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Broccoli-Shrimp Fritters

Yield: 14 three-inch fritters

8 ounces fresh broccoli (3 cups chopped)
500g large shrimp, chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 large tomato, chopped and seeded
2/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (or mix 1/3 Parmesan and 1/3 romano cheeses)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes OR
2 Scotch Bonnet peppers, finely chopped, with seeds for added heat or without seeds for less
1/4 cup cream or nonfat milk, or less as needed to add cohesion to the batter
Cooking spray

To prepare the broccoli, cut the florets from the stems. With a vegetable peeler, peel off the tough outer coating of the stems. Chop stems roughly into 1/2 inch pieces. Separate the florets into 1 inch pieces.

Fill a large pot with about 3 inches of water and bring to a boil. Add about a teaspoon of salt to the water. Add the broccoli. Cook 5-6 minutes or until tender. The broccoli will be a bright green color. Drain the broccoli in a colander and rinse under cold water to set the color and stop the cooking process. Mash the cooked broccoli coarsely with a potato masher. Broccoli should still be chunky and not too small.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the flour, tomato, cheese(s), garlic, salt, black pepper, and pepper flakes, if using. Add the mashed broccoli and shrimp. Use a large wooden spoon to mix all the ingredients together. Add the cream or milk if the batter doesn’t clump together when dropped from the spoon.

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Heat the skillet on medium heat until the pan sizzles when a drop of water is sprinkled in it. Using a tablespoon or a cookie scoop, scoop up the broccoli batter and plop it in the hot skillet. Flatten slightly with a fork. Continue scooping, flattening, and frying fritters with cooking spray to fill the pan. Leave about 2 inches between each fritter. Fry on one side 3-5 minutes or until golden brown, then flip, and fry 3-5 minutes on the second side.

Transfer fritters to a serving plate. If the fritters won’t be eaten right away, they can be kept in a low oven. Serve these fritters with Sriracha sauce, if desired.

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chocolate chip cookies

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When we lived in Milwaukee in the 80s this recipe was printed in the Milwaukee Journal. This was before the internet so instead of copying and pasting the recipe, I clipped it from the newspaper. It’s been in my recipe collection ever since. This cookie is chewy and soft, just the way I like it.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from The Milwaukee Journal

1 cup or 16 tablespoons shortening (or 1/2 unsalted butter, 1/2 shortening), room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar, sifted to get out the lumps
1 cup white sugar (substitute 1/2 cup Domino Light sugar)
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 pkg (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375˚F

2. Let butter/shortening soften at room temperature. In a bowl put shortening with butter, if using, add sugar and cream until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Mix thoroughly. Add chocolate chips by hand.

4. Scoop dough in a cookie scoop onto ungreased cookie sheet. Set each cookie dough ball 2 inches apart. Bake at 375˚ for 8-10 minutes or until done. Cookies are done when touched in the center and your finger barely leaves an imprint. Cool cookies on a wire rack before stacking.

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ina garten’s flourless gluten free chocolate cassis cake, 2.0

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With each iteration, I’ve gotten better at making this cake. Here is the recipe again with my Cake Baker’s Notes for success, from being careful not to overmix the batter to making sure the finished cake doesn’t sink in the center as it cools. I adapted it from Ina Garten’s recipe by using a cassis syrup instead of crème de cassis liqueur. I recommend using cocoa powder instead of flour to dust the pan to not only make it gluten free but also to prevent the white streaks that dusting with flour leaves behind. It may look fussy but it’s not. It’s a very rich chocolate cake with a fudgy interior and a simple ganache on top. How easy is that?

Chocolate Cassis Cake (adapted from Ina Garten)
Prep time: 40 minutes
Baking time: 35-40 minutes

For the Cake:
170g plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for greasing pan, room temperature
284g unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup cocoa powder plus extra for dusting pan
6 tablespoons cassis syrup (can substitute creme de cassis)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs, room temperature (extra large eggs in original recipe)
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Glaze:
170g unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
2-3 tablespoons cassis syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the cake, Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C. Grease a 9-inch round springform pan with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper then butter it. Dust with cocoa powder. Tap out the excess powder.

