Monthly Archives: July 2009

Pan Seared Shrimp, Roasted Red Potato Slices, and Mixed Greens

Globe Fish Co had Gulf shrimp at the Farmer’s Market.  Pricy, but I could not resist.  And it was delicious! I found an easy recipe on recipezarr.com that is basically the same as the one I found on the Cook’s Illustrated site. Here it is:

plated shrimp

The complete meal

  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoo lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined (21/25 count)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  1. Beat butter with a fork in a small bowl until light and fluffy. Stir in garlic, lemon juice, parsley and 1/8 tsp salt until combined. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tbs oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until smoking. Meanwhile toss shrimp, salt, pepper and sugar in a medium bowl. Add half of shrimp to pan in a single layer and cook until spotty brown and edges turn pink, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; using tongs, flip each shrimp and let stand until all but very center is opaque, about 30 seconds. Transfer shrimp to a large plate.
  3. Repeat with remaining oil and shrimp; after second batch has stood off heat, return first batch to skillet along with flavored butter and toss to combine. Cover skillet and let stand until shrimp are cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges if desired.

Here is a close-up of the meal:

plated shrimp

The combination worked well – even with the bits of ham flavoring the collard greens.  I will post that recipe separately and date it so it appears below this post, after the mozzarella post. And, you’ll find the potato recipe in the 7/19/09 Halibut post.

This meal was easy to create.  I started the collard greens first.  Once there were allin the pot and simmering, they needed no more attention.  And, once they simmered for 45 minutes to and hour, I put them on low and could have left them for hours.  Very handy recipe for when you are trying out a new entree!  The potatoes are also easy and forgiving as to timing.  I prepared and roasted them for 15 miutes at 350 and then left them until giving them a final 5 minute blast at 400 when it was time to serve.  Of course, you need a toaster oven or a quick heating convection oven to do it this way.  You can always roast them and then turn the oven to warm until serving time.

I then peeled and deveined the shrimp.  Very easy to do.  I just used my kitchen scissors to ship the shell and my finger to get the vein out, patted them dry, and put them in the fridge until I was ready to cook them. I also made  the garlic butter ahead of time.  Note on that: it says to “beat” the butter.  the word “mashed up” better describes the process I used.  I wonder if they recipe meant to instruct us to melt, rather than soften the butter?  In any case, mashing worked just fine.  <grin>

Then the time came to fire up the frying pan.  The process went by so quickly that I forgot to take pictures!  All the shrimp (14 of them to one pound) fit at one time, so I could skip transfer any to another plate.  I reduced amounts of ingredients a bit, to, since the recipe calls for 1 and 1/2 pounds of shrimp.

I’ll certainly make shrimp this way again!  I bet good quality shimp from the grocery store would be fine in the recipe, too.  I’ve heard that Trader Joes has great shrimp.  Not sure of the environmental and/or health safety of their source, but then again, I am not sure of that of these Gulf Shrimp, either.  If anyone knows, let me know!

Can’t go wrong with fresh mozzarella!

moz a and p from above

Fresh Mozarella purchased at the Farmer’s Market from “The Cheese Man” Phil Hermann, who brings locally made mozzerella, ricotta and goat cheese to the  market. Basil, also from the Farmer’s Market.  Tomatoes from our back yard.  A little olive oil, salt, pepper and a touch of rice vinegar – out of this world!

and to think that you saw it on Armory St

and to think that you saw it on Armory St

Simmered Greens – Collard, Mustard, and Arugula

I have a number of recipes for collard greens – some vegetarian, some more traditional, some specifying longer cook times, and one I found and use often that cooks up collards  “quick and easy.”   Before I get into the details of how I prepared them to serve with the Pan Seared Shrimp, here is the quick and easy (and tasty!) one from Cooking Light, November 1994.

Quick Collard Greens

  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 11 cups tightly packed chopped fresh collard greens (about 4 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Heat 1/2 cup chicken broth in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Add garlic, and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Add collard greens and remaining 1/2 cup broth; stir well. Cover and cook 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in crushed red pepper and salt.

##

You can always add a bit of smoked parprika or some scraps of ham to add a little of that tradional “ham hock” flavor.

But – now for the latest greens recipe.  By the way, it is even better the next day.  I am having some for breakfast as I write this part of the post. YUM!

Now,  for years I didn’t really have a clue as to what to do with collard greens beyond toss them in soup.  How this happened, given that I followed different vegetarian diets for years, including vegan and macrobiotic, I do not know!  But, given that I have a ton of them and other greens in the garden I help with, I am glad I know what to do with them, now!

