Thursday, August 20, 2015

Spicy Soft Shell Crabs

Spicy Soft Shell Crabs

Soft shell crabs have always frightened me.  I just couldn’t imagine a world where the shell of a crab would be soft enough that you could just eat the entire crab without having to pick out the meat.

Even after a blue crab had molted its hard shell, it’s hard to imagine that the soft shell underneath would be enjoyable to dine on.  Thinking about other seafood, the shell of a shrimp seems pretty soft yet if you miss a piece during the peeling process it's very unpleasant to chomp down on in a finished dish.

But somehow soft shell crabs are different.  The crispy fried light batter seems to become an extension of the shell.  Each bite is a mixture of seasoned crispiness and all that succulent almost sweet crab meat.   

This is the way to go if you love blue crabs.  It’s all the deliciousness without all of the work. 

Scroll to the bottom of the page for  an extra video tutorial on how to turn the leftover flour and egg wash into spicy scallion fritters.

Spicy Soft Shell Crabs
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 5 min
Servings: 1-2

  • 2 soft shell crabs, cleaned
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup hot sauce
  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp old bay
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • oil for frying
Video Tutorial: 

  1. In a medium bowl beat together the egg, milk and hot sauce and set aside.
  2. In another medium bowl stir together the gluten free flour, salt, old bay, garlic powder, cayenne, and crushed red pepper flakes.
  3. Dredge each crab in flour and shake off the excess then dip it into the egg wash before returning to the seasoned flour to coat well.  Shake off the excess.
  4. To fry them, in a cast iron skillet over a medium high heat, add enough vegetable oil so that it’s about ½ inch deep and once the oil starts to shimmer add the crabs to the pan and use a tongs to straighten out the legs for a nicer finished presentation.
  5. Let them fry for about 3 minutes on the first side, or until they’re golden brown then flip them over and let them go for another 2 minutes or until that side is golden brown.
  6. Drain them on paper towels and they’re ready to eat.  

Bonus tutorial on how to turn the leftover flour and egg wash into spicy scallion fritters.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pecan Praline Upside Down Cake

Pecan Praline Upside Down Cake

You might say this Pecan Praline Upside Down Cake is the brainchild of necessity.

When I found myself with last minute dinner guests and a few obstacles standing in the way of an impressive dessert, I had to get inventive. 

When your friends want cake in the middle of summer and you don’t want to fire up the big oven and heat up the whole kitchen what can you do?  If you’ve got a toaster oven you can make a single layer cake. 

Since upside down cakes are typically single layer cakes anyway I thought this gooey pecan praline cake would be a perfect choice. 

Now for my second problem, I had also run out of granulated sugar. 

Who runs out of sugar?     

Don’t judge.  I swear this is the first time it’s happened in all of my four decades in the kitchen.  To overcome the lack of sugar I decided to grab the Bob’s Red Mill gluten free muffin mix I had on the pantry shelf.  Don’t kid yourself folks.  Muffins are essentially cake without the frosting anyway.

The end result was delicious indeed.    

This might just be the best idea I've come up with all year.

Pecan Praline Upside Down Cake
Prep Time: 15 min
Bake Time: 40-45 min
Servings: 8-12

Cake Ingredients
  • 1 lb package of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free muffin mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 apple peeled and grated

Pecan Praline Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (1/2 stick)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 6 oz pecans (1 ½ cups)

Video Tutorial: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F (or 190 °C) line the bottom of a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment sprayed with nonstick spray.
  2. To make the pecan praline layer stir together the brown sugar, melted butter and cream until well mixed then stir in the pecans.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly over the bottom. 
  4. To make the batter, pour the muffin mix into a bowl, make a well in the center and add the milk, oil, eggs, cinnamon and apple then mix until well combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. Let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes then invert onto a serving dish.  Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Power Pressure Cooker Orange Sriracha Short Ribs

Power Pressure Cooker Orange Sriracha Short Ribs

Have you tried pressure cooking your food yet? 

It does amazing things for tenderizing tough cuts of meat.  Just check out the video tutorial below for the sweet spicy orange sriracha short ribs that I did in a third of the time it would usually take.  It's amazing what kind of miracles are possible when pressure is added to the cooking equation.

Personally, I’m new to the world of pressure cooking. Actually I’d never owned a pressure cooker until a few weeks ago.   You see, after the horror stories I’d heard as a kid about the old aunt or grandmother that didn’t release the pressure prior to opening the lid and exploded her food all over the kitchen, I was more than a little frightened.

