Horse Whip

ImageThis is a picture of a vineyard in March.  Not much going on.  I like this picture because of the mountain and the sky.  Expansive open range….and not a single sign of the busy, hectic, have to be on time everywhere you go life that I lead.

Contrary to the vineyard, this is a recipe for one of the most exciting spreads ever.  My sister found the recipe, but neither one of us remember where it came from.  One day I texted her and asked if she had that recipe for that “horse whip.”  So now I share it with you.  I call it “Horse Whip” and as my six year old says when things seem simple, you’ll find the recipe to be “easy peasy lemon squeasy.”

Horse Whip

Ingredients

3 T Prepared Horseradish

1/4 c. Sour Cream

1 T. Dijon mustard

1 T. Mayonaise

1 T. chopped chives

Directions

Blend all ingredients together and refrigerate for two hours prior to serving.  Horse whip is amazing served as an accompaniment to perfectly grilled steak seared with just salt and cracked black pepper or alongside ham or simply roasted pork roast.  You can spread it on sandwiches too.  Your dining companions will be asking you for this recipe and all you have to say is, it’s “Horse Whip”.

Enjoy!

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Red Snapper in a Roasted Bell Pepper Cream Sauce

*** Before I begin, I want to apologize to my blog followers.  Things were hectic for a spell and further complicated by catastrophic computer issues.  I’m back and ready to get the great recipes as of late on the blog!  Thanks for checking in on me. 
You’ve heard it before.  When cooking, buy what’s fresh and what looks good in the case.  My local fish monger had fresh red snapper and I chose to serve it with a roasted bell pepper cream sauce.

Now you can do it the long way and roast the bell peppers yourself over an open flame either on your gas range or on the grill, then put it in a closed brown paper bag for about 20 minutes and peel.  Like that’s not a lot of work!!  Or, you can simply buy your roasted red bell peppers in the jar, like Mezzetta, which come from California and are very good quality.

Ding! Ding!  Table for two please!

Ingredients
1 lb red snapper fillets
2/3 C. roasted red peppers (Mezzetta)
2 cloves garlic
dash salt and pepper
1/2 C. white wine
2 T whipping cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. chopped flatleaf parsley
Preparation
Remove fish from wrapper and rinse in cold water.  Pat dry with paper towel and set aside.  Combine the roasted red  peppers, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until combined.  Pour red bell pepper sauce into skillet over medium heat.  Add white wine and stir.  Add fillets and cover with lid.  Steam fillets over medium low heat until done, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove fillets onto serving plates. Going back to your sauce, turn off heat and add whipping cream and stir until combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon sauce over fish and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve warm.
Enjoy!

A Handmade Sushi Dinner Party

My good friend Tracy hosted a handmade sushi dinner party this weekend for one of our Dinner Clubs.  A seafood and sushi lover myself, you can imagine the sheer delight at the thought of making our own sushi.  The sushi rolls were fun and easy to make and they were amazingly fresh and delicious.