I know that prepping them was always a mystery for me, as was know how much resulted in how much once cooked.  For those who are not familiar with collards, I took some pictures and will include written steps to help you along. But first, here are the ingredients I used most recently.  Please note that you do not need to follow the amounts exactly when you make your greens.  This is a ART not a SCIENCE.  It is also a way to use up greens and ham scraps.  <grin>  I am just recording what I did so I can use it in the future as a guideline, as should you!

For example, I was planning to just do collard greens, but they cooked down so much, I cut the greens off the baby turnips I had bought and grabbed some argula I had picked a few days ago and added them, plus an additional cup of stock (I started with 2 cups) and then let it all simmer. Again, an art, not a science!

Assorted Greens  Simmer

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 medium oinions, chopped medium
  • 2 clove garlic, chopped
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups veggie or other stock
  • 5-6 oz ham scraps
  • 11 oz chopped collards (maybe two bunches from the market?)
  • 9 oz wild chopped arugula (the skinny leaves with pronouced indentations – from my garden)
  • 9 oz turnip chopped greens (from the baby white turnips at the Farmer’s Market)

Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan or dutch oven. When hot, add onions, garlic, and pepper flakes and saute until soft, 5-10 minutes. Add ham scraps and suate for a few more minutes, then add stock and greens (or, you can add greens and wilt before adding stock). Bring stock to a light boil, cover pot tighty, and simmer for around an hour. Once there greens are quite tender, you can hold on low for hours.

I took some pictures while I made this dish, partly to show an easy way to prepare collards, and partly because I have fun taking pictures.  🙂

The first time I prepared collards greens in a way that came out really tasting really good was for my New Year’s Day open house on 1/1/09.   You’ll find the recipe for vegatarian collard greens elsewhere on this blog, but there was one issue.  It took a LONG time to prepare the collard greens!  But now I know a better way…

Slice the thickest part of the stem off. the photo shows only one leaf,but you can do this with more than one leaf at a time.  Then stack the leaves, roll them up, and slice into 1 1/2 inch wide strips.

collard stem

slice the stems

chopping collards

chop the leaves

collards done

a bunch of leaves all chopped

bowl of collard

all done - one-cup measure to right for scale

onion and ham

Saute the onion, garlic and peper flakes and add the ham.

Then, add the chopped collard greens

Then, add the chopped collard greens

Once the collards cooked down, I realized that I needed more greens and added the turnip and arugla.

just collards cooked down

just collards cooked down

with other greens added

with other greens added

Remember, you don’t have to do greens and stock in two parts!  This is just what I did when creating this dish.

Note: when preparing the other greens, do chop off the thicker stems – most get soft from the long simmer, but if too thick, they can be tough.

Another Note: if you don’t have ham or don’w want to use it, add maybe a teaspoon or so to taste of smoked parika if you want a deeper flavor.  Also, you can add fresh or canned tomatoes to this dish at the end if you like.

I FINALLY figured out how to use the perfect gift

Last Christmas, I received a lovely, thoughtful gift from the Coolidge family, with whom I grew up on Park Ave in Wakefield.  (Daughter Linda and I have been best friends since 1965! And, coincidentally, the canisters peeking out from behind the book in the photo below were a gift from Linda and her husband Mike about  15 years ago.)

Here it is:

This lovely yet sturdy looseleaf holds original and/or favorite recipes

This lovely yet sturdy looseleaf holds original and/or favorite recipes

It has lined blank pages and plastic sleeves to protect the pages.   Unfortunately, I have a bit of a problem with lined blank pages.  The problem is my handwriting…

Oh dear, what was that I wrote?

Oh dear, what was that I wrote?

BUT, dawn finally broke over Marblehead, as they say.  (Is that saying specific to the Boston Metro North Shore?)  I just got a very cool cooking and recipe program call The Living Cookbook that enables me to easily input recipes and then print them out in a consistant format.  Why not just print them and stick them in with the pages and inserts?  Works for me!

cookbook typed

Hey, I can read all that!

So, a happy ending – Thank you Frank and Lillian Coolidge for a super gift!  Now I can put all my “use often” recipes in this book instead of searching on the computer, rustling through pages of paper, and/or printing out yet ANOTHER copy when I need it.

By the way, Mr. Coolidge, I am hoping to get a cooking show going on WCAT – you WILL be invited as a guest!

