Friday, November 28, 2014

The Family Arrives Let The Celebration Begin


Finally the day had come that I had been anticipating.  One by one the family members began to arrive.  I had most of the preparations that could be done ahead of time completed before flying out to Philadelphia.  I was up early this morning doing the laundry that we had taken on our trip and preparing the shrimp in the lemon and lime juice so it could start it's cooking process.  In the mean time, Abby Gail proceeded to chop and dice the vegetables.  Later in the day I made a stop at Chili's and purchased a bag of their chips to serve with the Ceviche.  I have made this appetizer a few times and it never disappoints.  The bowl is always empty at the end of the evening, and this night was no different.

Shrimp Ceviche
Yield: 4 Servings
Ingredients:
1 pound 51-60 count peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon lime zest
1 avocado diced
1(10 ounce) container grape tomato's, slice in half
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped peeled cucumber
1/4 cup thinly slice green onion
1- 1/2 Tablespoons seeded and minced jalapeño 
Lime wedges for garnish
Tortilla Chips for serving
Instructions:
In a bowl, combine shrimp and 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup lime juice.  Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight, stirring at least 2-3 times.
In a bowl, mix together oil, paprika, sugar, lemon zest, salt, lime zest and remaining 2 Tablespoons each lime juice and lemon juice.
Just before serving, drain excess liquid off of shrimp mixture.  Add cilantro, tomato's, onion, cucumber, oil mixture, avocado, and jalapeño; toss to combine.  Serve immediately, garnished with lime wedges.  Serve with tortilla chips, if desired. Recipe adapted from: http://foxeslovelemons.com/shrimp-ceviche/

 For years I had made White Chili. For some reason I decided to try a different recipe.  Wow, I'm glad I did.  This is Gina and Pat Neely's White Chili recipe that I had prepared for this evenings dinner as the family arrives.


White Chicken Chili
Yield: 4-6 servings
3 cans (14.5 ounces) cans white beans
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 medium jalapeño pepper, minced
2 medium poblano peppers, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 limes, juiced, plus lime wedges, for serving
1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat shredded
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
sour cream, for topping 
Tortilla chips, coarsely crushed, for topping
Directions:
Drain and rinse the canned white beans.  In a medium bowl, mash half of the beans with a potato masher until chunky.  Reserve the beans until needed.
Add the canola oil to a large Dutch oven and heat it over medium-high heat.  Add the pepper, onions, and garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Season the vegetables with salt, and pepper, to taste. Add the cumin, coriander, and chili powder and continue to sauté for 1 more minute to toast the spices. Stir in the chicken stock and lime juice and bring to a simmer.  Add the beans and continue to simmer for 20 more minutes.  After 20 minutes of simmering, taste for seasoning, and adjust if necessary.  Stir in the shredded rotisserie chicken and cilantro and simmer until heated through, about 5 more minutes.  Serve the chili in individual bowls topped with a dollop of sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, and lime wedges. Recipe from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/patrick-and-gina-neely/white-chicken-chili-recipe.html

When I was growing up my mom always made mexican cornbread.  I have always loved it but for some reason rarely made it.  As we began the appetizers, Abby Gail made up the cornbread.  I decided it would be the perfect accompaniment for the White Chili.  And as usual I was right. Ha, Ha, Ha! 


Mexican Cornbread
Yield: 9" skillet
Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup corn meal
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 (8 ounce) can cream-style corn
OPTIONAL: 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles
 1/2 stick salted butter, melted
Instructions:
1.  Coat cast iron skillet or baking pan with shortening or spray with non-stick baking spray until fully covered.  Preheat oven to 400' with empty skillet in oven while heating.  
2  . In a large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, corn meal, baking powder, sugar, cheddar cheese and pepper jack cheese until well mixed.
3.  In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, cream-style corn, diced green chiles if using, and melted butter.
4.  Slowly add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix together until well combined.
5.  Add cornbread mixture to skillet.  
6.  Place in oven for 23-26 minutes until cornbread is done.  Remove from oven and serve.
Recipe from: http://www.grandbaby-cakes.com/2014/01/mexican-cornbread/

I have never put together a pie and froze it before cooking, that is until now.  Amazing, I just put it together like I was going to bake it, but instead wrapped it up and put it in the freezer.  This afternoon I just took it out of the freezer, placed it frozen on a pizza stone and baked it up.   In no time my house began to smell like cinnamon.  I felt as though I was cheating it was so easy.   


Apple Pie with Poached Dried Cherries
Yields: one 9" pie
1 double crust pie recipe
For the poached cherries:
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar sugar
1 cup (about 6 ounces) dried tart cherries
For the apple-cherry filling:
2 1/2 -3 pounds (about 7) firm, tray apples (like cortland, jonagold, or sierra gold), peeled cored, and cut into 1/3 inch slices. (about 7 cups).
7-8 Tablespoons granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
To Finish:
1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
sprinkling sugar
Instructions:
Poach the cherries:
Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, add the dried cherries, and simmer for 3 minutes.  Drain the cherries and let cool before using.
Assemble the pie:
Drape one round of dough into a 9" pie pan, gently fitting it to the contours of the pan.  Let the dough rest for 1-2 minutes. This will keep the crust from shrinking during baking, and then trim the edge, leaving about 1/2" hanging over the rim of the pan.
Toss the apples with the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and poached cherries.  Pour the fruit into the pie shell and press down with your palms to arrange it evenly.  
Drape the top crust over the pie.  Trim the edge of the top crust to the same size as the bottom.  Fold both the trimmed edges together and under so they rest on the rim of the pie pan and form a tall edge. Crimp the edge decoratively but be sure the bottom and top crusts are sealed at the edges.  Vent the top by poking the tip of the paring knife through it in a few places.  (It is important to vent well or the fruit can explode through the pastry during baking.)  Brush top of pie with cream or milk.
This pie is designed to be frozen for up to six weeks prior to baking. 
To bake:
Position an oven rack on the bottom rung.  Place a pizza stone or baking sheet and place it on rack.  
Do not thaw pie.  Preheat oven to 425'. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower temp to 350' and continue to bake about 1 1/2 hours.
Make Ahead Tips:
The recipe was developed to make in advance and freeze for up to six weeks before baking.  After assembling the pie, immediately wrap tightly in plastic, making sure there are no gaps to allow air or moisture inside.  If freezing for longer than a week, add an outer layer of foil as well.  Store in the coldest part of the freezer.  When ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and brush frozen pie with milk or cream.  Place frozen pie on the heated baking sheet or pizza stone.  Bake as directed.