Chicken Heart Yakatori

NOTE:  I actually made this recipe about a month ago, and wrote it up about then.  I’m trying to pace out recipes and vary them up as I post them.  This turned out to be a good idea, as work doesn’t leave me much energy at the end of the day at the moment.  

Some of you may know, if you’ve been following me for awhile, that ever since childhood, one of my favorite parts of the bird is the heart.  A little morsel packed with umami and capable of bring out the best in the bird, any bird.  (Okay, duck breast brings out the very best of ANY bird, if done right!)

When Mother used to make her awesome giblet stuffing and gravy for the Thanksgiving turkey, if I were anywhere in sight, that heart would never make it to the stuffing or gravy.  Once cooked, I was ready to nab it!

yakatori - chicken heart-.jpg

Recently, I drove down to Hartsdale, NY to visit a H-Mart, one of a Korean chain of groceries, and the closest link to my home.  (It was my very first real driving trip of length after breaking that ankle, and the trip was rather physically taxing — the driving and the walking, but it was time to test myself, so I could go back to work properly.)   At any rate, I purchased these really fresh and large chicken hearts there, as well as the head of “long Napa cabbage that serves as photo backdrop and a nice accompaniment to my meal.  Regards the long Napa cabbage:  It is indeed longer than regular Napa cabbage but the head itself is smaller — as in less waste for a single person trying to finish a whole cabbage!

I’ll talk more about H-Mart at the end of this post, and there will be a more specific H-Mart post in the near future.  Let’s get to the yakatori!

At most Japanese restaurants (that I am aware of in the US), if you order yakatori, you get bits of chicken breast on a skewer, mostly about chicken-heart size.  understandably, as it is very popular here.

But I’d known for some time that the Japanese skewer chicken hearts, cook and eat them.  I’d done the Brazilian skewered chicken heart recipe last summer for this blog, and I’d really been waiting for the chance to try the Japanese version.

Once getting my hearts home, I surfed around for generalized yakatori recipes, and came up with this one:

NY Times:  Yakatori Chicken with Ginger, Garlic and Soy Sauce  In which the intrepid Times correspondent suggests chicken liver, gizzards or pieces of chicken thigh!

If you look at the recipe from the Times, I inadvertently mixed up their suggestion for sherry quantities for the mirin quantities.  It turned out fine, anyway.  Running back and forth from the laptop screen plays a toll!  (And no, I’m not squinting at a minuscule phone screen whilst cooking!)

yakatori sauce

Prep Time: Around 2 hours marinating
Cook Time: 15-18 minutes
Rest Time: 5 minutes, especially if using metal skewers
Serves:  1-2 people, or maybe you want to introduce others to the wonders of chicken hearts?  More as tasting appetizers.  

CHICKEN HEART YAKATORI

  • 0.6  – 1 pound chicken hearts (OR, the suggested livers, gizzards or boneless skinless thigh meat, sliced small and de-fatted).  I actually purchased the lower amount suggested, but made the full volume sauce as delineated below.
  • ½ cup low sodium gluten-free tamari, or, ½ cup dark soy sauce — which I haven’t been able to find gluten-free or low sodium, to date.  Adapt as you need!
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (Chinese cooking wine)
  • ¼ cup dry sherry (or generic sake)
  • 1 tablespoon organic coconut cane sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • Optionally, Scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • Serve on a bed of lettuce — or better yet, leaves of long Napa cabbage.

In a small pot, combine soy sauce or tamari, mirin, sherry (sake), sugar, garlic and ginger. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-8 minutes, until this sauce thickens. Put aside around 2 tablespoons of this sauce for serving, uncontaminated by raw chicken.   Pour remaining sauce over chicken (hearts or otherwise), cover, and chill for at least one hour (and up to 4 hours).  I marinated this for two hours.

If you use wooden skewers, soak them in water for around one hour.  I decided to go hog-wild (er, chicken-wild) and use the metal skewers from my parents’ legacy.  Thread the hearts onto the skewers.

Make sure your grill is ready, whether an indoor one or an outdoor one — OR, set your oven to broil.  If the latter, you’ll do best to arrange to hang the skewers you are cooking on so they drip into a bottom pan.  In this case, I used the George Foreman electric grill, pre-heated.  I allowed the hearts to cook about 7-8 minutes a side, before turning them.  (I understand thigh meat takes about 6 minutes a side, and gizzards about ten?)

