Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New Orleans-Style Barbequed Shrimp

During my last trip to NY back in April, I did my usual shopping tour. At that time of my life I was traveling to New York once a month, for a week or two. Part of my shopping ritual was Barnes & Nobles at 5th Ave. My office was at 42nd between 5th and 6th Ave, so B&N was just around the corner.

Walking around the store checking on the latest books, DVD’s and magazines with my Grande Latte was one of those simple pleasures. But the magazines. Oh the magazines!!!! I could never get enough of them. Food, wine, decoration, fashion, traveling. You name it.

Among my favorite magazines there is “Everyday-Food” from Martha Stewart. It does not feature the most fancy or elaborated dishes but there is always something that makes my head start working.

This time was a yummy New Orleans –Style Barbecued Shrimp. I pictured the flavor of the Creole seasoning, the lemon and the Worcestershire sauce with the shrimp. Nice, nice, nice.

I hope you like it!


Serves 4

Coarse salt

1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large celery stalk, diced small ( 3/4 cup)

1 small bunch scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons Creole seasoning

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 large lemon, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

1 3/4 pounds shell-on extra-large shrimp, deveined


In a medium saucepan, bring 2 1/4 cups salted water to a boil. Add rice, stir, and return to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook until rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot, melt butter over medium-high. Add celery, scallion whites, and garlic and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add Creole seasoning and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add Worcestershire, lemon, and shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are pink and coated with sauce, about 4 minutes. Serve shrimp over rice with scallion greens on top.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tart Tatin

When I go to a restaurant I always look for two things in the dessert menu: lemon-meringue tart and Tart Tatin.

To find a good lemon-meringue pie is not that easy. In fact I can only think of one place that makes it really good: Café Leo in Geneva. Luckily, good Tart Tatin is easier to find. Any nice restaurant that offers tart tatin usually does a pretty good job. I am thinking of Randall&Aubin in London.

I specially like Tart Tatin during autumn and wintertime. Tart Tatin is such a comfort food. The warm apples with the “crème fraiche” is perfect for a dessert or with a hot tea.

Tart Tatin is an easy recipe to bake. You just need to make sure that the apples are the right variety and be careful with the hot caramel.

I hope you like the recipe!


Makes one 22 cm tart

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan

All-purpose flour, for dusting

½ Pate Brisee, chilled

1 cup sugar

Dash of lemon juice

2 to 3 medium baking apples, such as Granny Smith (about 500 gr), peeled, cored, and cut into quarters

Creme fraiche, for serving (optional)


Preheat oven to 220º. Generously butter a 22cm metal pie plate; set aside.On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 22 cm round, about 5mm thick. Place dough on the prepared baking sheet, and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, mix together the sugar, 2 tablespoons cold water, and the lemon juice to form a thick syrup. Bring to a boil over high heat, swirling pan; cook until the mixture turns medium amber, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, and pour the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pie plate. Immediately add the butter, distributing evenly.

Arrange the apples, rounded sides down, around the bottom of the pan in a circular pattern, starting from the outside and working in, fitting them as close together as possible (the apples will be the top of the tart when served). Drape the chilled dough round over the apples to cover the mixture completely.

Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, line a rimmed baking sheet with a clean nonstick baking mat. Remove the tart from the oven, and immediately invert onto the mat, working quickly but carefully to avoid contact with the hot caramel. Using tongs, carefully lift the pie plate off of the tart. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm with creme fraiche, if using.

Pate Brisee

Makes enough for 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 22 cm pies


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed


In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt and combine. Add butter, and pulse until mixture looks like coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds.

With the machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream, just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of the dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn out dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. The dough can be frozen up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Banana-Meringue Pudding Pie

My sister has spent the summer in Nashville, Tennessee. Since I went to school in Little Rock, Arkansas, my “sis” and I have had long conversations about the “Southern Charm”.

