Browsing articles in "Appetizers"
Nov 29, 2011

Recipe for: Gambas al Ajillo Tapas

FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Isabel Canfield
TOTAL TIME: 15 min to prepare, 5 min to cook
MAKES:
1 cup of marinade for 2 pounds of shrimp

Our honeymoon trip to Spain opened our eyes to a completely new way of eating. It was probably the best decision we made while planning our wedding. Granted, we’re still paying for it, but the trip was worth every penny. One dish we took home with us is Gambas al Ajillo, a very common tapa of Spain. Also known as garlic shrimp, I wanted to recreate this recipe because I fell in love with its simplicity and flavor. Spain taught us to appreciate food in the simplest form so fresh shrimp cooked slowly in a trio of garlic, chili and olive oil is as simple as you can get. Served with warm crusty bread, I made this at my last dinner party where heavy appetizers were served. The garlicky marinade doubles as an amazing dipping sauce for the bread. The ingredients in this recipe just work so harmonious together. Gambas al Ajillo was by far a favorite in Spain and now, right in the comfort of my home.

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup olive oil
3 dried chile costeños, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 lbs of fresh shrimp
salt + pepper

DIRECTIONS:
1. Prep the shrimp. First things first, get the shrimp ready. Peel the shrimp removing the hard shell and tail. Taking a paring knife, cut lengthwise along the backside of the shrimp to remove the digestive track. Don’t cut so deep, just enough to remove the track with the pointy tip of the knife. The track is very unpleasant to eat and not really appealing. Gently rinse all the shrimp once they’ve been prepped. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until you’re ready to make the Gambas al Ajillo.

2. Make the marinade. Finely mince the garlic cloves. Roughly chop the dried chili pods, but first removing the seeds and discarding them. Combine these ingredients in a medium-size bowl with olive oil, 1 tsp of each salt and pepper. Mix together, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

I found these Chile Costeño at a local Latino market in Richmond. However, I did recently see some dried bags of chili pods at Kroger. Not sure if they’re the same type of chili pods, but it should work. You’ll have to adjust your recipe according to how hot they are. The Chile Costeño are moderately hot, so I decided 3 pods would work for me.

You can make this marinade days in advance. Just place the marinade in an air-tight container.

3. Cook the shrimp. Heat a small sauce pan on medium to low temperature. Add 1/4 of the marinade to the pan. Allow the oil to heat up slowly. Once it’s warm, add 10-12 shrimps. Slowly cook the shrimp for about 2 minutes per side. Don’t overcook! Serve with slices of warm fresh bread. Once this serving has been eaten up, cook up another batch in the same oil adding a little more marinade to the pan.

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Oct 4, 2011

Recipe for: Crispy Cream Cheese Wontons

FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Isabel Canfield
TOTAL TIME: 10 minutes to prep, 15 minutes to fry
MAKES:
23-25 wontons

Every time we order out for Chinese, I always get the same thing — crab rangoons and beef & broccoli. They’re my favs. I even have to split up the crab rangoons between Jared and I or else I would eat his share. No joke. I’m just addicted to those crispy little things filled with cream cheese, seasonings and crab. I was inspired by the crab rangoon to do a simpler version filled with only two ingredients — cream cheese and green scallions. Yes, it probably would have been better with fresh lump crab meat, but times are tough people! Either way, the outcome was the same and still delicious. Who wouldn’t love gooey cream cheese with a hint of onion encased in a super crispy and hot wonton wrapper? It may not be the healthiest thing, but who cares! Just don’t eat everyone’s share.

INGREDIENTS:
25 wonton wrappers (1 package comes with 60)
1 package of cream cheese
3 green scallions, chopped
vegetable oil, for frying
water

DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix filling. Combine the cream cheese and chopped scallions in a small bowl.

2. Make the wontons. Take one wonton wrapper and lay flat on a board. Scoop 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of the wrapper. Dip your finger into some water and damp the edge of the wrapper all around. Pull up the opposite ends of the wrapper to the center and pinch the edges tightly. Be sure that all the edges are completely sealed or else the filling will come out.

You can also make triangle wontons by simply scooping a teaspoon of filling on top of the wrapper. Wet the edges and the fold one corner over to form a triangle-shaped wonton. Again, be sure to seal all the edges to prevent the filling from leaking out.

3. Fry & drain wontons. Heat a large pot filled a quarter way up with vegetable oil at medium temperature. Using a thermometer, once the oil reaches 200° drop 4-6 wontons at a time. Keep an eye on them because they can turn brown quickly. Each side takes about 2 minutes. Once golden-brown, place the fried wontons on a plate lined with a paper towel. Cool for a minute because they will burn your tongue! Enjoy!

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Sep 14, 2011

Recipe for: Ina’s Flaky Cheese Straws

FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Ina Garten
TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes
MAKES:
about 24 straws

I hosted an Arbonne Spa party at my house last Thursday. I think the simplest and best thing to serve when hosting one of these events is literally just cheese and wine. So, I put together a cheese platter that consisted of Brie, Parm, Monterey Jack and Bleu, served with grapes, water and bagel crackers. I had a medley of both red and white wines, and I also baked these cheese straws from Ina Garten. I figured the girls would need some substance after drinking several glasses of wine, I know I do! Because the spa party took place soon after work, I prepped the pastry the night before. So, as soon as I got home, all I had to do was cut the pastry into strips, twist and bake. Pretty simple, huh? I will be honest and say though, that I didn’t love them as much as others did. I thought they were a little dry, probably because I might have overbaked them just a slight. Keep an eye on these bad boys and remove them from the oven as soon as they’re ready. Despite that, I’ll try this again because they were a great addition to a cheese and wine get-together.

