Grilled Shrimp and Cauliflower with Romesco Dipping Sauce

Cauliflower & Shrimp with Romescu
The first thing you need to know is that this sauce is A M A Z I N G.  Put it on your sandwich, toss hot pasta with it, fresh veggie dip or meat skewer dip …. it wins every time.  Today’s appetizer included these grilled cauliflower florets, lightly marinated shrimp and green onions.

Ingredients for Romesco

1 1/2 CUPS SERVINGS

  • 1 large roasted red bell pepper from a jar
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup tomato purée
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Pulse first 8 ingredients in a food processor until very finely chopped. With motor running, slowly add oil; process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Romesco can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.

romescu

To use as a dipping sauce, heat through until easy to stir and warm.

 

Shrimp and Vegetables

  • 1 head of cauliflower – cut into florets
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 lb jumbo shrimp – tails and shells on
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 bunch green onions

Lightly steam cauliflower until just tender crisp – be careful not too overcook it.

Season with salt.

In a large bowl, toss shrimp with vegetable oil and lime juice.  Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes.

Grill cauliflower, shrimp and green onions just until heated through (and shrimp is fully cooked) – try to get some pretty grill marks on there!

Arrange on a serving platter with the Romesco and dip merrily away.

 

 

Basil Chive Vinaigrette

Nothing smells like fresh basil – definitely my favourite herb.  Summer is the only time of year I make this vinaigrette, when the basil is plentiful and salads grace every meal.

Basil Vinaigrette 1

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 oz (45 g) fresh basil leaves (about 2 cups leaves)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup really good quality extra virgin olive oil

Blend all ingredients, except for the olive oil.  Give it a good whiz, until all the herbs are bright flecks of green, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil until creamy and smooth.

Basil Vinaigrette 2

I really think this needs either an immersion blender or food processor to get the consistency.  If you don’t have either, chop herbs very fine and whisk it all up.

This will yield about 1 pint jar, and I’d suggest trying it in a variety of ways …

Basil Vinaigrette 3

salad dressing   ~   vegetable dip   ~   blend with cream cheese for a spreadable bread topping   ~   toss with zucchini ribbons   ~   brush over grilled chicken or seafood

 

Lamb Meatballs with Tomato Olive Sauce and Mint

lamb meatballs

 

These meatballs are tender and delicious – the sauce is rich and that mint sauce is a perfect taste to brighten it all up. If you aren’t a big fan of lamb, then use minced pork.

You could buy lamb merguez sausage to make these meatballs, but if that isn’t available to you, this is an easy fix and tastes amazing.

1 pound lean ground lamb

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp turmeric

3 cloves minced garlic

2 tbsp harissa

1 tbsp tomato sauce

Grind salt and fennel together until smooth, then add the rest of the spices and stir together.  Add in garlic, harissa and tomato sauce to make a paste.  Lightly toss paste with ground lamb, until well blended.

For the best flavour, allow to sit over night but they are great if made into meatballs right away too.

Form balls about 1″ in diameter.  Heat oil until shimmering, then cook meatballs until just crispy on the outside and

 

Meanwhile ….. on roasting pan in moderate oven (375) toss in olive oil:

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves

1/2 cup black olives

 

Roast until vegetables are tender, and blend with enough olive oil to make a smooth sauce.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss meatballs with tomato sauce and serve with mint sauce.

Mint Sauce

Blend fresh mint leaves with a drizzle of honey, freshly squeezed lemon and olive oil just until smooth – season to taste with salt.

Olive Tapenade

If you love olives …. why haven’t you tried tapenade?? This is more simple than you can even imagine, and absolutely delicious.

pretty hard to make a pile of minced olives look good …… but try it out and taste it, you will love it - every taste is packed with flavour

pretty hard to make a pile of minced olives look good …… but try it out and taste it, you will love it – every taste is packed with flavour

1/2 pound olives (go ahead, mix it up – kalamata, green, stuffed, whatever you have on hand)
2 anchovy fillets (rinsed)
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp capers
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp really good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp each fresh parsley and basil, chopped

Toss it all into a food processor and whiz it up – taste and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with crackers, fresh baguette, or crisp pita triangles.

