mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

“hot honey shrimp” . . .

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It’s the end of May and the weather has turned muggy and hot. So, tonight I thought we’d have a light meal of shrimp and asparagus rice pilaf. For the shrimp, I followed a recipe from the NYTimes by Melissa Clark. After shelling and cleaning the shrimp, I grated a large clove of garlic on the microplane, ditto, some fresh ginger root and zest from a lime. Squeezed half of a lime and added a tablespoon of honey with a sprinkle of crushed red pepper. The recipe called for cayenne pepper but I couldn’t find it. I spooned the marinade over the 8 extra large shrimp that I had prepared. In a bowl, the marinated shrimp rested in the fridge for a couple of hours.

When ready to cook, instead of heating up the oven to 500 degrees which would take about 20 minutes to heat up, I’m going to dot the shrimp with cold butter as noted in the recipe and run them under the broiler for a few minutes until cooked.

In the meantime, I have taken the tough stems off a handful of asparagus – and rinsed them in cold water. I’ll cut them in two inch lengths and saute them in butter with a chopped shallot until fragrant. To this pot, I’ll add about 3/4 cup of raw jasmine rice and stir in the buttery asparagus. To it, I’ll add about 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth and simmer with the lid on until the rice is tender. At the very end, I grated about 1/3 cup of fresh parmesan cheese and stirred it in. This may take about 20 minutes and I’ll wait for it to be ready to serve before I broil the shrimp.

Since I have cilantro growing in the herb planter by the kitchen window, I’ll squeeze the other half of the lime on the cooked shrimp and sprinkle some chopped cilantro on top. With it, I’ll make some mayonnaise dip – Hellman’s mayo whisked with fresh lemon juice. Yum!

P.S.  We just enjoyed this dinner and it was very tasty and a great combination! Grating the garlic on a microplane really brought out the taste in the shrimp – and the honey was sweet but not too much – and the crushed red pepper was invisible but also noticeable in a good way! This is definitely a keeper! Plus the asparagus pilaf was a great accompaniment.

 

 

 

navy bean soup . . .

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This morning, I took a package of dried navy beans out – used half of it by boiling it and letting it soak for an hour. The other half will be used to make New England baked beans on Monday, Memorial Day, to go with a cookout of hot dogs and hamburgers.

To make the soup, I sauteed together two cloves of garlic, a shallot and a Vidalia onion  – all chopped into small pieces. Added two carrots cut in quarter slice and some celery hearts. To the vegetable roux, I added the drained beans, water to cover and some Knorr chicken broth in gel form. The soup simmered for a couple of hours and after it cooled, I used an immersion blender to puree it. After tasting it, I added a little salt and a half gelatin of chicken broth with about a cup of water since the soup was very thick.  Simmered it for another half hour and added a half cup of whole milk.

Served the bean soup with a large salad of greens, avocado, Navel orange segments and honey walnuts with a ranch dressing with Gravenstein apple balsamic vinegar and olive oil. A half dozen large popovers rounded out the meal. Nice on a Saturday night!

 

 

homemade onion soup for lunch! . . .

IMG_1017On a lovely, Spring day, I made onion soup for lunch today. In a deep pot, melt a third of a stick of unsalted butter. Peel and thinly slice two medium Vidalia onions. Stir and saute the onions until soft. Add half a capsule of Knorr beef broth gelatin and add enough filtered water to cover onions. Simmer for a half an hour.

Take some ends of bread from a loaf in the fridge, or from homemade bread. Slice into four pieces, cover with Swiss cheese and grate some parmesan cheese on top. Heat the broiler and toast until golden brown.

In two soup bowls, ladle the hot onion soup and place the grilled cheese bread on top. Yum!

“Potager” asparagus bread pudding! . . .

IMG_1006This dish is in the oven for our supper tonight. It’s the first meal I ever made for G. when we started dating. Actually, we hadn’t started dating because it was a first date, sort of. Over twenty-eight years later, it is just as pleasing as it was then and it’s a joy to revisit it.

Years ago, Georgeanne Brennan wrote a cookbook about French country cooking called “Potager.” Its name refers to growing herbs and tender lettuces in either pots on your kitchen steps or nearby in a garden plot near the kitchen door. The recipe calls for using old bread saved from crusts and ends of, in this case, homemade 10-grain bread. The bread is torn into pieces and soaks in milk until absorbed. In the meantime, fresh asparagus, a harbinger of new Spring, is cleaned, cut into 2-3 inch lengths and parboiled until bright green. Drained, the asparagus is added in layers with Fontina and Swiss cheese on top of the soft bread. An egg/milk mixture is poured over the casserole and ends with asparagus, cheeses and grated parmesan cheese with bits of butter on top of the dish*.

In a 350 degree oven, the casserole bakes for about 45 minutes. Cooled for about ten minutes, it’s ready to serve with perhaps a light, green salad with fresh oranges on the side.  It’s a sunny Spring evening with a light breeze coming in the windows – a perfect setting for a culinary reunion with an old friend!

*As there are two of us, I made half the recipe in a medium sized baking dish. For the published recipe, it will serve about 6 people and will need to be baked in a large baking dish. Be sure to bake the casserole the allotted time even if the cheese topping looks golden brown – otherwise the bread/egg mixture may not be cooked through.

 

“Katharine Hepburn” brownies. . .

IMG_0958After lunch today, I decided to try this recipe for brownies. It sounded classic and simple to make. Plus, I had recently purchased a tin of Hershey’s cocoa. There were some hazelnuts in the fridge that I toasted and cut up to add to the brownies.

