Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Stuffed Coconut Shrimp and Sweet Thai Cucumber Relish Salad

Here is the recipe Featured in the Alive Utah Appetizer Recipes.  I have previously posted the Stuffed Shrimp and Relish recipes sepereately, but here they are together in "salad form" for your convenience. Serve these to your guests hot and crispy and while they eat you can whip up your stir fry or curry.! A great way to start your thai meal.!

20 Large green king prawns (get the largest uncooked shrimp you can find if you aren't near fresh seafood) deviened and butterflied (butterflied is to slit down the back without cutting the shrimp in half.. thats why the bigger they are the more room you have to stuff.)
125 grams (.27 lb) chicken breast, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp coriander (cilantro) stems finely chopped
half teaspoon white pepper
2 slices finely chopped ginger
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tbsp coconut cream

Batter Ingredients:
2 tsp sambel olek
1 tbsp very finely chopped lemon grass, tender part only (If you can't get your hands on lemon grass substitute for half teaspoon lemon zest)
1 cup plain flour
1 cup corn flour
soda water (Enough to make a batter the consistency of pouring cream)
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut

Cucumber Relish Recipe to Follow.
1. If you have a mortar use it .. if not grind up and pound as best you can the garlic, peppercorns, coriander root and ginger into a paste.

2. Place finely chopped chicken into food processor with coconut cream and process to a paste. Add garlic coriander paste and fish sauce.

3. Place in fridge to chill for 2 hours

4. Fill the prawns down their butterflied backs with chicken mixture.

To Cook

1. Combine flours, lemon grass, sambel olek in bowl, add enough soda water to make thin batter.

 2. Carefully roll prawns in some plain flour, dip into batter, then roll in coconut.(put only half of your coconut in a bowl at a time otherwise it will get goopy and gross quickly)

3. Heat 2 cups of vegetable oil in wok (or use deep fryer), deep fry prawns in batches of six until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Cut open to one to make sure they are cooked all the way through. The chicken stuffing and shrimp should be a solid white colour.

Plate immediately and serve while shrimp is hot. On each serving dress your lettuce with cucumber relish making sure each serving has good amounts of the cool cucumber and peanuts.
Place shrimp on top. It is a good idea to serve the relish in a bowl on the side as well so your guests can add more to their taste.

Sweet Thai Cucumber Relish

Ingredients:1 cup coconut vinegar (or white vinegar)
1 cup white sugar
1 good splash of fish sauce
1 large cucumber
4 small red chilis, deseeded and finely chopped
1/2 of roasted, unsalted peanuts crushed or finely chopped. (you will probably have to buy unsalted peanuts and roast and crush them yourself)
1/3 cup chopped coriander (cilantro), including stems
1/2 Tsp Salt

Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally, cook for one minute at a gentle boil. Remove from heat and cool completely to room temperature.

While sauce is cooling. Peel and slice cucumber in half lengthways. get a small spoon and scoop out the seeds. Slice very thinly so that you get "moon shaped" cucumber slices.

Place the cucumber, chilis, peanuts and coriander in bowl. Pour over cooled dressing and toss gently.

Place in fridge and chill until use.
As prepared for the Alive Utah/Artful Edibles Tasting.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gourmet Chocolate Caramel Apples

This is Definitely a tricky one to post. Alot of this recipe is common sense your judgment of consistancy and texture.  I will update this recipe with more details and pics of step by steps. Most times I make these I am doing it by myself and it generally takes two hands, taking pictures of the apples in action is a challenge!.

4 Large Apples (use your favorite - I love the kick of the granny smiths with the chocolate)
2 blocks of chocolate of your choice (milk, dark, or white)
Drizzle chocolate or chips of your choice. I particularly love the butterscotch flavored chips with the apple and chocolate flavors
2 bags of Caramels.
2 TBSP shortening (more for your drizzling topping)
2 TSP Whole  Milk (full cream milk)
Parchment Paper
Popsicle Sticks (paddle pop sticks). Try to get good quality ones as the cheaper ones will not be able to handle the weight of the apples when you are dipping.

Preparation: This preparation is important. So many times I am asked the same question - "how do you get the caramel not to just slide off the apple" here are some prep tips that will almost guarantee you success.
1. Scrub you apples with as hot water as possible and rub dry vigorously. This will remove as much of the shiney, slidey wax as possible.
2. Chill your apples overnight. - Simply chilling them until they are cool to touch is not enough. You want the coolness to keep radiating from inside the apple so keep them chilling all night long. This will ensure your coatings set faster.(also chilling your cookie sheet/tray will also help)
3. This is best done in a cool environment.. if you are in the middle of summer try to do this in an area with air conditioning.. when I do this in the winter I usually prop a window open. The chilled air can be your best buddy when setting caramel on apples.

