Bang Bang Shrimp

This is delicious, which makes it a winner in my books!  The biggest bonus is that the whole dish comes together very quickly with ingredients that you likely have in your kitchen anyway.  The dipping sauce is a bit sweet, a bit spicy and a bit tangy from the yogurt.

Bang bang shrimp 4

Grilling these outside would have been perfect, but the rain changed that plan!

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced chives
  • 1 pound shrimp (raw, peeled and deveined)
  1. Mix together the first four ingredients and set aside.
  2. Thread shrimp on skewers (if using wooden skewers soak in water for 30 minutes first).
  3. Brush the shrimp with some of the sauce and leave the rest for dipping after they are cooked.
  4. Grill shrimp until just cooked through – it only takes a few minutes so watch carefully to be sure they are’t overcooked.
Bang Bang Shrimp 1

I’m sure you have all these ingredients on hand, and the dipping sauce is amazing to just keep on hand so make enough for leftovers.

 

Bang Bang Shrimp 2

Smooth, creamy and absolutely delicious.

Bang bang shrimp 3

Grill just until cooked through – today it had to be on a grill pan because it was absolutely pouring out there!

If you’ve had these at a Chinese restaurant they are usually deep fried in a light batter, and the dipping sauce is a lot heavier – made with mayonnaise.  I prefer this version made with greek yogurt, and I bet you will too!

 

Cheesy Zucchini Herb Loaf

I love the way the herbs stay fresh and green, and the cheesy tender dough is delicious.

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 6

Cheesy, crispy on the crust and so tender inside.  You are going to want to try this one out!

  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 4 cups flour
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 3/4 cup cubed cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup herbs, chopped finely (today I used parsley, chives, oregano and basil)
  • 1 tsp salt

Toss together, and set aside.

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh herbs
  • 2 cups milk

Whisk together.

Pour wet ingredients into flour/zucchini mixture and mix together lightly.  DO NOT OVERMIX.  That leads to tougher dough.

Pour into parchment lined loaf pans.

Sprinkle a little flake salt over top.

Bake at 350 for 45 – 60 minutes.  Start testing at 45, and as soon as the tester comes out clean remove from the oven.

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 1

The herbs are vibrant, the eggs are free run and the flavour is out of the park!

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 2

Once you have everything ready, the final assembly is pretty quick!

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 3

Using parchment means it is easy to lift out, and helps to get such a crispy exterior.                         This recipe makes two loaves.

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 4

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 5

Golden crust, with craggy cheesy bits and Maldon sea salt adding a bit of crunch on the top.

 

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup

During the cold of winter these vegetables are always available, and make the most comforting winter dinner.  When summer vegetables arrive however, with fresh new potatoes, leeks and fennel from your own garden or farmers market, this soup is the perfect meal on a cool, rainy spring – early summer night.

Roasted potato Fennel Soup 10

I love rich, creamy soups, but what I really love …. is the toppings.  Every pureed soup needs something to create texture and bacon with fresh herbs does the job.

  • 4 pounds red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp  freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup sliced leek
  • 3 cups sliced fennel bulb
  • 3 quarts chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian option)
  • 1 cup cream (omit if you want it to be vegan)

GARNISH

  • fresh chopped chives, parsley, basil and fennel fronds
  • crispy bacon bits

Preheat oven to 400

In large bowl toss the potatoes with olive, garlic, salt and pepper.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 1

New potatoes, tossed with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Yum whatever you do wth them!

Spread on baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, until cooked through.  (use 2 sheets if necessary, you don’t want them crowded)

Saute onions, fennel and leek with 2 tbsp olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat until translucent. (I like to cook my bacon in the pot first in order to use the fat …. but for vegan or vegetarian options just omit the bacon and it’s fat).

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 3

Season every step of the way!

Add chicken or vegetable stock to onion mixture and bring it to a boil. Add roasted potatoes, turn to a gentle simmer and cook until all vegetables are soft.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 5

Puree until all vegetables are creamy … this is the point to add fresh minced herbs and the cream, if using.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 7

Taste, and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 6

Mince up a handful of fresh herbs …. 

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 9

Toss the herbs in and stir well with the blended soup.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 2

Prep your garnish … today I liked the idea of crunchy bacon (well honestly most soups love crunchy bacon) … as well as chives, basil and fennel fronds.

