broccoli-tomato and shrimp fritters

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Shrimp fritters are a Jamaican appetizer and snack. At home, we eat them with hot Scotch Bonnet peppers cooked in the batter. I’ve added broccoli and tomato to the recipe; the broccoli adds crunch and colour, and the tomato adds colour and moisture. Without the shrimp, this is a vegetarian treat. Just increase the broccoli to 6 cups.

Broccoli Tomato and Shrimp Fritters

Yield: 11-12 three-inch fritters

12 ounces fresh broccoli (3 cups chopped)
500 g frozen and thawed shrimp, chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour
1 medium tomato, chopped and seeded
2/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (or mix 1/3 Parmesan and 1/3 Romano cheeses), optional
2-4 cloves garlic, minced (use more or less if you prefer)
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, optional, OR
1 Scotch Bonnet pepper, finely chopped, with seeds for added heat or without seeds for less (optional)
1/4 cup cream or nonfat milk, more or less as needed to add cohesion to the batter
Vegetable oil for frying

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. Pulse the broccoli in a food processor 2-4 times. 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 or Scotch Bonnet pepper, if using. Add the broccoli. 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.

Cook’s Note: The tomato not only adds a pop of color but it also adds moisture to the fritter—a little trick I learned from my cousin Cathy!

Pour enough oil in 10-inch non-stick skillet to cover the bottom. Heat oil on medium heat until the pan sizzles when a drop of water is sprinkled in it. Using a 1/4 cup dry measure, scoop up the broccoli batter and carefully drop it in the hot skillet. Flatten slightly with a fork. Continue scooping, flattening, and frying fritters, about 3 at a time. Leave about 2 inches between each fritter. Fry on one side 3-5 minutes or until golden brown, then flip, and fry 1-2 minutes on the second side. Add more oil as needed.

Cook’s Note: Dip the 1/4 cup measure in water to ensure the batter releases as you scoop the batter into the skillet.

Transfer fritters to a paper towel lined serving plate. If the fritters won’t be eaten right away, they can be kept in a low oven. Serve these fritters with tzatziki sauce, lemon-garlic yogurt, or Sriracha-pickle mayonnaise. To make lemon-garlic yogurt, to one cup of Greek style yogurt, add fresh lemon juice and lemon zest to taste. For a garlic flavor, add minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. For Sriracha-pickle mayonnaise, put a 1/3 cup mayonnaise in a small bowl with about 2 teaspoons chopped pickle (more or less to taste). Add the Sriracha sauce to taste. If you haven’t got Sriracha sauce, use any red hot sauce like Tabasco.

avocado spread on toast with ham and poached egg

With a little salt and the juice of  half a lime–to keep it from turning brown–that’s all it takes to make an avocado spread. Add a dash of Sriracha sauce to keep it interesting. Slivers of raw red onion add a bit of color and contrast. And also its sharpness lends flavor!

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A slice of ham and a poached egg on top! Et voilà–breakfast!

 

 

candied almonds

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Actually, this works with your favorite nut–walnuts, pecans, macadamias, and almonds are highly recommended. They make a great garnish for ice cream or sweet grape salad. Or just to eat by the handful.

1 cup chopped almonds
4 teaspoons water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 400˚F/200˚C.

In a medium bowl, toss the almonds with water and brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Spread the almond mixture in a thin layer on top. Bake 6-8 minutes or until the nuts just begin to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool 6-8 minutes in the tray to get crisp. Put up the nuts in an airtight container if not eating right away.

lemonade jelly with basil

lemonade jelly with basil

This dessert/snack from epicurious.com is delightfully refreshing. It has a mild herbal flavor from the basil and a tart tangy taste from the lemons.

Prep time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients

juice of 4 lemons (3/4 cup juice), strained
3/4 cup white superfine sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup orange juice, strained

In a small bowl, roughly tear the basil leaves and set aside.

In a small saucepan, put the lemon juice and sugar. Warm it over a low flame until it begins to boil, about 10-15 minutes. Pour the lemon juice mixture over the basil leaves and let it steep for at least 15 minutes.

In the saucepan, add the orange juice and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let the gelatin bloom for 5 minutes. It will clump but don’t worry about that. Warm the pan over medium heat and stir constantly to dissolve the clumps. Remove from heat. Strain the lemon juice-basil mixture into the orange-gelatin mixture, and discard the basil leaves. Whisk vigorously to combine.

