Tag Archives: Old Bay seasoning

SHRIMP-STUFFED ROASTED ARTICHOKE

Before we left for our child-tending excursion in San Francisco, I bought two beautiful artichokes at the grocery store. They were on special for Mothers Day. We wound up eating out a lot during the week, and so the artichokes languished in the refrigerator. When we returned home, I was worried that the artichokes might have spoiled. They had not, so I was confronted with what to do with them. Usually I boil them and serve them with Hollandaise, but I wanted to do something a little different. I remembered a wonderful dinner that we enjoyed many years ago in Ruston, Louisiana. Our host had gone to enormous trouble to wedge a bit of spicy shrimp into every space between the leaves. Such a dish is a traditional Louisiana favorite, but it is usually reserved for special dinners because it takes so much effort. I thought that maybe I could make something that approximated that long-ago creation with not so much work. It turns out that this version is really easy if you have a food processor. Probably a Vita-Mix would work, too.

RECIPE

Shrimp-Stuffed Roasted Artichoke

Ingredients

  • 2 large artichokes
  • 2 slices good quality French bread
  • leaves from 6 stems of parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped coarsely
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + more to drizzle on the tops of the stuffed artichokes
  • ¼ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Tabasco sauce to taste (optional)
  • 1 cup ready-cooked salad shrimp, thawed
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Method

  1. Prepare the artichokes by trimming the stem and the tips of the leaves. Cut off the top of the artichoke and remove the inner leaves to reveal the choke. Using a spoon, scrape out the fuzzy bits of the choke.
  2. Cut the bread into cubes and place in a food processor. Process until the bread forms coarse crumbs. Add the parsley leaves, chopped garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil and process until well combined but not puréed. Add the Old Bay, salt and pepper, optional Tabasco sauce, shrimp and grated Parmesan and process for just a few seconds until the shrimp are finely chopped but not puréed.
  3. Fill the center of each artichoke with the shrimp mixture and then spread the remainder over the tops of the artichokes. pressing down to force some of the mixture between the leaves.
  4. Place the stuffed artichokes in an oven-proof pan filled with about 1½ inches of water. Drizzle the tops with olive oil. Cover the pan with heavy aluminum foil, and poke four holes in the foil. Place in the middle of an oven preheated to 375°F. Roast for 1 hour covered, then remove the foil and roast, uncovered, for another 15 minutes. NOTE: Be very careful when you remove the foil, as steam may rush out and burn your fingers.
  5. Transfer the roasted artichokes to plates and serve with Hollandaise. I used Julia Child’s never-fail quick blender sauce.
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BAKED WONTONS

The Sunday family dinner with Carol and her family has become a regular thing. Carol always comes up with interesting and delicious things to cook. In general, she has also tried to make things that are relatively simple so that she and the family can spend most of Sunday on the beach or at one or another family activity. Still, that puts the pressure on me to come up with something that is easy and tasty – with the added requirement that it is not a repeat of one of our earlier menus. This last week my assignment was appetizer and dessert. For dessert I made a mixed berry galette. I have included the recipe in an earlier post, but I had never made it for our family dinners, so its inclusion seemed legitimate. Berry galette bakes up beautifully and has the fresh, sweet taste of spring (even though it’s winter) I have made the recipe a number of times. My most important insight is that you should bake the galette on a parchment or Silpat lined jelly roll pan and NOT a cookie sheet. No matter how hard you try to seal the crust around the berries, some of the juice well leak out. If you have no sides to the baking pan, they will spill into the oven creating a lot of smoke and a huge cleanup project.

For the appetizer, I was looking for something simple and tasty. There is a recipe for deep-fried cheese-filled wonton wrappers in our family cookbook which served as the beginning idea. A search of the internet revealed a large number of versions of filled wontons, baked or fried, lots of fillings, often centered on crab. Since some of the family have an aversion to crab (How is that possible?), that was out. One of our diners has a great affinity for goat cheese. That was in. I picked shrimp, spinach, and mushrooms as other good stuffing ingredients.

These wontons are basted in olive oil and baked rather than deep-fried. I’m not sure if that cuts back on the calories, but it makes one feel more righteous. Our family recipe just calls for the wonton wrapper to be folded over the filling into a triangle. That seems dull. This version pulls the corners of the wonton wrapper into a little pyramid that bakes up with a golden crust. They look difficult to make. Actually, they are just as easy as the boring triangles

There was enough filling for 40 to 60 individual baked wontons. At the end of the evening there were none left. I call that success.

