How to Use this Blog

This blog is designed to be used like a cookbook. I've put tags on each recipe so you can go to the section on that topic just by clicking on the word in the cloud or the list. Some recipes are under more than one category to help you find what you're looking for.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Shrimp Bisque

Once in a while Elizabeth and I like to try a new recipe so we do what I call a "Buddy Cook" at her house and make it. Sometimes we come to my house but it's usually a holiday weekend and there are a lot of other people around and it can get hectic.  It's much more civilized at her house.   And, certainly if knives are involved you want the atmosphere as civilized as possible.

I have been watching a lot of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, on TV. She makes everything look so easy.  And, actually, this one is pretty easy.  Except for finding the Brandy and Dry Sherry. 

Since Texas has started allowing beer and wine to be sold at the supermarket the liquor stores are going out of business right and left.  I drove past three liquor stores that had been closed until I found one still open.  Even it was in the process of going through bankruptcy and the walls were almost bare.  The best I could find in Brandy was four of the little airplane sized bottles. Folks, you know I've quit drinking.  You're going to have to get in there and do your part to keep the liquor stores alive. There is nothing sadder than a half-stocked shelf in a liquor store.

The seafood stock was on the shelf at Whole Foods in the yuppie part of Dallas.  Later I found it in the soup aisle at my Walmart out here in the boondocks. 

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
  • 4 cups seafood stock
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (3 leeks)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (3 cloves)
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place the shrimp shells and seafood stock in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock. Add enough water to make 3 3/4 cups.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the leeks and cook them for 10 minutes over medium-low heat, or until the leeks are tender but not browned. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add the cayenne pepper and shrimp and cook over medium to low heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Cognac and cook for 1 minute, then the sherry and cook for 3 minutes longer. Transfer the shrimp and leeks to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until coarsely pureed.
In the same pot, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium-low heat for 1 minute, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the half-and-half and cook, stirring with a whisk, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pureed shrimp, the stock, tomato paste, salt, and pepper and heat gently until hot but not boiling. Season, to taste, and serve hot..

Serve it with baguettes of French Bread and some butter.  This should serve a whole lot of people. But if there's only the two of you then you don't have to share.  I especially liked sitting in Elizabeth's living room and watching an episode of Ina on TV and dipping chunks of buttered bread into the soup.   This recipe is a keeper. And I found the flavor got even better the next day after it sat a while.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Coffee Cake

I've been channeling Ina Garten the last two weeks in search of the perfect coffee cake. We used to always have a store-bought one on Christmas morning.  But, to my horror, I couldn't find one in the freezer case this year.  When I went to the recipe sources it was slim pickings.  I wanted one with no exotic ingredients like sour cream.

The first one I tried was nasty.  I suspected the Crisco I used was too old.  So I tried it with fresh Crisco and still didn't like it.  The next one--sans Crisco-- was too dry.  This morning, I added apples and half a banana for extra moisture and a second egg to give it more body.  And I love it!

Three coffee cakes later I think I have a recipe that I'm happy with.


2 cups of Bisquick
2/3 milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
vanilla (you know how I am about vanilla)
1/2 apple chopped fine
1/2 bananna chopped fine
1/2 cup blueberries (OK, so maybe this is an exotic ingregient but I swear I had some in the freezer.  It's not imperative you put blueberries in. And if you don't have a banana or an apple in the house, then shame on you for not eating healthy like I do.)

mix everything well except for the blueberries. Pour it all into a greased pan (I use a round spring-form)
Once everything is in--and only then--carefully sprinkle the blueberries on top

Then add the strusel topping:

1/3 cup Bisquick
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
mix this in the Cuisinart until the butter is pea-size
then add in 1/3 cup granola cereal (or not if you don't have it)
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Bake at 350-375 for about 25 minutes.