Tomato Thyme Bacon Tart

Fresh garden tomatoes and thyme combined with bacon and cheese

Fresh garden tomatoes and thyme combined with bacon and cheese

Nothing screams summer like tomatoes! This tart is quick and easy to make, allowing the tomato to be the star of the show. Today’s tart was made with heirloom tomato – such a big tomato that it only took 3 slices along with a few cherry tomatoes to fill in the gaps.

This works amazingly well as either an appetizer or side dish.

Roll out 1 thawed puff pastry sheet in to 10 x 14 rectangle on lightly floured surface. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle on 1 1/2 cups cheese (gruyere, gouda and cheddar are good choices). Leave a 2 inch border on the long sides……

Crumble cooked, crumbled bacon over the cheese (4 slices)

Slice tomatoes and layer across bacon/cheese.

Sprinkle with fresh thyme, salt and pepper.

Fold the long sides over to create a border, and fold in the short ends to create a seal.

Using a sharp knife, cut vent holes in the pastry and brush with beaten egg.

Bake at 400 until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle with fresh basil for serving.

Hot Layered Bean Dip

I know, we all have a layered bean dip recipe …. but this one is hot, creamy and delicious! Serve it with taco chips or toasted pita chips. Thanks to Lorellei for sharing this one – a brilliant addition to Sloan’s 5th birthday party.

Any time you have a crowd to please, go for this hot bean dip!

Any time you have a crowd to please, go for this hot bean dip!

1 tin refried beans
2 avocadoes (soft and ripe)
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp hot sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 crushed garlic clove
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3/4 cup grated cheddar
3/4 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved

Grease a 9 x 11 baking/serving dish.
Spread out beans on the bottom of dish
Mash avocado, lemon juice and hot sauce – spread on top of bean layer
Mix sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic and spices – spread over avocado layer
Mix cheeses together and sprinkle over sour cream layer
Top with halved olives, then scatter with green onions and cilantro

Bake at 350 for around 25 minutes, until cheese is golden, bubbly and looking delicious.

This can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge until ready to heat.

Thai Chicken Wings

These chicken wings hit all the notes: spicy, sticky, salty, sweet and tangy – grab the napkins and dig in!

Sweet, spicy, tangy, sticky - what's not to love?

Sweet, spicy, tangy, sticky – what’s not to love?

1/2 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
2 tbsp Spicy Hoisin sauce
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp tamarind sauce
2 gloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp roasted sesame oil
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp red Thai curry paste
1 tbsp chile garlic sauce (sambal oelek)
3 tbsp peanut oil

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Garnish: roughly chopped cilantro and green onions

Blend this all together and taste. TASTE – I can’t say this enough – every brand of seasoning is different, whether your garlic & ginger is fresh … everything leads to a different flavour profile. When you taste this sauce, you should want to keep dipping for another taste ……… if not – keep adjusting until you can’t stop.

1 – 2 pounds chicken wings

Put chicken wings into a ziplock bag, and add just enough sauce to coat. Reserve the rest. Marinate chicken wings for as long as you have available – works well whether you have 24 hours or just 1.

Roast chicken wings in hot oven (400 degrees) until cooked through – we like ours well done – around 35 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, reduce reserved marinade seasoning until thick and glossy.

When cooked through, toss cooked chicken wings in reduced marinade, add 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds.

Return to oven and roast until crispy and glossy – along with super sticky and delicious!

Garnish with roughly chopped cilantro and green onions.

