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Shrimp Stuffed Zucchini

I should have called this “Summer Stuffed Zucchini” as it’s full of sweet summer flavors. I found these cute litte tatuma zucchini at Central Market and thought why not… they remind me of mini pumpkins. You can use regular zucchini as well or anything for that matter. You could stuff a shoe with this filling and find happiness.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 – 4 zucchini zucchini, cut in half
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/4 Teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 ear corn, de-kerneled
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 8 Shrimp, cut into bite size pieces
  • 10 grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
  • Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out inner flesh leaving a 1/4 inch lip. Chop 1/2 of the flesh and reserve. Place zucchini in a baking dish or sheet pan.

Over medium heat in a non-stick skillet, saute onions and garlic in 1 T olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add crushed red pepper, corn, diced zucchini from above, tomatoes, lemon juice and capers. Saute for an addition 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat and mix in shrimp, breadcrumbs and basil. Season with salt and pepper.

Fill zucchini halves with mixture and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top each zucchini with parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Return to oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Enjoy!

 

Strawberry Fluff

This dessert takes me right back to summer and memories of sneaking into the freezer with a fork. It’s frozen crunchy sweet strawberry goodness. A tantalizing & perfect sweet treat for summer. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

For the Crunch Topping:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Combine flour, walnuts, sugar and melted butter in a bowl. Spread onto baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Let cool and break into pieces.

For the Fluff:

  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 9 ounces cool whip

DIRECTIONS

Mix all above except cool whip and beat for 10 minutes, until light and fluffy. Fold in cool whip. In a 13×9 pan, spread 2/3 of the crumb mixture in the bottom, top with the fluff filling and top with the remaining 1/3 crumb topping. Freeze 6 hours or overnight.

Green Bean Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

A guy at work says it isn’t fair when Bobby Flay adds pancetta to his dishes on Iron Chef… in fact he says it’s cheating. Everything is better with pancetta.

I agree.

Green beans are so good for you… but gosh they can be boring. I’m not a huge fan of the green bean casserole with the styrofoam onions… and I wasn’t cooking Asian food or I had have gone the stir fry green bean hoison route… so I decided to try this combination.

I was really surprised how well this turned out and I couldn’t keep dipping into the bowl for more. I’ll be buying more green beans and preparing this all summer. There is no dairy so it would make a perfect BBQ side dish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 1 – 1/4 inch thick slice pancetta
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add green beans and parboil for about 4 minutes. Transfer to a cold water bath and drain. Add to serving bowl.

Dice pancetta into small pieces and add to a COLD skillet with a little olive oil. heat the skillet over medium heat and cook pancetta until crispy. Drain on paper towels.

In the same pan as the pancetta, toast the walnuts over medium heat until they become fragrant, about 2 minutes, and then transfer them to a small bowl to cool.

Add the onion, walnuts and pancetta to the beans and stir to combine.

In another small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and mustard. Toss the dressing with the green beans and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Pork Shoulder Pernil with Cilantro-Citrus Adobo

My good friend and fellow foodie, Catherine of Fish and Veggies, peaked my interest in this dish. She gave it a try and received rave reviews. So I followed her lead with a few modifications based on her suggestions and made my own Pork Pernil.

“Pernil” is a classic Puerto Rican pork roast that is incredibly easy and equally impressive. The basic method is making the “adobo” which is simply a purée of garlic, herbs and citrus juice. Next time I will add onion and chili powder to the adobo for a little more flavor.

It couldn’t be simpler. Throw the potatoes in the bottom and after 3 hours they are perfectly crispy and flavored with the adobo. I made a quick coleslaw and served with flour tortillas to make tacos.

INGREDIENTS

For the Pork:

  • 1 boneless pork shoulder (about 4 pounds), skin on
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 handful fresh oregano
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, plus chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and fresh coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 limes, juiced, plus wedges for serving
  • 2 oranges, juiced
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5-6 large Idaho potatoes, cubed

For the Coleslaw:

  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 t cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 head cabbage, shredded
  • 1 small red onion, thinkly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • shredded carrots

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the adobo: In a food processor, add the garlic, oregano, cilantro, cumin, salt, and pepper. Add lime juice and orange juice. Drizzle in olive oil and pulse until you have a nice puree.

Using a sharp knife, score the surface of the meat with small slits. Place pork in a large plastic bag. Pour the marinade all over the pork and seal plastic bag. Marinade in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes and place in the bottom of a roasting pan.

Remove pork from marinade and place the pork, fat side up, in a roasting pan fitted with a rack insert. Rub leftover marinade on top of pork – being sure to get into the incisions so the salt can penetrate the meat and pull out the moisture – this will help form a crust on the outside when cooked.

