Crunchy coconut shrimp are sort of a secret treat for me. I don’t eat at a lot of chain restaurants, but there are a few that really excel and I make the occasional visit to sample them. The first time I had coconut shrimp years ago, I was attending the trial run of a chain restaurant opening its first branch in town. The night was a real disaster…the waiters were not ready, there were problems with the lighting and the piped in music. One of the bathrooms hadn’t been finished and the bar wasn’t opened. But the shrimp sure were good.
I generally can’t be bothered with frying at home and this baked version is a bit healthier…leaving room for this creamy tequila lime sauce. I think it adds a little Cinco de Mayo tropical flair to the crispy shrimp. Serve these as a starter to a larger Mexican meal, or make this the main with some rice with lime and cilantro stirred through. Pop open a cold beer with a slice of lime and celebrate.
Baked Coconut Shrimp with Tequila Lime Butter Sauce
- 1 ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
- ½ cup shredded sweetened coconut
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound large shrimp (26- 30 count), peeled, deveined, tails intact
- 1 egg
- ½ cup tequila
- 6 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 3 teaspoons lime zest
- 1 ½ Tablespoon chopped cilantro
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced
- Preheat the oven to 375°
- Stir the panko, coconut and salt together in a large, deep skillet and place over medium heat. Stirring and flipping the crumbs constantly, toast until evenly golden brown. Be careful not to burn the coating. Spread the crumbs on a plate and leave to cool.
- Place a rack in a rimmed baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Beat the egg with 2 teaspoons of water in a small bowl until blended. Pat the shrimp dry, then dip by the tail in the egg. Place the shrimp in the crumbs and press to coat each side fully. Place each bread shrimp on the prepared rack.
- Bake the shrimp for 10 – 12 minutes until opaque and cooked through.
- While the shrimp are cooking, stir the tequila, cream, lime juice, zest and cilantro together in a medium skillet. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently until reduced by half and thickened. Stir the butter in a piece at a time, stirring to melt after each addition.
- Serve the shrimp immediately drizzled with the sauce, or with the sauce on the side as a dip.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
I love a good honey-glazed, spiral sliced ham, but I rarely get to enjoy one, because they are just so darn big. But my parents received a whole ham as a gift, and as my mother defines eternity as two people and a ham, we served it for Thanksgiving. I managed to get away with most of the still-copious leftovers and went to work on recipe ideas (and enjoyed a number of ham-sandwich combinations). I enjoyed the leftovers so much, I ordered a ham for Easter.
I took the idea of a simple noodle casserole up a notch with a mustardy sauce and the depth of smoked cheddar cheese (or can use plain if you prefer). A little crunchy bite of pecan adds and extra dimension as well. This casserole is a great way to use leftovers from a holiday ham, but also makes an easy week night meal if you use cooked ham from the deli counter, sliced thick then diced. Serve this as a whole meal with a salad or as a side dish.
Mustardy Ham and Noodle Casserole
- 2 cups uncooked pasta, such as shells or elbows
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ cups milk
- 2 Tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard powder
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 8 ounces smoked white cheddar cheese (unsmoked if you prefer)
- 6 ounces cooked ham, finely diced
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, but subtracting one minute from the recommended time. Drain and rinse well.
- While the pasta is cooking, start the sauce. Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a skillet large enough to hold all the ingredients. Add the chopped onion and cook until soft and translucent and just beginning to brown, about 10 – 12 minutes. Pour in ½ cup of water and cook until the water is evaporated and the onions are a nice light bourbon color. Stir in the garlic and cook one more minute. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes until the flour has disappeared into the onions and butter. Add the milk slowly, stirring constantly, and cook until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Set aside 1 cup of the grated cheese, then stir the rest in a handful at a time, making sure each addition is melted before adding the next. Stir in the yellow mustard, salt, pepper, paprika, ground mustard and nutmeg and stir until the everything is well combined.
- Add the diced ham and pecans and stir to coat in the sauce. Add the pasta and stir gently to coat each noodle in sauce. Season with more salt if needed. Scrape the pasta into a 3-quart casserole and smooth the top. Spread the remaining cheese over the top of the casserole.
- At this point, you can cool and cover the casserole and refrigerate for several hours or overnight, or bake it right away.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the casserole until heated through and bubbly and the cheese is melted, about 30 minutes.
