Cooking

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Open-Faced Hawaiian Roll Sandwich

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Open Face Sandwiches www.luc.edu

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Open Face Sandwiches

It has been an intense few months.  How do I explain such a long absence?  I have one class left to finish my MBA!  I am working full-time and have spent nights and weekends in class or doing homework and projects.

As a quick break, I decided to experiment with shrimp skewers.  Then, I decided to use up a bunch of odds and ends in my kitchen.  I did open-faced sandwiches because I only had 2 “Jumbo” Hawaiian rolls left from a previous meal.  The shrimp were full of lemon-garlic flavor and the bright acidity of the lemon was balanced by the sweetness of the Hawaiian roll.  Lemon aioli is optional.  (I did not use it for my first batch and they were still delicious).

You can serve these shrimp skewers on their own, as a main course or remove the shrimp from the skewers and serve them atop a hawaiian roll & lettuce for an easy, delicious dinner!

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Open Face Sandwiches www.morewinelesswhines.com

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Open Face Sandwiches

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Open-Faced Hawaiian Roll Sandwich

1 lb shrimp (any size), peeled & deveined
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1-2 lemons
1/4 c white wine (i.e. Pinot Grigio)
3 cloves garlic, minced
dash of sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 T parsley, minced

1 T unsalted butter
2 T extra virgin olive oil
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp fresh thyme
sea salt & pepper

Butter or Bibb Lettuce
2-4 large Hawaiian Rolls, Split
Lemon aioli (optional)
Skewers

Make marinade.

Whisk together olive oil through parsley and pour into a large bowl or Ziplock bag. Add shrimp and turn to coat in marinade. Refrigerate, covered, 30 minutes- 1 hour.

Place skewers in a shallow dish of water while the shrimp marinade.

Make the mushrooms.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add butter and olive oil. Once butter is melted, add mushrooms (working in 2 batches if necessary). Stir mushrooms occasionally, seasoning with salt and pepper as you stir. After 5 minutes, stir in thyme. Continue sautéing until mushrooms are light brown. Remove from heat.

Skewer the shrimp & grill.
Grill over medium heat, a few minutes per side, until no longer opaque. Do not overcook!
Remove shrimp from skewers.

Optional:  Grill or toast split Hawaiian rolls, about 1-2 minutes.

To Serve:
– Place half of a Hawaiian roll on a plate. Top with lemon aioli (if using), lettuce, sautéed mushrooms and shrimp.
– Serve alongside a salad. Enjoy!

Marinade the Shrimp     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Marinade the Shrimp

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Cooking, Traditions

Irish Soda Bread with Whiskey Butter in Honor of St. Patrick’s Day

Irish Soda Bread with Whiskey Butter      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Irish Soda Bread with Whiskey Butter

Growing up, we had a little book of Irish toasts and poems sitting in our living room.  My maternal grandmother, seeing that the strength of the Irish was growing too strong, came over one day very briefly and went into the living room.  When she left, we found an Italian book sitting next to the Irish one so her grandchildren wouldn’t forget their mother’s roots.  It is with great irony and a big smile that I remember one of the Irish poems, which I read so many times that I have now have memorized it:

Soaking raisins in Whiskey for Irish Soda Bread    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Soaking raisins in Whiskey for Irish Soda Bread

St. Patrick was a gentleman
Who through strategy and stealth
Drove all the snakes from Ireland
Here’s a toasting to his health
But not too many toastings
Lest you lose yourself
And forget good St. Patrick
and see all those snakes again.

Assembling Ingredients for Irish Soda Bread    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Assembling Ingredients for Irish Soda Bread

Every year, my mother & father would host a party for St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate my father’s ancestors (and because it was a really good excuse to have a party). The party was complete with brisket, potatoes, cabbage and Irish Soda bread + spirits and beer galore. Over the years, I have tried making many different Irish Soda bread recipes because I can’t stand the imposter store-bought kind. This recipe hails from Rose Mary Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible and is the best recipe I have found so far. I hope your family likes it as much as mine!

