2.26.2013

Shrimp Bisque



Last week was an incredibly busy one for me, so I was overjoyed when Alex suggested we head up to the mountain house for the weekend. Some of my favorite times are spent by the fire in the lodge with our family and friends. This got me thinking about how I could contribute to our lunch feast (it literally always turns into a feast). I immediately thought of shrimp bisque, which is one of my personal favorites, and herbed ricotta with baguette. So I spent my afternoon on Friday preparing these delicacies for what became a wonderful winter weekend.

P.S.- How adorable are my new napkins?! They're from Anthropologie's spring linen collection.

Shrimp Bisque
Yield: 8 Servings

Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 leek (white and light green parts only), chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
10 grape tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups shrimp stock (see recipe below)
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 pinch paprika
kosher salt

Directions:
Place a large pot over medium heat and add the butter and olive oil. Allow the butter to melt and add the diced onion, chopped leeks, and minced garlic. Allow them to cook for 4 minutes, stirring often with a wood spoon. Then add the grape tomatoes and allow them to cook for another 4 minutes, while stirring. Next, add the flour and stir it constantly for two minutes in order to remove the raw flour taste. Add the white wine and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, let it reduce for two minutes. Next, add the shrimp stock and bring it to a simmer. Once it's simmering, add the raw shrimp and allow them to cook in the simmering liquid for about six minutes. Next, add the half and half and the cayenne and stir them in completely. To blend the soup either use an immersion blender in the pot of soup, or add small batches of the soup to a food processor or blender. Finally, add kosher salt teaspoon by teaspoon until it tastes perfectly salted (this varies from person to person).


Shrimp Stock

Ingredients:
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
10 stems parsley
shrimp shells (from one pound of shrimp)
ground black pepper
6 cups cold water

Directions:
To make the stock, start by placing a large stock pot filled with 6 cups of cold water over high heat. Add the diced onion, the minced garlic, the chopped carrots, the parsley stems, the shrimp shells, and about a teaspoon of ground black pepper. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and bring it to a simmer and cover it. Allow it to simmer for an hour and a half, and then strain the stock. 

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2.19.2013

Flank Steak with Maker's Mark Reduction & Sweet Plantains


Every year for Valentine's Day, Alex and I play "Chopped" for dinner. We head to Wegmans and give each other "baskets" with four ingredients of our choosing and then let the other person shop for their accompanying ingredients. This year my basket from Alex consisted of flank steak, fluff, peanuts, and a plantain. (He thinks it's funny to give me processed foods because they make me squirm.)
I first decided to make sweet plantains, and cook them as I would apples for french toast syrup. I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to use the fluff as well, in a sticky sweet sauce which would go over the plantains. Now to stick with this "sweet" theme, I wanted to sear the steak and then to deglaze the pan with Maker's Mark whiskey (which has notes of caramel) and then add a little butter and chopped peanuts. You probably noticed the other beautiful little savory side on the table: citrus pickled red onions over white rice (one of my personal favorites).
Little did I know, this wacky combination of ingredients would yield one of the most delicious meals that I've ever made.



Flank Steak with Maker's Mark Reduction
& Sweet Plantains
Yield: 2 Servings

Flank Steak with Maker's Mark Reduction
Ingredients:
3/4 lb flank steak
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup Maker's Mark
2 tablespoons finely chopped peanuts
1 tablespoon butter
kosher salt
ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and preheat a grill pan over high heat. Pat the steak dry with a paper towel, rub it with the tablespoon of olive oil, and liberally sprinkle it with the kosher salt and black pepper. Place it onto the grill pan for 3-4 minutes on each side until it's perfectly seared, then remove it from the pan and place it onto a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet into the oven for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, deglaze the grill pan by adding the butter, then the Maker's Mark. After it has reduced for a few minutes, add the peanuts and take it off of the heat. When you remove the steak from the oven, allow it to rest for another 10 minutes to let the juice re-disburse.

Sweet Plantains
Ingredients:
1 ripe plantain
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 dash cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup fluff

Directions:
Cut the ends off of the plantain and use a paring knife to slice off the exterior skin. Slice it in half lengthwise, and then slice each half into thirds. Place a small pan over medium heat and add the butter. After it's melted, place the plantains onto the pan and turn the heat to low after they're browned on each side (after 3-5 minutes). Next, add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla and allow them to cook for another fifteen minutes or until they're softened.
In the mean time, place a small pot over low heat and add the heavy cream and the cinnamon sticks. Allow this to simmer for ten minutes, then take it off of the heat and stir in the fluff until it's completely incorporated.
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2.12.2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies


The past few weeks have been fraught with the birthdays of my favorite people (it seems as if all of my friends and family are Aquarians). On the day of Alex's birthday, before bringing him to lunch, I stopped by his office at UPenn with a plate of these big yummy cookies. I made a practice batch the day before (to make sure that they were perfect) and within the first bite, this became my new favorite cookie recipe. With Valentine's Day around the corner I'm sure your honey or your secret admirer would appreciate these perfectly sweet cookies!



Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 12 Big, Perfect Cookies

Ingredients:
1 stick of butter (softened)
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups white flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Using either a hand mixer or a stand mixer, begin by mixing the softened butter and the two sugars together for five minutes. The mixture should be light and fluffy. Next, add the egg and the vanilla and mix it for an additional few minutes.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt, the baking soda, and the baking powder. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Once they're incorporated, use a rubber spatula to fold the chocolate chips into the dough. Roll the dough into 12 large balls, and place them six at a time onto a buttered cookie sheet. Place them into the oven for 10-12 minutes or until they're perfectly golden. Just before they've finished baking, sprinkle a bit of brown sugar over the top for a little extra crunch.
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