In the last minute or so, slather on that reserved sauce!  (You can also use some as a dipping sauce after the hearts (or whatever chicken part) is served.)

NOTE:  Please use finger-caution when removing food from metal skewers.  Burns are no fun.

####

H-Mart drove me and my ankle crazy trying to arrive at it.  I nearly gave up in disgust, but I’d already put myself through too many miles to get down there to Hartsdale.  My Google Maps app on the phone had ceased to SPEAK to me — I’m not sure what’s caused this huff, but I hate that.  But it provided visuals, and since traffic was slow, I did look at the screen often enough to get where I was going.  (We gotta FIX this!)

I suspect if the name K-Mart, hadn’t already been taken…  H-Mart would be K-Mart?…

Anyhow, the Hartsdale store is clean, large, and very vibrant with much of almost everything.  There are also specific aisles for Korean, Chinese, and Japanese-dedicated foods, too. The veggie produce section is wonderful and totally fresh.  The meat area has any number of cuts, including many highly unfamiliar with most of us Westerners.  I don’t want to buy many meats that aren’t pastured, but I did pick up a small pack of chicken hearts (see above!)  and some LA-cut buogi ribs for future reference.  The LA-cut ribs are in the freezer — I am thinking sometime late April in getting to them.

Added to:  Real Food Friday Link Party, Fiesta Friday Link Party,

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Appetizers, Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Offal, Poultry | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

St Patrick’s Day: Irish Shepherd’s Pie

For many people, shepherd’s pie is comfort food, something they grew up with, which reminds them of home cooking:  Mom’s weekly or possibly every other week’s dish.  Often it was served with ground beef (here in America, at any rate), without a clue towards nomenclature.

shepherd's pie, lamb, potato, irish, recipe

A portion of Shepherd’s Pie, with an eye towards eating, but remembering the camera — well, a little late!

My parents never ever made shepherd’s pie or any variant thereof — it wasn’t part of Southern German cooking, which Mother excelled at — it wasn’t part of Dad’s fascination with Asian or Mediterranean cuisines or seafood, and odd body parts — all that is MY actual comfort food! — I don’t think I tasted it until I went away to college, where it was the Sunday night weekly hodge-podge of whatever was left over in the cafeteria kitchen that we didn’t particularly like the first time around (which in this case was WHY it was left over), topped with some mighty tasteless and dry mashed potatoes with all the culinary appeal of cardboard.   At any rate, for me comfort food it was not.  (There was a reason I LOST 15 pounds in my first college semester instead of gaining the Freshman Fifteen.  Okay, I did live on the fourth floor of a dorm with an elevator ONLY available when students were moving in or out, too — but I seriously didn’t eat much when confronted with that cafeteria.)  And at that point in time, there wasn’t much excess of me to lose!)  We had another name for this creation which sounds sort of like shepherd’s pie, but I’m trying to keep this a polite blog.

Um, you also don’t want to know what happened that Freshman college September, when I saw the beautifully-red tomatoes, lined up in the salad bar, in what should have still been prime tomato season. My parents had often grown their own tomatoes, and ignored them when not in season, so I had expectations.  That mucking big huge pile I took to enjoy — ended up as compost, well, maybe, if a composter wouldn’t expect much nutrition.  Probably landfill.  

So I’ve spent the succeeding years and decades avoiding the dish, usually with success.  Whenever I DID have it, it was in a cafeteria setting, so no wonder…  (And besides it was always really “Cottage” pie, not made with genuinely wonderful lamb.)