RECIPE

Baked Wontons

Shrimp filling

Ingredients

  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese (may substitute softened cream cheese)
  • ½ pound small (51-60/pound) shrimp (sometimes called salad shrimp), cleaned, peeled and cooked
  • zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Pulse the goat cheese in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse only until combined, leaving shrimp bits to your liking.
  3. Set aside until ready to fill the wontons.

Mushroom and spinach filling

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 crimini mushrooms, chopped coarsely
  • 4 handfuls fresh baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup goat cheese (may substitute softened cream cheese)
  • zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Pernod
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat
  2. Add the mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes until the mushrooms are cooked through. Add the spinach and cook until the spinach is completely wilted.
  3. Pulse the mixture in the bowl of a food processor until the desired consistency.
  4. Add the goat cheese and pulse until well combined. Add Pernod and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. Set aside until ready to fill the wontons

Baked wontons

Ingredients

  • 1 package of wonton wrappers (should have at least 60 wrappers)
  • fillings as above
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • olive oil

Method

  1. On a clean, dry surface, arrange wonton wrappers for filling.
  2. Place about 1½ teaspoons of filling in the center of each wrapper. Be careful not to overfill so that the wontons will stay sealed during baking.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg and water together until well combined. With your finger, trace the outer edge of a wonton with the wash. Then, pull up adjacent corners of the wonton and press together. Repeat with the other corners to form a four-sided “tent”. Make sure that the edges are all well sealed.
  4. Repeat with the remaining wontons. Repeat the entire process until you have used up all the filling or have gotten tired.
  5. Lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil. Arrange the filled wontons so that they do not touch one another. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the wontons with more olive oil.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 400°F.
  7. Cool on a rack. Serve while still warm or later reheat in a 300°F oven for no more than 5 minutes. Makes about 40-60 wontons.

 

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SHRIMP-STUFFED MUSHROOMS

We’ve had our son and his two daughters visiting us the last few days. He was in town for a meeting, and the children flew in by themselves for the weekend. During their visit they took a couple of hikes and spent an afternoon at the swimming pool at the Community Recreation Center. The pool is a favorite place for all of our grandchildren because of the giant water slide.

The fist day, they visited Tent Rocks National Monument. The tent rocks are columns of volcanic tuff as high as 80 feet and topped with more durable cap rocks. The site has a slot canyon that you have to squeeze through to get to the top of the mesa. There are also petroglyphs if you look carefully.

The second day they visited Tsankawi Ruins, part of Bandelier National Monument. The trail leads to the top of a mesa where the ruined ancient village is littered with decorated pottery shards. Much of the trail winds through the volcanic tuff layer. It has winding, deep grooves, probably worn by countless foot steps, but possibly also carved out so that potential invaders had to come up the steep hillside in single file.

On our son’s arrival, we had refreshments on the patio. Something more substantive than salted nuts but less than a full meal seemed in order. Stuffed mushrooms sounded like the perfect alternative. Shrimp was a perfect stuffing. As you’ll see in the recipe, there is a lot of chopping. You could use a food processor instead. Just be careful not to turn everything to mush. I prefer hand-chopped ingredients to give contrasting textures and bursts of different flavors.

RECIPE

Shrimp-Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 12 3-inch crimini mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • ½ pound boiled shrimp, cleaned and tails removed
  • 1 scallion
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup panko
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in a small dry saucepan
  • ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and set aside.
  2. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the mushroom caps on both sides in about 1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Transfer to a small baking sheet, hollow side up.
  3. Chop the mushroom stems and sauté in the same pan using more olive oil as needed. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Chop the shrimp finely. Chop the scallion finely, including the green top.
  5. In a bowl, combine the chopped shrimp and scallion, reserved chopped mushroom stems, mayonnaise, panko, and pine nuts. Stir in Old Bay seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Fill each mushroom cap with the shrimp mixture. Bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 350°F for 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a plate, and serve while still warm.

