Friday, June 28, 2013

Jamaican Jerk Shrimp Skewers over Smashed Plantains

Jamaican Jerk Shrimp Skewers over Smashed Plantains
(for two)

This simple recipe is great for summer evenings or for entertaining (multiplied of course). The warm spice of the Jamaican Jerk Shrimp, the juiciness of the bell peppers and the sweetness of the smashed plantains create a Caribbean inspired flavor experience that you’re sure to enjoy!


Jamaican Jerk Shrimp Skewers:

- 16 large uncooked shrimp (peeled and deveined)
- 2 medium bell peppers ( I used red and green)
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
-¼ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar (packed)
- 2 teaspoons sweetened coconut flakes (packed)
-  2 tablespoons olive oil
- Extra salt and ground black pepper to taste

Smashed Plantains:

-2 medium ripe plantains (yellow in color with some brown spots)
- Coconut oil
- Salt to taste

To make the Jerk Spice Rub: Measure out the nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, thyme, cayenne pepper, salt and ground black pepper into a ramekin or small bowl. Stir together with a fork until well combined.

Add the brown sugar and the coconut flakes, stir to combine and set aside.

Cut up the bell peppers into large chunks. 

Place them into a mixing bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and stir to coat the peppers evenly with the oil and seasonings.

Pat the shrimp dry and place in a separate mixing bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the shrimp, sprinkle with a little bit of salt and toss with a spoon. Add the Jerk Spice Rub to the bowl and gently toss with the spoon until the shrimp are evenly coated.

Preheat your grill – high heat. Then prepare a station for making your skewers: You will need 4 skewers and a plate to put them on after they are assembled.

Thread the bell pepper chunks and shrimp onto the skewers, alternating between the two. Make sure to pierce through the shrimp as shown in the picture (right through the middle of the “C” shape) as this will be the most stable position for them while grilling.

Place the completed skewers on the plate.

Return to the grill, reduce the heat to medium and place a large cast iron skillet on it to pre-heat.

With a sharp knife, carefully (without pressing too hard) slice through the skin down the length of the plantain. The skin should peel off easily.

Slice the plantain in half lengthwise.

Then, pinching the two halves together, slice the plantain crosswise, creating chunks. Repeat with the second plantain.

Cover the bottom of the cast iron skillet with coconut oil and allow it to heat for a few seconds. Add the plantains to the hot oil and cook, turning occasionally until the pieces are golden on all sides. With the back of a spatula, spoon or turner, smash the plantains down a bit as they cook. If necessary, add a bit more coconut oil to the pan through the cooking process to prevent the plantains from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

While the plantains are cooking, add the shrimp skewers to the grill. 

Turn them when the tails turn pink. Grill until the shrimp are firm and pink in color. They may need slightly more cooking time than the plantains.

When the plantains have finished cooking, remove the pan from the heat. Gently smash the plantains with the back of a fork, then cover the skillet until ready to serve.

To serve: place half of the smashed plantains onto each plate, then top with two of the shrimp skewers. Enjoy with a leafy green salad!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mango Glazed Pork Chops with Avocado Salad and Roasted Yuca

Mango Glazed Pork Chops with Avocado Salad and Roasted Yuca
(for two)

Sweet and juicy mango glazed pork, tender yuca and buttery avocado salad, invite you to experience a delicious summery bite!


Mango Glazed Pork Chops:

- 2 thick pork chops
- 1 mango (use a champagne mango if possible)
- Juice of ½ lime
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- ½ teaspoon agave nectar (or honey)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Ground black pepper to taste

Roasted Yuca:

- 1 medium-large yuca root (about 8 ½ in long & 2 ½ in wide)
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 small garlic clove (minced or pressed)
- 1 shallot
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt to taste

Avocado Salad:

- 1 large ripe Hass Avocado
- 1 small red bell pepper (diced)
- ¼ cup diced red/purple cabbage
- Juice of 1 lime
- Generous handful fresh cilantro (chopped)
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon curry powder
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Mangos have a thick, fibrous pit that runs down the center of each piece of fruit. In order to separate the fruit from the inedible pit, first peel the mango, then stand it up on a cutting board (vertically, with the small end facing up and the flat sides facing to the left and right. Slice down each flat side from top to bottom, leaving behind the core (which is about a ¼ inch thick). Cut off what little fruit you can, from the other two sides of the mango.

In the lower left hand corner of this photo you can see that I am holding the core. The two halves of the mango and the ancillary pieces are above my hand. 