Skye’s Lemon Pepper Marinade or, what WAS that Rosemary, Onion, and Garlic photo all about?

I found this VERY TASTY recipe  in About.com’s Southern Food section.  I don’t know who Skye is, but here is the recipe with her comments:

##

I use the marinade on almost all meats and fish.. however Alaskan Coho Salmon is especially nice with this marinade! My husband really likes the Salmon but enjoys boneless, skinless chicken breasts as much!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • fresh course ground black pepper, to taste
  • grated zest of one lemon

Preparation:

Mix all the ingredients and use the marinade immediately with meat or fish in your choice of a zip-lock plastic bag or container. Cover or seal and marinate in refrigerator. Use this as a basting sauce as well, but bring to a rolling boil before using after using as a marinade.   [Wendy’s note – I don’t recommend re-suing marinade – make some extra to set aside for basting!]   With or without marinating first, you will find that if you are grilling, this works best for most fish. (Note: if you want to add a sweeter caramelizing effect. Add 1-2 tablespoons of orange blossom (or clover is alright) honey to the marinade recipe.

##

This was really good.  I used it on a variety pack of chicken pieces and had Steve cook them on the grill.  I took the most of the skin off all but the drumsticks  since the skin keeps moisture in and drumsticks seem, to me, to get dry more quickly than the other parts (besides wings, but there were no wings in this pack.)

I think my husband at first thought the lemon flavor was too intense, but he ate it, and continued  to eat the  leftovers the next day or two, so I think he liked it once he knew what to expect.  Leftover, it made a great chicken salad, too!

I really enjoyed the very lemony flavor and, even for those (like my husband) who might be surprised at first, I do think all the flavors meld even more beautifully by the next day.  This is definitely something you can cook in a batch via grill or oven and then have on hand for the next few days.

Next time, I want to try Skye’s suggestion to try adding honey. I suspect that it will add a really nice touch.  Anyway, This is what I was making when I took the photo in the Rosemary, Onion, and Garlic  post.  Also, a thank you to my friend Susan Calabrese’s husband Mark for making the wonderful cutting board featured in that photo.  Hmm, I should go credit him in that post.  I will do that next.   But, if you try adding honey to this recipe before I post about it, please leave a comment about it!

Pan-fried halibut, sauteed pea tendrils, and roasted red potatoes from the Farmer’s Market

First, go check out the Wakefield Farmer’s Market Web site if you have not done so before!  If you live in or near Wakefield MA or plan to visit before the middle of October, be sure to check out the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  See the Web site for directions, etc.

Globe Fish Co. had Gulf shrimp last week, and I was planning to purchase some this week.  Unfortunately, they didn’t  have any this time around, so I got halibut instead and, at my husband’s request, agreed to prepare it fried.  I also bought a variety of produce from Farmer Dave and Flats Mentor Farm, which specializes in Asian produce, and decided on potatoes and pea tendrils to accompany.

ingredients

The Ingredients: red potatoes, halibut, and pea tendrils

I do not having a lot of experience preparing fish.  I am now pretty comfortable baking it, and was successful my recent and first try at blackened salmon, but this would be my first time frying it.  And, I was up against some stiff competition:  Fried fish was apparently one of Steve’s Mom’s specialties and I was hoping to create at least a satisfying, if not perfect match to his memories. I am pleased to report that I was successful!  Here is the recipe I followed:

##

PAN-FRIED FISH FILLETS
Source: http://teriskitchen.com/seafood/fried-a.html

This is basic and can be used with any firm, white-fleshed fish, as well as shrimp, scallops and oysters. After trying many different types of coatings and methods, this is my preference. The resulting crust is always crispy and not too thick. In a pinch, you could use finely crushed low-salt saltines in place of the homemade breadcrumbs. I think that is a better choice than store-bought breadcrumbs which, in my experience, never yield a crispy crust and taste a little like cardboard.

* 2 pounds firm, white-fleshed fish fillets, such as flounder or catfish
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* Salt and pepper to taste
* 2 eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons water
* 1-1/2 cups homemade dried breadcrumbs
* Oil for frying, such as vegetable or canola
* Lemon wedges
* Tartar sauce (see recipe)

1. Place flour on plate or wax paper. Season with salt and pepper; mix well. Place breadcrumbs on large plate or wax paper. Coat fish lightly with flour, shaking off excess. Dip into egg wash and let excess drip off. Coat thoroughly with breadcrumbs, again shaking off excess. Place on wire rack. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to help ensure that the coating will adhere to the fish when frying.