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OAK-SMOKED SHRIMP WITH TRUMPET MUSHROOM RISOTTO

Our local farmers market stays open all year, but only now have the growers occupied their open-air stalls. There is still wind and cold weather, so about the only things available are greens and a few root vegetables. One exception to that is the beautiful trumpet mushrooms available from the  “mushroom man”. If you are like me, you wind up buying way more from the vendors than you can possibly use. I try to plan daily menus in my mind as I walk down the aisles. Invariably, my eyes and appetite fail me so that when the end of the week and a new farmers market arrives, there are things still in the vegetable crisper. The trumpet mushrooms fell into that category this week, so when I looked in the pantry and saw a container of Arborio rice, I immediately thought of risotto. I also wanted to try a new brand of boxed fish stock as well as Better Than Bouillon fish stock base suggested by my friend, Jim Hastings. It seemed like a perfect excuse for shrimp risotto. On top of all that, the stove top smoker was still sitting on the kitchen counter after my effort at smoked new potatoes, so the stars just seemed to come together for smoked shrimp with mushroom risotto.

RECIPES

Oak-Smoked Shrimp

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup smoking chips
  • 6 large (10-15/pound) per person
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Prepare stove top smoker by heaping special wood chips in the middle of the smoking pan. Cover the tray with aluminum foil to make cleanup easier and insert, along with rack in the smoker.
  2. Skewer 6 shrimp. Sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning, salt, and pepper. Place on the smoker rack, and close the top, leaving an opening of about 3 inches.
  3. Place the smoker over two burners of the kitchen range, both set to medium flame.
  4. When smoke begins to come out of the lid opening, close tightly and smoke for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the smoker from the stove, open the lid, and remove the shrimp.If they do not appear to be done, replace the smoker lid and place over the flame for another 5 minutes.

Trumpet Mushroom Risotto

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup shallot finely chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 2 quarts seafood stock made by dissolving 2 teaspoons Better than Bouillon fish stock base in 2 quarts water (or use canned fish stock or your own home-made fish stock diluted 1:4 with water)
  • 1 pint container of trumpet mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. In a medium sauce pan with lid, heat the oil over a medium-low flame. Add the shallots and sweat, covered, for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the rice, and raise the flame to medium, stirring constantly until the rice becomes opaque but does not brown.
  3. In the meantime, bring the fish stock to the simmer over another flame.
  4. Add one ladleful of stock to the shallot-rice mixture and raise the heat to bring to the boil.
  5. Stir frequently (constantly) until the liquid has almost completely evaporated. Then add another ladleful of the stock and again stir until nearly evaporated. Repeat the process until the fish stock is used up or the rice is creamy and tender, about 30 – 40 minutes  . If you need more liquid to finish cooking the rice, use water.
  6. In the meantime, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes. Set aside.
  7. When you are ready to serve, stir the mushrooms into the risotto. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Top with the smoked shrimp and serve. There should be enough risotto for 2 to 4 persons, depending upon hunger.

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USING THE LYTRO LIGHT FIELD CAMERA – SHRIMP, ARTICHOKE AND MUSHROOM MAC AND CHEESE

My son recently gave me an amazing new camera. It’s called a Lytro light field camera, and it operates on an entirely different principle than regular cameras. Peter is a techie who lives and works in Silicon Valley, so he is always up to date with the latest gadgets. This camera captures light in such a way that you can focus on any part of your image, and change the focus with the touch of a finger. You can also take close-up images from only a few centimeters away from the subject, so he thought that I would find it useful in making images of food. In spite of the instruction manual, using the camera is not intuitive – at least not for someone of my age.  With practice, though, I think I have caught the hang of it. Also, you need a computer with a fairly recent operating system to take advantage of the focusing feature. Unfortunately, when you publish the images you have to convert them to jpegs so that the focusing is lost.  Thus,  you won’t be able to get a full appreciation of how unique the camera is, and how much fun it is to use. Except for the images of the Lytro camera, which I made with my iPhone, the images in this post are made with the Lytro. Let me know what you think of them.

(Roll over image for legend, click to see gallery)

I know. I know. You are not supposed to mix fish and cheese. But I was looking for something to photograph with my new camera and decided to use what I was cooking, macaroni and cheese, as the test . But how can a person put plain old mac and cheese on a food blog? So I added a few twists to make me feel better. One of those twists is the use of Old Bay seasoning which adds just a little bit of pep to shellfish. Be careful, though, or you can over-do it. You can also omit the seasoning if you like. Here it is, then, shrimp, artichoke, and mushroom mac and cheese shot with a Lytro light field camera.

