Sesame, Ginger and Tahini Chicken and Shrimp

Today I’m thinking about healthy choices – in what I eat, how I move, the interactions I have with my family – and the balance that is required to do these things well.

Greens AND brownies, running AND couch time, speaking my mind AND holding my tongue.  I want them all, just not in the same amount and at the same time.  The trick is to navigate when a brownie is just the thing (and these King Arthur Flour brownies are totally the thing) and when greens are a better choice.  Likewise with relationships, say, just hypothetically, when you are having a conversation with your daughter about future college and life plans when you are both hormonal.  Sometimes the healthiest choice is to say what you feel.  Other times, it’s best to not share exactly what is running through your mind in that specific moment.  When I’m navigating these moments successfully, which, let me tell you, is not always the case, I’m feeling my way to the best choice.  Calmly noticing.  Aware, but not hyper sensitive.

And, not to segue too abruptly to food, but actually, the same is true when I’m making a recipe.  I sort of feel my way to the right flavors.  In the same way that you might feel your way through a delicate conversation.  In this case, it’s a conversation with food and flavors.  This meal, the creamy AND limey, the greens AND rice, the chicken AND shrimp is one with balance.  One that walks the line of not too much sharing and not too much holding back.  I could have used a little more of that last night when in conversation with my daughter.  Ah well, at least I managed it in this meal.

SeasmeTahiniChickenSesame, Ginger and Tahini Chicken and Shrimp over Rice and a Bed of Spinach
This dish is just as easily made with chicken OR shrimp, but the combination of the two is my favorite.
Basmati Rice:
2 cups basmati rice
Salt

Sauce:
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup tahini
1 1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup diced onions; about 1 medium onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
8 ounces boneless chicken breast; about 1 large breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces medium (41-50 count) raw shrimp, peeled
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup water, as needed
8 ounces baby spinach leaves

Garnish:
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Wedges of lime
Cilantro leaves
Sriracha

Rice:
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. The water should be as salted as you want your rice and no more. Add the rice and stir well. When the water again comes to a boil, set the timer for 18 minutes. Pour into a strainer and let sit for 5 minutes or longer while you prepare the sauce.

Sauce:
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the pumpkin seeds. Heat, stirring often, until the seeds begin to brown. Transfer to a blender and add the chicken stock, tahini and tamari. Blend until well mixed and smooth. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the salt, garlic, ginger and chicken and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to a simmer. Add the shrimp and cook until you can just see a little bit of gray remaining. Add the pumpkin seed mixture and stir well adding water as needed to loosen the sauce. Serve immediately over rice and a bed of spinach. Garnish with sesame seeds, lime, cilantro, and Sriracha.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Finding the balance where I can.

Throwback Thursday – Bees Swarming

As I write this, the bees are quiet, not truly dormant, but somnolent and sleepy.  Waiting.  The hives are draped in black insulating plastic and surrounded by feet of snow and not a flower in sight.

But last summer, when the garden was in full flush and the blooms were abundant, the hive wisdom said to swarm.  Make a second queen, split, and create another hive to add to their numbers.

To see a hive swarm is to be in the midst of what feels like a maelstrom.  In truth, bees are as calm as they ever will be when they swarm.  Topped off with honey, surrounding their new queen, and off on an adventure.

We’ve never been quick enough to rehive the swarms, but were lucky to capture this one leaving on film.

Bee Swarm Still from video
Hive swarming.

 

Annie
Thankful they didn’t all swarm!  Their honey is fantastic.

Lemon Curd Tarlets – Feeling Tart and Sunny

These little tartlets came about when working on a catering job for a winter dinner.  The whole affair was a cocktail party, so finger food was the name of the game, including the desserts.  Once topped with a berry – raspberry or blueberry – these beauties were perfect for a small bite confection.

Little lemon tarlets that will be topped with a raspberry garnish.
Little lemon tarlets that will be topped with a raspberry garnish.

Another favorite way to use lemon curd is in the Blizzard Bluberry Lemon Curd Roulade, which, as you might guess, was made on a snowy day last winter when the winds were slapping at the windows and doors.  Indoors was the only place fit for humans, except the occasional forays into the wild for a snow shoe or ski and then back inside for a warm cup around which to wrap the cold hands.

