Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Curried Shrimp Sandwich with Mango Chutney

This recipe was an inspiration derived from a combination of need to have interest and flavor in my food, and what was actually available in my cupboards.

I love Naan bread and I get a very nice selection at Trader Joes. It has wonderful texture and makes a wonderful bread for sandwiches or burgers. Later this week I've got a lamb burger recipe on Naan that will knock your socks off.

In this case I had leftover Naan, a few shrimp, some hot mango chutney, and a full spice rack. The resulting sandwich is pretty, delicious, international, easy, and fast to make.


2 slices of Garlic Naan Bread cut diagonally for sandwich
12 medium uncooked shrimp
2 T vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 T curry powder
1 tsp of coriander
1 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 to 4 T Hot Mango Chutney
2 T mayonnaise

Mix flour, bread crumbs, curry, coriander, salt and pepper in small bowl. Take peeled and deveined shrimp and toss in mixture to coat. Put vegetable oil in skillet, heat and then add shrimp to hot oil. Cook for about 2 minutes before turning and cooking another minute until shrimp are pink and done. Remove shrimp and put them on paper towel to drain.

Cover one side of Naan bread with mayonnaise and the other side with hot mango chutney. Place mixed greens on one side and top with six hot shrimp. Cover with other half of Naan and Wa La!

This recipe makes 2 sandwiches.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Empanadas with a bit of Tango

A few years ago my husband and I ventured into downtown Seattle to have dinner. It was a Friday night during the holiday season and we hadn't made reservations anywhere. Our first try was at Wild Ginger but we were told the wait was going to be over an hour. We decided to move on.

Our next attempt was a small but attractive looking restaurant near the Moore Theater. It was called the Buenos Aires Grill. When we entered the restaurant was busier than it appeared from the outside and we were concerned that another long wait was inevitable.

We were greeted by the most wonderful woman who informed us that they had no available tables and that the rest were reserved for the night. When she saw our disappointed faces though she said that a reservation she was expecting was 10 minutes late and if we would wait another 10 minutes and they didn't show up she would give us their table. We quickly agreed and she escorted us to a small table in the bar area. Ten minutes later she took us to a lovely two person table.

Their menu is very Argentinian. They have traditional grilled meats so you can expect some smoke and fire from the kitchen that is visible to most of the diners. I had a delicious pan fried steak with an egg on top. I know it sounds strange but it tastes delicious. We also had some very tasty empanadas before our meal. Some diners order what is basically a mixed grill of the restaurants favorite cuts. You can order a plate of grilled vegetables to accompany the meat.

The best part of the experience though came when a pair of tango dancers appeared and proceeded to dance through the restaurant. Wheeling deftly between the tables the couple are flawless and mesmerizing. What was a nice meal with excellent service was immediately elevated to a unique dining experience that I wouldn't have missed for the world.

Since then we have taken friends and family to the Buenos Aires Grill. The first time we took my Mom and Dad, my Sister asked the handsome tango dancer if he would dance with our Mother, Melody. He agreed and soon approached us in the bar and asked her to dance. He handled her perfectly and she loved it. Later in the evening as we departed we saw the dancer near the door and thanked him. He turned to my Mother and said in the most exquisite Latin accent "Thank you for the dance Melody." It was a perfect moment and not one to be forgotten by her.

I cannot recreate the experience of the Grill at home but I did run across a fantastic looking beef empanada recipe I had to try. My husband and I rarely buy beef anymore but a beautiful day inspired a purchase of organic, grass-fed rib eyes for the grill. They were delicious but way too large and we both left 1/2 or 1/4 of our steak on the plate. I didn't want to waste such tasty steak so I pulled out the empanada recipe. It actually calls for ground beef but chopped steak worked pretty darn well.


2 hard boiled eggs
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 T olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3/4 lb ground chuck
2 T raisins
1 1 /2 T chopped pimento stuff olives (I used chopped black and they were fine).
1 14 oz can whole tomatoes in juice
2 frozen pie crusts
Vegetable oil for frying

Cut each egg crosswise into 12 thin slices. Cook onion in olive oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef and cook , breaking up lumps with a fork, about 4 minutes.

Add raisins, olives, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and tomatoes with juice, cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced but mixture is still moist. Cool.

