Dipping Sauces

I had scored a deal on frozen coconut shrimp at Whole Foods; $5 off a two pound bag (!) so, guess what we were having (in the air fryer) for dinner?

Thing is, whenever we get something like coconut shrimp out, they always serve it with some tasty dipping sauce, the makeup usually varying by the restaurant, and I could have just stirred some sweet chili sauce into mayonnaise and called it a day.

But…

I wanted a little sumpin’ sumpin’ different; so, to the interwebs!

Where, a lot of folk suggested combining equal parts sweet chili sauce and orange marmalade to make a sauce.

Hmmm.

I had no orange marmalade (or even Clementine Marmalade) on hand, but I did have some Peach Marmalade, and an open jar of Banana Mango Chutney, and so decided to have a sauce-off with our shrimp.

Only one problem.

They were both wicked tasty!

Full disclosure: I think I might’ve preferred the banana mango chutney dipping sauce, but, hey, winning!

So, details:

•Sweet chili sauce
•Equal measure of marmalade or chutney

Stir together in small bowls, cover, and chill until time to serve.

Cook the frozen coconut shrimp at 400º for eight minutes, turning the shrimp over after four minutes.

Serve with the dipping sauce(s).

We thought this very nice for dinner, but it would work a treat as an appetizer, too.

And…

thinking ahead a wee, tiny bit (teh holidaze are coming, afterall)…

why not go all seasonal on your munchies and use Cranberry Relish in place of the marmalade or chutney?

Just… please… say “no” to pumpkin spice.

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Vichyssoise

On a hot August day, what could be more refreshing than a nice bowl of…

soup?

Yah, youbetcha!

When the soup is ice cold and creamy and so very, very tasty Vichyssoise.

Otherwise known as “cold potato soup.”

Some folk love it, some hate it, but we are

most certainly in the “love it” category.

I have been enjoying a version of this since I was a kid – it was one of my Aunt Buzz’s standby summer luncheon recipes – and, even though I lost Aunt Buzz’s original recipe, I have pieced together this option which brings me back to summer afternoons in the second house down from the top of the mountain.

INGREDIENTS
•1 can cream of potato soup
•1 can chicken broth
•8-16 oz sour cream
•1/4 cup heavy cream
•1 tsp dried chives
•1 tsp garlic powder
•1/4 tsp white pepper

Combine all in a blender and blend until well mixed and smooth.

Stash in the fridge for at least a few hours or overnight before serving.

Note: this soup is not gluten-free, due to the make-up of the canned potato soup, but, if you really want to try this, and really need it to be gluten-free, may I suggest boiling a couple of potatoes in cream until soft, then mashing well, stirring in a bit of the cooking cream if needed; then cool and add one additional cup of sour cream to the blender.

Starting with a can of condensed soup, and using eight ounces of sour cream, I got a bit more than a quart of soup, a perfect amount for sharing.

To serve, ideally, pour into chilled bowls, dust with additional chives, and enjoy quickly. One cool option is to serve it in small cocktail glasses and pass to folk as soup shooters.

Note: thanks to an old friend, I am now in possession of my Aunt Buzz’s actual recipe, and plan on trying it out in the next few weeks to see which I prefer. This version is a bit lighter and lower in sodium, but hers was just so darned good.

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Sourdough Panzanella

We were having friends over for dinner, and I was in need of, as one of our nephews calls it, “A Conversation Salad.”

Ideally, a salad folk gathered around the table would be talking about, because it was so very good, and not, the evening Gabe named the salad, because the sweet potatoes were taking a heckish amount of time to finish cooking.

Fortunately, this is one of those salads that is truly good, and worthy of chatting about.

First, all thanks to the nice folk at Thomas’ English Muffins who provided the basic method and recipe; tho I must confess, I prefer Bays; specifically their sourdough muffins.

Second, by all means swap out salad veggies for your own faves; I had folk coming who cannot abide cucumbers or chopped egg, so I skipped those.

