Shrimp with Risotto and Corn – Fast!

When there are presents to wrap and cookies to bake it’s nice to have a meal that takes only a few minutes of active cooking time and the ingredients are already on hand in the pantry and the freezer.

Box. Bag. Can.
Box of Cheese Risotto – just add water, white wine, a tablespoon of butter
Bag of Frozen Shrimp – cleaned, uncooked, tail-on
Can of Corn – drained

Add water, wine, butter, and risotto mix to pot.
Bring to boil, lower heat, stir occasionally.

When the rice is almost cooked, pour in lots of frozen shrimp, right from the bag.

When the shrimp are pink and the risotto is al dente add corn and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with scallions.

“The feast of the seven fishes is a tradition that Italians follow every Christmas Eve. La Vigilia or the vigil is kept with the custom of dining on 7 fish dishes as we await the birth of the savior at midnight,” writes Maryann. She and Joe are hosting this fabulous Seven Fishes Feast event. I thought they might enjoy a quick yet very tasty dish to add to their bountiful buffet, so I am sending this shrimp over their way, along with wishes for a dazzling Christmas!

Images
A funny thing happens when one totes the camera around, ready to take a photograph of the next tasty morsel…the eye starts to notice other than food-related photo opportunities, a serendipity of a food blog indeed! I am grateful for the chance to capture some images of my surroundings and to be able to share a glimpse of the beauty of Southern California with you.

Sunset over the Port of Long Beach

at Bluff Park, Ocean Blvd. Long Beach, California

Spiced Sweet Potato Gratin

OK, so we needed a little break from Thanksgiving fare…from squash, pumpkin, turkey leftovers, and the like. So we went on to cheeseburgers and tamales. But there are still some wonderful, easy to prepare holiday dishes to be shared. Like this one…

Sweet potatoes (not yams) about 5 large, peeled and sliced thin. If you have a mandoline, that is the perfect tool. If not, you can use the slicer on your food processor. No special equipment? Slice thin with a knife, that would work just fine.

Butter a baking dish, or use non-stick spray. Form a layer of overlapping sweet potato medallions. Sprinkle the top of each layer with the following:
  • Coarse salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Brown sugar
  • Pumpkin pie spice

Repeat for a total of three layers. If it sounds odd to add salt and pepper to a sweet dish, do not let that stop you. This combination works so don’t be shy. I am a fan of fresh grated nutmeg, so I add that in addition to the pumpkin pie spice.
Pumpkin pie spice is a blend of:
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Lemon peel
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Cardamom

Pour cream over the sweet potatoes until about half way up the side of the baking dish. This 9 X 13 dish will serve over 20 people.

Baked covered with aluminum foil at 350 until the potatoes are al dente, about 1 1/2 hours. You might want to put the baking dish on an underliner, as it tends to bubble over. Remove foil and continue cooking until the potatoes are soft and the top is browned.
Holiday Tip: I make this a day ahead, cooking covered until al dente. Then I let it cool and refrigerate over night. Take out of the refrigerator about an hour before reheating. Cook uncovered until hot and bubbly. The best part: You can reheat this in the oven while your turkey is out of the oven and resting.

It is also a great dish to bring to someone else’s party. Once cooked, it transports well. Wrap it in aluminum foil and just heat it up when you get there. All the different spices make for an interesting dish, you’ll be a hero.

Speaking of being a hero, Aunt GeeGee (that would be me) is one too, with a new basketball court for my nephews! Here is Stone on the day before Thanksgiving. Nice shot! We took a break from cooking to shoot some hoops. By the way I don’t just shoot photographs, I’ve been known to shoot a three-pointer every once in a while too!

The Gift of Tamales

Handmade with love: Three generations of women with one more generation on the way (congrats to Emily, due in April) worked from 7 PM to 1 AM last week making 100 tamales in the style of their Central American roots. And I was one of the lucky recipients of that labor of love. Thank you, ladies!

A banana leaf is laid flat then topped with masa prepared with lard and seasonings. Pork ribs were sliced into bite-sized pieces by their butcher, then cooked with onions and spices. The masa is topped with the cooked pork, peas, garbanzo beans, unpitted little green olives, capers, and some had achiote paste.
Wrapped up in a neat little bundle with aluminum foil to hold it all together and steamed for an hour. (To reheat, simply remove the foil and warm up in the microwave). The filling was a surprise in that there were bones and pits to watch out for. Marlene tells me this is the way they have always made it, I suspect the bones enhanced the already delicious depth of flavor and I love the authenticity.