Directions For The Caramel Apple:
Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet or tray. Spray lightly with non stick cooking spray.
Unwrap all your caramels and place in a large microwavable bowl. Add milk and microwave 1 1/2 minutes, stir and place back in teh microwave removing every minute to stir and make sure it is not burning. When caramel is smooth runny consistancy it is ready to be used.
Remove only the apple you are working on from the fridge at one time. That helps the other apples remain as chilled as possible.
Place your stick firmly into top of the apple.
Tilting the bowl of caramel slightly dip your apple in and rotate it around until it is completely coated. By not letting your apple rub along the sides of the bowl as you turn it you will have prettier more evenly coated apples.
pull it out and rotate your apple over the bowl to let excess drip off.
Gradually as you see the caramel stiffening on the apple start rotating it slowly so it will continue to cool with as much of the caramel on as possible. Sometimes holding your apple in by your freezer vent or by a cool breeze while turning slowly will help. Taking your time with the apples this way makes it so that you dn't have puddles of caramel form on your tray. I like to think of it as lava. Cool it down and eventually it will stop moving.
Place it carefully on your tray . Don't squish it down just let the apple and caramel set it's own standing position.
Repeat with all apples, making more caramel sauce as needed if you run out.
Refridgerate over-night for completely set apples.

Directions For the Chocolate Apple:
As before your apples need to be completely chilled before embarking on the next step. Thankfully the chocolate cools alot faster and quicker than the caramel.
Prepare your chocolate by heating it over a double boiler set up. boil water in a pot and place a bowl with your chocolate on top of it making sure it does not touch the water. This will ensure even heating. Add your shortening. Stir the chocolate when needed, keep a close eye on it.
When completely smooth and runny remove from heat.
Remove one apple at a time from the fridge.  Like with the Caramel dip the apple in until it is completely coated (without touching the sides of the bowl), letting remaining chocolate drip off. As chocolate drip slows start to rotate it slowly to help with the even spread and setting. If you want to add toppings such as crushed Oreos, toffee bits, nuts (Whatever candy bar takes your fancy really.. you just need to chop them pretty small) then now is the time to apply them. It is best if you scoop it in one hand and holding the apple in your other press it into the chocolate. If you do this too early it will all just slide off.
When chocolate lookes stable place it on the tray to cool until it is set.
Continue with remaining apples.

The Final Drizzle Touch:
If you aren't sick of your apples yet then go ahead and once the chocolate coating is firm you can put on the drizzle.  Mix either another batch of different coloured chocolate or melts. I really LOVE the butterscotch melts on my apples. The flavor combo is great. Mix and heat it with Shortening like you did the chocolate. (The shortening allows it to set fast and hard and also gets is runny)
using a spoon or fork---PREPARE TO GET MESSY!-------
Coat your utensil and then start flicking it over the apple. More you flick the thinner your drizzle marks will be so don't be shy or afraid of the mess, just go for it. I like to flick in one diagonal direction, and then go the opposite direction over the top to make a fun criss cross pattern.
Feel free to experiment with different flavor combinations of your choice.

These apples are a bit of work and preparation, but they are so delicious, in the end it is all worth it!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Cookies

Here is a fun adaption on the Oreo Cookie recipe I posted. Perfect for Valentines Day or Christmas. 

Cookie Ingredients:

1 Pkg Red Velvet Cake Mix (if you don't have that any moist chocolate cake mix will do)
1/2 cup crisco (translation for aussies.. shortening or a type vegtable oil)
2 Beaten Eggs
Filling Ingredients:
8 0z Cream Cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 tsp Vanilla
Heat oven to 350 F.
Combine all the cookie ingredients in a bowl.
Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
Take a small piece of the dough and roll it into a ball. It should be the size of a dime - or $1.00 Aussie dollar.
Do a test batch placing 1 or two balls on the tray. Cook for approximately 10 minutes. Dough should flatten out and deflat upon removing from teh oven as well. Use this time to exactly measure how long your oven requires to cook these cookies.
Place balls on tray and space approximately 2-3 inches apart.
Remove from oven once cooked and allow them to sit and cool before removing from the tray.
Allow cookies to completely cool before adding filling.
Filling Directions:
Soften cream cheese and butter. With an electric mixer whip the cream and butter together, add in Vanilla essence, slowly add the powdered sugar.
Place in fridge while you wait for your cookies to cook and cool.
To Assemble: Fill a large zip lock bag with the end cut or a piping bag and pipe cream cheese onto the top. Add sparkly sprinkles for an extra effect and crunch.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Southwestern Chicken Chili

If you are a fan of the taco soup I posted then you will love this simple and tasty chili soup.
 All these ingredients are usually in your pantry so its quick and easy.
I've tried many chicken chili's and this is by far my favorite. 

