Monday, October 21, 2013

Warm Cheesy Shrimp Dip

Warm Cheesy Shrimp Dip
Adapted from Charlotte's Hot Shrimp Dip
Serves 8 to 10
  •  1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons liquid crab boil - I use Old Bay
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 cup minced red or yellow bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 20 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 8 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced green-onion tops
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup crumbled butter crackers
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, add 1 quart cool water, 1 tablespoon salt, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon liquid crab boil. Stir to dissolve salt. Add 2 quarts ice and set aside.
Fill a medium saucepan two-thirds full with water, add 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning , and bring to a boil. Season shrimp additional Old Bay seasoning, if desired. Add shrimp to saucepan and return water to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and allow shrimp to sit in hot water until just cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Remove shrimp from hot water and transfer to ice bath until completely cool.

While shrimp are cooling, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are thoroughly wilted, about 10 minutes. Transfer vegetable mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool.

Remove shrimp from ice bath and drain well, then finely chop and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add cooled vegetable mixture, cream cheese, mayonnaise, Jack cheese, green onions, thyme, black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer mixture to a baking dish, using the back of a spoon to evenly spread mixture. Sprinkle cracker crumbs in an even layer over top of dip. Bake, uncovered, until dip is heated through and golden brown on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm, with crackers or sliced baguette for dipping.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Maple Bacon Pumpkin Risotto

It's a bacon theme tonight... Please forgive me... but seriously... it is bacon!  And risotto. 

Maple Bacon Pumpkin Risotto
From Pineapple and Coconut

1/2 pound of thick sliced bacon
2 cups of apple juice (or cider)
4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
2 leeks, white and green parts only (diced)
1 small onion diced
4 garlic cloves (minced)
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned, NOT pie filling)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan combine stock and apple juice or cider and set over low heat.

In a stock pot cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy.  Remove to paper towels.   Remove all but 2-3 tablespoons of bacon fat and add onion and leaks and saute and saute until starting to caramelize.  Add in the garlic and nutmeg and and saute until fragrant.  Add in the rice and white wine and stir until the wine is cooked down.  Turn the heat under the stock to medium.  Add in 1/2 cup of stock mixture to the rice and stir until absorbed.  Repeat with 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition, until rice is al-dente.  You may not use all of the stock although I did.  Mix in the pumpkin puree and the maple syrup.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Stir in bacon and serve immediately.  Top with grated Parmesan. 

Bacon Cheddar Cornbread

Bacon is the single most reason I can never truly become a vegetarian.  I could give up just about all other meat.  But bacon?  It is truly its own food group.  Bacon and super extra sharp cheddar together?  I am all but in heaven.  And contrary to popular belief I can cook something other than soup... although my brother in law was quite shocked to hear that...  So here you go Scary Larry... Proof that I can cook other things... although... this would be a really, really good accompaniment to a nice warm bowl of soup!

Bacon Cheddar Cornbread
Adapted from Bacon Cheddar & Sage Cornbread
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 1 cup frozen corn (or fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 cup of extra sharp cheddar cheese, in small cubes (I used Tillamook, but any sharp or really well aged cheddar would work nicely)

Bacon Preparation:  You can chop the bacon and fry it if you would like.  Save the fat.  I dislike the frying of bacon mess so I set up a large rimmed baking pan covered in foil and set two racks down inside it.  I place the strips of bacon on the racks and place into a cold oven.  Turn the oven on to bake at 400 degrees and cook until crispy.  It comes out nice and flat and all the rendered fat is in the bottom of your pan and you can still capture it and save it for other uses.  It doesn't take long and you don't have that whole popping greasy bacon fat frying thing going on all over the kitchen.  And it still smells great!  Then turn over down to 350 for baking the cornbread.  When bacon is cool enough to handle, chop in to bite size pieces.

Meanwhile combine melted butter, sugar, eggs and milk.  In a separate bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking power, dried sage and salt.  Mix well and then gently stir in your wet mixture until it is just moistened.  Gently fold in the cheese, bacon and corn.  (The original recipe calls for fresh sage.  If you are a fan, by all means you may use fresh sage.  I am not a big fan of the flavor so I chose to use dried.)

Use your leftover bacon grease to grease your cast iron skillet and pour mixture in to skillet.  Bake at 350 until the edges are brown and the middle has set. (About 30 minutes.)

Best eaten warm.  Or immediately.  The cheese just gets nice and soft, but isn't a big sloppy mess.  You get a different taste depending on what you bite into.  Corn, bacon, cheese... What beats that??