Green Tomato and Fig Cakes- Taking Chances In The Kitchen

I saw these a few weeks ago and they have not left my head, my curiosity was peaked, I had to know.  The flavor combination in a dessert  was too strange to let go, but after thinking about it I realized green tomatoes don’t have a ton of flavor and would likely pick up the flavor you pair with it.  I was right.

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Not a lot of tomato flavor, but still super tasty, they had a comparable flavor to carrot cake, but less sweet, without as much sugar.  The petite cakes are moist even a few days later.  Overall I give them an A (skipping the plus as I really wanted to taste the tomato more) but certainly good enough to eat for breakfast, which is of course the international sign of good desserts.

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Modified from Cooking Light 2013

Ingredients 

  • 8 ounces green tomato, cored and quartered 
  • 7.6 ounces cake flour, sifted (2 cups) 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 cup canola oil 
  • 2  large eggs
  • 4 ounces dried figs
  • 6 ounces orange juice 
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts 
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 3/4 cups powdered sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  •  Dash of salt 
  •  Sliced figs garnishes

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Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Place tomato in a blender; blend until smooth.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Place sugar, oil, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until blended. Stir in tomato puree and orange rind. Add flour mixture to egg mixture; beat at low speed just until combined.

In a small sauce pan add the orange juice and dried figs.  Bring to a simmer and cover for 5 minutes.  Remove from the stove and take out the figs of the juice.  Allow to cool to room temperature before chopping into small ¼ inch pieces.  Stir in chopped figs and walnuts into the batter.

Place 18 muffin cup liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray. Spoon the batter into cups. Bake at 350° for 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool in pans 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

Place cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until smooth. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and dash of salt; beat until smooth. Spread frosting over the top of each cake. Garnish with sliced figs, if desired.

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I cut the cream cheese icing in half, as I wanted to lighten them up more.  Feel free to double the icing ingredients if your looking for a heavy iced cupcake.

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When you see something that you can’t let go, you just have to go for it!  It might not be exactly as you hoped, but we all know not everything turns out the way you hope.

Green Tomato with dessert? I am a fan!

Breakfast Stuffed Biscuits- Alabama Biscuit King Copycat

Travel for our family often encompasses eating explorations, sure, history and local culture top the list too, but all of us can usually agree on getting to the locals only must eat store (eat-store, aka restaurant, coined by my nephew Sir Sully).  We recently dined our way thru a vacation in Lower Alabama.

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Gi-Normous, ugly and heavenly filled mouthwatering, belly aching irresistible biscuits are not to be missed on your next trip to LA (lower Alabama).  And they are born and raised all within view of the curious diners.  We visited the home of these ugly treasures, called Biscuit King Cafe in Fairhope, Alabama felt like we stroke gold, and as mentioned above, a small belly ache from over indulgence.   This small family business has something going for sure.

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After taking the first few bites the rest of meal was spent ogling what was going on in the kitchen.  When sheet pans went in the oven, how long until they came out.  What did the fillings look like, how did they stuff them.  We asked the ladies cooking a few questions, some of them laughing at us, in particular when we asked if any of the fillings were raw… “you caaan’t  put raw  food in a biscuit, thaaat’s just craaazy”.  Deep South stuffed biscuit etiquette explained…

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Happily we took enough away that I was able to recreate a similar recipe- Surely the Biscuit King reigns supreme, but until theirs and mine go head to head, I will stand by these are just as good!

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Ingredients Biscuit Filling

  • 6 ounces slice turkey or ham, julienned into strips
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces shredded cheddar

Biscuit Dough

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk, plus more for brushing

Biscuit Topping

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Sea salt

Directions

In a frying pan, over medium heat with a small amount of oil, sauté the meat until caramelized with golden color.  Remove the turkey from the pan and take the pan off the heat.  Whisk together the eggs and milk until frothy, and return the pan to the stove.  Over medium heat add the eggs to the sauté pan and cook until softly scrambled before removing from the heat.  Make sure not to overcook as there will be carry over cooking and reheat in the oven.  Add the tablespoon of butter to the eggs and mix until melted and incorporated.  Refrigerate until ready to assemble the biscuits.  Keep the eggs and the meat separate.  Be sure they are both cool before assembling as it will eliminate chance of overcooking the eggs.

