Shrimp Tartar w/Avocado & Quinoa

It’s Finally Friday Folks!

This little piece of work will sure to delight.

I have a friend coming over today for some chit-chat and thought it would be nice to whip up something quick. Nothing fancy, just a light lunch. Salad would definitely seem like the easiest way to go, but I was craving seafood as usual.  Those of you who know me, know that seafood is my second love with chocolate taking the top spot (that is a no brainer).  I thought about what else I had in the pantry to avoid a store run. You know we all have those go to items that are life savers in crunch time. Sometimes buried all the way in the back or right at our figure tips.

I can’t say that we eat healthy every time we get together. But for the most part we try. Whatever we eat, whenever we eat it, it always must be satisfying.

As I ravaged through the kitchen, a lightbulb came on. No, not a big bright idea but i accidentally flipped the light switch and saw the avocados sitting in the fruit tray calling my name. Still not sure of what i wanted to prepare, I looked into the refrigerator and pulled out the shrimp I bought the day before. I opened the pantry and thought I hadn’t had quinoa in a while. So I took that out too. Now sitting on the counter where 3 ingredients that would make up whatever would come to mind.

I immediately thought of shrimp cocktail with some type of twist. Then I thought a quinoa salad with shrimp and avocado could work too. My girlfriend is an artist and loves little cutesy things, so I thought to structure these ingredients in a mold like a tartar. That’s it, Shrimp Tartar!

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So here is what I came up with.

Ingredients

Bottom layerQuinoa

  •  1 cup dry tri color quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable broth, low-sodium
  • Salt & Pepper

Middle layerGreen Goodness

  • 2 Avocado, cubed
  • 3 tbsp. Cilantro, minced
  • ½ lime
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ sweet onion, finely chopped
  • ½ jalapeno, finely chopped

Top layerShrimp Cocktail

  • pound medium shrimp, peeled;cooked
  • ½ tsp cilantro, minced
  • dash hot pepper sauce
  • 3 tbsp. Italian salad dressing
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 green onion, thinly minced (optional)

Directions

  1. For the Quinoa: In a medium pot, using vegetable broth, cook quinoa according to instructions on the package or cook until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, approximately 15 minutes. Turn the burner off and allow the covered skillet to set until any remaining liquid is absorbed, 5-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, add cilantro for garnish, and serve.
  2. For the Avocado Mix: In a medium bowl, with a folk, mash avocado roughly, add in the remaining ingredients and set aside.
  3. For the Shrimp: Place all ingredients in a large bowl; toss combine. Refrigerate covered for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Assemble: Place large dessert rings on serving platter, for the bottom layer, add half cup of quinoa. Lightly press to compile. Spoon in half cup avocado mix and smooth top. Next add shrimp cocktail on top to finish. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Gently remove the rings, garnish and serve.

You can use more or less of the ingredients with your personal preference.  Yields 4

 

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Crunchy Jalapeno Poppers

I was feeling a bit bored. So I looked in the pantry to see what I can whip up real quick. Came across these Jalapeno Peppers and figured why not make some Poppers.

This recipe is pretty basic and will satisfy the craving for something crunchy. There was no need for a special trip to the grocery store. I just used what I had. But feel free to substitute using your favorite items.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pkg whole jalapeno peppers
  • 5 oz. Goat cheese*
  • Bacon bites
  • 1 tsp finely chopped red bell pepper
  • Basil finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cornflakes
  • 3 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups  buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:

Mix Goat cheese, basil, bacon and bell pepper until smooth. In a separate bowl, blend dry coating ingredients and set aside. In another bowl pour buttermilk.

Wash and dry Jalapeno peppers. Cut each peppers open, and remove seeds. Open as wide as you can and spoon cheese filling into the peppers. Carefully roll in dry coating mixture, dip in buttermilk, and roll in the dry coating again. In a large sauce pan, heat enough cooking oil and cook until golden brown.  Garnish with parsley and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

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*  Typically I would have used cream cheese and white cheddar. But the goat cheese was surprising good in this dish also.

Pear Tart w/ Almond Frangipane

Spring makes me feel all happy inside. All I can think about are warm pies and brightly colored fruits. Looking out the window yesterday, I was inspired by the yellow tulips to make something cheerful.  And thought, hmm how about a tart!

Tarts are always fun to make. Although the process can seem a bit time consuming, the delicate precision needed is well worth it. Whether sweet or savory, tarts are one of those desserts perfect for any occasion.

I was first introduced to Frangipane on a trip to our favorite city in South France a few years ago. It didn’t take much convincing as the main ingredient was one of my beloved nuts, Almonds. Frangipane is a custard made and flavored with almonds and can be used in a variety of ways. Peered with a sweet poached fruit, the flavors combined makes a wonderful explosion in your mouth.

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This pear frangipane is a classic French tart. Don’t be deceived by the appearances. It is unbelievably simple, and a perfect way to showcase the main ingredients. The sweet poached pears are fanned out in an almond cream baked in a buttery pâte sablée shell. The results are intoxicating. You can smell the sweet fragrance of the Pear liquor, cinnamon and vanilla throughout the entire house.

