Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pasta with Roasted Shrimp and Cucumbers

It is that time of year again! That time when all of the fresh, summer, produce is out in the market and the Food Network finally begins it's long anticipated FN Dish Summer Fest! The FN Dish Summer Fest is a weekly franchise where bloggers make a different dish each week, incorporating a different summer produce item!



For the first week of Summer Fest, we had to use cucumbers in our meal.  During cucumber week last year, I made a creamy cucumber sauce and cucumber salad that I served with ahi tuna. This year, however, I was unsure of what to make.  The thought of cucumber salads, soups, and gazpacho's came to mind, but for some reason, my tummy was just not in the mood for any of those items.  Then, David started hounding me to make him dinner using the whole wheat pasta I had on hand, and that's when it hit me! I decided to make a lightened up, summer, pasta dinner, using roasted shrimp tossed with cut up cucumbers, feta, and fresh chives from my cousins' garden! The end result - a delicious, easy-to-make, guilt-free, dinner.

Penne with Roasted Shrimp and Cucumbers

Ingredients:
-1 box whole wheat penne pasta
-1 pound of shrimp, deveined
-2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced
-2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
-Olive oil for drizzling
-Parsley, chopped for sprinkling*
-Chives, chopped for sprinkling*
-Feta cheese for sprinkling*
-Salt and pepper to taste

*Please note, all of these items are optional and you can add as much or as little as you wish.  I just chopped up a handful and used them to top off the dish and add color. You could also toss in other herbs and seasonings. 


Directions:
Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil.  Also, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Once the water boils, pour the penne in and cook until it is al dente (about 9-11 minutes).  While the pasta is still cooking, place the shrimp on a baking pan and toss with a little bit of olive oil (I just drizzle a small amount), salt, and pepper.  Place the shrimp in the preheated oven and cook for about 5-6 minutes.  It is important that you do not overcook the shrimp as it will become very chewy.  When the shrimp is done, remove from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, take your cooked pasta and strain.  Return the pasta to the pot and stir in the butter and a little bit of olive oil (again, I just drizzle a small amount).  Once the butter has melted, and the pasta is coated, toss in the roasted shrimp, cucumbers, parsley, chives, feta (if using), and a little salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately and enjoy!


For more great ways to use cucumbers, check out the following links:


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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Blueberry Crumble

Happy 4th of July, everyone! Before going out tonight to watch the fireworks, I wanted to share a favorite summer treat of mine - Blueberry Crumble!


Blueberries are one of my absolute favorite fruits to eat and bake with during the summer, which is why my house is usually filled with blueberry pies, crisps, crumbles, tarts, jams, etc... All I know, is that I make way more than I can actually eat! Thankfully I have my very own garbage disposal - David! :)


This recipe is extremely easy and quick to make, so if you have time, whip some of these bad boys up and impress your guests tonight with a delicious sweet treat!

Blueberry Crumble

Ingredients (makes 4)


For the Filling:
-1 pint fresh blueberries
-1 lemon zested and juiced (can also use or add orange zest)
-1/3 cup of sugar
-2 tablespoons cornstarch

For the Crumble:
-1 cup flour
-1/3 cup sugar
-1/4 cup light brown sugar
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, diced
-Slivered almonds (optional)
Please note, you will have extra crumble topping


Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together the blueberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and cornstarch. Let sit for a couple of minutes so that the berries become nice and juicy.  Then, spoon the berry mixture into ramekins.

For the topping, mix together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Fork in the butter or use an electric mixture to combine.  At this point, I usually use my hands to finish mixing everything together until the mixture crumbles. Add in the almonds if using.

Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the blueberries and place the ramekins on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Please note, you do not want to forget the parchment paper because juice from the berries will spill over and stick to your pan, creating a very tedious cleaning process for you later on.

Bake the crumbles for 40-45 minutes, or until the tops look browned and crisp and the berry mixture is juicy and bubbly.

Serve warm with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or just plain! No matter how you eat it, just dig in and enjoy!


Happy 4th of July!


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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Daring Bakers: Battenberg Cake!

Mandy of What the Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry's techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.



Although I am posting this a few days late, I was so excited to finally be back in the kitchen participating in this months Daring Bakers' Challenge (since I have been slacking a bit lately)! Once I saw that the challenge was the Battenberg Cake, I could not wait to begin baking and sink my teeth into the delicious, spongey, cake.  Originally invented by chefs in the British Royal household, the Battenberg is a great way to celebrate the Queen's jubilee and summer olympics happening in London!

Battenberg Cake
Ingredients:
¾ cup (1½ sticks) 175gm / 6 oz Unsalted Butter, softened & cut in cubes
¾ cup / 175gm / 6 oz Caster Sugar
1¼ cups / 175gm / 6 oz Self-Raising Flour (***see end of doc on how to make your own)
3 Large Eggs, room temp
½ cup / 65gm/ 2 1/3 oz Ground Almonds (Can be substituted with ground rice)
3/4 tsp / 3½ gm Baking Powder
½ tsp / 2½ ml Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp (1¼ ml) Almond Extract
Red Food Colouring, paste, liquid or gel 


To Finish:
1/3 cup (80 ml) 100gm /3 ½ oz Apricot Jam (I used raspberry) 
1 cup / 225gm / 8 oz Marzipan, natural or yellow (or fondant) 



Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8x8 square baking tin. Line the pan with parchment paper and create a divide down the middle of the pan using tinfoil (or a divider if you have one).  

