Archive | November, 2011

Cuba Libre & Pop-Up Paladares Post

30 Nov

Brrr its brisk today!  Have you checked the 10 day forecast lately?  Nothing but my cold coming our way.  Looking for a way to warm up?!  Check out my recent Cuba Libre  and Pop-Up Paladares post at http://www.pamelaspunch.com/pop-up-paladares-cooking-series-cuba-libre-lunch/In addition to a fabulous meal, Chef Pernot gave me the scoop on his first event January 17-19th in the new Pop-Up Paladares seriesMy post will take you to tropical Havana in no time.

Here are a few photos to whet your appetite!

 Chef Guillermo Pernot

Buñuelos de Espinaca

Pulpo con Berenjenas

Carne de Cangrejo

Cesar de Oriente

Grilled Pineapple Mojito

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Fresh Shrimp Tacos

30 Nov

Still feeling overloaded and bloated after all of the Thanksgiving indulgences?  Me too!  What if I said the three magic words?  Quick, fresh and simpleOh, and what if I threw in healthy,  for good measure.  Now we’re talking right?!

Shrimp Tacos (serves 2)

  • 1 lbs of fresh shrimp, peeled, de-veined and tails removed
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tbs garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • juice and zest of 2 limes
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1 and 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 1 cup salsa (optional)
  • 1/2 a cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 hard taco shells

Set out two plates with two taco shells each.  Divide your cheddar cheese and greens evenly into the four shells.  Then chop up your tomatoes, jalapeno, and cilantro.  Set aside. 

In a large bowl combine olive oil, garlic, tomato paste, and the juice and zest of your limes and lemons.  Mix and then add shrimp, gently mix shrimp and sauce together.  Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. 

Heat a pan over medium heat and pour in half of the bowl of shrimp.  Spread out shrimp in the pan so they cook evenly.  These little guys cook up very quickly, and will be finished when their tails curl in and they take on a light orangy-pink color (see the image above).  I find these usually take 1 and 1/2 minutes per side.  Once your first batch is cooked, transfer them to the first two taco shells.  Pour the sauce they cooked in over the top of the shrimp, and then use the same pan to cook second half of shrimp.  Once completed, transfer second batch of the shrimp to the last two taco shells. 

Top shrimp tacos with  tomatoes, jalapeno and cilantro.  If desired, add salsa to the top of each taco.  Now that’s, whats for dinner! 

My tacos were delish!  I did have one misstep in the kitchen though.  I decided to assemble everything in tortillas (see image above) since I tend to prefer soft tacos.  Bad idea!  My tacos fell apart right away and were soggy yet delicious.  I recommend using the hard shells for these tacos.  Otherwise these are a hit!

Chickpeas 2 Ways: Italian & Indian

28 Nov

After rolling myself out of my parents’ house, I got hungry (again).  I was craving veggies in a major way after days of carb-loading (sour cream & cream cheese mashed potatoes anyone), and needed to make something straight out of the pantry since I was without groceries.  I looked in my bare cabinets, and pulled out a can of chickpeas.  Eureka!

I love creating multiple recipes with different flavor profiles from the same base ingredients.  It’s a way for me to make left-overs exciting and new!  Last time I shared my meatball recipes.  Now I bring you Chickpeas 2 ways.

Indian Chickpea Curry (serves 1)

  • 1/2 of a 15.5 oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tbs garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • sprinkle of ginger
  • salt & pepper to taste

Heat 1 tbs olive oil over medium heat.  Add 1/2 a can of chickpeas and diced onions, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Saute for 5 mins. 

Add tomato paste and 1/2 cup of chicken broth to pan.  Add garam masala, curry powder and cumin to pan.  Stir, and continue to cook over medium heat until sauce thickens, about 7-10 mins.  Add additional 1/2 cup of chicken stock and sprinkle ground ginger over top.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and stir.  Cook for about 5 more mins and take off the heat.  Your chickpeas should be soft, and will be perfect served over a bowl of brown rice!

Italian Chickpea, Spinach and Tomato Stoup (serves 2)

  • 1/2 of a 15.5 oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tbs garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 oz fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup orzo (small grain pasta that looks like rice)
  • 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 tbs pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Heat 1 tbs olive oil over medium heat.  Add 1/2 can of chickpeas and diced onions , then season with salt and pepper.  Saute for 5-7 mins.  Add tomato paste, 1/2 cup of water, spinach and canned tomatoes to the pot.  Continue to cook over medium heat until chickpeas are tender and spinach has wilted.  About 7 mins.  Add cup of chicken stock and orzo, then bring to a boil. 

Continue to cook at a boil until orzo is cooked, approximately 7 minutes, stir periodically or orzo will stick to the bottom of the pot.  Add salt and pepper and stir. 

I love this stoup (Rachael Ray’s term for a cross between stew and soup), because it’s hearty and healthy after days of indulgence!  Plus I found a way to make 3 meals out of ingredients in my apartment.  You can re-create this meal for a few bucks at the store.  Yay for cheap/free food!

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Onions

27 Nov

To follow-up on yesterday’s Thanksgiving Recap post, I wanted to share the three recipes I contributed to my family’s feast.  At my mother’s request, I brought my Eggplant Dip, my Chocolate PB Chip Cookies, and Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Onions

These sweet potatoes were creamy with a little tang from the goat cheese, and the caramelized onions were the perfect complement.  This dish was so simple, portable, and is sure to become a new holiday staple!

