There are flavors that males like and others that females prefer. This is a male favorite. I cook the shrimp in batches…Meanwhile, the men of our house circle the kitchen like a pack of wolves…waiting for the next batch to come out of the oven.
The origin of the seeds for this lovely plant are a secret that I can’t divulge. Isn’t she lovely? I planted the seeds a couple of years ago and the vine has taken over one area of our backyard. A bit of useful information: If you want the vine to bear an abundance of fruit, you have to take the place of a bee. And how is it that a person can become a “Busy Bee”? I take long pole and tape feathers or cotton swabs to the end of the pole. I reach the pole toward an open flower…swab the pollen…and share it with another flower. I go from flower to flower, just like a bee would. (There aren’t enough real bees or butterflies to do the job of pollination.)
There’s another important detail to the art. Passion fruit flowers only open at 1:30 p.m. every day…and sometimes only open for brief periods. So the Busy Bee must arrive on time. I promise to share when the fruits of my labor are ready for harvest again.
A friend ordered a Lemon Cheesecake for an office holiday party. After playing with decorating tips and colored frosting, here’s the final product. Kinda cute, don’t you agree?
Every December we get together with friends and family for food, fun, and Bingo. Each guest brings a Bingo prize and we play Bingo until the prizes run out. It’s a blast! I spent a couple of weeks looking for recipes and narrowed the menu to the items listed below. The one thing I forgot to do was take photographs of the appetizers and dinner…because I was busy cooking and serving our guests from 5 p.m. to midnight. Yes, midnight! The pasta dinner was served at 11:00 p.m., after we’d had our fill of Bingo. Perhaps the dessert table photos will give you a taste of how things looked that evening!
Bacon & Leek Quiche
Proscuitto-Wrapped Shrimp with Bourbon Barbecue Sauce
Baked Brie with Cranberry, Raspberry and Almond Jelly
Wild Mushroom Crostini
Marinate Olives Platter
Bloody Mary Mussels
Gorgonzola and Toasted Walnut Spread
Empadao de Frango (Brazilian Style Chicken Pot Pie)
Roasted Eggplant and Peppers Spread
Crab Salad with Mint Oil
Shrimp with Arugula Pesto
Rigattoni All Amatriciana
Canudinho (Pastry Cones filled with Dulce de Leche)
Polvorones (Mexican Wedding Cakes)
Rocambole (Brazilian Rolled Chocolate Cake)
The boys went fishing in the Dry Tortugas and brought back some Grouper. Exquisite…and only one pan is used for the entire meal! If you come by some fresh Grouper filets, I highly recommend this recipe.
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch squares
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch squares
2 cups fresh (cut from about 3 ears) or frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 pounds grouper fillets, cut to make 4 pieces
Heat the oven to 450°. In a large roasting pan, combine the red and green bell peppers, the corn, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt, pepper, and thyme. Roast in the oven until the corn and peppers start to brown, about 12 minutes, stirring twice.
Rub the remaining tablespoon oil over both sides of the fish. Sprinkle the fish with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt, pepper, and thyme. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and push the corn-and-pepper mixture to the sides of the pan. Put the fish in the center of the pan, skin-side down, and cook until just done, about 15 minutes for 1-inch-thick fillets. Serve the fish with the corn and peppers.
1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups arborio rice (10 ounces)
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups hot vegetable stock or broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Ground sumac (see Note)
Light a grill. Rub the eggplant with 1/2 tablespoon of the oil and grill over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until charred and soft, 20 minutes; let cool slightly. Halve the eggplant lengthwise and scoop the pulp into a blender. Puree until creamy.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the onion, shallot, garlic and rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it is absorbed. Add the vegetable stock, 1/2 cup at a time; stir constantly until it is absorbed before adding more. Cook until the rice is al dente, 20 minutes total.
Stir in the eggplant puree and the cream and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley and scallions. Spoon the risotto into bowls, sprinkle with sumac and serve.