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I released the polenta squares too early! So annoyed with myself so I thought I’d follow it up with some more tapas. I wrote this post before our trip thinking that I’ll be swamped and jet-lagged when we get back, so glad I did because I so am all of the above. Work is nice and busy, I got a great little freelance job in and I’m ready for bed at 8pm most nights! I’m not complaining, just giving you the lay of the land.
I had mentioned that I love tapas dinner parties, so the Sunday before our holiday we had friends Rae and Monica over for a simplified tapas dinner party; their two youngest girls went to a concert close by and they needed to kill a few hours, so we said, come on over! We didn’t have a lot of time, so I had to abbreviate the standard 3×4 courses, so we only had 4×1 courses in total. It was plenty of food. In fact, I had to forgo one of the planned courses; fortunately tapas are make as you go so nothing went to waste, we just had it for dinner later in the week.

I’m also trying Instagram on my iPhone 4Gs, not quite as nice as the Canon, but pretty close. It really does better during the daylight as opposed to night. I never use the flash, mainly because my 3Gs never had one, so I really don’t miss it. What do you think?

Abbreviated Tapas Dinner Party

Sawsans Flat Bread with Tapenade and John’s home made Ricotta

Because you fold the tapenade and ricotta into the dough, it makes it flavourful throughout

Chilled cucumber shooters with greek yogurt. I made the soup with vegetable stock as we had a vegetarian in our midst.

Very tasty little shots

Sizzling garlic Shrimp with cilantro and lemon with home made spelt fajita shells

I thought I made too much food…not

Gluten-free Honey Ginger Cake with fresh figs, candied ginger slices and edible rose petals

No one was gluten-free, but I had some left over cake from the previous night


Lyon and Paris also had to be broken down into two parts, too much stuff to talk about, you’ll see why. I’ll need a vacation from my vacation!

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I had an incredible ceviche salad some time ago that Sissi of With a Glass reminded me of with her lovely recipe for her Hot & Cold Rice Bowl with Shrimp, Avocado and Cucumber. This salad combined the wonderful creamy avocado with the tangy citrus of the refreshing grapefruit. I decided I needed to serve something a little off the beaten path for a dinner we were having with our good friends Rae and Monica a couple of Saturdays ago and came up with this refreshing and flavourful recipe that was inspired by our recent trip to NYC. Norma (Garden to Wok), that lettuce you see in the photo is home grown.

To keep things on the healthier side, I didn’t use flour tostadas but instead substituted them with whole wheat flax fajita shells, cut into triangles and broiled for a few minutes to make them crisp, like crackers.

Our first lunch in NYC inspired this recipe. The lettuce you see is home grown.

Shrimp Ceviche with Grapefruit, Avocado, Cucumber and Corn

Serves 4 appetizer portions

Ingredients:

  • 150g raw shrimp (20-30 per lb count), shelled, deveined and chopped into equal bite-sized portions
  • 1 small ripe avocado, finely diced with about 3 tbsp lime juice sprinkled on it or you can dice the avocado just before serving
  • 1 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned, seeds removed, juice reserved.
  • 1/4 cup of frozen corn (defrosted)
  • 1/4 cup of finely diced cucumber
  • 2 tbsp toasted unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • pinch of sugar or honey
  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • 4 tbsp avocado paste (recipe can be found here) or use guacamole
  • 4 lettuce leaves, washed and stored until serving (we had curly lettuce)
  • 1 small fajita shell (we always have whole grain flax)(use gluten free for a GF version)
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 tsp fresh mint, chiffonade finely
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Mix the juice from the grapefruit and lime juice in a jar with a lid; taste and add sugar to taste. Add the cut shrimp (raw) pieces and coat well. Refrigerate until the shrimp is entirely opaque (it took my shrimp about 4 hours as I left them in about 1/2″ chunks)
  2. In another covered jar, mix the grapefruit, corn and cucumber. Reserve in the refrigerator.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat the fajita shell lightly in EVOO. Cut into 8 even triangles. Bake each side until the shells are golden, flipping when done. Allow to cool.
  4. When you are ready to serve, add the shrimp (and liquid) to the reserved grapefruit, corn and cucumber and mix; add the sesame oil, cayenne pepper, sugar or honey, salt, cilantro and mint. Stir well.
  5. Place one lettuce leaf on each plate. Spoon equal amounts of the ceviche into each leaf. Garnish with a lime wedge and sprinkle with the toasted coconut. Take two of the toasted fajita shells and smear a bit of the avocado paste on each one and stack one on top of another. Garnish each plate with one stack of two.