Served with a salad of sliced tomato, white onion, avocado, a drizzle of oil and squeeze of lime. The tamale was dressed with Crema Salvadoreña (Salvadorean style sour cream) and salsa roja. Muy sabroso. And the beauty of giving tamales as a gift, they are already wrapped! Muchas gracias a la familia del Figueroa.

Turkey Mushroom Barley Soup

Doesn’t soup just hit the spot after the holiday meals?

Feeling lucky? Carve the wishbone from the turkey breast. Clean and dry the wishbone. Two people each grasp one end and twist until it breaks. The person left with the longer piece (the one who got the “lucky break”) gets to make a wish, a wish to be granted by the great turkey spirits!

Cooking the carcass for soup makes the kitchen smell like Thanksgiving all over again. I break up the carcass then simmer it for a few hours in water with rough chopped onions, carrots, and celery. Strain, cool, refrigerate overnight, remove some fat.
Add 2 bay leaves to the turkey stock and a generous cup of pearl barley. Cook for about an hour or so until the barley is tender. Meanwhile sauté chopped onions, celery, and carrots in butter until soft, then add sliced crimini mushrooms, and finally chopped garlic.
When the barley is tender, add the vegetables and leftover diced turkey to the soup. Simmer for about 10 minutes more, remove the bay. To finish, add chopped parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.
Wishbone lucky break or not,
May all your holiday wishes come true…

Thank You Blogger

Blogs of Note
Interesting and Noteworthy Blogger-powered Blogs
Compiled by the Blogger Team
We had a terrific Thanksgiving here, if you celebrate, I hope you did too. And the icing on the cake (or should I say pie?) was that Blogger picked Taste With The Eyes as the Blog of Note for Thursday, November 27! WOW. In between cooking the Big Bird (25.90 lbs.) and making the dressing, other side dishes, and playing with my nephews, I took a break to post that adorable photo of Stone. Little did I know that a neat surprise was waiting for me! There were comments from folks far and wide who had never visited Taste With The Eyes before. All this was due to the absolute honor of being chosen as the Blog of Note. I am really excited to meet new bloggers. The friendships that I have made so far are amazing. It is a special relationship that we form and how we come to care for strangers met through our blogs, a unique experience indeed. To my old and new friends alike, I sure do relish your input. To the Blogger Team and Blogger Buzz at Google thank you so much for this awesome distinction and wonderful opportunity to make new friends.
Oh, the party is not over yet. At 1 o’clock this afternoon we have 20 or more friends stopping by for our annual open house, we call it Leftover Day. We’ll be putting the leftovers out on the buffet and grilling some delectable turkey and honeybaked ham sandwiches on the new panini maker!

Last night was a blast. After dinner, we played a hilarious game called Mad Gab. Everyone was in stitches. The boys insisted we play charades, so we did that too! So I’m wondering, how do you feel about leaving the dishes until the morning? Me? I feel just fine about it. Would rather laugh and play while everyone is here. The dishes can wait. But they can’t wait too long, now we’ve got another party in a few hours, so I gotta go take care of business…

Sándwich Cubano

The Cuban Sandwich:
A common lunch for Cuban cigar and sugar mill factory workers for over a century. Popular with Cuban immigrants in Miami and Tampa, Florida. Now this sandwich is the favorite of locals and tourists alike.
The Ingredients:
Ham, Roast Pork, Swiss Cheese, and Pickle
The Spread:
Purists say yellow mustard only. Others like mayonnaise.
I made a mustard mayo blend with chopped pickled jalapeño peppers.
Spread each side of the bread with the mustard jalapeño mayonnaise.
Layer with ham and roast pork.

Slice the big pickle lengthwise. Add pickle and Swiss cheese to the sandwich.

Butter the outside of the bread then grill the sandwich on a traditional plancha, or use a panini maker. This is my new toy “The Griddler.”  I promised my brother that I would have a panini maker in time for Leftover Day, so now, on the day after Thanksgiving, we can grill up some awesome turkey sandwiches. But I’m thinking when he sees this blog post, he is going to want a Cubano too.

A tender bread with a nice crust, a piquant spread, lots of thin-sliced deli ham, melting Swiss, zesty pickle, and juicy roast pork. A sandwich masterpiece! ¿Qué piensa usted?