Here is what we need:-

Ingredients

Pâte Sablée (Shell)

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons almond powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch sea salt
  • 4 oz unsalted butter, cold cubes
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frangipane

  • 3 oz toasted almonds (3/4 cup)
  • 1/3 cup  sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 tablespoons Williams- Christ Pear Liquor
  • 1 large egg, room temp

Poached Pears

  • 3 medium, ripe Bosc pears, halved
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 fresh ginger slices
  • 2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • all spice or peppercorn
  • 1 split vanilla bean pod
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon Williams- Christ Pear Liquor
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 cups water

Preparation

  1. For the shell: You make the Pâte Sablée pretty much the way you would make any pastry dough. I normally make mine by hand, but you can use a food processor to make it a bit easier and faster. Combine flour, sugar, almond powder in a bowl and blend together. Add butter cold butter cubes and begin to cut the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. Add milk and vanilla and blend by folding everything together until dough forms. place dough on a workplace and form a ball. Press slightly to form a circle. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Roll out dough to fit a tart tin with a removable bottle (14″ x 4″ x 1″) Cover with foil and bake the shell for 15 minutes or until pale yellow.

I’m always tasting always sampling in this second part!

  1. For the Poached Pears: Peel the pears, trim both ends, then cut each pear in half lengthwise and core them. In a large pot, place the butter, Williams liquor, and sugar. Heat over medium until sugar dissolves. Add water, and all spices and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add pear halves ( Although the recipe calls for 2 pears, I always add an additional just in case). Reduce boil to a low simmer and cook pears for 15 to 20 minutes or until soft to touch. Then remove from heat and allow pears to cool in the liquid.

  1. For the Frangipane:  Using a food processor, finely ground the almond. Pour in a large bowl and add sugar, butter and the Williams-Christ liquor. Blend together with a hand mixer. Continue whipping until the mixture is creamy, about 1 minute. Add the egg and continue whipping at medium speed until thick, about 2 more minutes. Spread the almond frangipane in the prepared tart shell.
  2. Slice each half lengthwise into about 7 even slices, hold the pear as you slice them. Slightly fan the slices and arrange them on top of the frangipane. Whatever design you would like.
  3. Bake the tart for 30 to 35 minutes until the frangipane is golden. Remove from oven, brush the pears with a bit of the sauce the pears were boiled in and allow to cool at room temperature. Sprinkle the tart with powdered sugar.
  4. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. Alone is great too.

Although this is classically made with almonds, you can use just about any nut. And undoubtedly, any poached fruit can find it home in this creamy delight.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Adopted: From My Home to Yours

Tenderloin w/Celery Puree Crust

 

I’ve found that the most juicy tender cuts of meat are the boneless ones. In my house there is no bias. But for this recipe, having a boneless cut not only helps the meat to cook evenly, but also gives a perfect succulent finish. Delicious steaks can be cooked perfect even on a stovetop.

With a few perfectly placed ingredients, you can create a delicious, mouth watering meal in under 45 minutes. Grilled seasoned veggies kick up the health value of this already scrumptious dish. Potatoes also complement well if prepared the correct way as not to over power the meat.

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I had a craving for Brussel Sprouts. So I sautéed up a few to enjoy with this unbelievably taste tenderloin.

Serving 4 Portions /Preheat Oven 400°F

Ingredients

Celery Puree

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ Celery Root (peel and diced)*
  • salt
  • pepper
  • nutmeg

Tenderloin

  • 4 Portions Tenderloin Steaks (5 oz each)
  • Salt
  • crack pepper
  • 2 tablespoon melted butter

Preparation

  1. For the Celery Puree – Brown the butter in a pan, then set aside. In another sauce pan, heat heavy cream on medium high, then add celery. Cook for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add in butter a bit at a time. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir until creamy but not too soft. If needed, at a bit more cream.
  2. For the Tenderloin – Preheat a heavy skillet, cast iron pan or stove top grill. Season steak with salt and pepper. Add melted butter to skillet. As the butter begins to brown and smoke, place in steaks, 2 at a time and fry for 2 minutes each side. Please note, skillet and stovetops vary in heat, you may need to fry less or more depending on your preference of doneness. When done, place on a baking tray.
  3. Stack celery puree about 1cm to 2cm high on the prepared steak. Place tray on the middle rack in the oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. For a more crusted effect, mix some bread crumbs, parmesan and butter together and sprinkle on the top of the puree before baking.
  4. Remove from oven and allow meat to rest before cutting into it. Serve with your favorite side dish and enjoy!

* In some areas it is difficult to find celery root. However, a puree can be made from Cauliflower or Turnip following the same process.

What good is a fine piece of meat without delicate red wine. I always peer tenderloin with a soft Cabernet Sauvignon that is much milder than the regular bold flavors we are used to. But if you are looking for the perfect match, try a Pinot Noir.

Guten Appetit!