Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

I haven't cooked any shrimp dishes in a while, and I'd been craving feta for ages. I'm trying my hardest to cook a bit healther, but you'd never know it by my recent posts! So, I found this recipe made by Elie Krieger in her cookbook The Food Your Crave, tweaked it up a bit with some of the herbs I had on hand, and we absolutely devoured this dish.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can of diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 2 small fresh tomatoes, on the vine
  • 1 cup chicken stock.
  • 1/4 cup finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • A good handful of fresh chopped cilantro
  • A tbsp of fresh finely chopped thyme
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 - 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat the oil in an oven proof skillet over a medium-high heat.

Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes and stock bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 5 minutes, until the tomato juices thicken.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley, thyme, cilantro, and shrimp and season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the feta over the top. Bake until the shrimp are cooked through and cheese melts, about 12 minutes.

Serve over orzo or rice.

Orange Chicken

I love Chinese food to a fault, and this is one of my favorite simple dishes to make. Nice and spicy with a sweet tangy sauce, it makes even my picky brother-in-law happy to eat something outside of his comfort zone.

  • 1/2 pound chicken breast (cut into bite-size cubes)
  • 5 dried red chilies (cut into 1.5 inch length, seeded and soaked in warm water)
  • 1 teaspoon minced orange zest
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 inch ginger (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • Oil for deep frying

Orange Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tsp chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Chinese rice wine
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 5 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • Salt to taste
Frying Batter:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 oz. all-purpose flour
  • 1 oz. corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 egg
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil
  • 1 small pinch of salt

Mix the orange sauce ingredients and set aside.Mix the frying batter and dip the chicken meat into the batter. Heat up a pot/wok of cooking oil. When the cooking oil is hot enough for frying, drop the chicken pieces into the oil and deep fry them until they turn golden brown or crispy. Transfer them out onto a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

In a wok, add 2 teaspoons of cooking oil and quickly stir-fry the minced garlic and ginger until aromatic. Add in the dried red chilies and toss around until you smell the spicy aroma. Follow by the minced orange zest and then chicken. Quickly stir the chicken around before adding the orange sauce mixture. Continue to stir-fry until the sauce thicken. Dish out and serve immediately with steamed white rice and steamed broccolli.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Guinness Steak and Cheese Pie

I've recently received Jamie Oliver's cookbook that goes along with his show, Jamie At Home. It's a wonderful cookbook, and I love how he integrates his vegetable and herb growing methods along with the appropriate recipes. This cookbook has gotten a bit of a workout over the past few weeks.

I've made this lovely recipe for Guinness Steak Pie before, and have experimented using different beers. This latest time, I used a local Texas brew, Shiner Bock, but I've used Guiness, Bass, Newcastle, and others, and I have to say - the Shiner Bock has to be my favorite!


  • 2 - 2.5 lb. Beef brisket, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 lb. Store bought puff pastry
  • 3 red onions sliced
  • Sprig of rosemary
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp butter, and more for greasing the pie plate
  • 2 sticks celery - finely sliced
  • 2 carrot sticks - peeled and sliced
  • 8 oz. field mushrooms (portabella, crimini); as many as you like; sliced\
  • 1 pint Guinness or other dark beer
  • 1 heaping tbsp flour
  • Beef stock
  • 7 oz. of shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 8 oz. package frozen peas

Sauté onions over low heat on the stove top with a good glug of olive oil, salt and pepper until slightly browned in a deep, heavy dutch oven, about 10 minutes.

Stir in a sprig of rosemary, and add in the 3 cloves of minced garlic.

Add 1 tbsp butter, celery, carrots, and mushrooms.

Add the beef wirh a pinch of pepper and salt.

Add 1 pint of Guinness, and stir in 1 heaping tbsp of flour.