INGREDIENTS:
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry (defrosted overnight in refrigerator)
1 egg
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
water
flour, for dusting
salt + pepper

DIRECTIONS:
1. Prep the ingredients. First and foremost, prep your ingredients. Remove thyme leaves from stem, beat egg with 1 teaspoon of water in a small bowl, grate both the Gruyere and Parmesan cheese. Set all of this aside.

2. Assemble the pastry. Roll out 1 sheet of pastry on a lightly floured non-stick tray or board until it’s 10 x 12 inches. Brush the egg mixture on the surface of the pastry. Sprinkle the sheet evenly with half the Parmesan cheese, Gruyere cheese and thyme leaves. Add a few twists of salt and pepper. Once all the ingredients are on the pastry sheet, lightly press the flavorings into the puff pastry with the rolling pin. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Repeat this step with the remaining sheet of pastry.

I prepared mine the night before so I covered them with plastic wrap and placed them in the fridge. Great way to save time. If you make them the day of, just pop them in the fridge to set up for a few minutes. This helps making the twist a little easier.

3. Cut and bake. Preheat the over to 375°. Remove the prepared pastry from the fridge. Using a knife or a pizza slicer, cut 12 strips on each sheet. Twist each strip. Bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes until lightly browned and puff. Turn each straw and bake for another 2 minutes. Enjoy!

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Aug 2, 2011

Recipe for: Fried Green Tomatoes

FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Isabel Canfield
TOTAL TIME: 10 min to prep, 15 min to fry
MAKES:
about 12-15 slices

Fried green tomatoes are definitely a Southern thing. Besides watching the 1991 movie years ago, I don’t think I was really introduced to one until I moved to Richmond. My two favorite places to get fried green tomatoes are Comfort on Broad street and Juleps in Shockoe. They are to die for! If you can’t get to either one of those places in Richmond, no need to fret. I’ve done my research to try to bring you a fried green tomato recipe that stacks up close to the ones I love from these two restaurants.

I believe the texture of a fried green tomato is key to making it perfect. Now, I’m not a true Southerner by any means so this may not be very traditional, but I think it’s still pretty damn good. I like a heavy coating so I opted to use buttermilk instead of milk, and used a combination of both breadcrumbs and cornmeal. The green tomato is still firm, yet tender beneath all the crispy layers. It’s not greasy at all, it’s light and airy, and out of this world. Try this Southern favorite. You will never eat just one.

INGREDIENTS:
3 green tomatoes
1 cup of flour
1 cup of plain bread crumbs
1 cup of yellow cornmeal
1 cup of buttermilk
salt + pepper
vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:
1. Slice the tomatoes. Rinse and pat dry the green tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4-inch thickness. Season both sides with salt.

2. Bread the slices. In three separate bowls, add flour to the first one with some salt and pepper, buttermilk to the second, and combine the breadcrumbs and cornmeal in the third. Taking a slice of tomato, lightly coat it in the flour, coat both sides with the buttermilk and then dredge into the breadcrumb/cornmeal mixture. Repeat process for all the slices.

3. Fry the coated slices. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet on medium heat with vegetable oil about 1/4-inch high. Once the oil is hot, gently place 5-6 slices into the pan. Let one side turn golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side, before turning it over. Remove and place on a baking rake to drip the excess oil. I kept mine in the oven until all the slices were fried.

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Jul 26, 2011

Recipe for: Homemade Guacamole

FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Isabel Canfield
TOTAL TIME: 15 minutes
MAKES:
about 2 cups

One of my favorite things to make is guacamole. Why? Because it’s the easiest thing to whip up for a crowd. You don’t even have to “cook” or “bake” anything. It’s just prepping a few fresh ingredients and ultimately combining everything into a bowl. And there you go, guacamole ready in just a few minutes!

My version is fairly simple and mild. You can certainly add different seasonings if you like a little kick such as chili or cayenne. You can even add garlic or dice up a few tomatoes, if you’d like. However, my recipe is straight forward, yet still very tasty. The ingredients provide some texture against such a delicate and creamy fruit. I promise you, this will be your go-to recipe for guacamole. So enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:
3 hass avocados
1/2 cup diced red onions (about 1/2 a red onion)
1/2 cup diced cilantro
1/3 cup jalapenos (about 2 jalapenos)
1/8 cup lime/lemon juice (about 1/2 a lime & 1/2 a lemon)
salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
1. Dice the ingredients. Slice in half a red onion and remove the outer layer. Dice into little cubes. Rinse and pat dry the cilantro and jalapenos. Dice them as well. Be sure when dicing the jalapenos to not touch your eyes. It’ll sting! Set these ingredients aside in a small bowl.

2. Squeeze the lemon/lime. I like the combo of both lime and lemon in my guacamole. I do use a little more lime though. Taking 1/2 a lime and 1/2 a lemon, squeeze into a measuring cup. It’s roughly an 1/8 of a cup.

3. Scoop the avocado into a bowl. To remove the avocado from the skin, take a paring knife and slice the avocado in half. Gently stab the large seed with the paring knife and gently twist outward to remove the seed. Then take a spoon to scoop the avocado from the skin. Repeat this step for all three avocados.

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