2. Meanwhile, heat large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add oil, about 1/2-inch thick, or thick enough to come about half-way up the sides of the fish. Heat oil until hot. Remove fish from refrigerator and fry, in batches as needed, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side depending on thickness. Remove to a clean wire rack to drain. Season with additional salt, if desired. Serve with lemon wedges and tartar sauce.

Servings: 4

##

fish prepped

Ready to dip the fish.

fish with coating and ready for a 30 minute chill in the fridge

fish with coating and ready for a 30 minute chill in the fridge

[Note:  I purchase two packs of the fish totaling just about 1.5 pounds, WAY more than needed for a meal for two.  I actually held back a few pieces to freeze after breading and a few pieces to freeze after frying, just to see if this could be a viable “cook ahead/meal from the freezer” recipe.  I’ll let you know later!]

Next, I made some tartar sauce – just a mix of sweet relish and mayo, with just enough prepared horseradish to add a bite, and put it in the fridge until dinner time.

While the coated fish was in the fridge chilling, as per the recipe, I sliced up the potatoes – a bit under 1/2 ” thick – seasoned them with a salt and a liberal amount of freshly ground black pepper, added a light coating of olive oil, and spread them out on a pan that I had sprayed with canola oil.

prepped potatoes

prepped potatoes

I put them in my toaster oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes to start – or, at least, I thought to start because recipes usually call for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.  However, these were done in the 15 minutes – probable because they were freshly dug (higher water content is my guess) and also sliced thinly (about 1/2 inch or less.)  Since I would be wanting things to be done at the same time, this worked out great.  I left them in the oven and finished them off for 5 minutes at 400 degrees as I was frying the fish.

I also prepped for the pea trendrils while I was waiting for the coated fish to chill.  First I flavored some olive oil by sauteing garlic slices then, once they were a bit browned, let them sit in the oil until I was ready to saute the pea tendrils. That way, I was all ready to quickly saute the pea tendrils once the fish was done and draining on a rack before serving.

garlic saute

Flavoring the oil with garlic

I then went through the pea tendrils and removed the thicker parts of the stems and also the little twisty tendril strings because I read that they could be tough and “stringy” when cooked.

After the fish was chilled and all was prepped (or, in the case of the potatoes, pre-cooked) I took the fish from the fridge and put between a 1/4 and 1/2 an inch of canola oil in my 12 inch frying pan, turning on the burner to medium high.  At this time, I put the toaster oven on to finish off the potatoes for 5 minutes at 400 – or was it 450?? degrees. Enough to crisp.

Once the oil in the frying pan was giving off an aroma and there was some movement, I tossed in a little bit of the fish batter until it sizzled very vigorously.  Then I added the fish – carefully!  That oil gets hot!  I let it fry on one side for about 3 minutes and the other for about the same, until each side was a golden brown.  Then I removed the fish to a rack to drain before serving.  I also blotted with paper towel immediately before plating.

Once the fish was done, I quickly heated up the oil in the wok and added the pea tendrils for just a minute or two, until wilted.  Then, dinner was served:

Dinner for two

Dinner for two

july 18 plated

With homemade tartar sauce and lemon wedges

The verdict:  The fish was a total success!  REALLY good.  According to Steve, as good as his Mom’s and, seemingly ironically, since I cooked the fish in more oil than he remembers his Mom using, less greasy.  I think that using more oil enabled the fish to form a crust more quickly and sealed out the fat more efficiently. Something like that.

The potatoes were also delicious.  I used a VERY liberal amount of black pepper and they had a nice punch to them, and the final roasting brown them nicely – just the right amount of crispness on the outside.

The pea tendrils, alas, were not as big a success.  The flavor is lovely, but, as I suspected might happen, the stems were stringy while the tender leaves were cooked almost too much.  I have this problem when sauteeing arugula and spinich, also.  Now I am wishing I used the following recipe because, although I feared using the chicken broth would cook the leaves too much, it would have most likely have softened the stems.  I will try it next time I cook this sort of green.

##

Sauteed Pea Tendrils with Garlic
Bon Appétit – March 2006

1 Tbs canola oil
2 small garlic cloves, smashed
12 oz fresh pea tendrils
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
preparation

1. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and sauté until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Remove garlic. Add tendrils; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add chicken broth and sauté until greens are slightly wilted and heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

##

By the way, the pea tendrils are quite tasty with a delicate crunch to them when raw.  I highly recommend them in a salad.  Also, the woman selling them said that she often uses them in soup.  I held some back and will see how they do in soup when I next experiment in the kitchen.

