Brown Buttered Scampi with Parmesan Cauliflower Puree

Does the original scampi recipe call for wine? I want to say no, and that we (cooks) added that later on in life, but I have no idea. I didn’t use wine in this recipe, just butter, garlic and some lemon. This dish comes together quickly and with only a handful of ingredients, most of it being fat, dairy and garlic, you’re welcome.

While I steamed my chopped cauliflower, I let the shrimp hang out in a bowl with olive oil, minced garlic, crushed red paper flakes, a teaspoon of lemon zest, salt and a tad of honey. I also started my browned butter. All I did for that was place the butter and garlic in a small fry pan over medium heat. After a few minutes, the butter starts to foam. Then it will begin to turn brown and begin to smell nutty, just keep an eye on it to not burn the garlic, take it off of the heat when you like what you see.

Once the cauliflower is fork tender, drain and toss into your food processor. Add some salt, to taste, about 1/4 cup of cream or half n half, two tablespoons of melted butter and about 1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese and puree. Taste and taste and taste again, I find that cauliflower, like potatoes always need more salt than we think. You can let that hang out in the processor until you are ready to serve, so it stays warm.

Meanwhile, heat a large-ish skillet over medium high heat and add a little olive oil. Toss in your shrimp and let cook for about 1 minute and when they start to get a little brown, flip and cook the other side for another 20-30 seconds or until cooked through.

Spread your cauliflower puree on a plate, top with shrimp and drizzle with that heavenly browned garlic butter. I garnished with micro parsley.

Dinner is served in under 30 minutes but now you have to find someone else to do the dishes because quick doesn’t always mean easy.

Lemon Talk

Our lemon tree is in full produce mode. I’ve always wanted a lemon tree for those moments when you randomly need a lemon but don’t have one. You know, maybe you decided to make a piccata dish or you wanted to make pesto. All you need is one lemon and clearly you don’t want to go to the store for one damn lemon, right? I used to visualize the neighborhood and picture which homes had lemon trees and then I may have helped myself to a lemon or two in a time of need (the tree would be in the front yard, I wasn’t hopping any fences you guys). Now that I have said lemon tree, I never have to buy lemons, but I’ve realized that I don’t use them very often.

The lemon tree was staring back at me probably wondering why I was neglecting it, I felt bad.

There is only so much you can do with an abundance of lemons. Lemonade, lemon bars, lemon cakes, lemon meringue pie, the list goes on. We still had cream cheese frosting in the fridge from Kaili’s birthday cake and I had puff pastry in the freezer, I didn’t see the harm in making lemon curd and then turn those three things into a lemon cream cheese danish.

This is the recipe I used to make the lemon curd.

INGREDIENTS

4 large egg yolks 

2/3 cup  granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2–3 lemons)

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons  butter, softened

 If you have a double boiler then pull that out. If not, like me, simply place a small heatproof glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water you will cook the curd in the top pot/bowl. Place on high heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce to low heat to keep the water at a simmer.

Place egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt into the top pot of your double boiler. Using a whisk, whisk until completely blended, then continue to whisk as the curd cooks. Constant whisking prevents the egg yolks from curdling. Whisk and cook until the mixture becomes thick, resembling the texture of hollandaise sauce, about 10 minutes. If curd isn’t thickening, turn up the heat and constantly whisk.

Remove pan from heat. Cut the butter into 6 separate pieces, then whisk into the curd. The butter will melt from the heat of the curd. Pour curd into a jar or bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top so it is touching the top of the curd. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Once cool, the plastic wrap can be removed.

This can stay in the fridge for about 10 days.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

When it comes to Tortilla soup, there isn’t a right way or a wrong way to make it. You like what you like and as the master of your own kitchen, you get to decide how you want it. Tomatoeyy, creamyy, brothyy, chunkyy. I personally like a silky broth with bits of chicken and then topped with avocado, tortilla strips and cilantro. So that is what is what we have here.

I took a can of diced tomatoes, 3 garlic cloves diced, one small onion diced, and a diced serrano chili, and heated them in a pan with some olive oil. Once they were glistening like you are bathing in the Mexican sun, I tossed them into a blender, added 2 corn tortillas and 2 cups of chicken broth and pureed until smooth. I poured the blender mixture into my dutch oven over medium high heat. Next, I added 2 tablespoon of taco seasoning, and one more cup of chicken broth. I let that hang out for a few minutes and then threw in about 1 1/2 cup of shredded rotisserie chicken and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. The key is to keep tasting the soup as it cooks. Does it need salt, spice, acid? You are the only one who can answer that.

I added a tablespoon of sour cream and a 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro. Then I tasted it again for seasoning.

If you like what you have, ladle into bowls and garnish with avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, cilantro, a squeeze of lime and jalapeños if you like it spicy!

