setting my stovetop could achieve. I served it in a boat on the table so everyone could take as they chose.

Next time I think I may only heat the oven to 325 or 350 to begin with, but the lamb was certainly cooked and in fact a bit too dry for my preference. I think my stove kept in too much heat for too long, and so the meat cooked at too high a temp for longer than it should have. Or I will heat the oven to 425 and then prop the door open for 10 or 15 minutes when I put the meat in, to speed cooling, then shut the door to keep in the heat.

For the beans:
4 14-oz. cans mixed beans (sometimes sold as mixed bean salad)*

In a pan large enough to hold all the beans, prepare the red currant jelly sauce. When the sauce is ready, add the beans to it and stir gently.

*I couldn’t find this mysterious product. The photograph in the book looks like a mixture of white beans and possibly pink kidney beans. Mixed bean salad, in my experience, is a mixture of green beans, wax beans, and red beans in a type of pickle — not at all what the Divine Nigella suggests. I did have two cans of plain white beans on hand in case we decided we needed them, but we didn’t.

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I’ll bet that not a lot of people out there know whether they like capers, or not. I’m not exactly sure myself what a caper is. Let’s see…

“A caper (Capparis spinosa L.) is a perennial spiny bush that bears rounded, fleshy leaves and big white to pinkish-white flowers. A caper is also the pickled bud of this plant. The bush is native to the Mediterranean region, growing wild on walls or in rocky coastal areas throughout. The plant is best known for the edible bud and fruit (caper berry) which are usually consumed pickled.”

Thanks, Wikipedia!

So the caper, as used culinarily, is the pickled bud or berry of the caper plant. This explains, then, why capers come packed in a brine.

Try this dip at least once. The flavors are subtle, and crab and capers go well together to create a quietly complex flavor profile.

Crab-Caper Dip
serves 8

1/2 c. chopped onions
1/2 c. light mayonnaise
2 oz. (1/2 c.) sliced reduced-fat Swiss cheese, finely chopped*
1/4 c. cooked lump crabmeat, drained and flaked OR
1/4 6-oz can crabmeat, drained and flaked
1 Tbsp. capers, drained

*Getting reduced-fat Swiss instead of regular Swiss is critical. The reduced-fat version keeps itself intact better when it melts.

In a small saucepan, cook the onions, covered, in a small amount of boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain well. In a large bowl stir together the cooked onions, mayonnaise, finely chopped Swiss cheese, the crabmeat, and the capers.

Spoon the mixture in to an appropriately-sized ovenproof casserole. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until heated through. Can be served in the ovenproof casserole, transferred to a serving bowl, or transferred to a hollowed-out round bread loaf for presentation. Serve chips, vegetable dippers, or small toasts alongside.

for 40 servings
2 c. chopped onions
2 c. light mayonnaise
8 oz. (2 c.) sliced reduced-fat Swiss cheese, finely chopped
1 c. cooked lump crabmeat, drained and flaked OR
1 6-oz. can crabmeat, drained and flaked
1/2 c. capers, drained

Prepare following the same steps, but bake in a 350 degree oven, covered, for 55 minutes or until heated through.

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If you haven’t heard about this yet, bakers and chefs, then you can thank me for this later. The Daring Kitchen is an online community of Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks who participate in one community-wide recipe challenge every month. It’s all about developing your skills and breaking down the barriers in your kitchen, and it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. I want to cook more adventurously but I hadn’t the slightest notion how to go about it, besides collecting cookbooks and just trying every intriguing recipe I came across. Until I heard about the Daring Kitchen.

Each month has a different host for each of the two subgroups, the Bakers and the Cooks. It seemed completely logical to me that if I were a Daring Cook, my friend and partner-in-crime Meghan would be the Daring Baker. Each monthly host sets the challenge, and participants have one month to make the challenge recipe. On a set date, all the challenge participants reveal their creations on their personal blogs. When I find out the challenge recipe, I can’t tell a soul, so you’ll all have to remain in suspense until the reveal date! I looked in the challenge archive before I signed up, and I was really excited by the choices; I just found out what this past month’s challenge was, and I’m kicking myself for not discovering the Daring Kitchen one month earlier. I might have to try the recipes anyway!

The July challenge is coming up, and I’m psyching myself up for whatever it brings!

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Beginning in August or September of 2010, be on the lookout for a new category of recipes called “Going to the Dogs.” The Seaside Eatery will be getting a new customer, of the four-legged variety, and we’re looking forward to making her all sorts of tasty, homemade cookies.

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