Take out pie crusts and place on floured board. Use bowl with six inch diameter to cut discs from pie crust. You can usually get 4 discs per pie crust, collect left over pastry, roll out again, and you can get 2 more. Repeat with second pie crust.

Place about 3 T meat on each disc, place sliced egg on top of meat, moisten edges with water and fold over to form semicircle, then crimp with a fork.

Heat oil in skillet until about 360 degrees. Fry empanada, about 3 at a time at 4 to 6 minutes per batch. (You can also bake these for a less greasy result. I preheated the oven to 425 degrees, brushed the tops of the empanadas with beaten egg and water, placed them on a cookie sheet, and then baked them for 15 to 20 minutes until golden).

In my opinion these wouldn't be nearly as delicious without the chimichurri sauce. I followed this recipe exactly and it adds such a burst of flavor that you could quickly become addicted.


1 cup fresh parsley leaves, packed
1/4 cup fresh oregano (packed) or fresh cilantro leaves ( used cilantro).
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (dried)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt to taste
1 T shallot, minced

Just before serving, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Sauce is served at room temperature. If sauce separates prior to serving just give it a good whisk.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Enchiladas Del Mar for a Special Dinner

I found this recipe a while back in Bon Appetite and I've been dying to try it. Last night I finally did and it was well worth the wait. The recipe was requested from a restaurant in Phoenix called the Barrio Cafe. I can no longer find the recipe on the magazines website for unknown reasons so I can't provide you with a link. When I type 'enchiladas del mar" in their recipe search box they provide two recipes, one for French Toast and one for Cornish Game Hens, now make sense of that.

Typically for me, I made the recipe a little simpler to put together. The original recipe from the Barrio Cafe has you purchasing, husking, charring under a broiler, and then pureeing a 1/2 a pound of tomatillos. I decided to skip that whole experience and purchased a lovely jar of Tomatillo Salsa - Medium. It was yummy and it worked fine. The original recipe also called for some goat cheese that I didn't have handy but I think it sounds tasty so I will use it when I make it again.


1/2 a jar of Frontera Tomatillo Salsa - Medium
1 T olive oil
12 uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup minced shallot
1 garlic clove, minced
6 ounces bay scallops, side muscle removed
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
1 pound fresh lump crabmeat

12 corn tortillas
3 1/2 cups grated Oaxacan cheese or Mozzarella cheese (about 14 ounces), divided
6 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Heat oil in large skillet over high heat. Add shrimp and shallot; saute until shrimp begin to turn pink, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add scallops and wine; cook until wine is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp mixture to medium bowl Add cream and salsa; simmer until mixture thickens and measure about 1 2/3 cups, about 10 minutes. Add crabmeat and shrimp mixture to sauce in skillet. Season to taste.

While cream and salsa are simmering, preheat oven to 425 degrees, and place new heavy skillet or griddle on medium-high heat. Heat tortillas about 30 seconds per side until softened, place 1/4 cup cheese in softened tortilla, roll up and then place seam down in 13x9x2 - inch glass baking dish. Repeat until you have 12 rolled and in pan. Pour creamy seafood mixture over tortillas and sprinkle with more cheese. Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Serve with sliced avocado, tomatillo salsa, and fresh cilantro. Really, really good!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Delicious Jambalaya and Sweet and Sour Shrimp

I used to be the kind of person who went to the grocery store every night. I didn't like using the microwave to defrost and I never remembered to get anything out of the freezer before I left in the morning. These are weak excuses since even minimal planning would have alleviated the problem but that's the way it was.

I was also a person who wasn't a leftover fan. I tended to serve up fairly large meals that my husband and I scarfed down unmercifully and what little was left went with him for lunch the next day. Well, times change.

Now I create a week long menu plan at the beginning of the week. I shop only once a week. I try and cook things in smaller portions and with a follow up plan for any leftover ingredients. When I'm cooking something like roast chicken where leftovers are inevitable I know even as it's in the oven what I'm going to do with what is left after our dinner. Interestingly enough, I've found that this has increased my creativity in the kitchen rather than diminished it.

