Thursday, November 21, 2019

Quick And Easy Shrimp Stir Fry.

  I always have shrimp on hand in the freezer, so a quick shrimp stir fry is just a thaw and a chopchopchop away.
Whenever you're doing a stir fry, remember:  Preparation is key.  You need to have everything chopped, sliced, diced, and ready to go.  Once you do that, your meal is only minutes away.

All that's involved here is shrimp, assorted vegetables, sauce, and a hot skillet  Once you have the prep work done, the rest is quick and easy.

Spicy Shrimp Stir Fry
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and de-tracted  
Remember, that black line going doing the back of the shrimp is the digestive tract, not a vein.  So de-tract your shrimp, not de-vein it.
Assorted vegetables:
I used:
sugar snap peas, strings removed
carrots, peeled and sliced
onion, chopped
You could use whatever you like.  I prefer snow peas to sugar snap, but only sugar snaps were available.  I had bok choy, but forgot to use it.  If you'd like those cute little ears of corn, go for it.  Water chestnuts would be fine too.  Makes for a nice crunch.  Also, if you wanted to throw in some peanuts at the end, that's good too.  Or toasted sesame seeds.  The stir fry is not etched in stone.  Use what you have and what you like.
2 1-inch cubes ginger
4 cloves garlic
Peel the ginger, slice it, and run it through a garlic press along with the garlic, scraping the pulp and juice into a small bowl.

For the sauce:
2 TB hot Asian chili paste
2 TB honey
2 TB soy sauce or Tamari
juice of one lime
Mix all together in a small bowl.

To stir fry:
Heat a large skillet with a tablespoon of peanut oil over high heat.  When it's hothothot, add in the shrimp.  Cook for one minute, turn over, and cook for about a minute.  Transfer to bowl.

Pour in another tablespoon of oil, get it hothothot, and add snow peas and carrots.  Cook for a minute, then add in onion.  Pour in garlic/ginger mixture, and cook, stirring, another minute.
Pour in sauce and shrimp.  Stir to coat and turn off heat.

Serve with some kind of rice - I used a nutty flavored brown jasmine rice which I cooked just shy of the time recommended, so that it was slightly al dente.  Then I sprinkled some chopped cilantro over everything.


 For the step-by-steps:
I used this much garlic and ginger.
 On the left:  garlic and ginger, snow peas, carrots, onions, and sauce.
On the right:  shrimp and cilantro.
Hot pan with hot oil.
Add the shrimp.

Less than a minute each side.
And remove from pan.

Peas and carrots go in pan next.
Cook for a minute.

Then add onion.

Add in garlic and ginger.
Pour in the sauce.
And add the shrimp back in.
Stir to coat.

Serve on a bed of rice and sprinkle cilantro over top.


Sunday, November 17, 2019


It's time for sumpin' sweet.

Youngest Hawthorne has a friend who supplies us with all sorts of seafood (and now deer!) and I supply him with cheesecake.  He's even said that I make "the best cheesecake" he's ever had.  Now, I don't know about that, but I do know I make a good cheesecake.  (Thinking about it, I don't believe I've ever had a "bad" cheesecake.)   But this guy likes my cheesecakes and I will happily keep him in cheesecake heaven.

Today, I made two cheesecakes.  One big cake for the fish guy (Tuna!!!!) and one smaller cake for the Hawthornes.  And no, I didn't get a picture of the whole cake because the first one was immediately whisked away to its destination and the second one was promptly pounced upon by hungry monkeys.  All I got was pics of the slices and that will have to suffice.

 Before I give you the recipes (Yes -2 recipes - one for the 9-inch springform pan and one for the 7-inch pan.), Imonna 'splain you some stuff about makin' cheesecakes.