If I were to find myself with some leftover lemon curd, I might have several thoughts on what to do with it other than eat it straight from the spoon.  One, this is a perfect combination for my Nana’s Lemon Prune Cake.  Two, if you find yourself wishing for something elegant, layered in a wine glass with sliced strawberries and vanilla whipped cream would hook me right quick and in a hurry.  Three, I’ve been known to have it with some yogurt.  Hey, if Liberte brand yogurt can do it, so can I.

Lemon Curd
This recipe is inspired by “The New York Times Cookbook.”
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; juice from about 2 lemons
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind; rind from about 2 lemons

Cream the butter and gradually beat in the sugar. Beat the eggs into the creamed mixture, then add the lemon juice and grated rind.

Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking continuously until mixture thickens and deepens in color. This must be cooked over low heat and stirred constantly to keep it from curdling. If desired, use a double boiler.

Press through a fine sieve into a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Makes about 2 cups

Tartlet Crust
This crust is extremely versatile and is one of my go-to recipes when creating tartlets or tarts that require a fairly structured crust.  It is inspired by Alice Medrich, author and pastry chef extraordinaire.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon homemade vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Press 1 tablespoon of dough into the bottom of two 12-hole muffin tins.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown and the tartlet shells release from the tins easily.  Transfer to a grate to cool.  Fill with lemon curd when the shells are fully cooled.

Makes 24

Annie
Feeling tart and sunny

 

 

Chocolate Truffles – Little Rounds of Heaven

The days around the holidays, I’m especially reminded of traditions surrounding family.  Of creating and sustaining those rhythms that our girls will look back upon and remember well.  It’s not the presents around the tree, I think, that will be held the strongest in their minds and hearts, but those less tangible moments that have nothing to do with receiving.

Instead it will be the ritual of tromping into the woods to find just the right Christmas tree.  Decorating the house with pine boughs, roping and white lights.  Lying underneath the decorated tree and looking up at all of the branches illuminated with that golden glow.  And, of course, Christmas cookie making.

Now, we’ve gotten “better” at these rituals as the years have progressed.  The tree now has ornaments from top to bottom rather than a band of decorations high enough for a young one to reach on their tip toes.  The cookie making is a more ordered affair.  In other words, I’m not scraping flour and sugar off the floor and ceiling for a month afterwards.  And even the decorating of the house happens without tears or broken ornaments.  What a blessing to be able to spend these special days together.

Hands in the cookies.
Hands in the truffles.

The girls and I made these dark, silky balls of decadence as one of our Christmas “cookies” this year and had trouble not eating them ALL.  Fine Cooking‘s recipe is perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing.  We covered them in several ways – with cocoa powder, chopped walnuts, and the classic ganache.  Some got an espresso bean inserted in the center.  Those were our favorites, but they were all out-of-the-park delicious.  They make a perfect homemade holiday gift (If you can bear to give some away!)

Truffles2
Rolling truffles in cocoa powder.
All of the varieties.
All of the varieties.

Annie
In chocolate heaven!

Holiday Gifts from the Riggin and Annie’s Kitchen

The house is smelling of honey, vanilla, and oats as the batches of granola become gifts for your family and friends.  Monday, the aroma of coffee will greet us as we package up the famous and fabulous Rock City Coffee to the far reaches of the United States.

But there’s more!  All kinds of jams and preserves, mugs and photos from the ship store, and classy nautical jewelry.

For more details and prices, click on over to the Ship Store Page.  Below are just a few of the items available.

Two of the many granolas from Annie's kitchen - Ginger Coconut Granola and Cranberry Blueberry Granola.
Two of the many granolas from Annie’s kitchen – Cranberry Blueberry Granola and .
Rock City Coffee that greets you every morning on the boat. Perhaps a cuppa Riggin is just what you need!
Rock City Coffee that greets you every morning on the boat. Perhaps a cuppa Riggin is just what you need!
Nautical earrings, bracelets, and necklaces from Chart Metalworks.
Nautical earrings, bracelets, and necklaces from Chart Metalworks.