Pour in beef stock to top off stew; liquid should barely cover beef

Cook at 350 degrees for 2 hours, pulling the stew out halfway through and stirring

Remove stew filling from the oven and stir in 1 handful of shredded white cheddar cheese

Roll out puff pastry to about 3mm

Grease the entire oven safe bowl or pie pan that is about 4 inches deep and 8-10 inches in diameter with butter

Line the bottom of a the pie pan with the puff pastry.

I like to blind bake my lower puff pastry to ensure a crisper bottom. This is an optional step, but it yields better results.

Pour in the stew filling and sprinkle the other handful of shredded cheddar cheese on top of stew filling.

                  Brush the outer edge of the puff pastry with the beaten egg (this will act as a glue when you put the top on)

                  Cover with another piece of puff pastry that has been lightly scored with a knife.

                  Press around the edges so the top puff pastry is sealed to the bottom puff pastry.

                  Fold in excess puff pastry that is draping over the bowl so it looks a little organic and wrinkled.

                  Brush the top of the pastry with beaten egg.

                  Put pie in the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until bubbly and golden.

                  Towards the end of the cook time for the pie, cook a package of frozen peas according to package directions, once pie is finished cooking, pull out of the oven; spoon peas over top of each pie serving. As you can see from my pictures, I added the peas to the stew right before I put the stew in the oven. Either way works!

                  Friday, January 16, 2009

                  Savory Tomato and Sweet Onion Pie

                  One of my favourite places on the internet is a large message board full of random topics. Last year, one of the members of that forum's Cooking Crew started an Iron Chef type of competition among the board members. This was my entry for Battle Tomato.

                  I've used this crust before in various savory quiches, and it always turns out so light, and flaky, with just a hint of spice. I thought the flavour would work really well with a layered pie of tomatoes and sweet onions. The tomatoes were incredibly delicious and flavorful on their own, but combined with those sweet onions and the gorgeous soft cheeses, this dish was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

                  Savory Crust Ingredients
                  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
                  • 1 pinch each - paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne powder, dried oregano, and thyme.
                  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
                  • 4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small rectangular pieces
                  • Ice water in a spray bottle

                  In the bowl of a food processor combine flour, paprika, salt, galric powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme, and butter and process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. While the motor is running, spritz water inbetween pulses until dough comes together to form a ball.

                  Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a flat disc. Refrigerate overnight or at least one hour.

                  Remove from refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured surface to desired shape and thickness.

                  Pie Filling Ingredients

                  • 1 egg
                  • 2 pounds peeled ripe tomatoes
                  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
                  • 1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
                  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
                  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced Vidalia onions
                  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
                  • 2 tablespoons chiffonade fresh basil
                  • 1/2 cup grated fontina cheese
                  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
                  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
                  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

                  Roll out the pie crust on a lightly floured surface to fit a deep 9 or 10-inch pie pan. Place the pastry in the pie pan and crimp edges decoratively.

                  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, then line with aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights (I didn't have pie-weights, so I used bulk cannellini beans) and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges.

                  Remove foil and pie weights, and return to the oven for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool. Crack the egg in a small bowl, reserving yolk for the filling, separately. Lightly beat the egg white with a fork, then brush the surface of pie crust with a light coating of egg white and allow to cool. Peel tomatoes. Boil some salted water, and cut a shallow X on the bottom of the tomatoes. Drop into boiling water for 30 seconds, and then into an ice bath.

                  Slice the tomatoes, discarding the stem and root ends, into 1/4-inch slices and lightly season with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the bread crumbs in the bottom of the pie crust. In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise with the reserved egg yolk and stir until smooth. Place a layer of tomatoes in the bottom of the piecrust over the breadcrumbs, using about half of the tomatoes, then top with half of the sliced onions.

                  Drizzle with half of the mayonnaise mixture, half of the thyme and basil, half of the fontina and half of the mozzarella cheeses. Top with half of the remaining breadcrumbs then top with the remaining tomato slices, remaining onions, remaining fontina and mozzarella, remaining mayonnaise mixture, and remaining thyme and basil. Top with the remaining bread crumbs and drizzle with the olive oil.

