Strawberry Shortcake

 

I found this post in my draft folder and I have no idea why I didn’t publish it. I made this strawberry shortcake eons ago but, it was so good, it’s still worth posting. The recipe is from one of my favorite food blogs, Love and Olive Oil. Lindsey is the bloggers behind “The Cookie Dough Lovers Cookbook” which was basically written for me. I think I love cookie dough more than I love cookies and I was lucky enough to be gifted the book for my birthday. There are so many awesome recipes I’m not sure where to start.

I know strawberries are currently out of season but, I’ve used frozen strawberries for shortcake before with delicious results. Lindsey’s recipe was great, especially the cream biscuits. They were light with some flakiness and held up well to the juicy strawberries. I seem to have forgotten to take a picture of the final product so you’ll have to trust me that they came out great. Check out her recipe and enjoy the pictures!

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Shrimp and Grits

I love quintessential southern food. Fried chicken, biscuits and gravy and pecan pie are just a few of my favorites. One of the things I love most and that I enjoy making for myself is grits.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find “real” grits in upstate New York. I consider real grits to be hominy grits which are usually made of white corn. It’s also very hard to find non-instant or quick cooking grits in these parts. They just don’t have the same texture. Then, one lucky day a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Bob’s Red Mill Organic Corn Grits/Polenta. I had been told that they existed but, had not been able to find them at the grocery store. Clearly, it’s not exactly what I wanted. Real grits cannot be confused with polenta however, they are a big step above the quick cooking in a strange cardboard cylinder ones that you usually find. So, I took them home to make my shrimp and grits.

There are a few other key ingredients that you’ll need besides grits. One, of course, would be shrimp. I was able to find some shrimp in the seafood case of my local Hannaford and it was on sale. You’ll also need bacon which I suggest purchasing from the meat case at your grocery store, too. It was a lot less expensive and way better than buying the packaged goods. The rest of the ingredients are simple and many of them you many have in your refrigerator or pantry already.

Ingredients:

2 cups of water

2 cups of whole milk

1 cup of grits

4 tablespoons butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces

8 oz of cheese, shredded

1 pound of shrimp, peeled and devained

6 slices of bacon, chopped

2 shallots, minced

2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced (depending on your preference)

1/4 of a fresh lemon

Pinch of oregano

Salt

Ground Black Pepper

Directions:

Start by peeling and devaining your shrimp if it hasn’t already been done by the store. Toss them in a colander and give them a good rinse and then pat them dry with a paper towel.

Mix your milk and water together in a medium size pot and then set it over medium heat until it starts to boil. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper and then pour in your grits. Cook until all the liquid is absorbed, whisking and stirring frequently. Once the grits are cooked, stir in your butter and cheese.

Fry your bacon in a large skillet until it reaches your desired level of crispness. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon pieces to a paper towel to drain. Add the shrimp to the reserved bacon grease and cook until the shrimp just turn pink. Remove the shrimp and add it to your bacon that is draining. Add your shallots and garlic to the pan and saute until slightly transparent. Add the bacon and shrimp back to the skillet with your oregano, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper and saute for 1 – 2 minutes watching the shrimp closely so it doesn’t over cook. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

To plate your shrimp and grits, pour a laddle of grits into a wide bowl and use a small spoon to hollow out a circle in the middle of the grits. Spoon the shrimp mixture into the hollowed out area and Voila! You have shrimp and grits.

Side note/Tip: Your grits should be “flowing” – not watery but, not thick either. If they seem to seize up a bit (like mine are in the picture), you can stir in a little more milk prior to serving. This may mean you want to add a bit more salt and pepper, too. It’s also great tip for reheating them as leftovers. Sometimes I think they’re even better the next day.

Side Dish – New Potatoes with Butter and Chives

This is the fourth recipe in a series about a dinner I made for my parents. Read the back story here.

I’m a carb lover and I always want a starch with my meal. Since we were having steak for dinner, the classic starch side of potatoes was perfect. I used this recipe which, is one of those recipes that you don’t really need a recipe for but, it gave me the idea to use new potatoes. New potatoes aren’t actually a different kind of potato, they’re just normal potatoes harvested early in the spring and summer. That way they are smaller and they have a thinner skin.  This definitely made a great compliment to our flank steak (recipe to come) and delicious left overs.

Side Dish – Asparagus with Tarragon Vinaigrette

This is the third recipe in a series about a dinner I made for my parents. Read the back story here.

Dinner with mom and dad needed a couple side dishes. Both my parents like asparagus and it was in season so, I decided that would be a great addition.  Searching through my go-to site for this meal, Big Girls Small Kitchen, I found and easy recipe for asparagus with tarragon vinaigrette.  The dish was super simple to make but, I should have kept an eye on the asparagus since it cooked a little more than I wanted it to and was crisp.  It tasted great with the vinaigrette, though and I’m still trying to think of more things to use it on.

One note on this recipe – tarragon is not an herb that I was able to find fresh so, I used a dried version. Although I’m sure the fresh herb would have a stronger flavor this tasted great anyway.

Salad – Roasted Garlic Honey Vinaigrette

This is the second recipe in a series about a dinner I made for my parents. Read the back story here.

I wanted to start dinner with a fresh salad topped with homemade dressing. Procuring the greens was easy since I knew exactly where to go.  I’ve been purchasing arugula and pea shoots from Little Seed Gardens at the Troy Farmers Market for several years now and they never disappoint.