Tracy had assembled a beautiful table adorned with cherry blossoms, white carnations and pale pink tealight candles.  At each place setting, there were sushi roll mats, chopsticks and little dishes for wasabi paste and pickled ginger. 
To prepare for the evening, she compiled a list of all the ingredients used to make our sushi rolls and divided it among the group.  Her list included shredded carrots, butter leaf lettuce, bell peppers (red, orange, yellow), sliced mango, cucumber, smoked salmon, cooked crab, cooked shrimp, tuna, teriaki tofu, pickled ginger, wasabi paste, soy sauce, black sesame seeds, lemons, Nori (wrapper made from seaweed), rice noodles, handroll wrappers and Sriracha sauce. 
To accompany our sushi rolls, she also prepared broiled Kalbi beef flank and yaki soba noodles.   The whole evening was a lot of fun, but one of the best ideas she gave me was to buy the sushi rice from a sushi restaurant.  You can do this by ordering a box of rice for each of your dinner guests.  
Crab, Avocado and Mango Roll
Ingredients
1 C. crab meat
1 T mayonaise
2 t lemon juice
1 t brown sugar
thin slices mango
thin slices avocado
Preparation
Mix crab meat, manyonaise, lemon juice and brown sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.
To prepare your sushi roll, lay your sushi mat out flat in front of you.  Take a piece of Nori, shiny side down, and lay it flat on the mat.  Dip your fingertips in lemon water and take some of the sushi rice in your hand and flatten it to the center of your Nori making a flat, hoizontal  strip in the middle from one side to the other.  Gently lay pieces of avocado, crab mixture and mango slices hoizontally across your rice.  Take the side of the Nori and gently fold it over the mixture.  Using your rolling mat, roll the mat over the Nori forcing it to roll together.   Applying pressure, squeeze tightly until your sushi roll is compact.  After you have completed this step, put your sushi roll on a cutting board and using a very sharp knife, carefully cut off the excess on both ends.  Place your knife in the center of the roll and cut through.  Then repeat this step again with each section until you have the desired thickness of sushi roll, a little less than an inch.  Garnish with black sesame seeds.
Upon my arrival, Tracy asked me to put this sauce together.  This is a spicy chili sauce based off a recipe by Giada DeLaurentiis.  Including this sauce inside the roll or as a dip to spring rolls was a spicy delight!  This sauce is so good, I would dip pretty much anything in it!  The next day, I made crab cakes with this on the side.  I will warn you that if you can’t take the heat, then this sauce isn’t for you.  Look at the picture.  Now that is spicy hot!
Chili Mayonaise
Ingredients
1/2 C mayonaise
1 T. chili paste, like Sambal Olek
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. fish sauce (optional)
2 t. brown sugar
Preparation
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and blend thoroughly.  Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with a very this slice of lemon in a twist.  Serve with sushi rolls, spring rolls, crab cakes or at a fish fry.
Tracy’s choice of cocktail was a Green Tea Martini.  This is a refreshing mix of tea and citrus flavors which pairs nicely to sushi rolls.
Green Tea Martini
by Tracy Schaaf
Ingredients
6 oz lemon vodka
3 1/2 oz. Gran Marnier or other orange liqueur
7 C water
4 green tea bags
1 can frozen white grape juice concentrate
2 limes, cut into eighths
1 cup fine white sugar
Preparation
Brew tea in teapot.  Add concentrate to tea.  Set aside to cool completely.  By using four tea bags, you will want the tea to be strong.  In a pitcher, combine vodka, gran marnier, and 12 ounces of the tea/juice mixture.  This will leave extra tea/juice for a second batch.  Stir.
Pour the sugar out on to a saucer.  Line the rim of a martini glass with the lime and turn it upside down onto the saucer to coat with the sugar.  Pour the green tea beverage into the glass and garnish with a wedge of lime.  Serve cold. 
Serves six.
Enjoy!
                                                                                           One Cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. – Virgina Woolf
Special thanks to Tracy for the idea and the thoughtful presentation and to my fellow Dinner Club girls. 

Huîtres épicés / Spicy Oysters

Huîtres épicés or Spicy Oysters
In preparation for these blog entries, I did some preliminary research and asked a few people what food they considered romantic.  Their reaction was unanimous.  First a low smile, then silence, then nervousness, then they blurted out the first thing that came into their mind.  I received quite a range of responses, and I plan on sharing them with you this month.
The first answer I received was oysters.  Ahhh, the oyster.  A briny aphrodisiac.  The term, “aphrodisiac” coming from the Greek goddess Aphrodite, was born from the sea in an oyster shell.  Thus the reason shellfish are thought to evoke sexual potentcy.  Interestingly, Roman history tells tales of women who begin to act recklessly when they drank wine and ate oysters.  Maybe there are nutrients in oysters that when consumed, increase the libido.  Whatever the case, oysters were on the list of romantic meals.  Personally I love them, but if you plop a plate of oysters down in front of someone who thinks they are revolting, then your plans for a romantic evening may need a little tweaking. 
Huîtres épicés
Ingredients
8 to 12 Oysters
1/4 C. butter
1/4 t. white pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 C. dry white wine
1 T. hot sauce, such as Sriracha
1/4 C. bread crumbs
1/4 C. shredded or grated parmesan cheese
2 T. chopped parsley (optional)
Directions
Take your oysters and run them under cold water in a clean sink.  Using a quality oyster knife, place the blade in the crack between the two shells and turn the knife popping open the oyster.  Scrape the oyster muscle onto one of the shells and peel the other shell off and discard.  Place the oyster in the half shell on a cookie sheet lined with foil.  Follow this step until all the oysters are shucked.
In a small, microwave safe bowl, add butter and put it in the microwave to melt.  Remove from microwave and add pepper, garlic, white wine, and hot sauce.  Stir to combine.  Taking a spoon, carefully ladle spoonfuls of butter mixture over the oysters.  You may have some butter mixture remaining which can be poured over the top of each right before baking.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top, then follow with the bread crumbs. 
Place cookie sheet in a broiling oven (500 degrees) for about 3 or 4 minutes.  Watch them carefully and remove them when they are golden brown.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley prior to serving.  Enjoy with a side salad and a glass of Viogner.

