Filed under: Main Course
Picture this: me at the checkout getting craft supplies for a Girl Scout meeting
Older cashier who always remembers me: Baby? (Pointing army belly)
cashier: oh, I thought I saw a….(uncomfortable silence)
Me: grabs purchases and leaves store, leaving behind some of my pride.
But alas, that nice Cashier’s hadn’t fully deceived him. He had seen a baby. A food baby.
Yes I’ve been in denial that the black leggings and leggings were simply a fashion choice, nothing more. It’s not that my jeans were getting a little tight (I’m still blaming the Spanish dryer for that) or I just enjoy a baggy sweater now and then. Nope, I’m carrying a serious food baby. A food baby that will need to be birthed. After the holidays. After I’ve eaten Mac and cheese for three straight meals in three varieties. After.
So until then you can find me eating Mac and cheese for breakfast, wearing boots, black leggings, leg Warner’s and that cozy and forgiving sweater because after all the best fashions are both stylish and functional. And leave room for food babies.
Filed under: Chicken, Salads | Tags: Caesar Salad, Chicken, Crouton, Salad
When I made my blackening spice blend I had this salad in mind. I wanted to make a light and healthy salad for dinner that was still tasty and satisfying. While one might think that I was doing this because it’s just after the New Year when everyone has a diet resolution, but that’s not the case. I don’t do resolutions, remember?
I wanted a light salad for dinner because my husband and I had plans to go to Friday brunch (without the kids.) While brunch may seem like no big deal, it is a big to-do here. There is a list of things you must see or do while in Bahrain: Visit the Tree of Life (we’ve tried four times but have yet to find it,) go to the souq, see the historical forts, and do brunch.
All of the hotels and many restaurants host a Friday brunch, but it isn’t what I would really consider brunch to be. Every brunch here starts after 12:30, there are no breakfast foods and it’s an all-you-can-eat-and-drink smorgasbord. My husband and I ended up deciding on Muju for their jazz brunch. And although there were no eggs or pancakes to be found, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The drinks were flowing and the desserts were amazing. To be honest, their food wasn’t the best, but it did have a phenomenal view to make up for it.
With hindsight being 20/20, I can definitely say that this salad was the perfect light week night meal before a weekend of indulgence 🙂
Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¼ cup blackening seasoning
1 loaf of French bread (stale bread is best)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
½ tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
11/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
Parmesan cheese for serving
Divide the seasoning among the chicken breasts and rub in. Set aside.
To make the croutons: cut the French bread into cubes. Toss with olive oil, salt and garlic powder and toast in a 400 degree oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Croutons can be made one day a head of time and stored in an airtight container.
Heat a vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the chicken breasts 5 minutes per side or until the outside is browned and it is cooked through.
While the chicken is cooking, combine the anchovy paste, garlic cloves, lemon juice,Dijon, and Worchershire sauce in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the EVOO.
To assemble the salad, toss dressing with the lettuce top with croutons and parmesan cheese. Serve the warm chicken on the side.
Filed under: Main Course, Pasta & Rice | Tags: Pasta, Ravioli, Tomato sauce
My husband and I are old fuddy duddies. We prefer to stay in on New Years Eve, put the kids to bed, make a nice meal and try desperately to stay up until midnight. This year, we decided to have another cook-off to bring in the New Year and the challenge was pasta. My husband thinks he makes the best spaghetti around, and I will admit it is good, but he cheats. He uses premade meatballs, jarred pasta sauce and dried noodles (sorry to give away your secrets honey, but it’s true.) I thought I wanted to do ravioli and since he says he hates ravioli (not true) I knew the only way to get him to admit that my pasta was better was to make everything from scratch.
As always, his dish did turn out pretty good (see honey, I can give credit where credit is due) but mine was better. I mean, I did make everything from scratch. But I realized the recipe for the dough made a lot of raviolis and I knew I wasn’t going to eat them all that night-after all I had no chance to stay up to midnight if I was totally stuffed. So I froze half of the batch just to see if it was any good.