- Serve warm.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
I have, for many years, been searching and experimenting with recipes for a make -ahead breakfast casserole that is all egg. The classic breakfast casserole around here is sausage, cheese and bread bound with an egg and milk custard, and I have made many variations of that. But I wanted something that didn’t include bread or other elements, because so often, a brunch spread includes them in other forms. Okay, for the big holidays, indulgence is the norm – I have been known to serve a plate of bacon and a sausage casserole, cheesy grits, biscuits and muffins – but that is not always the way to go. It has been my goal to serve a simple, scrambled egg casserole alongside the bacon and ham and biscuits and preserves, not adding to the overload, just complimenting it. And most off all, I don’t want to be up early cracking eggs and cooking them to order.
This is the result of trial and error, combining the best bits of all sorts of community cookbook recipes. My version below is very simple, jazzed up only with a little sharp green onion and some chives, but the brilliance of this is its adaptability. Add ingredients that suit the rest of your brunch spread – a combination of other fresh herbs, some finely diced peppers or mushrooms, even a little bacon or ham.
Creamy Scrambled Egg Casserole
5 Tablespoons butter, divided
2 ½ Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 (8-ounce) bar cream cheese
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons finely chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste
Melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in the flour until you have a smooth paste. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly, until smooth. Add the nutmeg and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thickened and smooth, about five minutes. Cut the cream cheese into small cubes and whisk it, bit by bit, into the sauce until it is smooth and melted. Remove from the heat.
Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk thoroughly, until the yolks are broken up and the eggs are well combined. Whisk in a dash of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Melt the remaining 3 Tablespoons of butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Pour in the eggs and cook gently to form large, soft curds. Do not “scramble” the eggs too much, just gently push the cooked egg aside to let the uncooked egg cover the bottom of the pan. When the eggs are almost cooked, but some uncooked liquid is left, remove the pan from the heat and pour the cream sauce over the top. Sprinkle over the chopped green onion and chives, then fold the sauce through the eggs. At this point, you can break up any large egg pieces to distribute evenly through the sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Spread the eggs into a well-greased 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Leave to cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 300° and cook the eggs just until heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
Serves 6 – 8
It’s hard not to start cooking with Guinness around St. Patrick’s Day. It is a very versatile brew, lending itself to sweet and savory recipes. And as the old ads say, it makes you stronger! I love this simple glaze and think thick slices of Irish bacon are the perfect vehicle for it. Irish bacon is similar to Canadian bacon and more like ham than our “streaky” bacon, so a couple of slices makes for a nice change at dinner, or breakfast. I find it at natural food and upscale markets, but sliced Canadian bacon or thickly sliced ham will work as well.
Serve this sticky bacon with a large portion of Colcannon, which is traditionally served with a large pat of butter, but a drizzle of this glaze over the top is pretty good too. Or pair it with Champ, if cabbage is not your thing.
This recipe makes more glaze than you will need, but it will keep, cooled in an airtight jar, for a week or so and can be used to glaze grilled chicken, burgers or a meatloaf, so it’s nice to have around to extend the St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Guinness Glazed Irish Bacon
1 (12-ounce) bottle Guinness stout
1 ¼ up light brown sugar
¼ cup honey
½ teaspoon English mustard powder
8 ounces sliced Irish bacon or Canadian bacon (about 8 slices)
Pour the Guinness into a high-sided saucepan and leave until the foam settles. Stir in the brown sugar, honey and mustard powder and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Watch carefully and stir frequently as this can easily boil over. Just when it hits the boil, reduce the heat to medium -low and cook, stirring often, until the glaze is reduced by half., about 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from the heat. It will thicken a little as it cools.
Cook the bacon slices in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until just beginning to brown, flip and brown the opposite side. Spoon about 1 Tablespoon of glaze over each slice and cook a few more minutes until the bacon is nicely glazed and syrupy. Serve immediately, with a little extra glaze spooned over if you like.
Guinness Glazed Irish Bacon and Colcannon
Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish that showcases the true brilliance of that culture’s rustic cuisine. Simple, staple ingredients transformed into something all together luscious and comforting. Mashed potatoes and cabbage are combined with a touch of leek and lots of rich dairy to create a dish that will fell like a welcome home, even if, like me, you’ve never been to Ireland.
