Archive for April, 2013

Coconut Shrimp (China Inn Style)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2013 by groovychef

I was asked a while back to locate a recipe for a shrimp that was offered at our local Chinese Buffet. I myself happen to love this dish so now that I have a spare moment, I am all to happy to oblige.

1 can cream of coconut divided
1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour
3 Tbsps heavy cream
2 Tbsps sherry
1 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsps water

Reserve 1/4 cup cream of coconut, in remaining cream of coconut add cayenne and salt, dip shrimp in coconut mixture then flour, repeat with all shrimp. Fry shrimp in hot oil until golden, drain. Heat 1/4 cup cream of coconut, heavy cream and sherry to boiling. Mix water and flour together, add to boiling mixture to thicken, serve with fried shrimp.

Here is a second one that is NOT a tempura based breading but sounded good just the same. Let me know if you try it….

Coconut Shrimp
canola oil for fryer
24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons Captain Morgan Parrot Bay Coconut Rum
1 cup bread crumbs
½ cup shredded sweetened coconut

Preparation:
Heat oil to 350 degrees F.
Measure 3/4 cup flour into a medium bowl.
In a second, medium bowl combine, 3/4 cup flour, sugar and salt.
Stir rum and milk into flour mixture in the second bowl, let it stand for 5 minutes.
Combine breadcrumbs and shredded coconut into a third bowl.
Butterfly cut each shrimp before you start the battering. Use a sharp knife to slice through the top of the shrimp (where the vein was) so that you can spread the shrimp open.
Leave the tail intact.
To batter the shrimp, dip each one in the flour, then in the wet batter, then coat each shrimp with the bread crumb/coconut mixture.
Place shrimp on a plate to reserve for frying. Fry the shrimp by dropping six at a time into the hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes or until the shrimp are golden brown.

Serve with pina colada dipping sauce.

Pina Colada Dipping Sauce
½ cup sour cream
1/4 cup pina colada nonalcoholic drink mix
1/4 cup crushed pineapple
sugar to taste

Preparation:
Mix all ingredients together. Chill.

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If Life is Like A Box oF Chocolates……

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 28, 2013 by groovychef

My oldest son just returned from his first “formal” vacation as an adult. He flew out of O’Hare and spent a wonderful week in the mountains of Montana.

The friend he had gone to visit sent a delightful little box of chocolates back for me (which I thought was truly sweet). Like most women, I adore chocolate, although my preferences have changed [evolved?] over the last couple of years.

And being that I do not date much, I do not get chocolates often. Generally, my chocolate consumption is limited to “Death By Chocolate” ice cream (which I eat directly out of the carton) or the occasional “reward” of a Godiva bar which I will purchase at the grocery store and eat the whole thing before I even finish shopping (where upon I hand the empty wrapper to the cashier for scanning and disposal).

But when I popped open this little box of chocolate treasures, I found myself doing something completely odd even for myself….I would pick a chocolate, take a bite and put it back in the box….pick another and do the same thing.

I did have a little self control but not much. I did go back and eat the halfsies I left in the box later that night. However, that was the only  time I did.

Over the last two days, I have gone into the kitchen, randomly picked one, took a bite and put it back.

It occurred to me that this is a rather odd behavior for me. I am not doing it in order to prevent someone from eating them nor am I doing it because I do not like them. I am just doing it because it seems like the right thing to do.

Maybe the old Forrest Gump saying “Life is Like a Box Of Chocolates…ya never know what your gonna get” really does apply. I take a little nibble and enjoy the chocolate and little crunchiness of the center (some of them have cookie, others candied ginger) and put the rest back to enjoy a little more later…no longer shocked by what is inside but capable of enjoying it for what it is and knowing what I am eating.

And maybe as a chef, it is a fitting analogy for my own cooking philosophy. I like to explore new recipes and flavors. But I also appreciate the comfort level I have with some old favorites. I love opening a cookbook and randomly picking something new try, not knowing what it will taste like and the anticipation my tongue feels. But I appreciate the fact that if I just want a comfort dish I can go right to something I have prepared a million times and know what I am getting long before I even start the dish.

I know that I can count on the Parmesan cheese being slightly salty when I make Alfredo sauce and that the amount of butter and heavy whipping cream in it will make a deliciously smooth and creamy coating for the fettuccine noodles. I know that if I am looking for the perfect topping for bread, all I have to have is roma tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt and basil.

So maybe this tiny box of chocolates is like a reminder to me that I need to explore a little more and be a little less hesitant to try new things…that the second time isn’t as thrilling as the first but without that first bite, you will never know what is on the inside.

Current Projects

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2013 by groovychef

Current Projects

Current Projects

Communion: Bread and Wine

Posted in Everyday Cooking with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2013 by groovychef

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Normally my days off are spent doing some serious cooking. But I woke up this morning riddled with allergies and a general exhaustion (most likely from the allergies I suffer from the Kentucky Bluegrass across the street).

So after a morning of nearly zero productivity, I finally decided to make bread.

Making bread, like making pasta, is good for the soul. It clears the brain, it clears the bad karma, it cleanses the soul.

