Thursday, December 17, 2009

Asparagus with Prosciutto, Egg and Parmesan Cheese

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Asparagus and eggs seem to have a special affinity, but when the asparagus is wrapped in thin slices of prosciutto, then topped with a fried or poached egg, this dish borders on the sublime. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper, then run under the broiler until the cheese is melted. The slightly salty prosciutto, melted cheese and soft cooked egg create a lovely sauce for the asparagus. This elegant small plate meal is perfect for a Sunday brunch or a quick weeknight meal.Adapted from "Solo" by Joyce Goldstein. A generous 1 serving.

Asparagus with Prosciutto, Egg and Parmesan Cheese

8 ounces fresh asparagus, tough ends removed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1-2 thin slices prosciutto
1-2 eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until just tender, 5-8 minutes, depending on the thickness. Drain, refresh in ice cold water to refresh and set the color. Drain again, pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 450° F. Grease a small au gratin dish with a teaspoon of the butter.Wrap half the asparagus with the thinly sliced prosciutto. Arrange the bundles, tips facing in the same direction. Transfer to oven for about 8-10 to heat. Poach or fry the eggs. I fried my eggs until the whites had set enough for me to transfer the egg to the dish of asparagus. Remove au gratin dish from the oven. Turn on oven broiler. Top the asparagus with the poached or fried eggs. Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan, freshly ground black pepper and dot with the remaining butter. Run under the broiler until cheese has melted. Take care not to over cook the eggs. Remove dish from oven with mitts. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Three Easy Tapas Dishes-Manchego Cheese and Ham Toasts, Garlic Paprika Shrimp, and Spinach with Pine Nuts and Raisins-

Print Friendly and PDF Before Joyce Goldstein ,award winning writer, food consultant and expert on foods of the Mediterranean opened Square One in San Francisco in the early 80's, there were only a few restaurants in the United States that offered authentic Spanish food. Traditional ingredients such as Serrano ham, Manchego cheese, Piquillo peppers and Marcona almonds were difficult to obtain. By improvising with the few traditional ingredients available ,Ms Goldstein added many Spanish dishes to her menu at Square One. To introduce her clientele to new Spanish dishes, she began serving, with great success, an assortment of small plates, or tapas. Tapas [TAH-pahs] are appetizers that are most often served with sherry, or other aperitfs or cocktails. Tapas can be as simple as olives, cubes of cheese and ham for appetizers, or can be as elaborate as cheese and potato omelets, stuffed peppers and meatballs in a spicy sauce to form a sumptuous meal.

The word "tapas" comes from the Spanish word, "tapar", "to cover" and its stories of origin are various. One of the most popular stories is that a slice of bread was set atop of a glass of wine or sherry to prevent contamination from dirt or to keep flies out of the libation. Other folklore credit its origin to a edict by Alfonso X, a Castilian ruler in the 1200's, commanding that all inn keepers serve tidbits of food with the wine or sherry to prevent public drunkenness. Whatever the true origin, Spanish dining adheres to the tapas tradition simply by the way they dine. The Spanish eat a progression of small meals throughout the day. The main meal is served around 2pm with small meals on either side of that meal, extending to around 11pm. Many small meals and a healthy Mediterranean diet keep the Spanish slim. Source-Tapas

These three tapas dishes can be served as part of an appetizer menu or as a meal. The Manchego Cheese and Ham Toasts require no cooking and are served with marinated Piquillo peppers and Olives. Both the Garlic Paprika Shrimp and the Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts are quick and easy to prepare.

Garlic Paprika Shrimp

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry or white wine
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Orange slices for garnish
  1. In saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes to taste, and paprika; cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the shrimp, orange juice and sherry or white wine, stir well, raise the heat to high and saute until the shrimp turn pink and the dish is fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the orange slice. Serves 4. Wine Suggestion- a Spanish Rose.

