Learning to cook … one kid at a time

Baked Shrimp with Feta August 31, 2010

Filed under: "Fast Food" — gastromami @ 3:22 pm

Oh … my …. goodness!

This. Is. Fantastic!

One more time — you MUST make this dish!

Today was a little trying.  It started out great as Reny and I headed out to Collierville for our Friday run with friends, ending in some much-needed, energy-blowing, sprinkler park playing!  Unfortunately the sprinkler park has new Fall hours and was not open!  No biggie, we just headed over to the great playground!!

On the way home, I called Reny and after about 2 minutes he started in with “Hello?  Can you hear me?”  To which I responded:  “I can hear you, why can’t you hear me?  Hello?  Hell-ooooo?  HELLO???”

Arghhh, this happened the night before on the phone with my grandparents and there was no way I was going to let my ‘less than a month old’ new iPhone 4 act up all weekend!  And don’t even mention the possibility of me heading there during the weekend!  Ughhh I cringe thinking about the crowds ….

We had been on our way to the Winchester Farmer’s Market to get all the makings for fish tacos so thankfully I had packed a lunch for Reny.  I pulled a quick u-turn on Kirby and headed up to the Apple store, praying that we could get in and out before naptime (it was now 11:45).  Before getting Ren out of the car I gave him a thorough wipe-down to clean up any remnants of peanut butter and blueberries and we headed in.  We killed the 10 minutes of waiting playing on the kid’s computers (or just playing the ABC song over and over and over again!)  It may have been the repeats of kids songs, or my wonderful post-run stench but we got seen relatively fast.  And here is where the trouble began …. the tech was great but could not “reproduce” my issue.  Yes, I know, it doesn’t happen all the time and it only happens after a few minutes of talking.  Soooo, calling your buddy and saying “Hi, can you hear me?  Great.” won’t “reproduce” the problem.  So he sends me a and my rapidly failing son on our way.  On my way out I made an appointment for Monday because I knew that I would be back!  I walked out of the store, called Reny, walked about 10 feet and “Hello?  Are you there?”

So I grabbed my sweaty, poor MamaIreallyneedanap kid and head back in – to the lunch crowd.  Shnikes!

After some 20 minutes of screaming, crying and desperately signing for “leche” while simultaneously trying to pull up my shirt and nurse, the tech came over, grabbed my phone and gave me a new one.  Thank you ‘kind’ sir.

Anyway, my day was significantly improved by this wonderfully scrumptious dinner!

Baked Shrimp with Feta*

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

cooking spray

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 cup diced onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons bottled clam juice

1 tablespoon white wine

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

  1. Preheat oven to 450˚
  2. Combine lemon juice and shrimp in a bowl;  toss well
  3. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add oil to pan, swirling to coat.  Add onion to pan;  saute 1 minute.  Add garlic;  saute 1 minute.  Add clam juice, wine, oregano, pepper, and tomatoes;  bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in shrimp mixture.  Place in an 8 x 8-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle cheese evenly over mixture.
  5. Bake at 450˚ for 12 minutes or until shrimp are done and cheese melts.
  6. Sprinkle with parsley; serve immediately

While the shrimp is baking cook 1 cup orzo pasta according to package directions.  Drain and toss with 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

Serve with steamed broccoli

Ren (definitely!) approved!

*Adapted from Cooking Light


Tender Chicken Thighs in Tomato Sauce August 29, 2010

Filed under: Recipes,Uncategorized — gastromami @ 8:06 pm

I’m becoming addicted to my slower cooker.  As the summer draws to an end and fall is in the 87˚ weather, I am looking forward to baking apple pies, making chili and braising meat all day to heat up my home and our souls.  Until the crisp air comes, with our acre of leaves to clean up jump in, I am enjoying some lighter dishes while keeping the temperature down in my house!

After 4 hours of cooking this chicken falls apart to reveal deep flavors.  Slow cooking the chicken would be a perfect solution for making baby food!  Just a few minutes in the food processor and viola!  This dish, left as it is, is just perfect for Ren and I on a Saturday night as I look forward to a few days out of the kitchen during Dad’s days off!

This recipe made enough for dinner tonight and I froze 2 more portions for down the road!  I think it should reheat well!