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To make the biscuit dough:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar together. Using a pastry blender or your hands, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few large clumps remaining.   The butter should be cold, and will leave some lumps.  If you prefer to use your hands be quick and make sure the butter is very cold so it doesn’t melt.  I like to use my hands so I can get the flour/butter mixture to crumb faster.

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Pour in the buttermilk and fold the flour until the liquid is incorporated.  The dough will stick together in a ball and be slightly tacky.  Do not overmix as this is when biscuits become rocks.  Allow the dough to sit for a few minutes before assembling the biscuits.

On a lightly floured surface, scoop out a half cup measure of dough and with floured fingers, gently pat the dough into a 6 inch circle.  The thickness should be about ¼ inch.  Repeat with another half cup portion of dough.

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To assemble and bake:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Spread a ½ cup of the chilled scrambled eggs over the surface of one biscuit disc.  Sprinkle a ¼ of the turkey/ham over the eggs and then follow with an ounce of shredded cheese.

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Gently lift the remaining disc and place on top of the egg and cheese filling.  Press the edges together and tuck the seam under the bottom of the disc.  Transfer the stuffed biscuit to a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with butter, followed with a sprinkle of sea salt.

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Repeat process three more times for a total of four stuffed biscuits.  Place each two inches apart, which may require using two baking sheets.  Bake at 375 for 40 minutes, rotating baking sheets half way.  The temperature of the center should reach 160 degrees.

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These can be held in a warming oven for about 30 minutes.  We had one leftover that we reheated in the microwave the following day which turned out was still pretty good.  Certainly best fresh from the oven, but I won’t be throwing out the one that doesn’t get eaten.

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It is a state that does many things right – Perfect color of Crimson, rows of pecan fields, perfectly drawn hounds tooth, National Championships, Silver Queen Corn, gardenia scented streets, and now… Stuffed biscuits.

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Roll tide, Roll Biscuits!

Farm Berry Southern Cobbler- #AlabamaBakingProblems

We took a trip last week to Alabama to visit Sir Wes’s family.  Very often when one goes home to the place they grew up, to a mom that cooked every Sunday thru Saturday for them thru their childhood, one would expect to get some of that home cooking.  In fact, we did get a belly full of a southern mother prepared feast, but did miss one key, controversial dessert- The Farm Berry Southern Cobbler.

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Thru our years of marriage, Sir Wes has talked and talked about the cobblers that were made every weekend by his Mom or one of her 4 sisters.  He stated,  “there is not a better dessert then the Farm Berry Southern Cobbler that my Mom and my Aunts made”.   And after these years of marriage, on our many trips to his mother’s home, I would have hoped to try it.  Turns out, it isn’t that simple.

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We go to the his Aunt Alice’s, the family farm as I call it, and pick the blueberries from the trees.  I am always sure to pick enough to bring back to Florida with us to put in the freezer.   Then either his mom or Sir Wes would get to making this family heirloom recipe.  And then we would sit and wonder what went wrong.  I think they are cursed.

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This last visit, I sat his mom down and asked her to tell me the recipe; she even consulted with her sister to double check.   I knew that Wes’s failure could be attributed to the fact that he ignores directions and amounts when following recipes and does what he wants, but his mom is such a fabulous cook so I wasn’t sure where her mishaps came from.

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Here are my notes:

Ingredients

  • ½ cup or 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup self-rising flour, make sure to use self rising- this might have been where Wes went wrong
  • 1 cup sugar, add a little more if you’re not going to serve any whip or ice cream with it.  Maybe a ¼ cup.
  • 1 cup milk, you can use any type, of course whole milk will taste the best with the higher fat content, but skim will work too.
  • 3 cups berries, preferably from Aunt Alice’s Farm

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350.  Melt the stick of butter in the baking dish over the stove, I used about a 10”cast iron skillet as any proper southerner would.  While the butter melts combine the flour, sugar and milk in a mixing bowl and whip until smooth.  Once the butter is melted pour the batter into the baking dish and gently whisk until the butter is mixed to the batter.  Spread the berries into the dish, over the batter.   Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

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Serves 8-10 friends.  Add a scoop of whip cream or vanilla ice cream, (Blue Bell of course is the best choice) to top it off.  You can substitute your favorite fruit, or whatever is in season also- peaches, pears, apples.

