Just the other day I was talking to a friend about how some of the best dishes are the ones that don’t call for much embellishment. Good quality ingredients don’t need many extras. Last week we had the opportunity to eat one of those dishes and it was such a fun treat while we spent time enjoying my parents’ new home. They now live on several acres including a fishing pond. And as Jason discovered, a very well stocked fishing pond. The first day he caught a catfish and we made quick work of it. While I have fileted many fish over the years, I have never actually cleaned one fresh out of the water. Thankfully Dad stepped in for that part and I got to work cooking it. With a quick pass through some seasoned flour, then egg wash, and then seasoned cornmeal, I shallow fried it and seasoned with salt just as it came out of the pan. I have to say it doesn’t get much fresher than cooking it straight from your own pond. The taste was light, sweet, and fresh.
Later that week, Jason squeezed in more time by the pond and came up with nine small pumpkin fish and a few bass. They were delicate and small, so I opted for a little seasoned flour and straight into a saute pan with butter. We ate them whole and we can’t wait for our next visit and some more fresh fish.
There are many kitchen stores that only take a quick glance to know I can walk right on by. I’m not much of a gadget girl and I don’t do much with froo froo ingredients or garnishes. Although I do enjoy a good kitchen tool to make my job easier or some pantry ingredients that I just can’t find at the grocery store. I have plans to add a Pantry Basics section to this site and possibly a Shopping List of my most used and loved kitchen items. Many of these tips are shared during my classes as we use ingredients and tools, but it would be fun to have a source for all of them right here online. For now, I just wanted to share one of my favorite local spots for hard to find ingredients and practical kitchen tools. Chef-owned Kitchen Arts & Pottery is downtown in McBee Station next to Publix. Chef Liz is always ready with a cup of tea or coffee, great gift ideas, or just the chance to talk shop so to speak. She has a selection of vinegars I really enjoy, the elusive forbidden rice and farro I can’t find anywhere else, and great baking tools like French rolling pins and shaped cutters. She also trusted me with helping her create her shop website and I’m thrilled to say we both love how it turned out! She’s on Facebook and now has her own website, so don’t be shy. Oooh, and today she’s offering a 20% off birthday discount!
Another fun local spot on my list – Palmetto Olive Oil Company. I hear they do tastings and you can plan a group event and bring your own appetizers and wine to add to the fun. I’m hoping to plan a night with friends soon. Anyone else go yet? Would love to hear your thoughts.
I had fun testing a new recipe tonight and it was easily done in less than 25 minutes – a perfect weeknight dinner.
Lemon Dill Shrimp Papardelle
1/2 to 3/4 pound peeled shrimp
2 TBS olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 cups loosely packed greens such as arugula or spinach
salt, pepper, red pepper flake, dried parsley, dried oregano, and dried rosemary to taste
8 oz. papardelle pasta (can substitute linguini or fettuccine)
1 lemon, juice and zest
3 TBS butter
1 TBS fresh dill, chopped
Bring water to boil for pasta and cook according to package directions, possibly a minute or two less for al dente. Meanwhile in a large saute pan, heat olive oil and garlic. Let cook over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, careful not to burn it. Toss in shrimp and cook 3 – 5 minutes or until pink. Wilt in greens and season with spices to your taste. Italian seasoning is a good short cut here as well. Drain pasta when done (reserve a 1/4 cup of starchy cooking liquid) and toss pasta with shrimp mixture. Add lemon juice, lemon zest, butter, and reserved cooking liquid. Stir to combine and finish with the fresh dill at the very end.
I confess. I crave take out sometimes. It usually hits me on a Sunday night. There’s a Chinese take out place near my parents that makes the most delicioius Mei Fun and a Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry with a brown sauce that is to die for. No white Moo Goo Gai Pan sauces allowed. It is rich and full of garlic and spices, but we’ve never found a place here in Greenville that comes close to either of those dishes, so what’s a girl to do? My husband’s favorite dish is the ubiquitous General Tso’s Chicken and this Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken is a delicious at home version. Add a little sambal (chili garlic paste) or chili de arbol to amp up the heat if you like it spicy. Toss in some sesame seeds or some orange juice for some other classic take out flavors. It’s a great staple recipe that can be tweaked to your preferences.
Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken (adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)
1 package or 1 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken (I prefer thighs)
1 cup cornstarch
salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil, coconut oil, or blend of both
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 TBS liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS fresh ginger, grated
Preheat oven to 325 F. Heat oil in a large saute pan. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and toss in a zip top bag with the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Whisk eggs in shallow bowl and add coated chicken pieces to the eggs. Place carefully into the hot oil in a single layer. Brown on both sides, but don’t cook completely through. Transfer to 9×13 baking dish and continue cooking chicken in batches.
Mix the honey, ketchup, vinegar, liquid aminos, and garlic and pour over chicken. Bake for 30 – 45 minutes, tossing every 10 to 15 minutes. Serve over brown rice and broccoli.
If you’re looking for the perfect pie crust for sweet or savory applications, here it is…my Great Grandmother’s recipe taught to my mother and then taught to me. It’s not too complicated or fussy, but it is the perfect flaky layer to complement anything from Strawberry Rhubarb Pie to the Bacon Spinach Quiche in tonight’s Brunch Favorites class.
In order to fit everything in to one class sometimes I prep a few things ahead, like this pie crust. It’s perfectly okay to pick up a store bought crust and I know many folks do just that, so I focused on the other techniques for making crepes or scones in the Brunch Favorites class. Our original family recipe calls for shortening because I’m sure butter was not as readily accessible back then. Now I am making an effort to use less processed oils and fats, so I use butter in this crust. Either will work fine and the choice is yours (although let’s not tell my Mama I’m changing her recipe!).
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or shortening
6 – 8 TBS ice cold water
Simple so far, right? It’s all in the technique. Combine flour and salt in large bowl or in food processor. Cube butter or shortening and add to flour. If using a bowl, cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter, two forks, or a knife. Work quickly to keep the butter from melting. If using a food processor, quickly pulse 7-8 times just to combine. The mixture should resemble coarse gravel. Slowly add water to form the dough. Squeeze a small amount in your hand to see if it easily comes together without being sticky. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap, press together to form a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and let rest in fridge for 20 minutes.
When ready to use, lightly flour counter top, and roll out in a large circle to fit 9 inch pie dish. You should have enough for one bottom crust with extra hanging over the sides that you can roll up and crimp with your fingers.
This recipe makes enough for a single pie crust (bottom only). At this point, follow your recipe instructions for using either an unbaked pie shell or blind baking it before filling it.
Let the spring and summer berry season begin! Yesterday, our family enjoyed a beautiful morning picking strawberries at Stewart Farms in Gray Court. Our daughter started out strong as she excitedly search for the red ones, but quickly realized she could just sit down and eat some for a delicious morning snack instead. We picked two baskets full and headed home with the scent of warm strawberries filling the car. I washed and froze a bag for smoothies, but the remainder are still sitting on my counter. Tonight we had them sliced with snickerdoodle cookies for dessert, but I think a strawberry cream pie is also in order. I will use them in Tuesday night’s class in the Orange Mascarpone Crepes. Maybe we’ll even add them to the Buttermilk Scones. I grew up eating my mom’s outrageously delicious strawberry rhubarb pie and that’s always a winner. What are your favorite strawberry recipes now that I have two baskets begging to be put to work?
After more than one friend asked me about offering cooking classes, I finally took the hint. I started with a few classes on baking, braising, and roasting and got a great response. I realized it was time to make this gig official. So here we are, my first blog post on my website. I think I’m finally done with it, yet every time I come back, I see something else I can tweak.
Take a look around at the upcoming classes for May. June classes will be announced soon. The home page has a gallery of dishes I’ve prepared – both for classes and for our family. I knew all those gratuitous dinner pictures in my Instagram feed would be useful one day! You can learn more about what to expect or more about me. You can even follow Wild Abandon Kitchen on Facebook as well.
Also if you’re feeling geeky like me, let me know how this page is working on your device. I have only viewed it on a few devices, but would be curious how it’s functioning for all of you. Feel free to keep in touch with the Newsletter or by following this blog even. I’m sure it will become a place to share pictures from classes, new recipes, stories, other fun things going on in our little town, and anything else food or family related that piques my interest.
Last geeky question, I promise. I added a few social media buttons on the left over there to make it easy to find us on your favorite outlets. Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are my personal favs, but do we have any Twitter or Tumblr folks out there? I’ve held out on them for this long, so I made need some convincing.
Thanks for stopping in. Say “Hi” if you’re feeling bold. Lurkers are welcome too, of course.