Ah, the things we do for love. Setting the stage for a romantic evening is a bit of work but that's part of the fun. Sure, we remember the flowers and the chocolates and the romantic flickering candles and the scented massage oils (oh wait, we're getting ahead of ourselves with that last one) when preparing for that special Valentine's Day meal, but how much thought do we give to the salad?
Well now, if you really want to knock the socks off your special someone (yes, just the socks...for now!), take the time to prepare this Twin Hearts Apricot Glazed Shrimp and Peppadew Salad. It's a love letter on a plate!
Who knows what caused the fierce animosity between the main ingredients -- shrimp and chicken -- in this dish? Perhaps it started off with simple name calling: "You're a shrimp!" would certainly have been countered by, "Oh yeah? Well you're chicken!" It's a short step from there to centuries-long enmity.
Still, there are signs of detente: some recipes are now referring to the dish as Dragon and Phoenix, as in this soup version.
But whatever the outcome, this delicious combination of crisp vegetables and fierce foes will always be a safe bet.
There's an unmistakable moment when you know you've made something really, really good. It's when your guests take that first bite, close their eyes, and nearly swoon with pleasure -- murmuring 'oh my god' or 'wow' as they slowly and reluctantly return to their senses.
As cooks, we live for those moments, don't we?
Well, this recipe is one of those. It's unashamedly chock full of sinful amounts of butter, crab, and Parmigiano Reggiano. But so what? It'll make you forget the past and look forward to a buttery, garlicky, sunshiny future.
And that, my friends, is the best way to start a new year.
(FYI: If the world does end in 2012, it's highly unlikely anyone will be saying to themselves, 'Darn, I wish I hadn't eaten so much real butter.' Just a thought...)
On New Year's Eve in our house, the traditional 'good luck' dish for the new year was thin spaghetti dressed simply with olive oil, sauteed garlic and... yes, the fearsome, dreaded tinned anchovies. It certainly was a 'good luck' dish -- as in good luck getting us kids to eat it.
Older and wiser now, I've come to appreciate anchovies for their salty, briny intensity of flavor. I even throw together that New Year's Eve 'good luck' dish at other times of the year because it's so easy and so good. Just saute some finely chopped garlic in good olive oil, toss in some cooked angel hair or thin spaghetti, add a few tinned anchovy fillets and toss again. That's all there is to it.
Give it a try this year and it may become a New Year's Eve tradition in your house, too.
This year, I've decided that I'm going to leave those gaudy, breakable Christmas balls in the box and adorn my tree with these beautifully golden Clam and Feta Cheese Puffs instead.
This recipe makes nearly a hundred of these savory little delicacies, so I'll have plenty to decorate with and I'll be able to grab a snack or two every time I pass the tree (which will, no doubt, be quite often.)
Or maybe I'll just leave a plate of these out for Santa and then shake him down for some extra toys when he begs for the recipe. Ho ho ha!
Or I might just make these for a party. They're good for that, too...
Jambalaya. Even the word is fun. It just sounds like good times, doesn't it?
Jambalaya also means good eating. It's a classic New Orleans rice dish that's full of tasty things, all seasoned in that zesty Lousiana style.
This Holiday Shrimp and Crawfish Jambalaya features spicy sausage, shrimp, crawfish tails, and vegetables seasoned with thyme, basil, and plenty of garlic.
The recipe makes a big ol' batch and is finished in the oven so you can take it directly to a Christmas party or other holiday get-together, or just feed the masses at home.
Either way, you'll have a real fun jambalaya of a time.
Fish fraud, i.e., passing off cheaper seafood for more expensive varieties, is a widespread problem. Some years ago, testing showed that the majority of high-priced 'wild' salmon served in New York City turned out to be farmed varieties.
In addition to being a ripoff, seafood counterfeiting can be dangerous. "In 2007," the article states, "several people became seriously ill from eating illegally imported toxic pufferfish from China that had been mislabeled as monkfish to circumvent U.S. import restrictions.
The article has got lots of interesting info -- plus a surprise or two (who knew that Australia has a million feral camels wandering around the Outback?)
At holiday time, it's always a good idea to have a few go-to appetizer recipes in your arsenal. That way, you can repel those inevitable 'kitchen invaders' who offer to 'help' when they're really just trolling for snacks (You know who you are, Snack Trolls!)
These sweet 'n' savory little cranberry crab cups look fancy but are quite easy to make and are sure to be a real crowd-pleaser.
A bonus: They're tasty served hot, warm, or at room temperature for holiday party convenience.
Food photography is a funny business. Most of the food you see in magazine advertisements and such has been 'styled' to the point of inediblity, having been propped up with toothpicks or cardboard, and glossed with hairspray or petroleum jelly. Ugh!
Rest assured that the food you see on this site is not only edible, but 99.9% of the time represents an actual meal that was photographed moments before an actual family fell upon it like rampaging Mongol hoards.
In this case, however, the picture was just meant to accompany an article about seafood dishes made with beer, so I just threw together a quick batter with what came to hand to make a fried fish 'prop'. In other words, it just needed to 'look' like beer-battered fish; in this case, taste was secondary.
But, as so often happens in the kitchen, Serendipity waved her magic wand and the impromptu batter produced an absolutely awesome coating that was crisp, zesty, and locked in the sweet essence of the fish. A slathering of good mayonnaise and some fresh parsley was all it required for perfection to be achieved and a fine lunch to be enjoyed -- along with the frosty 'prop' in the picture, of course!