Fish Chowder

Today it rained and rained and rained.  Where has our summer gone?  The wind is coming up and the leaves are starting to turn. There was one small moment that the rain stopped its noisy downpour this afternoon, but everyone was sleeping so we missed our chance to get out and get some fresh air.  Maybe tomorrow.  All this weather has made me crave a hearty soup with potatoes and celery and a creamy broth. I spent some time crafting this recipe while the snoozers were still snoozing.  When everyone woke up, the whole house was filled with the smell of simmering chowder and hot french bread.
Most of the recipes I researched to make Fish Chowder started off with dicing up about five pieces of bacon, rendering the fat and using it to start your saute of vegetables.  I love bacon, but good lord that would make for an intensley unhealthy soup and isn’t soup supposed to make you feel good?  Lets put some good stuff in it.  For the potatoes, you can use Yukon, yellow, red, white, sweet potatoes, whichever.  Be sure to do your chopping ahead of time which will make your assembly smoother and expect to eat as soon as the soup is complete. Reheating this soup with the previously cooked fish is possible, but it tastes better when eaten immediately.  If you want to make it ahead of time, prepare it right up until you add the fish and refridgerate it.  Reheat the soup to a simmer and start adding the fish from there the day you expect to serve it. The salt content may appear high, but remember you are seasoning 4 cups of potatoes, 10 cups of broth, and this soup feeds eight people.
Fish Chowder
2 swirls of olive oil
2 t. butter
2 yellow onions, chopped 1/2 inch dice
1 1/2 C. celery, chopped on bias
2 t. white pepper
2 t. salt
1 t. thyme
1 bay leaf
4 C. potatoes, diced 3/4 inch
10 C. fish stock, shellfish stock, or chicken broth
1 T. chicken boullion cubes or consumme’
1 thick cod fillet cut in healthy pieces
3/4 C. milk
1/2 C. whipping cream
2 T. chopped parsley
1 T. bacon bits
In large dutch oven, add olive oil and butter over medium high heat.  Once melted, add onions, celery, pepper, salt, thyme and bay leaf and saute about 6 minutes until soft, but not browned.  Add potatoes, stock and boullion and bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer for 12 minutes or until potatoes are done cooking.
While your soup is simmering, add the fish pieces and cover for about 8 minutes.  By this time the fish should be cooked through and perfectly flaky.  Pour in milk and cream and gently stir to combine.  Spoon into soup bowls and garnish with chopped parsley and bacon bits.
Enjoy it with a loaf of warmed french bread.

Spicy Fish Tacos

 Spicy Fish Tacos

Earlier this year I participated in a pedometer game at work.  The goal was to get people moving and focus on health and wellness. There were several groups of ten employees each trying to log as many steps as they could in a day.   The game lasted six weeks.  Although my team mates were active, I would not say that most of them were “athletic”.  Where they lacked in physical fitness, they certainly made up in competitiveness.  What you should know is that despite my being new to the game, most of them have been participating for the last two or three years and were tired of finishing in second place.  They wanted to win.  They wanted to be number one.  They wanted it bad. 

