Thursday, October 31, 2013

Shrimp with Fried Onion Dip Sauce

White wine, sour cream and caramelized onions do indeed make a fabulous dip.  They also make a delicious pasta sauce. 

I recently joined a Facebook group that has resolved to cook and bake from the wonderful cookbook, The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen.  Our noble leader asked Amy for permission that was kindly granted.  The first recipe chosen was for a great fried onion dip that will have you throwing your dried onion dip packets away!  The flavors are wonderful and, as I discovered on a recent evening, it also makes a fabulous sauce.  If you'd like to join us, just follow the Facebook link and ask.  You don't have to be a blogger to cook along, you just need to love Amy Theilen's new book.

This recipe has been adapted and expanded from Amy Thielen's Fried Onion Dip.

Ingredients, to serve four
For the dip/sauce:
3 tablespoons clarified butter (Follow these simple instructions here from the fabulous David Lebovitz – starting with 4 tablespoons unsalted butter)
1 onion (about 8 oz or 227g, unpeeled)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt flakes and more, if necessary, at the end
Few good grinds black pepper
1 teaspoon honey
3 cloves garlic
1 small red hot chili pepper
1/4 cup or 60ml dry white wine
3/4 cup or about 185g sour cream
1/4 cup or a little less than 60g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish

For the shrimp:
1 1/3 lbs or 600g shrimp or prawns, peeled
Olive oil

For serving:
16 oz or 500g dried pasta

Mince your garlic and chili pepper and chives.  Set aside.  Cut into your onion 1/2-inch or 1cm thick rings.

Heat the clarified butter in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and sprinkle them with the salt and pepper.  Fry the onions on one side until they get brown and caramelized on the bottom then flip them carefully to the other side.

Cook till the other side is caramelized and then turn them over again.   They will probably break apart at this point but that’s okay.  Just keep frying and stirring till you have a nice deep color all over the onion pieces.

Add the garlic and chili pepper with the white wine and the honey.

Simmer until the liquid thickens and just about disappears, which should take about three or four minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool.

Chop your onion mixture finely with a knife and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix the sour cream and cream cheese together until they are completely mixed and smooth.  Add in the chopped onion mixture and most of the chives (reserving some for garnish) and mix well.  Check the seasoning and add a more salt, if necessary.

Transfer to a small serving bowl and refrigerate until you are ready to cook your prawns.  Resist the urge to eat the lovely dip with a spoon.

When you are ready to eat, boil your pasta according to package instructions.  While it is cooking, cut your shrimp into bite-sized pieces.

Pop them in a skillet with a little olive oil over medium heat and sauté until they are cooked and turn pinky orange.  This takes just a few minutes.

Add in the fried onion dip and let it melt into a sauce over a low heat.

Serve the shrimp and sauce over your drained pasta.  Garnish with the extra chives, if desired.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Indian Corn Pudding with Date Honey for #RandomRecipeChallenge

This simple cornmeal pudding is flavored with date honey but you could easily substitute any syrup you love.  Cooked in a crockpot or slow cooker, it makes an easy, belly-warming sweet finish to any meal.

I’m now in my second go-round of living in the Middle East, but the fact of the matter is that I fear I have barely touched the surface of the ingredients available here. Take date honey, for instance.  I first noticed date honey, or date syrup as it sometimes called, when we moved to Dubai back in November last year but I’d never bought it because I had no idea what to do with it.  Then, last May, on a holiday with my mother in the region, our hotel had a bowl of it out at breakfast.  I put it in my plain yogurt and everyone else was spreading it on buttered toast.  But I still never bought any of my own.  So I was delighted when Dom from Belleau Kitchen set using a local ingredient as our Random Recipe Challenge for this month.  I love Dom’s challenges because they are the impetus I need to try something new, even when sometimes it’s just a recipe in a book I’ve had for years so I bought a big bottle of date honey and prepared to use it in a recipe.

Unfortunately, an EatYourBooks search of date syrup and/or honey showed up zero recipes in my own cookbook collection.  It tastes more like molasses rather than honey or syrup, so I changed the search parameter to molasses and my chosen number lead me a recipe in a book I have never, ever cooked from, Lora Brody’s Slow Cooker Cooking.  I bought it online several years ago meaning for it to be a gift for my elder daughter, along with a crockpot, but she declined the gift idea, saying, quite rightly, that she didn’t need a heavy appliance to lug around.  So I was left with the book and I popped it on my shelf and forgot about it.  It’s actually quite a nice cookbook and I regret neglecting it.  That said, I halved the recipe because I wasn’t sure about a slow cooker sweet dish.  I shouldn’t have worried.  It was delicious, especially with a big slurp of pouring cream.  My husband declared it very good, in fact.  So go ahead and double everything and cook for nine hours.  Live large!  And try something local that is made or grown in YOUR neighborhood.

random recipes #33
Click on the badge to see the Random Recipe Challenge rules.

1/4 cup or about 70g yellow cornmeal
2 cups or 275ml whole milk
1/4 cup or 60ml date honey or syrup (or sub molasses/treacle as in the original recipe)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon butter, cut into two pieces, plus extra for greasing slow cooker
1 egg, lightly beaten

In a small mixing bowl, whisk your egg, a half cup of the milk and the date honey. Set aside.

Check out how dark this stuff is! 

Butter the inside of your slow cooker.  Do not turn it on yet.

Place the cornmeal in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Pour in a half cup of the milk; whisk constantly as you pour, so that the cornmeal does not form lumps.

Add your sugar, salt and baking soda to the egg/milk/molasses bowl and whisk again.  Add this mixture to the saucepan along with the butter and whisk well.

Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and cook the mixture, whisking constantly and making sure to reach into the corners of the pan, until small bubbles start to form on the surface and the mixture starts to thicken.  This takes just a few minutes.