Spinach with Pine Nuts and Raisins


  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1-2 tablespoons for nuts, optional
  • 1 small onion, chopped onion, or 3 ounces Serrano ham, minced
  • 2 pounds spinach, tough stems removed and rinsed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. In a bowl, combine the raisins with hot water to cover and set aside to plump for 30 minutes.
  2. In a small dry frying pan, toast the pine nuts over medium heat, shaking the pan often, until fragrant and golden, 3-5 minutes. Pour onto a plate to cool. Or, if you prefer to saute the pine nuts in the olive oil, heat 1-2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add the nuts, saute until golden and fragrant. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon and cool.
  3. In a large sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the onion and ham, if using, and cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft and translucent or the ham is lightly colored, about 10 minutes for the onion and 5 minutes for the ham. Add the spinach with just the rinsing water clinging to its leaves and cook, turning and stirring constantly with tongs until just wilted, 3-5 minutes.
  4. Drain the raisins and add to the pan along with the pine nuts. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and serve warm. Serves 4-6. Wine suggestion-a Spanish Verdejo or a Voignier or Riesling.
Recipes adapted from "Tapas, Sensational Small Plates From Spain" by Joyce Goldstein.

Hosted by Burro e Zucchero, the culinary journey of the countries of the European Union continues with a delicious Spanish Paella to kick off our tour of Spain.

 Bullfighting Museum-Ronda, Spain

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cafe Volcano Cookies

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I've just added these cookies to my repertoire of "must bake" cookies for the holidays. They are easy, crispy , light as a feather and oh so
-flavorful. The addition of the instant espresso make these cookies perfect to serve with espresso or as an accompaniment to Affogato al Caffe. Thanks to Macduff of TheLonelySidecar for choosing these light as air espresso nut cookies. The recipe is on her blog or on page 153 of "Baking From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan. Also, check out the Tuesdays with Dorie website to see more variations of this fabulous little cookie.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


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If you only make two kinds of cookies this holiday season; one should be the Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies and the other, these Sablés. Both will guarantee rave reviews. Thanks to Barbara of BungalowBarbara for her choice for this edition of TWD. You can find the recipe on Barbara's blog.

Frustrated that I couldn't find the sparkling decorators sugar in several grocery stores, I used Turbinado sugar to grace the chilled roll of cookie dough before slicing it into rounds to bake. When I bake these again for the grandchildren at Christmas, I will use the colorful sprinkles that flood the decorating section of the grocery store. But for this baking session, I wanted the cookies to look as elegant as its name.

Until next time--

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Citrus-Chile Marinated Shrimp

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Marinated and pan-seared shrimp can be made quickly when there's no time to cook. I buy raw shrimp in season, place them in one pound increments in heavy duty reclosable plastic bags, then submerge them in water to cover. The task can be simplified by placing the one gallon freezer bag in an 8 cup measuring cup, add the shrimp and cover with water. Press out the air before sealing the bag. Freezing the shrimp in this manner keeps them from getting freezer burn and keeps the shells from drying out.

Orange and lime juices along with their zest allow the citrus flavors to come through in the tangy, slightly picante marinade. Two chile powders, ancho and chipotle, along with the sweet taste of cinnamon refine the flavors. This marinade keeps for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator and is also good with other grilled, pan-seared or broiled seafood. Recipe adapted from "Solo" by Joyce Goldstein.

Citrus Chile Marinade

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely minced jalapeno, fresh or pickled
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of chipotle chile powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients including the salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together.
For the Shrimp
  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails left on
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • For Garnish-lime slices and chopped cilantro
  1. Pour marinade over shrimp, reserving some of the marinade for basting. Refrigerate no longer than 1 hour. Drain and pat dry.
  2. In a frying pan, heat oil, add shrimp to the pan, turning a few times, until they are browned and pink in color, about 4 minutes total. Add reserved marinade, toss to coat. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with lime slices. Serves 2-4.

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