Tag Archives: thyme

Grilled Shrimp and Spring Orzo

Nothing says spring like fresh local asparagus. The season is about done here and the grocery store stock later on will not be as tender, probably because it’s picked too early wherever it comes from. Our local asparagus, even when the stalks look too thick, is always tender and the taste is incomparable. I wanted something grand to pair with the asparagus and the large Louisiana shrimp at Wegman’s was just the right item.

Everything but the orzo was grilled, then it was all combined at the last minute. Cooking the orzo in chicken stock created it’s own sauce, so it was really easy. I added one diced canned San Marzano tomato, some fresh garlic, and parsley to the stock as it was simmering to round out the flavors.

Grilled Shrimp and Spring Orzo

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: requires grilling skills
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MARINATE THE SHRIMP
  • 1 1/2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated or roasted garlic
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Mix all marinade ingredients and add to the shrimp in a large resealable bag. Toss to coat and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Just before grilling the shrimp, thread onto skewers. I don’t add salt until the shrimp are on the skewers ready to grill.

GRILL EVERYTHING

Set up your grill for about 350°-400°; I used 60 charcoal briquettes, turning them out of the chimney into the center of the grill.

  • 2 large orange, red, or yellow bell peppers, halved and seeded
  • 2 medium onions, cut in thick slices
  • 1 lb or more asparagus stalks, trimming if necessary. I only added the 3″ tips to my dish, saving the grilled ends for other uses during the week.
  • extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on vegetables
  • salt & pepper
  1. Grill all the vegetables in stages, or as they fit on your grill. Set each aside until all are finished. I peeled my peppers when they were done.
  2. Asparagus tips: Place crosswise on the grill grate over direct heat, turning as needed to get some char on all sides, but not so much that they are burnt. then move them to the outer sides of the grill to continue cooking over indirect heat until done. I came this close to not dropping any through the grate until I was taking them off:
  3. Prepare the orzo before you grill the shrimp. Grill the shrimp at the last minute and place over the top of the pasta. Grill over direct heat just until done, only a few minutes on each side until all the shrimp are pink.
PREPARE THE ORZO
  • 8 oz whole wheat orzo
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2-1 cup water
  • 1 chopped canned plum tomato
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon grated or roasted garlic

Bring all the ingredients to a low boil, stirring often so the orzo doesn’t stick to the pan, then simmer for about ten minutes or until the orzo is tender. Stir in the chopped grilled vegetables, then top with the grilled shrimp.

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Baby Back Ribs—You Don’t Need A Barbecue

You can enjoy baby back ribs without the barbecue grill and all the sugary barbecue sauces any time of year. After all, it’s just pork 🐖. Think of some of your favorite ways to cook a pork roast or chops, and transfer those flavors to ribs.

I’m cooking mine in a slow cooker with a wet rub of garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Cooked on a bed of onions and a little chicken stock, they will make a savory dish, served with herbed rice and a vegetable.

Unless I’m making stock or cooking dried beans, my favorite way to use the slow cooker is on high for about 5-6 hours. I find that to be best for achieving  results similar to roasting in the oven. You don’t need lots of liquid—sometimes none at all—and I only used 1/2 cup of chicken stock in this dish, mostly to keep the caramelizing onions from drying out, and to provide a little steam to keep the meat moist.

Unlike with barbecued ribs, I like to serve these in larger pieces, about half a rack for one person. It looks pretty impressive on the plate, not at all like summer picnic fare.

Slow Cooker Savory Ribs for Two

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
  • 1 rack baby back ribs, about 3 lbs or smaller, back membrane removed
  • 2-3 medium onions, thickly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • wet rub:
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or the herb of your choice)
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons mashed or grated garlic
    • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (enough to mix with dry ingredients and still be spreadable)
Preparation
  1. Scatter sliced onions over bottom of slow cooker.
  2. Pour in chicken stock.
  3. Arrange ribs, probably cut into halves to fit, over onions.
  4. Cover ribs with wet rub.
  5. Cook on high for 5 hours.
  6. Life carefully for serving, as they will want to fall apart.

Pork Tenderloin Schnitzel with Biscuit Crumbs

Yep, I had leftover biscuits one day, so I made breadcrumbs out of them and put them in the freezer. In the back of my mind, I was thinking they would be good on top of chicken casserole, as an alternative for actual biscuits, but today, they came in handy for breading pork schnitzel. Any fresh breadcrumb would work here, as well.

If you’ve never sliced a pork tenderloin—not a loin, but a tenderloin—you might not know how delicate the meat in this cut is. You do not need to pound this meat to make it thin enough for schnitzel; it’s so tender, that all you need to do is press it flat with your fingers. The one exception might be those odd ends of the tenderloin, which you can literally pound with the heel of your hand. I put my 1/2″ slices between plastic wrap to press, as you can see in the photo. Then it’s just a matter of the traditional flour-egg-breadcrumb breading and a quick fry of about 2 minutes per side, and your little tenderloin turns into a stack of schnitzel. Everything else—sweet potatoes and asparagus—roasted in the oven for an easy, but pretty glamorous meal.