(Note:  in the above photos: Local pastured lamb meat, sold as “lamb kebab meat”, so I’m not sure what portion of the lamb.  Traditional for meatloaf is the shoulder — simply find a lean cut.  Below that:  browned.  To the right:  chopped up even finer — and you can definitely do that from the get go!!!  I simply decided my original chunks were too big…)  

Somewhere in between  I learned the following details about shepherd’s pie:

  1. Authentic shepherd’s pie is made with lamb, not beef, at least if you want to hearken this back to Ireland.  The Irish back in the day were more apt to have money for lamb or mutton, than for meat from cattle.  They often reared their own sheep, too.   Um… the name includes the word, “shepherd”  – sheep-herder???   Duh.
  2. The proper name for the pie made from beef is “cottage pie” — although I wonder if “cowboy’s pie” could be a valid substitute?
  3. For St. Patrick’s Day, shepherd’s pie in Ireland is more traditional than corned beef and cabbage, which is an Irish-American development (but good in its own right).
  4. Most recently, I learned that the lamb (or mutton) for shepherd’s pie isn’t necessarily ground, but chopped up finely.  Recipes I have come across online that do this are using lamb shoulder.
  5. Yes, the other ingredients with the meat, under the potatoes, were things that the frugal Irish housewife had an abundance of in her kitchen (yes, the cooks were typically the housewives).
  6. According to Jamie Oliver, the very oldest shepherd’s pies had a layer of mashed potatoes at the bottom, up the sides of the pan, and of course on top of the filling.  You know, encased like a typical pie.
  7. And of course, the potato is a New World food, and the Irish took this item on like no tomorrow once it was available in the Old World, and since they only grew one variety, when the Irish Potato Famine came on, they were in trouble.  They never did take on New World corn in the same way, so I don’t include corn in this recipe.  (Well, unlike the college cafeteria, which usually had almost as much corn as potato in their unpalatable recipe…)

 

  1. Irish, shepherd's pie potato, lamb,recipe

    The veggies to cook up with the lamb. Here: celery, a small potato, lotsa onion, some garlic, a small turnip, and some parsnip.

So, having learned that the meat didn’t have to be ground (or could be very coarsely ground), I decided to experiment.  I mean, I DO like the ingredients this dish is supposed to have!  My first effort yielded way too much potato to filling — at least for modern sensibilities, although I suspect back in the day, it turned out rather closer to authentic considering the availability of the other ingredients.  Just add more potato surroundings than filling…   This dish is definitely adaptable to quantities!

lamb, potato, recipe, shepherd's pie

The innards of the shepherd’s pie, complete with lots of rosemary, sauteing away! Hey, it’s LAMB crying out for rosemary!

I riffed on recipes from a couple of reliable sources online:  Jamie Oliver actually has two or three different recipes; and Kenji from Serious Eats provides another.   The links are at bottom.

Prep time: 20 minutes.
Cooking time: About an hour and a half.
Rest time:  10 minutes or so to cool down.
Serves:  Four.

Shepherd’s Pie

  • 1.25 pounds lean lamb meat, shoulder meat preferred.  Mince with scissors or a good knife.
  • a touch of your favorite healthy cooking oil.
  • 1 small potato (preferably a “golden” variety), diced fine — about 1/4 inch cubes.  You don’t have to peel this one.
  • 1 small turnip, cleaned up, diced fine — about 1/4 inch cubes.
  • 2 stalks celery, diced fine.  
  • 2 medium parsnips, skin removed, and diced fine.
  • 1 small/medium onion, diced.
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced.
  • 2-3 cups low sodium vegetable broth.
  • Several sprigs of fresh rosemary, remove stems.
  • Dried oregano and thyme, about 1/4 teaspoon or so apiece.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1.25 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (or another Golden variety), peeled. 
  • 1 tablespoon butter.

Brown the meat in a little oil, say five to eight minutes.  Use a large skillet….

Add in all the veggies and most of the seasonings (not the rosemary, the additional potatoes; nor the cream or butter.

Simmer and saute for around 5-8 minutes longer.  The onions should be translucent, and the potato and turnip somewhat soft.  (You can always add that celery later in this process if you want it to have more crunch — I suspect back in olden days in Ireland this may not have been a consideration.

Add in the broth, and seasonings.  Simmer on low for about an hour, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

The peeled potatoes – roughly quarter (or more) and bring to a boil in a pot with water to cover, reduce heat, and allow to simmer for about 40 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

Remove the potatoes from the heat, drain, and mash with the cream, butter, and salt.

In a meatloaf pan or small square casserole dish, lay out a layer of potato, reserving some for on top.  Over the bottom potato layer, spread the stewed veggie/lamb mixture, avoiding excess liquid, if any.

Over the top, spread out the rest of the potato mixture, covering the top completely.