I like to use napa cabbage because I find it slightly sweeter and milder, but classic green cabbage or savoy cabbage works just as well, and give a more traditional green speckle to the dish. Colcannon is a great side dish to lamb or beef, particularly corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day.
Colcannon (Irish Mashed Potatoes and Cabbage)
2 large russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
½ head of napa cabbage (about 2 pounds)
2 large leeks, white and light green parts
½ cup (1 stick) butter, divided
1 cup buttermilk
salt to tast
Peel the potatoes, cut into chunks and place in a large pot. Cover with well-salted water by about 1 inch and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until very tender and a knife slides in easily, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and place in a large bowl. Heat the buttermilk to just warm in a small pan or the microwave and add ½ cup to the potatoes. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or sturdy wooden spoon until you have a nice, creamy mash. Stir in salt to taste
While the potatoes are cooking, slice the leeks into thin half-moons and rinse thoroughly in a colander. Wipe out the pot and melt ¼ cup ( ½ stick) of the butter in it. Add the leeks with some water clinging to them and cook until they begin to soften and become translucent. Stir frequently and do not le the leeks brown. Add ¼ cup of water, cover the pot and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the leeks are completely soft and translucent. Cut out the tough core of the cabbage half and slice into thin shreds. Rinse the cabbage shreds in the colander, then add them to the pot with some water clinging. Stir to combine the leeks and cabbage and coat the cabbage with the cooking juices. Cover the pot and cook until the cabbage is completely soft and wilted, about 15 minutes. Stir a few times and add a few tablespoons more water if there is any worry of the cabbage scorching or sticking.
When the cabbage is cooked, add it to the potatoes in the bowl and fold through. Add buttermilk as needed to create a creamy, rich texture and salt as needed.
Scoop the colcannon into a large serving bowl and make a well in the center. Cut the butter into small pats and place in the well to melt. Serve scoops of colcannon with the melting butter.
Serves 4 – 6
Mardi Gras is a fun season for food. Not only can you draw from the great canon of Louisiana cooking, you can play with the bright signature colors of purple, green and gold and be a little silly. This slaw is simple but the multi-colored vegetables and the tangy dressing make it a special dish. It is beautiful served beside or on top of a po’ boy, but is also a great starter or side with other favorites like Shrimp Creole or Red Beans and Rice or Grillades and Grits. But this slaw is also beautiful at a summer barbecue or picnic, long after Mardi Gras season has passed.
Mardi Gras Slaw
For the dressing:
1/3 cup creole mustard (I use Zatarain’s)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
a couple of dashes of hot sauce
For the slaw:
½ head purple cabbage
½ head green cabbage
2 yellow bell peppers
For the dressing:
Blend all the ingredients together in a blender or in a small bowl with a whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the dressing is creamy.
For the Slaw:
Cut out the core of each cabbage half. Slice the cabbage with the slicing blade of a food processor. You’ll need to do this in batches. Transfer the sliced cabbage to a very big bowl. Remove the ribs and seeds from the peppers and finely dice. Add to the cabbage in the bowl. Use you clean hands to toss everything around until evenly distributed. Discard any large cabbage pieces or remnants of hard core.
Give the dressing a last whisk to make sure it is creamy and pour it over the slaw. Stir and toss to coat everything well. I like to do this with clean hands as well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend. This is best served soon after it is made, but will keep for up to a day.
Serve 10 – 12
I first remember having grillades and grits at brunch at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. It was family trip, maybe an early vacation or taking my brother to look at college. My parents made us dress up – would have checked to see that we packed something appropriate, and it would have been our fancy meal of the trip. And Commander’s was fancy, particularly to a young teen with little experience. There were white-coated waiters with trolleys doing all sorts of amazing things like flaming bananas foster and café brulot. What made me order something with the unfamiliar name grillades, I can’t imagine, but I do love veal and those grillades were made with veal.
In truth, grillades and grits are a rustic dish. Slow simmered meat and vegetables served over simple grits, so it seems funny that they pair with one of my earliest fancy meal memories. And the Commander’s Palace I see in my minds eye is nothing like the Commander’s of reality that I know to day. Like how everything at your high school seems smaller and less significant when you return as an alumnae. So grillades and grits sat in my mind as a vaunted, scared New Orleans restaurant dish (I had it a various places over the years), something only served by waiters. But I finally decided to see if it was something I could conquer, and lo and behold, it is a pretty simple dish to prepare. And when you do it yourself, you end up with the dish that evokes the perfect memories and flavors. Tender veal, the trinity of creole vegetables, piquant sauce and creamy grits. Now I want to celebrate my early experiences in New Orleans with this dish of memories any time. Particularly during Mardi Gras season.