Notes:

  1. Ceviche is seafood cooked with acid. It does indeed cook, but it you are squeamish, then pre-cook your shrimp by boiling it until done. Don’t soak it in the grapefruit/lime mix as it will continue to cook and you will have rubbery ceviche. Simply reserve the shrimp in the fridge and dress when you are ready to serve.
  2. This recipe calls for a balance of salty, sweet and sour. I keep my ‘dressing’ separate from the raw shrimp so I can taste it until I am satisfied that it is good.

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Firstly, I would like to add a disclaimer that Kristy from Eat, Play, Love Our Family Food Adventures is not paying me to blog about her recipes (unless she wants to, of course ;-)). It’s just that there are some recipes that click for me, and her choices are often those kinds of recipes. Recently she and the kids made a Piri Piri Shrimp, in a post called Heating Things Up that really caught my interest for a few reasons: garlic and lemon juice, heat and shrimp! Of course, JT and I are still on the low carb, sugar, fat diet for another day or so I’ve had to modify the recipe (not that it wasn’t unhealthy to begin with, it just did not fit the chemical profile we are restricted to). So Kristy, I hope you don’t mind, but I did change it up a touch, hopefully not altering the recipe’s taste. Thanks again for a another flavourful dinner (and incredible lunch the next day!).

Roasting the hot peppers doesn’t really take ALL the heat out of them.

Piri Piri Shrimp My Way

Serves 3 (dinner and 1 lunch, each 100 g protein)

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Serrano chiles
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1/3 cup low sodium vegetable stock (I used vegetable stock as it is slightly sweeter than chicken stock, because I replaced the wine vinegar with white vinegar)
  • hand full of roughly chopped parsley
  • hand full of roughly chopped cilantro
  • 300 g (10.5 oz) uncooked, deveined, and peeled shrimp
  • lemon wedges (oops, I forgot)

I forgot the lemon wedges.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven on high broil. Cut the chile peppers in half (don’t bother removing the seeds and stems, they come off easily after roasting). Place the chiles on a lightly sprayed (with fat free cooking spray) baking sheet and roast until blackened, Kristy says about 10 minutes (I didn’t time it).
  2. Trim the stems and remove the seeds (the seeds are the really hot bits)
  3. In your immersion blender container, combine the chiles, garlic, paprika, lemon juice, vinegar, vegetable stock, parsley and cilantro and purée the ingredients until smooth.
  4. Pour 1/4 of the marinade over the shrimp, cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 20 minutes, or up to 24 hours (see note).
  5. Heat a large cast iron grill pan on the BBQ (had to involve JT in the cooking, you know how it is). Spray lightly with fat free cooking spray and when hot enough, cook shrimp until done (pink both sides).
  6. Serve over greens with a few sweet red peppers drizzled with a bit more of the sauce (but reserve the remainder of the sauce because I have a GREAT IDEA for it for Saturday!)

Notes:

  • Citrus can cook seafood quite easily (ceviche is based on this) so if you do leave the shrimp marinading for more than a few hours, check it to see if it’s cooking (starting to turn pink). Otherwise you may end up with rubbery shrimp.
  • The Piri Piri sauce was INCREDIBLE — perfect for my taste, JT said it was OK, but perhaps he was just uninspired because the shrimp was served on greens (I live on greens so it was second nature to me) next time, I’ll serve his on Quinoa or Whole Wheat Couscous.
  • Roasting the peppers did not minimize the heat, so beware. I adore it and JT found it tolerable, but it could be too hot for some.
  • You may wish to add a teaspoon of agave nectar (or some red pepper coulis) to help subdue the heat, I did for JTs dressing but not for mine.
  • The sauce is definitely better the next day so you may wish to make it up in advance and let it sit. I used this sauce in a dish I prepared last Saturday for Cinco de Mayo.

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It was St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday and we always go over to Andy and Mark’s Irish Pub, The Roy to celebrate. Andy was a production artist who worked where I work. A few years ago, his partner Mark was down-sized and that’s when they started seriously thinking about opening a pub. Mark is of Irish decent and they named The Roy after Mark’s dad who passed away a year or so earlier. The pub is in a cute little up-and-coming area in the east end of Toronto called Leslieville; Andy and Mark have lived there for about 7 years, maybe more. Andy quit working with us shortly after they opened the pub, and it’s been doing very well. They serve house-made, honest pub food. It’s not expensive and it’s good and you can always be sure that you will get a smile and a hug when you visit.