 

Taiwanese Chicken Bites

Taiwanese chicken 7

We had this chicken for the first time at an outstanding restaurant in Huatulco.  Only about 7 tables, most of them on the sidewalk, and yet they had the most amazing fusion of flavours.  The owners spent a fair bit of time traveling around Asia, and this is reflected in their food.  If you get a chance to try out “Mercader”, then go.  Until we go back, I will just have to make this at home!

IMG_9205 (2)

Globetrotting tonight ….. served with Korean Fried Cauliflower (KFC) and loved it!

 

Ingredients
Chicken
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs

Marinade
1 medium head of garlic
1/2-inch ginger
3 green onions, white and 1-inch of the green part, minced
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon sweet potato starch
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Taiwanese chicken 1

Just the aroma of this marinade will have you salivating!

Coating

1 eggs
1/2 cup cold water
2-3 cups sweet potato starch (I had to ask one of our daughters to buy this from an Asian market in Vancouver and bring it home for me!)

To fry
3-4 cups peanut, rice bran or avocado oil

To serve
Leaves from 1 bunch of fresh Thai basil
salt and white pepper to taste

IMG_9200.jpg

Have everything ready to go before starting to fry the chicken.

 

Directions
1. Cut the chicken into 1-inch chunks and place in large bowl. Make the marinade by mincing or forcing the garlic through a press into a small bowl. Add the minced green onions, soy sauce, Mirin, 5-spice, white pepper, sweet potato starch and cayenne pepper, stir to form a paste and then scrape into the bowl with the chicken. Mix to coat all the chicken and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

2. Once the chicken is done marinating, place the eggs in medium sized bowl with the 1/2 cup of water. Beat together with a fork. Place the sweet potato starch in another medium sized bowl. Heat the frying oil in a sauté pan or wok until it reaches 350˚F. Using chopsticks or tongs, dip the chicken first in the watery egg mixture then in the starch and fry the chicken pieces without crowding them too much for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Try not to overcrowd the pan, I usually fry about 6-8 pieces at a time in the wok and 8 – 10 pieces in my 10” sauté pan.  Side note, I don’t recommend using a deep fryer that re-uses the oil.  The sweet potato starch is so fine that it doesn’t filter easily.

3. Once fried, place the chicken on a wire rack or a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Immediately toss with generous amounts of salt and white pepper to taste. Once you’ve fried all the chicken, fry the Thai basil leaves for 30 seconds or until they darken and then serve with the chicken.

IMG_9206

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

The first fresh fruit pie of the season … strawberries and rhubarb are ripe at about the same time and those two belong together!  The strawberries are sweet, and the rhubarb is tart …. its a perfect match.

Strawberr rhubarb pie 3

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 recipe unbaked double pie crust
  • 2 1/2 cup rhubarb, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 large stalks)
  • 2 1/2 cups hulled and sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)
Strawberry rhubarb pie

When the fruit looks this fresh, colourful and juicy you just know the pie will be perfect.

NSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Prepare the bottom crust by rolling out one of the pastry disks to an 11-inch circle. Nestle the crust inside the pan so about an inch hangs over the sides. Press the pastry down. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Mix the fruit with the sugar, flour (or cornstarch) and lemon zest. Using the tines of a fork, poke the bottom of the pie crust evenly about five times. Pour the fruit mixture into the chilled pastry. Dot with the butter pieces.
  4. Moisten the edge of the bottom crust with a finger dipped in water. Put on the top pastry in one piece and slice in a few air vents, or in a lattice pattern, trim, and crimp the edges.
  5. Brush the egg glaze over the crust. Transfer the pie to a baking sheet.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake another 30 minutes longer, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack before serving.
  8. Strawberry rhubarb pie 2

    I have a fancy little roller press that cuts this lattice pattern, but I can never get it onto the pie with it all looking smooth and even … I think I prefer just doing an old fashioned lattice … stay tuned for a photo next time I do that!

    Strawberry rhubarb pie 4

    Cut the pie while it is still warm, and you will end up with juices running … still delicious, but if you want it to be a firm slice, let it cool for at least a couple of hours.

