Saturday, July 26, 2014

Grilled Shrimp Tikka With Fresh Mango Chutney

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Shrimp get a wake-up call from a bold spice paste that really packs a punch. A brief 30-minute swim in the marinade imbues the shrimp with intense flavor—jalapeño, ginger, and garlic lend heat, while garam masala contributes depth. Sparkle comes from a splash of lime juice. Think of the mango chutney as a fresh Indian salsa; it’s crunchy, colorful, tart, and very refreshing.

Here's what appeared over this recipe on Gourmet magazine's website in 2008.  I loved the ingredients, although I changed things a bit to my liking.  To begin with, why bother to put the marinade ingredients in the blender?  I skipped that and added some olive oil to the mix.  The shrimp were marinaded over an hour.

As to the chutney, I omitted the cucumbers as they were not in my fridge at the time, and cooked it for three minutes.  It is the consistency I like in chutney but this is optional.  Had I had the cucumbers I probably would have followed the original method so as to leave some crunch in the chutney. Next time...  

I am publishing the recipe as is and leaving it up to you to play around with it if you wish.  It is easy and utterly delish. Shrimp and mango are a combo made in heaven!  Add coriander and Indian spices and you will float in the clouds...

Do serve it with the yellow rice I suggested.  Adding a small lime wedge to the rice is one of my "inventions".  Try it sometime.  It adds a slight touch of citrus to the rice and complements fish and shellfish very nicely.  Enjoy!

the sauce was cooked for three minutes.

Last week we had temperatures in the seventies at night.  We took the opportunity to have dinner outside on the deck.

The Sous Chef is pondering what to make next with the herbs on the porch.  Stay tuned...

Grilled Shrimp Tikka With Fresh Mango Chutney



  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh jalapeño, chopped (about 2 tsp)
  • 1 (1-inch) piece peeled ginger, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed
  • 2 teaspoons ground garam masala (Indian spice blend)*
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 2 lb large shrimp in shell, peeled, leaving tail fan attached


  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (3/4-lb) unripe mango, chopped
  • 1/3 seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped (3/4 cup) optional
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeño with seeds
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced mint
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

    10 (12-inch) wooden skewers, soaked in water 30 minutes


    white rice with saffron, lime wedges



Purée all ingredients for marinating shrimp, except shrimp, with 1/2 tsp salt in a blender until smooth. Pour into a sealable bag, then add shrimp and marinate at cool room temperature, turning bag occasionally, 30 minutes.


Toast cumin in a dry small skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute.Stir together remaining chutney ingredients with 1/4 tsp salt add to the skillet, stir and cook for 1 minute.  Remove to a bowl and sprinkle with toasted cumin.  Serve at room temperature.


Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over hot charcoal (medium-high heat for gas)
Thread 4 shrimp onto each skewer, leaving small spaces between them. Put on a tray.

Oil grill rack, then grill skewers, covered only if using a gas grill, turning once, until just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes total. Serve with chutney.

  • Shrimp can be cooked in a hot well-oiled large (2-burner) ridged grill pan, turning once, about 8 minutes total.
  • Marinade can be made 1 day ahead and chilled.
  • Chutney can be made 6 hours ahead and chilled
  • .
  • * Ground garam masala is available at specialty food shops, some supermarkets.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Garden Journal...The Hostas Take Center Stage

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This past winter we experienced some of the most frigid temperatures we have seen in this country in years.  They took a toll on everyone's gardens, including ours.  The gardenias were burnt to a crisp and the hydrangeas were devastated.  The rosemary bush, the lavender and several vines did not come back in the Spring. My little "jasmine that could", or night blooming jasmine, that I was so proud of never saw the light of day. ..but that was too much to expect.

Several things did better than expected, including the  newly planted tulips and peonies.  In the end everything, except the clematis by the mailbox,  a couple of boxwood and the rosemary and lavender bushes, eventually came back.  The gardenias have lots of new growth, but they are not quite ready for prime time.

The Confederate Jasmine looked like toast through April, but look at it now.

With no blooms from the hydrangeas this summer, the hostas have taken center stage.  What a show they are putting on! Nature never ceases to amaze me.

They were planted just last year and look at them now.  I have learned, the hard way, to go with whatever works and hostas definitely love our backyard.  I would love to plant astilbe in back of the hostas next year but there are all those big roots around the tree.  The experimental Japanese fern I tried last year did not come back, which is a shame for it makes for a beautiful contrast.  I am open to suggestions!