I still have corn, carrots, summer squash, and baby white turnips  from my trip to the market, but I probably won’t do anything very fancy with them – I am sure they will taste super just as is or lightly cooked!

That’s it for now.  Do let me know if you have any surefire tricks for sauteing greens without the stems getting stringy!

Grilled marinated flatiron steak, fresh green beans, and potatoes…

This was such a low-key yet delicious meal.  Flatiron, or top blade steak, has  “a rich, deep, beefy flavor,”  to quote the guys who wrote “The Complete Meat Cookbook” (Aidells and Kelly). Yes, there is the “signature” line of gristle down the middle of the steak,  but for the economical price and BIG flavor, it is worth a little work!

I marinated four steaks (they are not big) for about 4 hours in one of my favorite marinades from the same cookbook. I lucked out and found the marinade recipe  online – how easy to cut and paste!  <grin>  NOTE: I poke holes in both sides of the steaks with a toothpick before marinating. Every 1/2 inch or a bit more or so.

##
Chipotle-Orange Marinade

From The Complete Meat Cookbook (Canada, UK), by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly.

Ingredients:

2 tsp grated orange zest
1 cup fresh orange juice
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp chopped canned chipotle chile in adobo, Herdez brand, or 1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.

Yield: Makes 2 to 2-1/2 cups
##

FYI – I often use chili garlic sauce in lieu of garlic and chilies, but this time I used the garlic as called for in the recipe and the teaspoon of red pepper flakes.  It is all good! Actually, for this meal, I used lemon zest instead of orange.  No matter.  I think anything citrus is the key.

After the four hour soak,  I removed the steaks from the marinade, gently patted them dry with a paper towel, and put them on a baking rack over a pan and set aside (in a safe place since one does not want to sorely tempt the dog and cat) to get closer to room temperature before grilling.  NEVER more than a hour for that! The goal  is to get the inside temperature close to that of the outside for more even cooking, but be safe!

Steve was, as always, the grill person – he removed the steaks  from the grill once they registered about 125 or so degrees with an instant read thermometer.  We then let them rest for a bit while covered in foil.

NOTE:  the one thing I do NOT do in “the kitchen” is grill.  So, that is all I can say about that, except that they came out just a touch more than rare but not at all medium-rare, and I could cut mine with a dinner knife.  YUM.  🙂

We were blessed with green beans from the garden I am attempting to help with (long story, but it is doing pretty darn well with way less attention than it deserves!), and the recipe was quick and easy.

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Sesame Green Beans (click recipe name to go to the allrecipe page)

* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
* 1 pound fresh green beans, cut into 2 inch pieces
* 1/4 cup chicken broth
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add sesame seeds. When seeds start to darken, stir in green beans. Cook, stirring, until the beans turn bright green.
2. Pour in chicken broth, salt and pepper. Cover and cook until beans are tender-crisp, about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until liquid evaporates.

##

FYI – I only had about 10 oz of beans and used 1/2 cup stock.  It is a flexible recipe.

I also served potatoes.  I bought some small, new, red potatoes from Farmland, my favorite  grocery store here in Wakefield MA.  I cut them in half and steamed them until tender while heating up the water in the bottom of my double boiler.  Once fork-tender, I put them in the top of the double boiler with some butter – okay, I used Smart Balance ™ – and a dash of lemon juice.  The double boiler kept them nice and hot without overcooking them until the rest of the meal was ready to serve. by the way, you can keep things hot, safe, and not overcooked for a long time in a double boiler.

And….Along with the garden I am helping with, we are doing container gardening here at Armory St.  We had our first tomato this evening.  yuuuuuum….  I sliced it and put it over a bed of romaine lettuce (also from that other garden, although we have plenty or green leaf lettuce growing stupendously well in some boxes on our attic balcony) sprinkled with oregano and then drizzled in olive oil.  WOW.  THAT was such a treat.

So, that is the latest – enjoy!