Melt the 170g butter and chopped chocolate together in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in the 1/2 cup cocoa powder, cassis, and 1 teaspoon vanilla and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer), beat the eggs, sugar, and salt on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until pale yellow, thickened, and triple in volume. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and carefully but thoroughly fold them together with a silicone spatula.

Cake Baker’s Note: Be sure to drag the spatula along the bottom of the bowl to blend the heavier chocolate mixture with the lighter egg mixture. Don’t overmix or the egg mixture will deflate.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until just barely set in the center. Place on a wire cooling rack and using a thin blade, ease it around the sides of the cake to release it from the pan sides so it doesn’t sink in the center. Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes and then release the sides of the pan. Invert the cake carefully onto a flat serving plate, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely.

Cake Baker’s Note: At 35 minutes, the entire cake didn’t seem set. So I gave it 5 more minutes. The cake was level with the top of the pan when it came out of the oven. After 15 minutes, the volume fell 50% as it cooled. In my experience, this is normal for flourless cakes.

For the glaze, melt the chocolate and cream together in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Turn off the heat, then whisk in the cassis and vanilla. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and spread just over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Let the topping set as it cools.

Serving Suggestion

  • Whip 1 cup whipping cream with 2 tablespoons sugar and serve a dollop with a wedge of cake.
  • Add sliced fresh berries on top of the cake. Glaze berries with melted apricot jam.
  • Serve with a strawberry coulis. About 1 cup crushed strawberries with juice, 1/4 cup water, and cornstarch to thicken, will make a divine strawberry coulis. Spoon it on the side and scoop it up with some cake.

 

lentil shepherd’s pie

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Andy and I are making the transition to a vegetarian diet, a lacto-ovarian vegetarian diet. So I made this recipe using cow’s milk instead of a non-dairy milk. I also lightened the salt by using just 2 tablespoons soy sauce. The pie came out hearty and filling, with just the right amount of seasoning. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie (adapted from Melanie McDonald)

1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced
2 ½ teaspoons dried herbs (thyme, rosemary, marjoram or mixed herbs or Italian herbs)
190 g or 2 1/2 cups cooked lentils, green or brown*
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2-3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
240 ml or 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
240 ml or 1 cup mushroom broth or vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
1000 g or 6 cups diced raw potato
80 ml or 1/3 cup non-dairy milk, unsweetened
1-2 tablespoons vegan butter, optional

Preheat oven 400˚F/200˚C. Boil water in a large pot. Prepare a 9 inch deep-dish pie dish by spraying the inside with cooking spray. Set aside.

Put the diced potatoes in the pot of boiling water. Add a generous pinch of salt, cover and bring to the boil again. Simmer 15 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender.

Drain then return to the pan. Add milk and butter if using, and mash very well. Set aside.

While potatoes are cooking, warm another pan over medium heat.

Sauté onions, garlic, and carrot until the onions start to go golden brown. You can use oil to sauté or a teaspoon or two of vegetable stock. Add the dried herbs and cooked and drained lentils. Make a slurry out of water and cornstarch, and add it to the pot. Stir well to distribute the cornstarch mixture. Add the tamari or soy sauce and tomatoes. Stir well.

Add the stock and stir well. As soon as the mixture is hot and is starting to bubble, remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the lentil mixture into the dish. Top with mashed potato. Spread the potato evenly on top, one spoonful at a time, and drag a fork through the top to create a pattern. Place dish on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. If additional browning is desired, put the dish under the broiler until the top is golden brown. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

*To cook lentils:
3 cups water
1 cup lentils
Using a large Dutch pot, bring lentils and water to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Yields 2-2 1/2 cups cooked lentils.

no measure chocolate cake

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When it comes to baking cakes I am a fanatic. Every ingredient must be measured or weighed. But sometimes you want a quick cake, a cake that requires no fuss and bakes up in a heartbeat, so that you can sit down and enjoy it right away. I was tempted by this recipe on Food 52 and it was quirky; no measuring, just a yogurt container. I had to bite down hard to ignore my OCD to try it. After cooling, problems came up; the cake fell about 25%. However, the texture is moist and dense, quite like a brownie, and not as sweet.