Bake for 35 minutes — cover it, but if you want some crispy potato tops, remove cover halfway through the baking.  Allow to rest for ten.

Feel free to change out the lamb for beef (cottage pie) or for poultry (henhouse pie, to coin a new one…), or for pork (swineherd’s pie?) if you choose.  If you can find mutton — I haven’t found mutton since spending three summers in Scotland back in my high school days in the 70’s — try that!  Mutton will have a stronger flavor, but I remember liking it.  (Then again, I also really like haggis…)

For a vegetarian version, I’d be tempted to try tempeh pie!  Crumble the tempeh before you begin.  Tofu would be awfully bland and textureless.

Serve with:  Well, you might want to try my St Paddy’s cabbage dish from three years ago.

Oh, and by happenstance, it looks like I’ll be posting this on Pi Day!!  That would be 3(March).14(day)16(year).

(Or so I thought… I didn’t get the chance to hit the Publish button until today!  Two days late, but not late for a tasty St. Patrick’s dinner.)

lamb, shepherd's pie, potato, recipe, irish

Finally found a shepherd’s pie worth making and eating!

Resources:  

Serious Eats – Irish Shepherd’s Pie (one of my absolute favorite places to hunt down WHY food is best cooked a certain way, or not!).  While I love America’s Test Kitchen for much of the stuff they’ve done, they really don’t have international foods down in the best way — and I consider this dish an item from international cuisine.  Because, yeah… LAMB.

 Jamie Oliver’s Shepherd’s Pie, Take 1.  Irish infused…  shoulder meat from lamb.

Jamie Oliver’s Shepherd’s Pie, Take 2.  This one with the potato all the way around.

Oh.  On the menu for lunch at work this week for Paddy’s Day.  “Irish cottage pie (with lamb)”.   GRRRR!!!  I mean, what gives?    Whatever, I’ll be safest bringing my own lunch in, anyway.

Added to:  Real Food Friday Link Party, Fiesta Friday Link Party,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking, Meats | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Hoisin Sauce

I bought some Hoisin sauce from Whole Paycheck, and even from that supposedly-natural source, this jar has a lot of dodgy ingredients.  SOOOO… Make-Over Time!!!  I am going to make my own.  I found a couple of recipes on-line that I’ll use as inspiration, and I’ll list them at the bottom of this blog post.  While both recipes are on Food.com, they have different authors and somewhat different ingredients, but both say either black bean paste OR peanut butter can be used.  Since black bean paste wasn’t forthcoming in my neck of the woods (at least not immediately, and I had no time to go the extra mile driving looking for it), I went with peanut butter.

hoisin, recipe, Chinese

Sorry, hoisin sauce is naturally non-photogenic…

I assume you can also sub in the equivalent amount of cashew butter if you are peanut-sensitive (or on a Paleo plan), but in my case I have a nasty “gut” reaction to many tree nuts, and don’t like cashews enough to find out if they are part of the exception or the rule.  Peanuts don’t do that to me.

Prep Time:  10 minutes.
Cook Time: Not needed 
Rest Time: Not needed
Serves:  As a condiment, it depends on your planned use.

Hoisin Sauce (Peanuts or Black Bean)

  • 8 tablespoons low sodium gluten-free tamari  (Again, I’m partial to San-J’s brand)
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter (or black bean paste) – I selected a peanut butter with no additives, including no added salt.  Add more peanut butter/black bean paste if you need it.
  • 2 tablespoons organic coconut palm sugar (or sub honey, or molasses)
  • 4 teaspoons plain rice vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, or 2 finely minced garlic cloves
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 – 1.5 teaspoons Korean hot pepper powder OR 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of Chinese hot sauce (I used 1/4 teaspoon of the Korean pepper powder as I wasn’t certain of the heat tolerance of everyone who would be partaking.)   Start low, add more as desired.  For myself, I’ll up the amount next time.
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper.
  • If you are really missing the salt, add some — but I’d rather add it directly while cooking, not putting it into the condiment prior to cooking with it.

Mix.  Cook with it.  Use it as a dip.  Re-mix if you store it before using (store in fridge, of course).

From Food.Com, Homemade Hoisin Sauce.
From Food.Com, Hoisin Sauce Recipe.