Pour lemonade jelly mixture into 6 individual cups or into one 8 inch square pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. When the pan jelly is firm, cut it into 16 squares. If desired, serve jelly with sweetened whipped cream topping.

Epicurious.com Appetizer Serving Suggestion:

  • Double the amount of gelatin (think: Knox Blox) then cut the jelly  into circles or squares. Thread 2 jellies on a toothpick or skewer along with basil leaf.

salted caramel brownies

Salted Caramel Brownies (adapted from Food Network Magazine)
A colleague at the office gave me the October edition of this magazine. I promised her I would bake one of the cakes in its pages. I was intrigued by the recipe for silver frosting but that’s for another post.  Instead, I decided to try this brownie recipe. After all, it looked straightforward and simple, perfect for Cake Tuesday tomorrow. That saltiness of the sea salt flakes plays against the sweetness of the chocolate and the gooey stickiness of the caramel. This is a moist and tender brownie, not overwhelming in chocolate or sweetness.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total: 1 hour (plus cooling)
Servings: 12 large brownies or 24 square brownies

Have at room temperature:
1/2  pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon
8 oz plus 6 oz  semisweet chocolate chips
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
4 large eggs (3 extra-large eggs in the original recipe)
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons all purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5-6 oz caramel sauce
2-3 teaspoons flaked sea salt

  • Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter. Mix in 1 tablespoon flour. Brush the butter-flour mixture on the inside and bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan. Set pan aside. If the pan has a dark nonstick finish, remember to turn the heat down to 325˚F.
  • Melt the butter, 8 oz of the chocolate chips and the unsweetened chocolate together in a medium bowl set over simmering water. Allow to cool 15 minutes. It is very important to allow the butter mixture to cool before adding the remaining chocolate chips or the chips will melt and ruin the brownies.
  • In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together 1/2 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining  6 oz of chocolate chips and the remaining 2 tablespoons flour in a medium bowl and add to the chocolate mixture. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
  • Shift pan back and forth on the counter to settle the batter. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t over bake. If you’re using a pan with a dark non-stick finish, test the brownies after 30 minutes. If the toothpick comes out clean, take the pan out of the oven.
  • As soon as the brownies are out of the oven, place the jar of caramel sauce without the lid in the microwave and heat until it’s pourable. I don’t have a microwave oven (still) so I heated the sauce on the stove. Stir until smooth. Drizzle the caramel evenly over the hot brownies and sprinkle with the sea salt flakes. Cool completely. Use a sharp knife and cut into 12 bars or 24 squares.

 

southwestern cheese panini

I adapted this recipe from Eating Well. It takes about 25 minutes to prepare and cook. According to the website, one panini sandwich serving contains 330 calories. I imagine that if you use cooking spray instead of oil, the calories may be even less–how much, I don’t know, but hey, every little bit counts! What I also liked about it was that it was flavorful without having to use additional salt. I recommend serving it with a salad, such as strawberries, baby spinach, dried cranberries, and almonds.

Southwestern Cheese Panini
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

4 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese or Pepper Jack cheese
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion (or a combination of onion, scallion, and chopped cilantro)
1/4-1/2 cup prepared salsa, drained of excess liquid, if chunky salsa
1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeño pepper, (optional)
8 slices whole-wheat bread or multi-grain bread
2 teaspoons canola oil or cooking spray

Preparation

  1. Have four 15-ounce cans and a medium skillet (not nonstick) ready by the stove.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cheese, zucchini, carrot, onion, salsa, jalapeño (if using). Put one slice of bread on the work surface. Scoop about 1/2 cup of the zucchini mixture on the bread. Top with another slice of bread. Cook’s Note: I used Pepper Jack cheese and multi-grain bread which I think add more flavor and texture to the panini.
  3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil, if using, or spray a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray, over medium heat.  Place the panini in the non-stick skillet. Weigh it down with the medium skillet with the 4 cans. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Remove the top skillet with the cans. Reduce the heat to medium low and flip the panini. Replace the top skillet. Cook until the second side is golden, 1-3 minutes more. Repeat with another teaspoon oil, if using, and another panini.

deviled eggs with sharp cheddar cheese

Let’s face it; it’s summer and it’s hot and you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen! Deviled eggs are another easy breakfast meal. Deviled eggs also make a great snack or appetizer. They really do not need additional salt or seasoning because I put in sharp cheddar cheese, a bit of mayonnaise, and Sriracha hot sauce.