Some varieties of hostas grow much faster than others...or our local bunnies are more discerning than those to the north. They love and feast on the yellow variegated ones.

Until our cat, Coco, came to live with us, the flowers on these hostas never saw more than a day or two before the bunnies feasted on them. I planted coleus in the front this year but I will not be sure until it spreads some more.  The coleus look beautiful next to the yellow variegated hostas but the latter have been overpowered by the others.  I think perhaps I should have planted something with white or purple flowers.  But I will think about that tomorrow....

If you look to the left in back you can see one of the Oak Leaf hydrangeas we planted last Fall. They are my new favorite!

There are some blooms on the mophead hydrangeas but the color is faded and blah.  At this time in the summer  they are usually in full bloom.  You can barely see my friend Sandra's hydrangea to the right of the azaleas with just leaves again this year.  She brought it as a baby when she came for lunch almost two years ago and I was so looking forward to its first blooms this year....

There was some color earlier in the summer from the New Dawn rose and the clematis Violette next to the birdhouse, but the flowers are long gone.  I was amazed they both survived this past winter as they just went in the ground in April last year.  According to those who know, the combination of the two is dynamite!

This part of the backyard gets afternoon sun which is deadly here in July and August; so whatever I plant next to the bird bath has to be heat and scorching sun tolerant.

Decisions, decisions, decisions!

The elephant ears are my daughter's.  I saw a picture in one of the magazines recently with New Guinea Impatiens around the bottom. Next year....

More hostas on the side of the house next to the steps leading to the backyard.  Last I counted, there were over 50 hostas in the garden planted by these little hands.  Nothing more to add here...this is the Sous Chef's favorite place for her toilette.  She is quite the acrobat!

Hostas and the newly planted lamium.

Our white crepe myrtle tree sets the tone for the colors in the front yard.  The new roof and lots of $$ spent in keeping that grass green.

Artemisa and lambs ears, a purple clematis still in a copper pot, an English ivy topiary and the newly planted Winchester Cathedral rose from David Austin are thriving in front of the house.
There is another rose bush, just like this, on the other side of the path.  You can see the purple platycodon, or balloon flowers, that survived, together with the dianthus, my inexperienced gardening the first year.  Don't ask....I'm a city girl at heart although I spent a lot of time in the country when I was young.    

Something low needs to replace what was lost in front of the rose bush, but not until next Spring. It's too darn hot out there.

This year I decided to go all white by the front door with fewer pots. It was an ordeal to keep them watered through the summer.  One learns the hard way...

Something else that works...the ferns by the front door.  They love that Georgia humidity in summer!

Well, I hope at least you are impressed with the way I can now rattle off the names of my plants.  If you have been around long enough, you will remember how some of my readers had to help me decipher what was growing in the garden of the new house. Yes, some plants did not survive my ministrations or my discovery of  Roundup.  I was like a kid in a candy store...but that was a long time and many wasted $$$$ ago.  It's the only way to learn.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Turkey And Sage Cannelloni In A Bechamel Sauce

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Who would have thought that less than a pound of leftover sliced turkey would turn into a dish like this? Someone, like Lindaraxa, who hates to throw food away.

After a long weekend of guests, followed by grandchildren,  I had more deli sliced turkey and ham than I cared to see go to waste.  Turkey meat from the deli, no matter how good, tends to spoil much quicker than anything else.  I find myself throwing it away, more often than not, and I hate it.  I come from a generation that was taught to eat everything on the plate and reminded, ad nauseum, of all those poor starving children in China.  Ha! and look at them now...

I often make croquettes out of leftover turkey, chicken or ham but, sometimes, I am too lazy to go through the two day I came up with this.   For the filling I use the same recipe as the one for the croquettes, but slightly looser and along the same lines as the Picadillo Stuffed Manicotti or Pigs in A Blanket, as my children used to call this popular (at least in my house) recipe.

Manicotti are the large pasta tubes most often found in this country and appropriate for a filling like this.   Sometimes I like to fool my guests into thinking they are eating homemade cannelloni by using the no boil lasagna sheets from Barilla.  I just cook them for about five minutes in boiling water or until they are pliable, easy to stuff, fill and roll.  I sometimes find large pasta tubes made in Italy in my "wanderings" and snap them up by the truckload. I had a few in the pantry this time and they are what you see in the photos.

