Game Day Recipes Part 1: Cheesy Shrimp Puffs with Chimichurri Sauce

Cheesy Shrimp Puffs with Chimichurri SauceGame Day Recipes should be more than nachos and beer. Not that there’s anything wrong with nachos and beer, but they’re predictable and who wants to be that? This year, in homage to Boston & Seattle (two of my fave cities in the US, and whose food cultures often center around seafood) we’ve created some tasty finger food accompanied by sauces that will tackle your tastebuds like a defensive lineman.

Today’s recipe can be considered a tribute to Boston- while I would have preferred to call these Lobster Puffs- and if you have the funds, that would taste *amazing*, shrimp is a much more budget conscious alternative.

If you’re planning on visiting Boston, make sure you plan to eat a meal or at least a bite at Legal Seafoods on the Harbor. If you love anything that swims or scoots on the ocean floor, this is the best place to get it in Boston. Plus, you have the added benefit of being able to watch all the waterfront activity.

Cheesy Shrimp Puffs with ChimichurriNow, chimichurri sauce may not seem like a typical New England accompaniment, but we like the garlicky, vinegary kick that chimichurri provides, and the balance it creates in contrast to the richness of seafood. There’s a reason fish ‘n chips always come to the table with vinegar!

If you’ve never heard of chimichurri, it’s basically the South American version of pesto. Made with a combination of Parsley, Oregano, Cilantro, Garlic, and Olive Oil, it’s great on everything from fried eggs to steak, to seafood. We’ve given you the recipe to make a few cups- perfect for game day dipping.

Oh, and for the junior chefs out there- this is a recipe you can easily make on your own. The tiniest Kitchen Diva in Training told me rolling the mixture into balls was just like playing with play-dough!

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Gluten Free Fondue

Kansas City Blizzard 2013Before I get going, I must thank my friend Steve, author at Oui Chef, for inspiring me to hop on the fondue bandwagon last night. Kansas City has been buried under snow again. This is highly unusual- especially considering that the last two winters left us with less than 11 inches of snow combined! Steve is one of my favorite bloggers. He trained at Le Cordon Bleu, and is passionate about subjects such as local food and food sustainability. And most importantly, teaching his children to cook- as am I. While not everything on his blog is gluten-free, it’s a place I go for inspiration and encouragement to explore new flavors and techniques. If you don’t subscribe to his blog-you should!

Yesterday, Steve posted a great fondue recipe by Rachel Ray (it also happens to be gluten-free!). As I was sitting at home wondering what to cook as the snow started to fly- fondue seemed perfect. It brings up images of snowy chalets, cosy fires, and decadent eating.

gluten free fondueNow, I am probably the only fondue fan in the world who doesn’t actually own a fondue pot. They’re unitaskers, and I am firmly opposed to unitaskers. Until I can justify a rarely used piece of equipment taking up precious space in my cabinets, I won’t be buying a fondue pot. But don’t despair. If you find yourself in the same boat, a good stainless steel pot or my favorite- enameled cast iron, will do the trick nicely. I pulled out my small Le Creuset and went to town. If you opt to use a regular cooking pot, your fondue will thicken as it cools and get a bit stringy. If that bothers you- simply place the pot back on the stove for a few minutes to melt everything again.

My gluten free fondue recipe was adapted from The Bonne Femme Cookbook. Many cheesy fondue recipes call for the addition of a few tablespoons of flour. You can easily substitute sorghum flour, rice flour, or even cornstarch in these instances, and not compromise the flavor or texture of the end result.

herbes de provenceI also opted out of the traditional nutmeg seasoning in favor of the sunnier and warmer flavors invoked by herbes de provence. I happened to be lucky enough to receive some freshly dried herbes from my dad, and they’ve gone into everything I’ve made over the last few days. They are a great way to jazz up everything from broccoli to eggs to soups and salads.

Lastly, there are no hard and fast rules about what to serve with fondue. We enjoyed broccoli, mushrooms, gluten-free toasted garlic bread (directions will appear below), pears & bresaola. Basically- anything you enjoy with cheese is a candidate to dip in the fondue pot. As always- feel free to modify this recipe as your heart desires. Fondue is a fun finger food to enjoy with the people you love!