Included in the Real Food Friday Link Party, and in the Fiesta Friday Link Party.

 

Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Condiments, Cooking, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Indian Uttapam Pancakes

This is made for the Pancake Challenge Link Party, hosted by Natascha’s Palace, and assisted by Lin of Lin’s Recipes.  And well, because they turned out quite good, too!   They’d be great to bring to a brunch where you’d cook up the pre-made batter and toppings on-site.

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

Three savory mini uttapam breakfast pancakes

What is unique about these pancakes is that they are made from a rice and a urad dal base.   Urad dal is a light-colored lentil bean, which can be found in most large supermarkets in the “ethnic” section.  Sometimes this is labelled”black gram”, although this is actually white.  Mine also says “Split Mapte without Skin” — mabye the skin is dark?  At any rate, these guys are naturally gluten-free.  These are thick pancakes, and definitely hearty.

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

The batter, after fermenting overnight

I’m late to the link party — I’ve been running non-stop and seriously NEED to stop and smell the roses, the coffee, and perhaps the pancakes (and get the ingredients together).  On top of that, last night I needed to do the good ole System Restore for the computer to remember the camera.

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

This amount of chopped toppings would be good for six mini-pancakes. Play around!

I saw a variety of recipes out there for this item, but the one I leaned the most on is this one at Udupi Recipes.

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

Two are flipped, the third awaits. They hold together surprisingly well.

Prep Time:  Prep is not long, maybe 15-20 minutes.They need to soak for 4 hours, then ferment another 10 hours more or less.
Cook time: About 15 minutes.
Rest time: none.
Serves 3 to 4.

Indian Uttapam Pancakes

  • 1/2 cup rice — I opted for “broken’ rice which I found at my local Indian market.  Figured this would save on my poor little food processor!
  • a very generous 1/8 cup urad dal
  • 1/3 teaspoon fenugreek powder
  • 3 tablespoons rice starch.  (I had brown rice starch in the house, so I used that.)
  • a pinch or so of salt

For the savory toppings to cook in  (you may need more, and you can play around with this!   I knew I wasn’t going to eat all this in one meal, and indeed I chopped up enough that I will only want to add a couple more curry leaves from to tomorrow’s breakfast).

  • 1 tomato, preferably Roma or plum, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • several fresh curry leaves, chopped.  (Frozen works too, but add a few more.)
  • Other ideas:  cilantro, chili peppers (and yes, I’m also doing those for my leftover batter tomorrow)!

Optional condiments to add after cooking

  • Ghee
  • Chutney –loads of possibilities here.
  • Sambar paste — the one from a company named MTR had ingredients I can definitely stand behind.

Soak the rice and urad dal (lentils) together in water to cover by at least an inch or so for around four hours.  I ended up soaking them about 12 hours because, yes, I really was away at work/commuting for nearly that long.

Rinse and drain four or five times.

Run through a food processor, adding enough water to give you that wheat flour pancake sort of consistency — slightly thicker but not by much.  Mine came out somewhat granular, but this turned out not to be a defect.

Add in the fenugreek and rice starch — adjust water if necessary.

Allow to ferment overnight in a warm spot in your home.

In the morning, for breakfast:  chop up your toppings.  Add the salt to the batter and mix.  Set a skillet or griddle on your range top, and turn the heat to medium/medium-high.  When a drop of water sizzles, add your batter — I opted to make small pancakes but you can go standard sized with a regular ladle if you wish.  Reduce heat to medium.

Immediately, put toppings on the uncooked surface of the exposed pancakes.  I gently pushed them in to the batter just a short way, without mushing down the pancake, as I didn’t want them to flop out all over the skillet when I flipped these.

Just as with pancakes you are probably already used to, air bubbles and holes will form at the top of the batter.  I let these develop for a couple more minutes before flipping.

Cook on the other side about five or so more minutes, remove from heat, flip back so that the toppings really ARE toppings.  If you want ghee, add a little ghee to the warm top surfaces of your pancakes — or to be strictly vegan (or dairy-free), that Sambar paste I picked up at the Indian market is awesome — a little DOES go a long way!)

Here are some of the packaged ingredients I found to use:

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

Rice and fenugreek powder

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

urad dal and spicy sambar paste

Also partaking in:  Real Food Friday Link Party and Fiesta Friday Link Party.

