Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Party Favorites - Shrimp Shooters

I can't believe that I am approaching a milestone on this blog. As I come closer to reaching that 50,000 page views, only 10 people have signed up to follow this blog. What's up with that? I know that many of the same people are visiting each and every month, but don't sign up for one reason or another. I have expected more comments, positive or negative, and hopefully suggestions for future posts. So if you like this blog why not sign up? It's free.
Shrimp Shooters
This month I've decided to stay in the wonderful world of seafood, both off and on the grill. Several years ago my wife and I attended a wedding, where the waiters were passing hors d'oeuvres during the cocktail hour. One of them was a tray of shrimp shooters, neatly prepared in shot glasses. In case you haven't guessed it, I just love shrimp. Any kind of shrimp. If you're having a party and looking for a starter with a certain "wow factor," then shrimp shooters are for you.
Traditional Shrimp Cocktail
You're going to need some shot glasses. How many you need depends on the number of guests you are having. You can buy plastic ones at your local party supply store, or rent real shot glasses. I prefer glass over plastic, strictly from a recycling point of view. If you just put out trays of shrimp and cocktail sauce, your guests will descend on the table like vultures.
Make or buy some cocktail sauce

By controlling the portion size and keeping them moving, you will reduce your costs considerably, while creating a lasting impression with your guests. Our children recently threw an anniversary party for us. Of the many appetizers they served, I immediately went after the shrimp shooters, as did many other people.
Fill the bottom of the shot glasses with shredded lettuce (optional)

Divide the lettuce or frisée evenly in each shot glass. Place a   tablespoon or more of the cocktail sauce on top. If no lettuce, just cocktail sauce divided evenly.
Place some large tail on, cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp on the edge of each shot glass and drizzle the lemon juice on top. Garnish each shooter with a lemon wedge. Cover and chill until needed.
This is starting to look real good

Since the shrimp shooters are an appetizer, figure about 2-3  per person. This is assuming that you are serving other appetizers.
I want one
As an alternative, you can first grill some shrimp, lightly dusted with your favorite BBQ rub, a trick I learned from my brother.
Skewer the shrimp on metal, or wooden skewers. If you use wooden skewers, soak them in water for about 30 minutes before using them. Place the shrimp skewers on the grill for 2 to 4 minutes per side, or until prawns become opaque. Don't over cook them. Remove from the grill and allow to cool before placing them into the shot glasses. Another alternative, use BBQ sauce. 
BBQ Grilled Shrimp
While waiting for shrimp to cool slightly, fill 8 shot glasses about halfway full with sauce. Place 1 shrimp in each shot glass, tail sticking out. Garnish with a lemon peel twist. 

© TMelle 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Citrus Grilled Salmon with Orange Vinaigrette