No Measure Chocolate Cake

2 tablespoons butter and 1-1 1/2 tablespoons flour for prepping the pan
7 oz (200g) Greek style yogurt
1 container canola oil (I used rice bran oil)
1 container superfine sugar
2 large eggs
2 containers self-rising flour
1 container unsweetened cocoa powder
1 container coffee or warm water
pinch of salt
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven 350˚F/175˚C. Melt butter and add 1 tablespoon flour. The mixture should be thick but not dry so add a little more up to 1/2 tablespoon more. Brush on the inside and base of a 10″ springform pan. Line with bottom with parchment then brush some more butter mixture on the parchment. Set aside.

Baker’s Note: I used 3 5×3 inch pans filled halfway, and baked the cakes for 30 minutes.

Empty the yogurt container in a large mixing bowl. Using the yogurt container, measure the oil and add it to the yogurt, followed by the sugar. Add 2 eggs. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until smooth.

Add 2 containers-ful of flour and 1 container cocoa powder. Beat on low speed until no lumps remain. Slowly add the coffee or warm water. Add a pinch of salt. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Pour into prepared 10 inch pan and bake 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks. Unmold and remove the paper. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top when cooled. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream, crème fraîche, or ice cream.

ground pork curry noodles

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This is an easy weeknight dinner dish that cooks up in less than half an hour. I used to make it years ago for Andy and the kids, and I was reminded of it when we were at the Cheesecake House last weekend, and I ordered it for dinner. Its curry flavor can be mild or pungent, depending on how you like it, but the important thing is not to cook the lettuce but to heat it through at the last minute.

Ground Pork Curry Noodles

220 g organic dried rice noodles
2 teaspoons vegetable oil or rice bran oil
1 medium red onion, cut into thin rings
4 cloves garlic, minced
350 g lean ground pork
1/2 tablespoon curry powder
Nam pla (fish sauce) to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper or to taste
1/2 tablespoon Knorr chicken soup powder
1/2 cup water
cornstarch, optional
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped

Boil a large pot of water and let it simmer.

In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high until it shimmers. Cook the onion until it is wilted. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the meat and cook, stirring, until no longer pink. Mix in the curry powder, nam pla, and pepper to taste. Put in the soup powder and water. If desired, thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch mixed with water. Taste and adjust seasonings. Turn off the heat and add the chopped lettuce, toss to combine.

Cook the noodles in the simmering water about 6-8 minutes or until al dente. Drain and toss with a little bit of oil so that the noodles don’t stick together.

Serve the ground pork sauce over the hot noodles. Eat at once.

chop suey thai style

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A friend of mine shared with me an NPR article on chop suey Mexican style. This fusion dish blending Chinese-American chop suey with Mexican beans and rice inspired me to create a Thai version. BTW, there is no such thing as an orthodox chop suey recipe; its very nature is improvisational–you use whatever is on hand.

Chop Suey Thai Style

1 cup (8 oz) Thai Jasmine Rice
water
1-2 tablespoons Knorr chicken powder

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved and cut into 1/4 inch chuncks
1 onion, peeled and halved then sliced thin
12 carrot sticks, about 3 inches long
8 fresh whole baby corn (can used canned)
12 asparagus spears, about 3 inches long
1-3 goat chilies to taste (can substitute jalapeño)
3/4-1 cup water
1/2 tablespoon Knorr chicken powder
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
Fish sauce to taste

Put rice in rice cooker bowl and add enough water to come up to the first knuckle on your finger. Sprinkle the chicken powder on top. Stir. Cook as directed by the rice cooker manufacturer. Keep warm.

