Sunday, February 11, 2018

Coconut Pumpkin Soup with Sautéed Shrimp

This spicy coconut pumpkin soup is so delicious, warming and filling on a chilly night. The sriracha-flavored pepitas add just the right amount of "kick!" Easily substitute the pumpkin   with butternut squash  or sweet potatoes.

Coconut Pumpkin Soup with Sautéed Shrimp
Serves 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 tablespoons Chef Belinda Moroccan Spice Blend
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
3 cups pumpkin puree
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
4 cups vegetable stock
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
18 jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
Chef Belinda Seafood Spice Blend
Olive oil
Sriracha flavored pepitas (pumpkin seeds), garnish
Fresh chopped cilantro, garnish

In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add onion and cook until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and stir for 1 minute. Stir in curry, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and season with salt and pepper.
Stir in pumpkin puree and brown sugar; then add vegetable stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree mixture until smooth. (If using a stand blender, puree in batches.) Return to pot and bring to a simmer.  Add coconut milk and stir, until hot and thoroughly incorporated. Taste and adjust seasoning.
In a medium bowl, season shrimp with spice blend and toss with olive oil. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, sauté shrimp for 2 minutes on each side. Ladle soup into bowls and top with 3 shrimp; garnish with pumpkin seeds and cilantro.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Red Snapper in Lemon Butter Sauce with Roasted Asparagus

Red snapper is not a fish that is commonly found in my area. So when a friend brought several fillets to me a few days ago, it was a very pleasant--and welcome--surprise! It has literally been years since I have prepared it and after just one  bite I realized how much I have missed its sweet, nutty flavor. In addition to being extremely healthy, you can have this meal on the table in 30 minutes or less! Use this recipe for similar firm fish like cod, flounder, perch and sole.

Red Snapper in Lemon Butter Sauce Recipe
1 pound whole asparagus
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 red snapper fillets
Chef Belinda Spices Seafood Spice Blend
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Pan drippings
4 tablespoons butter
1 small shallot, finely chopped 
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon  juice
1/4 cup white wine
Chopped fresh dill, garnish

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a shallow baking/cookie sheet with foil; toss asparagus with salt,  pepper and oil and spread evenly in pan. Bake for  8-10 minutes, until crisp tender.

Season snapper with spice blend and drizzle with olive oil. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, sauté snapper on both sides until brown, 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from pan and keep warm.

In same pan add butter; and when melted add shallots, lemon zest, lemon juice and wine. Whisk and cook 4-5 minutes until slightly thickened. Spoon over snapper and garnish with fresh dill.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Fig and Bourbon Pork Tenderloin

This recipe is inspired by my visit to Saumur, France in  the Loire Valley last Fall; and I have served it many times over the past several months. It is easy to prepare, yet extremely  impressive to guests.

Fig and Bourbon Pork Tenderloin Recipe
1 cup dried figs, halved
1/2 cup bourbon
1-1/2 pound pork tenderloin, silverskin trimmed
Chef Belinda Everyday Spice Blend
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 cup unsalted chicken stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Pinch cayenne pepper
3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a medium bowl place figs and bourbon. Set aside. Season tenderloin with spice blend  on all  sides; and in a flat medium bowl add flour and coat tenderloin on all sides. Heat oil in a large skillet,  over medium-high heat. Add loin and brown on all sides. Transfer to a platter and set aside. 

In the same skillet, over medium heat add shallots and sauté until soft. Remove  pan from heat and pour in figs and bourbon. Return to heat and add chicken stock, mustard, syrup and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine.

Reduce temperature to low and return loin to skillet; cook, turning occasionally for 5-8 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145F, on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer loin from skillet to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm.

Increase temperature to medium-high, whisk in butter  and bring to a boil. Cook until sauce reduces to a thick syrup. Slice loin, transfer to a serving platter and spoon sauce and figs over before serving.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Split Pea Soup with Ham and Bacon

When it turns cold outside, my cravings turn to soup on the inside. Nothing wards off my winter chills better than a big bowl of one of my favorite soups and an even bigger chunk of crusty bread for dunking in it! With a very meaty ham bone stashed in the freezer, from recent holiday entertaining, this  split pea soup was a no brainer. Stay warm my friends!

Split Pea Soup with Ham and Bacon Recipe
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Grains of Paradise
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
7 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 carrots, chopped
1 meaty ham bone
2 cups small ham cubes
1 16-ounce package split peas, rinsed
2 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces, garnish
Crusty bread, optional

Into a spice bag or cheesecloth, place bay leaf, grains of paradise and thyme sprigs. Tie with kitchen twine and set aside.