Grillades and Grits
1 ½ pounds veal scallopine (about 6 cutlets)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
¼ cup bacon grease (plus more if needed)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
For the Grits:
6 cups chicken broth (plus more if needed)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ cups stone-ground grits
6 ounces cream cheese, cubed
6 Tablespoons butter
For the Grillades:
Cut the veal pieces in half or thirds, to yield 4-inch squares. Place the flour and creole seasoning in a large ziptop bag. Add the veal pieces and shake well to coat.
Heat the bacon grease in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Shake any excess flour off the veal pieces and add to the pan. Brown lightly, just a few minutes on each side, then remove to a plate. Do not crowd the pans, do this in batches. Add the chopped onion to the hot grease and cook until golden brown, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan as you go. Add a touch more bacon grease if the pan starts to dry out. When the onions are soft and brown. Add the bell pepper and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes more. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of the seasoned flour from coating the veal over the vegetables and stir until no flour is visible. Add the tomatoes and their juice and the beef broth. Stir, scraping the browned bits up from the bottom of the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
Nestle the veal pieces into the sauce, cover the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally for 1 hour. If you would like a slightly thicker sauce, uncover the pan, raise the heat and bubble for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened.
For the Grits:
Season the chicken stock with salt and pepper and bring to a boil in a deep pan with high sides. Pour the grits into the water and stir thoroughly. Cook, stirring frequently to keep the grits from sticking, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the grits are tender, but with a little bite. Be careful while you are stirring, grits spit, so stand back aways. Stir in the cubes of cream cheese until smooth and melted. Stir in the butter until melted.
The grits can be kept covered for an hour or so, then slowly reheated over low, stirring in a little broth if needed.
Serve the grillades spooned over a mound of grits.
An easy weeknight treat is a great recipe to have on hand. I love this version of a a classic pizza casserole, updated my way with no jarred sauces or chemical laden boxed mixes. This is a real family pleaser, better than greasy delivery and easier than making or rolling out dough. A mix of beef and Italian sausage with fun bites of pepperoni up the pizza factor.
If your dinners will stand it, you can sauté some shredded carrots, bell peppers and onion with the meat to add a little touch of vegetables. Or sprinkle a little red pepper in with the filling if you like spice. You could even use ground turkey and turkey or chicken Italian sausage.
Upside Down Pizza Pie Bake
½ pound ground beef
½ pound bulk Italian sausage (or links with casing removed)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
½ cup diced pepperoni*
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
Break the beef and sausage into a large skillet and cook until browned and no longer pink, breaking up into small pieces as you go. When the meat is cooked, stir in the garlic and the oregano and stir to combine. Stir in the pepperoni. Add the tomato sauce and 2 Tablespoons flour and stir until thoroughly combined and thick.
Spread the meat mixture a well-greased 8-inch square baking dish. Leave to cool slightly, then spread the mozzarella cheese evenly over the top.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Beat the eggs, milk and olive oil together in a small bowl, then add the flour and whisk until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the batter over the top of the meat and cheese and spread to cover the top completely. Sprinkle over the parmesan cheese.
Bake the pizza for 35 – 40 minutes until puffy, golden and the cheese has melted. Let the dish sit for 5 minutes. Loosen the sides of the pizza with a thin knife, then invert it onto a platter. Cut into squares and serve immediately.
* The last time I made this, I found some “mini” pepperoni rounds at the grocery. They are perfect for this recipe, and cute to boot!
At the beginning of my path to being a serious cook, when I was a teenager, I used to make a Black Forest Cake, which seemed to me like the most sophisticated type of dessert. It was a chocolate layer cake with cherry filling and a rich frosting. I’d seen lots of pictures in which it was served on elegant cake stands with elaborate backgrounds. Very much the vogue in food magazines at the time. It was a complicated recipe and I felt like a true gourmand when I made it.
