Tag Archives: appetizer

Bourbon Shrimp

The groundhog was wrong about his prediction for an early spring around here.  Snow, the last week in March… really?

With another day of yucky weather keeping me inside, I decided to do a little spring cleaning, beginning with my spice cabinet. I discovered an open jar of bourbon smoked sugar that I brought back with me from my visit to GE in Louisville last spring.

As I sorted through jars of salts and spices,  my thoughts kept returning to the smoked sugar, and how it would probably be a good idea to use it up pretty soon; it was opened after all, and would expire soon.

By the time the old spices were tossed and the cabinet was back in presentable order, I had a plan in place for the bourbon smoked sugar. I would make some Bourbon Shrimp. What better way to take away the winter like chill on a cold springtime night than with a little bourbon and a little more bourbon,  right?

bourbon shrimp

Bourbon Shrimp

2 tablespoons bourbon smoked sugar (or dark brown sugar)

1 tablespoon Smoked Spanish Paprika

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 pound (u-15 count) shrimp, tails left on, shelled, deveined

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 tablespoons bourbon

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Combine bourbon smoked sugar and spices in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and toss to combine thoroughly.

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add shrimp and cook 1-2 minutes on first side, flip shrimp, and cook an additional minute on second side. Reduce heat to medium low and add bourbon; cook 1 minute, scraping bottom of pan as you stir to break up browned bits on bottom of pan. Add butter and stir to combine. Transfer shrimp to a platter and garnish with chopped parsley.

4 appetizer servings

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Stuffed Mussels with Serrano Ham, Spinach, & Garlic Aioli

 

 

It usually takes me a week or so after Thanksgiving passes (an intermission), before I am ready to start hearing Christmas music on the radio, and get into the spirit of the season. I need the time to transition from pumpkins to holly.

I can’t just jump right in. What I can do though, is start thinking about what I want to cook during the holiday season. Menu planning is something that comes naturally for me, and it’s the getting together with family and friends over food and wine part of the season that really gets me excited about celebrating, so today I will share a recipe that I recently served as part of one of my cooking class menus. The ingredients have some Spanish influence, making them a nice addition to a tapas menu, but they also have that special holiday feel to them so sharing some of these with friends would be a very good idea.

The mussels are steamed in a wine broth,  then pulled from their shells, chopped and added to the rest of the filling ingredients: sauteed serrano ham, spinach, and béchamel sauce. Some prep work on the front end, yes. But you are able to assemble the stuffed mussels and refrigerate up to one day ahead before they are topped with garlic aioli and popped under the broiler until golden brown and bubbly.

Even the people in cooking class who thought they didn’t like mussels fell in love with these.

So as you think about inviting friends over to share a glass of wine during the weeks ahead,  I hope you will consider making these go along with your holiday cheer.

Stuffed Mussels with Serrano Ham, Spinach, & Garlic Aioli
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • Aioli:
  • 10 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup mayonaise
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • Mussels:
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 6 sprigs flat leaf parsley
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 36 mussels (3 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons minced ham (serrano, prosciutto, or black forest)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup milk
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
Instructions
  1. For Aioli: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place garlic cloves in a very small baking dish. Cover garlic with oil (add enough to completely cover garlic), cover dish with foil, and bake until garlic is soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove garlic cloves with a slotted spoon and transfer to a dish to cool. Place cooled garlic, mayonnaise, and vinegar in the base of a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Reserve.
  2. For mussels: Bring the white wine, half of the onion, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and mussels to a boil in a large covered saucepan over high heat. Once mussels have been cooking 3 minutes, check to see if they have begun to open. Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon as they open and transfer to a platter. Cool the mussels. Reduce the cooking liquid down to 2 tablespoons. Strain and reserve the liquid. Remove the mussels from their shells and save ⅔ of their shells. Separate each of the reserved shells into 2 halves. Chop the mussels coarsely and place in a large bowl.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Cook the remaining onion until soft, 7 minutes. Add the spinach and ham to pan with onions, stirring until spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove mixture from pan and add to bowl with chopped mussels.
  4. Preheat the broiler. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add the flour and cook; stirring 2 minutes. Add the milk and reserved cooking liquid and cook until smooth and very thick. Add to the mussels and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Stuff the shells with the mussel mixture. Spread the aioli on top of the mussels and place on a baking sheet. Broil until golden, 10-20 seconds. Serve immediately.
  6. servings

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Bison Meatballs with Pickled Red Onions, Avocado Relish & Spicy Aji Amarillo Sauce

hosted by 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro Cooks!

