Aguachile de Camarón

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Photo By Chelsea Kyle

It seems like every appetizer served at parties, large or small, is forbidden to those who follow the low carb lifestyles touted by the Keto, Paleo and Atkins diets, but who has the time, or patience, to spend making some of the recipes for snacks that are allowed?

I went to a couple of my favorite “regular recipe” resources, Epicurious.com and Emeril’s on Planet Green, to see if there were any easy snack recipes that were low carb friendly and was pleasantly surprised! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Aguachile de Camarón

  • 2 Quarts Water
  • 2 TBLS Kosher Salt
  • 1 Pound Fresh Jumbo Shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 English Cucumber, peeled
  • 1 Cup Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Cold Water
  • 2 to 3 Fresh Serrano Chiles, sliced
  • 1 TBLS Chopped Fresh Parsley
  1. Combine 2 quarts water and 2 TBLS cup salt in a large saucepan; bring to a boil.
  2. Butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tail intact.
  3. Add shrimp and immediately turn off the heat.
  4. Let the shrimp sit until just cooked through, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Place shrimp in colander, run under cold water to stop the cooking, then drain.
  6. In a blender, combine the lime juice, olive oil, chiles, and 1/4 cup of cold water. Process until smooth then season to taste with salt.
  7. In a non-reactive bowl combine the shrimp with the dressing.  Cover and put into the refrigerator for 1 hour. (Can be made up to 4 hours before serving)
  8. Cut the cucumber into thin rectangular slices, about 3 inches long, and divide among 4 small plates.
  9. Arrange the shrimp on top of the cucumber slices, season as needed, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve immediately.

**Non-Reactive Bowl:  Stainless-steel, enamel-coated or glass—is necessary when cooking with acidic foods, such as lemon, to prevent the food from reacting with the pan.  Reactive pans, such as aluminum and cast-iron, can impart an off color and/or off flavor

Salami Crisps (Epicurious)Salami-Crisps

  • 1/4 Pound (very thinly sliced) Genoa Salami, Soppressata, Pepperoni, Pancetta, Jamón Ibérico, Finocchiona, Coppa, or other charcuterie type dry cured meat
  • Cracked Black Pepper (if using an unspiced meat)
  • Parmesan Cheese (if desired)
  1. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Arrange salami slices in 1 layer on 2 large baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  3. If using Parmesan Cheese, sprinkle slices lightly.
  4. Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are crisp and beginning to curl, 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. Transfer slices to a rack to cool. (They will crisp as they cool.)

Serving Suggestion:  Small slices of cheese, olive oil marinated feta, or some herbs mixed into cream cheese are all Keto-friendly and would be good served with these crisps.

Amaretto Poached Peaches

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PHOTO: Chelsea Kyle, PROP STYLING: Alex Brannian, FOOD STYLING: Dawn Perry

I’m planning a weekend dinner party and love having a make ahead dessert that allows me to spend as little time during the party in the kitchen as possible.  Considering that it’s peak peach season, and very few people have a strong aversion for them, I’d consider it  prime time to dig into my favorite peach recipes at www.californiagirlsgonewine.

This one is fast, can be made ahead, and only tastes better the longer it sits before being reheated!  The very best thing about this recipe is you have two choices when you make it:  Hands on by cooking it on the stove top or hands off by cooking it in the slow cooker!  For what it’s worth, I prefer the more focused control over the end product that comes from using the stove top method.

Amaretto Poached Peaches

  • 6 peaches (about 3 pounds), pitted, thinly sliced
  • 4 strips lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 3/4 cup Amaretto
  • 1/4 cup + 1 TBLS honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, torn if large
  • 2 tsp cornstarch + 2 tsp cold water OR 3 tsp arrowroot + 2 tsp cold water
  • Vanilla bean ice cream (for serving)

For Stove Top:

  1. Rinse and dry your basil leaves and peaches, and scrub the skin of your lemon thoroughly before you start your recipe.
  2. Heat peaches, lemon zest, amaretto, honey, salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and 1 cup hot water in a medium pot over medium heat until simmering.
  3. Reduce heat to low and cook until peaches are tender, about 25 minutes.
  4. Cover and remove from heat until 15 minutes before you are ready to serve.
  5. 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, scoop ice cream into serving bowls and place bowls into freezer.
  6. Mix cornstarch OR arrowroot with the cold water until a thin paste forms.
  7. Return peach mixture just to a boil.
  8. Stir cornstarch or arrowroot paste into peach mixture until sauce starts to thicken then remove from heat.
  9. Spoon peach mixture over the ice cream and add a full basil leaf or two. Serve immediately.

For Slow Cooker:

  1. Rinse and dry your basil leaves and peaches, and scrub the skin of your lemon thoroughly before you start your recipe.
  2. Toss peaches, lemon zest, amaretto, honey, salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and 1 cup hot water in slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on high until peaches are tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour.
  4. Mix cornstarch OR arrowroot with the cold water until a thin paste forms.
  5. Stir cornstarch or arrowroot paste into peach mixture until sauce starts to thicken then turn slow cooker off.
  6. 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, scoop ice cream into serving bowls and place bowls into freezer.
  7. Spoon peach mixture over the ice cream and add a full basil leaf or two. Serve immediately.