Based on a recipe by Pixie Worthen

4 - 6 chicken breasts (if using thighs calculate 2 thighs per breast)
2 cans diced tomatoes (garlic & onion flavor - if you can't get that just plane diced tomatoes is fine)
1 small jar salsa
1 can kernal corn
2 cans black beans, rinsed ( you can always mix this up.. use one black and one pinto)
1 - 2 cans diced green chilis
1 1/2 pkg ranch seasoning
½ - 1 pkg taco seasoning

Topping options: I LOVE to top my chili with the "This Aint No Tomatillo Cafe Rio Dressing," tortilla strips and fresh cilantro.

In a slow cooker, combine all chili ingredients and cook on low 6-8 hours.
Shred chicken, stir back into chili and heat for another 30 minutes-1 hour.
Serve with desired toppings.

"This Aint No Tomatillo Cafe Rio Dressing"

2 cups sour cream
1 package Ranch Dip Seasoning
2 limes
2 Jalapenos (1 deseeded and deveined, the other whole)
1/2 bunch cilantro(coriander)
2 TBSP milk
1 tsp salt
2 shakes of pepper

In a medium size bowl combine sour cream, ranch dip mix.
Zest both limes, and add the zest plus juice from 1 of the limes to the bowl. mix well. (put remaining zested lime aside in case you need it later)
Chop cilantro and jalapeno. Add it to bowl. Use an immersion blender to puree all ingredients together.
Add milk, salt and pepper and puree more until smooth.
Taste for correct seasoning and add more milk if you desire a runnier dressing.
whualla... no tomatillos required!
This Aint No Tomatillo Cafe Rio Dressing Recipe

Pomegranate Pellegrino Mint Spritzer

Refreshing, Fruity and Sweet this drink is a great compliment and palate cleanser to all dishes. Super easy to make, it sparkles and impresses on the table. 

2 bottles Pellegrino   Sparkling Natural Mineral Water
1 bottle Langers Pomegranate Cranberry Juice
1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves 
1/2 cup sugar (or simple syrup) to taste.

Combine all ingredients except mint to your taste.  
When sugar has dissolved place mint in pitcher and with a wooden mixing stick crush it on the bottom to release the flavors.  
Serve Chilled. 

Dark Hazelnut Chocolate and White Coconut Chocolate Mousse Duet

Creamy Rich FLUFF.. thats all I have to say about this dessert.

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse

12 Oz Ritter Sport Dark Hazelnut Chocolate ( you can also use the lindt chocolate hazelnut block, it just doesn't have whole hazelnuts like the Ritter Sport)
4 egg yolks
1/2 white cup sugar
1 tsp Almond Essence
3 cups heavy whipping cream

White Coconut Chocolate Mousse

9 oz Lindt White chocolate coconut (1 1/2 blocks)
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

Make each mousse one at a time. Have your bowls ready to spoon it in. Start with your dark chocolate mousse.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler setup
While the chocolate is melting, in a large mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar and beat, with a hand-held mixer, until very pale and thick and have doubled in size.
Whisk in the Almond Essence.

When the chocolate has melted, whisk it into the egg yolk mixture. It will thicken extremely quickly .. don't panic it will work out once you work in the cream.

In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream to medium peaks.
Using 1/3of the cream really mix it into the chocolate egg mixture well getting out most lumps.
Then gently fold in half of the remaining cream.
Even more carefully fold in the last section of the cream into the chocolate mixture. until it is all incorporated
Transfer the mousse to individual serving dishes.
Repeat the process for the white chocolate mousse and pour on top of the dark chocolate.
This is great because you can make it the night before.
Cover and refrigerate for AT LEAST 2 hours.

Apple and Ginger Glazed Fall Apart Ribs with Zesty Fresh Apple Chutney

decided to use my technique for fall off the bone BBQ  ribs (see posted recipe) but I put a fall flavor twist to it.
So here we have juicy succulent sweet ribs. My husband tasted  said they were the best he has had and actually prefers them to the BBQ flavored ribs.


