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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Disney Inspired Ratatouille!!!

Happy Tuesday!

How often can you say a Disney movie inspired you to cook up something that is not only eye catching, but tasty too.  Better yet, a movie where a rat was dying to become a great French chef.  I must confess, I’ve seen this movie more than 10 times both with and without the intended viewers around. Although comical, the message behind the movie was clear, nothing should stand in the way of your greatness!

In 2007, Pixar released the movie Ratatouille. It was a story of an unlikely pair; a rat named Remy and a kitchen help Linguini that hilariously teamed up to prepare some of famed chef Auguste Gusteau greatest dishes. One notably, was Ratatouille. Ratatouille is a French stew made up primarily of tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini with a few other ingredient.

In the movie, Ratatouille is prepared in a slightly different way from the traditional using the same ingredients. It involves cutting and baking thinly slice zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and yellow squash, over a tomato and bell pepper sauce. The layers of brightly colored vegetables just jumped out at me. There was no reason to search for a recipe. After all, it was all visibly on the big screen.

I figured we could do with a meatless meal this week. Though I am not quite sure everyone would be in agreement. Nevertheless there is nothing wrong with a healthy serving of vegetables every now and then. Did I mention that this is a perfect dish for vegetarians? Well it is! No Meat! No Dairy! My non-eating meat friends will love this dish. To make it a more hearty meal, you can add sliced potatoes, sweet or regular. Your choice.

One suggestion I have is to use a veggie slicer if you have one. I did all the work by hand. Its therapy for me. But for a quicker and more uniformed slices, a slicer would do wonders.

” I cant help myself, I like good food okay.” ~ Remy

I decided to use my go to tomato sauce adding in marjoram which was recommended by my favorite vendor at the fresh market in city. He knows his stuff. I thought that oregano would have given the sauce that additional pop on its own but marjoram took the depth to another level. 20170422_163229

Some people prepare with an additional layer of béchamel sauce, but for the purpose of this recipe, I stayed close to my inspiration. Depending on how big your pan is, you may want to add more or less vegetables.

Here we go:-

Ingredients

For the Ratatouille

  • 1 orange, red or yellow pepper, seeded and sliced in halves
  • 2 or 3 roma tomatoes sliced
  • 1 eggplant sliced
  • 1 zucchini sliced
  • 1 yellow squash sliced
  • 1 medium red onion (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to brush vegetables
  • 3 sprigs thyme finely chopped

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1 ½ can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 finely chopped fresh basil
  • 3 fresh sprigs thyme chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. Wash and slice vegetable. Set aside
  3. In a sauce pan heat oil on medium high heat, add onions and garlic. Allow to sweat on medium heat for 3 minutes then add vinegar. After 1 minute pour in tomatoes.
  4. Cook for 5 minutes, then add basil, thyme salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cook additional 5 minutes then pour into baking dish and spread evenly on the bottom. (if you are also using béchamel sauce, you would add it atop of the tomato sauce.
  6. Begin to assemble layers by alternating vegetables and over laying then in which ever design you desire.
  7. In a small bowl, add oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix together. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush top of vegetable.
  8. Bake on middle rack for 1 ½ hour until vegetables are tender covered. Remove cover, drop temperature to 375°F and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minute or until a little color appears (optional)

Bon Appitite!

Avocado Aioli

I have never been much of an Aioli fan to be honest. My first encounter was a few years ago at a party we attended in a city car garage surrounded by a rowdy crowd watching the Eroupa Manschaft (German for championship) and of course cheering on our German National team. Maybe this setting wasn’t the best for trying new dishes. After all, we were in a working car garage. But what could it hurt right?

StomachXAcheWell lets just say, I paid for it severely later that night and the day after that. My husband really likes the stuff and begged me to give it another chance. But this time with my own making.

To me, aioli seems to be so much like mayonnaise of which I barely touch. Its not my favorite condiment. But sometimes you have to take one for the team.

So I did some research and found that Aioli in its purist form does not use egg or yokes. The name itself means garlic and oil which in France and Spain is used to make this condiment. Sounded great to me. So I decided I wanted to go this route and create a recipe that we both can enjoy without me having any regrets. I am so glad I did!

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I settled on an Avocado Aioli because, why not? Avocado is quite popular in my house. Plus it has natural oils which allows for less to no oil in this recipe and will give us the creamy consistency I am looking for. And you already know how I love coconut milk. It just adds that depth I like.

 

What you need :-

  • 1 ripe, fresh avocado
  • 1 teaspoon avocado oil
  • ½ of lemon lime
  • 1½ teaspoon cilantro
  • 1 tsp of fresh diced garlic
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (more or less depending on your preferred consistency.)
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seed
  • salt and pepper to taste.

What to do :-

  1. Blend all ingredients together in food processor or blender and at medium speed, mix until desired consistency.
  2. Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 days (but it tastes best when used immediately).
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Delish

 

I enjoy this creamy goodness with my Zesty Cajun Sweet Potato Fries. Oven Roasted of course!

 

Sinfully Delicious Chocolate Cake

FOR THE LOVE OF CHOCOLATE!

Its HumpDay guys! And boy do I have something decadent for you.

Okay, most know that I have had a secret love affair for many years. But the secret is out and I am not ashamed to say, I L O VE CHOCOLATE! It should come then as no surprise that chocolate is apart of my daily life like breathing. In some shape, fashion or form, this cocoa goodness makes an appearance.

So instead of just a cup of hot chocolate today, I decided to share the love with my in-laws during “Nachtisch” (German for dessert after dinner). Come on, who doesn’t love chocolate?