 

Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Breakfast, Cooking, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Squid with Olives and Tomato Sauce- A Greek Lenten Dish

I’m a sucker for (nearly) anything seafood.  (I really have yet to try salt cod, and I’ll pass on the Japanese fugu and the live Korean octopus — speaking of suckers, thank you.)  I know when growing up I was always looking forward to Fridays in Lent, because my parents made the most astounding seafood for most of those Fridays.   Or else they made wonderful creations with eggplant.  (Which I guess was not really the purpose behind Lenten “no meat” rules — you were supposed to be giving something up, and eating, say, Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks instead.  I certainly wasn’t going to rock the boat, and complain…)

Greek, squid, olive, tomato sauce, recipe

Squid, olive, tomato.

 

I saw some  lovely squid at my supermarket, and so I simply had to bring some home with me — and I got mostly tentacles, as the fishmonger was telling me he gets plenty of people who only want the “tubes” — the bodies.  I love both parts — and here’s a secret:  they both taste pretty much the same.

Normally, I cook my squid by briefly boiling it, but the recipe I stumbled over pan-fries them instead.  So… hey!  The author notes that her rendition of this Greek recipe is seasoned towards Lent — less sweet, no cinnamon, more savory.

So, do check her post out at Squid with Green Olive Tomato Sauce.   I only made slight variations.  (She has a lot of other tasty-sounding Greek recipes lurking around on her blog as well.)

Prep time:  5-10 minutes if the squid is already cleaned
Cook time:  15-20 minutes
Rest time:  Not much
Serves 2 hearty appetites

Greek Squid with Olives and Tomato Sauce

  • 0.8 – 1 pound of cleaned squid, with tentacles separated from bodies.  Bodies chopped into rings of about 1/2 to 1 inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped.
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6-8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine.
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • about a dozen or so pitted olives (I mixed up green and black from our olive bar)
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Use half the olive oil, and heat over a cooking pot to medium. Add in the onion, and stir around until translucent, about ten minutes.  Add the garlic; stir another minute.

Add everything else except the remaining oil and the squid.  Turn up the heat, and allow the sauce to come to a boil, then reduce heat and allow the sauce to simmer for around 15 minutes.  (At the end of the cooking time, taste for any seasoning modifications.)

While that’s simmering, put the rest of the oil in a second pan or skillet, turn up the heat to medium high, and when the skillet is hot, toss in your squid and stir it around for a minute – the squid will lighten up and shrink.  DO NOT OVERCOOK!  (Remember rubber bands??)

Remove from heat, and when the simmering pot with the tomato sauce is just about ready, stir in the squid for a couple of minutes.  and remove from heat.

Serve in a bowl, and include a spoon for those juices.

Serving suggestion:  Serve alongside a nice Greek salad with feta, or perhaps goat cheese.

Leftovers?:  Well, I ate them cold, rather than risking rubberized squid — still quite good!

Greek, squid, olive, tomato sauce, recipe

Ready and waiting for that sauce to finish simmering!

Ah, yes, Link Party Time!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking, Seafood | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Valentine’s Day: Enjoying Strawberry Ice Cream with Cocoa Powder and Ground Dried Strawberries.

Both strawberries and chocolate are considered aphrodisiacs.  So, what better than to combine them?

ice cream, cocoa powder, strawberry

Ice Cream!

No, I didn’t make the ice cream, but I got it from a local home-made-quality source — it is hard to make the supermarket strawberry ice creams taste remotely “real”.  But these guys use real strawberry in their ice cream, and they treat their cows right.  I dipped into some of the dehydrated strawberries I made last summer.

Prep Time:  Assuming you already have dehydrated strawberries, 10 minutes.
Cook Time:  Nope.
Rest Time:  Not advised.
Serves one, each.

Valentines Day:  Ground Dehydrated Strawberries & Cocoa Powder on Strawberry Ice Cream

  • A couple scoops quality strawberry ice cream
  • 1 teaspoon ground dehydrated strawberries
  • 1/4 teaspoon unsweetened natural cocoa powder (dark, no additives)

I ground them in a coffee grinder.

