Wish Upon A Dish: May 2010

May 30, 2010

Grilled Baby Back Ribs

Last night we made Baby Back ribs. I have a very simple rub that I do the night before and I like to slow grill them for 3-4 hours at 275 degrees on a grill with indirect heat.
1/4 cup brown sugar (I used Splenda)
1/4 cup Emeril's Creole Seasoning (the original BAM)
2 cups of wood chips, soaked in water (I used cherry)

I remove the membrane from the bone side of the ribs. With a skewer or with your instant read thermometer side it under the membrane along the bone to lift it up, grab a paper towel because it is slippery and pull. It should come off on your first try, if not just repeat. I like to score the fat to the bone on each rib so that the rub can penetrate into the meat.
On a big sheet of foil pour 1/3 of the rub onto the bone side and rub it in gently. Turn it over and pour all but 1 tbls of remainint rub onto meat side. I don't rub this side, while the ribs are in the fridge overnight it will break down and do it's job. Just pat it in firmly.
Cover with foil (you may want to double it, it will liquify somewhat with the meat juices and the sugar).
While the coals are heating remove the ribs to come to room temp.

I use both Kingsford for the bottom layer and natural coals for the top layer on both sides of the grill.
I set up a 2 zone grill. I put an aluminum pan in the middle to catch the drippings.
Using the upper holes in the lid and the lower adjustment on the bottom, I get the grill to 350 degrees.
Place the ribs, meat side up and close the cover. Grill for 30 minutes.
Now you need a mop sauce.
Mop Sauce:
1 cup water or apple juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Remaining tbls of rub mix

Do not baste a raw rib, that's why I cook them for 30 minutes.
Add the wood chips to each side of the coals and close the lid.
Adjust the temperature to 250-275.
Every 25-30 minutes mop the ribs.

About 3 1/2 hours later we had the perfect rack of ribs.
You will know they are done 2 ways.
First: The meat will shrink, exposing a 1/4" of the bone
Second: Pull the meat off one end, if it shreds and comes off easily, they are done.

Now, some baked beans and macaroni salad and you will be in Hog Heaven.

See the pink ring around the edges of the ribs? That's a smoke ring and the pride that I have NAILED it...YAY!!!

May 27, 2010

Blackberry Cheesecake Tart

Why do we all buy things that we never cook, and end up throwing it away?
Even if we make something with it, we end up throwing THAT away.
I found blackberries I didn't eat and 2 fairly large zucchini in my fridge. I never grilled the zucchini and I couldn't eat all the berries (they were sweet but I also bought strawberries.
My problem is I am not a baker. If you go back through my recipes, you may find 2 goodies.
2 reasons............I hate measuring, I have no patience & I end up throwing half of it away because we just don't eat many sweets.
OOPS, that's 3 reasons.

Hubby could eat ice cream everyday of the year, or my cheesecake.
That I can make. I make all kinds. I used to sell a pumpkin cheesecake to 3 small bar/restaurants during the fall up to Christmas.
My gifts to everyone at Christmas is a small cheesecake (flavor of the year) that I bake right into a 6" aluminum cookie tin.
I probably bake a dozen a Christmas.

Cheesecake can be very addictive and fattening. I will stick to what I know and make a diabetic friendly, low-fat blackberry cheesecake tart (now that's a mouthful).

I made just enough processor dough to fit an 8" tart pan.

Processor Dough:
* 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry dough
* 4 tbls cold butter
* 2 tbls splenda no calorie (there are 2, read the label)
* 2-3 tbls cold water

Process till it comes together and press into cold tart pan, refrigerate while making the filling.

Cheesecake Filling:

* 1 1/2 bars 1/3 less fat cream cheese (room temperature)
* 1/4 cup light sour cream
* 1 X-large egg (room temperature)
* 1/2 cup Splenda
* 1 tsp vanilla
* 1 tbls lemon zest
* 1 tbls flour
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1-2 Pints Blackberries

In standing mixer, blend everything together until smooth and pour into cold tart crust.

Push fresh, washed blackberries right into the filling. Space about 3/4" apart because they might burst and spread.

Place on a baking sheet, in the center of a preheated 350 degree oven bake for 25-30 minutes.

Every morning me and my cat make the rounds to check all the plants and flowers and the neighborhood. When I came around the side of the house this.......

greets me on my side door stoop. I just had to smile.....isn't that why we plant them?