It’s good, multiple meals worthy of good. For someone who doesn’t love leftovers (raises hand), this one is solid.

Summer Shrimp Spring Rolls

Each time I make these, whether I use avocado or switch it up and add fresh mango instead, I can’t believe how good they are. So deliciously fresh with the bright flavors of the herbs. I tell myself that I am going to put it on menu rotation. Then I don’t, because life… But that really isn’t a reason, so I will do better.

I found that prepping all the ingredients and assembling the rolls earlier in the day is the way to go. Cover with a damp towel, put them in the fridge and then dinner is literally waiting for you.

Chrissy suggests serving these with a Thai sweet chili sauce and a hoisin sauce. BUT, the key to these rolls is Mrs. Teigen’s peanut sauce. You see, this peanut sauce is one of the best I have ever had, and it’s super easy to make. You shouldn’t have these rolls without the peanut sauce, but you can have the peanut sauce without the rolls, you can have the sauce with anything. I find fingers pair well, cold noodles pair well and spoons definitely pair well.

Ingredients for Summer Rolls
4 to 6 red leaf lettuce leaves
8 medium shrimp, peeled (fresh or frozen (thawed))
salt
1 ounce Asian vermicelli or rice noodles
8 large or 16 small basil leaves
8 large or 16 small mint leaves
1 medium carrot, cut into 3-inch long julienne strips
1 avocado thinly sliced
8 (8-inch) round rice paper wrappers (you can find in most supermarkets with the Asian food)

Ingredients for Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 packed light brown sugar

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoon of Sriracha

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

If you are going to have the peanut sauce with the summer rolls, then start there. Add all of the sauce ingredients into your handy dandy blender or I like to use the magic bullet blender. After blending and tasting for seasoning, put it in the fridge until serving time. When that time comes, use warm water to thin the sauce to your liking.

For the Rolls:

Rinse the lettuce leaves and pat dry. Remove and discard the center ribs then slice in half so you end up with 16, about 3 inch long pieces. 

Fill a saucepan halfway with water and salt the water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 2 minutes. Turn the heat to low, take the shrimp out of the pot with tongs or a slotted spoon and rinse with cold water, pat dry. Cut off the tails and slice lengthwise.

Place the rice noodles in the pot of still hot water to soften. Cook until soft. Remove and rinse in a colander under cold water. 

Create a workspace lined up with lettuce, herbs, carrots, avocado, shrimp and rice noodles. Fill a clean skillet or shallow bowl with warm water to soak the rice papers. Arrange a damp towel on your workspace. One at a time, dunk the rice papers into the warm water to soften. Remove from the water and run under cool water. They easily stick together, so the cool water is a good time to unstick them from themselves. Lay flat on the damp towel.

To assemble: place 2-3 shrimp halves pink side down about 1/3 from the bottom, layer over mint and basil, then avocado, then carrots, rice noodles, then lettuce leaves. Roll up like a burrito by pulling up the bottom, tucking in the sides, then rolling till the end. The rice paper will stick together sealing it shut. Repeat with remaining rice papers. 

If you aren’t serving these immediately, place them on a damp towel, and cover with a damp towel. They are fine hanging out in the fridge until you are ready. Serve with peanut sauce and Thai chili sauce.

Food and Music

I made a Thai Branzino recipe the other night and the results were so worth dicing 15 cloves of garlic.

The girls and I ran into our 99 Ranch Market for the fish, shrimp chips, pocky and green tea cookies… oh and a papaya that no one will touch but me. They don’t know what they’re missing.

I also found these rice crackers. I don’t know what they are called but from the picture we can guess.

I bought a variety pack for the girls, Shayne was the only taker and she loved them so we bought more.
This flavor (let’s call it chili) is really good. Not too spicy, sort of sweet….like a sweet and soy flavor with a tad of spice. Long story short, I need to buy more, I may have eaten them while the girls slept.

I also jumped on Dave Matthews Band tickets that went on sale Sunday, no hesitation. That is exciting, so very exciting. Kaili said that she wanted to go with us. I told her, the day she actually wants to listen to DMB, I’ll gladly take her to a concert. Then she followed up by asking me to take her to see BTS. The time is coming that we will be taking our tweens to a concert, what happened to these babies?

Speaking of music, I heard this song for the first time since, well before I had those babies, I am sure. I love Jason Mraz, I used to listen to this album every day.

Gouda and I watched the USWNT team win the She Believes Cup, and then the Galaxy won their season home opener.

Exciting soccer season ahead of us, I can’t believe it’s World Cup year. We are definitely wanting to watch a match in Vegas from the new downtown sports casino, who’s in?