The South of the United States has something whimsical. Maybe is the exuberant green vegetation, the swamps and lakes, the warm nights, the neat-white looking houses … but to me, what keep me going back to the South is the slow pace of life and the “well known” Southern hospitality.

The South is sweet. Sweet in the broadest sense of the word. No wonder the South is “Baking-land”.

Baking is part of their culture. And without complex! Their baking is tasty and intense. Spongy cake with tons of frosting just came to my mind!

My sister came back with a suitcase with half of Williams-Sonoma on it. She also brought me this great book “ Classic Southern Desserts” by the editors of Southern Living. (You can find it in Amazon)

From all the lovely recipes I picked the Banana-Meringue Pudding pie. I love bananas and the pudding makes the pie light and fresh. Perfect for a summer afternoon.

There you have the recipe. I hope you like it!

Banana-Meringue Pudding Pie

Makes 8 servings


340 gr vanilla wafers (Granola or Chiquilin works for the crust)

½ cup butter, melted

3 large bananas sliced

Vanilla Cream filling

4 egg whites

½ cup sugar


Preheat oven to 180º. Set aside 30 vanilla wafers; pulse remaining vanilla wafers in a food processor until coarsely crushed. Stir together crushed vanilla wafers and butter until blended. Firmly press on bottom, upsides, and onto lip of a 22/23 cm pie plate.

Bake at 180º for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let it cool completely (aprox. 30 min.)

Arrange banana slices evenly over of bottom of crust. Prepare Vanilla Cream Filling, and spread half of hot filling over bananas; top with 20 vanilla wafers and top with remaining banana slices. Spread remaining hot filling.

Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tbsp. at time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves. Spread meringue evenly over hot filling, sealing the edges.

Bake at 180º for 10 to 12 min. or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and let cool on wire rack until completely cool (about 1 hour). Coarsely crush remaining 1o vanilla wafers, and sprinkle evenly over top of pie. Chill at least 4 hours. Store in refrigerator.

Vanilla Cream Filling

Makes about 3 cups


¾ cup sugar

1/3-cup flour

2 large eggs

4 egg yolks

2 cups milk

2 tsp. vanilla extract


Whisk together first 5 ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Cook over a medium-low heat, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 min or until mixture reaches the thickness of chilled pudding. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Use filling immediately.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Wild Strawberries Mini-Tarts

Few weeks ago, my cousin came home early in the morning. He told me he was taking me to this secret place where he wanted to show me something that he knew I would appreciate.

My cousin got my little basket. We got on our shoes and head to the forest. After walking among the trees (chestnuts and eucalyptus) for a while, we arrived to an open area. In the ground there were these familiar leaves and these tiny red drops.

I got so excited to see myself surrounded by wild strawberries!!!! Back home with my little basket full of wild strawberries, I prepared a simple pate sucree and pastry cream, so my wild strawberries would be the “stars of the show”.

I hope you like the recipe and the new makeover of the blog!!

Pate sucree


Makes one 30 -32 cm (11-12 inch) or two 20 – 22 cm ( 8 to 9 inch) .

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 cup (250 gr) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

2 large egg yolks

1/4 cup ice water


In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and sugar. Add butter, and process 10 to 20 seconds.

In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks; add ice water. With machine running, add the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Chill in a refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Pastry cream


Makes about 1 3/4 cups

1 cup whole milk

1/2 vanilla bean, split

5 tablespoons sugar

3 large egg yolks

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon flour (preferably rice flour for lightness)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter


Place milk, vanilla bean, and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat; cook until almost boiling.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until thickened. Sprinkle in cornstarch and flour and continue beating until well combined.

Remove vanilla bean from milk. While whisking constantly, slowly pour heated-milk mixture into egg-yolk mixture. Pour mixture through a fine sieve back into saucepan, and cook, whisking constantly, over medium-high heat, until it thickens about 2 minutes.

Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in butter until melted. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the pastry cream; refrigerate until completely cooled.