May 26, 2010

Porcini Agave Mustard Sauce

Imagine a boring, basic honey-mustard sauce remade into a whole new food sensation?
Looks like the traditional honey-mustard but it tastes no where near that overly sweet, tart, raw dipping sauce they serve with chicken fingers.
Say 'Goodbye' to mustard as you know it. Keeps a long time in the refrigerator.
Silky, smooth, slightly sweet & tangy, creamy with a rich, deep finish to it.

The uses are endless......a dipping sauce, a salad dressing, I think better than Thomas Keller's Mustard Sauce for a cold Shellfish Platter (and I know, I have made it).
Imagine a Virginia Ham & Tallegio Cheese Panini slathered with this?
I can......and the best part?

It's diabetic friendly and can be made totally Vegan.
Yay for me......
Talk about a versatile food and it's easy to make......

I am entering it into a contest so wish me luck.

Patata Insalata con Porcini Senape Salsa
Makes about 2 cups of sauce

Porcini Mustard:

* 1/2 Small Red Onion, Minced
* 1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
* 2 ounces Dried Porcini Mushrooms
* 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
* 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad Bites with Dressing/Sauce:

* 1/2 cup Porcini Mustard
* 1 cup Heavy Cream/Light Cream or Almond Milk
* 3 tablespoons Agave Nectar
* Salt & Pepper to taste
* 1 cup Extra-virgin Olive Oil
* 3 cups salad greens of choice
* 12 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
* 24 Basil Leaves
* 1-2 Large Idaho Potatoes

1. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine onion, vinegar, 1 cup water and the mushrooms and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce by half. Remove and cool.
3. Place cooled mixture into the bowl of a processor or blender and puree with the mustard and olive oil until emulsified.
4. Pass through a strainer to remove any solids.
5. Dressing: Whisk in cream, agave nectar, extra olive oil until smooth and season with salt & pepper.
6. Nuke (about 6 minutes) or steam (40 minutes) potato(s), cool. Cut in quarters length-wise and slice into 24 - 1/4" slices.
7. Halve Cherry Tomatoes and scoop out insides using a melon baller.
8. Place one basil leaf in tomato half and 1 piece of sliced potato. Spoon sauce/dressing over.
9. Line up in rows on a platter lined with greens and take a picture. They will be talking about this dish for weeks to come.

May 25, 2010

Tequila Chicken Quesadillas

You have to love quesadillas. Any leftover meat or veggies will do as long as you have plenty of melty cheese, good salsa and sour cream.
On the grill it's the best but in a cast iron griddle it's good. Don't let the vehicle stop you from making these gems.
I have seen peeps wrap them and bake them and they are OK.
You CAN'T screw up quesadillas. You just can't.

I had some leftover Tequila Chicken, baby spinach leaves, onions & red pepper saute and grated Jack & Swiss cheese. Good to go........
A near-frozen Dos Equis, Frontera Grill Salsa and Sour Cream.......this is primal grilling at it's best.

May 24, 2010

No Falafel No More

Hubby is off on another trip so I get to play in the kitchen today!
I seem to be like others, all having a list of "To Do Recipes". I not only have a list I have a stack of cut out magazine pages to scan and file for future meals.
I do have to start a baby shower plate today but once I get the outline on I have to let it dry for 24hrs so that's when I cook.

Today's DO recipe is...........falafel. I have never had a falafel. I have never been close to a falafel. I love chickpeas, I have never had hummus either.
So, what's wrong with me, huh?

We are not noshers in this house. Come to think of it, I'm not sure if I like guacamole either.............duh.
I have had it in things (burritos, fajitas, etc) had it under things (cakes, fritters, stuffed chilies, etc.) but I have never just dipped a chip in it.
Same with salsa. No chips, no dips. Salsa in this house is for toppings (eggs, tacos, enchiladas, all things Tex and Mex) along with sour cream.

So I guess if we were noshers we would have all sorts of dippy things in the house.

I have been collecting falafel recipes from various sources (Internet, magazines)in preparation for the big day.
Did I just type in BIG DAY?
That's weird even for me.
Current front winner recipe is for Crabby Falafel Sliders.
Yes, crab and chick peas, on a small potato roll, topped with tomato, basil and a mean, spicy, wonderful harissa mayonnaise, what's not to like? I think this is a good starter.


I brought 1/2 cup dried garbanzos to a boil with bay leaves and salt. Yes, salt. I am not cooking them, I am soaking them. Test Kitchen says you should soak them in salted water. I will add salt without toughening them. It also helps to stop the skins from wrinkling if you are cooking them to serve whole. Since I am going to puree them I only want the salted flavoring.

I read in a recipe from Food Network that using soaked beans (not cooked) is better than using canned.The moisture level would be way down and since you will be cooking the mixture, you don't need to cook the beans for hours, just re-moisturize them.
Makes sense to me, that's why I am doing only the quick soak method.