1-2 racks Baby Back Ribs (Costco has a great pack of baby back ribs that are excellent quality and cook to perfection each pack has 3 racks)
1 batch of Apple Ginger Glaze (See Glaze Recipe)
2 TBS Liquid smoke
1 batch of Rib Rub (see rub recipe)

Rib Rub Ingredients:

1 TBS garlic powder
1/2 TBS Ground Cloves
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup salt (Kosher is best)
1/8 cup onion powder
1/8 cup paprika
1 TBS black pepper
1 TBS chili powder
1 TBS dry mustard
1 TBS red pepper (Cayenne Pepper)
Combine all the spices ina bowl until ready to use.
Makes enough for 2 racks of rib

Pre-Heat oven to 270F (132C)
Remove ribs from packet. Pat dry with a paper towel.

To prepare the ribs for maximum tenderness you need to strip the back of the clear membranes. 

With a sharp knife (preferably one that is long and skinny) you need to try to slip it between the membrane and the flesh. If you have too much difficulty doing this (it took me 2 racks to perfect it myself) at least scour the membrane so it can split off the meat when it cooks. If you do this be carefulnot to slice too deep so as to get into the flesh.

This takes time but I think it makes a huge difference in the end product, if you can try to slice the membrane off altogether that will produce the best result.

Prepare a roasting pan by placing approx 1 inch water in the bottom. Add your liquid smoke to this water.

Place the roasting rack in the pan to check the water will not be touching the meat.

Apply rub liberally all over the racks of ribs (note if your ribs are too long for the pan you might have to cut them in half)
Once spiced place them on the roasting rack, it is o.k. to place some on top of each other.

Cover with tin foil. Place in oven on middle rack and cook for 7-8 hours.

When ribs are done in the oven heat your BBQ/Grill to medium temp.

While the ribs are laying on one side coat it with your Apple Ginger sauce.
Coat some nonstick oil on the BBQ right before you put on your ribs .. the tender meat will stick!
(If a thunderstorm comes roller in while you are cooking outside it is o.k. to cook these in a large skillet instead - --- just speaking from experience)

Using long tongs or a super long spatula VERY carefully pick up ribs (1 rack at a time people). They are so tender they will slide off the bone when you try to pick them up. Place them on sauce side down. .
Flip oh so carefully when the front side is heated through. Remember the meat is already cooked you are just basting and infusing your glaze flavor.

Seared Scallop with Shaved Lamb and Pea Puree

I LOVE this appetizer.
This whole dish was simple in seasoning, but has a few seperate components when put together make it burst with flavor. The small shaving of lamb compliments all the flavors of the puree and scallop.
I think this was my personal favorite of the luxury dinner night. If you can't afford or find lamb in your area then you could leave it out.. but if you have the chance to make it all you won't regret it.


1 Batch of Pea Puree (see pea puree recipe post)
6 large Scallops
Count your Scallops - 1 per serving is plenty.. unless you know someone will like seconds do one or two more than needed- just in case!
Salt and Pepper to Season
Olive oil



Pat your Scallops dry.
Coast liberally with olive oil. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat a stainless steel pan on high. Add in a coating of olive oil.
When heated add your scallops, they should hiss happily when they hit the pan.
Let them sit approximately 1 1/2 - 2  minutes each side (they won't take long). Be careful they don't stick to the pan. You should have lovely crispy brown scallops.

while the scallops are sizzling cook your lamb...............

Shaved Lamb Rack of Ribs


3 Lamb Ribs
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil


Take a rack of lamb ribs and cut off 3.
Like with the scallops, Rinse ribs and pat dry with paper towel.
Heat Pan with olive oil on high temp.
Season ribs liberally with Salt and pepper on all sides.
Place ribs in pan and let them cook and sizzle to taste. I don't like rare lamb so I cooked my a little longer. It's up to you.
When done remove from pan onto a cutting board and slice very thinly.


On a nice white plate scoop a dollop of pea puree. Add small shavings of hot lamb and then top with Scallops. Clean plate edges if needed and serve. Simple and beautiful.

Pea Puree

I decided to try a pea puree after the big "Top Chef" debacle of who stole the pea puree.
 It made me think .. what is all the big deal with pea puree.
I am glad I was cheeky enough to try it because I think it was the show stopper of my luxury dinner menu.
Give it a try, even your pea haters might reconsider their attitudes to little ball of green.