We invited my friend Kim (boss and neighbour) to join us on our patronage to The Roy so she dropped by the house for a cocktail and a bite (I always serve some food with booze) before we headed over. Late last week I was over at Tracey’s Culinary Adventures and noticed a Shrimp Burger she blogged about and I thought it sounded interesting and way, way back, Greg at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide told us about his Mom’s Maryland Crab Cakes…I knew I had to combine the two somehow and make a delicious protein packed appi! Isn’t that what inspiration is all about?

These tasty little morsels were pan fried in a little canola oil

I wanted a protein packed appetizer because we were about to indulge in some drinking..maybe even more than one! And no one wants a HO, at our age! One would think we would know better!

I pan fried some and found the frying did not add to the flavour to any degree, so I baked the rest of them. I made the recipe twice and rolled them around in sesame seeds the second time.

These tasty morsels were baked in the oven

Gluten Free Shrimp Balls

Makes about 12 balls about the size of a melon baller (one bite)

Ingredients:

  • 65 g raw shrimp, cleaned, de-veined and tails removed, chopped coarsely
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp fat free mayo
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp Worcester sauce
  • 1 green onion coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp egg whites (or one whole egg)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp chick pea flour
  • 1/4 cup black and white toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Add all of the ingredients except the chick pea flour and the sesame seeds into a mini food processor and process roughly, you don’t want to make the shrimp into a paste, just smallish pieces.
  3. Pour contents into a small bowl and stir in the chick pea flour, adding enough to allow the mixture to form into a ball (cookie dough consistency).
  4. Roll around in the sesame seeds and place on a cookie sheet about 5 cm apart. Bake for 17 minutes or until they are golden.
  5. Serve hot with traditional shrimp sauce (ketchup and horseradish).

Now I don't mean to be rude, but that is MY martini — hands off!

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My friend Angela is having a Titanic Anniversary Party (April 14 is the 100 year Anniversary of its sinking) and she is going all out. We will all come in period clothing (hopefully I will have photos!) and I will provide some of my heirloom silverware and serving dishes and some crystal (I inherited many lovely things of that time period from my MIL, fortunately for me, my SIL is not much into cooking or entertaining!). It sounds like it’s going to be a real blast.
I wanted in on the fun, so I asked Angela if I could help out and she kindly offered an hors d’œuvres and a dessert, both of which sound really fun to make. Of course, I needed to practice and test our the recipe so I will blog about my contribution to this momentous affair!

Canapés à l’Amiral are little toasts covered in a “shrimp butter” with a butter sautéed shrimp on top (oops, I forgot the roe as finishing, I shan’t do that for your evening, Angela!). The “shrimp butter” was delicious, and JT bought a beautiful whole wheat baguette with sesame seeds from Cobs near our home – the seeds just added the right amount of texture to the toasts! And the sweet shrimp on top was a wonderful bite with the creamy “shrimp butter”. The roe would have been a nice little burst of texture and saltiness…darn, I wish I had remembered because I do have some in the fridge!

Please help yourself to an hors d'œuvres.

Canapés à l’Amiral

Makes 20 canapés

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 thin baguette
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 10 small shrimp, halved lengthwise and sautéed in butter
  • Fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp flying fish roe

Ingredients Shrimp Butter:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 oz shrimp in shells
  • 1/4 cup brand
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1″ vanilla bean pod, cut lengthwise (dash of vanilla)

That martini is MINE! Hands off.

Directions Shrimp Butter:

  1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat; add shallots and garlic; cook stirring often for about 5 minutes or until softened.
  2. Increase heat to high and add shrimp in shells and sauté, stirring 3 to 4 minutes or until shells are opaque.
  3. Transfer this mixture to a food processor. Return pan to stove and pour in the brandy, add the vanilla bean pod; cook stirring for about 30 seconds or until brandy is reduced to a glaze. Remove the vanilla bean pod and scrape into shrimp mixture in the processor.
  4. Process the shrimp mixture until finely chopped. (YES, the shells are still in there! It’s about the flavour). Add the softened cream cheese, butter, tomato paste, salt and pepper and process until smooth. Press through a fine sieve and set aside.
  5. Slice baguette into 20 thin slices (about 6mm or 1/4″) and toast under broiler for about 1 minute per side or until lightly golden. Set aside.
  6. Melt butter in previously used skillet and cook shrimp halves until opaque. Drizzle lime juice over shrimp halves and reserve.
  7. Place shrimp butter in a piping bag (or just slather on like I did) and pipe onto toasts equally. Top each one with a cooked shrimp half, a parsley leaf (or cut parsley, like I did) and top each canapé with an equal amount of fish roe (which I forgot to do).