RECIPE

Shrimp, Artichoke and Mushroom Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided + more to butter the baking dish
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 ounce Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 ounce mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 2 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
  • ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 quarts of salted water
  • 2 cups dry macaroni
  • ½ pound (31/40) shrimp, peeled, deveined, and rinsed
  • 6 medium crimini mushrooms, rinsed and broken into pieces
  • 1 cup marinated, quartered mushroom hearts, drained
  • ¾ cup panko
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.
  2. add the flour and stir in the flour cooking for a few minutes to remove the raw flour taste.
  3. Add the milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to remove any lumps and to avoid scorching until thickened.
  4. Turn the heat to low and stir in the Cheddar, mozzarella, and Swiss cheeses. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Add optional Old Bay seasoning. When the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth, remove from the heat and set aside.
  5. In a large pot, bring the salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook at the boil, stirring occasionally, until the macaroni is al dente. Drain.
  6. In the large pot, combine the cheese sauce and cooked macaroni.
  7. Stir in the shrimp, mushrooms, and artichokes
  8. Prepare the baking dish  by heavily greasing the inside with butter. Then coat the butter layer with panko crumbs. Pour in the macaroni mixture.
  9. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the remaining panko and brown it lightly, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Remove from the heat
  10. Combine the toasted panko and grated Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the macaroni mixture.
  11. Bake for 45 minutes in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 350°F. If the top becomes too brown, cover with aluminum foil and continue baking.

(Roll over image for legend, click to see gallery)

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HEART OF PALM PUFFS – A GALLERY OPENING

A few weeks ago I had what I thought was a wonderful opportunity. I was invited to show some of my photographs in a nearby artists’ cooperative gallery. I put together about  half a dozen of my favorite images, framed, and matted them. Along with oils, watercolors, pottery, and jewelry from other artists, the photos were arranged for a show.

As is the local tradition, the new show was inaugurated with a Friday evening opening complete with sparking water, wine, and appetizers. Each artist was asked to bring some kind of food, so that set off a perpetual struggle in my mind – what to serve? I found a recipe for chorizo tapas that sounded delicious, but I worried that gallery visitors might get grease on one of the oil paintings. Then I thought of empanadas filled with hearts of palm. I had first tasted them forty years ago at a party held by one of our Brazilian friends.

The bonus that moved me toward this option  was that I had a can of hearts of palm in the pantry. At the same time, making the dough for empanadas seemed like more effort than I wanted so I decided to use frozen puff pastry. The end result turned out to be these heart of palm puffs.

Heart of palm, also called palm heart or palmito, can be harvested from the growing tips of nearly all palms, but  this may destroy the palm. The commercial variety comes from the peach palm, a plant from the Amazon that now is grown throughout Central and South America. It is sustainable without destroying the palm for future growth.  Supposedly you can find fresh palm hearts in gourmet grocery stores, but I have only seen the canned variety.

The gallery opening was crowded, and the puffs disappeared. So did the gallery. What the reader needs to know is that nearly every person who lives in Santa Fe considers himself/herself to be an artist. The other factor is that there may be more galleries than residents. That is a certain formula to assure that many galleries disappear quickly amidst the competition. That was the fate of our co-operative, and my first show did not survive for this post.

RECIPE

Heart of Palm Puffs

Ingredients

  • 1 can (14 ounces) hearts of palm
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup parsley, minced
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Method

  1. Drain the hearts of palm, slice them into ½ inch coins, and marinate them, covered, in the refrigerator, with a little of the liquid from the can, a good sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning, salt, and pepper
  2. Combine the parsley and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
  3. Thaw the puff pastry according to package instructions. Then on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough so that it is about 1/16 inch thick. It should be large enough that you can cut 40 2 inch squares.
  4. Working quickly so that the pastry does not dry out, place a heart of palm disc in the middle of half of the pastry squares. Top with a ¼ teaspoon of parsley and Parmesan cheese mixture.
  5. Dab the edges of the square with the egg yolk mixture, top with another square, and press the edges together with a fork.
  6. Place the puffs on a Silpat-lined baking tray. Brush the tops with the egg white mixture.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes in the middle of an oven preheated to 400° F.
  8. When golden brown, remove the puffs from the oven, and cool them on a cooling rack.

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