Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Watermelon Rind Pickled in Thai Spices

My kitchen is my laboratory and dream factory.  The question that runs through my mind while preparing, chopping, sorting, seasoning and at all times: What else can I do with that?

I absolutely love watermelon.  I add it to salads, in cold gazpacho, sliced with a drizzle of balsamic and juiced.  But, those rinds take up a lot of this fruit, right?  So, of course I'm always saving them for the answer to the question, what else can I do with that?
Pickling is a fun and easy go-to for so many vegetables and fruits.  That's what I decided to do with this batch.  Then the next step is deciding the seasoning.  Since Thai food is a delicate balance of all flavors (sweet, spicy, hot, sour, bitter), I gave it a try.
What a crunchy, spicy side dish to meat, sandwiches and cheese platters this created.  It goes into my "yeah, that works" kitchen file.  Hope you get the chance to try it, too.
Recipe: Watermelon Rind Pickled in Thai Spices - ShowFood Chef
4 cups Chopped Watermelon Rind (green and red removed)
1/4 cup salt
1 quart water

In a large bowl, stir the salt in the water to dissolve, then add the rind to this brine. Place another plate or bowl on top to hold the rinds submerged. Place in refrigerator for 8 hours or over-nite.

Drain, rinse the rinds well and drain again.

4 cups water
2 cups cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Thai spices (including paprika, turmeric, black pepper, coriander, fenugreek, mustard, cumin, cayenne and ginger)
Zest of one lime
1 tsp lime juice

In a large pot, bring these ingredients to a boil, then add the rinds. Simmer for 45 minutes until the rinds are translucent.
Pour rinds and liquid into prepared jars, close lids and refrigerate or use hot water bath method for 10 minutes for keeping pickles outside of the refrigerator for months.

ShowFood Chef~

Monday, June 8, 2015

Smokey Tea Poached Shrimp Salad

Appetizers are one of my favorite foods.  I'll admit it, I get bored easily, so having several smaller items to nosh on makes me a happy nibbler.  

When friends get together, I'm often asked to bring the appetizers.  It's a risky assignment because as much as I like making them, I'm notoriously late to events.  You really shouldn't be late when you have the FIRST course, right?  
Now that I think about it, maybe that's why they tell me to bring the appetizers - so I'll try harder to get there on time.  Hmmmm, what smart friends I have.

You can't go wrong with little crispy wonton pots of tea-poached shrimp salad.  It's just a fact.  It's a party-pleaser, and isn't that always a great feeling?

I have poached shrimp in wine for Drunken Grapes with Wine Poached Shrimp Appetizers. And I've poached shrimp in Jasmine Tea for Summer Rolls, so fresh and light.  

This time, I chose one of my favorite teas for infusion, smoking and for poaching foods: Lapsang Souchong.  The leaves of this tea are traditionally smoke-dried over a wood fire.  The tea leaves smell like campfire wood, which translates into a rustic, smokey flavor for shrimp, salmon or chicken.

This is the shrimp salad I use for little Tea Sandwiches, or a scoop on a bed of peppery arugula for luncheon, or these appetizers in Won Ton cups, cucumber cups or as a cracker spread.  
It's very versatile and warning...very addictive. You can make this one day ahead, store air-tight in the refrigerator and the flavors will be even better. 

Of course, you can also use the shrimp you have on hand from leftover grilling - hello, perfect way to create another leftover extend-over meal. :D

RECIPE: Smokey Tea Poached Shrimp Salad - showfoodchef

1lb. Shrimp (uncooked, in shell)
2 cups brewed Lapsang Souchong tea
6 oz. cream cheese (room temp)
6 Tbls. Mayo
3 Tbls. chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbls. minced green onion
1 Tbls. minced white onion
1/2 Cup finely chopped celery
1 Tbls. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. sugar (optional)
pinch salt/pepper

1) In a large skillet, poach shrimp in tea at 180f (just under a boil, just slight simmer around edges) for 6 minutes.  Drain, then chill shrimp.
2) Mix all other ingredients together well, in a bowl.
3) Peel and chop the shrimp, then add to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Season. Refrigerate to keep.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Honey Cinnamon Hot Milk Cake with Berries

Oh summer, what took ya so long?
Finally,the weather is turning warm, even in Chicago where I'm visiting right now. 
It's Memorial Weekend, I've been to three baseball games, and my fitbit steps are the only thing balancing all the food I've consumed.

Chicago is truly one of America's greatest cities.  I love their support of the arts, sciences, history and industry. 
It's a food-lover's dream and a night-life for all ages.  
The Purple Pig
My husband's whole family are avid White Sox fans. We were front and center, along with a sold out stadium, for Paul Konerko's ceremony that retired his number, 14 forever.  
In the heartland city of Chicago, I'm reminded of the true meaning behind Memorial Day, a time to honor those who died while in military service.  It has also become the marker for the beginning of summer (with Labor Day being the end.)  
If you have a picnic coming up this season, or need an easy potluck offering, or just a quick morning cake or dessert - this Honey Cinnamon Hot Milk Cake is the answer.  
This is a simple, moist and easy to "freeze for later" cake. It can be dressed up with butter cream, topped with berries or just sprinkled with powdered sugar before slicing it up and serving it up.  Having one of these on hand is a "super summer time saver".  Hope you'll love it.  Happy Summer!


Honey Cinnamon Hot Milk Cake with Berries - ShowFoodChef:
(butter and flour 8 or 9 inch cake pan, preheat oven 350F)

1 1/3 cup Flour
1 1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup Whole Milk
4 Tbls (1/2 stick) Butter
2 Large Eggs
1/3 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Honey
1 tsp. Vanilla

1) In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Hold.
2) In a saucepan, heat the milk and butter until melted. Remove from heat and hold.
3) In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and honey for 5 full minutes.
4) Add the vanilla and milk-butter by pouring into the egg mixture while continuing to beat for 2 more minutes.
5) Fold, then stir the dry ingredients into the liquid.  The batter will be like pancake batter.
6) Pour into a buttered and floured 8 or 9 inch cake pan.  Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes, just til the center is done.  Do not overbake. Turn out to a cooling rack.  
7) Drizzle with honey if desired and arrange sliced berries on top.  Garnish with powdered sugar or whipped cream (optional.)