Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

We are making another cookie for our next Barefoot Bloggers selection, chosen by Cassandra of Foodie with a Little Thyme. I knew that McHubby would love these cookies for the coconut alone! The dough, which reminded me of the crumbly texture of shortbread, takes no time to make, and then it needs to chill in the fridge for ½ hour. I used raspberry jam for my cookies, but other flavors would be tasty with the rich, buttery flavor.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies, Barefoot Contessa Family Style

¾ pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
Raspberry and/or apricot jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into 1 ¼-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop ¼ teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Shrimp Tacos with Margarita Slaw

For a party we recently hosted, I had a taco bar and wanted to have several taco options for our guests. I came across these shrimp tacos on the Smells Like Home blog, which looked so beautiful and tasty. Be sure to start early with the marinade for the shrimp—it will need to marinate for 4-24 hours to soak in the flavors. The margarita slaw comes together quickly, a perfect complement to the honey-lime grilled shrimp.

Shrimp Tacos with Margarita Slaw, Smells Like Home blog

Margarita Slaw
12 ounces (about 7 cups) rainbow salad mix (or coleslaw mix)
⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup vegetable oil
Dash of sesame oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon lime zest
1 shot Tequila
Dash of Tabasco
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Honey-Lime Grilled Shrimp
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
Juice of 2 limes
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
Chili powder
Ground cumin
Ground coriander
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (uncooked)

Make the margarita slaw. Place cabbage and cilantro in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the oils, lime and orange juices, lime zest, tequila, and Tabasco. Pour over cabbage and toss to coat completely. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large zipper bag, combine first 4 ingredients. Add a few sprinkles each of the spices, salt and pepper. Mix well to incorporate the honey into the oil and lime juice. Add the shrimp and toss well to coat. Allow shrimp to marinate 4-8 hours or up to 24 hours (refrigerated).

Allow the shrimp to come to room temperature before grilling to avoid the shrimp from shrinking drastically on the grill. Over a hot grill, grill the shrimp for 1 ½ to 2 minutes on the first side then flip and grill for another 30 seconds. Remove from grill and serve hot over the cool margarita slaw.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sizzling Beef with Scallions and Black Bean Sauce

I’ve been a fan of Jamie Oliver’s for years, and I really like his crusade to change eating habits to battle obesity for better health. This recipe, from his Food Revolution website, was so easy to prepare and so full of layered flavors. While the recipe calls for beef, other proteins can easily be substituted, such as chicken, pork, shrimp, or even tofu (for a vegetarian option). Be careful not to over-season with the soy sauce or it can get salty quickly—better yet, use low-sodium soy sauce. What a fast, healthy, and tasty dish!

Sizzling Beef with Scallions and Black Bean Sauce, Jamie Oliver

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup long-grain or basmati rice
1 ½ pound top loin or sirloin
A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic
½ fresh red chile
2 scallions
A small bunch of fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Peanut or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of good-quality black bean sauce
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 limes
1 egg, preferably free-range or organic

Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, add the rice and cook according to the package instructions. Drain the rice in a strainer, run it under a cold tap to cool, then allow to dry out in the fridge. Trim any excess fat from your steak and slice the meat into finger-sized strips. Peel and finely slice the ginger and garlic. Finely slice the chile. Cut the ends off your scallions and finely slice. Pick the cilantro leaves and put to one side, and finely chop the cilantro stalks. Get yourself a big bowl and put in the ginger, garlic, chile, scallions, cilantro stalks, and steak strips. Add the sesame oil and mix everything together.

Preheat a wok or large frying pan on a high heat and once it’s very, very hot add a good lug of peanut oil and swirl it around. Add all your chopped ingredients from the bowl. Give the pan a really good shake to mix everything around quickly. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, taking care to keep everything moving so doesn’t burn. Add the black bean sauce, and stir in 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and the juice of half a lime. Keep tossing. Taste and season with black pepper and a little more soy sauce. Remove the pan from the heat, transfer everything to a bowl, and cover with aluminum foil. Give the pan a quick wipe with ball of paper towels and put back on the heat. Add a lug of peanut oil and swirl it around. Crack in your egg and add a tablespoon of soy sauce - the egg will cook very quickly, so keep stirring. Once it’s scrambled, stir in your chilled rice, scraping the sides and the bottom of the pan as you go. Keep mixing for a few minutes until the rice is steaming hot, then taste and season with a little soy sauce.

Divide the rice between two bowls or plates. Spoon over the meat and black bean sauce and sprinkle over the cilantro leaves. Serve with wedges of lime — great!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

It’s been a while since I’ve baked any cookies, so I was looking forward to this Barefoot Bloggers selection, thanks to Leslie of Lethally Delicious. These cookies were so good! Be sure to use room temperature butter and lightly flatten the dough out a bit as the recipe states, though, or the cookie will be a slightly undercooked ball. Next time, I may skip the pecans and raisins and try something else, like dried cranberries or chocolate chips.

Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

1 ½ cups pecans
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 ½ cups raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the pecans on a sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes, until crisp. Set aside to cool. Chop very coarsely.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together into a medium bowl. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Add the oats, raisins, and pecans and mix just until combined.

Using a small ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop 2-inch mounds of dough onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with a damp hand. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer the cookies to a baking rack and cool completely.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Guacamole en Molcajete

Rosa Mexicano is a favorite local restaurant, and the guacamole en molcajete (mortar and pestle) is one of its signature appetizers. It’s an avocado dip of deliciousness. Guacamole is super easy to prepare fresh, and it can flavored to taste, either mild or spicy or somewhere in between. This recipe starts by making a chili paste, which provides the base of flavor. I also like to add some fresh squeezed lime juice and a dash of Tabasco.

Guacamole en Molcajete, Rosa Mexicano Restaurants

Chili Paste
1 tablespoon finely chopped white onion
1 firmly packed tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeño, or more to taste
1 teaspoon salt, or as needed

Additional Ingredients
3 medium ripe but firm Hass avocados (about 8 ounces each)
3 tablespoons diced tomato
2 firmly packed tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped white onion
Salt if necessary
Tortilla chips and/or fresh corn tortillas

Make the chile paste. Grind the onion, cilantro, jalapeño, and salt together in a molcajete until all the ingredients are very finely ground. Alternatively, use a fork to mash all the ingredients to a paste in a wide hardwood bowl.

Cut each avocado in half, working the knife blade around the pit. Twist the halves to separate them and flick out the pit with the tip of the knife. Fold a kitchen towel in quarters and hold it in the palm of your “non-knife” hand. Rest an avocado half cut side up in your palm and make 3 or 4 evenly spaced lengthwise cuts through the avocado flesh down to the skin, without cutting through it. Make 4 crosswise cuts in the same way. Scoop the diced avocado flesh into the molcajete. Repeat with the remaining avocado halves.