The pressure was on.  There was a strategy from the start.  No matter what you did, you better log 12,500 steps in a day or higher.  This was genius.  We were off and running.  We walked on breaks and lunches, committed to walking meetings, and walked in place when at the copy machine or while waiting for meetings to start.  We shamed those who took the elevator and who failed to make it to 12,500 steps in a day.  I admit running up and down my street and around my house at night just so I wouldn’t let anyone down.  It was a lot of work and it was worth it.  We came in first place this year.
My participation in this game was great for me.  We had commeraderie and showed commitment to each other.  When someone was not able to make their steps, others put forth extra effort to cover them by making up the difference.  We had each other’s backs and we were not going to fail.  In order to ‘compete’, we had to be able to perform and that meant taking care of ourselves in order to be successful and win the game.  Think about that for a moment.  Don’t you have commitments to your family to be well and take care of yourself for their sake and that of others?  This thought forced me to focus on my personal health and wellness.  Maybe it was time to make some changes to what I was putting in my body.  After all, there are people relying on me to be at my best.
This recipe is healthy and good at the same time.  I actually made up this recipe in a moment of despair.  I needed something healthy that wasn’t going to take forever to make and would be impressive enough to serve guests.  It actually was a smashing success.  I can’t say they all turn out this way, but this was a hit.  I’ve made it over and over with repeated success.  On your marks, get set, GO!
Spicy Fish Tacos
1 fillet of cod or halibut, skin removed
1 t. chile powder
1 t. cumin
1 t. onion powder
1/2 t. salt
3 T olive oil
juice of one lime
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Remove fish from wrapper and rinse in cold water.  Lay flat and pat dry with paper towel.  Place fish on foil lined prepared baking sheet.  Set aside and make rub.  In a small bowl, combine chile powder, cumin, onion powder and salt.  Drizzle olive oil over fish and massage in the dry rub mixture.  Make sure to cover both sides of fish.  Bake for about 10 minutes depending on size of fillet and watch closely to not over bake.
Remove from oven and let it rest for five minutes.  Using spatula, break up into healthy sections and place in decorative dish.  Drizzle lime juice and remaining sauce over the top. Serve in taco shells with thinly sliced red cabbage, chopped tomato, chopped red onion, avocado and chipotle sour cream*.
*Chipotle Sour Cream
1 tub of sour cream
1 or 2 canned chipotle chilis, chopped
Blend these two ingredients until combined.  Serve in decorative dish.
Delicious!

Environmental pictures by Shane Boyd, 2010

Roasted Oysters with OMG! Butter

Roasted Oysters with OMG! Butter
These oysters were the first meal of the first night of our vacation in Chelan, Washington.  It couldn’t have started off better.  It was about 93 degrees.  The sun was setting.  Cold beer was in hand and my brother in law was running the barby.  Perfect.
A couple weeks prior to our vacation, my sister and I were menu planning.  I suggested oysters on the half shell and she whipped up the butter!   The best flavors in a butter were blended together and the underlying heat really made them pop!  This is one recipe your guests will be talking about and it usually starts with OMG!
OMG! Butter
1 stick of butter, salted
5 green onions, snipped or chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 t. prepared hot sauce
Bring a cube of butter to room temperature.  In a medium mixing bowl, add softened butter.  Take kitchen shears and snip green onions (and onion white) into mixing bowl.  Add minced garlic and hot sauce and blend with rubber spatula folding together until well blended.  Seal in a container and refridgerate overnight for flavors to marry.  Be sure to bring butter to room temperature prior to serving.
Preparing Oysters
12 to 15 oysters
Prepare charcoal barbeque with briquettes until coals gleam and charcoals are grey.  Using tongs, place oysters on grill for about 8 to 10 minutes until shells pop open slightly.  Remove from grill onto cookie sheet.  Remove top shell so oysters are on the half shell.  Using a butter knife, spread dollup of prepared butter onto each oyster half shell.  Serve hot.
Enjoy!
Tip!  For your hot sauce, your result will taste better if you use a hot sauce that does not include a lot of vinegar.  I used Tapatio.  For example, regular Tobasco sauce will not do.  If you are spending the money on shrimp, go ahead and do it right.
Tip! You can modify this recipe for a crowd by doubling the recipe and barbequing more shrimp.  I suggest 6 jumbo shrimps for an entree.

Recipe by Tiffany Turner

Summer Clam Bake!

Enjoy a Fourth of July Clam Bake!