Crabby Falafel 'Sliders'
1 cup soaked dried chick peas
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 scallions, roughly chopped
1 large clove garlic
Juice from 1 lemon and it's zest
1 tsp white wine
2 tbls Tahini
1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
2 tbls flour
1 can crabmeat, drained
Salt & Pepper to taste
Martin's Slider Potato Rolls

Harissa Mayonnaise
3 tabls low fat mayonnaise
1 tsp adobo sauce
I drop Harissa paste (more if you're daring)

These were excellent. Crunchy crust on the outside, moist and flavorful on the inside and the mayonnaise is perfect with the creaminess & heat.
I now really like Falafels. I will make these again.
Perfect for a Diabetic.

May 23, 2010

Baked Clam Muffins

I love clams. Probably THE one food I could eat prepared any way.............shucked, steamed, baked, with linguine, with mussels, in a paella, fritters, fried, on a sandwich.......get it?

I like the convenience of store chopped clams. The clams I can get usually has large pieces not shredded so when they stock them, I buy them. The Shop-Rite had them so
I decided to make baked clams.
I used real clam shells for years but after a while they dry out and crack. Such was the case with mine so I made a decision to buy the aluminum clam shells.
I can recycle them and it just makes my life a little easier. Well, since I'm already having a bad day I should have figured I could not find them.
I don't remember where I put them and was not in the mood to tear the house apart.

What to do............I took out my mini muffin tin and made clam muffins.

Stuffed Baked Clams aka Clam Muffins
2 slices pancetta, diced
3 scallions & 3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup sweet onion, diced
1/4 cup white wine
juice & zest from 1 large lemon
1 container of chopped clams (1 pound fresh shucked clam meat) drained
2 tbls goat cheese
2 tbls creme fraiche or sour cream
2 eggs
1 tbls Dijon
salt & Pepper
1/4 cup red Thai sweet chili sauce
1 roasted pepper, diced
1/4 cup Parmesan
3/4 cup Italian Style bread crumbs, or more if needed

Saute pancetta in pan, remove with slotted spoon leaving fat.
Saute onions and garlic for 4 mins. Add wine and lemon juice and simmer until thickened.
Add to everything else in a bowl.

With small scoop, fill muffin tin to top and bake for 20 mins at 400F.
Let cool and remove.

May 19, 2010

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Tomatoes and Sweet Peppers

Every once in a while you have to pull out those old cookbooks and revisit old friends. I don't think I ever made a recipe from Wolfgang Puck's Adventures in the Kitchen.
It was published way back in 1991 when he finally became famous with Spago and Chinois. He was always known for many ingredients and steps to each recipe but if you think about it he was just like Thomas Keller is today.

I don't know if his new books are written in the "30-minute meal" structure so many magazines and cookbooks have adopted for today's lifestyle, but I know he was trained in the old ways. Like building a house.

This recipe is actually on the table in "30" and is full of flavor and low in calories. It originally called for halibut, my Shop-Rite never gets halibut so I had to substitute something that would stand up to grilling......Mahi Mahi.
My husband actually discovered this delightful fish. To look at it amongst the other fish in the counter it looked dull and slightly grey. I never would have tried it without him first tasting it in California where they make the infamous Baja Fish Tacos with it.

I recommend this recipe for party fare, it's that good and can be eaten room temp.

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Tomatoes and Sweet Peppers
1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of chili pepper flakes to taste
3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced (I used the canned Petite Cut Hunt's)
1 red bell pepper, diced
Pinch of Saffron
Pinch of chopped fresh thyme leaves
Pinch of chopped fresh basil leaves plus whole for garnish
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 pounds of firm fish (Halibut, Mahi Mahi, Snapper, Bass)

Heat the grill.
In a heavy saute pan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil. Saute the onion, garlic and chili flakes for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, bell pepper, saffron, thyme and basil, pour in the wine, and cook over medium heat until the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Keep warm.
Brush the remaining oil over the fish and season with salt & pepper. Grill until medium, about 3 1/2 minutes each side.

Spoon the tomato and bell pepper mixture in the center of 4 heated dinner plates. Place a fish fillet on top and garnish with basil leaves.

