Sunday, August 12, 2012

Shrimp and Orzo with Grape Tomatoes

I know my photography skills are lacking and I'll be honest, this picture doesn't do this recipe justice. You have to trust me - this is SUPER easy and delicious. If you've never used orzo, it is a tiny, rice-sized pasta. It cooks super fast and is used in a lot of soup recipes. 

After making this, I thought it would be even better by adding some Spanish Chorizo, so that's what I plan on doing the next time I make it. I'll notate below where I think it should be added, but you can do whatever your little heart pleases!


2 TBL olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 C grape tomatoes, halved (about 1 lb)
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 lb orzo
3 1/4 C low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined  (I use Trader Joes - always delicious)
1 C fresh basil leaves, torn
* AND sliced spanish chorizo  - I would add about 1/2 C


1. Preheat oven to 400 with rack in top position.

2. In a large, oven-proof/broiler-proof skillet (Like All-Clad), heat 5 tsp oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook for just a minute (do not brown the garlic). Increase heat to high and add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2-3 minutes and add chorizo. Keep cooking tomato mixture for another4-5 minutes until tomatoes are softened.

3. Add orzo and broth; bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer to oven. Bake until liquid is mostly absorbed about 10-12 minutes.

4. Toss shrimp with 1 tsp oil and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Remove skillet from oven and place shrimp on top of orzo. Heat broiler. Broil until shrimp are opaque throughout - about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with basil. 


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sweet Cherry Pie

I bought a bag of sweet cherries the other day at Pavilions for $2.99! Normally it would've cost almost $10. I love sweet cherries and to buy them at such a good price makes me feel like the king of the world! 

There's all kinds of information on the web about the benefits of eating dark, sweet cherries - here's just one link of many:Click here to see why you should be eating cherries!

Bring them home, give them a wash and put them in a bowl for noshing. OR make a pie.......!  Come on! you can do this. I'm telling you, there is nothing better than a home made cherry pie. 

Making a cherry pie truly is a labor of love. There's nothing difficult about it, but it is time consuming so allow yourself a day to enjoy the process.

Here's how to do it~

Ingredients for the Crust:
2 1/2 C all-purpose four (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 C (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 to 1/2 C ice water

Directions for the crust:
1.  In a food processor, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Pulse a few times to blend. Add the butter pieces; pulse until the mixture is like coarse meal, with a few pea-sized pieces of butter remaining. 

2. Sprinkle with 1/4 C ice water, then pulse briefly until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed. If necessary, add up to another 1/4 C ice water, one TBL at a time  - Do not overmix!). (If you are wondering what is wrong with overmixing, simply imagine the difference between light and flaky vs. tough and leather-like).

3. Divide dough in half, and turn onto two large pieces of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over dough and form into two disks, 3/4 inch thick. Refrigerate until firm, at least one hour, or up to 3 days. (Dough may also be frozen up to 3 months - thaw before using).

4. On a floured surface, roll one disk to a 14 inch round. Wrap dough around a rolling pin and transfer to a 9-inch pie tin. Gently unroll the pin and fit the dough into the bottom and sides of the tin without stretching or tearing the dough. Using kitchen shears, trim the dough to a 1-inch overhang all around; refrigerate until ready to use.

Ingredients for the pie:
2 lbs Bing Cherries, pitted and halved
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 TBL cornstarch
2 TBL fresh lemon juice
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 TBL water for egg wash
1 TBL sugar for sprinkling

Directions for the pie:
1. Preheat oven to 400 with rack in the lowest position. 

2. In a large bowl, combine the cherries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice; toss until the cherries are well coated. Pour into prepared bottom crust.

Using the cherry pitter. It misses some, and juice gets everywhere....but it's FUN!

I used kitchen shears to cut them in half after I'd pitted them. But if you don't have a pitter, simply cut them in half then pull out the pit. Same results!