Whether you are cruising the islands or having a home barbeque in honor of our nations independence, consider a good old fashioned Clam Bake!    The clam bake comes to our shores from our ancestors and the art of clam baking is about as old as America itself.  Today, we host clam bakes to gather the family and celebrate holidays, birthdays, births, anniversaries, wakes and also corporate parties or events. Traditionally, clam bakes are usually done New England Style, on the beach in a pit lined with stones and seaweed.  This process usually becomes an all day event where the guests show up in enough time for a cocktail prior to the meal.
Picture Courtesy David Williams, 2010.
You won’t believe how easy this is.  All you need is fresh clams and a few other ingredients.   If you want to bring your celebration up to the next level, invite some fresh dungeoness crab, lobster, baby red potatoes, corn on the cob and sausage to the party and I promise it’ll be a good time.  This platter of seasonal bounty is not only a sight to behold, but if you are in love with food like I am, you won’t mind spending a little extra to satisfy your indulgence and prepare a meal your guests will be talking for months!  So go get a cold beverage and let’s get down to planning this mouth-watering event!
Tip!  You can get clams individually or by the bag.  Whatever the case, resist the urge to wrap them up tight on your way home.  They need to breath since they are living shellfish.  When you get them home, place them in a pot of very cold salted water (about 1 teaspoon salt to 2 quarts water) and put the pot in the refridgerator for no longer than 24 hours.  I put them in the pot I plan on cooking them in because it makes clean up a snap.
Now for your grocery list.  You are going to want to pay attention to ingredients and theme.  Also keep in mind how you want to serve this dish and what your table top will look like.  For summer, I would suggest a checkered tablecloth or newspapers.  You can use shells or arrange a center piece or driftwood and white votives.  Now, how pretty would that be?  Your decore really depends on the style of your clam bake.  When you do your shopping, remember to select a few different bottles of wine for the event.  May I suggest something along the lines of a crisp Pinot Gris or Savignon Blanc.  Being that this is a clam bake and has the potential to be a little messy, be sure to provide a bowl for shells and lots of napkins!
The Grocery List
1 C. butter (2 sticks)
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 lemons, sliced into wedges
1 t. dried basil
4 stems of oregano
1 lb. lobster(s)
2 bay leaves
6 stems of thyme
2 bottles of beer
4 C. water
4 stalks of celery
2 large yellow onions, quartered
1 T. black peppercorns
12 baby red potatoes, halved
3 ears of corn, husked and halved 
45 – 50 fresh butter clams
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper
The Essential Garlic Butter:  Prepare herb and garlic butter ahead of time and store in refridgerator until ready to use. Directions:  add butter, garlic, oregano and basil to a microwave safe bowl and place under medium heat until completely melted. Stir gently. Serve in ramekins along side dinner plates.
Cooking Your Delicious Clam Bake:  You will need at least an 18 quart pot.  You can do this with smaller pots, but you will have to adjust the ingredients in the recipe so they will all fit once assembled.   Add the two beers and 4 cups of water to pot.  Add bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns to liquid.  Place over high heat.  If you dont wish to have your house smelling like a clam bake, then use a barbeque outside, but check the heat regularly.  Once you have a boil, add the lobster head first, cover pot and cook until the lobster is bright red, about 8 minutes.  Remove lobster from pot and set aside.  Can you believe people actually forget to remove the little lobster handcuffs, or bands that hold the pincers?  Please remember to remove these.  And don’t feel bad for the lobster.  The alternative to imminent death by boiling is to choose lethal injection, hanging or, in some states, firing squad.  Boiling is the preferred method here, but it sure leads one to wonder if maybe we should hold a vote and add ‘boiling’ to the list when one is sentenced to death.  Headfirst.  Add potatoes and onions to pot.  Make sure cooking liquid covers vegetables.  If you have too much liquid, ladle some out and set aside.  If you need more, add some water.  Cover pot and bring the liquid to a boil.  Cook vegetables for about 10 minutes.  Layer sausage and ears of corn on top, cook 10 more minutes.  Add clams on top of sausage and corn and then add the lobster on top of the clams.  Please check your cooking liquid to make sure you have at least 1/4 pot of liquid.  Steam clams for 10 minutes or until shells open.  When cooking is complete, transfer lobster to a surface shell side down and using a large knife, pierce the center of the tail lengthwise to tail and crack open to remove the meat.  Using a large slotted spoon, carefully remove contents from the pot onto a decorative serving platter. You can also drain the liquid and dump out onto a table over newspapers and let your guests dig in if that is more your speed. Be sure to sprinkle with chopped parsley, salt and pepper.  Don’t forget the garlic butter!  Garnish with lemon wedges.
Picture Courtesy Jolene Hansen 2009
Shellfish pictures courtesy Shane Boyd 2010 
Cheers!