Monday, May 29, 2017

Crawfish Pie Muffins #MuffinMonday

Crawfish pie muffins are not for the faint of heart. They have a half cup of melted butter, a full cup of peeled crawfish with fat included, and a little cayenne for zip. On the other hand, I've also included one cup of iron-fortified quick grits and some fresh green onions.

Every year when I come home for a visit in the spring, boiled crawfish are at the top of my list of Things I Want to Eat. We like to buy them live and cook them ourselves because we can season them to our taste but most importantly, because they are substantially cheaper that way. They are sold by the sack and you have to buy the whole thing (usually between 30-40 pounds) because stores won't divide them. This year the price is $1.97/lb, which is pretty darn good. Deliveries are only made on Friday, Saturday and sometimes Sunday so I plan my trips accordingly. I need at least one weekend here to take advantage.

Last Friday, I bought a 35 lb sack and boiled them in three batches. It was just my elder daughter, my mother and me so we ate till we couldn’t eat any more and, of course, there were plenty, I mean PLENTY, of leftovers. I ate cold boiled crawfish (delicious!) on Saturday. And on Sunday my mom came over and we both ate lots more. Then I peeled a bunch and made these tasty crawfish pie muffins. And there are still crawfish in my refrigerator! I don’t think I could ever get tired of eating boiled crawfish but this is going to be the test.

Meanwhile, the muffins turned out perfectly. The cooked grits add great flavor and texture, kind of a little like cornbread but with a much softer crumb.

2 cups or 250g all-purpose flour
1 cup or 170g cooked, peeled crawfish, with fat
Small bunch green onions, just the green parts, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 large eggs
3/4 cup or 360ml milk
1/2 cup or 113g butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing pan
1 cup or 242g cooked grits, cooled

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C. Lightly grease 12-cup muffin pan with butter.

Measure your flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne into a large mixing bowl, along with the green onions and peeled crawfish. Mix well to combine and coat the crawfish with the seasoned flour.

Whisk the eggs together with the cooled grits. Add in the butter and milk and whisk again.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ones and stir until just mixed together.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the muffins are baked through and golden on the outside.


Check out all the lovely muffins my Muffin Monday bakers have for you today!

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Grilled Red Snapper with Cilantro and Onion Stuffing or حمراء مشوية مع حشوة

Grilled red snapper is a deliciously easy dish, cooked over a charcoal fire. The snapper stays moist of you grill with the scales on - and flavor is added - when you fill it with cilantro and onion stuffing, a traditional recipe from my current home, the United Arab Emirates.

I grew up with a father that fished and hunted so I am not unfamiliar with guts and eyeballs on foodstuff. But honestly, the first time I remember seeing a whole fish on a plate was probably when I was 10 or 11 years old, visiting Daddy in Venezuela or Peru and my stepmother not only ordered a whole fish but she popped out the eyeball and ate it with relish saying it was a delicacy.  Needless to say, as a child, I was repulsed. It didn’t stop me from enjoying the rest of the fish though!

Then when we lived in Abu Dhabi back in late Eighties and I was the editor at a small publishing house, my boss was an Omani gentleman who taught me that the sweetest part of the fish was the cheek, which is found behind the eye in a little pocket.  I always go for that little piece first because he was so right. (Thanks, Saleh!) If you’ve never cooked a whole fish, I’d like to encourage you to try it.  There is no way a fish filet can be as tasty as a whole fish cooked on the bones.  If the eyes really offend you, get your fish guy to cut off the head, but leave the rest of the fish intact.

Our theme is grilling this week but I wanted especially to make something from the United Arab Emirates, since this is home right now.  This recipe comes to me from a fellow Texan who married an Emirati and moved to the UAE.  Her blog is filled with delicious local fare, with complete explanations and photos, and is a treasure trove of ideas for anyone interested in Emirati cooking.  MaryAnn is a sweetheart and I am grateful to her for her advice and expertise.  You can find her blog at Emiratican Kitchen. She hasn't updated in a while because she is a beautiful seamstress and that has become her focus. but the recipes are all still there. If you leave her a comment, please tell her Stacy sent you.

In Arabic, red snapper is hamra, grilled is meshwiya and stuffing is hashwa, so this is hashwa meshwiyah m’a hashwa or as MaryAnn put it more simply, grilled hamra with hashwa.  Whatever you call it, it is delicious!  For her recipe, I was supposed to use a large red snapper of one kilo or about 2.2 pounds, but sometimes those are hard to come by.  I substituted two smaller snappers so the cooking time was much shorter.  And since we were just two eating that night, I ended up freezing the second one. It made a beautiful dinner another night.