May 12, 2010


I know you shouldn't bake on a rainy day but does the same old wives tale mean the same to a souffle? I have to guess "NO" because you want the moisture, don't they suggest you use a water bath on occasion? Yes, they do.
I have been trying to find a low fat recipe or more to the point....diabetic friendly recipe because once I do you can bettcha I will be making these more often.
I love fluffy foods.....hubby, well, he's on board with this idea as much as he is with fish.
I did make Ina's Bleu Cheese Souffle and it really came out great but was too much cheese for me. I probably should have made a salad with it, or a side of sauteed greens to balance out the bleu cheese but we had it solo.
This time I'm using the greens as the flavoring agent. I know the calendar says asparagus but the money-hungry Shop-Rite decided that for Mother's Day shoppers they would up the price of asparagus to $.50 more a pound then last week and I honestly could not buy it. Since I won't do frozen asparagus I decided that the spinach looked good and that was the way to go.

Spinach and Gruyere Cheese Souffles
Makes 1-16oz souffle and 2-6oz ramekins, 1 quart-sized souffle or 4-6oz ramekins

* 1/2 pound fresh spinach, washed and torn into pieces
* 3 scallions, green & whites cut in 1" pieces
* 1 tbls whole wheat flour
* 2oz low fat cream cheese
* 1 tbls creme fraiche
* 1 tbls agave nectar
* salt & pepper to taste
* pinch of fresh nutmeg
* 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
* 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
* 4 basil leaves
* 1/4 cup Gruyere cheese
* 2 egg yolks
* 2 tbls white wine
* 1 tbls butter
* 1 tsp roasted garlic olive oil (Rick Bayless' Mojo)
* Almond Milk for thinning if needed
* 4 egg whites
* 1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Release spray
Fine bread crumbs for preparing pans.

1. Saute spinach in butter. Remove to processor.
2. Saute green onions in garlic olive oil. Deglaze with wine. Use a spatula to remove to processor.
3. Add everything else except last 4 ingredients to processor.
Process until smooth, season highly and remove to plastic container and refrigerate till ready to bake.
4. Leave egg whites out to room temperature.
5. Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and a pinch of salt till soft peaks and fold by 3rds into spinach mix. If too thick use almond milk to thin. Should be the consistency of waffle mix.
6. Spray pans and coat with breadcrumbs.
7. Bake 16oz souffle for 35-40 mins.
8. Put the ramekins in a 9x9 baking pan, fill with hot water halfway up sides of ramekins and bake 25 mins.

 Exchanges (per serving): 2 meat, 1 starch, 2 veg, 1 1/2 fat

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May 9, 2010

Banana Spit Sauced Shrimp

We celebrate all the Sunday and Hallmark holidays on Saturday now because everyone has to travel far to meet in one central place, that being the home of my Sister-in-Law who lives in East Stroudsburg, PA. and it's hard to eat and drink and then drive and go to sleep early for work the next day. Saturday's finally made more sense. Only took them 10 years to realize that.

My sister-in-law has had diabetes for 10 years now. She's past the medicine point and onto the shots. It is because of her that I am adamant to maintain the 100 or so level of sugar and not spike over 165. I refuse to shoot anything into my body if I can prevent it.

Last year she was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer and after the usual hysterectomy she underwent 6 treatments of chemo.

I saw the Cook for the Cure products on the Kitchen Aide site about 6months ago and wanted to order the Pass the Plate and start a platter traveling all over, with a prepared dish, to where ever it goes for a donation of $5.00 to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation each time it was registered.....but they were out of stock.

I forgot about it and then saw a article from an old magazine I was cutting out things I wanted to file and checked again. This time I had success and it arrived in 2 days. I almost wanted to keep it for myself, it is such a pretty platter but that would defeat the reason for buying it, so yesterday the perfect opportunity arose with our Mother's Day celebration. I had to develop a recipe for a cooking contest and I needed taste testers...............you can guess the rest.

I made the recipe Diabetic Friendly so it served 2 purposes.

Shrimp (at least 1 pound) depending on the number of guests
1 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce (Goya food section - canned)
3/4 cup OJ
1/4 cup lime juice (1 lime)
1/4 cup roughly chopped red pepper (1/4 pepper)
2 tbls roughly chopped red onion (1/4 small red onion)
1 garlic clove
3/4 cup Banana Liquor
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 tsp 5-spice powder
1 tbls ground ginger
1 tbls dry mustard (Colemans)
1 tbls brown mustard
10 mint leaves

Place everything in a blender and blend till smooth.
Place in sauce pan and simmer for 20 mins on med-high to thicken.
Marinade with shrimp for 1 hour and baste with sauce while on grill. If using as a dipping sauce simmer till thickened to sauce consistency.

Both were a big hit and I felt pretty good. I don't think I will win the food contest but I certainly feel like I won the "support for a good cause" opportunity.

I just can't seem to get a handle on what it takes to make a recipe make it to the finals.