So when the manufacturers of the Power Pressure Cooker XL contacted me to see if I’d like to try their machine, I was hesitant to say the least.  But after being assured that their pressure cooker has multiple safeties built in making it virtually foolproof, I agreed to give it a try.

It’s a decision I’ll never regret.  I feel like I’ve been living under a rock.  How did I not know about the virtues of pressure cooking?  A cut of meat that would normally take me 3 hours to tenderize was done in less than an hour.

I can't wait to further explore this amazing piece of kitchen equipment.

If you’ve been living in pressure cooker fear, watch my tutorial and see if I can’t change your mind. 

Power Pressure Cooker XL

For information on purchasing the Power Pressure Cooker XL :

Orange Sriracha Short Ribs done in a Power Pressure Cooker XL
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 38 min
Servings: 4-8 servings

  • 3-4 lbs short ribs (I had 10 short ribs)
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp gluten free soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tbsp sambal sauce
  • one orange, cut into 8-10 pieces
  • 6 scallions, (the white part to braise with & the green for garnish)
  • 1-2 tbs adobo (enough to sprinkle the surface of each rib)

Sauce Ingredients
  • ½ cup orange marmalade
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey ( I used orange blossom honey)
  • 2 tbsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 tbsp gluten free soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 1 tbsp sambal sauce
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Video Tutorial: 

  1. Sprinkle the short ribs with adobo seasoning on all sides and set aside.
  2. In a large measuring cup combine the water, cider vinegar, soy sauce, sriracha, and sambal sauce and stir to combine. 
  3. Add the short ribs side by side to the inner pot of the pressure cooker so that the bones are standing upright.
  4. Add the orange pieces and the diced white parts of the scallions so that they’re evenly spaced throughout the inner pot
  5. Pour the flavored cooking liquid over the ribs. 
  6. Place the lid onto the Power Pressure Cooker XL and lock the lid then switch the pressure release valve to the closed position.
  7. Press the SOUP/STEW button and then press the COOK TIME SELECTOR button until the time is 30 Min then press the TIME ADJUSTMENT SELECTOR and press until the time is set to 38 Min.
  8. While the ribs are cooking, to make the sauce stir together all of the sauce ingredients and set aside. 
  9. Once the timer on the pressure cooker counts down to zero, the cooker switches to KEEP WARM automatically and I let it stay like that on the warm setting for 15 minutes before I turned the pressure release valve to open for a slower depressurization.
  10. Once the steam completely releases, remove the lid. To finish the ribs, set the broiler to high, place the ribs in a single layer on a tinfoil lined baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray.  And at this point feel free to remove any loose bones if you want and broil the ribs on each side until nicely browned, about 3-5 minutes per side.
  11. Add ¼ cup of the cooking liquid from the pot to the orange sriracha sauce we just made and stir to combine then brush the ribs until well coated on all sides and serve.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Lemon Bars - Gluten Free

Gluten Free Lemon Bars

Lemon bars are the one dessert that epitomizes summer above all others.

Not only does their bright, tart, lemony flavor scream summer the way only citrus can, but, their smaller size makes them perfect for the lighter eating habits most of us adopt as the temperature rises.  And I love the textural juxtaposition of the smooth lemon curd against the crisp shortbread crust.

But above their perfection for the season, lemon bars are extremely easy to make.  The crust is pressed in place right in the pan and the lemon layer is a simple mix and dump.

If you like lemons, you’ll absolutely love these bars.    

Lemon Bars
Prep time: 15 min
Bake time: 25-30 min
Servings: 16 small triangles

Crust Ingredients:
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup of gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 baking blend)

Lemon Filling Ingredients:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 baking blend)
  • confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Video Tutorial: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (or 175 °C) and line an 8x8 inch square pan with parchment paper.
  2. For the crust cream together the butter, sugar and zest of one lemon until fluffy then add the flour and mix until you’ve got a crumbly mixture.
  3. Press the crust mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan and bake it for 15 minutes.
  4. To make the lemon filling beat together the eggs and sugar until they’re well mixed and paler in color.
  5. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and beat until thoroughly combined then add the flour and beat until it’s lump free and smooth.
  6. Pour the mixture over the crust and bake for 25-30 minutes or until set.
  7. Allow the bars to cool then dust with confectioner’s sugar slice and serve.

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