Asparagus & Spring Onion Croque Monsieur

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asparagus and/or spring onions, ends trimmed
olive oil
kosher salt

good bread, cut into thick slices
bechamel sauce (recipe below)
grated gruyère, Comté or Swiss cheese
fresh thyme

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Toss the asparagus and spring onions with olive oil and kosher salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the vegetables until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Test with a knife for doneness.

2. Preheat the broiler. Place the slices of bread on a sheet pan and broil them about a minute on each side. Remove pan from the oven. Spread about a tablespoon of bechamel over each slice of bread. Top with the roasted vegetables. Top with grated cheese to taste.

3. Broil until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown. Sprinkle with the fresh thyme and serve immediately.

Bechamel:
Source: Nancy Silverton’s Sandwich Book: The Best Sandwiches Ever–from Thursday Nights at Campanile

Note: This recipe is adapted from Silverton’s recipe for Mornay sauce in her croque monsieur recipe in her Sandwich Book. To make it a Mornay sauce, as far as I can tell, stir in 1/2 cup finely grated Gruyère and 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano at the very end.

Also Note: This makes enough bechamel for about 30 croque monsieurs. I haven’t tried having the recipe, but it likely would work just fine. I don’t use bechamel that often, so I’m short on ideas for using up the remaining bechamel. Thoughts? I just plan on eating croque monsieur every day until I’m out of bechamel.

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 medium white or yellow onion (about 4 tablespoons finely chopped)
kosher salt
4 black peppercorns, crushed (I didn’t do this)
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1 bayleaf

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, salt, and cracked peppercorns (if using), and cook about 10 minutes, until the onion is soft but has not begun to color. Remove from the heat and add the flour in two batches, whisking to combine it with the onion and butter. Return the pan to the stove and over low heat, cook a few minutes, until the flour is absorbed, stirring constantly so that it doesn’t brown. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the milk. Drop in the bay leaf.

2. Return the pan to the stove, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from burning on the bottom of the pan. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the taste of raw flour is gone and the mixture is thick, smooth and silky. If it’s too thick and becoming difficult to stir, you’ll need to whisk in a little more milk.

3. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the sauce. (I didn’t strain the sauce — I don’t mind those onion bits, and the bay leaf was easy enough to pull out. Now, if you did the peppercorn thing, you probably want to strain the sauce.)

Asparagus & Spring Onion Croque Monsieur

Honey Lime Tequila Shrimp Tacos with Avocado, Purple Slaw and Chipotle Crema

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Ingredients
  • ~~ For the honey lime tequila shrimp tacos ~~
  • 2 pounds (454 g) raw shrimps, peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • juice of 2 limes + 1 lime
  • ½ cup tequila
  • 1 medium onion, finely minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground chipotle (optional)
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • ½ head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • ~~ For the slaw dressing ~~
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice [about 2-3 limes]
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup light, neutral oil, such as grapeseed
  • ~~ For the chipotle crema ~~
  • 1 cup (250 ml) sour cream or créme fraîche [low fat can be used]
  • 1 to 2 pieces of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce [canned]
  • ~~ For assembly ~~
  • 12 – 15 homemade or store-bought good quality yellow or white corn tortilla
  • a handful of cilantro, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Wash, peel, devein, and dry raw shrimps. Season with salt.
  2. In a bowl, combine honey, lime juice, tequila, onion, cumin, and chipotle powder (if using). Mix well and toss shrimps in marinade. Chill up to 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  3. Heat grill to 400 F (205 C). Make sure to oil the grilles well. Skewer shrimps in soaked wooden sticks (this will make it easier to handle on a grill).
  4. Grill shrimps until bright or just opaque, about 2 minutes each side. Flip the shrimp skewers and cook for another 2 minutes or until they turn bright orange. Alternatively, you can also pan fry the shrimps. Set cooked shrimps aside.
  5. Dice the avocados and squeeze juice from the remaining 1 lime.
  6. Thinly slice the red cabbage using a sharp knife or a mandolin.
  7. To make the dressing for the red cabbage slaw, put the lime juice, Dijon mustard, sea salt, pepper and oil in a jar or bowl. Whisk vigourously until it emulsifies.
  8. Toss the red cabbage with the lime vinaigrette. Set aside.
  9. Meanwhile, to make the chipotle crema, place the chipotles in the bowl of the food processor and give it a good whirl until it is smooth.
  10. Stir in the sour cream or créme fraîche, mixing well until the colour is even. Transfer chipotle crema in a squeeze bottle.
  11. To assemble the tacos, heat tortilla in a dry pan, about 1 minute per side or until lightly browned or charred. Wrap tortilla in a cloth to prevent from drying out. Set aside, covered.
  12. Place some diced avocados in the middle of the tortilla, followed by the red cabbage slaw. Remove skewers from shrimps and pile on the taco.
  13. Drizzle with the chipotle crema and garnish with cilantro. Serve immediately.
Honey Lime Tequila Shrimp Tacos with Avocado, Purple Slaw and Chipotle Crema

Salmon Burgers

This is a good recipe even if you aren’t crazy about Salmon. It makes 2 salmon burgers, but you can stretch it to 3 if you need to. I made a creamy cocktail sauce that tastes great on the burgers (2 parts catsup, a squirt or 2 of creamy horseradish and a spoonful of mayonnaise).