Incorporating the butter into flour for Irish Soda Bread       www.morewinelesswhines.com

Incorporating the butter into flour for Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread dough after mixing flour and butter with fingertips      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Irish Soda Bread dough after mixing flour and butter with fingertips

Oh, and if you’re not a beer drinker, make sure you try a Whiskey, Ginger Ale and Lime this St. Patrick’s Day.  It will clear out your sinuses.

Irish Soda Bread

Original recipe from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

1 cup raisins
1/2 c Irish whiskey (i.e. Jameson)
4 T unsalted Kerrygold butter (or regular), cold
2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
3 T sugar
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 c + 1 T buttermilk

1 T Demerara sugar (Optional)

1. Soak the raisins in the whiskey for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the whiskey for the whiskey butter.
2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Cut butter into 8 slices. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, incorporate the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the raisins with a silicone spatula/wooden spoon. Slowly, stir in the buttermilk until just incorporated. Be careful and don’t over mix. Empty dough out onto counter and knead, roughly 8 times, using a bench scraper to bring it together. Try not to use flour unless you have to. (Yes, your hands will be covered in the sticky dough. Big deal).
4. Shape dough into a round loaf, roughly 6″ diameter. Spray a sharp knife with cooking spray and make a 1/2″ slash from one side of dough to another, then a second to form a cross.  Optional:sprinkle with demerara sugar
5. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.
6. Cool bread on a wire rack. Optional:Wrap in a clean cotton/linnen dish towel and cool on wire wrack

Irish Soda Bread Dough    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Irish Soda Bread Dough

Irish Soda Bread Dough before Baking     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Irish Soda Bread Dough before Baking

Ingredients for Irish Whiskey Butter    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Ingredients for Irish Whiskey Butter

Irish Whiskey Butter    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Irish Whiskey Butter

Irish Whiskey Butter
3 T reserved Irish whiskey from raisins
1 T Demerara or regular sugar
9 T unsalted Kerrygold butter, softened

Stir together whiskey and sugar in a microwavable bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave 20 seconds. Stir to dissolve most of the sugar. (It’s ok if the sugar does not completely dissolve.) Cover and allow to cool. Stir the softened butter until smooth. Then, slowly stir the whiskey into the butter until incorporated. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

Enjoy!

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Cooking

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce

Baby, it’s cold outside – but starting to warm up!

We are beginning to see glimpses of spring.  I am looking forward to the warmer weather and  actually being able to run outside without risking life and limb on black ice.  I am excited for long walks with my puppy.  I can’t wait to grill outdoors and avoid setting off my poorly ventilated kitchen’s smoke alarm.  During this intermediate time in March, I am flexing my “make simple foods fast” muscles.

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce  www.morewinelesswhines.com

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce

I am all for spending hours in the kitchen and preparing incredible meals for family and friends.  The reality is that time keeps slipping through my fingertips… For everyday cooking, there are simpler foods that I really need to learn how to make and enjoy.  Enter Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce.  This recipe hails from  How to Cook Everything Fast, Mark Bittman’s latest cookbook.  It is very good.  I am simplifying it even further.  You really don’t have to use Thai Sticky Rice.  You could use some leftover white Jasmine rice and this will still taste delicious.  I’ll leave the rice decision up to you!

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce

My husband scrunches up his nose whenever I mention “fish sauce” or bring it out from the bottom shelf of our refrigerator door.  The truth is the stuff smells like fermented anchovies.  It imparts an incredible flavor to this dish – one that would be very difficult to recreate.