February

It’s a big month you guys, BIG, HUGE! I have a birthday coming up and it happens to fall on an epic day this year. February 22, 2022 is on a Tuesday. A 2’s days. This will be known as Kim’s Two’s day.

I am not a huge birthday girl, I mean, it’s a fun excuse to go out and celebrate and we all love gifts, but it also comes along with getting older, sigh. This year though, I’m a little excited. My Two’s day is also national margarita day AND taco Tuesday. I mean, that’s fun right?

So, I made myself an early birthday treat.

Kaili and I polished them off in no time. Somedays it was dinner because that is allowed when it’s your birthday month.

Originally, these were called Creme de Menthe brownies, maybe they still are. The first time I remember falling in love with them was at a restaurant in the Stoneridge mall back in the 1980’s. I wish I could remember the name of the place. Anyhow, it was a restaurant that had the dessert options on a cart, and the waiter would wheel it up to your table so you could visualize what to drool over. Didn’t Bobbie McGee’s do that too? Someone from high school/Bay area, let me know please! Anyways, that was such a smart way to make sure the kids got dessert, parent’s had no chance.

Well, these were what I always ordered at whatever restaurant that was and they are delicious. I don’t know where we can buy Creme de Menthe or if it even exists anymore, but peppermint extract is a fine substitute.

I used this recipe and this recipe as a baseline for measurements. But I only use Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate chips, for this and anything that calls for chocolate chips.

To make up for all the chocolate that I shoveled into my mouth…

I completed my 200th ride!! Fittingly with a 90’s pop playlist and my favorite instructor!

AND can we talk about the weather? I mean, it’s been fantastic. Nothing better than a winter tan.

We even broke out the slip n’ slide.

I think that wraps it up, I am off to make my babe a delicious dinner.

Can’t wait to share all of the fun Valentine/birthdays/margarita/ taco Tuesday fun that’s coming our way!

 Burrata Di Stagione

Burrata Di Stagione, is a fancy or Italian (if we are being exact) way to say “what’s in season”. In my last post I mentioned the amazing starter that we had in Santa Monica, but I think I forgot to mention that it centered around burrata. Burrata with arugula, fuji apple, roasted butternut squash, and toasted hazelnut all drizzled with an agrodolce sauce. Another fancy or Italian way to say “sweet and sour”.

I have made this multiple times, it’s ridiculous how good it is. I wish I was having it for dinner tonight, it’s a thing.

Thanks to the convenience of laziness these days, we can buy already cubed butternut squash. That shaves a good half hour off of the prep and I most likely wouldn’t have made this if I had to do it myself. It’s the little things.

I roasted some butternut squash and fuji apple in the oven until caramelized, meanwhile toasted the hazelnuts in a pan.

Then we tossed some arugula with olive oil and S&P. Tore the burrata and placed it on the bed of arugula. Scattered the roasted squash, apple and toasted hazelnuts on top.

Close to serving time, we made the agrodolce, which is so simple. Simmer some vinegar (sour) with some honey (sweet) and some red pepper flakes for heat and let it reduce until syrupy. I would have added raisins but I didn’t have any. Next time, I will.

Drizzle the agrodolce and your best olive oil on top of the entire plate and serve with bread. Or your fingers, or both.

The final dish is….

Spectacular!

Rolling with a side of Pasta

This week started off with the most Monday-ist Monday I’ve had in awhile. Is that because of the Mercury in Retrograde shit people make up believe affect their personal lives?

I decided to task switch and take a break from writing my course paper. My professor chewed up my rough draft, spit it out then told me that, and I quote, “You have two bad habits as a research writer, you use questions in areas where you should be focusing on articulating discussion and you speak about yourself in the first person.” Do I sir? Do I ask too many questions in the first person, sir? I mean, the nerve of this guy.

So I decided a work out would be a good way to reset the day, and the instructor, said “today you are not going to fall apart on the bike.” Maybe he was referencing Mr. Big, but I felt that in my soul.

I have some good recipes to share with you, but I don’t have the time to write them both, so one will have to do for now.

Oh, we also took the girls roller skating, which the adults had more fun doing. But Aves wowed us all by joining in on the game Limbo, and won the damn thing. I mean it’s because she is small, but still, a win is a win.

PASTINA RISOTTO

This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Water’s Fine Foods. The author and chef, Mary Kay Waters is owner of our local Waters catering. I have talked about how good their food is, mac and cheese, roasted veg, her chocolate mousse and lemon bars are close to perfection as you can get. This time I made something different.

It’s not a traditional risotto, the pasta is cooked first and then combined with the other ingredients. Let’s talk about the combination of flavors, though, exceptional! We paired this with steak one night and then had it on it’s own another night. This is sure to be a hit and I will be serving this at the next family dinner.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 pound acini de pepe pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 medium onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 pound mushrooms, chopped

1/4 head cabbage, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

1/3 cup white wine

2/3 chicken stock

1 cup fresh white corn kernels

3/4 cup cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs ( I used sage and parsley) reserve some for garnish

3/4 cup grated parmesan, reserve some for garnish

salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to the package aka al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cabbage and cook for 3 to 5 minutes longer, until soft.