The dressing was going to be a bit harder, though.  As I was perusing Big Girls Small Kitchen for other items I found this recipe for arugula salad with roasted garlic honey vinaigrette.  Looking it over, it seemed easy to follow and could be made in advance.  Perfect!

So, I took my garlic and peeled it being careful to leave the cloves whole.  I like to use this method since I usually end up slightly squishing a clove when I use the knife-smash method.

The method of roasting the garlic is a little strange to me but, it seemed to work and boy did it smell good! The garlic came out looking like little black nuggets but, I didn’t worry because they were wonderfully squishy like true roasted garlic.

Yes, those are the garlic cloves. I don’t know if they are supposed to look like that but, they worked perfectly.  So, everything goes into the little food processor and blends until it’s a dressing-like consistency.

And then you have this little jar of goodness….

The jar is a 4oz mason jar. The recipe made a tiny bit more than that but, it wasn’t significant enough to use a larger container.

I have two major notes on the recipe:

  1. Follow the measurements if you’re not used to making dressing. On my first try I though I could just eyeball everything and it would work. I was really wrong. I did make little adjustments the second time but, I started with the recipe and worked from there.
  2. When I tasted the dressing after it was done (my second attempt) it tasted seriously garlicky.  I was really afraid it would have an overpowering taste. However, on a half pound of arugula and pea shoots, it blended perfectly and the garlic was there but not the main flavor.

The recipe can be found here.  I used two products from the Troy Farmers Market for the dressing – Arugula and Pea Shoots from Little Seed Gardens in Chatam, NY and Honey from Lloyd Spear Beekeeper, Inc in Schenectady, NY (no website but, you can find them at TFM on Saturday and it looks like they are at the Schenectady FM as well).

Appetizer: Corn Cakes with Lemon Chive Creme Fraiche

This is the first recipe in a series about a dinner I made for my parents. Read the back story here.

Although I had told my parents 6:30pm on Saturday for dinner I really had no idea what time they would show up and if I would be ready for them when they came so, I planned an appetizer as part of our menu.  Appetizers are probably the menu item with which I have the least experience. I can never seem to get my creative juices flowing and come up with an idea for a small bite before a meal.  So, I turned to Big Girls Small Kitchen for ideas.

As I was looking through I found this recipe for corn cakes which seemed perfect since it is sweet corn season in upstate New York.  I knew I would be able to purchase ears of corn at the farmers market and that I would be able to make part, if not all of it early on.

The corn cakes turned out great and were a perfect start to our meal. A couple of notes from my experience:

  • I made the mixture and then set it aside until I was ready to fry them up.
  • Despite what the recipe says, I don’t recommend heating your oil on high. Mine got waaaay too hot and popped and I have the little oil burns to prove it. After I turned off the burner and let the oil cool down, I heated it over medium-high heat and, while it still popped it wasn’t as violent.
  • Although you don’t want the oil to be too hot you do want it to be hot enough that the cakes won’t soak it up. Toss a sprinkle of water at the oil and see if it sizzles. When it does, you’re ready to fry.
  • I did end up having to put them in the oven to warm up a bit. It only took about 2 minutes since I hadn’t made them much before everyone got here. I was afraid heating them up would make them soggy but, they were still crispy and delicious.
  • I see no reason why you couldn’t substitute sour cream for creme fraiche.

I forgot to take production photos of the cakes but, here’s the final product…

And don’t forget to check out the recipe.  Tomorrow: Deliciously garlic salad dressing.

Prepping for Dinner

I had a week to prepare for dinner with Mom and Dad and it wasn’t a normal week.  We invited them over to thank them for all their help with moving including painting, hanging things and moving all my furniture out of their house and into our new apartment on Saturday.  I made the invitation on Sunday.  That meant that I had to finish unpacking and decorating, deal with a ridiculously frantic week at work and plan a great dinner.  The key word for me was plan.

The only thing I knew I had to make was strawberry shortcake.  Not only are strawberries in season but, it’s the perfect dessert for my dad who doesn’t like sweets and my mom who is trying to eat healthier.  Plus, I absolutely love strawberries.

I had an entree in mind but, definitely needed to do some research on it and side dishes.  Plus I wanted to find a great biscuit recipe for the strawberry shortcake.

For my recipe research I turned to a blog that I’ve been following for awhile, Big Girls Small Kitchen (in fact, I finally purchased their book last week).  I searched and printed and searched and printed some more. Then, I took the recipes, studied them and made some adjustments. Finally, I narrowed down what I wanted to make and put together my menu.  Once I had the menu set, I took out my notebook and made a list of all the ingredients.

Then I broke down the ingredient list into “Grocery Store” and “Farmers Market.” It was important to me to be able to use as many fresh, local ingredients as possible.  For my protein, I placed an order with my local butcher.

Next, I studied the recipes and cooking time and made and estimate of prep times.  Based on this, I made a plan for prepping and cooking.  With my plan in place, I set out for the grocery store.  There were several things I knew I wouldn’t be able to get at the market and I wanted to pick them up on Friday night so I had more time on Saturday. Yes, this potentially meant two trips to the grocery store in two days but, it was worth it for the time I would save on the day of dinner.  Saturday morning we headed to the farmers market and I was able to get everything I had planned.  We did make a quick stop at the grocery store on the way home for a couple extras but, I was ready fairly early.

At the end of this week, I’ll give you a recap of my prepping and cooking schedule for the dinner.  Tomorrow I’ll start with the recipes.