Annie
Happy shopping!

Thanksgiving Leftovers – Take Three

Potatoes are the one leftover which needs to be used up before it is relegated to the compost pile.  They don’t freeze well, so think of ways to incorporate this Thanksgiving leftover into another meal sooner rather than later.

Potato Leek Soup Photo Rocky Coast Photography
Of course, mashed potatoes can easily become a side for another meal.  And I’ve already mentioned that roasted potatoes could become Turkey Hash.  But there are a myriad of other ways that these versatile spuds can take root in another dish (see what I did there?).

Potato Cakes – Combine the mashed potatoes with some bread crumbs and an egg or two.  Dredge them in more bread crumbs or in grated Parmesan cheese and pan fry them in a little oil or butter.  Serve along-side grilled hanger or skirt steak or for breakfast with eggs and toast.

Potato Bread – Add mashed potatoes to your favorite bread recipe, reducing the liquid by half.  For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of water, add 1 cup of mashed potatoes and 1/2 cup of water.  Add dill, fennel or caraway seeds as an optional flavor.

Potato Leek Soup – Sauté onions and leeks in butter, salt and pepper. Add white wine and stock.  Stir in mashed potatoes and adjust for salt and pepper.

Potato Leek Soup Photo Rocky Coast PhotographyAnnie
My refrigerator is still full.  What about yours?

Thanksgiving Leftovers – Take Two

So many leftovers, so little space in the belly.  This is day two of Thanksgiving leftover ideas and turkey hash is one of my favorites.  Especially so when combined with greens – a much needed addition after a bit of fat and carb overload.

I’ve pared this hash with Brussels sprouts greens after discovering that they are just as delicious as any kale or broccoli leaves.  I’m lucky enough to still have some in the garden and will need to cull the rest shortly before it succumbs to a really sustained frost.

Turkey Hash Photo Rocky Coast Photography

Turkey Hash
Cut turkey and roasted potatoes into 1/2-inch pieces.  Sauté onions and celery in a large skillet and add the turkey, potatoes and any vegetables or squash that you like.  Add salt, pepper, Dijon mustard and maybe some horseradish to the pan.  Sauté until the ingredients are warmed through and are beginning to brown on the bottom.  Serve with poached eggs and roasted Brussels sprout leaves (or kale or broccoli leaves).

Turkey Hash Photo Rocky Coast PhotographyAnnie
Using up what we’ve got… and what we’ve got it pretty great.

Thanksgiving Leftovers

It’s a toss up as to which is the better meal – the Thanksgiving meal we had yesterday or the amazing leftovers we will have today and this weekend.  My mouth is watering over the endless possibilities, not the least of which is the turkey club sandwich that will be on my plate in the near future.  In truth, I considered having it for breakfast.

First things first, however.  If you haven’t already done so, add all of the bones from your turkey to a stock pot, cover with water, add an onion, a carrot or two, and a stalk of celery.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let it hang out on the stove top for an hour or so.  Strain and either freeze or use for a quick leftover soup.

Make your own turkey stock

The next thing to do is freeze anything that you won’t use within the next couple of days.  Divide everything into individual or family-sized portions and place into re-sealable freezer bags or freezer containers.  Label and date everything.  (Even if you are SURE you will remember.  Three months from now, you won’t have a clue.)  Most items from a Thanksgiving meal will freeze well except anything that has potatoes in it.  Even mashed potatoes tend to become mealy and watery after being frozen so use those up quickly.

Next is to utilize all of those yummy leftovers and make something equally yummy for a meal today.  Here are a few thoughts and I’ll post a few more over the course of the weekend.

Leftover Turkey Soup
Less a recipe and more a suggestion, this is my favorite kind of cooking – open the refrigerator door and start pulling things out to make a meal.

