Thursday, August 23, 2012

Greek Shrimp Tapas Dish

So I was watching Bobby Flay (if you've seen my husband, you might understand my 'type' and why I am drawn to Flay...ha!) and he was doing a version of this dish and I couldn't grab a pen and paper quick enough to jot some notes. So while I made a few changes, I stayed pretty close and thus, credit to the Irish guy from NY for sure.

First things first, take some grape or cherry tomatoes and place them on skewers to go on the grill. (Remember to soak the skewers in water if they're wooden for at least 30 minutes before loading them with anything and putting them on the grill!) So put the tomatoes on the grill for about 2 minutes each side or until the outside is charred and the insides are warm and bubbly.

Next, take a large saucepan and get it HOT. Once it is is ready, reduce the heat to medium and add olive oil, one diced shallot, a little white wine and one diced head of garlic. After that softens a little,  remove the tomatoes from the skewers and place them in. Using a wooden spoon, you want to sort of smush the tomatoes down so that they break up a little and start to really cook.

Meanwhile, you want to take the clean and deveined shrimp (I used medium sized, frozen ones because I live in a fish-less state) and load them onto some skewers. I removed the tails as well at this point since I think its easier than doing so when they are hot off the grate. You want to cook the shrimp skewers for a few minutes each side until they start to pink. Don't cook them all the way on the grill.

Now, as the tomatoes stew away, you want to add in some key ingredients - none of which I measured admittedly, so I urge you to use good judgement and follow my eyeballing advice! Start with some paprika (a few shakes), some crushed red pepper (be wary, the spice is not meant to take over), some ground cinnamon (be generous), oregano (generous again) and some mint (if it is fresh, use less - if it is jarred, more).

When your shrimp are done, pull them from the skewers and toss them in too and reduce the heat to low. Then you want to take a lemon and zest the entire outside and then squeeze all the juice into your mixture. Keep stirring this for a few minutes and feel free to taste and add any spices you feel might not be represented. Ideally, you want to taste almost everything that went into this - which sounds crazy, but its deliciously true.

Lastly, you top the entire dish with a healthy dose of feta. To serve with the tapas, I took some whole wheat flatbread and sliced it into triangles, drizzled it with olive oil and then sprinkled it with pink Himalayan sea salt and toasted it on a cookie sheet at 325 degrees in the oven for about 7 minutes.

The meal was completed by a light mixed green salad and a lovely bottle of red wine (Meditrina by Sokol Blosser). Opa!

- Melissa

Monday, August 20, 2012

Twice-cooked Rosemary Garlic Potatoes

This is a dish that can really compliment any meat, from poultry to steaks, but I think I like it best when served with pork tenderloin...though I didn't see anyone complaining when I served it last year at Thanksgiving with Gabe the turkey. Just saying.

To start, you need to boil the potatoes (as if you were making potato salad) with the skins on. I tend to use red, but in the photo below I used a new and red mixture and it was still good. Meanwhile, while your water is coming to a boil, you want to take an entire head of garlic (two if you're serving a larger group) and divide it into cloves, then place it in a ramekin, pour olive oil generously and coat as generously - if not more so - with sea salt. Roast the garlic for about 10 minutes at 325 degrees, being careful to stir the cloves around and making sure the garlic NEVER burns. Once done, remove it from the oven and set it aside.

And back to the potatoes! Once they are fork-tender and the skin is just starting to flake off, remove them from heat and drain into a colander. After they have cooled a little, you want to mash/smash the potatoes until they are in chunks. This means doing it by hand with an actual potato masher or a fork if you're really tough - a mixer does not enter into this equation at all! Once you have them smashed up, mix them in a large bowl along with a little olive oil, some fresh rosemary sprigs broken up (I tend to use quite a lot), those pre-roasted garlic cloves and a spoonful or two of sour cream. Once the ingredient are all fairly blended, spoon into a pyrex dish or any oven safe cookware (sans lid). Then you want to bake them uncovered at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. I will stir them around at least once, but not more than that since I want the top to get crusty. The time can vary a little, depending upon whether you've had the stove on already, etc. So 40 minutes is the minimum whereas if I am starting with a  cold oven, its taken me closer to an hour.

They're just THAT good.
Again, serve them with what you like - they are a side dish that can go the distance!

- Melissa

Monday, August 13, 2012

Jalapeño Beer Brine for Pork Chops

So for starters, my apologies, I have no photos. The camera battery was dead and the pork was too good so we ate it well before the battery issue could be resolved. Sorry! But I digress, I used 2-inch thick, bone-in pork chops with this marinade/brine mixture and they were beyond moist and tasty.

First clean the pork and lightly season the chops with salt and pepper before setting them aside. Then, in a large covered dish pour in 1 bottle of Mexican beer (I used Corona, but Dos Equis would also work well), some lime juice, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, a little olive oil, 4 or 5 cloves of minced garlic, 1-2 tbsps of brown sugar splenda (your choice how sweet you want this vs. how spicy), and then 2-3 seeded and diced jalapeños (see previous parenthetical). Mix it altogether and then toss the chops in.

And that's it!

Then I let them soak for about four hours in a covered dish in the fridge before throwing them on the grill. I cooked them over a medium flame for about eight minutes a side, giving them a nice char. Served with peas and wild rice.

- Melissa

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