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As it turns out cobbler is controversial thru America, not just in Sir Wes’s family.  It’s one of those desserts that is so forgiving (minus our previously stated cobbler debacles), there came to be a ton of recipes and versions all with different names.

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The Huffington Post published an article last year that cleared it all up for us- they wrote, “There seems to be some confusion over our baked goods, everyone. Tell the truth: if we asked you to tell us the difference between a crumble, cobbler, crisp, grunt, slump, buckle or brown Betty (without Googling it), could you tell us? Until we started working on this article, we definitely wouldn’t have been able to swing it.”

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Honestly, I have never heard of a “grunt” or a “slump” before reading this.  And I feel like they missed the kind that I see the most- a batter based cobbler.

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After trying the recipe I jotted down from his mom, I still am left wondering what went wrong.  The recipe was perfectly told, easy to follow and simple to make.    However, I am happy to say in true southern form, that Farm Berry Cobbler was blessedly dee-licous!

Blue Cheese and Walnut Vegetable Slaw

Blue cheese and walnuts, what a wonderful combination!  We have been eating a lot of salads lately and try to keep from getting tired of the waste shrinking meals.  Cheeses, nuts, fruits, crunchy things keep the variety coming to the table.  I steered away salad greens last week and dove into slaws, which can go much further than the standard sweet cream Cole slaw.

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I took this dish from a long time favorite restaurant in Charleston, SC, Vickery’s lead and added in blue cheese to traditional Cole slaw, and then because I think nuts are supreme, but some of them in too.

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Dirty minds….

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoon reduce fat mayonnaise, or regular, or nonfat, which ever your preference
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces julienned vegetables, cabbage, broccoli, ect, pre bought or cut yourself
  • 4 tablespoon reduce fat blue cheese, or regular
  • 4 tablespoon toasted walnut pieces

In a mixing bowl add the first five ingredients and whisk well until combined.  Add in the vegetables and toss well until lightly coated.  Sprinkle the cheese and the walnuts and fold evenly.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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The longer the slaw sits, the more water leaches out of the vegetables.  If you make the day before, reserve the blue cheese until you are ready to serve and give the slaw another toss so the dressing gets mixed again.

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I know most people would say that I missed a very important ingredient…. Add the chopped bacon if you want, I know it is calling for a couple of tablespoons.  Or maybe on a pork belly slider…

Sweet ‘N’ Spicy Cocoa Rub Chicken Kebabs- Summer Grillin’

Grilling is a quintessential part of summer in this house.  We love to pull out the charcoal grill, light up the woodchips and coals and wait for them to be ready to put the food on to the grill racks.  Propane grills do offer the convenience and speed that is great for mid-week dinners, but the charcoal grill gives you the chance to offer love and nurture, which makes food so good.  The longer you have to wait the better the meal.

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If we are going to commit the time to use the charcoal grill I like to make it a special meal, with new flavors or products, or even just extra decadence.  I got lucky a few months ago with an unexpected thank you gift from a work buddy.  A thank you wasn’t necessary, but certainly was appreciated, especially because it has two of my favorite things- chocolate and chili pepper.  The Sweet “N” Spicy Cocoa rub is dynamite; chalked with flavor and would make a great marinate for grilled chicken.

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Marinate

  • ½ tablespoon Dove Discoveries Sweet ‘N’ Spicy Cocoa Rub
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh chicken breast, cut in 1” cubes
  • ½ large green pepper, cut into 1” pieces
  • ½ large red pepper, cut into 1” pieces
  • ½ large onion, cut into 1” pieces

Mix first three ingredients together and add in the raw cubed chicken.  Allow to marinate overnight or at least 8 hours.   Assemble kebabs alternating the chicken and vegetables.  Grill over slow coals or on your propane grill until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165.

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The cocoa flavor was very mild, barely noticeable, but offered the earthy flavor that you find in a mole sauce. I served a grilled peach salsa with the kebabs- a perfect complement to the spicy chicken.