3. On a floured surface, roll the second disk of dough to a 14-inch round. Cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch  wide strips (use a straight edge knife or a pastry crimper). Discard the two shortest strips. Weave the strips over the filling to form a lattice.  Click here to see how to do it.  Using kitchen shears, trim the strips so they hang over the rim by 1-inch. Tuck the strips under the rim of the bottom crust to seal. Crimp with a fork all around the edge.

4. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the lattice with the egg wash and sprinkle with some sugar.

5. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until filling is bubbling rapidly all over, abtou 60 - 70 minutes. (Tent with foil when the crust starts to brown at about 40 minutes). 

6. Transfer pie to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature at least 3 hours.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Easy Goat Cheese Ravioli with Parsley Sauce

These ravioli are ridiculously easy to make and perfect for summer cooking. Light and full of flavor, yet without making the pasta! HOW is that POSSIBLE? With wonton wrappers, silly! After all, the Chinese invented pasta. It may not be semolina pasta, but the wrappers work in a pinch.

The ravioli are stuffed with a yummy concoction of goat cheese, and ricotta, and topped with a super easy parsley sauce. On the side, you can make a quick saute of chard with lemon and oil. Honestly....I am craving it as I'm writing this. SO tasty!!!!

Here's how to do it~

Ravioli Ingredients:
3 oz. goat cheese
1/4 C ricotta (I used my home made which is as easy as boiling water and the taste is creamier than anything you'll ever buy in the store - the recipe is here on my blog!)
1 small garlic clove, crushed through a press or FINELY minced
a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
zest of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper
wonton wrappers (3 1/2 inch)

1. In a small bowl, mash the goat cheese, ricotta, garlic, nutmeg and lemon zest with a fork. Season with salt and pepper (always use kosher and fresh ground)

2. Assemble the ravioli by preparing a baking sheet with parchment paper and then placing 6 wrappers at a time (not rappers.....that's a whole 'nother thing altogether) on the sheet. Spoon about a tsp of the filling in the center of each wrapper.  With your fingertip, dampen the edges of the wrappers with water.  

Fold a corner of each wrapper over to form a triangle; press the edges together to seal, eliminating as much air as possible.  Repeat until the filling is gone (you may have wrappers left over).

(Ravioli may be made ahead of time by covering with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to one day. Or freeze on the baking sheet for 1 hour, then transfer the beauties into a baggie and freeze for up to one month).

3. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil; reduce to a gentle simmer. Drop ravioli into the water, one by one, stirring them GENTLY to prevent sticking. Cook until al dente, about 5-7 minutes. (Cooking time is the same for frozen ravioli).

4. Using a slotted spoon (I used a fish spatula ....but a slotted spoon would be better) drain each ravioli as much as possible and transfer to serving plate. (The recipe calls to put the ravioli on a paper-towel lined baking sheet to drain, but mine I dont' recommend that!).

By the way, here's what happens to a ravioli when there's too much air inside - it explodes in the water. Icky and worthless.  wah.

5. Drizzle with Parsley sauce and some grated Parmesan and serve immediately!

Ingredients for Parsley Sauce:
2 TBL finely chopped parsley
2 TBL Olive oil 
1 TBL grated Parmesan (always use fresh - NEVER from the can!!)
1 tsp water
salt and pepper

Mix all of the above in a bowl.   (Did I say, EASY?!!)

Swiss Chard on the side~

1 TBL olive oil
1 bunch Swiss Chard (also known as red chard), leaves torn into bite-sized pieces and stems cut into pieces (the stems can be tough so if you dont' like them....don't eat them!)
salt and pepper
2-3 tsp fresh lemon juice

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add the chard and toss until tender for about 4-6 minutes. If all the chard won't fit at first, just add the rest when the first addition reduces down (it's like Spinach - it cooks way down). Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 4 minutes more. 

2. Drain and discard any liquid from pan; add the lemon juice and serve immediately.