INGREDIENTS
Vinaigrette:
•1/2 cup sherry vinegar, or red wine vinegar
•1/2 cup olive oil
•2 tbsp lemon juice
•1 tbsp Dijon mustard
•2 cloves garlic, minced
•1/2 shallot, minced
•1/2 tsp sugar
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper

Salad:
•3 sourdough English muffins, toasted
•1 red pepper, diced
•Grape tomatoes, quartered
•1/2 red onion, sliced
•Fresh basil, torn
•Feta cheese, crumbled
•Blanched asparagus, sliced
•Chopped lettuce

Combine the vinaigrette ingredients together in a large beaker and whisk together with an immersion blender until emulsified. Transfer to a jar, cover and set aside until ready to serve.

Two notes:
No immersion blender? Then whisk together all of the ingredients except for the olive oil, and then, while whisking, slowly stream the olive oil into the vinaigrette.

Need to make the vinaigrette ahead? Then mebbe think about using half olive oil and half canola oil; that way your vinaigrette won’t solidify in the fridge.

Back to the salad!

Cut or tear your toasted English muffins into small pieces, then add to a large bowl with the other ingredients.

Drizzle with the vinaigrette, toss the salad, and serve.

Conversation or no, this is a lovely salad.

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Cherry Lemonade (with Rum!)

It was a hot and steamy August night and we had a few friends over for dinner.

And drinks.

Mostly, when we gather, we stick to wine, on this night a couple of lovely rosés from one of our fave Santa Inez valley wineries, but first, I had this cocktail recipe I had been aching to try out…

A cherry and lemon simple syrup splashed over ice with dark rum and seltzer.

How was it?

YUM.

Refreshing, too.

INGREDIENTS
•2 cups pitted cherries
•1 cup lemon juice
•3/4 cup water
•3/4 cup sugar
•Dark rum
•Seltzer water

Add the cherries to the lemon juice, water, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Once the mixture has begun simmering, run your immersion blender through it to finely chop the cherries.

Note: the original recipe, from the nice folk at sweetpaulmag.com, called for running the cherries and lemon juice through your blender before adding to the water and sugar, but I had a lot going on that day, and figured one less container to clean was a good thing, so used my immersion blender. The final mixture was mebbe a bit pulpier than it would’ve been otherwise, but was, I think, no less tasty.

However you’ve managed to blend your cherries, let the mixture in the pan simmer for 15 minutes, until reduced and syrup-y.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool before transferring to a jar and stashing in the fridge until needed – I ended up with about 20 ounces of cherry-lemon concentrate – enough for ten cocktails.

When ready to serve, pour equal amounts of the cherry-lemon syrup and your dark rum of choice – we are kinda lovin’ Plantation Pineapple Rum right now – over ice in a glass, then top over with seltzer or soda water – I chose to keep the cherry theme going and used black cherry seltzer.

Light and wicked refreshing.

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Cucumber Salad With a Sweet Chili Vinaigrette

A friend was posting on teh faceplace the other day, practically begging for ideas of what to do with her farm box this week, which was loaded with tiny cucumbers.

Yeh, she could pickle ’em, and I suggested that Gin (or Vodka) and Tonic Pickles would be very nice, just mebbe not for the kids; but then, I thought of this refreshing, slightly smoky (from the toasted sesame oil) and not at all too spicy or sweet salad that, like the G&T pickles, calls for Persian cucumbers, but tiny regular cukes will do as well.

BTW, all thanks to the nice folk at allrecipes.com for the original recipe, which I just tweaked a teeny, tiny bit.

INGREDIENTS
Vinaigrette:
•2 tbsp rice or salad vinegar
•2 tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce
•1 tsp toasted sesame oil
•1/4 tsp white sugar
•1/4 tsp garlic powder
•1/8 tsp Seasoned Salt

Salad:
•3 Persian cucumbers, quartered and sliced
•Thinly sliced and quartered sweet onion

Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together, then drizzle over the cucumbers and onion in a large bowl.

Toss to coat, then transfer to a smaller bowl, cover tightly, and stash in the fridge for at least one hour before serving.

Lovely with Indonesian Swordfish.

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Indonesian-Style Swordfish

I will admit that we have been on a bit of a seafood kick of late, what with Coconut Basil Shrimp, and the Glazed Salmon and all; but, I have also, it seems, gone on a bit of a coconut milk kick.

I am loving what it does to soup; and we totally loved it in the shrimp, so, when I came across a recipe for Indonesian Swordfish, and it didn’t call for coconut milk, I had to do a bit of research.

And, I was good.

Coconut is a common ingredient in some variations of Indonesian cuisine, so I felt pretty free in indulge my tastes and add it to this recipe.