Remove from the heat and immediately add the remaining cup of milk, whisking vigorously to dissolve any lumps.

Pour the mixture into the buttered insert of the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on LOW for about four and a half or five hours, or until the outer edges and top have darkened and the middle just jiggles a little.  Turn off the slow cooker and let the pudding cool slightly, uncovered.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or a good helping of thick pouring cream.

It rather makes its own sauce as well. 


Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Muffins for #MuffinMonday

Baking with mashed pumpkin adds moisture to batters and doughs, making breads, cakes and muffins healthier because of you can cut down on oil and butter, not to mention the betacarotene, but don’t let that reason alone convince you.  Pumpkin adds enormous rich flavor as well.  

I’m going to admit to something autumnally treasonous.  I am not a fan of pumpkin pie.  Please don’t hurt me.  It’s a texture thing.  That doesn’t mean I don’t like the flavors though so I prefer to put pumpkin in blondies, cookies, muffins, bread and cake.  Adding pumpkin pie spice to this muffin batter gave me the joy I imagine folks find in pumpkin pie without that icky wobbly pie filling to endure.  And the whole house smelled like Thanksgiving and Christmas while they baked.  Win-win.

I can’t find pumpkin pie spice here in Dubai, so I used this recipe here  for the batter and made up my own mix of spices.  I’d say it was a successful substitution.

1 1/2 cups or 190g all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
(or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup or 225g sugar
1/2 15 oz can or almost one cup or 215g pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 eggs
1/4 cup or 60ml canola oil
1/4 cup or 60ml orange juice

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin pan by greasing it thoroughly, spraying with non-stick spray or lining it with paper muffin cups.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, spices, baking soda, salt and sugar and stir well.

In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, oil, orange juice and eggs.

Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold them together until just mixed.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake in the preheated oven about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool for a few minutes and then remove the muffins and put on a rack to cool completely.


Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street, a culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop her a quick line to join her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.

Plus learn all you ever need to know about muffins at Muffin 101.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sincere Pumpkin Patch Spicy Cheese Ball for #SundaySupper

Extra sharp cheddar and cream cheese can be flavored with a variety of herbs and spices and rolled up ball- or log-shaped for a savory appetizer that will be a welcome addition to any party table.  For added interest, roll your cheese ball in chopped pecans or walnuts.

If you’ve been reading along for a while, you might have noticed something.  I didn’t have a single Halloween post until last week’s Muffin Monday.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy Halloween.  In fact, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, when my girls were little, I was chief organizer and instigator of Halloween celebrations in our little neighborhood in the small oilfield town of Macaé, Brazil.  When we lived in Kuala Lumpur, we took part in trick-or-treating by joining another neighborhood’s festivities since no one went door-to-door in our mostly local area.  We parked on the route, decorated the trunk of our car and gave out candy.  But since the girls left home for university and I started the blog, my Halloween decorating and baking has dropped off significantly, although I still join my friends to give out candy if I happen to be in KL for Halloween.  It’s such fun to see the children in costumes.

Trunk-or-Treat - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia circa 2010

This week’s Sunday Supper theme is Halloween and since I don’t have little ones at home, I decided to go savory instead of sweet by making a spicy cheese ball that would be a great addition to any Halloween party table.  Goodness knows there will be enough candy already.  Like Linus from the comic strip Peanuts, I like to think that the Great Pumpkin will come to the most sincere pumpkin patch (or buffet table) and bring gifts for everyone.  He might even be tempted by this cheese ball.  It is most sincerely cheesy.

13 1/4 oz or 375g extra-sharp orange cheddar cheese
8 oz or about 225g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 small bunch chives (Mine was about 1/2 oz or 15g)
1 jalapeño (Mine was about 3/4 oz or 20g)
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon smoked paprika plus extra for decorating, if desired
2 tablespoons plain yogurt

For decoration: One broccoli stalk - with leaves, if possible
To serve: Crackers of your choice or bread

Grate your cheddar cheese into a large mixing bowl.

Finely mince your chives and garlic.  Cut the stem end off of the jalapeño and remove the seeds, if you want to add just a little spice.  If you like spicy food, by all means, leave the seeds in.  Mince the jalapeño finely.

Add the softened cream cheese, the chives, garlic, jalapeño, smoked paprika and plain yogurt to the cheddar cheese.

Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.

Line a small round bowl with cling film and heap the cheese mixture in it.  Press down with a spatula so the cheese fills the bottom of the lined bowl completely. Cover with the cling film and round out the top with your hands.  It’s like playing with Play-Do again.

Set the covered cheese ball in the refrigerator for several hours so it will stiffen back up.  I ended up leaving mine overnight because I got busy with other projects.

Remove the cheese ball from the bowl but leave it covered with the cling film.  Press the ball into a pumpkin-like shape.  Remember that pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes so don’t get too hung up on complete roundness or perfection.

Use your thumb to make grooves in the ball from top to bottom.

When you are satisfied that it looks like the best pumpkin you can manage, unwrap the cling film and use a soft paint brush to brush a little smoked paprika in the grooves to enhance the look.

Cut the stem off your broccoli, keeping a couple of leaves attached, if possible.  Cut what will be the top of your pumpkin stem at an angle.  Set the stem on top of your cheese pumpkin ball and push it in just a little.   Is that not the cutest thing!?

Serve with crackers or bread, and don’t forget to put out a knife so that folks can cut a piece off and spread the cheese ball.


Sunday Supper Movement

Join our host Kathia from Basic N Delicious and the rest of the Sunday Supper group as we celebrate Halloween with a bunch of great recipes that will brighten up any party.


Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each Sunday. We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.
Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can find more information and sign up by clicking here → Sunday Supper Movement