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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Shrimp & Sausage Stew

This is very quick and easy. When I think stew, I think hours of bubbling goodness and a good bit of labor. But, this takes less than a half hour and it's very flavorful. We had it last night - good for a cold winter dinner.

3/4 lb spicy sausage (hot Italian or Andouille)
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 32 oz box of chicken broth (Whole Foods broth is my favorite)
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup canned diced tomatoes (Hunts fire-roasted works great)
6 fresh sprigs of thyme
1 lb shrimp

1. In a large pot, cook the sausage until about 3/4 cooked through. You can use sausage links, or I like to use ground sausage because the bits are incorporated throughout the stew rather than in big chunks.

2. Remove sausage from pot. Add the onions and garlic and sautee until soft in the sausage fat.

3. Add the flour, cumin and paprika and stir well until onions and garlic become dry.

4. Add the chicken broth and wine and stir until the onion/flour mixture is well incorporated.

5. Add the tomatoes and thyme. Bring stew to a boil and then simmer on medium for 30 minutes.

6. Add the sausage (3/4 cooked) and the shrimp (raw) and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
*Serve immediately - if you leave the shrimp in the stew for long, it tends to get tough.

Serves ~3 people.

Nutella Layered Pound Cake

My sister and I used to make pound cake from a box mix when we were growing up. It was our favorite dessert. I never thought that pound cake needed frosting because it's already so rich and sweet. But let's face it, Nutella makes everything better! I discovered Nutella in Europe almost 15 years ago and since then it's been a love-hate relationship...loving it when I have a jar of it, hating it when my pants are tight in the waistline a week later. The great thing about it for this dessert is that unlike regular frosting, it's thickness holds up to the dense pound cake.

*It's best to bake the pound cake the day/night before you plan to serve it - so it's completely cool before you layer it with Nutella.

Pound Cake:

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla (add another 1/2 tsp for extra vanilla-ness!)
3 eggs
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 small jar of Nutella

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, butter, and vanilla together on medium until light and fluffy.

3. Add eggs one at a time, beating mixture after each.

4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder together.

5. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the butter mixture, beating after each addition. Begin and end with the flour mixture.

6. Pour batter into a loaf pan (large) and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

7. When finished baking, let the pound cake cool completely (overnight if possible).


Once cooled and removed from the loaf pan. Cut the pound cake horizontally into thirds (lengthwise). Spread about 1/4 inch of Nutella on the bottom layer and place the next section of pound cake on top. Spread more Nutella on the 2nd layer and place the top of the pound cake on top.

To serve, cut vertical pieces so that each slice has two layers of Nutella. For extra goodness, serve with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Chicken & Vegetable Curry

I've gone through a lot of Indian curry recipes but this one is my favorite so far. Cooking Indian food is a bit intimidating, not only because of the many spices you need but also because if you haven't had a lot of it, it's tough to know what you're aiming for. My good friend Dane introduced me to Indian cuisine and the art of making a delicious Indian meal. Although most times in her kitchen I was responsible for chopping the onions, lots of them, it was always worth it in the end. I like this one, and it's actually very easy - don't be afraid!

Best served with Basmati rice and/or naan (butter and toast very lightly on a cookie sheet)

2/3 cup Greek-style yogurt
1/4 cup tomato paste (1/2 small can)
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp minced ginger
1/4 tsp ground red pepper or red chili flakes
2 chicken breasts, cut into small, bite sized pieces
1 large onion
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 small zucchini (halved or quartered, then chopped)
2 cups cauliflower, chopped
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup peas
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1. Whisk the first 8 ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Add the chopped chicken and mix well together. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.

2. In a large Dutch oven, add enough vegetable to coat the bottom, the onion, zucchini, mushrooms, cauliflower, cardamom and cinnamon stick. Cover and sautee over medium high heat until the onion is soft and golden. Stir often!

3. Add the chicken mixture to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the broth, paprika, and salt and stir well to incorporate all of the ingredients and to get the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

4. Cook for about 30-45 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken.

5. Add the coconut milk, peas and cilantro and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Serve over rice.

Thai Hot & Sour Shrimp Soup

When I went to Thailand with Kimberly a few years ago, I discovered Tom Yum Goong (Hot and Sour Shimp Soup), and in a very bad way. It was our first day and we were out for lunch with Kimberly's friend's parents who don't speak English and therefore couldn't warn me about the hotness. The soup came and my first bite was a whole spoonful of what I thought were green beans. That's when I discovered the Thai chili. Everyone got a good laugh but I thought I was going to die. As traumatic as the experience was, I ate the soup at lunch and dinner almost every day for the entire two weeks we were there. I burned my mouth and the inner lining of my stomach everytime but I LOVED it. This recipe is a twist - for one, the chilis are optional. I also use coconut milk to ease the bite of the sour and because I love it. You can also make this with chicken.

1/2 lb shimp, peeled and deveined (tails on or off)
1 32oz box chicken broth
1 tbsp minced ginger
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 cloves minced garlic
2 stalks fresh lemongrass
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp chili garlic sauce (or use Thai chilis if you can find them - use sparingly!!!!)
1 cup quartered mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped basil
2 tbsp lime juice

1. In a large saucepan, sautee the shrimp with a little bit of vegetable oil until about 1/2 cooked. Remove them from the pan, place in a bowl, and set aside. Leave the juices in the pan.

2. In the same pan, add broth, ginger, 1/2 cup of the cilantro, garlic, and lemongrass and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Strain the mixture over a bowl and discard the solids.

4. Return broth to the saucepan and add coconut milk, fish sauce, chili garlic sauce/Thai chilis, and mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Add shrimp, basil, lime juice, and 1/4 cup of cilantro and cook for another 3-5 minutes.