Check out my post for Thai Noodle Salad with Chicken and Peanut Lime Dressing …. leave out the chicken on that salad and serve this with with the Thai Chicken Wings …. perfection!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Last summer we had an overabundance of beautiful red peppers growing outside the back door, so we used them in a variety of ways – smoked, dried and then ground into powder to be used in salad vinaigrettes, dips and meat rubs. We also canned a few jars of them, to be used in another variety of methods ….. this is one of them, hope you enjoy! Remember, if you don’t happen to be crazy about the idea of doing the work for your own roasted red peppers, they are easy to buy!

IMG_4565

About 3/4 cup jarred roasted red peppers
One 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
1/4 cup tahini
Half of a large garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 1 1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

For serving: 2 tablespoons of minced red pepper, extra virgin olive oil and sesame seeds.

Throw everything into a food processor and let it whiz until smooth and creamy. Add a bit of water if it seems too dense.

Now – this is critical – taste!!! Every different jar of roasted peppers, or can of chickpeas will have a different level of flavour. Make sure this is the way you like it. I often end up adding a bit of water, a bit more oil, more salt and certainly some fresh ground pepper. Just to bump up the flavour a bit, I also added a teaspoon of our ground red pepper – but you could use smoked paprika.

Turn into a serving dish, drizzle with a little extra good, extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with a few sesame seeds and a few of the roasted red peppers, minced.

For the non wheat eaters in our group, I serve this with a pile of fresh vegetables, and for the rest of the crew they love pita chips, taco chips or rice crackers. This is as versatile as your own household likes!

Shrimp Cocktail

I love shrimp cocktail, and this version puts lots of flavour into the shrimp as well as the cocktail sauce – sure to be a hit at your next dinner or appetizer party.

Make sure to use raw shrimp and poach them in this broth - it really does make a difference.

Make sure to use raw shrimp and poach them in this broth – it really does make a difference.

Poach the shrimp:
3 cups water
1 cup your favourite white wine (preferably crisp, light, fruit – think pinot grigio)
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp kosher salt
1 1 pound bag of frozen RAW shrimp

Put all ingredients, save the shrimp, into a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil – allow to simmer for about 20-30 minutes to allow flavours to develop, and then turn to a gentle simmer. Add the shrimp, cover with a tight fitting lid and turn off the heat. Let sit for 10 min. Remove shrimp and allow to cool.

COCKTAIL SAUCE

1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup horseradish
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
juice and zest of 1 lemon

Combine all sauce ingredients and allow to sit

Serve shrimp with cocktail sauce and sit back to enjoy the compliments – way better than any shrimp cocktail you buy!

Nuts and Bolts/Bits and Bites

nuts and bolts 4

Whatever you use here is up to your families interests!  This year we made it peanut free for Liv, who is allergic, but pecans, cashews and coconut flakes added lots of interest.

 

This is our families favourite savoury Christmas treat … we only make it at this time of year for some reason, and we all love it. The butter makes it a treat you shouldn’t have often, but enjoy when you do!

Remember – use your own families favourite ingredients, whether it is the cereal aspect or the nuts – make it your own to enjoy.

1 pound butter
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion salt
1 tbsp celery salt

Melt and stir until seasoning is well mixed. Dip a Bugle, or or shreddie or something in it at this point and make sure you can taste the seasoning – if it needs more flavour, add a bit of each. Remember – critical – taste!! Everybody has different seasoning, and each brand is different in it’s level of flavour. (and freshness)

Nuts and bolts 1

If you taste it enough you might end up with less to cook………

4 cups Cheerios
4 cups Life cereal (or Shreddies)
1 package pretzels
1 package Bugles (4-6 cups depending on your preference)
1 bag  cheese crackers (goldfish) (3 cups)
2 cups peanuts
1 cup pecans
1 cup walnuts

Stir the melted butter/spice mix over the dry ingredients – mix well and bake in the largest roaster you have – it makes a lot.

nuts and bolts 2

Bake at 250 for 1 & 1/2 hours, stirring frequently.

Cool completely and store in an airtight container. (at least, try to store it – doesn’t last long….)