    Strawberry rhubarb pie 5

     

     

Leafy Green Fritters

 

Green Fritters 7

I love the way the feta crisps up and gets golden brown ….. this is a fantastic way of using up a fridge full of greens!  Today these were beet tops, spinach and a bit of zucchini grated in.

INGREDIENTS

  • 14 ounces Swiss chard, kale, mustard, turnip or radish greens, etc, stems removed
  • ½ cup chopped Italian parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup chopped dill
  • 1½ teaspoons grated nutmeg (I didn’t measure; just grated a lot directly into the processor)
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 ounces crumbled feta cheese (1/2 cup)
  • Olive oil or grapeseed oil for frying
  • Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
  • Aioli, for serving (again, optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Steam greens, or briefly drop in boiling water for a few minutes. Remove from pot and drain well, patting leaves dry with a paper or kitchen towel.
  2. Place chard in food processor with herbs, nutmeg, sugar, salt, pepper, flour, garlic and eggs. Pulse until well blended. Fold in feta by hand.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, spoon in 1 heaping tablespoon of mixture for each fritter (you should be able to fit three fritters per batch).  Stick to cooking three or four at a time. I find these fritters a little tricky to flip, and the key is to make sure that you have space to flip but also to make sure the fritters are golden and crisp before flipping. Press down gently on fritter to flatten. Cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Add another tablespoon oil to pan and repeat. Serve warm, with lemon wedges (optional). Another serving idea is to prepare a creamy aioli and serve with that alongside …. you won’t be sorry!

Lucky me ….. I had a bunch of beet greens to use up and found this recipe on alexandracooks.com

Green Fritters 1

I minced up a generous handful of herbs.

Green Fritters 2

Crumble the feta by hand, and then just stir everything together with your cooled greens.

Green Fritters 3

Stir it all together (those little red bits are the beet tops), and you are ready to fry.

Green Fritters 4

Don’t overcrowd the pan!  3 or 4 only depending on the size of your pan.  Not only will it prevent them from browning nicely, it will be difficult to flip them.

Green fritters 5

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Sun Dried Tomato Pasta with Chicken and Spinach

Sun dried tomato pasta 4

Tender chicken, barely cooked spinach, crunchy bacon and tangy parmesan … this pasta dish has it all,   It’s a meal in a dish.

It seems like many years ago I just L O V E D a recipe like this at a local restaurant, creamy yet intensely flavoured and tasty chicken bits.  It took a while, but I finally found this one from RecipeTin Eats, and it is perfect!

Ingredients

  • 300g / 10 oz fettuccine
  • 30g / 2 tbsp butter , separated
  • 2 chicken breasts , cut in half horizontally
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) dry white wine (sub more chicken broth)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) chicken stock / broth
  • 1 1/4 cups (315ml) cream , thickened / heavy 
  • 3/4 cup (75g) parmesan , finely shredded
  • 70g / 2.5oz baby spinach
  • 100 g / 3oz sun dried tomato strips

SERVING:

  • 120g / 4oz bacon , cooked and crumbled
  • More parmesan
  • Parsley , for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for time per packet minus 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Just before draining, scoop out a mugful of pasta cooking water. Then drain pasta.

CHICKEN:

  • Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Melt half the butter in a large skillet over hig heat.
  • Add chicken and cook for 2 minutes on each side until deep golden.
  • Remove chicken onto plate, rest for a few minutes then shred with 2 forks.

ALFREDO SAUCE:

  • Turn down heat to medium high. In the same skillet, add remaining butter and garlic.
  • Cook garlic for 30 seconds until golden, then add wine.
  • Simmer rapidly, stirring to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Once mostly evaporated, add chicken broth, cream, parmesan and sun dried tomato.
  • Simmer on medium for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring leisurely, until it reduces and thickens.
Sun dried tomato pasta 1

The most important aspect of this sauce is letting it thicken enough to be rich and glistening.

ESSENTIAL TOSSING:

  • Add spinach, chicken and cooked pasta.
  • Toss for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes on the stove, until sauce thickens and coats the pasta strands – Use pasta cooking water if needed if it gets too thick.
  • Serve immediately with parmesan, crumbled bacon and parsley (if desired).
Sun dried tomato pasta 2

Fresh herbs really pop with colour and freshness in this dish, I added some fresh basil out of the garden and it was a perfect touch.