This recipe made enough for four with plenty of leftovers for lunch.  We each started with two to be polite and all of us got up for seconds...but just one more.   Count on three apiece if you are making the cannelloni using the oven ready lasagne cut in half.

Turkey And Sage Cannelloni In  Bechamel Sauce

Serves 6:


1/2 to 3/4 lbs cooked turkey or chicken
1 can evaporated milk
2 TB fresh sage, chopped coarsely
6 TB flour
Salt and pepper


3 TB butter
1 medium onion chopped
1 TB Worcestershire Sauce
2 TB dry Vermouth
1 TB grated lemon peel
Salt and pepper to taste

2 Cups Bechamel Sauce*
1/4 cup dry Vermouth
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated plus 3/4 cup for topping

1 Box Barilla Oven Ready Lasagne Or 12 Manicotti


 Place the chopped turkey meat, the can of evaporated milk and the flour in the blender. Blend for about a minute.  Stop, use a wooden spoon to stir around add salt and pepper to taste and turn on the motor again.  Mix until completely blended. Add the sage and turn on the blender again for about 10 seconds to mix.

Saute the chopped onion in 3 TB. butter until the onion is soft.  Add the mix from the blender and stir with a wooden spoon on medium low heat until everything comes together.  Add 1 TB Worcestershire Sauce, white pepper and salt to taste.  Raise the heat to medium, continue stirring and add 2 TB Vermouth and 1 TB lemon peel. Continue stirring until the mix thickens and begins to separate from the sides.  Remove from the heat.  Let cool.

Make two cups bechamel sauce. Add 1/4 cup Vermouth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat immediately and stir for a couple of minutes.  Add a 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano.  Remove from the heat.

Butter the bottom and sides of a  Pyrex dish large enough to hold 18 cannelloni side by side.  Add about a 1/4 cup of the bechamel sauce on the bottom and spread to cover.

Cut the lasagna noodles in half.  Place 1 tsp of the filling and roll into a tube.  Place, seam side down in the Pyrex dish.  Continue with the rest of the pasta until you have eight cannelloni on each side for a total of 16.

Pour the rest of the Bechamel Sauce on top, sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and dot with butter and more sage leaves.

Cook in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. or until bubbly and lightly broil, about 6 to 8 minutes. You want a golden color on top.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Slices of tomato with a balsamic vinaigrette or an arugula salad are great to serve alongside.

*Bechamel Sauce

For 2 cups

4 TB butter, unsalted
4 TB. flour
2 Cups hot milk

Melt the butter, add the flour, cook for about a minute stirring.   Add the 2 cups of hot milk, a little at a time.  Continue stirring until sauce begins to boil.  Immediately remove saucepan from the heat, set aside and let cool.

Recipe and photos Lindaraxa 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Dahlias Are Coming, The Dahlias Are Coming!

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My daughter's newly planted dahlias are blooming and they are spectacular.  Okay, so they are not an armful and they are not exactly Carolyne Roehm's magnificent selection, but it's a start.

You are not going to believe where I got the bulbs...Tuesday Morning! and they were an afterthought after I had already checked out.  I gave them to my daughter for her cutting garden and she did the rest.

I had the most gorgeous photos of the dahlias in bloom in the garden but I erased them by mistake.  Don't ask, I was trying to clear the 516 photos in the camera card and poof!

So I took multiple photos of these three, hoping you would be impressed by my photography.

Don't tell anyone but I have a photo editing program for idiots that does a pretty good job.

The dahlias have been a godsend as the hydrangeas, which usually put on quite a how at this time of the year, are a bust.  Some blooms here and there but the frigid weather this winter took quite a toll on them and other plants, like the gardenias.  No blooms from these babies either this year, but they have come back.  Told you...You will see what I mean in a later post.

I would love to add some of the deep burgundy and purple colors as well as pink  and white next year. I love the variegated ones such as the red and white above.   Any suggestions?

All photos Lindaraxa

Monday, July 7, 2014

Dorie Greenspan's Raspberry Lemon Squares

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These squares are everything you have ever dreamed of in a lemon bar, plus more.  They were our dessert this past Fourth of July.  Unfortunately, I started a bit later than I expected and didn't let them cool enough before I cut them.  That's what you get when you are hassled and try to do too many things at once.  Baking shouldn't be one of them.