In a medium or large stock pot, melt butter.  Sauté diced onions and celery until translucent.  Spices like cumin, curry, and chili powder take this soup far away from the traditional meal it began as.  Add cut up or pulled pieces of turkey, pureed squash or sweet potatoes, any steamed or sautéed vegetable and the turkey stock you just made with the leftover bones.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve with a salad and some leftover rolls heated up.  Add noodles, rice, gnocchi, diced potatoes, lentils or barley for variations.

Leftover Turkey Sandwich Ideas
The sky is the limit here, but you might try these combinations:

Turkey with mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, havarti cheese and lettuce on a baguette.

Turkey with avocado, mango salsa, cilantro and mayonnaise in a wrap (or wrap with lettuce).

If you were lucky enough to have ham too, layer turkey and ham with cranberry sauce, caramelized red onion and cheddar cheese on rye bread.

Roasted zucchini slices with creamed onions, Dijon mustard, tomato slices and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts on focaccia bread with or without turkey.

Let me know what you made!
Annie

Multi-Grain Flaxseed Sandwich Bread

Okay, King Arthur, you got me good.  Your catalog just arrived in the mail today and I HAD to make your Golden Grains Bread.

Of course, anyone who knows me well is aware that actually following a recipe is next to impossible for me.  I can’t resist making a recipe my own.  Soooo, now I need to say, “thank you,” King Arthur, for the inspiration for this wonderful sandwich bread.

Multi Grain Flax Seed Sandwich Bread

Multi-Grain Flaxseed Sandwich Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour (of course I like King Arthur the best)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1/4 cup flax seeds
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 cups warm water

Combine all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add the water and mix until the dough forms a ball.  Knead by hand or with a dough hook until the ball is soft and smooth.  The dough will be just a tiny bit sticky, so add a little flour as needed.  Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until almost doubled.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease two, 9″ x 5″ bread pans.  Form the dough into two equal loaves and transfer to the prepared pans.  Cover and let rise again for another hour or until the bread is at least 1-inch over the edge of the bread pan.

Make 3 diagonal slashes on the surface of the bread.  Transfer the pans to the oven and add steam in whatever way works for you.  (I have a pan of rocks on the bottom of my oven that acts as a sauna when I pour water in it.)  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until an internal read thermometer registers 190 degrees.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely before slicing.

Makes 2 loaves

Annie
Houses that smell like baking bread are also the best!

Wich, Please is De-Wich-ious

There’s a new sandwich gig in Rocklandtown and it’s delightful.  Malcom and Jillian Bedell, of From Away fame, have joined the corps of high-caliber restaurants in town with their food truck, Wich, Please.  This tiny kitchen, serving breakfast and lunch sandwiches such as a swanky BLT built on sourdough bread, with frisee, confited tomatoes and crispy bacon, began with a Kickstarter campaign and the faith of several hundred fans and supporters.

Tomato Confit BLT at Wich Please
Tomato Confit BLT

That belief has paid off and the food truck is open for business beginning this week.  Set up to handle two cooks max, Malcom and his assistant have very little room to maneuver in this small food truck.  Actually, the space looks pretty familiar – a lot like my galley.  No jumping jacks for those two, just the dance of two chefs moving from one place to the next weaving in and around each other to reach for the next ingredient. Cassie, my assistant cook, and I get this all too well.

Malcom Bedell
Malcom Bedell

My Rubenesque, a vegetarian Ruben made with roasted beets and Morse’s sauerkraut, was a well-balanced blend of texture and flavor.  The crispy bread off-set the crunch of the kraut and the easy bite of the beets – the flavors all complimenting one another.

The Reubenesque and The O.D.B. Grilled Cheese
The Reubenesque and The O.D.B. Grilled Cheese
De-Wich-ious sandwiches from ‘Wich, Please

Located on the edges of Rockland Harbor with the tang of the sea greeting the outdoor park seating, there’s no doubt that these two have a formula for success.  Oh, and try the grilled cheese too – ours was with caramelized onions, pickled jalapenos, and chips.

The Spring menu at 'Wich, Please in Rockland's Buoy Park
The Spring menu at ‘Wich, Please in Rockland’s Buoy Park

Good luck to you both!  Today is taco Friday, friends, from 4-7pm.

Annie
P.S. My galley is still smaller.