Well it worked. A few nights later I wanted something quick to make, filled with carbs and loaded with cheese and this hit the spot. Fresh pasta only takes a few minutes to cook, and even freezing the fresh stuff only added about another 30 seconds to the cooking time. I actually really loved this, because after all the prep work was done, fresh pasta on the table in less than 15 minutes is a winner in my book-plus it just looked so pretty!
Spinach Ravioli Stuffed with Four Cheeses
1 bunch of fresh spinach, finely chopped (in the end, I probably had about 2 tablespoons after I chopped it all down)
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
½ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup shredded Italian cheese blend (I used parmesan, Asiago, Romano)
2-3 basil leaves, finely chopped
Tomato sauce for serving (I added some ground beef because I knew my husband wouldn’t “like” it without meat)
Combine the first seven ingredients in a food processor. Process until dough just forms into a ball.
Knead dough on a lightly floured surface, until smooth and elastic, 6 to 8 minutes, adding more flour if needed to keep it from sticking. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.
While the dough is resting, combine the cheeses, egg, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
Follow directions on your pasta roller to roll out sheets of dough for ravioli. I used my Kitchen Aid pasta roller attachment and found that the fourth setting was the perfect thickness for the ravioli.
With your sheet of pasta dough laid out on a floured surface, place a teaspoon of filling across the dough, a few inches apart. Use a pastry brush to brush the other half of the dough with water and fold over the filling. Press around the filling to seal the edges. Using a ravioli cutter cut out the ravioli and place on a lined baking sheet.
At this point, you can freeze the ravioli for 30 minutes on the baking sheet or until it’s set, then place them in an airtight container in the freezer. I froze mine for a week and they tasted fresh, but I think they may keep for up to a month.
Alternately, if you are cooking the pasta right away, place individual ravioli into a pot of salted, boiling water, and being careful not to over crowd the pot. When the ravioli float to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon.
Serve with tomato sauce and extra cheese.
p.s. check out my link on this blog hop!
Filed under: Fish, Main Course | Tags: Banana leaf, Coconut milk, Curry, Fish
I actually made this curried fish a while ago, but I’m just now getting around to posting it, because I was thinking I may make it again tonight for dinner. When Lulu’s Hypermarket first opened almost two months ago, I was immediately enamored with their produce section. There is so much exotic produce, sometimes I just walk around in circles trying to decide what I would like to try next. One of my first “exotic” purchases was these banana leaves.
I thought they were a great and healthy way to steam fish. Their flavor is subtle, and to be honest, the curry covered most of it, but it kept the hamour moist and tender.
Curried Hamour in Banana Leaves
1 kg Fresh firm white fish, such as hamour (that’s about 2lbs)
1 banana leaf for each piece of fish
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoons lemongrass, chopped
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoons red curry paste*
1 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoons sugar
Cilantro for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Sautee garlic, lemon grass and ginger in a pot. Add curry paste and sauté one more minute. Whisk in coconut milk, chicken stock and fish sauce. Add sugar and cook 5 minutes. Divide the sauce.
Place a piece of fish on each banana leaf; pour half of the sauce over the filets. Wrap up the banana leaf around the fish and place in a baking dish, seam side down.
Bake 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Serve the fish with the remaining sauce, sprinkle with cilantro and white rice.
We are still enjoying some great family time until my husband has to go back to work, so I’m going to keep this short and sweet. We’ve had a great holiday spending time together. We’ve lounged around the house, enjoyed the beautiful weather at a new playground and went to one ofBahrain’s ubiquitous Friday brunches.
Every year for as long as I can remember we’ve had black eyed peas New Years day for good luck, so this year was no exception. This year I didn’t do anything fancy. Just soaked the beans overnight in water, put them in the pressure cooker, covered with chicken stock and generously sprinkled in garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper flakes and let it go for about an hour. I usually do them in a slow cooker and let them simmer for a few hours, but this just seemed easier. I’d also usually throw in a turkey leg for flavor and because I like some meat in my beans, but I didn’t have one, so my husband just ate his with a bit of left over ham from Christmas.