Rosemary, Onion, and Garlic

I was trying out a marinade recipe and liked the way these ingredients looked on the cutting board.  I’ll report on the marinade later – the chicken is soaking as I write.

cutting board closeup

The lovely cutting board was made by Mark Calabrese.  I recieved it as a Christmas gift a number of years ago (Thanks, Susan and Mark!) and it has been a favorite in my kitchen ever since.  You may not be able to tell from this photo, but the ends are 1/4 inch wider on each side, causing the body of the board to be up off the counter.  While it causes chopping to sound louder, the benefit of keeping the bottom side totally clean, regardless of what might be on the counter, greatly outweighs any noise issues.  Here is a picture that shows it better:

The cutting board - side shot

The cutting board - side shot

Garlic Roasted Chicken Leg Quarters

Here is a delicious, easy and economic chicken recipe from the About.com southern cooking section.

Garlic Roasted Chicken Leg Quarters
By Diana Rattray, About.com

Garlic roasted chicken leg quarters are tasty and easy on the budget. Serve this chicken with roasted or mashed potatoes and your favorite vegetables.
Ingredients:

* 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
* 1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon chili powder
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
* dash freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 4 chicken leg quarters
* 1/2 cup chicken broth (part dry white wine, if desired)

Preparation:
Heat oven to 425°.

Combine the garlic, oregano, salt, chili powder, cumin, and black pepper. Add olive oil and mix well. Use a mortar and pestle to make a paste consistency, or mash with a fork.

Wash chicken leg quarters and pat dry. Snip off any excess skin. Arrange the chicken pieces in a baking dish and pat the garlic mixture over each quarter. Pour 1/2 cup of chicken broth (part dry white wine, if desired) into the baking dish. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until juices run clear.
Serves 4.

————–

For a lower fat version with all the flavor, rub the paste UNDER the skin before cooking.  The skin on will keep the flavor and moisture in the meat, then remove the skin before serving.  And, a thank you to my friend Lori for this next tip: at a tablespoon or so of brown suger to the paste – it adds a nice depth without too much sweetness.   I think I need to get the recipe for the super potato salad that Lori made for our July 4th party, too!  Lori is a great cook, too.  I think it has to do with being born between August 14 (my b-day) and August 16 (Lori’s b-day.  August 15 = Julia Child’s b-day.  <grin>

I’ll never buy pre-cooked shrimp again!

I actually never bought shrimp until I met my husband.  Oh sure, I’ve eaten it at parties and when out to dinner, but I never bought it and prepared it myself.  And, since 2003, I’ve been buying the pre-cooked kind when Steve gets a hankering for shimp, which is every major or minor holiday and on occasion in-between.  <grin>

It is not bad, espeically with the “kicky” cocktail sauce that I make, but I have noticed that often, when other people prepare  shrimp  as an appetizer, it tastes better. Now I know why.  You should cook it yourself, preferably with the shell still on.

I actually ended up buying raw shrimp on a whim.  Steve wanted some for our July 4th party (and wouldn’t you know, I forget to put them out after cooking, peeling, and chilling them! My apologies to our guests.  <wry grin>)

Both cooked and raw frozen shrimp were on sale, but the ccoked were smaller, the 41-50 per bag count size, and the raw were fewer but thus larger.  I opted for the the bigger ones.

Then, while wandering around the Intenet looking for cooking ideas, I found a recipe for cooking them in a quick to prepare veggie/lemon stock.  Here is the recipe I used:

No-Fail Boiled Shrimp
Joy of Cooking: All About Party Foods & Drinks, by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker.
www.ochef.com/r157.htm

If you are grilling, broiling, or boiling shrimp, consider cooking them in their shells, for it protects the meat from drying out and helps them retain maximum flavor. If you wish, prepare the shrimp in plain water.
In a large saucepan, combine:
10 cups water
2 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 medium onion, cut into eighths
1 small lemon, quartered
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
8 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid and return it to the pan.
Add: 2 pounds shrimp, any size, fresh or frozen, preferably in their shells for best flavor
Return the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes exactly. Drain the shrimp, remove to a platter, and let cool. Set out one or more of the following for dipping: Cocktail Sauce, Sauce Remoulade, Tartar Sauce.

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The shrimp were super.   it takes some extra time to make the stock and then peel the shrimp afterwards (they were “EZ Peel” so not to hard to do)  but I think it was worth the effort.

I always make my own cocktail sauce – pretty basic, although I use freeze squeezed lemon juice when I have a lemon around.  And, I just bought some Boars Head brand prepared horseradish to try next time.  JUST grated horseradish and vinegar, with no preservatives, etc.  I like that in a condiment.  Anyway – my cocktail sauce recipe – just mix up ketchup, lemon juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and tabasco or other hot pepper sauce – amounts to taste.