**Tip  You can save yourself time during your dinner party by scooping your ice cream into your serving bowls and putting them into your freezer before the party starts.  #GirlsGoneWine

Note that I made a few changes & notes to the original linked recipe:

  • They didn’t specify whether to peel the peaches or not, but the photo shows unpeeled peaches;
  • The Amaretto (almond liqueur) you use matters to the amount you use.  If you ci-disaronno-originale-amaretto-02f22ebe37e1d171are using Amaretto Disaronno use the amount shown in the recipe.  If you are using another brand you may want to slightly reduce the amount as some tend to have a more pronounced almond flavor.  Adjust according to your taste;
  • I found the recipe to be “too saucy” and the sauce to be too thin the first time I made it so I made 2 changes: I increased the peaches from 4 to 6 and added a thickening agent to the sauce (cornstarch or arrowroot).  In this case, use cornstarch or arrowroot to maintain your shiny sauce;
  • I read the reviews of the original recipe, on www.epicurious.com, and agreed that it needed just a touch more honey, so I added an additional tablespoon; and
  • I added 1/4 tsp cinnamon to compliment the peaches, and tame the spice of the red peppers and the peppery basil.

This recipe served 8 and was a definite crowd pleaser!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Seared Scallops with Pan Sauce

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Scallops are one of the most delicious seafood dishes when prepared properly.

In a November 2016 posting, Mark Bittman of epicurious.com shared some of his tips and tricks for making a foolproof seared scallop dinner.   This #FastAndEasy recipe will make anyone you’re serving them to think you slaved all day!

Seared Scallops with Pan Sauce (Serves 4)

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or water, or more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  1. Cut 2 tablespoons of the butter into pea-sized pieces, put it on a small plate, and stick it in the freezer. Heat a large skillet over medium-heat high for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the olive oil and wait for the butter to melt.
  2. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels, add them to the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper; work in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the skillet. Cook, turning once, until they are well browned on both sides but not quite cooked through, 2 minutes per side (less if the scallops are under 1 inch across; more if they’re over). Transfer the scallops to a plate.
  3. Stir in the garlic, lemon juice, and wine and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet with a spatula. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the liquid in the skillet thickens, a minute or two, then whisk in the butter you chilled in the freezer, one bit at a time, to make a creamy sauce, adding another tablespoon or two of liquid if necessary.
  4. Return the scallops to the skillet and add the chives. Adjust the heat so the sauce bubbles gently and toss to coat the scallops with the sauce. To serve, transfer the scallops to a platter and spoon the sauce over all.

Variation:

  1. Seared Scallops With Cherry Tomatoes and Basil: Skip the lemon juice. Cut 1 pint cherry tomatoes in half. Add the tomatoes with the garlic and wine and cook until they wrinkle a bit and release their juice, 2 or 3 minutes. Use chopped fresh basil leaves instead of chives.

Cooks’ Notes

  1. Releasing From The Pan: The scallops will offer no resistance when they’re ready to turn. Press down gently while the scallops cook to encourage full contact with the pan, then listen for a hiss: That’s moisture heating and evaporating.
  2. Getting A Good Sear: The idea is to brown the scallops well on both sides without overcooking them, so keep the heat as high as you can without creating too much smoke.
  3. Building Sauce With Butter: After you add the liquid and deglaze the pan, the addition of butter develops fantastic creaminess and richness.
  4. Finishing The Dish: As soon as the scallops are cooked through completely and coated with the sauce, remove the pan from the heat; they will continue to cook. Nick-and-peek into one if you need to check for doneness.
Tips**
  • Make sure you pat the scallops dry with a paper towel.  Only a dry scallop will sear properly.  A perfectly seared scallop should be nicely browned on the outside and buttery in the middle.
  • A paring knife should slide in and out with almost no resistance, but as always, the best way to check it is to make a small slice into one and look (or taste).   The inside should remain translucent.   High-quality scallops are delicious raw and tend to dry out quickly: It’s better to undercook than overcook.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Some Beef Should Be Cooked Longer

Grilling_Steaks_(with_border)I saw an interesting article on www.epicurious.com, one of my favorite recipe and food information sites, this morning and it raised some points I hadn’t thought of before concerning the degree of wellness that’s best for each cut of meat.

When we go out for a steak dinner my husband is an automatic medium-rare guy and I’m a firm believer that my meat shouldn’t walk itself to the table or be so bloody that it’s still cold inside, so my go-to temperature request is medium.

Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, owners of Ox Restaurant in Portland, OR, give great reasons for venturing beyond medium-rare (130° F) on these specific cuts:

  • With tougher cuts like hangar, tri-tip, flank, flap steak, and skirt steak, “you need to allow time for the fibers to relax.” Any steak on which you can see the grain of the meat running down its length is at its optimal level of tenderness and juiciness when cooked to medium (140°F).
  • For short ribs, cook to medium to medium-well (140ºF to 150ºF) because “the connective tissues and marbling need time to render, so they’re best grilled over low heat for a long period of time.” This cut, which is often braised, has a lot of fat, so it can stand up to the higher level of doneness. Plus, Gabrielle says, “the tendons get crispy and satisfyingly chewy,” when cooked this way.

For purposes of safety and less chance of getting any type of food borne illness, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) recommends steaks and roasts be cooked to 145°F (medium) and then rested for at least 3 minutes. The USDA also recommends that ground beef should be cooked to a minimum 160°F (well done) and that temperatures should be checked with a thermometer.  Don’t rely solely on color as some meats don’t change a whole lot.

I would imagine the people at Certified Angus Beef  would be the ultimate experts on the ideal degree of wellness for beef.  They recommend:

  1. Inserting your thermometer through the side of your meat, with the tip in the center of the cut, not touching any bone or fat.
  2. Removing steaks and burgers from the heat when the thermometer registers 5°F lower than the desired doneness, and roasts 5-10°F lower, as the temperature will continue to rise while resting.

I see where I am screwing up!  I often overcook my husband’s steaks because I do rely on the color and/or wait for the thermometer to reach the exact wellness mark.  I’m changing my ways today. 😉

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