                  Cover with the Parmesan cheese, place in the oven and bake until bubbly hot and golden brown, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

                  Tuesday, January 13, 2009

                  Spaghetti Alfredo with Roma Tomatoes

                  My husband was working late tonight, and I needed something quick, simple, and easily portioned to make for dinner. So, after tearing through my crisper looking for veggies, I decided upon some nice looking Roma tomatoes in an Alfredo sauce. I wrote the recipe to serve 4-6.


                  • 1/2 cup sweet butter
                  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
                  • 1 cup heavy cream
                  • 1 cup half and half
                  • 2-3 fresh roma tomatoes, cored, seeds removed, and diced
                  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
                  • 1/2 cup grated fresh parmagiano reggiano
                  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
                  • 1 box of spaghetti, or 12 oz of pasta of your choice

                  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic, cream, pepper, and bring to a simmer, while stirring often. Add the parmagiano and simmer sauce for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and is smooth. When the sauce has thickened, add the mozzarella and stir until smooth and creamy, constantly stirring. Add the chopped tomatoes until warmed through.

                  While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta according to package directions. Toss and serve.

                  Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

                  Since it's the New Year, I was looking around for ways to cook a bit more healthful food for my husband and me. I received Elie Kreiger's cookbook for Christmas, and have started cooking some of the dishes I've found in there. This one was a fantastic excuse to use the last of our lemons from our lemon tree.

                  I love how the broth is thickened with whisked eggs, lemon juice, and hot broth, and not cream. It's a lovely thyme-scented soup, that gives you just enough oomph to feel satisfied, but not so much that you feel like you've inhaled an entire plate of pasta, or chicken.


                  • 4 tsp olive oil
                  • 8 oz. of skinless boneless chicken, cut into bute sized chunks.
                  • Pinch of sea salt
                  • 1 medium onion, diced
                  • 2 stalks celery, diced
                  • 1 medium carrot, diced
                  • 1 bell pepper, diced
                  • 2 tbsp of fresh thyme
                  • 6 cups chicken broth
                  • 1 cup orzo
                  • 2 large eggs
                  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
                  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

                  Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and add it to the pot. Stir occassionally until cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside.

                  Add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil to the pot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, pepper, and thyme. Stir occasionally over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender. Add 5 cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and let simmer until tender, about 8 minutes. Turn the heat to low.

                  Meanwhile, heat the remaining one cup of broth in a sauce pan until it is hot and not boiling. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Gently whisk the lemon juice into the eggs. Then gradually add the hot broth to the lemon and eggs mixture, while continuously whisking. Add the egg micture to the soup, stirring well until it is thickened. Do not let the soup come to a boil. Add the cooked chicken to the soup, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

                  Monday, January 12, 2009

                  Peanut Noodles with Chicken, Cabbage, and Peppers

                  From my friend over at Jennifer's Cooking, Jennifer has recently received a new DSLR, and her pictures are just gorgeous! I drew inspiration from her newly posted Sesame Peanut Noodles, and decided to make some Peanut Noodles with Chicken, Cabbage, and Peppers.


                  • 2 tbsp olive oil
                  • 8 oz of chicken breast, chopped into bite size pieces
                  • 8 oz of cooked spaghetti, drained
                  • 1 shallot, finely sliced
                  • 1/4 head of green cabbage, finely sliced
                  • 1 bell pepper (I used an orange bell pepper), chopped
                  • 3-4 tbsp creamy peanut butter
                  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
                  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
                  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
                  • 1 tbsp walnut oil
                  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
                  • Cilantro leaves to garnish

                  Season the chicken breast cubes with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp of the oilve oil in a pan and brown the chicken over medium heat until cooked through.

                  Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the other tbsp of olive oil to the pan, and add the chopped shallot, and pepper to the pan. Saute until the shallot is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage to the pan and heat and turn until wilted.