Pork Tenderloin Schnitzel with Biscuit Crumbs

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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one 1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed and sliced in 1/2″ slices (don’t confuse a tenderloin with a pork loin)

1 cup flour, seasoned with 1 tablespoon dried thyme, 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 eggs, whisked with about 1-2 tablespoon of milk or water

2 cups fresh biscuit or bread crumbs

olive oil to cover skillet

1 tablespoon butter per batch

  1. Place tenderloin slices between sheets of plastic wrap and press each to flatten with hands. End pieces may need to be pounded a little with the heel of your hand. Pounding a tenderloin with something heavy, like a meat tenderizer, will be more likely to turn the delicate cuts into mush.
  2. Bread the flattened cutlets by dredging in the seasoned flour or shaking in a sealed plastic bag. Dip the floured cutlets in the beaten eggs—I turn them in the wet eggs with a spoon to fully coat the flour. Place the wet cutlets in the breadcrumbs, pressing to coat. Place the breaded cutlets on a paper towel for as long as 30 minutes.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat—I used an 11″ chicken fryer with high enough sides to prevent splatter. When the pan is very hot, add enough oil to cover the bottom, then add 1 tablespoon butter. When the fats are hot, place a batch of breaded cutlets in the pan without letting their edges touch each other. Fry until browned, about 2 minutes; turn over and brown the other side. Remove to paper towels and begin another batch. Pay attention to the level of oil so there is enough to prevent sticking and add another tablespoon of butter for each batch.

If you want to make larger cutlets, you can use a pork loin, which will stand up to more traditional pounding before breading.

Bacon Gruyere Quiche with Fresh Herbs

Quiche gives my husband cognitive dissonance, you know, that odd feeling you get when you confront two contradictory ideas or feelings in the same thing, usually in yourself, like holding two seemingly contradictory political views. Every time he bites into a quiche, he expects the sweetness of a custard pie—one of his favorite pies—but can’t wrap his head around the savory deliciousness of quiche ingredients. It just doesn’t make sense to him. It’s not that he won’t eat a savory omelet; I think it’s the pie format and that creamy custard that confuses him. Anyway, he’s getting a steak for dinner.

I’m following the recipe I’ve always used, from my old Joy of Cooking (1967). It begins with a pâte brisée crust that uses room temperature butter, instead of the cold butter that you would expect. It can even be pressed into a pie plate instead of being rolled, but I prefer to chill it and roll it. It’s a dough that handles very nicely and holds up to the wet custard, as long as you blind bake it a little.

The filling possibilities for a quiche are endless, but I usually stick with the traditional bacon and Swiss cheese, with Gruyere being my Swiss of choice. You can make this recipe in a regular pie plate, but I like the high, formal collar you get with a spring form pan.

Bacon Gruyere Quiche with Fresh Herbs

  • Servings: one 9 inch pie
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Preheat oven to 450° to bake the pie crust; allow time to lower to 375° for baking the quiche.

Pâte brisée crust:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2-3/4 cup water (does not need to be ice water)

1 beaten egg white (you will use the yolk in the filling, below)

  1. Work the butter into the flour-salt mixture with your fingers. A food processor would be too much with the soft butter and probably work it too much, resulting in a tough dough.
  2. Make a well in the center and add 1/2 cup of the water, then stir quickly with a fork until it holds together, adding more water as needed. I used a little more than the 1/2 cup, but not as much as the 3/4 cup.
  3. Dump the dough onto plastic wrap and shape into a ball, then flatten into a round of about 1/2″ thickness. Cover with the wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Roll out the chilled dough to fit your pie plate or spring form pan. Fill the pan with parchment paper and some kind of weights—beans work well to keep the sides up in a spring form pan.
  5. Bake at 450° for about 12 minutes. remove beans and decide if you want to bake it a few minutes longer. It won’t be completely done, but will be done enough to stay crisp on the bottom through baking the custard.  Brush the crust with beaten egg white and set aside while you prepare the custard.
  6. Turn the oven down to 375°, opening the door to hasten the cooling.

Custard filling:

1/4 lb thick sliced smoked bacon, diced and browned

2 cups shredded or diced Gruyere cheese

3 whole eggs, plus 1 yolk from the egg you separated to brush the crust, above

2 cups whole milk, scalded and cooled slightly

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

a pinch of grated nutmeg, fresh or ground

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped chives

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

  1. While the crust is baking, sauté the bacon over medium heat to brown and to render out most of the fat. Drain on paper towels.
  2. Sprinkle cooked bacon and shredded cheese over bottom of baked pie crust.
  3. Whisk eggs with the herbs and seasonings, then whisk in the cooled milk quickly.
  4. Pour the custard over the bacon and cheese.
  5. Bake at 375° for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned. This is longer than I would cook a custard pie, because I hate a custard pie that weeps, but it works for a quiche that is loaded with other filling ingredients, and I use a lot more cheese than the original recipe.