Are you doing anything special for April 14th?

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Happy Saturday, dear readers! This is a full weekend of chores…some more fun than others, but you shall have to wait for tomorrow to find out. Plus, tomorrow I am going to introduce you to a dear friend who has just started blogging, we’re going to make one of her first blog-recipes tomorrow! I am very excited about it.

Today is my blogging friend, Charles of Five Euro Food, birthday, so I’d like to take this moment and wish him a very happy birthday. Charles has been a loyal commenter since I have discovered the pleasure of reciprocal commenting (OK, it only took me 4+ years!). You have certainly enriched my blogging experience beyond my expectations. Happy Birthday Charles, and many many more!

If you have made any of the Moroccan Salad recipes, you will by now understand the mass quantity of salad you are left with. We have been eating Morrocan salads all week; dallop on this, mixed into that, etc, etc, etc. You can well imagine that we are now a little tired of the same thing :-(!

This week we decided to reinvent our Quinoa Tabouleh recipe; we used RED and regular Quinoa which added colour to an already beautiful salad. And we added the left overs of the Carrot and Courgette (zucchini) Moroccan Salads. We grilled our shrimp and then I made a very simple green sauce with lemon juice, parsley, cilantro and garlic (a tip of the hat to Chimichurri Sauce). It was DELICIOUS. I loved the added flavours that the Moroccan carrot and zucchini brought in and I loved the colour of the red quinoa. If you haven’t already tried tabouleh, you MUST. And making it with quinoa just adds the extra healthiness that we need (and it’s gluten free!).

Reinventing Quinoa Tabouleh

Some other Quinoa recipes I’m sure you will love (sorry if I missed your recipe, some of you didn’t have ‘search’ built into your home page!):

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This past weekend we had our good friends Barb and Kevin over and we thought what better way to give them a taste of our Moroccan experience than to serve a variety of Moroccan delicacy’s that we learned how to make in our cooking classes. The hors d’œuvres for our Moroccan meal comes from our very first class in our Ryad Dar Les Cignones (The Storks – we had an old dilapidated palace across from the hotel where actual enormous storks made their nests!).

This is our lovely Chef at Dar Les Cignones

Our beautiful Chef (sadly, I cannot recall her name) at our Ryad showed us how to make these delicious pillows of Phyllo Pastry (which she actually made herself, although I won’t!) stuffed with a richly spiced shrimp mix. She did not give us a little printout like Maison MK did, so I had to go by memory and find a similar recipe on line and made some minor alterations. The photo below is the one taken with the iPhone4 with the flash at the Ryad. I tried to fix it a bit in Photoshop so it doesn’t look as cold and harsh. The funny story around the briouats is that the Chef specifically asked me if I wanted them deep fried or baked, and I opted for baked ‘pour la santé’ I said. And low and behold, we are served deep fried briouats! They were very tasty non-the-less!

Our baked Briouat with Dar Les Cignones Fried Briouat in the background

Baked Shrimp Briouats

Makes 26 5 cm (2 inch) triangles

Ingredients:

  • 300 g shrimp, peel on
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Large pinch of saffron threads, revived in a little water
  • 1/4 cup fresh panko (or bread crumbs, I had panko)
  • 5 sheets of phyllo dough
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Directions:

  1. Chop the shrimp into 1/2 cm bits, doesn’t have to be even or pretty.
  2. Heat a splash of oil in a pan and sauté the onions, add the shrimp and cook through.
  3. Add the garlic, tomato paste and spices and stir until you can smell the aroma.
  4. Remove from heat and add the panko, mix well.
  5. Allow to cool completely and add the fresh parsley and cilantro leaves. Mix well.
  6. Take 1 sheet of phyllo at a time, cut into 4-5cm strips. Drizzle with olive oil.
  7. Add about 1 tsp of the cooled filling to one end and fold tightly as shown in the diagram.
  8. Pre-heat oven to 350 ° F. Bake triangles for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Serve immediately or allow to cool and freeze.

Folding takes practice, make sure you have lots of phyllo on hand!

Baked Shrimp Briouat

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