(This can be made the day before and simply re-heat when ready to serve)

3 french shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 slices Pancetta finely chopped (you can substitute a thickly sliced non smoked bacon in here)
135g (1 cup) frozen peas (YES FROZEN)
3 tablespoons chicken stock or water

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Cook the shallots, garlic and pancetta for 3 minutes, or until soft but not coloured. add the peas and stock. cook over high heat for 3 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated.

Cool a little, then puree in a food processor until smooth. Season to taste. (I used an emulsifier... I LOVE that thing. puree and keep puree-ing until it is pretty much silky smooth)

Trio of Pastry Cups

~Caramelized Sweet Onion and Feta~You are guaranteed to find each person will at least love one of these three if not all of them. They are teeny enough that you can snack and munch and save room for the rest of the meal.
~Grilled Bacon Mushroom and Fresh Herbs
~Brie and Cranberry Salsa~

Puff Pastry Cups

4 sheets Puff Pastry Sheets(found in the frozen section of your supermarket)

Allow your Pastry to thaw to complete.

Pre-Heat Oven to 400 F.
Spray a mini- muffin tray with non-stick spray. Also do a large regular muffin tray if you would like larger cups.

Roll your pastry to thin it out into a square shape. Cut it into squares (one sheet cut into 9 squares for me). Place the square in the muffin cups. Press it into the bottom to help it to form and keep shape as it puffs up. Trim the edges of pastry off the top of the muffin top edging.

Place in oven and cook until just barely crispy. Do not cook fully as then they will over cook when you fill them. You just want to firm up the middle .

Pastries will Puff up and you might think they are not cup shape. Just get the back end of a knife or spoon and while baking gently press in the middle. Repeat again once the come out of the oven and are a little malleable.


Brie and Cranberry Salsa (Salsa must be done 3 days before hand)


1 packet of Craisens (dried cranberries will do)
2 cups Red Wine Vinegar
1 Cup Sugar
1 TBS chopped dried Rosemary
1 large Triangle of Brie.


Combine Vinegar and Sugar in a re-sealable bowl. Stir and try to break down the sugar as much as you can. Add the rosemary.
Add Cranberries and mix, thoroughly coat them evenly.
Seal and refrigerate, when ready to place in cups drain it completely from the vinegarette, squeezing it out with a colander.

To Serve - Place as much brie as you can in your pastry cup without it overflowing. Bake in 400 Degree oven until Cheese is fully melted and bubbling slightly.

Remove and top with cranberries.

Grilled Bacon Mushroom and Fresh Herbs

4 cups Button mushrooms medium finely chopped
5 slices Meaty Bacon (chopped to same size as mushrooms)
2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
olive oil
2 sprigs fresh oregano
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh parsley chopped
1 tsp beef Bullion
3 garlic cloves smashed
salt to taste


Get the leaves off your sprigs of herbs and finely chop them all together. Place aside.
Cut your bacon into good sized pieces. I like to know I'm really eating bacon when I take a spoonful of this toss.
With aluminium foil create a tray with good sized sides. (Give it enough room so you can bring the sides into the middle to form a mini lid).- If cooking indoors and not on a grill simply place the foil on a cookie sheet and cook on a high temperature in your oven.
Spray the foil with non stick spray.

Put the bacon and mushrooms on the foil. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle on the herbs and beef bullion powder and salt on mixture.... roll up your sleeves and toss it through with your hands.

Nestle the smashed garlic cloves on the bottom under the mushroom mixture.

When ready place it on your grill and fold the edges of the foil inwards to keep some of the steam in. Let it sit on there without stirring for about 15-20 minutes.

When vegetables are starting to soften, drizzle on your Worcestershire sauce. With a spoon start mix/stir the vegetables and let them sit again, open the foil and continue to stir and then mix your toss until are completely cooked through.

Remove from grill and spoon into your pastry cups.

Caramelized Sweet Onion and Feta


2 Large red Onions (Finely Chopped)
1/2 cup TBS Butter
Salt to Taste
1 cup chopped Feta Cheese.
1 TBS Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
2 eggs


Heat pan to medium. Melt 1/2 butter in the pan and add the onion. Cook it on medium low heat. As onions cook keep adding parts of the butter to keep it moist. They will cook for approx. 20-30 minutes. At the end when the onions have darkened without burning add the balsamic vinegar.

Whisk egg and cream together, adding salt for seasoning.

Place a small amount of onion in the bottom of your pastry cup. Top with some Feta then pour in the egg cream mixture. Place in oven and cooked until set. (egg should be softly cooked through like a quiche)