12 chicken thighs (about 4 pounds), skinned

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

1/4 cup dry white wine

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 to 3 teaspoons crushed red pepper

(if cooking for baby, only 1 tsp or omit entirely and just season to taste at the table)

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

1/2 cup sliced pitted kalamata olives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

  • Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper

  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add chicken to pan;  cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned.
  • Place chicken in electric slow cooker.

  • Add garlic to pan and saute 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  • Add wine, scraping pan to loosen brown bits, cook 30 seconds.
  • Place wine mixture in cooker.

  • Add tomato paste, crushed red pepper, and tomatoes to cooker.

  • Cover and cook on High 4 hours.

  • Stir in olives and parsley.

Ren approved!


Dark Chocolate Almond Biscotti August 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — gastromami @ 8:36 pm

This biscotti recipe is, dare I say, healthy!?

Using whole-wheat flour, flaxseed and almonds adds both fiber and antioxidants to one of my favorite treats!

This recipe is a step-up from a basic anise cookie;  I try to keep biscotti on hand for Reny as a teething “biscuit.”  Unlike store-bought brands, biscotti breaks apart slowly and I don’t feel as paranoid about choking.  Also, I’m sure he could use a little treat when dealing with all that yucky pain!

9.5 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 2 cups)

2 tablespoons flaxseed

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 large egg whites

1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3 cup dark chocolate chips

3/4 cup unsalted almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚
  2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups;  level with a knife.  Combine flour, flaxseed, soda and salt in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Combine sugars, egg whites, and egg in a bowl;  beat with a mixer at high speed for 2 minutes.  Add vanilla;  mix well.  Add flour mixture to egg mixture;  stir until combined.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes to allow wheat flour to hydrate.
  3. Fold in chocolate and almonds.
  4. With wet hands, divide dough into 2 equal portions.  Form each portion into a 4-6″ wide roll.  Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Pat to a 1-inch thickness.
  5. Bake at 350˚ for 28 minutes or until firm
  6. Remove rolls from baking sheet;  cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.
  7. Cut rolls diagonally into 1/2-inch slices.  Place, cut sides down, on baking sheet.
  8. Reduce oven temperature to 325˚;  bake 7 minutes.  Turn cookies over;  bake 7 minutes.
  9. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire rack.  *cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool


Curried Beef Short Ribs August 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — gastromami @ 6:21 pm

Why didn’t I pull out my slow cooker before now???

I mean, I have, but really only between October and March.  The rest of the year it sits in the cupboard, collecting dust and creating a headache everytime I need to use the Cuisinart.

This week was one of those “let’s see what is in the freezer BEFORE going to the grocery store” weeks.  We had a package of short ribs from Neola Farms but I didn’t really want to leave the oven on all day in order to cook them (especially after finding out that Forbes rated Memphis the 2nd hottest city in the US this summer!)  I was flipping through some old Cooking Light magazines and saw this recipe for short ribs in the slow cooker!  Genius!  As an added bonus, we had every ingredient in the house!

2 teaspoons canola oil

2 pounds beef short ribs, trimmed

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup minced shallots

3 tablespoons minced garlic

3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger

1/4 cup water

4 tablespoons red curry paste

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon grated lime rind

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper.

Add ribs to the pan and cook on each side until browned.  Place the ribs in your slow cooker.

Add shallots, garlic and ginger to pan;  saute 2 minutes.  Stir in water and curry paste; cook 1 minute.  Stir in coconut milk, sugar and fish sauce.

Add coconut milk mixture to cooker.

Cover and cook on LOW 6 hours.

Remove ribs from cooker; keep warm.  Strain cooking liquid through a colander over a bowl; discard solids.  Place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure.  Pour cooking liquid into bag;  let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to the top).  Seal bag;  carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag.  Drain drippings into a small bowl, stopping before fat layer reaches opening;  discard far.  Stir in 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, lime rind and juice.  Shred rib meat with 2 forks, discarding bones.  Serve ribs over rice and drizzle with 2 1/2 tablespoons of sauce!

Ren approved!

** Adapted from Cooking Light


Chez Philippe August 25, 2010

Filed under: Restuarant Review — gastromami @ 8:37 pm

For the last couple months, since the disaster that was the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, my Coastie (that is Coast Guard lingo) sister Linden has been, with both her Honolulu and San Francisco – based ships, in the Gulf cleaning up oil.

