Monday, October 14, 2013

Steamy New Orleans Prawns

You will have to be enthralled by my brilliant narrative because, once again, I forgot to take pictures. I was so caught up in the process and then even more focused on eating the result, that the plate was empty before I remembered I should have had a camera out.

In a "celebration" of past Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try! I chose a challenge from July 2012 - Cooking "En Papillote" from Sarah of All Our Fingers in the Pie. The challenge was to cook in parchment and learn a new process.

I've missed most of the challenges lately, due to some health issues, but I really enjoyed this one. We regularly have Cajun prawns I prepare in a cast-iron skillet on the cooktop, so the flavors were similar but the process was new. The prawns marinated for 30 minutes in a spicy blend of Worcestershire, lemon, melted butter, rosemary, thyme, red pepper, black pepper, Tabasco, and garlic. I, of course, upped the pepper and Tabasco because we like it hot.

After marinating, the prawns and marinade are enclosed in parchment, which is supposed to be pleated to close. I was not adept at this at all and the liquid was soaking the parchment and leaking out. When the pleats failed, I resorted to stapling the parchment closed. Not pretty - but effective.

The prawns cooked for 20 minutes in a 425 degree oven. It was disconcerting not to be able to assess the process to decide if the prawns needed less time, but there is really no way to do that. The parchment is full of steam and if you breach the wrap somehow, you also destroy the cooking vehicle. I probably would shorten the cooking time a bit - maybe 5 minutes - if I did this again.

The outcome, however, was quite tasty and spicy. I let the prawns rest for a few minutes to release the steam and then opened the packages and plated the prawns and marinade. We had a celery, date, almond salad with a lemony dressing and shaved Parmesan cheese. The cooler celery was a nice offset to the spicy prawns.

I'm looking forward to the next challenge, which I guarantee will have photos!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It's a Wrap!

I'm returning to Daring Cooks after quite a hiatus. 2011 and 2012 were full of time-consuming diversions, some welcome, some not so much. A move after 30+ years in the same house, surgery, my daughter's wedding, the loss of my mother - life happens.

All is fine now and I'm looking forward to cooking adventures.  

Our lovely Monkey Queen of Don’t Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys, was our May Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to dive into the world of en Croute! We were encouraged to make Beef Wellington, Stuffed Mushroom en Croute and to bring our kids into the challenge by encouraging them to create their own en Croute recipes!

I decided to be a bit creative and go in my own direction for this challenge. It's halibut season in the Pacific Northwest and the halibut is outstanding. To take advantage of fresh fish, I decided to wrap filets in egg roll wrappers. I'm not sure egg roll wrappers are exactly a pastry, but I think the general goal of enclosing the food in a crust of some kind is met.

The ingredients assembled.

I sauteed some mushrooms, gathered some dill sprigs and seasoned the halibut lightly. Mushrooms first, then dill, then halibut.

Getting ready to seal the egg roll wrappers.

I used water to seal the wrappers. I lightly moistened each side of the bottom wrapper and then topped it off.

Sealing and folding the wrappers.

After the top wrapper was on, I folded the edges over to create a kind of envelope for the halibut. I then seared both sides of the wrapped halibut in a hot cast iron skillet with a little peanut oil. When each side was a golden brown, I put the halibut in the oven for about 5-7 minutes, until an instant read thermometer registered about 125 degrees.

The final product!
When done, the halibut was moist and beautifully flavored. To add some color to the plate, I served it with avocado and tomatoes - good complements to the mild-flavored halibut.

I think this process would also work as an appetizer-sized dish. Smaller cuts of halibut that would fit in one egg roll would be great with a dipping sauce. Still a quick process, with even shorter cooking times - maybe something to try.

Thanks for the challenge!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Feeding the Texans

I haven't posted for quite a while, since we were caught up in selling a house, buying a house, moving and getting settled. Throw in a few personal issues and adjusting to a new location, and time passed.

Now, however, I'm more settled and I realized I want to preserve some memories again.

This week, Nick (currently in the Army in El Paso repaying them for financing his dental school education) came home with two Texas friends, Jason and Joseph. They are spending the week skiing at the various resorts in the area and are staying with us. Each evening, they come home, fully exercised and hungry and I've been feeding them. Preparing meals for three young men is a bit different from preparing dinner for Bob and me - more food and a motherly interest in making sure they get something balanced and nourishing.

Monday - We had steak sandwiches and cole slaw. Only one of the guys was here, but I brought sandwiches to the airport to feed the others when they arrived later in the evening. Pretty simple meal - rib eye, caramelized onions, peppers on sandwich rolls.

Tuesday - Nick had requested spicy pork tenderloin, so I obliged. The pork is seasoned with chipotle, maple syrup and mustard; grilled until just done - still a little pink inside; served with an incredible roast carrot and avocado salad. I used multi-colored carrots, roasted them with a chili-cumin paste, tossed the avocado and lettuce with a citrus-honey dressing with the carrots included. Sprinkle with some sunflower seeds, and you have a veggie salad that is incredible. It totally disappeared!

Wednesday - Another Nick request was jerk chicken. I use a recipe I've used for years, marinating the bone-in chicken overnight in a habanero-laced sauce with lots of spices and lots of heat. We grilled it and served with a pineapple-papaya salsa and rice. A lot of chicken was consumed since Elisabeth and Sean joined us. Everything gone again!

Thursday - I did bourbon-brown sugar flank steak, with smashed baby potatoes, and a snow-pea-radish braise. There was leftover flank steak, which the guys can make into sandwiches tomorrow to take along on their trip to Mt. Baker.

Friday - The plan is roast chicken with glazed carrots and farro-wild rice with mushrooms and almonds.

Saturday - I think we will skip the meat on Saturday and just have mac and cheese with a couple salads - maybe waldorf and a green garden salad. And Sunday - well, that's up in the air. I don't usually cook on Sundays since there is always food around earlier in the week. I'm thinking it might be good to order some pizza! Not everything has to be healthful all the time.

It has been fun and reminds me of the days when Nick's friends dropped by the house regularly to join us for dinner or just prowl the kitchen for snacks. These guys have been doing their own breakfasts (and doing an excellent job of cleaning up) and eating lunch on the mountain, but they have been ready for dinner each night!