A great example was last weeks double whammy of delicious meals from different cultures. Tweaked by me, of course. I had purchased from Trader Joe's a bag of their large, uncooked shrimp. There were too many shrimp for 1 meal of just the two of us so I planned for two; Jambalaya and Sweet and Sour Shrimp.

This made great sense because I have a plethora of Chinese sauces and flavors leftover from a recent meal so I'm always looking for something to use them in. I also had two unused chicken chorizo sausage from a recent pizza that were crying out for something to add spice to. These two meals also share a number of ingredients. Besides the shrimp there is green pepper, garlic, and rice. I found this recipe for Jambalaya on It is a low calorie version with a lot of good fiber and warm heat.


2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 green pepper cored, seeded and chopped (I only used 1/2 a pepper)
2 celery stalks, diced
3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, (I used about T of dried parsley)
4 oz extra lean smoked ham, cut in 1/2 inch cubes, (I used 2 chicken chorizo)
5 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced, (I used 1 can of kidney beans)
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
3/4 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled and chopped,(I used about 8 large shrimp not chopped).

Add oil to a large nonstick saucepan. Over medium heat, saute onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery until onion is translucent. Add parsley, ham/sausage, chicken/beans, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes (with juice), tomato sauce, and 1 3/4 cups cold water. Gently simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Pour rice into the pan and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered 45 minutes or until rice is cooked and absorbs most of the liquid. Stir in shrimp and cook 5 minutes more. Remove bay leaf. Season to taste.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring Flavors Break the Gloom of a Rainy Easter

I'm not sure about the rest of the planet but our Easter Sunday in the lovely and verdant Pacific Northwest was a real wet one. Not even the threat of a sun beam marred the perfectly gray and soggy landscape. As a result I've been rebelling against this rather Novemberish weather using some of the oldest tricks in the books.

First and foremost an enormous bouquet of daffodils is gracing my kitchen. Their humble perfume permeating the area with the very smell of spring. Secondly a new pair of spring pumps with a small blue flower print and a darling bow above the open toe. Of course, I can't wear them out of the house yet but they are soooo cute! And, last but not least, a strawberry dessert that makes everyone who eats it want to hug a bunny.

As usual the recipe came from my Mother and, as usual, I've made some minor alterations to the presentation. The recipe is called Strawberry 1, 2, 3 Pie and it couldn't be simpler. When I've made this in the past I've always just made a single baked pie shell. It has just been revealed to me that the original recipe made the pie shell creation even easier. You mix it directly in the pie pan!

Strawberry 1,2,3 Pie Crust

8 inch pie plate
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 T cold milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sift dry ingredients into pie plate. Mix wet ingredients in small bowl and then pour into flour mixture. Mix with hands until combined and then press firmly into pie plate. Create sides and rim for fluting. Bake 12 to 15 minutes.

I haven't tried the pie crust yet but my Mum used it on Easter Sunday and said it worked perfectly. I wanted to try something a little different this time around. I rolled out and then cut 9 squares out of a single puff pastry sheet. I sprayed a muffin pan with Pam and then placed the squares of puff pastry in the muffin holes. I left the trim overlapping. Poke the pastry many times with fork and then place in 425 degree oven for 7 minutes. When 7 minutes have passed pull them out of oven and poke once again with fork to bring down puffiness especially on the insides of the shell. Place back in oven for another 7 minutes or until shells are golden brown. They should fall right out of the muffin tin. (You can always buy the puff pastry shells instead!)

Strawberry 1,2,3 Pie

1/2 cup sugar
1 envelope unflavored Knox gelatin
1/2 cup water
10 oz package frozen sliced strawberries
1 T lemon juice
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 Cup whipped cream

In saucepan mix sugar and gelatin. Stir in water slowly. Cook over low heat until sugar and gelatin dissolve and the liquid is just below boiling point. Remove from heat and add frozen strawberries, almond extract, and lemon juice. Stir until strawberries have melted and mixture has thickened. Fold in the whipped cream. Pour mixture into baked pie shell and chill for 3 to 5 hours.

If using puff pastry leave mixture in original container and refrigerate for 3 to 5 hours until set. Scoop servings into puff pastry shells, top with fresh strawberry, and serve. Do not put strawberry cream mixture into shells until serving or they will get soggy. Enjoy!