Don’t really care for coconut? No worries! I used the milk in a marinade, and so the finished, grilled swordfish does not have a strong coconut flavor. If you are still hesitant, substitute 1/4 cup of canola or peanut oil – or even mayonnaise (!) for the can of coconut milk.

INGREDIENTS
Marinade:
•1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
•2 tbsp Dijon mustard
•2 tbsp lower sodium Tamari
•2 tbsp lemon juice
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp grated orange and/or lemon zest
•4 cloves garlic, minced
•2 tbsp minced fresh ginger

Swordfish:
•2 to 4 swordfish steaks
Seasoned Salt
•Olive oil for the grill

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Whisk the marinade ingredients together and pour over the swordfish steaks in a gallon sized zipper bag.

Close the bag and stash in the fridge for at least four hours or – always more better – overnight; flipping the bag over whenever you think to.

When ready to cook, heat your grill to medium high and brush the grates (or grill pan) with the olive oil.

Remove the swordfish from the marinade (discard the marinade) and season both sides with the Seasoned Salt.

Cook the swordfish for five minutes, then turn the steaks over and cook for another five minutes, just until they are no longer pink in the center.

Remove the steaks to a platter, cover tightly with foil, and set aside to rest for 15 minutes.

Really, really nice with veggie tempura birdsnests from Trader Joes and a Cucumber Salad with a Sweet Chili Sauce Vinaigrette.

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Best! Glazed Salmon

We have a local fishmonger and smokehouse that has the best salmon, smoked and fresh (their lobster salad is killer, too); so, whenever the urge hits, we swing by and pick up a couple of fillets.

I make rather a lot of salmon, but I was in the mood to try a different recipe, and so hit the interwebs to see what was around.

Hmmm.

“Sweet and Spicy Glazed?”

Sounded tasty, but, a few things seemed off; we like  spicy, but this seemed to be almost all heat and very little sweet, so I decided to make a few changes.

Eureka!

This glaze rocks!

Just the right amount of heat, and perhaps the best salmon I have ever made.

INGREDIENTS
Salmon:
•2 salmon fillets, skin on
Seasoned Salt
•Black pepper
•Olive oil

Glaze:
•1 tbsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce
•1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
•1 tbsp brown sugar
•1 tsp paprika

Bonus Sauce:
•1 tbsp glaze
•2 tbsp mayonnaise

Whisk the glaze ingredients together until nicely blended, then set aside.

Stir one tablespoon of the glaze into the mayonnaise, then cover and stash in the fridge for a few hours.

When ready to make the salmon, season lightly with the salt and pepper and heat your grill or a grill pan on medium high.

Brush the grill or grill pan with olive oil and add the salmon, skin side up.

Cook for two to three minutes, until the salmon flesh is marked from the grill.

Turn the salmon over, brush with the glaze, and continue to cook, adding more glaze as needed, for 13 to 15 minutes, just until the salmon is cooked through.

Serve.

Note: you do not need the Bonus Sauce for the salmon, in my opinion, but it was pretty tasty with air fried onion rings.

The Waldorf Coleslaw was nice, too.

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Cherry, Chive, and Curry Chicken Salad

Our niece was moving into a new apartment to start her PhD program in Milwaukee, and her folks were coming up to help, along with my favorite mother-in-law.

So; faced with a weekend of family, more than likely tired and hungry from climbing 53 flights of stairs (my sister-in-law counted), I needed plans and backup plans for food.

The Coconut Basil Shrimp and Coconut Rice had been a big hit, but I needed a backup.

Hmmm. Chicken salad?

But… not your everyday chicken salad.

Nope. This needs a little sumpin’ sumpin’ extra, I think.

INGREDIENTS
Dressing:
•3-3/4 oz (half a tub) chive cream cheese
•3/4 cup mayonnaise
•1 tsp curry powder
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•2 tbsp crushed pineapple

Salad:
•1 tbsp chopped chives
•3-1/2 cups chopped poached chicken
•1/3 cup dried cherries
•2 tbsp chopped pecans

Beat the cream cheese together with the mayonnaise, curry powder, salt, black and Aleppo pepper, and crushed pineapple until well blended.

Toss the chicken with the chives, dried cherries, and pecans in a large bowl, then add the dressing and toss to coat.

