Shrimp Cakes with Ginger And Garlic In Puff Pastry

 

Shrimp-Cakes

It’s now December 7th! Can you believe it? Just 18 more days to go before Christmas Day which happens to be my birthday.

Yep!! I am a Christmas baby!!

I say that with a big smile. Smile
How old am I? Young enough to still be doing the things I want to do and old enough to be doing the things that makes me happy. Well, at least I try.

I really do try to do something each day to make myself and my children happy. I am eternally grateful to be here with my two wonderful children on this earth despite the trials and tribulations of daily life, I am grateful to be here with them.

One of the main reasons I created this blog was to be able to share what I know with my two children. 

I grew up on the Island of Jamaica with my grandfather Melvin and my grandmother Verona on a Sugarcane Farm. The farm was always buzzing with cows, goats and chickens. My Grandparents back then were the largest sugarcane producers in the district. Farm life was tough with the earliest time to rise no later than 5 am. Despite that, it taught me so much about having a strong work ethic.

My grandmother did not have much in terms of material wealth but what she did have was an enormous amount of knowledge and insight into food and how food works. She was also a herbalist of sorts—Always mixing and blending different herbs and spices to create things for us to drink in the family. Where she learnt all this back then, I have no idea. She would often cook dandelions and eat it, long before this became socially acceptable or wildly known. Based on my research dandelion used fresh or dried is good as a mild appetite stimulant, and can be used to improve an upset stomach. What she did have though was what I refer to as a library of information on what kind of food works and what doesn’t. At 10 years old, I tried to remember as much as I could. Unfortunately, some of her teachings fell short because at such a young age I just wanted to play and have fun. Anyway, even at a young age I realized that what she was teaching me would somehow serve an important purpose in my life one day and it surely did.

The question is, “would all that she taught me be able to make me live a long and healthy life? It might, it might not but it will surely help to improve it.
That is what this blog is for, a journal of sorts to pass on the knowledge I gained from my grandmother to my two children.

Even if it doesn’t help me one hundred percent (100%) It will certainly help my children as they get older they can use this blog I created as a reference guide. Something my grandmother was unable to do many, many years ago.

One of things I have learnt approximately two years ago when my health hit a low point, my energy was a bit low, and I just felt something was not quite right. What I found out was that our dosages that we use in foods are all wrong. For years we have been told to use 1 tsp. of this, or 2 tsp. of that, I am referring to herbs and spices when cooking.

I found out our bodies are not taking in enough of the proper nutrients from these herbs and spices because we are not consuming enough of it.

For example, I found out I did not need to take any pain medication e.g. Tylenol in order to relieve a headache or stomach pain if I increase my dosage of Ginger. Yes. Our simple ginger root is extraordinarily powerful. I found out I needed at least 6 oz. of fresh ginger no less in order to relieve my body of any sort of pain. Ginger also helps to boost your energy level over time as oppose to a big surge when you use over the counter medications. Ginger works slower but the effects of the ginger last longer for several hours or even up to 2 days. 

In order for our bodies to function the right way or the healthy way, we as humans need to increase our dosages of herbs and spices in our diet.

How much you ask? You will need to customize that for your own body as well as for your family especially if you have children.
What I do know is that many of us are not eating enough of the good herbs and spices we need. Yes, it is difficult to keep up to that kind of a demand each day. Especially, considering we all lead busy lives. Basically, you do the best you can with the knowledge you have. That’s all there is to it. Start small, write down what you find out and record as much as you can. Watch and see how your body reacts to new herbs and spices and take it from there.

 
You can serve your shrimp cakes with whatever condiments you like. I had some spicy corn salsa at home so I used what I had. A nice jelly would be nice like red pepper jelly or a spicy barbecue sauce. Your choice, use what you have or just eat it as is.

DSC03547

So, my kids refuse to eat fish. If I cook a fish dish it will only be for myself. However, they do love Shrimp! This recipe was created for them but not without me getting a mouthful from my son about how he did not want his shrimp turned into a paste my daughter Melissa made the same comment too. My 11 year old son Richard said, “Mom I need to see the shrimp,” Oh, he’s as candid as his mama. My kids are not afraid to tell me what they don’t like that’s for sure.