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Summer dinners are perfect time to slow down and enjoy friends and family.  They are also the time to take advantage to the gardens bounty the season offers, to play with flavors and add love to the dinner table.

Be patient

Cooking is an art and patience a virtue… Careful shopping, fresh ingredients and an unhurried approach are nearly all you need. There is one more thing – love. Love for food and love for those you invite to your table. With a combination of these things you can be an artist – not perhaps in the representational style of a Dutch master, but rather more like Gauguin, the naïve, or Van Gogh, the impressionist. Plates or pictures of sunshine taste of happiness and love.

~ Chef Keith Floyd

English Pea and Mint Crostini’s **Summer Simplicity

Summer is always a great time to look for light and healthy food.  And equally important easy, quick food!   The convenience of having some “go to” fast dishes for summer evenings, cook outs and family gatherings is amplified over summer.  I especially love the ones that travel well, I feel so fancy when I pack “apps” in a cooler for the beach- goes perfect with vino at sunset!

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Have to admit- when I see things that my Mom, Queenie, can do without calling me 3 times, and they look tasty, I am immediately attracted to them.  I just don’t like spending all day in the kitchen on the weekends in the summer- so simple, quick and tasty is perfect.

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My grandmother, Madame Margo, told me over 10 years ago about a dish she made with peas and mint, and I think maybe Greek yogurt…I stored the flavor combination away in my brain until a few months ago when I saw the them being played with more often.  We actually had a cooking competition the other day at work, based on the TV show “Chopped”, where the dessert ingredients the participants were given included English peas, ricotta and oranges.  I wanted to scream at them, mint, mint!!  But actually I found myself most impressed with one making something like a pea and ricotta ice cream with and orange sauce, I loved the high creativity!

Pea and Mint Crostini’s

Ingredients

  •  10 ounces frozen green peas, or fresh spring peas    
  • ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese    
  • ¼ cup mint leaves, without stems    
  • 2 tablespoons fine grated parmesan cheese    
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt    
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Butter spray/ cooking spray
  • Small baguette bread, cut into 24  1/3 inch thick slices    
  • Fresh tomatoes for garnish

Method

In a 2 quart sauce pan filled halfway with water heat over medium high until water comes to a boil.  Add the peas and return to a boil for one minute. Drain the peas into a colander and rinse with cold water.

In a food processor put the drained peas, and pulse.  Add ricotta, mint, Parmesan, oil, garlic, salt and pepper and blend until mostly smooth.  Transfer into a serving bowl and refrigerate or 30 minutes.

While the spread chills, preheat oven to 325°F. Arrange the bread slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheet  and spray with the butter spray.  Bake until lightly golden and crisp; cool and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Assemble just before serving with a tablespoon of spread on each piece of bread.  Garnish with tomato.

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The pea spread can be made a few days before and kept in air tight container- a perfect “get ahead” appetizer.  The bread toasts are best made the day of, but if kept in an airtight container you can do the day before.

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Inspired by my grandmother creativity and knowledge, and my mom’s love of life outside the kitchen!  With those two ladies in mind it is hard to not come out great!

Roasted Peach Breakfast Bread Pudding

I’ve been walking thru the produce sections of the grocery stores and salivating over the smell of peaches.  It is stonefruit season and their perfume is overwhelming.  It radiates as strong as the ladies that obnoxiously dose themselves in bottled perfume, but with the natural, earthy, sweet scent that manages to make its way into my belly and switch on the I want to eat button.

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So far each week I have not been able to resist the tantalizing scent of the peaches and home they come!  Last week I found myself in with a familiar situation- ever had a lot of bread leftover from dinner? Or even just a half of loaf?  Maybe you have even had a walk in freezer full of leftover bread.  Luckily, the day old bread makes a great treat the next morning , especially when there are roasted peaches involved.

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Ingredients

  • 4 ounces sourdough, French or Italian bread, day old, 1 inch cubed (about 3 cups)    
  • 2 small peaches, diced in ½ inch cubes    
  • 2 tablespoons raisins or dried cherries    
  • 1/3 cup low-fat ready-to-eat granola cereal    
  • 3/4 cup low-fat or skim milk    
  • 2 tablespoons sugar    
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon    
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-calorie pancake syrup  
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened Greek yogurt 

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Instructions

The evening prior to serving, coat a 8 or 9 inch baking dish with pan spray.   In a mixing bowl combine the bread, fruit, and granola.  In another mixing bowl whip the milk, sugar, egg and cinnamon until combined.  Pour liquid into mixing bowl of bread and fruit and toss gently.  Pour all into prepared baking dish and cover, refrigerate overnight.

