Ultimate Shrimp & Grits

I’ll never be able to do enough cardio to exercise off the deep love I have for the food of my Daddy’s Alabama family.  Shrimp & Grits are, by far, the one dish I can never say no to, as my jeans will attest…

This Food Network recipe from Tyler Florence tabs itself the “Ultimate” and I have to say, he’s not just tooting his own horn.  This dish is pretty damn good & it satisfies my 3 recipe musts:

  • Must be quick
  • Must have ingredients that are easy to find
  • Must not require culinary school skills to make!


Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Shrimp & Grits

  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Place a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the milk and cream. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. When the grits begin to bubble, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Allow to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, thin it out with a little extra cream. Season with salt and pepper.

  • 2 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped (1 tsp pre-chopped in the jar)
  • 1 pound Andouille, or spicy Italian sausage, cut in chunks
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 to 3 bay leaves
  • 2 pounds raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
  • pinch cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 TBLS finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 4 green onions, sliced

Place a deep skillet over medium heat and coat with the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic; saute for 2 minutes to soften. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until there is a fair amount of fat in the pan and the sausage is brown. Sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to create a roux. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and continue to stir to avoid lumps. Toss in the bay leaves. When the liquid comes to a simmer, add the shrimp. Poach the shrimp in the stock for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are firm and pink and the gravy is smooth and thick. Add the cayenne pepper, Tabasco and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper; stir in the parsley and green onion. Spoon the grits into a serving bowl. Add the shrimp mixture and mix well. Serve immediately with crusty bread and ice cold beer. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafer Crumble

This isn’t your grandma’s banana pudding and it certainly isn’t the “off the back of the Nilla Wafer box” banana pudding recipe either!  Thumbing through the pages of the October 2009 Food & Wine Magazine, I found this different, may I even say elegant, spin on a truly classic Southern comfort food!

vanillapudding

Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafer Crumble

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons banana liqueur (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter plus 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vanilla wafer cookies (about 15), coarsely ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 bananas, coarsely chopped
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 325°.
  2. In a bowl, combine the wafers, cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of sugar and a pinch of salt.
  3. Stir in the melted butter.
  4. Spread the crumble on the prepared baking sheet; bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool.
  5. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the cornstarch, the 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  6. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.
  7. Gradually whisk the milk into the egg yolks until smooth.
  8. Transfer the pudding mixture to the saucepan and add the banana liqueur.
  9. Cook over moderate heat, whisking, until the pudding is thick, about 3 minutes.
  10. Scrape the pudding into a bowl and whisk in the cold butter and vanilla.
  11. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 4 hours.
  12. Spoon the chopped bananas into bowls.
  13. Top with the pudding, sprinkle with the crumble and serve right away.

Yum! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

Lowcountry Shrimp & Grits

I am a Southern girl at heart.  My dad’s family is from Alabama and just about everything I love leans that direction, food & otherwise.  If you want to make this girl smile, the word “grits” is one sure way to do it!

Lowcountry shrimp and grits

Shrimp and Grits is a tried and true dish that is hard to screw up as long as you remember a few simple things:

  1. Your shrimp should be firm and unblemished with no fishy odors;
  2. Keep your shrimp chilled in their shells until just before they hit the pan;
  3. NEVER use instant grits – the real thing take only a few more minutes to boil and the end result makes all the difference to your dish;
  4. Grits love salt, pepper, and butter, so season them well;
  5. Make sure the grits are ready to serve and that all of the ingredients are prepped and ready to go before you start the shrimp topping, which takes only 3 minutes from start to finish.

This recipe is from Hominy Grill in Charleston, South Carolina and was featured in an article in Coastal Living Magazine.

CHEESE GRITS

  • 4 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup stoneground grits
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, or to taste

SHRIMP

  • 3 bacon strips, chopped
  • Peanut oil, as needed
  • 1 pound extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 ounces sliced mushroom (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, plus more for garnish

Prepare the Grits: Bring 4 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Whisk in the grits and salt, reduce heat to low, and cook at a gently simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until the grits are thick, stirring occasionally. Stir more often as the grits thicken. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cheddar, Parmesan, butter, pepper, and Tabasco, and stir until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Keep warm over very low heat.

Shrimp: In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon for 6 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Transfer with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels and leave the fat in the skillet. If there is less than 1 1/2 tablespoons of bacon fat, make up the difference with peanut oil.