I’ve got some great recipes planned for the New Year, at least I think so. I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season and welcome to 2012!
I’ve said before that we never used to eat lamb much because in the States it can be expensive for the chops. Here inBahrain, however, because lamb is such a large part of local cuisine, it’s very affordable. We have lamb chops now at least once a week, but we usually order them for delivery. The place that makes them does such a good job that I’m rarely inspired to make them myself. Yet, the other day when my husband pulled out the 2kg bag of shrimp, he also pulled lamb chops out of the freezer so I had to do something with them.
I would have liked to try to make the same lamb chops we have delivered, but I have no idea how they are seasoned. I do know that they must cook them in over very high heat because they always have a nice crust on the outside, the same way a good steak from a nice steak house would. So I decided to pull out one of my cookbooks for inspiration for a marinade and try to cook my chops the same way as our favorite ones here. My husband thought they were too acidic, but I thought the flavor was nice.
Rose-Balsamic Lamb Chops
*adapted from Lavender Balsamic Marinade from The Complete Guide to Making Sauces by Christine France
8 lamb chops
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 tablespoons dried rose petals
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Place the lamb chops in a bowl and sprinkle on the shallot and rose petals. Mix the vinegar, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour over the chops. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, but up to 24 hours.
Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Add the chops and cook 4-5 minutes per side. Garnish with extra rose petals.
Last week we went grocery shopping and found a huge 2kg bag of large frozen shrimp. My husband decided over the weekend that he wanted some, so what does he do? He takes the entire bag out of the freezer to thaw. We spent the first part of Saturday morning tossing around ideas of what to do with it all. Pasta? No. Stir fry? Nope. BBQ? Nah. Then I got an idea! Shrimp enchiladas! My husband actually makes pretty good chicken enchiladas, but neither of us had tried a seafood version. I thought I could whip up a pretty good version and of course my husband, the constant competitor that he is, thought he could do it better. So we decided Saturday would be a seafood enchilada cook-off. I took my turn first in the kitchen while “E” watched the kids. Other than a few trips to the store to get everything I needed, these actually came together pretty quickly.
Who was the winner of our cook-off? I was. After my husband tasted my version, he decided that they were so good that he didn’t want to try to make some himself!
1 12 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
3-4 tablespoons chipotle hot sauce
3 tablespoons cumin
1 large poblano pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups chicken stock (seafood would have been better, but I didn’t have any)
1/2 cup pepper jack cheese
2 cups deveined, uncooked shrimp
1 8oz can sweet corn
1 8oz. can black beans, rinsed
1 package tortillas (corn is best, but I couldn’t find any so I had to use flour)
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
To make the enchilada sauce: combine tomatoes, chipotle sauce and cumin and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer while preparing the filling
To make the filling: Char the poblano pepper under the broiler or over open flame until the skin is black. Cool and dice, removing the stem and seeds. In a large, non stick pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the poblano and onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one more minute. Add the flour and coat the veggies. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock and bring mixture to a boil until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Add the pepper jack cheese and stir until melted. Add the shrimp and corn and cook until the shrimp are pink. Carefully fold in the black beans.
To assemble the enchiladas: spread a few tablespoons of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a casserole. Fill a tortilla with shrimp mixture, roll up and place with the seem-side down into the casserole. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the casserole.* Cover with an even layer of the Mexican blend cheese. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes, or until the casserole is warmed through and the cheese has melted and started to brown over the top. Allow the enchiladas to rest 10 minutes before serving.
*If doing this as a make-ahead meal, refrigerate or freeze the casserole before adding cheese. Remove casserole from the fridge/freezer and allow it to come closer to room temperature before putting it in the oven. Continue with steps above.