 

DSC03591

Ingredients:

2 sprigs of shallots
1 1/2 bulbs of garlic (peeled and crushed)
1 egg
1 potato (peeled and cooked until soft)
3 oz. freshly grated ginger
300 gram of Cook Shrimp
1/4 Cup of whip cream
Just a pinch of salt
2 tsp. All purpose seasoning
1 Packet of store bought Puff Pastry. (Make sure to take it out our freezer 1 hour before using) That way you can roll it out easily.

Cooking Instructions

In a blender or food processor blend your cook shrimp, chopped shallots, your cooked potato until medium smooth. Then transfer to a small bowl then add your remaining ingredients:
1 egg, grated ginger, whip cream and 1/2 cup of Italian breadcrumbs, salt and all purpose seasoning. Mix using a fork or spoon until all your ingredients are full incorporated.

On a smooth flat surface using either your counter top or table, sprinkle a bit of flour on the surface just enough so your puff pastry can roll easily and doesn’t stick to the table.
Roll out puff pastry to about a 1cm or (1/2 inch thickness) Using a ruler measure and cut 4 x 4 squares. 1 packet of puff pastry should yield you at least 12 squares. Your squares won’t be too big or too small just the right size to place at least 2 tsp. of Shrimp filling in the square. Fill your squares with the filling. Now, taking one end of your pastry square lift it up and take it straight across to the meet the other end of your square. Right away it should look and start to take the shape of a small triangle.

Now, Preheat your oven to 350 degree F.

My 17 year old daughter helped to make these shrimp cakes you see in the picture above. If she could do this, you can too. Very easy and fun savoury treat or appetizers to make. Try not to fill your squares with too much filling, because what will happen is that, while they are baking too much filling will cause your pastry shells to burst and open up and your filling will start pushing through the edges. So, 2 teaspoon of filling should be just right. Finish off your now triangle looking shells by closing the edges with your finger or fork. Once you have made all your shells, then make a egg wash. 1 egg and 1 Tbs. of water stir until well blended. Why do I add water to the egg? I do this because I don’t want my pastry shells to be too dark. If you use just a beaten egg and add it to your pastry when it bakes it will comes out too dark. You just want a nice golden brown. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of your pastry shells with egg wash. Place them in your preheated oven and bake them for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Shrimp-Cakes-Merry-Christmas

Alice Choo-Shee-Nam—Living In Durham Community Blog

facebook_button
Recipe created November 26, 2016

Homemade French Onion Soup Bake Pie With Monterey Jack Cheese

 

French-Onion-Soup-Baked-Pie

A DELICIOUS MEATLESS DINNER

For those who have been reading my blog, I have mentioned before that my two wonderful children ages 17 years old and 11 years old are not super keen on my meatless dishes. I want to say that I am not trying to turn my children into vegetarians at all. That would be too regimented and strict and not done in a loving way. What I want most of all is for my children to grow up knowing the benefits of each food group or cuisine. I don’t want them to grow up living in a “shell or vacuum” so to speak. I want them to know the world of food and to explore all kinds of foods as much as possible and to not limit themselves to one or two particular kinds of food or cuisine.

 “They must grow up wanting to learn new things and to explore, taste and feel the world around them.”

   This dish was created with the input of my children. Trust me when I say, they were not super keen on my meatless dish at first but in the end they felt satisfied about the way the dish came out.

Their passing grade is about a 70% for my meatless dish. If it had any kind of meat incorporated into it, it would have scored a whopping 90%. Oh, how I love them so much!—They are as candid as their Mama Smile In the end, they mean well. It helps me to work harder in trying to please them and get them to appreciate meatless dishes even more.