I received some comments lately stating that I only post recipes with meat on this blog. I decided to throw some salmon on the grill for those non-meat carnivores, like my sister-in-law who came to visit us last weekend. She eats fish but doesn't like meat. My wife and her sister asked me to grill some salmon. I decided on making a citrus grilled salmon. It can be made using salmon steaks or fillets.
Salmon fillet
This recipe was actually inspired by my neighbor who, many years ago, recommended a restaurant on Navy Pier in Chicago. He also recommended I order a grilled salmon fillet with baby spinach and fresh oranges. This was not on the menu but he told me they would make it to my specifications.
Perhaps you prefer steaks
2-4-6 oz. salmon fillets or steaks, room temp
Sea salt to taste
fresh cracked black pepper
to taste
1-10 oz. bag fresh baby spinach
1 small shallot, minced
1 small tomato, diced
2-4 whole eggs, hard boiled, peeled, sliced or quartered
Olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for grilling  
Insert lemon slices cut in half into salmon
About an hour before grilling your salmon, you're going to make some orange vinaigrette. The sweetness of the orange and light acidity balances the rich full flavor of the salmon. Feel free to experiment using blood oranges when in season.
Fresh orange juice
1/3 cup orange juice, fresh squeezed
1/4 tsp lemon zest, or more
1/4 tsp orange zest, or more
Orange and lemon zest
2 tbsp white vinegar
1/3 cup
extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground dry mustard
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tsp agave syrup or honey, optional
In a blender or cruet add the juice from fresh squeezed orange and a 1/4 teaspoon each of fresh orange and lemon zest. Add the vinegar and dry mustard and blend or shake well. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and blend or
shake until incorporated and the mixture emulsifies. Taste it. If there is too much bite, add more olive oil, if not enough bite, add more vinegar. You might also add a half teaspoon of agave syrup or honey to balance the citrus flavor.
Wash and dry some baby spinach
Dice some shallots
and some diced tomatoes
Wash the spinach and spin dry in a salad spinner, or blot dry with paper towels.
In a skillet with a splash of olive oil, saute the diced shallots until tender but not brown. Put the baby spinach into the pan and toss with the shallots. Saute the spinach and keep tossing until wilted. Lower the heat and mix in the diced tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the pan from the heat. 
Place the salmon skin side down on a piece of lightly oiled aluminum foil. Cut slits in the top of the salmon to accommodate lemon slices that have been cut in half. Slip the lemon halves into the slits. This will infuse the citrus flavor into the salmon while grilling.
Lemon slices added to salmon
Brush the top of the salmon with more oil and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Set up the grill for two zone cooking, one hot and one off. The heat from the hot side will carry over to the cold side. When the grill is hot (about
400°F), place the salmon in foil on the hot side. Do not cover yet. We want to cook the skin side until it sticks to the foil and the salmon begins to cook from the bottom up.
Don't cover yet let the bottom cook first over a hot grill
When the salmon turns from raw to cooked half way up the thickness of the salmon, drizzle lightly with olive oil and a little butter and close the grill cover. This is when you finish cooking the salmon. I prefer mine medium but some like it more well done. It's up to you and the quality of your salmon. Check the salmon until it's done.

To serve, place a bed of spinach, shallots and tomato mixture on the plate. Using a fish spatula, carefully slide it between the skin and the salmon. Remove the salmon, leaving the skin on the foil. Place the fillet on the spinach. Discard the skin and the foil. Drizzle the top of the salmon with the orange vinaigrette. Place the egg slices on top of the spinach against the fillet. Enjoy!
© TMelle 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Retro Mock Chicken Legs

Mise en place
This is a meal we had often growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Chicken was expensive, so we had to settle for "mock chicken." This is what I call real comfort food and was something that we always looked forward to.
The recipe is pretty straight forward and she made them often from scratch in the beginning. Later on she would have them made up for her by our local butcher. She just had to bring them home and fry them up in a pan, finish them in the oven and serve them with mashed potatoes and pan gravy.
Ingredients (meat)
3/4 lbs. Veal, ground

3/4 lbs. Pork, ground
1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
2 tsp. yellow mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 cup bread crumbs, fine
1 whole egg, beaten, for breading
8 wooden skewers
6 Tbsp. Butter or margarine, clarified for frying
Use ice cream scoop to portion legs
Place the meat into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients  except the eggs, butter, and bread crumbs. Mix meat until the ingredients are well blended, but not over mixed. Using an ice cream scoop divide the meat into nine equal portions. Shape each portion evenly around each stick, or insert them later. Try to form raw meat into the shape that resembles a chicken leg.
Wrap each leg in waxed paper and refrigerate for about one hour. Preheat oven to 350°F. Dip each leg in the beaten egg and then roll in bread crumbs until evenly coated. Press crumbs into the meat with your hands so that it sticks well.
Soak sticks in water
Add some of the clarified butter or margarine to a medium hot skillet. Add the formed legs and fry on medium heat, turning frequently, until brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.
Add more butter as needed until all of the drumsticks are fried. Remove drumsticks to an oven proof platter and place into the oven for 20-30 minutes.
I used two sticks per mock chicken leg
Make the gravy using the pan drippings while the drumsticks are baking in the oven.
Pour slurry into pan drippings
Ingredients (gravy)
1/2 cup beef stock
3 tbsp. flour
3 tbsp. water
to taste salt & pepper
Directions (gravy)
To the pan dripping add beef stock. In a separate container mix together water and flour to make a liquid thickener (slurry). Mix this into the pan a little at a time and stir until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until gravy thickens to the desired consistency. Discard the unused slurry. Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper as necessary to your taste. Spoon gravy over the drumsticks when serving. 
Can you smell that?

Serves: 8-9

© TMelle 2014