Heat the oil in a large wok or skillet over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high. Stir-fry the onion and the carrot sticks. When the onion browns slightly, add the chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink. Add the baby corn. Reduce heat to medium and cover the skillet/wok for a few minutes. Add the asparagus spears and stir-fry until bright green.

Mix the water and chicken powder with the cornstarch. Add to the wok/skillet with the goat chilies or jalapeño peppers. Stir until thickened. Taste and season with fish sauce.

Serve hot over rice.

banana “ice cream” with peanut butter and chocolate chips

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I took a break from blogging to visit my family in Canada. I didn’t stop cooking, though; I hosted two dinners. The first menu was Jamaican themed, the second was a low-carb menu. Dessert was off-theme, though, for what is the meal without something decadent to finish;  I made pavlova with fresh berries and cream. Here is another decadent dessert that isn’t calorie laden:  whipped frozen banana with peanut butter and chocolate chips. It looks like ice cream, doesn’t it?

Whipped Frozen Banana “Ice Cream” with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chips
4 very ripe frozen whole bananas
Greek style yogurt
Honey
Creamy peanut butter
Chocolate chips

Slice the frozen bananas into rounds. Put them into the bowl of a food processor and process until fine. Add yogurt and honey to taste, then process until creamy.
Scrape into a bowl. Add peanut butter and chocolate chips to taste. Combine by hand so that the banana is streaked with peanut butter. Freeze 1-2 hours, then scoop into bowls and eat.  Yum. Makes 2-4 servings.

coconut water sorbet

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It looks and tastes like a snowball. It lacks dairy to make it creamy like a sherbet but as a summer dessert, it is cold and refreshing with a lightly sweet coconut flavor. This sorbet needs no flavor enhancer and I recommend making it with fresh young coconut water. I tried an earlier version of it with the coconut water in the UHT packaging and it just wasn’t the same. Fresh is best.

Coconut Water Sorbet

1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2-2 1/2 cups fresh young coconut water
1/4 cup fresh young coconut jelly, chopped fine

Heat water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Let cool to room temperature. Add the fresh young coconut water and stir to combine. Refrigerate 8-12 hours in a measuring cup with a spout.

Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. If using KitchenAid ice cream maker, assemble the drive assembly, dasher and freeze bowl. Turn on machine to Setting #1. While the machine is turning, pour the coconut water mixture into the freeze bowl and freeze until the desired consistency is reached 15-20 minutes. Three to five minutes before freezing time is up, add the chopped coconut jelly and continue mixing until done.

Scrape the sorbet into an airtight container and place in the freezer at least 2 hours to harden. Before serving let sorbet stand at room temperature 15-30 minutes before scooping.

jamaican curry chicken

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This is a light and flavorful curry, not at all heavy. It’s one of the dishes I grew up eating in Jamaica–just smelling the spices takes me home again.

Jamaican Curry Chicken 

3 medium potatoes, cubed
2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
1 1/2 medium onions, peeled, halved then quartered
2 tablespoons Jamaican curry powder (I recommend Betapac)
salt and pepper
4 chicken legs
4 chicken thighs boneless with skin on
2 chicken breasts boneless with skin on
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups water

In a large bowl, season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper to taste and 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder. Set aside.

In a large Dutch pot, put the potatoes and cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer potatoes for 10-15 minutes or until just softened. Drain potatoes and set aside.

In the now empty Dutch pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Brown the chicken pieces in the oil, skin side down. Add the vegetables and 2 1/2 cups water. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid and taste. Add up to a cupful of water if you want more gravy. Add the rest of the curry powder if you want a deeper orange color to the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. The potatoes will have thickened the sauce, but if you want it thicker, add a little cornstarch to some of the gravy and mix it together. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pot and stir to combine. Serve chicken curry hot over rice.