I have tried a few recipes and as you guess, some were no so great. The thing is, when using different textures of chocolate in a cake, you have to make sure the right ingredients in the correct amounts work well together for the particular outcome you want to achieve. Not all products work together.

But I think I have found the perfect combination and have been using this recipe ever since. This is the most moist, flavorful chocolate cake you will ever make.

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Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs (room temp)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup canola oil**
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup coffee (strong)*
  • 3 oz semi-sweet chocolate (melted)

Chocolate Ganache (optional)

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting 

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans and set aside.
  2. In the microwave, melt half of the chocolate 45 seconds to 1 minute (microwaves vary in temperature), remove from microwave, add the remaining half of chocolate and blend until melted. Set Aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl with a hand mixer or an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, then pour in remaining liquid ingredients. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute then add melted chocolate and beat for another two minutes; the batter will become thin.
  5. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
  6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for  square and rectangular pans or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from pan and place on cooling rack for another 10 minutes
  8. For the chocolate frosting, I found a very quick and easy buttercream frosting by Savory Sweet Life that I used Chocolate Buttercream Frosting .
  9. For the ganache, chop chocolate in to pieces and place in a medium bowl. In a sauce pan, heat milk in a sauce pan, bring to a boiling. Add milk to the chocolate. Allow to set for 5 minutes before stirring. Decorate and design with chocolate as you choose. I used a spoon to drizzle the ganache.

Note:

  • Coffee is optional. You can use water in its place if so desired *
  • You can use vegetable oil **

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This truly is sinfully delicious. Just one slice will not be enough.

 

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!

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

Some people wait for special occasions or holidays to try new decadent recipes when there is a crowd to appreciate it. Well not for me. When the craving for chocolate hits, then its an occasion to indulge in a rich piece of chocolate heaven. Sure, I could settle for some Häagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream or curb my sweet tooth with half a dozen chocolate chip cookies and a tall glass of milk. But why settle for store bought when you have all the ingredients to whip up something more satisfying.

This triple threat is much easier than it looks. It just takes a bit more patience, but in the end will be worthwhile. Its kind of hard to resist all this chocolate goodness. The bottom layer is an oh so moist dark chocolate cake, the middle layer is smooth chocolate mousse and the top layer is a very light creamy white chocolate.

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Ingredients

Bottom layer ( If you have a favorite chocolate cake recipe, then you can opted for that)

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 cups  sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
2 medium eggs, room temperature
3 ounces  dark chocolate, melted
½ cup  cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon  salt
½ cup  strong coffee
½ cup  milk

Middle Layer ( you can opt to using an instant mousse. 2 pkg will be enough. It will taste just as good).

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
6 tablespoons hot water
2 cups whipping cream (heavy cream)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
pinch of salt

Top Layer (sorry, I haven’t found a substitute for this yet)

1 ¼ teaspoon powdered gelatin (unflavored)
2  tablespoon water
8 ounces  white chocolate
1¾ cups heavy whipping cream, divided
¼ cup powdered sugar
Preparation
Preheat oven to 350° and grease and flour a 9″ spring form pan. Set aside
Beginning with the bottom layer, prepare cake as you would any other cake. Whisk the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda) together in one bowl, and in another cream the butter and sugar until lite and fluffy. Then add eggs one at a time to the mixture. Next add in the cocoa powder. Mix until blended.
Combine milk and coffee and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. In another bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave for 45 seconds. Begin to blend all ingredients together. Alternate between the flour mixture and the milk coffee, adding to the already creamed butter mix. Next pour in the melted chocolate and blend well. Pour the mixture into prepared pan and bake for 20 t0 25 minutes or until toothpick a clean or have a few crumbs.
The middle layer is a bit easier. Combine hot water and cocoa powder in small bowl. In a heat proof bowl, melt chocolate in microwave for 45 seconds. stir until smooth (you can use the tempering method by placing the bowl over a saucepan filled with  a bit of simmering water, stirring occasionally until chocolate is melted). Using a stand mixed, use the whisk attachment and blend on low speed the sugar, whip cream, and salt until blended. Increase to medium speed until  mixture begins to thicken, about 20 seconds then increase speed to whip until peaks are formed.
Add the cocoa powder mixture to melted chocolate. Blend until smooth. Using a hand whisk, fold part of whipped cream into chocolate mixture to lighten. The use a spatula to fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Spoon the mixture into spring form pan over cooled cake (before I did this, I evened off the top of the cake and placed in back into the pan). Taking your time, smooth the top of the mousse with spatula. Clean any stray drips inside the side of the pan. Refrigerate for  at least 20 minutes. In the meanwhile begin preparing top layer.
For the top layer, add gelatin to a small bowl of water; stir and let stand at least 4 to 5 minutes. In a saucepan bring ½ cup cream to simmer over medium heat. In another bowl, place white chocolate. Remove the cream from heat, allow to cooled 2 minute, then add the gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved and no lumps exist. Next, pour cream mixture over white chocolate and whisk until mixture is smooth. Allow to cool at room temperature. The mixture will become very thick. No worries, simply stir frequently.

Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip remaining cream at medium speed adding powder sugar as you go until it starts to thicken. As it begins to thicken, increase the speed and whip until soft peaks start to form. Check the whisk after about 30 seconds for soft peaks when whisk is lifted. Using a hand whisk, fold some of whipped cream into white chocolate mixture to lighten it up. Then use a spatula to fold remaining whipped cream into the chocolate mixture until there are no streaks. Gently spoon white chocolate mousse onto the middle layer of mousse. Smooth to the sides to avoid bubbles. Placed cake back in the refrigerator and allow to set for at least 3 hours or until ready to serve.

20170208_0836491I hope you enjoy it as must as I enjoyed making it! I just love when a plan comes together!

Happy Baking!