The combination of chocolate and cherries still seems very sophisticated to me, though I haven’t the time or the patience to reconstruct the complicated version. But this recipe creates that chic taste in a simple dish with as many layers of dimension as a layered cake. The top is cakey, the center is soft and pudding-like and the bottom has a syrupy cherry sauce. Serve it warm and you get all the gooey center, but the longer you let it cool, the more it firms up to a brownie-like texture. This has the deep, rich taste of dark chocolate without a cloying sweetness. The juicy cherries add a luscious contrast. You could serve this with a little whipped cream or ice cream, but I don’t find that necessary.
Chocolate Covered Cherry Baked Pudding
16 ounces frozen dark sweet cherries
7 ounces dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup granulated sugar
Pour the cherries in a colander and thaw completely. You don’t want the juice in the dish, but you can reserve it for another use (like a smoothie, or a cocktail).
When the cherries are thawed, preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the cherries in the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish.
Melt the chocolate and butter together. You can do this by placing it in a bowl set over a pan of just simmering water and stirring until melted, or microwaving it in 15-second bursts, stirring after each, until the mixture is smooth. Leave to cool.
Separate the eggs, placing the whites in the bowl of a mixer and the yolks into a small bowl. Beat the yolks and stir into the cooled chocolate. Stir in the vanilla.
Beat the egg whites in the mixer until frothy. Slowly drizzle in the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Stir a big spoonful of whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it up, then gently fold in the remaining whites a bit at a time. Pull all the chocolate from the bottom of the bowl and make sure there are no streaks of white in the mixture. Spread the chocolate mixture over cherries in the baking dish, spreading it out to the edges, completely covering the cherries.
Bake the pudding for 25 minutes until the top is firm and does not jiggle. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 – 15 minutes. Scoop into bowls and serve.
This is equally delicious served warm, when it will be soft and saucy or at room temperature when it will firm up a bit.
I adhere very solidly to tradition of eating black eyed peas and greens on New Year’s day for luck and prosperity. I have a wonderful New Year’s Eve tradition, so on New Year’s Day, I usually sleep in, then curl up on the couch with a book while a pot of peas and some collards stew away on the stove – minimal prep and minimal work. But this cast-iron skillet, bacon-fried version of collards is a quicker method, if you don’t get around to cooking until its almost time for dinner. If you really sleep in after a night out. Or they make an excellent accompaniment to a bowl of slow-cooked peas.
I think these are collards for people who don’t like collards. The bacon of courses helps, as does the fact that these are thin strands of greens, rather than a big leaf. And the sugar slightly caramelizes the greens and the bacon, adding an interesting touch of sweet. A big bunch of collards wilts down to a small amount – this makes about 2 cups of cooked greens, so its just enough for a small side. These are really interesting used as a garnish on a big bowl of black eyed peas or hopping john, just place a tangle of the collards on top. They could even add an extra dimension to soft, slow cooked collards. You can certainly double the recipe or make multiple batches.
Cast Iron Collards
1 large bunch collard greens
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
6 strips bacon
1 garlic clove
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Cut the leaves of the collards away from the hard center stems. Stack the leaves up in bunches of about 6, then roll each bunch into a cigar. Cut the collards into thin ribbons. Place the collard ribbons in a colander, shuffling them around to make sure they are well separated. Rinse the collards thoroughly and shake as much water of as possible. Lay the collard ribbons out on a tea towel, then roll them up in the towel to blot off as much water as you can. A little damp is fine, soaking wet will be a problem when you add them to the bacon grease.
Put the vegetable oil and bacon strips into a large, deep cast iron skillet and cook over medium heat until the bacon is very crispy and the fat has rendered out. Do not be tempted to raise the heat or the grease will get too hot and scorch the greens. When the bacon is crispy, remove it to paper towels to drain. Drop the garlic clove and the red pepper flakes into the pan and cook for just until the garlic starts to brown and is fragrant, about 20 seconds. Remove the garlic clove.
Carefully add the collards to the pan, standing back because the moisture on the greens will spit. Stir the collards to coat in the bacon fat and cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes until the greens are wilted. Add the sugar, baking soda and salt and stir well. Chop the bacon into rough pieces, add them to the greens and stir. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook the greens for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are tender. Watch carefully so they do not burn. The greens will be dark and soft, with a few crispy edges here and there.
Serve immediately, sprinkled with a little pepper vinegar if you’d like.
Serves 4 as an accompaniment