Pieces

Right now:  Blogging from a beautifully naturally lit bedroom on a sunny blue Sunday morning, listening to the breathy, ethereal lullabies of Gregory Alan Isakov – my newfound musical obsession.  Just ate:  Homemade skillet potatoes with caramelized onions, garlic and truffle salt with an over-easy egg on top, a piece of bacon and a half of a homemade maple cake doughnut.  We made doughnuts yesterday!  I finally got to try out my new doughnut puncher and now I can cross “make doughnuts” off my long list of cooking and baking endeavors to conquer!

Addicted to:  Parks and Rec, Vintage mary janes, These cookies (the best ever, I’m convinced), making ricotta and my new iphone.

Trying to learn:  to play Adele’s “Someone Like You” on the piano!  Also, how to flip an egg, make art out of recycled glass bottles and budgeting.

Latest Adventure:  A weekend escape to Wrightsville Beach & Wilmington!  While we were there, we made an appearance at a baby’s first birthday party.  This is the second first birthday we’ve been to in a little over a month and let me just say, I don’t know what is up with these babies and their daintiness!  Their parents had to force feed them their cake with their fingers and they still scrunched up their noses!  This picture here is proof that my love affair with cake began at a very early age.  I threw dainty out the window and made that birthday cake my business!

Recent cooking and baking escapades:

A few weekends ago, my dear friend Donna and I made lemon ricotta pancakes with berries.  Each bite was a fluffy pillow of sunlight.  They were creamy, slightly zesty, tart and warm.  I made them with homemade ricotta which I’ve already made twice now.  I really love this recipe too because it’s simple, foolproof and I feel like lemon juice is a better acid to use than vinegar or buttermilk.  The first batch of ricotta I tried to make came from a different recipe, calling for buttermilk and I just couldn’t get curds and I ended up having to pitch the entire batch (which was a lot)!  So after following Smitten Kitchen’s guidelines and ending up with the best ricotta I’ve ever tasted, I vowed to never buy it from the store again.  Seriously, there is an undeniable difference – homemade ricotta is richer, creamier and more flavorful.  Plus, it’ s so easy to make and the store-bought stuff has this odd distinctive taste that I don’t like.  It amazes me what cream, milk and lemon juice can create.  I’ve never been all that interested in science but I swear the science in cooking and baking never ceases to amaze me.

Tomato soup and gruyere and white cheddar grilled cheese may not cure the common cold but I like to think it sure does help.

Homemade Pho may not cure the common cold but it will warm your soul and clear your nasal passages better than a Nettipot.  Truth.  Consume with a box of tissues at reach.

At this point it would just be cruel of me to not give you a recipe for these seductive shrimp tacos and sweet potatoes & black beans with lime and chili pepper.

Cornmeal Shrimp Tacos with Chili Lime Sweet Potatoes & Black Beans  heavily adapted from here and here.

Taco Ingredients (makes about 4 tacos):

  • 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 large egg white, beaten
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 small flour tortillas (or corn if you prefer)
  • Avocado slices
  • Purple Cabbage, chopped into shreds
  • Minced, seeded  jalapeño (optional)
  • Adobo crema:  1 cup sour cream (I use light) & 6 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (from a can), chopped.  Stir together until well combined – it should be a light orangeish color.  (If you prefer extra heat, you can use more peppers).
Chili Lime Sweet Potatoes & Black Beans:
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and red chili flakes to taste
  • juice of 1 lime
  • Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place peeled and diced sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet.  Top with olive oil, salt and chili flakes, and lime juice.  Toss together until all of the potato chunks are coated.  Place in the oven to bake until softened through and toasted brown.  This usually takes about 40 minutes.   Remove the cookie sheet once or twice during baking to toss the potato chunks around.  This will ensure that the cubes cook evenly.  Remove from the oven and let stand when cooked through.
For the Tacos:
  1. In a shallow bowl, toss the shrimp with the egg white. In a second shallow bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the shrimp and toss to coat.
  2. Heat the remaining ½ cup of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry the shrimp until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side.   Drain on a couple folded paper towels.
  3. Heat both sides of the tortillas in a skillet sprayed with cooking spray, over medium heat (just a few minutes per side).
  4. Assemble the tacos:  Place 2-3 shrimp in the center of each tortilla, top with cabbage and avocado slices,  jalapeño and drizzle with adobo crema.  Serve with chili lime sweet potatoes & black beans.
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