Roast the pork and potatoes for 3 hours, uncovered, until the skin is crispy-brown. Let the meat rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before slicing, covered lightly with aluminum foil. Drizzle with lime juice and garnish with cilantro.

Mix all ingredients for the coleslaw dressing and add to coleslaw mix 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with tortillas for taco making!

French Onion Soup

French Onion soup is quite simple to make if you let the food processor do the chopping for you. I’ve made several variations of this soup and this is my best yet. Cooks note: Try serving the soup with an apple & gruyere grilled sandwich in lieu of the bread on top of the soup.

There are a few significant elements that will take this soup from so-so to outstanding …

  1. Caramelizing the onions. It takes a while but if you aren’t careful 5 pounds of onions could be down the sink in a short amount of time. The first 10 minutes aren’t crucial as it takes a while for the water to cook out of the onions (cover your pot to wilt quicker). Once the onions are sticking to the bottom of the pan you’ve reached the critical stage. You can’t let them burn… it’s about impossible to remove the burned black dots that will linger through your soup. Let them brown and then scrape the bottom of the pan to get all of the bits off and repeat this process for 20 minutes. Eventually those brown bits will stain the onions.
  2. Beef Stock. My favorite is Kitchen Basics. It has rich color and tons of flavor and its not costly at only a few dollars for a 1 quart box at Central Market.
  3. Sherry and Brandy. The combination is necessary for that aromatic note the soup is famous for having. I’ve made it in the past with only red wine and the depth of flavor is not the same. If you aren’t a brandy drinker and wonder what you will do with the leftovers – save it for Sangria in the summer.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 2-3 T olive oil
  • 5 pounds onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3/4 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 8 cups beef broth
  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • 1/2 pound grated Gruyere

DIRECTIONS

Melt 1/2 stick of butter and olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 35-40 minutes. Add the wine, brandy and sherry, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the liquor has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5-10 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn’t burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

When you’re ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyere and broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup in bowls and float several of the Gruyere croutons on top.

Alternative method: Ladle the soup into bowls, top each with 2 slices of bread and top with cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to toast the bread and melt the cheese.

Serves 8-10.

Steamed Mussels with Spicy Red Pepper Aioli

Thank you Anne Burrell… you are brilliant and I love your food.

Steamed mussels have become a favorite of mine. I first had them about 12 years ago at an office party in Ft Lauderdale. They were swimming in butter, wine and parsley – and I loved them…. I was not yet the Foodie I’ve become so it was several years before they came back into my life. They are beautiful little creatures with their glossy black shells and surprisingly very affordable ($5-$6 pound). If serving as the main course I’d suggest a pound per person and lots of bread.

Do not skip the spicy aioli… it is what makes this recipe incredible. It seeps into the wine and salty sea juices… makes a lovely spicy sauce to dip your bread into.

I made a few modifications to the original recipe: I used shallots instead of onion, added parsley and I cut the wine WAY back (recipe calls for an entire bottle). I used Sauvignon Blanc for the wine and there was plenty left for drinking.

INGREDIENTS

For the aioli:

  • 2 roasted red peppers
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha
  • Salt
  • 1 cups canola oil

For the mussels:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 3/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 pounds mussels, debearded and rinsed
  • 2 cups white wine
  • Crusty bread

DIRECTIONS

To make the aioli: Coarsely chop the roasted peppers and place them in the best blender for the money or food processor. Add the yolks, garlic, vinegar, chili paste, and salt to taste. Puree until the mixture is smooth. While the machine is running, slowly drizzle in the oil, until incorporated. Check the aioli for texture and flavor. If it’s too thick, add a few drops of water to thin it down, or on the flip side if it’s too thin add more oil. The desired outcome is a fairly thin aioli. Check the flavor and add more salt or chili paste, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To cook the mussels: In a pot, large enough to accommodate all the mussels, generously coat with olive oil. Add the shallots and bring to a medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Cook the shallots until they are very soft and aromatic but have no color. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf and cook for another 2 to3 minutes. Stir to be sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the mussels and stir to coat with the oil. Add the wine and cover the pot. Steam the mussels for 5 to 6 minutes or until all the shells open. If some shells don’t open, cook them for a little longer. Sometimes the freshest mussels are the most stubborn to open. Remove the mussels that don’t open after longer cooking. When in doubt, throw out.

While the mussels are steaming, grill or toast the slices of bread.

Serve the mussels in individual bowls with lots of the juice from the bottom of the pot. Generously drizzle each bowl with the aioli. Serve with lots of crusty bread to soak up the liquid!