Doing this:

and cleaning up this:

Gross, huh?

After the well was capped, Linden got a few days of leave so she headed up to see us here in Memphis!  (well, I think she came to see her godson, but her sister and brother-in-law were a bonus!)  I decided that, after months of ship food, she was in desperate need of a good meal!  So we threw on some cute dresses, too-high heels, and headed downtown to The Peabody’s Chez Philippe!

I had heard that the chef recently changed the menu to reflect his Cuban heritage and just had to check it out!

Amuse Bouche

Chicken Wonton

This little crispy, yummy, warm and gooey teaser was the perfect way to “amuse our mouth” and get us excited for the upcoming meal!

**  Linden rounded out her dinner with wine pairings;  myself, not this time!  But rest assured, they were perfectly paired with each dish **

1st Course

“She Crab” Soup

The Red King crab meat was huge, sweet and beautiful in a creamy broth with a hint of cumin.  Paired with glazed carrots and braised celery, it paired perfectly with Chez’s house-made rolls.

Smoke Tomato Gazpacho

As good as the she crab soup was, this smoked tomato gazpacho was the winner of the first course!  Nothing is better on a 100˚ day than a cold soup and this one stood out with its slightly (Memphis-inspired?) smokey flavor.  In the center was a delicious, creamy treat in the form of a zucchini panna cotta.  Rounding out the flavor explosion was the texture provided by toasted almonds and fried leeks.  I knew from the first bite of this that we were in for a treat!

2nd Course

Papas Rellenas (Stuffed Potatoes)

A classic Cuban dish with a Southern twist, all with a French presentation.  The sweetness of the crawfish, paired with the sour orange relish, resting in an andouille-crawfish cream was the perfect dish for this wonderful potato dumpling.

“Jalapeno Popper”

A jalapeno popper?  Seriously?

Oh, but this did not disappoint!  A warm, gooey, and slightly spicy roasted jalapeno and goat cheese croquette was a fun play on classic bar food.  The spiciness of the jalapeno was offset nicely by the tomato-citrus marmalade and pepper arugula salad.

The chef gets his goat cheese from Bonnie Blue Farms of Tennessee and it’s to-die for!

3rd Course

BBQ Rubbed Veal Sweatbreads

This is the point where I began to go into a food frenzy, where each course was better than the next and all thoughts of my camera left my head – and these were sweetbreads, can you really blame me??

Here’s the description from the website because all I can recall is “ahhhhh…..”

Veracruz Style Ratatouille, Escarole, Cucumber-Cayenne Tuille, Sherry Jus


Margarita Sorbet

I didn’t take a picture here either (sorry!) but this margarita sorbet had a real kick to it, i.e. tequila in sorbet?  Fabulous!  and was served in a beautiful and yummy sugar basket

4th Course

Hawaiian Snapper

Thus began the part of the meal where I was gorging Linden’s wine made us forget to take pictures until after a few bites (or more!)  This beautiful Hawaiian Snapper was an homage to Linden’s last post on Oahu.  Served over stewed chick peas, it was spiced up with some Spanish chorizo, Serrano ham, and a garlic aoili!  The fish was perfectly cooked and perfectly yummy!

Weathervane Scallops

We are our father’s daughters, i.e. we love scallops!  Perfectly, perfectly cooked, melt-in-your-mouth scallops served over a warm black bean and corn salad with a roasted red pepper coulis!  What could make this dish even better?  Jerk butter!  Good thing the chef thought the same thing!

Bonus Round!

Shrimp and Grits

NOT TO BE MISSED!  So the Chef made sure we didn’t!  He brought this out as a bonus course for us to try.  We tried it and o.m.g. it was wonderful.  The Laughing Bird shrimp were like nothing I have ever tasted.  Each little tasty specimen of oceanic wonder exploded in my mouth in a joyous explosion!  Once I got past the delightful little morsels, I tasted the, ohmyheavens, braised greens tamale.  Cuban tamales have a wonderful flavor as all elements are mixed together, not layered like its Mexican cousin.  Here the corn has been mixed with southern braised greens and the classic Cuban flavor pairs perfectly with the shrimp and tomato coulis.  Wow, thank you Chef Reny!

5th Course

Ostrich Filet

This ostrich filet was perfectly cooked rare and served over my favorite pairing, a tangy parsnip puree, and sweet corn-fava been succotash with a toasted cumin seed jus.  Ummm, yum.  Summer flavors paired with a lean and yummy slice of heaven on a plate.

Niman Ranch Lamb Loin

In this lamb dish we really saw the Cuban-southern twist at its finest!  The lamb was served over a queso fresco grits cake with black eyed peas, stewed okra, and tomato jus.  This Yankee girl has never had okra outside of a stew and the surprise of its beautiful texture was a fun play in the dish.  While I am not a huge fan of black-eyed peas (again, not a Southerner) the grit cake with queso fresco was a delightfully creamy and flavorful pairing with the lamb and tomato jus!

6th Course (Cheese!)

The presentation is perfect!  After 6 (or 7) courses, having the cheese served “family style” allowed us to sit, enjoy, and sip our 6th glass of wine!

Evora, Quadrello di Buffula, Edwards Munster, Espoisses

Red wine walnut bread and house-made plum preserves

7th Course (Dessert)

Chocolate Ice Box Cake

A perfect ending to a perfect meal.  Neither Linden or I had heard of “ice box cake” but were told it is usually a custard or mousse set in the freezer.  Here it was a creamy, rich chocolate terrine with pecan pralines, candied orange cream, Jack Daniels Caramel (a southern twist I can get on board with!) and fresh raspberries (a nice throwback to our home up north!)


Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Omelet) August 24, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — gastromami @ 12:49 pm

I love a Spanish Omelet.

It is the best hangover cure, E.V.E.R.

How do I know?  Let me take you to Madrid, February of 2008 …..

Our very sophisticated art tour quickly spiraled downward into a classic Spanish, vino-filled, tapas tour courtesy of my hermana, Tricia.

Our very fun (and slightly wild) first night in Spain turned into ….

… the most painful day of my life!

My dad and sister dragged my hung-over butt out of bed and downstairs to a small cafe.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, sounded good to me and so Tricia ordered me a Tortilla Espanola.

Eggs, Onions, Oil, and Potatoes??

I felt remarkably better after putting that combination in my tummy!

You know, the Spanish really know how to live, and survive, their wild and fun lives!

Anyway, I don’t only eat a Tortilla Espanola for a hangover cure anymore, and my son has fallen in love with the perfect combination himself.

1/4 cup olive oil

3-4 potatoes, thinly sliced

1 white onion, chopped

4 eggs, scrambled in a bowl

1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Heat a 10-inch, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the potato slices and onion and cook for 20 minutes until the potatoes and onions are soft.
  2. Remove the potatoes and onions from the pan and add to the scrambled eggs.  Add salt.
  3. Pour the entire mixture into the skillet
  4. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the bottom of the omelet is very light brown.
  5. Using a flat ceramic plate, cover the frying pan and flip the omelet over onto the plate. Immediately slip the uncooked side back into the pan.
  6. Cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, until the other side is a very light brown.
  7. Remove the omelet from the pan to a plate and cut into 4 wedges.

Ren Approved


Almond Stuffed Chicken August 23, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — gastromami @ 9:31 pm

1/2 cup light garlic-and-herbs spreadable cheese (such as Boursin light)

1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted and chopped

3 tablespoons fresh parsley

4 (6 oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons butter

  1. Combine cheese, almonds and parsley in a small bowl.  Set aside
  2. Cut a horizontal Slit through thickest portion of each breast half to form a pocket.  Stuff 1 1/2 teaspoons almond mixture into each pocket; secure each pocket with a wooden pick.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove from pan;  cover and let stand 2 minutes.

Serve with:

Haricot Verts


Mushroom Rice

1 medium onion, diced

2 springs of thyme

1 quart of mushrooms, sliced

2 cups of rice

4 cups of chicken stock

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

  1. Sweat the onions in the olive oil over medium heat
  2. Add mushrooms and cook down until there is no liquid left
  3. Add rice, thyme and stock.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and cook 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes turn off heat and let sit 10 minutes (do not uncover!

Ren approved

(asking for “more” in sign language)