DSC02774

My 11 year old son loves helping out in the Kitchen and he his always curious about what I am doing. My daughter not so much—She is a work in progress Smile She will help in the kitchen but I have to call her to come and help me out from time to time. It’s okay, many parents already knows this. You could have two, three, four, five or seven children and each one is always different. They are their own person with separate interests from yours or the other siblings in the family.

I was the only one as a small child growing up with my Grandmother in the Country in Jamaica who was keen on learning how to cook and was curious about everything she was doing in the kitchen. Whenever I asked my 11 year son Richard if he would like to be a chef one day he says,

“No mom I just want to eat all the yummy food!” He’s too funny Smile

A great budget-friendly dish at about $2.00 per servings!

DSC02763

Monterey Jack Cheese, Fresh Leeks, and Cream of Celery Soup makes this dish really special and Unique.

DSC02767

RECIPE:

5 Eggs
1/2 Cup whip cream
1 1/2 Bulbs of Garlic
2 tsp. Black Pepper
1 tsp. salt
3 1/2 Cups Monterey Jack Cheese
1 Cup Fresh Homemade Ricotta Cheese
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 Cup of Cream of Celery Soup
1/4 Cup of white wine

1 Stem of Fresh Leek (washed and chopped)
2 Large Onions (chopped and cubed)
3 Shallots (washed and chopped)
1/4 Cup of Olive Oil (For Toasting your Bread)

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium sized bowl whisked together your eggs, whip cream, 1/2 of your crushed garlic, 1/2 of your black pepper, salt and milk. Pour 1/2 of your egg mixture in a small bowl and set aside. Please Note: Place your remaining raw egg mixture in the refrigerator until you are ready to use the rest of it in your pie dish. To save on my grocery bill I used 3 medium sized loaves of bread purchased from the Supermarket for $0.49 cents each. Most recipes suggests using French Bread or a Baguette Style Bread but I opted to use these small loaves instead. Now, get your saucepan heated on medium heat.  Slice your bread and and dip them into your egg mixture. You will be toasting your bread in the pan as if you are doing French toast. Once again, most recipes suggests you dip the bread in the egg mixture then place in baking pan, add your topping and bake. I do not like that method because I don’t feel it adds enough flavour to the dish.  Make sure to prepare your baking pan by coating with it little butter before adding your toasted bread slices.

Once you toast your bread slices on each side this will take a good 10-15 minutes. Then place them into a large baking dish or or baking pan.

You will need to now sauté your chopped onion, remaining garlic, chopped leek and shallots. Do this for about ( 7 minutes on medium heat, you don’t want to burn anything including your garlic) Add your remaining black pepper, your 1/2 cup of Cream of Celery Soup, and your 1/4 cup of white wine.
Please Note: I wanted to use the Cream of Celery Soup to give this French Onion Bake Pie extra flavour. If you wish you can use your favourite soup based mix for this dish.

Cook all this for additional three minutes or so and take it off the heat. Now, take your left over egg mixture out the refrigerator. Now, add your 1 cup of Ricotta Cheese and stir. Then pour this on top of your toasted French toast bread. Then sprinkle your 1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese on top. Then add your 3 1/2 Cups of grated Monterey Jack Cheese and bake this in the oven for about 40-45 minutes at 375 degree F.

The top of your pie should be a nice golden brown.

OPTIONAL: You can add some warm vegetable stock to your pie dish to create a cross between a pie and a soup dish. Which version did I prefer? I liked the idea of adding just a touch of warm vegetable broth to finish off the dish. It makes it so elegant and offer that extra moisture to the dish.
My two children preferred just to eat the pie straight up like this. I think I prefer this option because it seems more grown up. While the kids just opted for the more straight-forward version.

Top this dish off with your favourite fresh herb, Enjoy!

French-Onion-Soup-Baked-Pie

So, what does a French Onion Soup Baked Pie taste like?

Light, Creamy and Guilt-Free.

It tasted similar to your French Onion soup but without that really intense salty flavour you get from French onion soups. It was perfect for the kids. They did not complain. Why? They love cheese! If they know I am adding any kind of cheese to the dish they are sold!
Otherwise I am in big trouble Smile They would complain and tell me, “Mom I don’t want it!” or my daughter will ask in a suspicious way, “Okay mom, what are we having for dinner today?”

