Monday, June 25, 2012

Coctel de Camarones

I've been eating in alot of Mexican places lately and the shrimp cocktail is at the top of my list of things to order.  They are usually served in these huge icy bowls with soda crackers on the side.  I don't know why anyone would need crackers when there are always lots of hot corn chips-unless it's a Mexican faux-pas to eat chips with shrimp cocktail.  The sauce is a little on the thin side and slightly sweet. 

Here is what I did:
I first reduced some V8 cocktail juice with some garlic and bay leaf.  When the juice was slightly thickened I threw in the shrimp and let them cook in the juice.  Remove the pan from the heat just before the shrimp are done-they will continue to cook for a couple of more minutes.  Chill the shrimp in the sauce.

When the shrimp were chilled, I added the following:
diced onion
diced pepper-both hot and sweet
diced tomato
diced avocado
chopped fresh cilantro
fresh lime juice
salt and pepper

Chill a couple of hours before serving.  Serve with additional avocado, cilantro, lime wedges, and corn chips or soda crackers.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lobster Boil at kitchen Conservatory

We had a blast last night at KC,  Lobster boils are so easy and fun it is hard to beat for a casual get together.  By the time class was over everyone was hugging and exchanging emails and promising to stay in touch. 

red potatoes
corn on the cob
sausage (kielbasa, andouille, or Spanish chorizo)
manilla clams

We did our boil in a turkey fryer.  So now you have another way of using that turkey fryer.  We used 1 1/4 pound lobsters (called chicken lobsters because of their size) purchassed from Bob's Seafood, they were fresh and lively.  There isn't really a recipe for this just timing.  In a pot large enough to hold all the vegetables and lobsters, place a layer of seaweed put in the potatoes, add enought water plus some beer to fill the pot, leaving room for the rest of the ingredients.  Add 2 Tablespoons of sea salt for every quart of water you use.  Bring to the boil and cook the potatoes 5 to 8 minutes.  Add the sausage, and corn on the cob, cook 3 to 5 minutes, add the lobsters head down into the water and boil 5 minutes, add the manilla clams and shrimp boil for 2 minutes, add the mussels and cook until every things is opened and the lobsters are bright red-1 to 2 minutes usually.  (if you use clams that are not manilla, their cooking time will increase).  Strain  and dump onto a table lined with butcher paper or old newspaper and serve with melted butter.

We also made a tenderloin caprese salad to start with.
A really diverse group lots of kids and parents, even a couple extremely young'uns, and a recently engaged couple-you can probably pick them out from the candid pictures.

One new trick I learned last night from Anne (who owns KC) was a rolling pin trick.  You can use a rolling pin to squeeze the meat out of the legs-pretty neat.  At the end there wasn't a single shrimp, mussel, clam, or morsel of lobster left.

Sunday Dinner at Mom's

I was visiting my folks last week who live in Princeville IL-just outside of Peoria.  She made this pork roast crusted with cumin, cayenne, and brown sugar and served it with a pineapple and black bean salsa.  It was juicy and delicious and the salsa was spicy with jalapeno and sweet with the pineapple-my mom definitely knows how to rock a pork roast.

When we're in Peoria we find any excuse to visit the food carts outside the court house.  There are about 8 or 9 of them-quite a selection for a city the size of Peoria.  They have been there for several years, dating back to the 1980's.  We visited the Korean stand for bulgogi-the Korean lady was amused I asked for kim chee-not available in Peoria yet.  Apparently Peoria will eat bulgogi but not yet kim chee.  We also visited a Lebanese stand for gyros and falafel-both excellent.  There are also Thai, Mexican, Southern Soul from "Willies"-a Peoria institution (that cart had the longest lines waiting for grilled pork chop sandwiches) and a few others.

There are no food trucks in Peoria yet as they are all fighting on how to license them and the restaurants aren't happy because they are afraid of losing their lunch traffic to them.  In any case the food carts are charming and tasty, so if you're ever in Peoria in the Spring or Summer check them out.

We all sat around the beautiful Civil War Memorial outside the courthouse.  My brother in law helped to restore the statue a couple of years ago-it is quite impressive.