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with  Caramelized Onions

  • For the Mashed Sweet Potatoes
    • 4 large sweet potatoes, roasted
    • 6 oz of goat cheese
    • 3 tbs butter, melted
    • 1 tsp pepper and a sprinkle
    • 1/2 tsp salt and a sprinkle
    • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • For the Caramelized Onions
    • 2 large onions, chopped
    • 1 tbs olive oil
    • 1 tsp granulated sugar
    • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
    • sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste

First roast your sweet potatoes on a baking sheet covered with foil in a 400 degree oven for an hour.  Make sure to poke several holes in each sweet potato with a fork to let the steam escape.  Your sweet potatoes will be finished when a fork can easily be inserted and the potatoes are tender.  I roasted these the night before to save a step on Thanksgiving.

Once the sweet potatoes cool, peel off the skin and transfer cooked potatoes to a large bowl.  Add the goat cheese and mash the two together.  Once combined, melt butter in the microwave for 40 seconds, and then pour over potatoes.  Add salt, pepper, and fresh nutmeg to bowl and stir.

After you finish with the potatoes, chop two large onions.  Transfer the onions into a pan over medium heat coated with 1 tbs of olive oil.  Stir the onions to coat and let them sit for 15 minutes or so, stirring periodically. They should look similar to the above picture.

After about 15 minutes, add 1 tsp of sugar to the pan and stir.  Cook for 15-20 more minutes stirring periodically to make sure the onions do not burn.  The goal  of caramelizing onions, is to release their natural sugars and soften them just shy of burning themStir the onions from time to time during the cooking process, but do NOT over stir.  This will prevent the onions from ever caramelizing.  TRUST, I think this is what took me so long to finish mine.

Top the mashed sweet potatoes with the caramelized onions, and serve warm.  My father is not a big onion fan, so I served them on the side for himHey, it’s the holiday season and I was in a giving mood!  These Mashed Sweet Potatoes stand on their own, but give them a try with the onions if you are not opposed to them.  I think they really give this side its pop. 

Thanksgiving Recap

26 Nov

Happy belated Thanksgiving!  Did you stuff yourself like crazy too?  Of course you did, after all, we’re American.  Once again, my mother outdid herself and created an epic dinner for the sixteen of us! 

Upon arriving at my parents house Wednesday, I was greeted with a glass of wine.  My first thought was to check out the fridge.  Please note that my cheese addiction is hereditary, and take a look at my parents’ cheese drawer.  🙂  Below please find our Thanksgiving menu and pictures of the feast!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and I’ll be sharing my Mashed Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onions recipe tomorrow!

Flourless Chocolate PB & Choc Chip Cookies

21 Nov

Are you a planner or someone who does things on the fly?  I ask because there may be some of you who are still trying to figure out something easy and portable to bring to the fam’s house for Thanksgiving.  Sure you could bring something classic like this, or this and then afterwards turn it into this.  

Somehow I think you all are more like the most interesting man in the world, and therefore, anything but traditional!  Why not try something different and a little outside of the box?  How about some Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies?  These cookies are quick, include just a few ingredients, and are oh so portable for those of you on the go.

Chocolate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from a Claire Robinson recipe)

  • 1 cup Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter from Peanut Butter & Co
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg beaten
  • sea salt to sprinkle

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, mix the dark chocolate peanut butter, sugar, egg and vanilla, until well combined. 

Spoon 1 tbs of dough mixture about 1 inch apart onto ungreased baking sheets (I know, you don’t even have to grease them). Flatten the mounds with a fork, making a criss cross pattern on the cookies. Sprinkle coarse salt on top of the cookies.

Bake until the edges firm up, about 10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway thorough baking. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks. Couldn’t be easier right?  If this is too chocolately, then feel free to use regular peanut butter.

Stay hungry my friends.

Chocolate and Orange Frosting

20 Nov

I know I was supposed to pepper you this past week with a gazillion posts on all things turkey, instead I write you about birthday cake.  No it’s not MY birthday!  I accept my gifts in mid January.  It was my co-worker’s birthday this weekend, so I brought her a celebratory cake on Friday. 

To be honest, the cake itself wasn’t that memorable.  She requested vanilla, so I complied.  What WAS memorable was my new recipe for the most lusciously whipped Chocolate and Orange Frosting.

Wow, I mean, wow.  I’m so pleased with the way this turned out, I’m thinking of making another cake just to serve as an excuse to make more of this.  As with most of my recipes, it’s really easy and doesn’t take too many ingredients.

Chocolate and Orange Frosting

  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup cream
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs orange juice with pulp
  • 1 tbs orange zest
  • 1 tbs shaved orange chocolate flakes

First melt your chocolate and butter in a medium-sized pot over low heat.  Stir until melted and shiny.  While you are waiting for the chocolate to melt, whip your cream and powdered sugar in a bowl with a mixer.  It should only take a few minutes to whip up, and form a smooth, creamy texture.  Pour your chocolate and orange juice into the bowl with whipped cream, and slowly fold the chocolate mixture into the cream.  Folding the two mixtures will keep the frosting light and fluffy.  Once combined, spread over a cooled cake, cupcakes or pour into a cereal bowl and pick up a spoon.  Spread orange zest and orange-flavored chocolate shavings over top.

Wishing it was your birthday? 😉  I’ll be back tomorrow with more holiday-themed and Thanksgivingy items.