Cube the mango halves and put them into a food processor. Add the lime juice, sriracha, agave (or honey), salt and pepper. Puree until smooth (about 5-10 seconds).

Pour the mango glaze into a measuring cup; you should have just under ½ a cup of glaze.

Generously, sprinkle the pork chops with salt on both sides and place them into a small zip-top bag. Pour about half of the marinade into the bag, reserving 2-3 tablespoons (or just under 1/4 cup) for later use. Refrigerate the reserved glaze. Close the top of the bag and gently massage the marinade into the meat. Refrigerate until ready to use (I recommend a minimum of 1 hour, but several hours or overnight would be ideal). 

Fill a large saucepan with salted water and bring to a boil. As the water is heating, peel the yuca.

Cut the yuca crosswise into sections about 3 inches long. Then cut these sections in half, lengthwise. You will notice a “thread-like” core in the center of each piece which will be removed after boiling. 

Place the pieces into the boiling salted water, cover and lower the heat, allowing the yuca to gently boil for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Be careful not to over-boil the yuca because then it will fall apart.

Remove the pieces from the water and set aside to cool.

As the yuca is cooling, squeeze the juice of 1 lime into a mixing bowl. Thinly slice the shallot and place into the lime juice. Set aside.

When the yuca is cool enough to handle, gently remove the “thread-like” core from each piece using a sharp knife.

Cut the yuca pieces into smaller, 1-2 inch chunks.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil onto a large piece of aluminum foil and sprinkle generously with salt. Add the yuca pieces, then drizzle the other tablespoon of olive oil over the top of them. Sprinkle with more salt and the cumin, chili powder and minced garlic, and toss with your fingers to evenly coat the pieces. Top with the “pickled” shallots, removed from the lime juice. 

Fold up the sides of the foil, to make a sealed packet.

To the lime juice in the mixing bowl, add the diced bell pepper, diced red/purple cabbage, chopped cilantro, ground coriander, curry powder, salt and ground black pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

Remove the pork chops from the refrigerator along with the reserved mango glaze. Spoon about a tablespoon of the glaze into a small ramekin.

Preheat your grill - high heat. Add the pork chops and sear for 1-2 minutes each side on the high heat (you should see nice char marks on the meat).

Next, reduce the grill heat to low, place your packet of yuca onto the grill and brush the top side of the chops with some of the glaze. 

Close the lid of the grill and cook for approx. 6 minutes. Repeat the same process for the other side of the chops, discarding any of the remaining glaze used in this process.

When the meat has finished cooking (it should be firm to your touch), remove it from the grill, place it on a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Allow the meat to rest for at least 5 minutes. Leave the yuca on the grill, to continue cooking while the meat is resting (about 5 minutes).

With a small sharp knife, cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Pull the sides away from each other and carefully remove the pit from the one side. 

Slice the avocado flesh lengthwise and then crosswise to create cubes.

With a spoon, scoop out the cubes into the mixing bowl with the other salad ingredients.

Stir to coat evenly with the lime juice and spices.

To serve: Brush both sides of the pork chops with the last of the mango glaze. Place a small mound of the roasted yuca and avocado salad on each plate and lean a pork chop against the side. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mint & Mustard Crusted Ahi Tuna over Spiced Lentils

Mint & Mustard Crusted Ahi Tuna over Spiced Lentils
(for two)

North African flavors bring warmth and excitement to this dish. Mint and whole grain mustard come together to create a bright tasting crust for the tuna steaks. The warm spices in the lentils produce an aromatic and generously flavorful accompaniment, bringing succulent balance to the overall meal.

Mint & Mustard Crusted Ahi Tuna:

-1/4 cup whole grain mustard
- Small handful fresh mint leaves
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Salt for sprinkling on Tuna

Spiced Lentils:

-1 cup brown lentils
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 small onion
- 1 generous handful baby carrots
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 large garlic cloves (minced or pressed)
- Zest of 1 whole lemon
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Handful fresh flat leaf Italian Parsley (coarsely chopped)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon caraway seeds
- Sprinkle of nutmeg (to your taste)
- Sprinkle of cinnamon (to your taste)
- ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Olive oil for the pan

Dice the onion, carrots and red bell pepper into small pieces.

Stack the mint leaves on top of each other, then roll tightly and slice into thin ribbons crosswise (this kind of knife cut is called a chiffonade). Cut the thin slices in half.

Put the mustard into a measuring cup, add the sliced mint, coriander, salt, pepper and olive oil. Stir to combine.