The main ingredient is, of course, cream cheese.  I use both full-fat and light cream cheeses (whichever I have and sometimes both) and either way, my cheesecakes come out just fine.  As for the extra dairy you add in, you can be ... creative.  I use what I have on hand.  In this case, I had sour cream and ricotta.  Cottage cheese would have worked.  Same goes for mascarpone, but I don't know too many people who have extra mascarpone sitting around in the fridges.  Eggs are involved too and I generally use the one-egg-per-cup-of-dairy ingredient rule of thumb with sometimes an extra thrown in for good measure.  As for flavorings, lemon juice/zest and vanilla do it for me.  When baking the cheesecake, I always use a bain-Marie.  That means a water bath.  (And, no, I don't know who Marie was.  I can only hope a downstairs scullery maid who was getting it on with the pastry chef.)  I wrap my filled springform pans in heavy duty foil, then place them in a larger pan into which I pour boiling water halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan.  And then bake.  The bain-Marie is commonly used for custards, creating a gentle, uniform heat around the cheesecake, allowing it to cook slowly and evenly, resulting in a creamy custard with no dry edges and preventing curdling, crusting, and cracking.

For my crust, I always use a combination of ginger snaps and graham crackers.  And since I was giving away one of the cheesecakes, I used parchment paper in each springform pan.  The paper went on the bottom of my pan with excess extending out when I latched the collar around the bottom. Then I pressed in the crust and poured in the filling and baked.  This way, after the cheesecake cools in the pan, you can simply unlatch the collar and slide the entire cake off the bottom piece and nothing sticks and your cake is intact.

Always peek through the oven window and check on over-browning.  If the top seems too brown, simply cover with foil and continue cooking until cheesecake is set.

After the cheesecake cools, I like to drizzle on toppings - chocolate and caramel work for me.

 Cheesecake #1  (9-inch springform pan)

Heat oven to 325°.

1 pkg. graham crackers
24 ginger snaps
3 TB brown sugar
6 TB unsalted butter, melted
Process crackers, cookies, and sugar until even crumble.  Pour in butter and process until combined.  Press into bottom and up sides of parchment paper bottom-lined 9-inch springform pan.

 3 8-oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened (I used one full fat cream cheese and 2 light cream cheese)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup ricotta
1 cup sugar
juice one lemon
1 TB vanilla
4 eggs
Process cream cheese until smooth, then add in sour cream and ricotta, processing until well-combined.  Slowly process in sugar, then lemon juice, vanilla, and eggs, one at a time.

Wrap springform pan in heavy duty foil wrap and place in a larger pan.
Pour in filling.
Pour boiling water halfway up sides.
Bake at 325° - about 70-75 minutes. 
After 30 minutes, I rotated the pan.
Also, after 30 minutes, I sprinkled a streusel topping over the cheese cake.
Bake until lightly browned on top and cake still has a slight jiggle.

Let cool completely before unlatching the springform pan.

Drizzle with whatever toppings you'd like.  Recipes follow for both chocolate and caramel sauces.


For streusel topping:
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch kosher salt
Mix all together until evenly combined.  If you wanted, you could add a couple tablespoons of oatmeal and maybe a 1/4 cup of crushed pecans.  It's all good!

 Cheesecake #2  (7-inch springform pan)

1/2 pkg. graham crackers
12 ginger snaps
2 TB brown sugar
1/2 stick butter, melted
Mix well.  Press into bottom and sides of springform pan.  (I used parchment paper on bottom for easy removal.)

2 pkgs. cream cheese
1/4 cup ricotta
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 TB vanilla
3 eggs
Combine as in above recipe.
Pour into prepared pan.
Wrap pan in foil.  Place in bain Marie
Bake at 325° about 70 minutes, rotating halfway through.
Let cool in pan.

 When cheesecakes have cooled completely, unlatch springform pan and remove.
Drizzle chocolate and/or caramel over top and sides.

 Chocolate Sauce
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 TB corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup skim milk
1 tsp vanilla
pinch kosher salt
Place first 5 ingredients in small saucepan over low heat.  Melt chocolate, stirring occasionally, and bring to simmer.  Add in vanilla and salt.  Remove from heat.  Let cool a bit, then drizzle over cheesecake.  (Rosie Note:  Any kind of milk will work here.  I never have whole milk on hand, but always have cream and skim, so that's what I always use - the combination.)