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce

Barely adapted from How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman

1.5 c short-grain sushi rice
sea salt
2 large carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
2 T canola oil
1 lb. ground pork
freshly ground black pepper
1 fresh hot green chile (I used serrano). sliced into quarters lengthwise, seeds & membranes removed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 c coconut milk
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 lime, cut into wedges
optional: Thai or regular basil for garnish

1. Put rice in a medium saucepan with 5 c water and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. When water boils, cook over high heat, stirring frequently, adding more water if needed, until rice is soft and forms a thick risotto like mixture, 10 minutes. When rice is done, spoon it out into 4 shallow bowls.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 T canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add ground pork, carrot, celery, onion, and a little sea salt & pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pork browns and vegetables soften, 10 minutes. Stir chile, garlic and ginger into the skillet.

3. Stir coconut milk and fish sauce into pork and vegetables. Bring to a boil. Let liquid bubble until it reduces to a thick sauce. Taste, adjust seasoning, and remove from heat. Spoon over bowls of rice. Squeeze a wedge of lime juice over each bowl.

Optional: Garnish with a lime wedge and basil.

Enjoy!

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce       www.morewinelesswhines.com

Fast Thai Sticky Rice with Meaty Vegetable Sauce

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Humor, Reflections

On women, kindness and humor

On women, kindness and humor

I was on an airplane for a business trip recently and a woman sat down next to me.  She said hello and we started talking about her daughter, her job, my job and then women in the business world in general.

She was clearly driven, successful and at the top of her chosen profession.  And yet… and yet…  the more we spoke, the more she started to reveal the layers of difficulty she faced in moving through the workforce.  A female boss harassed her while pregnant and whispered, among other comments (while no one was around) “You are so fat!  You better lose that weight fast if you want to survive here.”    She then describing her current boss and CEO’s ability to calmly listen to difficult situations, discuss the root cause of problems and turn around her company in a single year.  She described the drive for profitability and performance this boss expected, but more than that, she described the CEO’s kindness and generosity in developing employees and fostering their growth.

The stark contrast in “boss” styles struck me.  I love competition.  In fact, I thrive under pressure and deadlines.  I am not afraid of confrontation or conflict.  Even so, I firmly believe that in the midst of intense competition, it is vital that women managing other women do not verbally shred each other apart.  I believe that there is room and a need for kindness and a good sense of humor, especially among women in the business world!

On blogs there are oh so glamorous photos showing the most beautiful, the most wonderful and perfect photos of every moment of every life.  Life is messy.  Here are a few snapshots of the less than perfect, but really great moments of the past few weeks:

I took a business call late in the evening, only to say, “CAN I PLEASE CALL YOU RIGHT BACK?” because of this…  Fortunately, this person had a sense of humor.  His daughter was simultaneously throwing a tantrum:

Keeping it Real     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Keeping it Real

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Ahh, yes.. This was an attempt at a New Year’s photo.   I have shown this image to friends before, but I think it encompasses a valiant effort:

Blaney Family New Years Photo 2015     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Blaney Family New Years Photo 2015

What to do with a hyper puppy while getting ready for work in the morning?   Teach her to drink from the bathtub faucet?  Bad parenting!

Good use of time: teach puppy to drink from faucet    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Good use of time: teach puppy to drink from faucet

 

Have a great weekend!  I’ll be back next week with some good eats!

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Cooking

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Assembling Ingredients for Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

This weekend, we were in the middle of the first real snowstorm in Chicago’s 2014-2015 winter season!  So far, we have received about 19″ of snow.  Yesterday and again this morning, my husband and I went outside to finish shoveling the driveway and sidewalks.  The snow is the heavy, “packing” kind,  perfect for kids wanting to make snowmen and forts, but really irritating for adults trying to clear footpaths!  Stella was jumping around like a kangaroo in the snow!  This was before it got too deep for her.  After a few more hours, we ended up clearing a path in the backyard so she could walk without having the snow reach up past her   fluffy tail!

Stella Bear Braving Chicago's Big Winter Snow       www.morewinelesswhines.com

Stella Bear Braving Chicago’s Big Winter Snow

When we got inside from shoveling, I wanted something quick, simple and a lot like buttered noodles.  I made this ridiculously simple dish that does not even need a recipe once you make it a few times.   I put 1/2 a box of orzo in a pot of salted, boiling water.  I drained the orzo and made my butter-olive oil blend fancy by flavoring it with lemon peel and sliced garlic cloves.  Then, I stirred in some lemon juice, Romano cheese and parsley to finish the dish.  Easy!