(Photo courtesy of Mandy at What the Fruitcake?!)


In a bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients, then, add in all of the wet ingredients until everything is combined and the batter is smooth. 


Divide the batter in half and place one half of the batter into one side of the baking pan.  Take the other half of the batter and add in a few drops of red food coloring to make the batter pink.  Once the batter is pink, scoop that into the other half of the baking pan. 


Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Once finished, let the cake cool completely before turning it out of the pan and placing on a wire rack. 


Even out the sponge cakes by trimming the top and sides of the cake, and cut each sponge in half length-wise so that you have four strips of cake. I did not line my strips up straight enough so they were off-centered a bit, but this was actually more difficult to do than I thought it would be! 


(Photo courtesy of Mandy at What the Fruitcake?!)


Gently heat the apricot jam and pass through a sieve (please note, I used raspberry).  Spread the warm jam evenly over the strips of cake so that they all stick together to hold the checkered pattern. Set aside. 


Dust a large surface with powdered sugar and roll out your marzipan or fondant (I had fondant so that is what I used).  Take your cake and place it on the marzipan jam side down so that you can spread jam on the remaining side.  Roll the cake up in the marzipan until completely covered.  Trim off the access marzipan and seal the seam and place it on the bottom so that it is not visible. Neaten the ends of the cake by trimming off a little slice from each end, revealing the checkered pattern. 

This cake can be eaten at any time, but I find it is best served with coffee!! Enjoy!


If you are interested in trying out variations of this cake, try this recipe below:


Coffee and Walnut Battenberg:

Servings: +- 8
Ingredients
¾ cup (1½ sticks) 175gm / 6 oz Unsalted Butter, softened & cut in cubes
¾ cup / 175gm / 6 oz Caster Sugar
1¼ cups / 175gm / 6 oz Self-Raising Flour (***see end of doc on how to make your own)
3 Large Eggs, room temp
½ cup / 65gm / 2 1/3 oz Ground Almonds (Can be substituted with ground rice)
3/4 tsp / 3½ gm Baking Powder
3 tsp (15 ml) Milk
½ tsp (2½ ml) Vanilla Extract
1½ tsp (7½ ml) 7 gm Instant Coffee Powder or Granules
3 Tbsp / 25gm / 1 oz Walnuts, roughly chopped
To Finish
½ cup (1 stick) 115gm /4 oz Unsalted Butter
2 cups / 225gm /8 oz Powdered (Icing/Confectioners') Sugar
½ tsp / 2 gm Instant Coffee
1½ tsp (7½ ml) Milk or Cream
1 cup / 225gm /8 oz Marzipan, natural or yellow

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/160°C Fan Assisted/Gas Mark 4
2. Grease an 8”/20cm square baking tin with butter
3. Line the tin with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle with the parchment (or foil)
- Tip: See photos or watch video above for detailed instructions
4. OR Prepare Battenberg tin by brushing the tin with melted butter and flouring
5. Whisk together dry ingredients (except walnuts and coffee) and combine with the wet ingredients in a large bowl (except vanilla and milk) and beat together just until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth
6. Spoon half the mixture into a separate bowl and stir in the vanilla, 1½ teaspoons milk and chopped walnuts
7. Spoon the walnut mixture into the one side of the prepared baking tin
8. Dissolve the coffee in the remaining 1½ teaspoon milk and add to the remaining batter, stir until just combined
9. Spoon the coffee batter into the other half of the prepared baking tin
10. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner
11. Bake for 25-30mins until the cake is well risen, springs back when lightly touched and a
toothpick comes out clean (it should shrink away from the sides of the pan)
12. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack

13. Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife
14. Cut each sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge
15. Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible

16. Combine the buttercream ingredients together and mix until combined
17. Spread a thin layer of buttercream onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern (one yellow next to one pink. On top of that, one pink next to one yellow)
- Tip: See photos for detailed instructions
18. Dust a large flat surface with icing sugar then roll the marzipan in an oblong shape that is wide enough to cover the length of the cake and long enough to completely wrap the cake
19. Spread the top of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream
20. Place the cake on the marzipan, buttercream side down
21. Spread buttercream onto the remaining three sides
22. Press the marzipan around the cake, making sure the join is either neatly in the one corner, or will be underneath the cake once turned over
23. Carefully flip the cake over so that the seam is under the cake and score the top of the cake with a knife, you can also crimp the top corners with your fingers to decorate
24. Neaten the ends of the cake and remove excess marzipan by trimming off a small bit of cake on both ends to reveal the pattern



Thank you again, Mandy!

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