Turn oven to 350°F.  Bake the uncovered bread pudding for 30 minutes or until the bread is toasted brown. Serve warm with syrup and 1 ½ tablespoon Greek yogurt.

Serves 4

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The peaches are lovely in the breakfast dish, but fresh plums and nectarines are easily substituted. Any fruit can be swapped out if you prefer.  Skip the Greek yogurt and serve it as dessert one evening with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt.

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This is a healthy yet decadent way to start any summer morning, and  certainly a guilty free way to use up that leftover bread!

Mexican Shrimp Ceviche- Big Kickin’ Flavor!

Hot, sticky Florida days begs for cold, refreshing, light dishes- and of course packed with flavor.  I saw a family a few weeks ago with a gigantic cup of ceviche when we were out to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and found myself staring with envy.  Why didn’t I order that!!  I knew it would not be long before it made it onto our table at home!  I cannot resist cilantro and lime, they are possibly my favorite flavor combination.

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I love ceviche with tostones, fried plantains, but my favorite is with sweet potato crisps, the sweetness of the potato is a perfect complement to the spiciness of the ceviche.  The recipe I used is from the “King of Mexican Food”, Rick Bayless, and is very spicy, but evened out by the creamy avocado chunks.

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 Shrimp Ceviche Verde

Ceviche Verde de Camarón

About 3 1/2 cups, serving 4 to 6 as an appetizer; from Season 8  Mexico – One Plate at a Time

Ingredients

  • 1 pound very fresh uncooked, medium-to-small shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 4 ounces fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro (mostly leaves)
  • Salt
  • 1 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded and very finely chopped
  • 1/2 habanero chile, stemmed seeded and very finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from skin and cut into small cubes

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Directions

Cut the shrimp into small pieces—slightly smaller than 1/2 inch—and scoop into a serving bowl.  In a blender, combine the lime juice, tomatillos, cilantro and 3/4 teaspoon salt.  Blend until slushy looking, but not completely smooth.  Stir into the shrimp and refrigerate 30 minutes.  Just before serving, stir in the two chiles, chives and avocado.  Taste and season with more salt if you think necessary.

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The marinate time is critical in ceviche, especially with shrimp.  The citrus will cook the raw seafood, but it can also overcook if left to long, leaving you with rubbery, tough shrimp.  I waited an hour before I served it, and was pleased that the shrimp was still tender.  If you find yourself worried about overcooking the shrimp, at least strain the marinate, reserving the juice until you are ready to serve.  But try to get it on the table as soon as you can.

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The kick in this ceviche is powerful, yet smooth.  If you are not a fan of spice, cut the chilies by ½ and be sure to add right before serving.  Try serving sweet potato chips, tostones or tortilla chips to along with the ceviche. And of course make sure there are margaritas or cervezas.

Florida Citrus Mint Squares- Jump Start on Summer

It’s hard to believe summer is already so close, it seems like spring was just starting.  Do you ever get used to time flying?  It especially doesn’t help that everyone is jumping the shark to get to summer, myself included.  I just the other day wrote Summer Vegetables onto a menu rather than Spring Vegetables, consciously deciding to make the move.  Popsicles are in the freezer, the beach bag is packed, coolers are rinsed out, beach chairs pulled down from the attic, and plenty of summer menus planned.  As I jumped the shark to summer in menu writing, I followed suit with my favorite summer dessert- Lemon Squares.

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I have loved lemon squares since a little girl. The powdery sweet topping over the slightly sour lemon filling that melts in your mouth is the perfect summer dessert.  They are also one of the two desserts my mom, Queenie, was able to make-I’ve mentioned she is a better taster then maker right?  But Lemon Squares, she could rock, simple, lemony, sweet lusciousness.