Caramel Sauce
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cream
1 tsp vanilla
pinch kosher salt
Combine first three ingredients over low heat, stirring to melt butter and dissolve sugar.  Simmer about 4 minutes.  Stir in vanilla and salt.
Remove from heat and let cool a bit before drizzling over cheesecake.


Saturday, November 9, 2019

Rosie Makes Corn And Shrimp Soup.

It's cold outside,
so it's officially time for soup.
Corn and shrimp soup for the record.

I'll give you my recipe first,
then show you the step-by-steps.

Rosie's Corn And Shrimp Soup
4 ears of corn, shucked, kernels cut off, and cobs reserved
8 oz. shrimp, shelled and de-tracted, shells reserved  (That black line down the back is the digestive tract, not a vein, so de-tract, not de-vein, your shrimp.)
6 cups water
5 fresh bay leaves (I have a bay tree, so I always have fresh leaves.  Dried leaves are stronger, so if you're using dried, only use 2.  And if you want any baby bays, just let me know.)
1 TB peppercorns

3 TB unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
1 cayenne pepper, minced
3 TB flour

1/2 cup skim milk
3/4 cup heavy cream

red and yellow pepper, chopped  (Enough to sprinkle on top, for color and taste.)
fresh thyme
green onions
 kosher salt, to taste

In a medium soup pot, heat 1 TB oil over medium high heat.  Sauté shrimp shells, stirring for about a minute (until they turn pink), then add cobs (I had 6.  I saved 2 from a previous meal.) and cook another minute or so.  Pour in 4 cups water, bring to simmer, and reduce heat, simmering for about 30 minutes.  Strain out shells and cobs and discard any solids.  Return liquid to pan (should be about a quart) and simmer until reduced to 3 cups liquid.  (Pour into measuring cup and hang on.)

In a food processor, purée half the kernels until smooth.

In the soup pot, melt the butter until foamy and add onions, celery, and cayenne.  Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes.  Add flour and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes to cook out the raw taste.  Slowly, stir in corn and shrimp stock and let thicken.  Stir in puréed kernels, milk, and cream and heat through.  Add in shrimp and remaining kernels and let shrimp cook, about 3-4 minutes.  Season with kosher salt, to taste.

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with diced red and yellow pepper, chopped green onions, and thyme leaves.  Add chopped parsley and tarragon too if you're so inclined.

Now, for the step-by-steps:
First, find you some nice ears of corn.
Shuck and remove the silk.
Save the cobs for the stock.

Slice off the kernels, saving any milk.

Bunch of ingredients...
red and yellow pepper
bay leaves
green onions
cayenne pepper
Clean the shrimp.

Here's an overview so you can see everything.

Heat up a little oil in the pan and add the shells.
Stir and squish.
Until pinkish.

Add in the corn cobs.
I had 6 cobs.
Two were saved from a previous meal.

Add in bay leaves, peppercorns, and water.
Bring to a simmer.
Strain out the corn/shrimp stock.

Discard the solids.

I put half my kernels in a processor and...
... processed until smooth.

I finely chopped this much onion and celery.

Heated butter until foamy,
then I added the chopped up cayenne pepper, celery, and onion.

Push it around for a few minutes.

Then add the flour.
Stirring and cooking.

Slowly add in the corn/shrimp stock.
Stir it and let it thicken.

Stir in the puréed corn sludge.

And then the corn kernels go in.

Add the cream/milk.
Stir to heat through.
Kosher salt to taste.

Finally add in the shrimp.
Cook until just opaque.

And serve!
Top with green onions, red and yellow diced pepper,
some thyme, parsley, and tarragon.


I had some leftover the next day.
And I added crab meat.
And crab meat works quite nicely.