Cover tightly and stash in the fridge until ready to serve.

Makes nice sammiches with crispity bacon and shredded lettuce!

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Poached Chicken

I was trying out a Curried Chicken Salad recipe – kindofa riff on Coronation Chicken Salad – and needed some cooked chicken.

Sure.

I could have picked up a rotisserie chicken at the market, or perhaps had planned things better so that we enjoyed a Pressure Cooker Whole Chicken, and then used the leftovers.

But I did not have my act together quite that much, and so, I looked at options.

Poached chicken?

Yeh, that could work!

And, apologies if you all new about this method and have been using it for years, but I really haven’t, until now; so, bear with me.

INGREDIENTS
•Handful basil leaves
•1 small onion, halved
•1 small carrot, halved
•1 stalk celery, halved
•1 garlic clove, minced
•1 tsp fresh grated ginger
•3 cups no salt added chicken stock
•2 cups water
•1-1/2 lb chicken tenders
•1 tsp dried parsley
•1 tsp dried thyme
•1 tsp black peppercorns
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper

Add the basil leaves, oni0n, carrot, celery, garlic, and ginger to a large pan.

Add the chicken tenders, the chicken stock and water, and the seasonings.

Bring to boil, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes, until the tenders are firm to the touch, then remove from the heat, uncover, and let rest in the cooking liquid for 30 minutes.

Note: want to use bone-in chicken pieces? No problem! Simply increase the simmering time to 25 minutes.

Once the chicken has been poached and rested, remove from the pan and use it as you will.

My 1-1/2 pound of tenders gave me 3-1/2 cups of chopped chicken for my salad.

Which was pretty darned tasty, with dried cherries and cream cheese and curry powder and pineapple and pecans and…

well, all those details, tomorrow…

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Coconut Basil Shrimp

This was a hoooge hit with visiting family over the weekend.

Shrimp marinated in coconut milk, honey, and Tamari with green chiles, garlic, and ginger; then sautéed with onion, red pepper and basil.

I did (of course) make a few changes to the original food.com recipe; I swapped out green chiles for the poblano or jalapeño peppers called for, and subbed parsley for the cilantro, because I can.

INGREDIENTS
Marinade:
•1 can diced green chiles, drained
•3 garlic cloves, minced
•2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
•1/4 cup honey
•2 tbsp lower sodium Tamari
•1/4 cup coconut milk

Stir Fry:
•1 lb peeled and deveined raw shrimp
•1 tbsp olive oil
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 cup diced onion
•1/2 cup diced red pepper
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
•1/4 cup chopped green onion
•1/4 cup chopped parsley

Rice:
•1-1/2 cup Basmati rice
•1 cup coconut milk
•1 cup unsalted chicken stock
•1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•2 tbsp crushed pineapple

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Whisk the marinade ingredients together until well blended, then pour over the shrimp in a gallon sized zipper bag.

Stash in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to four hours.

When ready to prepare, combine the rice (rinsed and drained at least twice) with the coconut milk, chicken stock, ginger, and salt in a rice cooker and push “Cook.”

Once your rice cooker cycle has completed, fluff with a fork and stir in the crushed pineapple. Cover the rice cooker and keep on warm while you finish the shrimp.

While the rice is cooking, warm the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion, red pepper, and salt and cook for five minutes or so, until the veggies are tender, but not browned.

Remove the shrimp from the marinade (save the marinade) and add to the pan with the onion and pepper.

Turn the heat to high, stir in the Sherry Peppers Sauce, and sauté until the shrimp are just turning pink – you do not want the shrimp fully cooked at this point.

Remove the shrimp, onion, and pepper to a bowl and set aside.

Pour the reserved marinade into the pan, bring to a boil, and simmer for five minutes to cook any fish juices and reduce.

Turn the heat off, stir in the shrimp mixture, basil leaves, and green onion and toss to combine. Cover the pan and let rest for a couple of minutes to finish cooking the shrimp and wilt the basil leaves.

Sprinkle the shrimp with parsley and serve over the rice.

This rocks as it is, but to really push it up and over the top, pass bowls of Garlic Butter Peanuts and Banana Mango Chutney for each person to add to their individual plate, should they choose so.

Our family all did, and even those who are not all that adventurous eaters loved the combination.

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