Deviled Eggs
5 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced in half
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Sriracha sauce to taste
Cilantro or scallion, minced, for garnish if desired

Put the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cool water. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 10 more minutes. Drain the eggs in the saucepan. Move the pan back and forth so that the motion cracks the egg shells. Hold the pan under the faucet and run cool water over the cracked eggs in the pan. Let the eggs rest in cool water until they are cool enough to handle. Change the water once or twice. Peel the cooled hard boiled eggs and slice in half vertically.

Carefully scoop the cooked yolks into a small bowl without tearing the egg whites. Using a pastry blender, cut the yolks fine. Add the mayonnaise and the cheese and continue blending. Add Sriracha to taste. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If the yolk mixture is dry add a teaspoon more of mayonnaise.  The yolk mixture should be the consistency of a thick paste. Using a rubber/silicone spatula, scoop the yolk mixture out of the bowl and into a plastic bag. Snip off one corner. Squeeze the yolk mixture out of the snipped end into the bowl of each egg white. Garnish with scallion or cilantro, if you wish. Enjoy!

plantain tartelettes

I’m on a mission. A mission to make morsels of dessert that satisfy a sweet tooth without causing serious  overindulgence! After getting a plantain tart recipe at Easter from my cousins Peter and Karen, I was anxious to try it out. I had an idea to make tartelettes, mini-tarts filled with plantain. So I patiently waited for a plantain to ripen. Diana says they ripen on Jamaica time–it takes 7-10 days in a paper bag. My patience paid off and I finally got a ripe one.

Traditionally, the filling for plantain tarts is bright red. Unfortunately, the recipe  did not say how much red food coloring to use, so I decided to be conservative and try for a “dusty rose” shade. I merely succeeded in making it brown. Still, if it tastes like a plantain, then it must be a plantain. I did leave out the raisins–to me it’s sacrilegious to add any to a plantain tart.  The pastry, I must say,  is exquisite. It came out tender and flaky. However, I think  this filling could be more flavorful to go head to head with this pastry.

Plantain Tartelettes

Pastry
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable shortening
2-4 tablespoons iced water

Filling
1 cup ripe plantain, peeled and cut up
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon chopped raisins, optional
Red food coloring, optional

To make the filling:

  1. In a saucepan combine plantain, sugar, and water
  2. Cook over low heat until plantain is cooked through, about 5 minutes. The plantains will change from pinkish-orange when raw to deep yellow when cooked.
  3. Remove from heat and mash lightly. Add nutmeg, vanilla, butter, raisins if using, and red food coloring, if using. After adding 12 drops red and 4 drops blue, the plantain mixture turned dark brown.
  4. Allow filling to cool before filling tartelettes.

To make the pastry:

  1. Combine flour and salt with shortening and cut into pastry until flaky. Add iced water to bind together. [I used 2 tablespoons iced water.] Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate, about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 450˚F.
  3. Roll out chilled dough on a lightly floured board to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 40 two-inch rounds. Cake Baker’s Tip: If the dough warms it may become difficult to handle. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it for at least 15 minutes. Use a flat blade spatula to lift each round off the cutting board.
  4. Spoon about 1/2  tablespoon cooled filling in the center of each round. Top with another pastry round and gently press the edges together. Crimp one side with the tines of a fork.
  5. Place tartelettes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Brush tops of tartelettes  with a little milk.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes at 450˚F. Reduce heat to 350˚F and bake for 15-20 minutes. Pastry should be delicately brown.  Makes 20 tartelettes.

baked kale chips

Baked Kale Chips

Ingredients
1 large bunch of kale
1 teaspoon olive oil or coconut oil
1 teaspoon seasoning salt or sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper or Cajun seasoning

Cut the stems and spines off each kale leaf and discard. Wash the leaves and make sure they are thoroughly dry. One way to dry them is to lay them out in a single layer on paper towels

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a large rimmed baking tray with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, put the washed and dried kale leaves. Add the oil and seasonings and toss gently. Spread the seasoned leaves in a single layer on the prepared baking tray. You may need to do this in two batches. Bake 10-15 minutes until the leaves turn dark green and become paper thin and dry.

Remove from the oven and let the kale chips cool in the pan on a wire rack, about 10 minutes. Repeat the process with the second batch of leaves. Eat when cool. If there are any chips left over store them in an air-tight canister. Delicious! They are like eating roasted Japanese nori seaweed leaves.

Variation

  • Instead of Cajun seasoning, sprinkle red pepper flakes to taste on the kale leaves.