Shrimp, Beer & Old Spice…I mean Old Bay

We decided to push things a little this weekend regarding John’s potential shellfish allergy.  We do live close to a hospital and the allergy hasn’t been confirmed; plus it seems like I’ve got a lot of recipes that involve shrimp, lobster, crab… but as I make up the week’s menu I’ll ask John “how about… oh wait, no that’s shellfish you’d better not”.  He couldn’t take it anymore so we agreed on this unbelievable shrimp recipe that goes very well with basic risotto. The  rule was:  just eat a little and if you break out into that rash again and start gasping, I’ll just shoot you with my epi-pen.  I figured we’d given the shellfish a break for a couple of weeks and maybe in small portions it would be fine (he was fine so maybe the rash was caused by the IRS after all).  What makes this such an easy dish to prepare is that you can just dump everything into a big pot minus the shrimp while you get the risotto or pasta ready.


1     Bottle of beer (your preference)
2     Teaspoons salt
4     Bay leaves
1     Tablespoon thyme – or a bunch of fresh sprigs
6     Cloves garlic – peeled & smooshed
1     Tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
2-3  Lemons – quartered
1     Lb. jumbo shrimp – rinsed & peeled

Fill a large pot with about 1 1/2 quarts water.  Dump a beer in then add salt, bay leaves, thyme, garlic and Old Bay Seasoning.  Squeeze the lemon juice then toss in the quarters.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes for flavors to combine then add shrimp for about 3 minutes, just until they’re pink.  Can be served with fettuccine but I like it best with basic risotto (which we had with broccoli).

Seconds weren’t an option this time for John but he enjoyed it enough to at least wish for more.

Salmon with Mustard Glaze

I was just drooling over JustaFrugalFoodie’s salmon recipe. Salmon lovers should check this one out:

I love salmon and will definitely try this recipe, but it reminded me that I’ve had this very tasty salmon recipe waiting to tell you about.  This is from Giada (a few changes) and can be broiled or wrapped in foil and cooked on the grill.  I’m almost afraid to show you the glaze because it really looks disgusting, but trust me it is great and has a little ‘kick’ to it from the mustard.

SALMON with Mustard Glaze
2          Garlic cloves, finely chopped
¾         tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
¾         tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1          TBL dry white wine
1          TBL extra-virgin olive oil
4          TBL Maille Old Style whole grain mustard
Juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
2          Salmon fillets

In mini food processor combine diced garlic, rosemary, thyme, wine, oil, lemon juice & mustard until well combined. Place salmon fillets in plastic zip bag cover with mustard glaze.  You can let this marinate or you can just spread the glaze over the salmon.

Make a foil dish large enough for the salmon, coat with a little olive oil and spread glaze over salmon.
I know this looks gross, but there’s just no way to make mustard very pretty.  It really is zesty and enhances the salmon flavor.
Broil for 15-20  minutes;  bake at 350° for about 20-30 minutes or place on the grill until salmon is flaky & cooked through.

Bourbon Pork Chops – excellent!

Not being a bourbon drinker I didn’t have any on hand & didn’t really know what to ask for.  There’s a wonderful little package store in Marlboro with a very helpful owner.  When I ran in and asked for 1 cup of bourbon he took it all in stride & didn’t even reach for the baseball bat that I’m sure he keeps under the counter for “those” kind of customers.  He even looked up the conversion of 200 ML on the computer to come up with what looks like a pint bottle and suggested Jim Beam.  As I said, I don’t know bourbon, so if you have a preference feel free to substitute but the Jim Beam was a great choice.

I made these Monday for dinner & woke up Tuesday morning still dreaming about the buttery, brown sugar, cinnamon & apple sauce.  I even wondered how the leftovers would be for breakfast.  The actual prep time on this isn’t very long because the chops just sit in the marinade all afternoon until you’re ready to start dinner & then after browning go back in the oven to finish cooking.  Will definitely be making this again soon.