Ingredients:

1 can drained salmon

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs

1 tsp Italian Seasoning

1/4 tsp salt

ground pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

2 buns, split and toasted

tartar sauce

Directions:

Combine salmon, egg, 1/4 cup of the breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Form patties about 1/2 inch thick.

Spread remaining bread crumbs on a plate and dredge the patties in the crumbs until coated.

Heat oil over medium heat and cook patties 3 minutes on each side

Salmon Burgers

Parmesan Pasta With Chicken and Rosemary

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Ingredients

12
ounces
orecchiette (about 3 cups)
1
2- to 2 1/2-pound rotisserie chicken
2
tablespoons
chopped fresh rosemary
3/4
cup
grated Parmesan (3 ounces)
kosher salt and black pepper

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1 ¼ cups of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, using a fork or your fingers, shred the chicken, discarding the skin and bones.
  3. Toss the pasta with the chicken, rosemary, reserved pasta water, ½ cup of the Parmesan, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  4. Cook, stirring, over medium-low heat, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan.
Parmesan Pasta With Chicken and Rosemary

Belgian Endive a la Meuniere

These are pretty good. If you haven’t tried endive, they are similar to an onion in texture, but a little sweet.

Ingredients:

4 heads Belgian endive

2 tsp sugar

Salt and pepper

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup milk

Flour for dredging

¼ cup vegetable oil

3 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons minced parsley

Directions:

  1. Split each endive in half lengthwise.
  2. Boil a pot of water with sugar, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp lemon juice. Add endives and boil, covered, 3-4 minutes. Drain and pat dry with towel.
  3. Dip in milk and season with salt and pepper. Dredge them through flour.
  4. Heat oil over medium high heat. Fry on each side 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
  5. Pour out pan and wipe out flour. Brown butter for 30 seconds. Add remaining lemon juice and parsley and swirl until mixture thickens. Pour over endives.
Belgian Endive a la Meuniere

Bizarre Foods Monday: Crawfish Beignets

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Ingredients

1 egg, beaten

1 lb cooked crawfish tail meat

4 green onions, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/3 cup flour

oil for frying

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 teaspoon horseradish (optional)

1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the egg, crawfish, onions, butter, salt and cayenne. Stir in flour until blended.
  2. In an electric skillet or deep fryer, heat oil to 375°. Drop tablespoonfuls of batter, a few at a time, into hot oil. Fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish if desired and pepper sauce. Serve with beignets. Yield: about 2 dozen (3/4 cup sauce).

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Bizarre Foods Monday: Crawfish Beignets

Crisp Orange-Chicken Spring Rolls

Let me preface this with: Martha Stewart recipes SUCK. I was too far into this one before I realized I’d picked out one of hers. Every time I make something of hers it comes out weird. The only way to salvage this one is to fry these in oil. Do Not Broil them. Who ever heard of broiled spring rolls?

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Ingredients

  • 1 small fresh red chili pepper minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cooking wine
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 pound skinless chicken breast sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large apple peeled, cored, and cut into thin strips
  • 4 green onions green part only, cut into short, thin slivers
  • 1 small red bell pepper seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 12 8-inch round dried rice-paper wrappers
  • 1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce leaves separated and washed

Directions

  1. Combine chili pepper, garlic, giner, win, orange juice, and soy sauce in a medium bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover and marinate for 15 minutes. Drain excess liquid.

  2. In a small pan, heat canola oil and saute chicken until light brown outside and no longer pink inside, about 2 minutes. Combine apple, green onions, bell pepper, rice vinegar, and sesame oil in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Mix in cooked chicken.

  3. Fill a medium bowl with warm water. Dip one of the wrappers in the water for 15 seconds, or until softened. Carefully transfer it to a dry work surface.

  4. Arrange 2 to 3 tablespoons of the filling in an even horizontal mound just below the center of the wrapper. Roll up the rice paper to form a tight cylinder, folding in the sides about halfway. Assemble the remaining spring rolls the same way.

  5. Coat the large baking sheet with cooking oil. Arrange spring rolls in a single layer, leaving a little space between them. Brush rolls with oil. Broil the rolls until lightly browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes; check frequently to avoid burning. Use a spatula to turn the rolls over and continue to broil another 8 to 10 minutes. Serve each roll wrapped in lettuce leaf, with Sweet and Sour Chili Sauce.

Crisp Orange-Chicken Spring Rolls