Toss the shrimp with the flour until lightly coated, shaking off any excess. In the skillet with the reserved fat, cook the shrimp over medium-high heat for 1 minute or until they begin to turn pink. Add the mushrooms and bacon and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds (do not let the garlic brown). Stir in the hot sauce, lemon juice, and scallions and remove from the heat. Divide the grits among 4 shallow bowls and top with the shrimp mixture. Garnish with additional scallions and serve at once.

Serve alongside an ice cold beer and with some crusty bread! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

Pressure Cooker Baked Beans

I love baked beans but hate all of the preservatives and calories from the sugar that come with the store bought canned varieties.  This 4th of July I decided to try my hand at making my own.

I learned a few things by doing so:

  • Even though you can put the dried beans right into the pressure cooker and shorten the prep time, DON’T SKIP SOAKING THE BEANS.
  • Soaking the beans removes most of the indigestible sugars (which can cause gas) and re-hydrates the beans evenly so they are as plump and beautiful as they were when they were fresh.  Pre-soaking the beans also allows the skins to be receptive to absorbing the flavors of the other ingredients.
  • Use as many unprocessed ingredients as possible

Pressure Cooker Baked Beans

  • 1 pound dried Navy (White Northern) beans
  • 1/2 pound thick cut (from the butcher if you can) uncured smoked bacon (no nitrates or nitrites) – cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped (or 1+1/2 tsp jarred chopped garlic)
  • 1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 TBLS Bourbon (I use Maker’s 46)
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 TBLS corn starch
  • 2 TBLS cold water

Rinse dry beans in cold water in a colander, removing any debris.  Soak beans using either 1) the Overnight Soak Method (8-12 hours in a bowl or pot of cold water covered with a lid) or 2) following the Pressure Cooker Quick Soak Method:

  • Put the beans in the pressure cooker. For each cup of rinsed beans, add four cups of Degas-Cook-Soak-Beans-Coverwater
  • Add a teaspoon of olive oil (this keeps the foam down)
  • Bring the contents to a boil with the lid open using the BROWN setting
  • Quickly close and lock the pressure cooker lid and pressure cook for 15 minutes at high pressure
  • Open the pressure cooker using a Slow Normal release – open the valve very slowly
  • Drain and rinse the beans under cold running water

Prepare the sauce base:

  1. Using BROWN setting – cook onions until translucent (about 5 minutes)
  2. Add garlic and bacon and cook until bacon is almost crispy
  3. Stir in brown sugar, and then the bourbon, scraping up all the brown, crispy bits from the bottom
  4. Add the chicken broth, mustard, molasses, maple syrup, ketchup, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until well combined
  5. Return beans to the pressure cooker and close lid
  6. Set to High pressure and cook for 90 minutes
  7. Once cooking is complete, allow 10 minutes for the pressure to return to normal naturally, then release the remaining pressure and open the lid
  8. Turn pressure cooker to Brown setting.
  9. In a small dish combine the water and cornstarch.
  10. Stir the mixture into the beans and cook until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency.
  11. Remove from the pressure cooker to a serving dish and enjoy!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

*** Vegetarian Option:  If you want to make these vegetarian, don’t add the bacon.

Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Gnocchi

creamymushroomspinachgnocciThis recipe is #FastFillingandFlavorful which makes it a perfect weeknight choice.

This dish serves 4-6 and will pair well with a dry white wine like this 93 Point $16, 2015 Casablanca Valley Arboleda Chardonnay from Chile or this 90 Point $22, 2017 La Marea Kristy Vineyard Albariño out of Monterey County on the Central Coast of California.  Open one of these bottles of wine, add a crisp green salad and you’ve got an elegant #MidWeekFeast.

Spinach & Mushroom Gnocchi with Creamy Parmesan White Wine Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 12 ounces portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 dashes Italian seasoning
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
  • 1 pound uncooked potato gnocchi
  • 1 generous handful baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, to taste
  1. Add the olive oil to a skillet on medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned.
  2. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the Dijon mustard and white wine. Let it cook for a minute or so.
  4. Add the cream and gnocchi. Wait until the sauce just starts to boil again, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the spinach, cover the pan again, and cook for 3 minutes.
  6. You can add a chopped up cooked chicken breast to this when you are adding the spinach into the sauce if you want to add meat.
  7. Stir in the Parmesan and season with salt & pepper. Give it a taste; gnocchi should be soft. If not, continue to cook for another few minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately with more Parmesan cheese grated over top if desired.