I browned them in a little butter and then put them into a plastic bag. With the top side of a cleaver turned upside down, I gently whacked the nuts still in the bag on a cutting board until they were cut into medium sized chunks. Then, I added them to the melted chocolate, egg, vanilla and sugar/flour mixture.

Baked in a 325 degree oven for about a half an hour. Yummy!

rare roast beef . . . !

IMG_0947I’ve often avoided reasonably priced roast beef because they are usually a tough cut of meat, e.g., eye round, rump roast etc. When I read this recipe which instructed a very slow roast starting in a cold oven, it made lots of sense. High heat which sears meat will also make it contract. A cold oven roast will gradually increase the heat and cook the center to from 125 degrees for rare and about 130 for medium.

I tried the recipe yesterday for supper and it came out beautifully. For the final sear of the outside after it was done roasting, I used unsalted butter. I had sprinkled lots of Lawry’s garlic salt and coarse pepper on the roast when it rested in the fridge before cooking.

Now, there are slices of cold roast beef for more meals. I don’t think they will last the weekend, though!

homemade pizza for lunch! . . .

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Usually, I use a flatbread base and make a quick pizza with Ragu pizza sauce, Mozzarella cheese, fresh mushrooms, more cheese and parmesan cheese on top.

This morning, I found a quick pizza dough recipe and decided to try it out. I made 2/3rds of the recipe in order to ensure it would make a thin crust on my round baking pan.

Here it is: in a bowl, gently stir together 2 teaspoons yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 tsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 Tablespoon olive oil. With a spoon, stir in a cup of all purpose flour. Knead it gently, cover with a clean dishtowel and let it rise in a closed oven with the oven light left on. I did this around 10 a.m. and let it rise for about an hour and a half.

Sprayed the round pan with PAM, and spread the dough out with my fingertips to make a thin edge. With a soup spoon, I put on Ragu pizza sauce in a very thin layer on the crust. (Too much tomato sauce makes the pizza soupy.) Sprinkled a layer of Mozzarella Italian cheese mix on top with my hands.

Then cut up 4-5 large fresh mushrooms and laid them out in a pattern on the pizza. More cheese sprinkled on top and then grated fresh parmesan cheese over the whole thing.

Meanwhile the oven was heating up to 425 – and I baked it for about 12-15 min. and then boosted the heat to 450 until the pizza was golden brown. Slid it onto a cutting board and sliced it with a large knife.

The crust was tasty to eat – not doughy at all. And the rest of the pizza was delicious too.

angel hair alfredo with shrimp! . . .

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Here’s a fabulous recipe that I found on Youtube today.  I halved the recipe and used angel hair rather than fettucine pasta.
We enjoyed this dish so much for supper. I squeezed some fresh lemon on the pasta right before serving. I can say that this was one of the most delicious recipes we’ve enjoyed since the quarantine began.
A couple of things that made a difference were that I used a lot of spinach and it retained its presence and flavor plus the bacon I used was smoked maple flavor, adding a sweet/saltiness flavor to the Alfredo dish. We enjoyed it with a glass of Riesling wine – PERFECT!!

good afternoon cookies! . . .

IMG_0859Just made a small batch of chewy, crumbly oatmeal-golden raisin cookies. A simple recipe: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together 1 soft stick of butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup golden brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and an egg. Beat until fluffy.

Add 1 cup flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt. Combine with creamed mixture at low speed. Add 1 1/2 cups of Quaker oats (not instant) and 3/4 cups golden raisins. Mix together and drop in lumps on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes in a 350 degree oven, taking them out when the tops have golden tips.

I used to make Toll House cookies and ginger snaps, but these are currently my favorite combination – especially the golden raisins! YUM!

chocolate roll cake! . . .

IMG_0844A couple of years ago, our favorite bakery in town was sold. Although the new owners kept making the cinnamon raisin swirl bread that my husband ate for breakfast all his life, the cinnamon was thinner and the raisins were hard to find. Likewise, the chocolate roll with filling that they made suffered the same consequences: very thin filling, irregularly placed so that one end of the roll was bare of filling — all the while the price went up a dollar per roll, and then another. This was their way of doing business which quickly drove this traditionally popular bakery into the ground.

Now, it’s closed, temporarily or not, but I’ve begun making the cinnamon swirl raisin bread with good results, using a challah bread dough recipe rich with eggs, golden raisins and an egg wash to hold the sugar/cinnamon swirl filling in place. Powdered sugar on top after the loaves cooled. Now that I’ve become comfortable with making these loaves, I decided to try my hand at the chocolate roll.

I’ve made jelly roll cakes before so the process of baking a thin sponge cake, rolled up with parchment while still warm was familiar to me. The filling ingredients, though, had me stumped. I looked at a few recipes online that specified a simple whipped cream filling that didn’t sound like what I had liked about the filling. As I recall, it was more robust than just whipped cream and it didn’t taste like cream cheese nor butter cream filling either.

Finally, I came across some recipes that sounded perhaps like the filling I remembered so fondly. It required butter, a dab of Crisco, Marshmallow Fluff (believe it or not) and powdered sugar. The combo of shortening plus the marshmallow and confectioners sugar seemed to make the filling more robust than just whipped cream.

So that’s what I made this afternoon. Can’t wait to try it out tonight for dessert. And, trust me, it wasn’t that hard to make! More creations resulting from the quarantine!