Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shrimp Stuffed Portobellas with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce

Shrimp Stuffed Portobello
When you have a little time, and really want to indulge, this is one of those great stepped up recipes. It honestly came from my own indecision a few years ago between stuffed mushrooms and baked stuffed shrimp. I put the two together and it was just plain delicious.

For 4 Very Healthy Servings...

1 lb Jumbo (21-25) Easy Peel Shrimp
4 Portobella Mushroom Caps
1 Roasted Red Pepper Diced
1 Pint Heavy Cream
2/4  Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Cup White Wine (I use Pinot Grigio)
2 Shallots, Finely Diced - about 2 tbsp each for stuffing and sauce
2 tbsp finely diced Celery
Pesto - about 2 heaping tbsp each stuffing and sauce
Ritz Crackers - 1 stack
6 tbsp Butter, Unsalted, 2 for Stuffing, 4 for Sauce
Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Red Pepper flake
1/2 tsp Paprika
Black Pepper
About 6 slices Bacon, crumbled (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 375. Remove the stems from the mushroom caps, carefully remove the "gills" with a spoon and wipe the mushroom with a damp paper towel to clean. Lightly coat top and bottom with oil and lightly salt bottom. Roast, bottom side down on a rack for 20 minutes. This step helps draw some of the moisture out of the mushroom. Let cool to handle while you prepare the stuffing.

Remove shell and tail from the shrimp, rinse in cold water, and pat dry with towel. Toss the shrimp in about 2 heaping tbsp of pesto. I use my mother in law's homemade pesto, but a quality market brand will do fine. ( Like her homemade soups, I can't catch her making the pesto. I thing she makes it all at the crack of dawn to protect the recipes. If i get them, i will post.) Grind the crackers in a food processor, course or fine is your preference. I like fine because it seems to stick better to the shrimp, and doesn't get too thick. Put in a wide mixing bowl, add the crushed red pepper, a few good cranks of black pepper and the paprika. Don't be afraid to season to your own taste. some like it hotter than others  In a small saute pan, melt 2 tbsp butter on low, and lightly saute 2 tbsp shallot and all the celery. Mix well into the crackers. I take 5 shrimp at a time and pat into the crackers and start piling on the mushrooms, bottom side up in a lightly sprayed or oiled casserole dish. Depending on the size of your caps, you can usually place 4 right on the cap on on on top center. If you overs tack, the stuffing won't brown & crisp and will get soggy. Pop back into oven for about 40 minutes.

For the Sauce, saute the other 2 tbsp of shallot in a medium sauce pan. As they begin to turn translucent, add the diced roasted red pepper. I use a good brand from the Italian food aisle when I don't have an home made. Saute a couple of minute and add the wine. Raise temp so it  comes to a simmer, and add the other 2 tbsp of pesto. Let reduce and allow flavors to come together for a couple of minutes before slowly adding the heavy cream. Let the cream come up to temp, a slow simmer and add the Parmesan cheese. Keep an eye on the sauce so it doesn't boil over. Simmer until your desired thickness. A little more cheese. never hurts either.

I let each person tell me how much sauce on their shrimp and mushroom. Some like a lot, some not. This is a good amount of sauce. I like to serve the mushrooms with a sauteed green like the broccoli rabe above or maybe some roasted green beans with bacon. My family is nuts for pasta, so today we had fresh spinach linguine that just loved the red pepper cream sauce. Another great add is some fresh crumbled bacon on top. We've come this far with cream and butter, might as well add some bacon.


Sunday Cookathon

Life is good when you have nothing to do all day but cook. Today's menu included some grilled chicken for my wife's lunches, some chicken chili and one of my mother in law's favorites, shrimp stuffed portobellas with a red pepper cream sauce. A little something for everyone today, recipes to follow.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Easiest Baked Beans

This is a great side even on a work day. Only about 5 minutes of prep and the Crock Pot  or slow cooker does the rest.

Night Before
1 lb bag of beans I've used small white beans and navy beans with equal success, prefer great white northern.
7 cups water

Morning Of
1/4 lb of bacon, diced. Thick cut works great here as well as maple, hickory smoked or apple-wood bacon.
1 onion, medium, finely chopped. As always, i prefer Vidalia.
1-2 jalapenos slice into rings
1 tsp Dad's Rub
4 tbsp Soy Sauce-low salt
2 tbsp Honey

On the night before, lay the beans out on an oven sheet to check for small stones & other debris. Soak them right in the slow cooker in the 7 cups water.

Heat Warning! Two jalapenos sliced into rings plus the Dad's Rub can be very spice for some. You can slice the peppers in half the long way and use a teaspoon to scrape out the seed and the white pith where all the heat is.

The morning of cooking, add all the remaining ingredients to the Crock Pot. I use the same water I soaked in, the sauce seems to come out thicker. There are many opinions out there about using the soak water vs. new water. Usually they relate to bean toughness or the bean after effects. Your beans, do what you like.

Turn on low. My cooker usually has them ready in 6-7 hours on low. Slow Cookers vary greatly, so time and settings may need to be adjusted. I check occasionally when i am home, mostly to adjust seasoning. I usally do not add any extra salt, the soy  sauce takes care of that for me.

Some great options are to use Worcestershire sauce instead of Soy, or a blend. If i have time, i will slowly saute the onions to that beautiful brown almost onion jelly consistency. Some barbecue sauce is a great addition or chipotle peppers instead of jalapenos. Sometimes instead of bacon, or in addition to the bacon, i will add sausages like kielbasa or andouille. If you have access Portuguese food, linguica works excellent here as well.


Dad's Rub

Dad's Rub is just my own little spice blend that i use for grilling and sauces and all sorts of other places.

It is simply
2 parts Chili Powder- the "Hot" Mexican on the market shelves usually isn't too spicy.
1 part each
- Black Pepper
-Cayenne Pepper
-Garlic Powder
-Dry Mustard Powder

Please note there is no salt in this rub. I prefer to salt to taste, depending what's on the menu and other ingredients like Soy or Worcestershire Sauce.

Barbecue Sauce

There are plenty of great barbecue sauces in the market, but sometimes you want to go the extra with homemade, or you get halfway through cooking and realize you don't have any in the cupboard. The most basic recipe i know is...

Equal parts Honey, Ketchup and Soy Sauce(low salt) whisked together.

I recommend starting with about 2 tablespoons of each. Now you can get a taste and make it you own. Want it sweeter, more honey, or try a little brown sugar or even maple syrup. Too much sugar will burn on the grill or even under the broiler .More tomato? More ketchup! Needs spice, black pepper is a great place to start. Maybe a dash of cayenne or a some finely minced chipotle pepper with the sauce from the can. Some sauteed onion or fresh garlic is a great add or garlic powder as well. If you want to season without heat, try a dash of allspice, very potent though, go easy at first. If your a big fan of heat, add some hot horseradish. A couple of dashes of your favorite mustard is always a good addition.

From the basic recipe above, over the years my barbecue sauce has come together. If you are like me and really can't be bothered measuring stuff, eyeballing works fine, but you'll need...

1 medium onion chopped fine. I like Vidalias best
1 tbsp pickled ginger, chopped fine
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup of ketchup
1/4 cup soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp Cider Vinegar
1 tbsp of "Dad's Rub" which is...
-2 parts chili powder,1 part each black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, cumin, dry mustard all mixed
-together in a leftover spice shaker.
a dash of allspice

Start by sauteing onion and olive oil over a medium low heat in a small sauce pan. I take mine all the way to caramelized. Add the ginger, pineapple juice, vinegar and soy sauce and brig to a slow simmer. Add the allspice and Dad's Rub. Let reduce by about half to concentrate. Add the honey next so it will dissolve easily into the liquid. Add the ketchup and let simmer for a couple of minutes to bring flavors together.



As long as we're in the middle of summer, i would like to get some of my favorite grilling & sides out there. Might as well start with chicken. I know, everybody already has a favorite chicken recipe, but for those who prefer their chicken tasty & juicy, and can't seem to get it that way, let's start with a marinade.

The following works for all sorts of chicken, including boneless skinless breast, wings, thighs, and my favorite, the whole chicken. You'll need...

8-10 chicken thighs (I love thighs, don't be afraid of dark meat. To make cooking easier & avoid grill flares and raging infernos. I take the skin off before marinating, but leave the bone in)
 or 4-6 boneless, skinless breast breast
 or  about 2 dozen whole wings
 or  1 whole chicken 6-8 pounds
1 gallon freezer bag or bowl/container big enough for whole chicken
1 beer, maybe 2
2-3 fresh jalapenos
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp crushed red pepper flake
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp sugar
Handful of fresh chopped cilantro
2-3 heaping tablespoons of pimenta moida (omit salt) or other crushed red pepper in vinegar instead of jalapenos or a small can, about 3 oz. of pickled jalapenos, diced or sliced

In the freezer bag, or bowl, mix all the ingredients except chicken, shaking or whisking well.

If going for the whole chicken, (Don't be Scared) use kitchen shears or knife to cut backbone out of chicken. Just run knife or shears down either side of bone, save bone in freezer for stock at a later time.

For wings, remove tips if necessary, but DO NOT separate flats and drumsticks, makes grilling easier.

Add the chicken & let marinade overnight if possible. At least 3-4 hours.

**** If you are using barbecue sauce, either jar or homemade (recipe to follow), do not add sauce until the last 15-20 minutes of cooking for chicken on the bone, 1/2 hour for whole chicken, or after first flip for skinless*****

All grills are different, even more so than ovens, times & temp settings may  need to be adjusted.

Fire up the grill on high to pre-heat. For boneless skinless breast, leave on high, drop cover, grill each side 10 minutes.

Thighs on bone & wings - after putting chicken on the grill, turn heat down to medium low, cook skin side up, if on thighs, for at least 20 -25 minutes per side.

Boneless thighs leave on med high to high, for about 12 minutes per side.

Whole chicken, turn grill down to low, or depending on grill, turn the burner under the chicken off after 20 minutes, other burners on medium, cook skin side up for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Flip & cook skin side down for 20 minutes to 1/2 hour (how crispy do you like your skin?) Flip again.

Always let meat rest for at least 10 minutes so juices don't come running out, & it will be juicy!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Getting Started

Welcome to What's Dad Cooking? If you enjoy the recipes (or not) and tips, or simply would like to share some of your own, i would love to hear from you. The main focus will be to share recipes and cooking tips, but when i see a chance to help you save money or time, i'll share that too.