Gluten Free Fondue (a main dish for 4 or an appetizer for 8-10: adapted from The Bonne Femme Cookbook)

gluten free fondue with gluten free garlic toastIngredients

1 1/4 lbs shredded gruyere, emmental, or comte cheese (or a combo)

5 tbs sorghum flour (other gf flours would work too)

1 garlic clove, + 2 tbs minced garlic

1 1/2 cups dry white wine (we used a burgundy)

3 tbs herbes de provence

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup milk

Directions

Toss the shredded cheese with the flour. Make sure that the flour is evenly distributed and coats and many of the cheese shreds as possible.

Rub the whole clove over the inside of the pot. Place the minced garlic and the wine in the pan. Bring to a simmer. Add the cheese one handful of a time and allow to absorb completely before adding the next handful. It is really important to not let the mixture actively boil. Your pot needs to be hot enough to melt the cheese, but not so hot that it boils. For my stove, this was just under the half-way mark on the stove.

When the cheese has been fully incorporated add the milk, herbes, salt & pepper, and continue to stir. The fondue is ready when it’s a thick, liquidy (ie non-stringy) mass. Bring to the table and enjoy with your dipping ingredients.

Dipping Ingredients

raw vegetables or fruit, gluten-free crackers, or gluten-free garlic bread. Gently roasted vegetables (enough that they’re partially cooked and softened, but not so much that they’re mushy- you want them to hold up in the sauce)

roasted broccoli & mushroomspears & pomegranates

To Make Gluten Free Garlic Toast

gluten free garlic toastTake 4 (or whatever number you like) pieces of gluten-free bread. Place them on a toaster oven tray or a cookie sheet if using the oven. Brush olive oil over the tops- make sure you get into the little nooks and crannies. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until you start smelling the bread toasting.

Remove from the oven. Take a clove of garlic, cut off the end, and rub it vigorously over the toasted top. One clove is usually good for about 4 slices. Of course, if you like bread that is more garlicky- you can be more generous, or scrape the garlic on both sides of the bread. Discard the skins and enjoy!

Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto w/ Goat Cheese, Basil, & Honey

Today is my sweetest’s birthday. In some ways, this is a landmark celebration for us- it’s the 14th birthday of his we’ve spent together. On birthday #3 I started making fancy meals to commemorate the occasion. The first one took me two whole days of prep. I’ve gotten more efficient in 13 years. I’m not going to give you the whole meal rundown in this post, oh no.. I’m going to keep you hanging…but, I do think you’ll appreciate this little starter. It’s simple, delicious, and elegant.

Figs are coming in. I love figs. I’d never encountered a fig until I moved to New Mexico, where I learned we had a Giant (as in 15 feet tall) fig tree in the side yard. I’d never eaten one. Boy, was I a fast convert. The first year in our house there, I climbed up on the roof and fought the birds for the ripest figs. I had no idea they were so heavenly. No wonder they’re the stuff of Greek legends.

So, when I saw the ripe figs showing up at the market, I had to indulge. I could go on and on about the many different ways to consume a fig. Personally, I like them best sun-warmed. Nothing else. But if you need a little accoutrement with your figgy deliciousness- this simple recipe is sure to please. The basil just makes the whole thing sing….You can plate these one of two ways- with a little basil for garnish, or for an amuse buche, you can place each fig on its own basil leaf with a dot of honey. One bite and you’ll be transported to the Parthenon.

Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto w/ Goat Cheese, Basil, & Honey 

makes as many as you want- a pint of figs yields about 20 bite-sized pieces

Ingredients

1 pint of ripe figs

5-7 slices prosciutto

4 oz. fresh goat cheese

20 large basil leaves (sweet basil is best), enough for each one

honey- use honey in a squeeze bottle so that each piece gets 1-2 dots of honey

Directions

Wash figs and remove stems. Slice in 1/2 lengthwise. If the figs are super fat, you can slice them into 3 or 4 pieces.

Grab a fig piece. With a fork or knife, smoosh a piece of goat cheese onto the fig and then wrap in 1/4 of a prosciutto slice. Place on a plate and dot with honey. Or take a basil leaf, dot with honey and place fig onto the basil leaf, adding a dot of honey to the top of the wrapped fig. Eat right away, or if you can control yourself, plate and serve as an amuse buche or a first course.