Okay, here we are; the first 5 Star Makeover event of the year! As you can see from the images above, this month’s challenge is meatballs.

I have to say,  I am a lover of all meatballs, from all over the world. Whether they are served  Italian style atop spaghetti with red sauce, lamb meatballs with Mediterranean spices, Morrocan, Swedish, or Thai (like the ones I made here).

Among my favorites are the pescetarian versions made from fish and shellfish.  Even vegetarian meatballs are okay with me too; especially if we count arancini in the meatball category.

There  so many directions to go with this challenge. It really left the gates wide open for creativity.

I decided to go with an appetizer presentation, and thought it would be nice to make bison star of the ball.

 Bison is much lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol than beef. Grass-fed, bison is  rich in vitamins, minerals, and flavor! January resolutions are well underway, and if you are looking for new ways to celebrate healthier eating, swapping out some bison in place of  beef in your favorite recipes is one small change that may help you along the way.

So here we go: Bison Meatballs with Pickled Red Onions, Avocado Relish, and Spicy Aji Amarillo Sauce.

I used Panko bread crumbs in the meatball mix to keep them light in texture, then baked them off in the oven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided to go with bold , colorful flavors,  like pickled red onions, and avocado relish in lieu of  heavier ingredients, keeping the healthier look at meatballs in mind.  To finish the dish, I made a spicy sauce with Aji Amarillo paste (look for in latino markets or online) which added some nice heat to my Greek yogurt sauce.

We really enjoyed these spicy little bites, and I hope you will too!

Don’t forget to check with 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro Cooks! on Friday for the roundup of recipes from our cooking group.  I have seen a sneak peak at what they have been working on, and I know we are in for a treat!

Bison Meatballs with Pickled Red Onions, Avocado Relish, and S

 

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/2 milk

1 pound ground bison

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped shallots

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon minced serrano chile (seeded)

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Pickled Red Onions (recipe follows)

Avocado Relish(recipe follows)

Aji Amarillo Sauce (recipe follows)

 

Garnish:

Minced habanero pepper

Finely chopped cilantro

 

For meatballs:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place Panko bread crumbs in a medium bowl. Add milk, toss to combine, and allow mixture to soften for a few minutes. Add bison and remaining ingredients. Mix together using your hands, to combine ingredients.

 

Shape bison mixture into 11/2-inch balls and place onto a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Bake 12-14 minutes, or until fully cooked.

 

Assembly:

 

Place a pinch of pickled red onions in the bottom of tasting spoon (or plate). Place meatball atop pickled onions, followed by about 1 teaspoon of relish. Drizzle meatball with Aji Amarillo Sauce, and garnish with minced habanero pepper and cilantro

Makes 12 meatballs

 

Pickled Red Onions

3/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons  sugar
Pinch of salt
1 bay leaf
5 allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian red pepper flakes
1 large red onion, peeled, and thinly sliced into rings

In a small, non-reactive saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, salt, seasonings and chile until boiling.Add the onion slices and lower heat, then simmer gently for 30 seconds.Remove from heat and let cool completely.Transfer the onions and the liquid into a jar then refrigerate until ready to use.

 

Avocado Relsih

1/2 English cucumber, quartered, seeds removed

1 small avocado, pitted, finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped grape tomatoes

1 teaspoon olive oil

Juice from half of a lime

2 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1/2 teaspoon honey

Generous pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients together in a medium bowl, tossing well to blend flavors.

 

Aji Amarillo Sauce

6 ounces Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon grated ginger root

1 1/2 teaspoons aji amarillo paste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

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