1          Cup bourbon (a 1/2 pint of Jim Beam works just fine)
¾         Cup cider
2          TBL light brown sugar
1          Tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch    Nutmeg
Couple shakes of Tabasco sauce
2-4       Pork chops boneless, thick cut (1 ½-2” thick)
Olive oil to coat skillet
2-3      Apples-I used Braeburns, peeled & cored in 1” slices
2         TBL butter

In medium bowl, combine bourbon, cider, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a couple dashes of Tabasco sauce (if you like spicy, you can add more to taste).  Combine until the sugar dissolves, then add pork chops & marinate for at least a few hours.

When you’re ready to start cooking, heat oil in heavy skillet at med-high for a few minutes.  Remove chops from marinade (save for the sauce), pat dry, then brown on each side & on the ends.  Don’t bother to clean the skillet since you’ll be using that in the last step.  Place chops in a baking pan & cover with about ½ of the liquid.

Cover with foil & bake at 375° until cooked through – about 30-40 minutes, depending on thickness.  Take a break while the chops are baking.

In the skillet you used for browning pork chops, add the remaining ½ of the bourbon marinade, plus the marinade & juices from the baked pork chops pan.  Increase heat to med high, scraping the bottom of pan to loosen any stuck bits of pork.  Add butter, stirring until melted allowing the liquid to reduce and thicken.  Add sliced chunks of apple until just cooked –don’t let them get mushy.  Place pork chops on serving platter, pouring sauce and apples on top.  And yes, any leftovers are still great microwaved for breakfast.

You can’t have the sauce without the meatballs!

John in the kitchen-a wonderful sight!

The Secret to Great Meatballs

1    lb. hamburger
½   lb. ground pork
½   Cup Italian breadcrumbs – add more as you mix to get the right texture
3    Cloves garlic, finely chopped
1    Egg
4    Tablespoons water
2    Tablespoons parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients well, adding breadcrumbs so the texture is not too ‘meaty’ – add more for a softer “ball”
Shape small/medium size meatballs & place on well oiled roasting pan.  This can get a little boring but don’t make the mistake my dear friend Tricia did by making them the size of softballs!
Bake in pre-heated 400 degree oven until browned & cooked thoroughly.  Check after about 5-8 minutes & turn to brown both sides.  Cut in ½ to check that middle is cooked.
Chop a few meatballs to add meat mixture to sauce, then add remaining meatballs to sauce (see the Secret Solera/Shelsey Spaghetti Sauce recipe)

Veal Scallops in Foil Pockets

This is a very elegant recipe that can be prepared very quickly.  It may seem like a lot of fuss, but is quite easy to prepare and doesn’t take a lot of time.  An added bonus is that you cook the veal in little foil pockets which eliminated scrubbing the baking pan. The cream sauce does need watching to not end up with lumpy scrambled eggs but it is very light and tasty.  Photo courtesy of Nicole Solera, taken in Sorrento, Italy.

Easy to read recipe:


4     Thin veal cutlets
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & pepper to taste
8     TBL chopped onions
½    Pound sliced mushrooms

Pound veal cutlets.  Season with salt & pepper.
Make 4 aluminum foil pockets slightly larger than each cutlet & brush w/oil.
Place cutlets inside pockets & sprinkle evenly w/onion & mushrooms.
Pour enough Chablis over each cutlet to moisten well.  Pinch top of each envelope closed.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, add more Chablis, bake additional 20 min.

Lift veal scallops from pockets, place in  buttered serving dish.  SAVE pan juices from foil pockets in small bowl for sauce.


¼        Cup half & half cream
2         Egg yolks
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine the cream & egg yolks in top of double boiler, blending well, then stir in pan juices from bowl.  Continue stirring until sauce has thickened.  Serve over veal.

