Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What's cookin'

Hey, everyone! I know my dinner posts have been a little spotty lately, so I thought I'd list some stuff I've been making that I haven't had a chance to tell you about.

Cold Boiled Shrimp
This is the girl child's favorite way to eat shrimp, and it really could not be easier to make. I buy shrimp with the shells already split down the back and the mud veins removed, but it's pretty easy to do that yourself with a pair of kitchen shears. Bring a big pot of water to a boil with a couple of tablespoons (or more, if you like it spicy) of crab/shrimp-boil seasoning. You can buy this already made, which is what I do, or mix up your own blend of spices, which is what I keep telling myself I'll do one of these days.

Give your shrimp a good rinse in the sink and then, once the water on the stove is at a full boil, CAREFULLY add the shrimp. It only takes a couple of minutes for them to cook. As soon as they curl up, fish them out with a slotted spoon and dump them directly into a big bowl of ice. This will stop them from cooking any further and getting rubbery, plus make them easier to peel. And spicy, cold shrimp is soooo good on a hot day! I like to dip mine in a little melted butter with some hot sauce mixed in, but you could go the cocktail sauce route or whatever. Yum!

Spiced carrots
I made these the other night while DH was grilling steaks. I had a gorgeous bunch of organic carrots (with the tops still attached! love that!) and ended up using the whole bunch for this -- about 8-10 carrots -- because they were kind of small. But you know, adjust the amount however you like. All I did was peel them, cut them into 3/4-inch chunks, stick them in a bowl and steam them in the microwave until they were crisp-tender.

While the carrots were nuking, I bashed up a couple of teaspoons each of whole coriander and cumin seeds with my mortar and pestle. Then I melted a couple of tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat, added the spices and stirred them around for a bit before dumping in the steamed carrots and tossing them to coat. Season with salt and pepper and you're done! These were really yummy with the grilled steaks (and baked potatoes, which the kids DEVOURED after claiming not to like baked potatoes. go figure!).

Coconut milk ice cream
We bought an ice cream maker this summer and I had resolved my lactose-intolerant self to a summer full of TEENSY dabs of homemade goodness, with the occasional fruit sorbet (boring!), when I learned there was such a thing as ice cream made with coconut milk. I was hesitant to try it because my past experience with non-dairy ice creams has NOT been good (ice milk, Rice Dream, bleargh!). But the one VERY expensive pint of coconut milk ice cream I purchased at the store was good, so off I went to Google to find some recipes for the homemade version.

I didn't find all that many, really, but I did find one for chocolate coconut milk ice cream over at The Nourishing Gourmet that sounded fabulous and really easy. AND it was sweetened with my new best friend, agave nectar! So I whipped up a batch of it and OH DUDES. It was seriously the best ice cream I've ever eaten IN MY LIFE. A monster was born in that moment, because I figured that with a base of coconut milk and agave, the possibilities were ENDLESS. And so far they have proven to be!

So yeah, I have been making a LOT of coconut milk ice cream this summer! My machine only makes one quart at a time so I use one can of organic coconut milk (NOT the "lite" variety) and three tablespoons of agave nectar and go from there. For a simple vanilla ice cream, I just add one teaspoon of vanilla to the above ingredients. For a kick-ass strawberry ice cream, I add the vanilla plus a bunch of fresh strawberries (you could use frozen, but thaw them first) and whizz the whole thing up in the blender before adding to the machine. My next experiment will be strawberry chocolate chip (or chunk).

This ice cream is sooooo rich and creamy, you'd never know it was non-dairy (and hello, IT'S VEGAN). Some flavors do retain a bit of coconut taste, but others don't really taste of coconut all that much. Or maybe I'm just getting used to it, I dunno. Anyway, DELISH! Thank you, Nourishing Gourmet! (And OMG, you all have GOT to check out her blog. It's full of fantastic whole-food recipes and tips!)

Homemade "magic shell" for the ice cream!
My kids are flat-out ADDICTED to that hard shell/magic shell ice cream topping. You know, the stuff that starts out as a liquid and gets hard (behave, children) when you pour it over ice cream? It's pretty expensive for a teeny little bottle of it, not to mention it's full of crappy ingredients, and after purchasing a new bottle pretty much every week for a couple of months solid I figured there HAD to be a better way.

Google came to my rescue once again, when I found this recipe for a homemade version over at The Accidental Vegetarian. Dudes, it's just coconut oil (I used unfiltered, organic) and chocolate chips! Melt it in a pan or the microwave, cool it, and pour it into a squeeze bottle! I have no idea how long it keeps because we're mowing through it at a rapid pace, but you don't have to refrigerate it or anything (which is good, because it would turn solid). It tastes and works EXACTLY like the stuff you buy, but it's healthier and way cheaper.

So yeah, I am topping my VEGAN ice cream with VEGAN magic shell over here. Right after a nice big steak dinner. Heh. (Sorry, vegans. I have a condition!)

Well, that's all I can come up with for now. My kids are back in school which gives me a little more free time to blog, and our CSA is off its one-week hiatus, so look for more dinners and whatnot coming soon. I'm also working on a FAQ, finally, so stay tuned for that!


Knitting with a Purpose said...

Do you need to cook the coconut milk at all for the ice cream? Or you just dump the can of milk into the ice cream maker? It sounds wonderful!!!

Badger said...

No cooking required! I just whisk together the coconut milk, agave nectar, vanilla and whatever else I'm using in a large liquid measuring cup or batter bowl (because they have spouts, which makes it easier to pour the mixture into the machine) and dump it in. So easy!