Scoop out some ice cream, put it in a chilled bowl, then add the toppings.  Enjoy with your special someone.

ice cream, strawberry, chocolate

Arethusa strawberry ice cream, sitting with tile and samples for my future guest bathroom.  (The tile is “warmer” than it looks.  At least on my screen.)

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Posted in Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Fat Tuesday: Cajun Blackened Grouper

Actually, you can use any firm-bodied white fish.

I’d never eaten grouper before — I picked up two filets, and got sticker shock at the cash register.  (Always pays to ask if prices aren’t posted.  Duh.)

Cajun blackened, grouper, fish, grilled, gluten-free, Paleo

Sizzle me good!

It turns out there are a lot of species of fish named grouper — they’re pretty much all in the same two genera of fish, Epinephelus and Mycteroperca.   A lot of them live in the Pacific and some live in the Persian Gulf, and they all look pretty ugly, being all mouth.

Anyhow, I made the first one Hawaiian style — if I took good enough notes, I may post that later — but this one I made blackened and spicy, in honor of Mardi Gras, which occurs tomorrow.  And Mardi Gras reminds me of New Orleans, which I visited twice, but neither time for Mardi Gras.  Halloween 2003 was more than plenty large for me.   The previous time had been for a conference in June in the mid-90’s, and I could see why they all come out at night.   The daytime weather even in June is horrid.  You could cut it with a knife, blacken it, and serve it.  (The male attendees at the convention were nearly all dressed in shorts, even the presenters.)

It turns out blackened seafood isn’t really an old Cajun tradition — apparently the late Paul Prudhomme of New Orleans had something to do with the development and popularization of this dish.  That’s okay; we’re living FAT!

Party hardy, folks!  (I’ll be staying home this year.)

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Prep Time:  To make the Blackened Spice Mix:  10 minutes.  To prep the fish:  2 minutes plus 15 minutes to marinate.
Cook Time:  6-7 minutes on a hot George Foreman Grill (fish about 1 inch thick)
Rest Time: 3-5 minutes.
Serves 2.
Special Equipment:  George Foreman (or similar) grill.  (You can use a pan in a regular outdoor grill, or pan fry medium high, covered, too.)  

Cajun Blackened Grouper

For the Blackening Seasoning (this makes extra, seal and store for future use):

  • 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (medium hot, or otherwise)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix it all together and store with your other spices.

For the Cajun Blackened Fish:

  • 1.25 pounds of grouper (or other sturdy whitefish) filet.
  • 1 teaspoon oil (avocodo is good)
  • 2 teaspoons of the above Blackening Seasoning (after your first experiment, you may find you want to vary this up or down).
  • Lemon wedges for garnish.  Fresh parsley would be fun, too.

I left the skin on the grouper — helps keep the fish together and easy enough to remove when you are eating it.

Pre-heat your George Foreman or other grill.

Rub the fish, both sides, with the oil, removing excess.

On the non-skin side, add the Blackening seasoning, and rub it in.  You do not need to coat the other side, but if you do have a fish filet with no skin, rub both sides — there’s no need to add extra unless you like this REALLY hot.

Place, skin side down, into the George Foreman, and let ‘er rip for 6-7 minutes, assuming your filet is as mine was, nearly an inch thick in the thickest section.  It is recommended that you roll the thin flap of filet which would be near the fish’s tail up, so that portion doesn’t overcook.  (I tried to do that, but the fish flattened out when I closed the lid.  Didn’t seem to matter much with this fish, anyway.)

Serve with lemon garnish.

A note on the heat:  This turned out just right, for me.  I have friends who’d prefer their food milder, and friends who’d prefer hotter so take that into consideration when you apply the above blend.  (Also, the freshness of your herbs and spices will matter.)

Serving suggestions:  Mustard greens or fresh spinach, sauteed in butter and fresh garlic, barely wilted, with a dollop or two of hot sauce mixed in at the last moment.  (I am LONG on mustard greens!)

Leftovers:  Enjoy in a salad.

Cajun blackened, grouper, fish, gluten-free, Paleo

All prepped up and ready to cook

This recipe owes a lot to hopping around the Internet to learn there’s no true standardized ratio of herbs and spices for Cajun seasoning, but I borrowed most heavily from:  Big Daddy’s Blackened Tilapia.   And here’s the platter!

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