My daughter returns home

After Niki graduated from college she moved home for a while and had apparently picked up some expertise in a cooking class that she took while in Florence.  Then I caught her red-handed.  I walked in on her while she was watching a cooking show on tv!  Who was this person?  Could she have any of my genes?  Why was she watching cooking shows?  Although she’d tried to help in the kitchen many times when she was young, she’d never really shown any particular aptitude in that area.  Usually the results were edible although presentation definitely needed some work.

Niki’s come a long way since this colorful birthday cake and she actually does enjoy cooking.

Thinking that she might like to try more interesting recipes, Niki brought home Giada’s Kitchen by giada de laurentiis.  I knew things would be very different in our kitchen.  When I showed my husband this cookbook, he took one look at Giada’s picture on the cover and declared that she looked like a really good cook.

I agree with my husband that Giada looks really good, as a cook or otherwise and although I hardly look like Giada I decided to try one of her recipes.  I started with her chicken piccata because I actually could identify all of the ingredients and it seemed fairly easy enough for me.   I served this over wide noodles and it was absolutely delicious!  Definitely one to repeat.

Since I got so many compliments on this dish (see how devious my husband is – compliments my efforts so I’ll do it more often), I decided to also check out her website on the food network.  If the chicken piccata was delicious, I can tell you that the chicken with marscapone cheese was out of this world.  This is definitely my go-to recipe for company or when my daughter comes home now for some comfort food.  If the chicken marscapone wowed John and Niki I can tell you that I got a standing ovation for Giada’s chocolate honey almond tart!  I’ve since served these dishes to guests and had so many requests for the recipe that I finally typed them up to copy on request.  And that’s how it all started….

When my daughter moved to her apartment she would call me to find out how I made various dishes.  Rather than just write them down, she would call me again when she wanted to make the same thing.  I finally just started a recipe file of all the likely recipes that she might ask for which I would then email to her.

Last Christmas it occurred to me that I had a decent recipe collection and hundreds of photos from Italy.  As I’ve mentioned I love playing with photos and decided that a collection of these photos with family recipes overlayed would be a nice gift for her and save a lot of time on the phone.  I made 8.5 x 11″ photos and stacked them in an acrylic frame which can be hung on her kitchen wall.  When she needs a recipe, she can just move that to the front of the frame & it protects the photograph from splatters.  This particular photo is one that Niki took from the Venice canals of a very unique dress shop.

The Recipe, courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis :


1 to 1 ½ lbs     Boneless chicken breasts
2 TBL              Olive Oil
5 TBL              Butter, divided
1 Cup             Chopped sweet onion
1 lb                  Mushrooms – cremini or baby portabella
2 TBL              Garlic, minced (more is fine)
1 Cup              Marsala wine (or I’ve sometimes used Vermouth
1 Cup              Marscarpone cheese
2 TBL              Natural stone ground mustard (seeds)
2 TBL              Chopped fresh Italian parsley
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Serve on wide noodles or fettuccine

Pound the chicken breasts to tenderize, then sprinkle salt & pepper.  Heat oil in heavy skillet over med-high heat.  Add chicken until just browned (about 4 min each side).  Move to a plate & cover to keep warm.

Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter to the same skillet over med-high heat.  Add onion & sauté until tender (about 2 min).  Add the mushrooms & garlic and sauté until the mushrooms are tender & juices evaporated (10-12 minutes).  Add the Marsala wine or Vermouth and simmer until reduced by half (5 minutes).  Stir in the marscapone and mustard.  You can serve the chicken as cutlets or slice into slices.  Return chicken & juices to the skillet.  Simmer, uncovered over med-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through & the sauce has thickened slightly (just about 2 minutes).  Sprinkle with parsley and top with fresh Parmesan cheese.

After cooking pasta, melt remainder of butter (3 TBL) on top.  Serve chicken & sauce on top of pasta.

(This may seem like a bit of work but it really isn’t and it cooks up fast so have the pasta water boiling.  It is the most delicious sauce I have ever had!)