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While there is nothing wrong with the classic lemon square, we are in Florida, and have a produce market right in our backyard.  Grapefruits are falling over the fence from the neighbor’s tree, lovely, bitter sweet in flavor, and our herb garden is becoming like an overgrown aromatic weed garden.  Call me inspired, Queenie’s classic lemon squares became Florida Citrus Mint Squares.

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Ingredients

For the Crust

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sifting
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced into small cubes

For the Citrus Filling

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon grapefruit zest

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Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in center. Spray a 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray and lay a piece of parchment into it, pressing and folding it to cover the interior of the pan.

2. To make the crust, combine flour with confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a food processor and pulse.  Add the cold  butter and pulse until mixture is course crumbs.  Scrape crumb mixture into the parchment lined baking dish and press evenly.

3. Bake in oven until crust is lightly browned 20 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan.

4. Turn oven down to 325 degrees.  Start to make the lemon filling: In a mixing bowl, add the eggs and beat with an electric mixer until thick. Add in the granulated sugar, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, flour, baking powder, salt, mint and grapefruit zest and mix thoroughly. Pour over the warm crust. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until set. Cool to room temperature; refrigerate about 1 hour.

5. Lift the parchment paper from baking pan on to cutting board and cut into 16 squares.  Sift the remaining tablespoon confectioners’ sugar over the top and place on serving tray.

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Summer is just about here, wait another week or so or break out the Slip and Slide early, it’s up to you.  Either way, be sure to enjoy the flavors of summer, the beautiful produce that fills the markets.  Summer and childhood memories are bonded together, like Queenie’s Lemon Squares, be sure to create your own for your family and friends.

Chocolate Cherry Risotto- Warning, Life Changing Dessert

With the Food Blog Forum a few weeks ago, and somehow one of my favorite , Chocolate Cherry Risotto, being served, I felt it was time to share the life changing spoonfuls of decadence with Sir Wes.  He has been hearing me talk about it for the last year or so when one of the culinary in the kitchen made it for a family meal.  Ummm- so good it made its way on to many menus, especially the ones that I would be eating  :).

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Truly- I say I love a lot of food, dishes, recipes- but the warm, rich chocolaty gooey rice just floors me.  I’ve had it topped a few ways, with berries or granola, but my absolute favorite is with pistachio ice cream/gelato/frozen yogurt.  These guys in the kitchen that made this are ridiculously talented- life changing dish.

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Can you tell I like it?  A great thing is you can switch out the milks, sugars, or even make it with brown rice to make it allergen or waist line friendlier.  Almost healthy enough to be in the Nutritional MyPlate Guide!

Chocolate Risotto

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoon cherry brandy
  • 2 cup milk
  • ¼ cup chocolate syrup
  • ¼ cup dried cherries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped

Over medium heat in a heavy sauce pan melt butter and add the rice.  Stir until the butter becomes fragrant and the rice is toasted lightly.

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Add the cherry brandy and stir until it becomes absorbed into the rice.  Mix the milk with the chocolate syrup well.  Slowly add the chocolate milk, a ¼ cup at a time and stir well, until the milk is almost absorbed.  With each addition of milk the rice will become creamier, and tender to bite.

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The temperature of the stove should be over medium, giving a slow simmer so there is no scorch.  When adding the last ¼ cup of milk, reduce heat to low and add the cherries, sugar and chocolate as well.  Allow to the chocolate to melt and the milk to be absorbed before serving.

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Serves 4.  Start to finish the cooking time was 30 minutes.

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Serving this at a dinner party will promise a grand finale, but is also a little tricky as the hostess is usually ready to unwind at this time.  You can par cook the rice if you want to have the ability to serve quicker,  just follow the directions above and stop cooking the rice when it is al dente, (with bite).  Cool it down immediately by spreading it out in a pan and refrigerating. You can do this the day before even if you wrap it tightly after it is cooled.  When you are ready to finish and serve, it will help to heat the milk, and you might need another ½ cup of milk.  But pretty much continue where you left off just reheat it slowly and evenly by stirring well.

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Another tip is to go as far as adding the liquor and then turning the stove off until you are ready to cook.  This will save you about 10 minutes in the end.

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**Warning**  Sir Wes told me I should not have let him have that… how could any chocolate dessert hold a candle…  I have ruined chocolate desserts for him…