Garlic Shrimp with Avocado Basil Salad

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It’s difficult to tell from the title, but basil is the inspiration for this dish.  If you live in an area with four distinct seasons, cooler weather means the end of outside basil plants.  It’s time to make a lot of recipes with this summer herb before the first frost kills it off.  It’s also time to start rooting new plants indoors, so you can enjoy it’s fresh, flowery aroma in the cold winter months.

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Rooting a basil plant is easy.  Cut a stem beneath a node (a node is a small bump that will grow leaves), and remove the leaves growing from the bottom of the stem.  Do you see the little bumps with leaves growing from it?  Those are the nodes.

Dip the stem in honey, and then place the little plant in a glass of water.

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Keep this cutting indoors, and out of direct sunlight.  Change the water every other day or so, and soon you’ll have long white roots growing along the stem.  At that point, go ahead and plant it in soil.

This entire meal was created for the basil.  I wanted to make something with it, but I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to make.  Tomatoes taste great with basil, and I had some tomatoes.  Corn tastes good with basil, and roasted hot peppers like jalapeño also taste good with corn.  I don’t know the name of this pepper, but it’s popular in Italy and is a fine substitute for a  jalapeño.

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Shrimp tastes good with corn, and it also tastes good with basil and garlic, rucola adds a great peppery taste to tomatoes, and since I had an avocado I figured that its rich and creamy texture would cool down the hot pepper.

I used a bit of Churrasco BBQ seasoning I had purchased on a whim.  The label listed ancho peppers and smoked salt amongst a lot of other tasty herbs and spices and those all sounded good to me.  Glad I picked it up!  It’s a great blend I can use for a lot of different things.

Just a little bit on the shrimp to bring out the flavors in the rest of the dish.

This really turned out nice, and tastes as great as it looks.  Two days later we had a guest over for supper, and we shared a lovely meal with a lovely wine. Twice in one week was just fine for this dish, and we’ll certainly be eating it again.

Garlic Shrimp with Avocado Basil Salad

Serves 3-4

1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 t Churrasco BBQ seasoning

1/4 t salt

1 C sweet corn

2 C chopped tomatoes

2 T roasted (or grilled) hot pepper, peeled, ribs and seeds taken out, minced

4 Cups Rucola (also known as Rocket or Arugula)

1/4 C basil, chiffonade

1/2 avocado per person, sliced

*tips* – If you char your your pepper on the grill, you may want to cut a small slit in it.  I had a pepper bomb go off and the sound was impressive.  Thankfully no one was hurt, but next time they’re all getting a ventilation hole cut in them.

If your tomatoes have a lot of liquid in them, simply let them drain in a colander for a little bit before mixing with the rest of the salad.

Combine all salad ingredients except the avocado. Slice the avocado at the end so it doesn’t oxidize.

Combine the shrimp, a drizzle of olive oil, garlic and spices in a glass dish, and stir well.  Heat about a quarter cup of olive oil in a saute pan set over low heat, and transfer the shrimp to the pan.  Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes per side.  Add more olive oil if you need it. Timing depends on the shrimp, but once it changes color and starts to curl you are ready to go.  It will continue to cook once you take the pan off the heat and serve it.

Slice the avocado, plate each dish, and serve with a nice wine!

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Herbes de Provence Cod

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It has been a while since I have posted.  There are a lot of reasons why, but if I have to look deeply at myself, a big part of it is because I thought:

What I ate is not post worthy

I’m experimenting a lot, and the recipes are good, but

Not post worthy

People like what I cooked, say they love it, but can it be replicated?  Can anyone do it?  Anywhere?

Not worthy

Wow.

Psalm 139:14 says

I will praise you; for I am fearfully (gloriously) and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and THAT my soul knoweth right well.

That’s US.  Who we are, when we agree with who God says we are.

So today, I made some fish.  And it was good. So I’m posting it.  Not because it’s fancy, takes a lot of technique, or ticks any of the current dietary things, or is post worthy, but because it was good, and after eating it, I FELT good, and a cloud lifted from my brain.

Not only that, but afterwards I ate the leftovers of a recipe I was working on that is the

PERFECT DESSERT for this meal.  I’m so excited again to work on that one, because somehow, in the days when I couldn’t figure out what to post…it was all coming together in a glorious and wonderful way.  A little bit of research showed, that when you put certain foods together, you actually assimilate all of the nutrients and AMP UP the nutritional value.

Seriously?

It’s true!

The dessert that I have been working on is super good, and fits completely with the fish I made tonight, it just needs a few tweaks and twiggles.  I made up the word twiggles but feel free to use it.

This recipe is for ONE.  Just multiply the ingredients if someone else is eating with you.

You start by laying very thinly sliced potatoes, carrots, and a little bit of onion in a cast iron pan that was heated to med low, and had a small amount of olive oil spread on the bottom.  I salted all the veg except the onion, and let the liquids come out.  Then rinsed them and patted them dry before putting them in the pan.  Some of the starch will come out of the potatoes.