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

serves 2

1 c. orzo
2 T. unsalted butter
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 2″ lemon peel
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/4 c. parsley, minced
1/3 c. Romano cheese + extra for serving
sea salt & pepper to taste

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add Orzo. Cook according to package directions until ‘al dente.’ You are better off undercooking the orzo at this point. Drain into a colander and transfer to a medium glass or heat-safe bowl*. Return pot to medium heat. Melt butter in pan and add olive oil. Gently place the sliced garlic and lemon peel in the butter/oil and stir a little bit. BE CAREFUL! Let bubble until garlic just barely starts to turn golden, ~30-60 seconds.  (It will go from golden to burned quickly) Remove garlic and lemon peel from pan with slotted spoon. Let cool on a plate before discarding.

Pour flavored butter/olive oil over the orzo. Stir in lemon juice, parsley and Romano cheese. Season to taste with sea and freshly ground black pepper.  Enjoy!

 

*Note: You can keep the cooked orzo in the colander and just stir it into the saucepan once the butter/oil has been flavored and the garlic/lemon peel is removed. I do this to minimize dirty dishes. The problem is the orzo can stick to the hot sides of the pan if you do not stir vigorously and immediately. The choice is yours.

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

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Bricco Panetteria in Boston's North End "Little Italy www.morewinelesswhines.com
Cooking, Travel

Boston’s North End: Italian American Mecca

Bricco Panetteria in Boston's North End "Little Italy www.morewinelesswhines.com

Bricco Panetteria in Boston’s North End “Little Italy

The greatest cities in the United States boast melting pots of cultures, which evolved from wave after wave of immigrants calling US soil their new home.  What do I think is the best part about these melting pots?  The food (and people, too)!   In Boston, there is a concentrated area of Italian Americans that would be called “Little Italy” in other cities, but is known in Boston as the “North End.”  There are tiny little shops, many of which have been passed on from generation to generation, all along the narrow, winding streets of the North End.

I was fortunate to spend the coldest winter day in Boston walking and eating my way through Boston’s Italian American mecca with my husband, his family and close family friends on Michele Topor’s Boston Food Tour.

We started our tour at a Panetteria, or small bread bakery.  There was a tiny little alleyway, which led to a single door, which led down a narrow staircase, to the panetteria counter!  We all purchased a loaf of bread – our bread of choice had prosciutto inside!

Bricco Panetteria in Boston's North End "Little Italy     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Bricco Panetteria in Boston’s North End “Little Italy

We then made our way to Bricco Salumeria and Pasta Shop, where we sampled olives, balsamic vinegar, saba, olive oils, prosciutto, and cheeses.

IMG_3203

Bricco Salumeria and Pasta Shop, Boston's North End    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Bricco Salumeria and Pasta Shop, Boston’s North End

We made our way through the winding streets to an authentic Italian pastry shop, Maria’s Pastry Shop.  It was old school Italian, with the best cannoli I have ever had (and, Father, Son & Holy Spirit, I am not even a big cannoli fan)!  Please note, if you ever want to experience good cannoli, with a crunchy fried dough shell and a sweet cream or ricotta filling, you better go somewhere where they fill the shells to order!  I didn’t photograph them, but Maria makes incredible marzipan, sfogliatelle and lobster tails (the pastries, not the crustaceans).