Funny.

Alice Choo-Shee-Nam—Living In Durham Community Blog
Recipe Created October 14, 2016

facebook_button_thumb

Fall Beef Stew with Guinness Stout Potatoes and Carrots

 

Fall-Beef-Stew-with-Guinness

 

RECIPE

2 Lbs. stew beef (cut in cubes)
4 Carrots (peeled and cut in cubes)
8 Potatoes (washed and peeled)
1tsp. Pink Himalayan Salt
2 tsp. Black pepper
2 cups of Low Sodium Vegetable Stock
2Tbs. All Purpose Seasoning
1 Large Onion (peel and chopped)
1 Bulb of Garlic (peeled and crushed)
1/4 of Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbs. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup of Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
4 Sprigs of Shallots (Chopped)
4-6 sprigs of Fresh Thyme
2 Cup of Guinness Stout
2 Cups of water
1 Tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

Season your beef with salt, black pepper and all purpose seasoning. Get a heavy bottom pot similar to the one shown in image below.

DSC02548

1 CAN OF GUINNESS STOUT $2.50

Heat your pan on medium and add your oil. Place your seasoned beef in the pot to brown. Yes, all of it and stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Brown your beef until it is nice and golden brown. This method gives you really good flavour for your stew beef because potatoes are very good at absorbing all the flavour out your stews so you want to brown your beef before cooking completely. This will take a good 20-25 minutes. Once completed, add your vegetable stock and 2 cups of water along with your 2 Cups of Guinness Stout, balsamic vinegar and apple cider vinegar . Let cook for approximately 40-45 minutes without your potatoes and carrots. You want your beef to be at least 3/4 cooked before adding your potatoes and carrots. After 40-45 minutes your meat should be nice and tender but not quite soft enough. Now add your potatoes and carrots, garlic, onion, shallots and thyme cook for another 30 minutes or until you feel all your ingredients are nice and soft.  Important: You want to add all your fresh herbs near the end of cooking to get the maximum flavour with your stew beef.

Note:

I do not like using the slow cooker for this recipe because I feel you don’t get the same kind of flavour when you do. However, if you wish you can use your slow cooker, but make sure you brown your meat first then add it to the slow cooker. If you also wish you can use your “Pressure Cooker” to speed things up when cooking any kind of meat stews or any meat in general that needs to be really soft and tender. The “Pressure Cooker” will definately get your meats to literally fall off the bone so to speak.
 

Where did the idea for the Guinness Stout came from?

Well, that’s easy. Having grown up in the Caribbean, Guinness Stout was one of my Grandfathers favourite Stout to drink. My Grandmother like myself was not a drinker but she understood how important and also flavourful the Stout could be to many of her Jamaican dishes. I often use Guinness Stout in my Christmas baking and other recipes. I love the flavour of Guinness Stout in meat dishes it gives it such a rich flavour without overpowering the dish. I believe more people should cook with it if they haven’t yet done so.

My Grandmother would always use Guinness Stout with her Carrot Punch a recipe she taught me when I was a little girl and she would always use Guinness in her “Fruitcake” recipes a tradition I continue today. Guinness is also good in “Oxtail Dishes.”

Today, I dedicate this recipe to my wonderful Grandfather who is still alive today.

This recipe is for Melvin Innis my Grandfather who now lives with his daughters in Miami after my Grandmother passed away. He was and still is a very kind man both in spirit and words. He taught me all the values of compassion, kindness, respect for family, respect for family history and traditions and most importantly to respect God and follow the principles of God, love God and Jesus Christ and never to let go of what is right and just.

“Always do what is right even if it may hurt me—Do it anyway, because God is always watching.”

If he was here with me today he would have enjoyed this dish immensely.

DSC02563

 

Fall-Beef-Stew-with-Guinness

Recipe Created October 6, 2016

 

Alice Choo-Shee-Nam—Living In Durham Community Blog