It requires you to care for the yeast and bread [sponge] like a fertilized egg. With the right care and conditions it grows into a beautiful piece of artwork.

As the rain came down in furious sheets outside (and plenty of lightening and thunder that scared my poor furry baby), I warmed the water to the right temp and added the yeast and sugar…then I carried it out to the coffee table to watch it bloom…I did not want to miss the moment when it was perfect for adding flour.

As the afternoon droned on and the rain continued, I turned on the tv only to be hit with our President announcing that the current gun background check bill had been denied. I also realized that I could not get enough to eat (over a two hour period of time I ate two Italian sausages, a cup of crab salad, and half a carton of ice cream).

I went back to making bread….

As I did I could not help but to feel that making bread, on this dark and rainy afternoon was more of a deep cleaning then just therapy for the brain, a clearing of the karma and cleansing of the soul.

I felt more relaxed and less worried about life’s small problems then I had earlier.

After several hours (I do on occasion have yeast issues…today being one of them, I suspect the moisture in the air had something to do with it), the bread was ready to be placed in the oven and bake.

The second the bread hit the oven, I felt a sigh of relief come out and the tension in my shoulders melt away. At this point, I had tended the bread as best as I could and if it was not going to bake right, there was nothing more I could do to save it.

Later, as I sliced the warm bread and poured myself a glass of chardonnay, I realized that maybe the rain, the bread and the wine were my own private “communion.” A way to cleanse my tired soul….

 

The PRESSURE is Not On For Me…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2013 by groovychef

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As details emerged yesterday about the Boston bombing and the type of bomb used, I had a great deal of friends inquire as to whether or not I owned or used a pressure cooker.

I believe I shocked them with my answer.

No…I do not use a pressure cooker and no…I do not own one.

When I was a personal chef 6 years ago, I belonged to an association of personal chefs and I know many of them used pressure cookers to complete their task.

I, however, was a different type of personal chef. I did not come in and cook weekly meals for families but cheffed private events such as cocktail parties, small dinner parties, intimate dinners for two, bbq’s, etc. I was not under the same time constraints as my fellow chefs to complete large quantities of foods in 8 hours or less. I know pressure cookers served them well but in my arena, I simply had no need.

So when I responded to the question on whether I had one or not, I followed my “no” with this reasoning: I enjoy the cooking process and everything about it. I enjoy the time it takes to make lasagna or beef burgundy or hand crank pasta. I believe cooking is not something that should be done under pressure.

This is not to say that I have not wondered how they worked or have not had interest in trying one out one time, but in general as whole, my style of cooking does not call for one. In fact, even using a Crockpot is a stretch for me at times because [to me] it just cooks food to the point of death (although my last ham was cooked in one over night and turned out rather good).

As a chef, recipe developer and avid foodie, my philosophy is really about taking the time to get to know your ingredients, taking the time to enjoy the smells and the color and the process. Taking each step at a time to appreciate the transformation food takes from raw ingredient to completed dish and internalizing this process as a form of therapy or meditation is you will.

I can have a horrible day at work, where nothing seems to go right, kitchen crashed, cooks called off, cranky servers…and I can come home and lose myself in making a simple supper. I can have a bad week and spend my day off cooking and creating and feel nothing but peace and tranquility.

So no, I do not have a pressure cooker. I do not use a pressure cooker nor do I advocate its use…especially now that it has hit the spot light for its use in mass carnage.

Outside of an occasional cartoon where a tardy husband comes home and gets hit over the head with a fry pan, stainless steel pans have never caused harm to anyone.

 

Chili-Coco Rubbed New York Strip

Posted in Recipes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2013 by groovychef

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This rub is quick and simple and perfect for last minute grilling ease. The sweetness if offset by the heat from the cayenne and chile powder while it leaves just a hint of coco flavor that adds a deep richness to the steak without making it overwhelming. Its like a Mole sauce in dry rub form.

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tsp. Kosher salt

2 Tsp. McCormicks Cocoa-Chile spice blend

1 Tsp. onion powder

1 Tsp. garlic powder

1/2 Tsp. smoked paprika

1 Tsp. Cayenne pepper

1/4 Tsp. ground cumin

1/4 Tsp. black pepper

1/4 Tsp. ground cinnamon

4 Strip Steaks (or other cut of beef of your choice)

1. Blend all spices in a small bowl.

2. Pat steaks dry and generously rub both sides of each steak with rub. Allow steaks to sit for half an hour to reach room temperature (helps to aid in even cooking)

3. Grill steaks to desired temperature.

Serves 4

 

Rum Glazed Italian Green Beans and Pearl Onions

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 16, 2013 by groovychef

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2 Tbsp. butter

12 oz. pkg. frozen pearl onions

3 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tsp. Spiced Rum

12 oz. pkg. Italian cut green beans

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1. Melt butter in a large saute pan.

2. Add pearl onions and stir, coating with butter. Cook until onions become slightly translucent.

3. Add brown sugar and rum, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes until the liquid becomes a light caramel color.

4. Add Italian green beans and stir again, coating green beans. Continue to cook until beans are cooked though.

5. Add butter and brown sugar to finish off. Stir well until coated.

Serves 6 as a side dish.

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