Maria's Pastry Shop, Boston's North End      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Maria’s Pastry Shop, Boston’s North End

Maria's Pastry Shop, Boston's North End    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Maria’s Pastry Shop, Boston’s North End

Maria's Pastry Shop, Boston's North End      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Maria’s Pastry Shop, Boston’s North End

We enjoyed the sights, smells and tastes inside of Monica’s Mercato and Salumeria.  The shop is family owned, as Monica’s son told us during our visit while he pointed to photos of his mother that adorned the walls.  “My mother taught me everything I know about cooking and food.  I started my first food shop/restaurant when I was 16 and just kept working from there to where I am now.”  My husband commented that if he lived in Boston’s North End, he would eat an Italian sub a day, every day, from Monica’s.  There is also a really compact Mercato featuring pizza downstairs, which is also where they make all the bread for the upstairs Mercato (Notice the wall made out of wine corks in the background.  Wouldn’t that be a fun endeavor to take on with friends?  “Ok, team, now this is going to be hard work, but we need to drink a few hundred bottles of wine this year so I can start the wine cork wall.  Ready, set, go!”)

Monica's Mercato and Salumeria, Boston's North End     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Monica’s Mercato and Salumeria, Boston’s North End

Monica's Mercato and Salumeria, Boston's North End       www.morewinelesswhines.com

Monica’s Mercato and Salumeria, Boston’s North End

Monica's Mercato, Boston's North End      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Monica’s Mercato, Boston’s North End

At the fresh produce market, I learned the difference between a male and female eggplant.  (Look for the one with a dot on the bottom, not a wide flat line.  The eggplant with the dot is a male and will have less seeds, thus being better for Italian American dishes such as Eggplant Parmesan).  We also visited a wonderful wine and liquor store, an incredible coffee, spice and herb store and learned so much more. This little post does not even scratch the surface on the shops and restaurants that fill the North End.   I hope that some day you will go to the North End yourself and experience the same lovely food tour my family enjoyed!

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Cooking

Orecchiette with Asparagus, Pancetta and Lemon

Orecchiette with Asparagus, Prosciutto and Lemon      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orecchiette with Asparagus, Prosciutto and Lemon

If you give an Italian American a bowl of pasta, he will want for nothing more.

Years ago my mother made a Cooking Light Recipe that involved pasta (bowties or spirals), asparagus, lemon & pancetta.  I added a few ingredients to the dish over the years, but, like many recipes, we just stopped making it after the change of seasons.  Then, my sister-in-law recently raved about a dish that sounded just like the one my mother used to make, this time by the Barefoot Contessa.  When my husband and I came home from an eight hour car ride and were deciding on “what to do” for dinner, we came to a simple conclusion:  try to recreate the pasta dish from years ago!

Orecchiette with Asparagus, Prosciutto and Lemon       www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orecchiette with Asparagus, Prosciutto and Lemon

Orecchiette with Asparagus, Pancetta  & Lemon

1 box orecchiette (or other small to medium shaped pasta)
1 bunch asparagus, rough ends removed, tender parts cut into 1.5″ pieces
4 oz pancetta, finely chopped
10 oz baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
Romano cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add orecchiette to boiling water. Set timer for 4 minutes less than the box instructs to cook the pasta ‘al dente.’ (For example, the De Cecco brand of Orecchiette says to cook the pasta for 11 minutes. I set my timer for 7 minutes.) When the timer goes off, add the asparagus and stir. Continue boiling, 3-4 minutes longer. Drain, reserving up to 1/2 c. of the starchy pasta water.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Once hot, add pancetta and sauce until sizzling and starting to crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Use a slotted spoon to remove pancetta to a large serving bowl for the pasta. Add a little more olive oil to the pancetta drippings in the pan if needed and return to medium heat. Add mushrooms to the pan with sea salt & pepper to taste. Sauté 5-6 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender.

Combine the orecchiette, asparagus spears, pancetta, mushrooms, garlic and juice of 2 lemons in a very large bowl. Stir in a drizzle of olive oil, as needed. Add reserved pasta water if pasta seems too dry. Stir in Romano cheese, beginning with 1/4 cup. Taste pasta and add freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste. (Be very careful that you do not add too much salt!)

Serve with freshly grated Romano cheese.

Enjoy!

Orecchiette with Asparagus, Prosciutto and Lemon        www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orecchiette with Asparagus, Prosciutto and Lemon

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