In a dutch oven, over medium heat add oil and cook bacon, onion and celery for 10 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and cook an additional minute. Tie spice bag to handle of pot and drop over into the pot. Add stock, carrots, ham bone, ham cubes and peas. Stir ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 50-60 minutes.

Remove the spice bag and discard. Remove ham bone to  a bowl and set aside. To thicken the soup, ladle half the soup into a blender--working in batches--and puree. Be sure to place a kitchen towel over the top of the blender and hold, to prevent hot liquid from spraying up out of the blender. Return pureed soup to the pot. When ham bone is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and discard the bone. Chop the meat and return to pot.

In a skillet, over medium heat, sauté remaining bacon pieces until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove from skillet and drain on paper towel. Set aside until ready to serve soup. Spoon soup into individual bowls and garnish with bacon bits and crusty bread. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Italian Beef--Chicago’s Ultimate Sandwich

If you are reading this, chances are you don’t live in Chicago. But if you like the many wonderful flavors and food styles Chicago has to offer—like our deep-dish pizza and loaded hot dog—then the Italian Beef sandwich will have you packing up and moving to the Windy City in no time flat! Well, it’s a good thought if you can brave the winter weather.

Currently living in South Carolina, this holiday season presented me with some extra time to indulge my home-town cravings! In case you are wondering, the Italian Beef sandwich consists of thin slices of slowly roasted beef served on a tender Italian roll—dipped or not in the roasting juices.  Then it is topped with a hot Italian-style relish, known in Chicago as giardiniera.

If you don’t want to insult a Chicagoan, please don’t get the Italian Beef confused with the Philly Cheesesteak! The cheesesteak is served on a crusty roll with Cheez Whiz, while a true Italian Beef lover would never put cheese on the sandwich. But if you do want to add a slice of provolone, we won’t get mad at you.

Like other famous dishes, everyone has their own favorite recipe. The three things that most will agree on is, the cut of beef used, the Italian bread roll and the giardiniera. Regardless of your recipe, if you remain true to these three things, you will end up with a “to die for” sandwich!

Italian Beef Sandwich Recipe
3-4 pounds eye round roast (or rump, top round and sirloin tip)
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 celery stalks, thick sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 cups beef stock
Italian rolls
Giardiniera, see recipe below
Provolone cheese slices, optional

Season roast with the salt, pepper, oregano, pepper flakes and rub all over with the olive oil. Into a large dutch oven, place the onions, carrot, celery and garlic. Place the roast on the vegetable mixture and pour the stock into the bottom of the pan (not directly on the meat). Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours. When ready to cook, remove from refrigerator and let rest for 30-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Roast for 3 hours or until internal temperature reaches 120-130 degrees. Remove roast from oven and let cool to room temperature. Remove from pan, wrap in foil and refrigerate overnight. Strain the juices (referred to as au jus), into a container, to remove large pieces of roasting vegetables. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Discard the vegetables.

The next day, return the au jus to the dutch oven and bring to a simmer over low heat; cover and let simmer for 30 minutes. Do not allow to boil. Trim excess fat from roast; and using a meat slicer or very sharp knife, cut roast, across the grain, into very thin slices. Add the beef slices to the simmering au jus and let cook for an additional 20 minutes until tender.

Cut rolls horizontally on one side, leaving attached on back side. Spread the rolls open and top with generous amounts of meat. (If adding cheese, place on rolls before adding the meat.) Top with spoonful’s of giardiniera. Using large tongs, dip the sandwiches briefly into the au jus, or serve it in small bowls alongside sandwiches.

Chicago-Style Giardiniera Recipe
4 serrano peppers, halved and sliced*
4 jalapeno peppers, halved and sliced*
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled, halved and sliced
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 cup cauliflower florets
½ cup kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon celery seeds, optional
Fresh ground black pepper
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup olive oil
½ cup sliced green olives with pimento

In a large bowl, combine the peppers, carrots, celery and cauliflower and sprinkle with salt. Cover completely with water; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Drain, rinse and set aside. In a small bowl, combine garlic, oregano celery seeds, black pepper, vinegar and olive. Pour over the vegetable mixture, add olives and mix well. Spoon into airtight jars, covering with the vinegar/oil mixture. Refrigerate at least 2 days before serving; will be even better after 1 week. Should last 3 weeks refrigerated. Makes 4-6 cups.

*For less heat remove the seeds, white membrane and core.