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Then I laid the cod on top of the potatoes.  The cod was seasoned with garlic, herbes de provence, olive oil, and some pink salt.  I topped it with some thin sliced lemon, and drizzled some more olive oil over it all.

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After 10 minutes in a 350 F oven, I took it out and stirred up all the vegetables around the fish.

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Another 10 minutes in the oven, take out, stir the vegetables again, and cover in tin foil.  It should sit for at least 5 minutes covered by the foil tent.

I’ll do the first picture again, because all I do many times is top with a chiffonade of lettuce.  Even if it’s not just you eating, it’s fun to set out salt and pepper that has to be ground, and some olive oil.  That way everyone gets interactive with the food, even if someone else cooked it. There is always going to be someone who wants to put some hot pepper on it, so put that out also.  Anyway, have fun!

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Herbes de Provence Cod

1 piece cod approx 6 oz (I used a frozen at sea piece)

2 T good olive oil

1 T Herbes de Provence ( I used a blend from a place called gaec le frigoulet – but I can’t find a website.  It is the BEST EVER blend I ever had, and it was a place where we just stopped because I said “let’s stop here” as we drove past it on the road.

1/2 clove minced garlic

More olive oil

Mix olive oil, garlic and oil together with a fork.  Let sit for a while.

Pat your fish dry if it is very wet.  Coat each side with the herb mixture.

Drizzle with some more olive oil, and cook in oven for 20 minutes.  Take out and cover with tin foil for at least 5 minutes.

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Food Pics from Italian Wedding

I thought you might be interested in seeing  pictures of some dishes that were served at a wedding in Naples. (Napoli)  Naples is located on the sea, and most of the dishes were updated versions of foods traditional to the area.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll let the photos themselves be the the story today.  Enjoy and be inspired!

Fresh Fish Appetizer

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Mussels Pesto with Garlic and Spices

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Potatoes Vellutata with Calamari and Peppers

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Pasta with Beans, Mussels, and Calamari

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Octopus with Tomato and Beans

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I hope you enjoyed taking a look at some really beautiful foods that were prepared for a beautiful day!

Many hugs,

Christina

Three Sisters Vegetable Medley and Maple Glazed Scallops

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Many Native American tribes planted a crop called “The Three Sisters”.  Consisting of grain corn, beans, and winter squash, all could be stored and eaten later as a nutritious and protein rich meal.

This companion planting was as beneficial to the soil as it was to the body.  The sturdy, upright corn stalks provided a trellis for the bean vines to climb upwards, and the nitrogen producing bacteria on the roots of the bean plants fueled the growth of the corn.  The large leaves of the rambling squash vines provided moisture retention and shade to the soil during the hot summer afternoons.

This recipe uses canned items, but if you wanted to get really authentic you could use hominy, polenta, or grits instead of the sweet corn.  All of those are grain corns.  Dried beans are also more authentic, as they have fully developed their protein structure.

String beans, sweet corn, and summer squash don’t really count as “The Three Sisters”, but they do taste good together.

*Fun Fact – Is corn a vegetable, grain, or a fruit?

It depends on when you eat it.  Corn is a type of grass – a cereal grass.  Meaning that you can eat the seeds (dried corn kernels) as a grain.  When you eat sweet corn, it’s considered a vegetable because the kernels are tender and immature.  Botanically, the kernels are the “fruit” or seeds of the grass.  So there you have it!

Maple Glazed Scallops  (These only take about 5 minutes to cook, so save for last)

6 scallops, pat dry, and season with garlic salt and pepper

2 T butter

2 T water

2 T maple syrup

Heat a cast iron skillet to medium.  Make sure it’s nice and hot.  Mix water and maple syrup together.  Add butter to the pan, and once it’s browned, gently lay your scallops in the pan.  Cook for 2 minutes without moving the scallops around.  Flip, and cook for another minute.  Add the water and maple syrup, and let cook for another minute.  Transfer to plate.  Pour liquid (it will have cooked down very quickly) over scallops.

Three Sisters Medley

1 C Cannellini beans (canned)

1 C sweet corn (canned)

1 C roasted butternut squash, diced

1 C baby spinach, rough chopped

1 C red bell pepper, diced

1 green onion, sliced very thin

1/4 cube vegetable bouillon, crumbled

1 T nutritional yeast

1 T crushed dried sage

1 big pinch red pepper flakes

1/4 C heavy cream

1/4 C marscapone

2 slices thick cut bacon, fried and chopped.  Reserve bacon fat.

salt and pepper to taste

Combine beans, corn, squash, bouillon, yeast, sage, pepper flakes, and cream in a bowl.  Heat skillet to medium low and cook red pepper and green onion in bacon drippings until onion is translucent and peppers are getting soft.  Pour in the vegetable medley, stir, and when cream hits a boil add the chopped spinach.  Once the spinach starts to wilt, stir in marscapone.  When the marscapone is fully melted, reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve the scallops on top of the Three Sisters Medley, and top with bacon and the maple juices from the scallop pan!

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