Grilled Red Snapper with Cilantro and Onion Stuffing

Grilling a whole fish with scales on keeps it from sticking to the hot grill.  Stuffing it with onions, cilantro and spices infuses the whole fish with lovely flavors and keeps it from drying out on the grill.

Hamra (Red Snapper) 2 lbs plus or 1 kg - or larger (Whole – do not scale or trim fins)

For the stuffing:
1 medium-sized onion
1 medium-sized green bell pepper
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 thumb-sized knob fresh ginger
1 bunch cilantro or fresh coriander
1/4 cup or 60ml extra virgin olive oil
1 heaped teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin powder

Gut the fish from the belly to leave a space for the stuffing.  (I let the fish guy at my local market do this job for me.)  Make sure to leave the scales on so the fish won’t stick to the grill.

Chop your onion and bell pepper finely.  Peel and mince your garlic and ginger.  Wash your cilantro thoroughly and trim off the end hard woody ends of the stems.  Chop the stems of the cilantro very finely and then chop the leaves roughly.

In a medium-sized bowl, thoroughly mix the onion, bell pepper, cilantro, garlic and ginger with all of the spices and the olive oil.

Fill the cavity in the fish with the stuffing.

Using a large needle and some kitchen string (I used poultry string, normally used for trussing a chicken for roasting) sew sides of the fish belly back together.  (I could not find my large needles, so I used an ice pick to poke the holes.  Then I put the stuffing in and tied the knots.)

Tie knots as you go to make sure the sewing is secure.

Meanwhile, light your fire in the barbecue pit.  When the coals are light grey all around the edges, they are ready.

Place the fish on the grill and put the cover on the pit with a little opening to make sure there is enough air getting in so you don’t smother the coals.

Cook for about 10-12 minutes on each side, ideally turning only once so your fish doesn’t fall apart.   If you are fortunate to find a larger fish, MaryAnn says to cook it for 30 minutes on each side.

Put a knife in at the thickest part and look at the bones to make sure the fish is cooked all the way down.  When the fish meat is completely white and opaque, the fish is done.

To serve, peel the charred skin and scales off with a knife and lift the meat off the bones.

Lift the meat off the bones with a knife or spatula. 
Lift the bones off to get to the other side. 
Traditionally, MaryAnn says this is served with white rice and fresh greens.  I didn’t take a photo of it, but we topped the fish with a little of the stuffing and it was delicious.


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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Chorizo and Date Skewers - Brochetas de Chorizo y Datiles

Chorizo and date skewers or brochetas de chorizo y datiles are a fabulous combination of sweet and salty, rich and chewy. Best of all, they are simple and quick to put together.

A couple of months back we were in Atlanta for our nephew’s wedding. We arrived a couple of days early, thinking it would give us time to recover from the trip and also to spend some time with the relatives.

That first night we dropped our bags off at our hotel before heading to dinner at Eclipse de Luna, a tapas restaurant and one of their favorite places. My sister-in-law insisted upon ordering two plates of these little beauties because she wanted a whole skewer to herself. They are that good. The best part is that they are so simple to make at home.

This weekend I am in Orlando attending the fifth annual Food Wine Conference. I’m looking forward to all of the delicious food and the informative sessions but the best part is always the company of my colleagues at the Sunday Supper Movement and my fellow bloggers.

Just like last year, on Sunday evening we will gather for the last time at Tapa Toro, a lovely Spanish tapas restaurant for our live Twitter chat. For those of you who won’t be joining us, we thought it would be a good idea to share some tapas recipes, like these chorizo and date skewers. Scroll down to the bottom for more details.

Chorizo and Date Skewers or Brochetas de Chorizo y Datiles

9 3/4 oz or 275g Spanish chorizo, skin removed -  I like the extra picante.
12 Medjool dates, pitted
6 slices smoked bacon
1 3/4 oz or 50g blue cheese

Also needed:
6 wooden or metal skewers
6 toothpicks

Preheat your oven to 375°F or 190°C.

Cut the chorizo into 18 pieces and line them up chorizo/date/chorizo/date/chorizo.

Poke the pointy end of the skewer through one end of the bacon and through one group of dates and chorizo.

Wrap the bacon around the end and secure it with a toothpick. Lay the chorizo and date skewers in a baking pan.

Bake in your preheated hot oven for about 10-12 minutes or until the bacon is cooked.

Remove from the oven and arrange two per plate on small saucers. Sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles.


Many thanks to our event manager, Em, and this week's host, Christie of A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures for all of their hard work behind the scenes.

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