The crust is an almond crust and it is nice and firm, not soggy as in a lot of recipes.  The filling is lemony but not too and perfectly sweetened.  The addition of raspberries is the icing on the cake.  I had two boxes of blueberries in the refrigerator and toyed with the idea of making the squares, half raspberry and half blueberries to see the difference.  In the end, I decided to save the blueberries for muffins at another time. Glad I did.  Loved the raspberries!

The only thing I would change is to cut back on the final cooking time to 8 minutes instead of 10 to 13 minutes so the raspberries don't cook so much and come out firmer.  I have a convection oven which runs hot and that was perhaps my problem.  Just a thought, it's up to you, but watch that final cooking time.  If you do that, make sure you cook them previously for 35 instead of 30 minutes so the lemon filling is really cooked and set.

The recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan's new cookbook Baking Chez Moi and was developed for Driscoll, the raspberry company.  That was what prompted me to try it.  You know what Madame Mere says.....

This is not a quick recipe to make.  It has a lot of "down time". The original tells you the cooking time is 30 minutes.  Between the crust, the filling and the final baking of the bars, it is more than 80 minutes. Plus the waiting time to let the curd and the crust cool.   Give yourself the morning to make it or, better yet, make it the night before. They are much easier to cut when they are cold.  Do make them, you will be well rewarded and asked to make them again and again.


Lemon Curd Filling

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (from 8-10 lemons)
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks

Crust and Crumbs

  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 packages (6 ounces each) Driscoll's Raspberries (3 1/2 to 4 cups)
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)



Working in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, whisk the eggs and sugar together until well blended. Whisk in the zest and lemon juice, then drop in the chunks of butter. Put the saucepan over medium heat and start whisking, taking care to work the whisk into the edges of the pan. If your whisk is too big to clean the edges, switch to a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula. Whisk without stop, and, in 8 to 10 minutes, the buttery curd will thicken. It won't get terribly thick--it thickens more as it chills--but you'll notice that your whisk leaves tracks. The sign that the curd is ready is a bubble or two burbling to the surface, then popping. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and scrape the curd into a heatproof bowl. Place a piece of plastic film against the surface and refrigerate the curd until it's cold all the way through. (Packed airtight, the curd can stay in the fridge for a couple of weeks.)

When You're Ready to Bake

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper to about 13 x 17 inches or so that about 2 inches hang over the edge of each side of the pan. Place the parchment paper inside the pan and butter the paper.

To Make the Crust and Crumbs

Put the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in a food processor and whir until the mixture is blended. Add the almond flour and blend until smooth. Add the flour and pulse, stopping as needed to scrape the bowl, until you've worked the flour into the other ingredients and have moist, bumpy curds of dough. Reach in--if the dough holds together when you pinch it, it's ready.

Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead it gently to gather it together. Cut off one third of the dough, cover it and set it aside. Press the rest of the dough evenly over the bottom of the lined pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork.

Bake the crust for 15 - 18 minutes, or until it's pale golden all over. It will puff a bit and still feel soft to the touch, so judge its readiness by its color. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the crust cool to room temperature.

If you've turned off the oven, heat it to 375 degrees F again.

Scatter 1 package (1 3/4 to 2 cups) of raspberries over the crust. Stir the chilled curd to get it moving then, using a long offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the filling evenly over the berries. Pinch off small pieces of the reserved dough and scatter them over the filling - you'll have enough dough to almost completely cover the curd.

Bake the lemon squares 30 minutes, rotating the pan after about 20 minutes. Working quickly, remove the pan from the oven and scatter the remaining raspberries over the crumbs, gently and lightly pressing them into the topping. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 10 to 13 minutes. The filling will puff - and it should puff all the way to the center - the lemon curd will caramelize around the edges (my favorite part) and the crumbs will be golden brown. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let stand for at least 2 hours (and up to 6 hours) before cutting.

Use the edges of the parchment paper to carefully lift the lemon squares out of the pan and set on the counter or rack. Invert a plate over the lemon squares and turn the plate and lemon squares over and then peel away the parchment paper. Using a long, slender knife, cut the cake into 12 squares, about 3 inches on a side. Serve now or chill - the bars are delicious at room temperature, when the crust is almost as tender as the filling, and just as good chilled, when all the elements are firm but the filling melts in your mouth.

Dust with confectioners' sugar, if you'd like, just before serving.

Storing: Well wrapped, the squares will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days; wrapped airtight, they can be frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost the squares, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Photos Lindaraxa
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