Add the wine and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and continue to cook for 2 to 3 more minutes.

Add the cream and corn, bring to a boil, cook for 2 more minutes, remove from heat.

Stir in cooked pasta, herbs, parmesan and salt and pepper.

Serve with reserved herbs and parm on top.

It’s Still January

I would say happy new year, but I don’t think that is allowed after the 7th.

To say time is flying is an understatement, don’t ya think? I mean, it’s still January so I am feeling good that I am getting something written here. I am not quite sure where the first part of the month went. We went out to dinner one night for my father’s birthday, besides that, it’s been very uneventful. Work, school, laundry and repeat.

New Years eve was low key. We made cupcakes, a charcuterie board and chips and dip taken to another level. I took Ruffle potato chips and drizzled them with honey and sprinkled on a Japanese seasoning made with nori and sesame seeds and served them with onion dip. It’s ridiculously good.

The girls celebrated the New Year with New York, and then went up to bed. They didn’t realize it until the next morning, ha, suckers.

The kitchen has been put to use, I have been trying out new things and old favorites.

I was really excited to roll out fresh pasta. I felt all sophisticated and proud of myself. Buuuuut, they tasted like flour and nobody liked them, so fail. Now I need a fool proof fresh pasta dough recipe.

I redeemed myself by making fresh pizza dough. I made two different recipes, one with cold water and one with warm water, and ended up with enough dough for a neighborhood potluck. We made two pizzas for the kids, and one for the moms, everyone was happy.

This pizza recipe, is foolproof. It’s SO GOOD. This time, instead of using marinara sauce, I just crushed some canned San Marzano toms with my hands, Kaili added in some garlic salt, oregano and olive oil and that was the sauce for all three pizzas. The girls approved.

Goat Cheese and Hot Honey Pepperoni Pizza with Arugula

We had a big HALF to celebrate on the 10th. Averi turned 7 1/2. In our house, we celebrate half birthdays. It’s nothing extravagant, but we think it deserves recognition. Turning a half year older is a big deal to kids and we think it calls for a little something special. On their day, they each get to choose whatever they want for dinner, and we’ll usually have a treat.

McDonald’s and chocolate cake for this 7 1/2 year old.

When I was younger, my parents would make Dutch Babies every so often for breakfast. Or they would order it out and share it. I have my moms recipe and have for decades. Finally, I made it, and you guys, I have been wasting time on pancakes because this was so good, and easy.

I made this in a cast iron which I heated in the oven until it was hot. Then I added the butter and then the batter. My oven cooks hot and fast, I took it out after 15 minutes and I think it could have even been done closer to 12 minutes. So bake accordingly.

I sprinkled a little powdered sugar on top, and then we drizzled it with syrup and dove in.

We are going to take advantage of a day off and do something fun this weekend. It’s supposed to be sunny and warm and I have the best idea. Tell you later.

Chrissy’s Newest

In another life we are best friends with Chrissy Teigen (and fam) and Stu Holden (and fam) and it’s amazing. Days full of laughter, kids, cooking and soccer, that is, as the kids say “my jam”.

But since this isn’t another life, I settle with making Chrissy’s recipes and live vicariously through their IG stories, sigh.

I recently tried two recipes from her newest cookbook and per usual, they are delicious.

Thai Beef Jerky and Pink Pasta. The Unicorn milkshakes in her book were requested so that might have to happen soon.

However, the Thai beef jerky was finger lickin. Sticky, sweet and a tad spicy, we ate it with a salad and called it dinner.

*note that her recipe calls for MSG and you can get that at any Asian market or even Vons probably, but I didn’t have any, so I didn’t use it. Still good.

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more)

3/4 teaspoon MSG

2 lbs. boneless skirt steak

vegetable oil for frying

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and MSG.

Cut the skirt steak, against the grain into 1-inch wide strips.

Toss the steak and marinade and let sit at room temp for 30 minutes. * I marinated the meat for a few hours in the fridge and then pulled it out and left at room temp for 30 minutes before cooking.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Arrange a rack on a rimmed baking sheet and spray with nonstick spray. Lay the beef in a single layer. Discard any leftover marinade.

Bake until the meat has shrunk some, about 1-1/2 hours.

Line a large cutting board with paper towels. Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large 4 quart pot. Heat the oil until it reached 350 degrees. Working in batches, fry the meat, stirring it as it cooks, until it darkens and crisps, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Drain on the paper towel lined cutting board, and let cook at least 10 minutes before eating.