For weeknight cooking I am always looking for recipes that combine three criteria:

  1. No exotic or expensive ingredients I have to search high and low for
  2. Ready in thirty minutes or less
  3. Can be made with meat or without

This recipe fit all of these plus two others that make it a winner in my book:

  1. When a main dish recipe can be doubled so it can be a side dish or a lunch later in the week
  2. When one of the ingredients is wine or the finished product naturally pairs with wine #GirlsGoneWine approved! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Tart & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

It’s finally cool enough in California, at least once the sun goes down, to justify getting the stock pot out to make a hearty soup that can serve as dinner with a big salad & crusty bread that can then live on as a couple of workday lunches too!  Great for the wallet AND the waistline!  This soup is so rich, and has such depth of flavor, that it seems like a cheat meal, which is a plus during the non-stop holiday feast season.

Tart & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1  –  2 to 2+1/2 lb Butternut Squash (Peeled/Seeded/Chopped into about 1″ Cubes)
  • 1  –  Large Granny Smith Apple (Cut into about 1″ Pieces – seeds/core/stem removed)
  • 3  –  Large Ribs Celery Chopped
  • 3  –  Carrots (Peeled/Chopped into about 1″ Pieces)
  • 1  –  Medium Yellow Onion (Peeled/Chopped into about 1″ Pieces)
  • 4  –  TBLS Butter
  • 1  –  32 oz Container Organic Chicken Stock
  • 1+1/2 Cups Water
  • Freshly Grated Sea Salt (To Taste)
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper (To Taste)
  • Freshly Ground Nutmeg (1/4 tsp)
  • Cinnamon (1/2 to 1 tsp)
  • Cayenne Pepper (Pinch to 1/8th tsp)
  • Chopped Parsley (if desired)

Melt the butter in a medium stockpot and add the onions, carrot and celery.  Sauté over low heat about 10 minutes.  When onions just start to brown, add the squash, apple, salt, pepper, chicken stock and water.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring just to a boil.  When bubbles appear at the edges of the pan, reduce heat to low.  Cover pan tightly and simmer soup for 45 minutes until squash is completely softened.

Remove soup from heat and either process soup until smooth using your blender (I use my Vitamix) and returning to the pan after processed or an immersion blender as shown in the video.

Once soup is smooth, add the Nutmeg, Cinnamon and Cayenne.  Adjust spices to taste.

I came across a video that uses the same technique I use to make my soup, with slightly different measurements, and it’s much prettier, so I’ll give the standard #ShoutOut and #HighFive to Simply Recipes for producing a great (and quick) video that I can also use to demonstrate how to assemble my soup!

I’ve already been remiss at keeping up with my blog, so not having to produce a video is a definite bonus! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Cook Your Meat Perfectly With Science

cowchart

I love beef of nearly any cut, but I can’t stand it if it’s overcooked! I saw a headline for a way to cook it to a perfect degree of doneness every time and clicked on it immediately.  I did get struck by the giggles at the name of the not-so-new online cooking tool created by three girls at MIT in 2013: Cook My Meat.

Come on, COOK MY MEAT?  It doesn’t give your inner 12 year old the giggles?

Alright, I’ll revert to my adult self.

  • #CookMyMeat was created by Kate Roe, Laura Breiman, and Marissa Stephens, students at MIT in 2013.
  • You fill in the cut of your meat, the temperature you’ll be cooking it at, then you’re shown an approximation of how your meat will turn out: red, pink or well-done/overcooked

cook-my-meat1

You can even compare two different cooking methods and get a side by side result of how the steaks (or turkey or tuna steak) will turn out: 

  • Flip every 4 minutes
  • Flip every 15 seconds
  • Sear then cook low
  • Sous Vide then Liquid Nitrogen
  • Enter your own parameters

cookmymeat2

On_Food_And_Cooking_UScoverThe girls developed the tool by calculating heat diffusion in the meat at each time step with the Crank-Nicolson method, using On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen as a guidepost for protein denaturaization temperatures.

The book, published in 1984, has been described by Alton Brown as “the Rosetta stone of the culinary world.”

I just wanted something simple to tell me how long to cook my steak so it comes out a bit more than medium-rare but not all the way to medium in that almost warm pink state.  This is a bit high tech and too much science, so I’ll be sticking to my instant read thermometer and my trusty steak knife & mag-light in the dark to make sure it’s not overcooked.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood