Home-Cooked: Strawberry Guacamole

After many years of internal debate and unnecessary apprehension, I can finally say that I am an avocado lover. My initial reservations about this lovely green fruit were washed away when it was perfectly paired with it's berry cousin: the strawberry! I owe this to a local Mexican restaurant that prides itself on it's robust "guacamole" menu.

The menu at this restaurant covers a wide span of flavor profiles from sweet to savory or spicy to mild. This means that there is a type of "guac" for every type of food lover!  As I have eaten my way down the list sampling all the varieties, none compare to the first one I had the fortune of trying: Strawberry Guacamole.

After many attempts to recreate this dish for my own purposes, I've finally landed on my own recipe worth sharing. It's quick and easy, and has become a hit at potlucks, parties or cookouts. The recipe can be found below!

STRAWBERRY GUACAMOLE

Ingredients

  • 2 Ripe Avocados (Medium to Large Sized, Pitted and Scooped)
  • 1/2 Cup - Chopped Strawberries (Fresh and Ripe)
  • 1/8 Cup - Chopped Black Olives
  • 1 tablespoon -  Minced Garlic
  • 3 tablespoons - Chopped Cilantro
  • 1 Lime (Finely Zested, Juiced)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large bowl mash the avocados with a fork or potato masher until coarsely mashed. 
  2. Fold in strawberries, black olives, minced garlic, cilantro and lime until well mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Garnish the top with some olives and chopped strawberries.
  4. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate.

 

 

 

 

 

28 Days of Soul: Curried Shrimp Cakes and Parmesan Tomato Grits

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This month Geo Table's presents "28 Days of Soul" a celebration of black history and community through cuisine. Today, I am happy to present to you the first of a weekly segment  called the "Evolution of the Black Kitchen."  In this segment, I will present a modern or innovative twist on classic soul food dishes.

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This week's dish was inspired by a few recipes in The Black Family Reunion Cookbook. The Black Family Reunion Cookbook celebrates African American cuisine from across the United States and contains almost 250 recipes.

This cookbook was a staple in my grandmother's (and many of my friends' grandmothers) homes. If you are truly interested in learning about African American cuisine, it is definitely worth the buy.

If ever forced to select my FAVORITE brunch dish, then Shrimp and Grits would top the list. Although this delectable combination was rose to fame in the early 1980s, it's origins began much earlier in a part of the United States affectionately known as the  "Grit Belt" ( the Carolinas to Louisiana). The dish was commonplace among fisherman who lacked a diversity of food options, and the meal was typically eaten for breakfast due to it being hearty and filling. It was often served with scraps of bacon.

For a full history on Shrimp and Grits, this is an article worth reading. 

Today, the dish has been modernized in a number of ways and can be found on countless menus across every corner of the United States. In creating my "personal take" I decided to step out of the box to  give my dish an more worldly flare. Relying on curry powder, diced vegetables, chopped shrimp and panko to fry the shrimp in a way this is unconventional for this dish.  I then paired them with a  tomato based grit topped with parmesan cheese.  This turned out much better than expected and this version will make regular appearances at my dining room table.

The recipe can be found below:

CURRied SHRIMP CAKES AND PARMESAN TOMATO GRITS

For the Curry Shrimp Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound large raw shrimp ( peeled, deveined )
  • ·1 large egg
  •  1 small red onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  •  1 tablespoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  •  1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  Pinch of ground black pepper
  •  2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)  
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) canola or vegetable oil

1.      Chop shrimp in the food processor. Place in a bowl with egg, red onion, lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, curry powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Mix well.  Add 1 cup panko and mix well. Form mixture into 10-12 (approximately 3-inch-diameter) cakes. Roll cakes in remaining 1 cup panko; transfer to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.  (Note: These can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours before making).

2.     Heat 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry cakes until cooked through and golden brown on both sides, adding more oil to skillet as needed, about 6 minutes

For the Grits

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 cup coarse grits
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Add water, milk, butter and marinara to a large pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Once liquid is simmering, whisk in grits in a slow stream. Whisk constantly to make sure the grits don’t clump together.
  2. Whisk mixture constantly over low heat until it thickens substantially. It should take 15 to 20 minutes to thicken. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the grated parmesan cheese. Continue to stir until cheese is melted. 
  3. Place in bowl, and top with parmesan cheese. 

I hope you enjoy!

 

Home-Cooked : Fried Oreo Beignets

Much to the dismay of my waistline, my sweet tooth is a little bit out of control. Although I have made solid attempts to curb my cravings, when presented with options that include a high sugar content, I simply cannot resist. As was the case on a recent late-night outing with a friend.

As we concluded our meal, the server handed us the dessert menu and posed  the age old question, "Did you save room for dessert?" Although my stomach was sending signals of satiation to my brain, my eyes zeroed in on one item, the "Oreo Beignets." That was all she wrote.

The fried dessert served with a side of dulce de leche ice cream was heaven, and my sweet tooth was quickly soothed. An instant fan, I scoured the internet for recipes so I could attempt to recreate the dish at home. With some small edits, I found a simple recipe involving bisquick, crushed oreos and oreo filling (for glaze). My partner, Mark, gave two thumbs up to my creation, and it may begin to make frequent appearances in our home.

The recipe (which yields 5-6 servings) can be found below. Happy eating!

Fried Oreo Beignets Recipe

Prep Time: 15 mins| Cook Time: 15 minutes (Approx. 2-3 mins per beignet) | Total Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup crushed Oreos (filling removed and placed in a microwave safe bowl)
  • 1 pack "Bisquick Complete" (7.5 oz bag)
  • 1/3 Cup Hot Water
  • Canola Oil

Instructions

  1. Take approximately 10-12 Oreos and remove filling (place in a microwaves safe bowl and put to the side for later use).
  2. Place Oreos in a 1 gallon plastic bag and use your hands crush the cookies into smaller pieces. Measure 1 cup of crushed cookies and place to the side.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the pack of Bisquick with the hot water stirring with a wooden spoon until it becomes a dough-like consistency that is easy to handle.
  4. Take a small handful (about a quarter cup) and flatten dough in your hand. Place a spoonful of crushed Oreos in the center. 
  5. Fold dough over crushed Oreos and mold the dough into small balls (Oreos should be completely surrounded by the dough.)
  6. Repeat beignet making process until there is no remaining dough (approximately 5-6 beignets).
  7. To fry, heat the canola oil in a medium sized sauce pan (about 2 inches deep) on medium heat until hot (375 degrees). 
  8. Place uncooked beignets in pan. Watch closely as they will cook very quickly ( within 2 - 3 minutes).
  9. When the dough turns a golden brown, it means they are done!
  10. For the topping, place bowl of oreo filling in the microwave for 1 minute or until fully melted. Use a spoon to drizzle topping over hot beignets.

These were absolutely wonderful and are best served FRESH out of the fryer!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup and Balsamic Vinegar

Growing up,  the childhood television shows  I loved often displayed brussels sprouts as rancid smelly vegetables that should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, those less than favorable images stayed with me well into adulthood until about five years ago, when on a whim, I decided to give them a chance.

One evening, after a few drinks, and hunger quickly settling in, I felt adventurous enough to give the restaurant's roasted maple brussels sprouts. The misplaced disdain I had for these precious little bites quickly began to fade, and I cursed 1990s media for their adverse marketing of these small pieces of heaven.

 Now a regular and welcomed guests on my dining room table, I have been honored to dress and prepare these little morsels of goodness in a number of ways. My absolute favorite recipe is one that evokes the same feelings I had during my inaugural experience with them at the restaurant. A simple recipe that involves roasting them with maple syrup and balsamic vinegar; I am happy to share with you my recipe for Roasted Maple-Balsamic Brussels Sprouts.

 

Roasted Maple-Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Prep : 10 mins | Cook Time: 30 mins | Total Time: 40 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Brussels Sprouts, halved

  • 1 Small Red Onion, chopped

  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil

  • 2 tbsp pure Maple Syrup

  • 3 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

  • 1/2 tsp Salt

  • 1/2 tsp Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

  2. Place Brussels sprouts and red onion in a large bowl. Stir well.

  3. Drizzle with olive oil, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar. Toss with wooden spoon to coat.

  4. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.

  5. Add coated mixture to a cast iron skillet or baking dish. Be sure to cover the bottom evenly.

  6. Roast in oven until brussels sprouts are caramelized, ( approximately 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.)

Home-Cooked: Apple Blossom Tarts

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If ever asked my favorite season, my answer is always a resounding FALL!  During these months, where the air is brisk, I often seek refuge indoors through kitchen related activities such as baking. Fair warning: the next few months may bring an on slew of fall desserts. 

Warm apple pie paired with vanilla ice cream ranks highly on my list of favorite desserts for this season. While I have tried my hand at several apple pie recipes in the past, this year I wanted to challenge myself to try something a little different. Perusing Pinterest for some ideas, I came across a recipe for Apple Pie Roses. The recipe looked simple enough, but as I began the process I realized it these little pastries might be a tall order to fill.

Although my final product didn't turn out quite like "roses" (more like blossoms hehe)- I gave it an honest try (and even made my own pie dough for the first time). The finished desserts also received Mark's stamp of approval for taste! 

Check out the recipe below for my Apple Blossom Tarts!

Apple Blossom Tarts Recipe 

(adapted from frommyimpossiblytinykitchen )

For the crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar (see note below)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold and cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 3 tbsp ice cold water

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Stir to combine. Add in the cubed butter. Work the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingertips until the mixture looks like a coarse meal and there are no pieces of butter larger than the size of a pea. Add in ice water and stir to combine. The mixture should just come together into a ball, add additional ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if dough seems dry.
  2. Form the dough into a disc, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour.
  3. On a well floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4" thick. Use a biscuit cutter, a cup or a bowl about 3 1/2-4" in diameter and cut out rounds of dough. Fit each round into the cup of a buttered muffin tin, pushing the dough up the sides. Chill dough while the filling is prepped.

For the filling:

  • 2 apples (Pink Lady, Braeburn, Honeycrisp etc)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (see note below)
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  1. To cut the apples and remove the core, place the apple upright and make a cut about 1/8" from the center of the apple - basically making straight cuts around the core. Repeat on the remaining sides, you should have 2 large pieces, 2 small pieces and the core.
  2. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, cut the apples very thinly into half moons. Toss the apples with the lemon juice. Melt 2 tbsp of butter and combine with 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Pour mixture over the apples along with lemon juice and toss to combine. Microwave apples for about 1 minute, until soft and pliable enough to roll.
  3. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and combine with remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Brush the bottom of each dough cup with the mixture.
  4. To form the roses, place about 10 slices of apples on a flat surface, laying them out horizontally and consistently with the skin side facing you. Place each slice so it overlaps the previous slice by half. Begin tightly rolling the apples from one end to the other. Once you've got the basic rose shape, pick up the apples and add any additional apple "petals" around the outside, depending on how large you want the rose to be. I used about 12-18 slices per rose.
  5. Put an apple rose in each cup of the muffin tin and bake for 25-30 minutes at 375F until crust is golden and apples are cooked through.

 

What are your favorites desserts for fall? Please let me know. I may decide take a pass making them this season!