Place the tuna steaks into a square glass baking dish and sprinkle both sides of each steak with salt. Distribute the marinade evenly between the two steaks, coating both sides of each one. Set aside to marinate until you are ready to cook them.

Heat some olive oil in a medium saucepan, over medium heat, then add the diced onion and carrot. Cook until softened.

Add the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, and caraway seeds stirring to combine.

Add the garlic and red bell pepper. Cook for about 30 seconds and then add the water.

As the water comes to a simmer add the lemon zest, lemon juice and chopped parsley.

Pour the lentils into the pan, stir and cover. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender, not hard. When the lentils have finished cooking, salt them to your desired taste (about ¾ teaspoon of salt).

When the lentils are nearing the end of their cooking time, heat some olive oil, over medium heat, in a cast iron skillet or the skillet of your choice.

Gently place the tuna steaks into the hot pan. Cook until you see the bottom of the steaks turning light,as you see in the picture below (about 30 seconds), then flip and repeat on the other side. You may lose some of your “mint & mustard crust” in the process of flipping the steaks, but don’t worry, just replace it as best you can.

The steaks should be cooked medium-rare; light on the top and bottom and dark in the middle. Remove from the pan and set them aside on a plate, to rest until serving.

To serve: Make a “mound” or small “hill” of lentils in the center of your plate. Slice the tuna steaks thinly (do not use a serrated knife, doing so will result in frazzled meat). Fan out the slices on the plate, leaning them up against the side of the lentils. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and enjoy with a leafy green salad!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cherry Chipotle Chicken with Yellow Rice and Cilantro Pesto

Cherry Chipotle Chicken with Yellow Rice and Cilantro Pesto
(for two)

This meal is comprised of tender grilled chicken cutlets coated in a sweet & spicy cherry chipotle barbecue sauce over savory yellow rice and finished with a spoonful of refreshing cilantro pesto. If you like Latin flavors, you’re sure to love this dish!


Cherry Chipotle Chicken:

-2 chicken cutlets
- 1 cup sweet cherries, pitted & halved (about 20 cherries)
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
- ½ teaspoon agave nectar (or honey)
- ¼ teaspoon salt

Yellow Rice:

-1 cup white rice or brown-jasmine rice
- 1 ½ cup water
- 1 small onion
- 1 large garlic clove (minced or pressed)
- Approx. ½ tablespoon coconut oil
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt & ground black pepper to taste

Cilantro Pesto:

-1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
- Generous handful of cilantro
- 2 Tablespoons sliced almonds
- Juice of ½ lemon or lime

To pit the cherries: cut each cherry in half lengthwise and pull apart.

Slide your thumb underneath the base of the pit and pull up to release it from the fruit.

Pour the pitted/halved cherries into a food processor. Add 1-2 chipotle peppers (depending upon your desired level of spiciness), 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce from the can, ¼ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon agave nectar.

Process until the barbecue sauce is smooth and a rich, dark red color.

Transfer the barbecue sauce from the food processor to a measuring cup. You should have about 2/3 cup of sauce.
Roll down the sides of a large zip top bag and pour about 1/3 cup of the sauce into the bottom of it. Set aside the other half of the sauce for later use.

Place the chicken cutlets into the bag with the sauce and seal the bag (squeezing out most of the air).

Gently massage the sauce into the meat with your fingers until the cutlets are well coated. Marinate the chicken as long as you like but at least 15 minutes.

Heat the ½ tablespoon of coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced onions and sauté until translucent.
Add the garlic, paprika, turmeric, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Pour the water into the saucepan and bring to a boil.

When it begins to boil, add the rice, stir and cover. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.

As the rice is cooking, grill the chicken (discarding the marinade in the bag) until it has sear marks on both sides and is firm (not spongy) to the touch (about 4-5 minutes per side). When it has finished cooking, allow it to rest (covered with foil) for several minutes on a plate.

To make the cilantro pesto: first grind the almonds in a food processor for about 5-10 seconds. Then add the cilantro, melted coconut oil and lemon juice. Process until smooth; if necessary, add a little more oil to help you reach your desired texture. If you like, finish this pesto in a mortar & pestle – it gives it a wonderful finished consistency.

Just before serving, brush both sides of each chicken cutlet with some of the reserved barbecue sauce.

To serve: Make a bed of yellow rice on each plate, place a chicken breast on top of each rice bed, and top with cilantro pesto. Drizzle some of the reserved barbecue sauce onto each plate as desired.