Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chilled Avocado Soup with Chipotle Shrimp

Lucie wept, for there was no more deliciousness left to conquer.

Just kidding! I've seen fire and I've seen rain, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep finding new amazing recipes and cuisines and dishes to dive into. I've been on a health kick recently, which has actually expanded my horizons in terms of cooking. I've made fresh produce a necessity each day and am trying to do a lot less red meat.

So here's where we've arrived tonight!

I was honestly a little nervous about this, because I haven't done any chilled soups before and I worried if I'd actually enjoy the final product. But let me tell you, my fears were assuaged and back again. If this soup founded an organization dedicated to leaking controversial documents, I'd call it Julian Assuage.

First I prepped my lovely fresh produce.

I then filled my food processor with the avocado, veggie broth, lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper. I pureed the mixture and then poured it into a bowl, which I then covered and placed in the refrigerator to chill.

For the lime cream, I stirred together the sour cream, more chopped cilantro, black pepper and lime zest. This too went into the fridge to hang out, relax, or--in other words--chill.

You see? This lime cream is obviously in need of some R&R.
Then I got on with the hot portion of the meal. I spiced my shrimp with cumin, salt and pepper and set them aside while I heated up the skillet (spritzed with a little olive oil spray) to medium-high.

I added the shrimp to the skillet and sauteed them for two minutes before flipping the little guys over and adding onion, garlic, and corn.

After another couple of minutes, I stirred in the chipotle chile and adobo sauce and fresh lime juice.

I let everything cook through another few minutes, until the shrimp were bright pink and the vegetables tender.

To serve, I first ladled the chilled soup into a bowl, followed by a dollop of lime cream, then a heap of the shrimp mixture. Cilantro to garnish!

Chilled Avocado Soup with Chipotle Shrimp (adapted from Cooking Light)
Serves 8.

1 slimcado (or two avocados), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Kosher salt
Ground pepper

Lime cream:
3/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 teaspoons lime zest
Ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Chipotle shrimp:
12 oz. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 tablespoon cumin
Kosher salt
Ground pepper
2 ears corn, shucked
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce (finely chop chile, use 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce)
1 tablespoon lime juice
Cilantro, to garnish

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shrimp and Sausage Polenta

My boyfriend doesn't dig shrimp the way most Louisiana folk do, so I don't end up dealing with these shellfish too often. Therefore, on these few and far-between occasions, I like to make sure I do it up big.

I had some delicious stone-ground polenta grits that I picked up at the farmers' market a while back. All they needed for dressing up were some choice meats and veggies!

First I seasoned my shrimp with sweet paprika, Worcestershire, brown sugar, and crushed red pepper. 

I then set the shrimp aside and heated up two tablespoons of oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet. I used sunflower oil, because I've been trying to be a bit healthier lately, but your mileage may vary of course. Then I added asparagus, onion, garlic, and corn and cooked them for about 8 minutes (once the onions were translucent and all was tender.)

At this point, I stirred in the crushed tomatoes, sour cream, vegetable broth, and hot sauce. I brought the mixture to a boil and then turned it down to simmer for ten minutes.

During this time I spritzed a 12-inch cast iron skillet with olive oil spray, turned the heat up to medium-high, and added the shrimp and sausage in, stirring it frequently till the sausage browned and the shrimp turned bright pink.

I then added the meats to the tomato mixture and wiped out the skillet.

I returned the cleaned skillet to the burner, setting the heat to medium, and added the polenta.

 It toasted for a minute or two before I poured and stirred in hot water. Then I lowered the heat and let the grits cook until the water had evaporated.

Once the water went on its merry way, I placed a dollop (or two or six) of grits in a bowl and ladled the shrimp, sausage, tomato extravaganza on top.

Shrimp and Sausage Polenta
Serves 3.

50 shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
12 oz. sausage, sliced
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons oil
Olive oil spray
14 oz. crushed tomatoes
1 dash hot sauce
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup vegetable stock
3/4 cup polenta grits
3 cups hot water

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Maple-Glazed Pork Chops

Quick post tonight! It's been way too long since I blogged, but I've got some neat ideas of what to write about here next. They linger above me tantalizingly, like a mobile above a baby or anything that vaguely dangles above my cats. Just waiting on payday, and then I'll dig in--(ha ha ha.)

Tonight, though, I thawed these pork chops found in my freezer and hunted about for a simple yet delicious pampering for them. Ultimately I chose a spiced maple glaze and a pan-searing, oven-roasting method, inspired by a Cook's Illustrated recipe.

First, I preheated the oven to 325.

In a small bowl, I mixed together the maple syrup, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, and cider-vinegar.

I set the bowl aside and then heated two tablespoons of sunflower oil over medium-high in a heavy-bottomed skillet. I sprinkled my chops with salt and pepper, and then added them to the skillet once the oil had just begun to smoke.

The chops browned quickly, taking about 2 - 3 minutes on each side. I used my tongs to make sure the edges became well-browned too. Once everything was nicely Snooki-ed up, I took the chops out of the pan and laid them to rest on a conveniently proximal plate.

Then I lowered the heat under the skillet to medium and added the bowl of maple madness. It immediately bubbled up and I waited till the sweet foresty aroma reached my nose before I moved the skillet off heat and returned the chops.

I turned the chops over a few times until they were fully coated in the syrup mixture, and then I placed the skillet in the oven for 35 minutes. Twice during this time period, I reached into the oven (first opening the door) to turn the porkchops over and recoat them in the glaze.

Then I removed the skillet from the oven and removed the porkchops, letting them rest for 15 minutes to retain optimum temperature. Ideally, they come out of the oven at 135 degrees and end up at 145. Don't poison yer-selves, ya hear?

Meanwhile, I let the maple syrup gel slightly in the skillet for five minutes before pouring it over the meat. After fifteen minutes, I sliced and served (with a side of steamed broccoli tossed in a garlic vinaigrette, to balance things out.)

Maple-Glazed Pork Chops

2 pork chops (each a little less than 1/2-lb)
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Serves 2.