                  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add the peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, walnut oil, soy sauce and red pepper flakes, and whisk together until smooth. Toss the noodles and the sauce with the chicken and the cabbage mixture.

                  Garnish with cilantro leaves.

                  Beer Battered Tilapia Tacos with Winter Veg Coleslaw and Cilantro Cream

                  I love a nice fish taco, and although I've lived in TX for nearly a decade, I can't forget the lovely fish tacos from the California Coastal areas of La Jolla and the Beach Cities.

                  This recipe is incredibly easy to put together, and the Winter Veg Coleslaw can be made in advance and refrigerated for a couple of days. It's best fresh, though!

                  For the Winter Veg Coleslaw, adapted from Jamie Oliver's recipe, you'll need:

                  • 2 carrots, peeled
                  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed
                  • 3 radishes
                  • 1/2 a head of red and green cabbage each, outer leaves removed
                  • Handful of fresh dill, mint, parsley, leaves picked and chopped
                  • 1 small red onion
                  • 1 shallot
                  • 1 lemon
                  • Olive oil
                  • 1 cup yogurt
                  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
                  • Sea salt and pepper
                  Shred the fennel, and cabbage in your food processor using the chopping blade. Flip the blade over to the grating blade and shred the carrots and radishes. You can also use a mandoline or a grater.
                  In a separate bowl, mix half the lemon juice, a couple of tbsp of the olive oil, chopped herbs, yogurt, and dijon mustard.

                  Pour the dressing over the grated vegetables and mix well to coat, and season to taste with salt and pepper and the rest of the lemon juice.
                  For the Cilantro Cream, you'll need:

                  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
                  • 1/2 cup sour cream
                  • 1/2 cup yogurt
                  For the Beer Battered Tilapia, you'll need:

                  • About 2 qt. canola or vegetable oil for frying
                  • 1 cup all purpose flour
                  • Sea salt
                  • 1 cup good beer
                  • 2 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
                  • 1 lb. of firm fillets of a mild, white fish (bass, cod, tilapia) cut into finger sized strips.

                  For serving, you'll need:

                  • 12 to 16 corn tortillas
                  • limes
                  Make the Cilantro Cream Sauce - mix all of the ingredients together and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

                  For the fish, fill a large dutch oven or heavy pot with oil to about 2.5". Heat the oil to about 350F , checking the temperature regularly with a deep fry thermometer.

                  Meanwhile, prepare the batter - mix the flour and 1 tsp of salt in with the beer and stir until smooth. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites.

                  Season the fish with salt and pepper. Work in batches of about 3-4 pieces at a time. Using kitchen tongs, dip each piece in the batter, letting excess batter drain off, and carefully submerge the fish in the hot oil. Fry until golden and booked through, around 5 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet or plate lined with paper towels.

                  To serve: As soon as the fish has finished frying, transfer to a warm plate and let your guests build their own tacos using the fish, coleslaw, and cilantro cream. I also served with Black Beans cooked with cilantro and onions and a lemon, cilantro rice.

                  Welcome to my Blog!

                  I thought I would start my blog out with a view of where I spend every evening, and most weekends. I love to cook for my husband, and our family and friends, and it hasn't always been something I have enjoyed so thoroughly. In the midst of courting my husband, all I knew how to make was pasta and a few basic pasta dishes.

                  My wonderful husband, Weston, and I built our house in the DFW Metroplex throughout 2006, and moved in on December 22, 2006. I was so incredibly happy to have a gas cooktop again, that I really took an interest in developing a cooking repertoire, and ended up with tons of pictures in a folder labeled "Food" on my desktop. I've been a jarred pasta sauce woman in the past, but I realized the error of my ways on our recent trip to Italy, and that affected so much of how I cook now.

                  I do hope you'll enjoy my cooking blog, and I look forward to sharing my Kitchen Endeavours with everyone who visits!