Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shrimp Cakes!

In previous posts I've mentioned our obsession with crab cakes.    Well, this weekend, we took that to a whole new level with shrimp cakes!  In this recipe that I based loosely on a Cooking Light recipe and a recipe off of the Whole Foods web site a while back, raw shrimp is combined with some of the usual suspects, mixed up, chilled and then fried.  But what really makes this recipe special is the avocado and corn salsa that you serve with it.  I mean seriously, avocado...roasted corn... jicama... lime juice...what's not to like?   I was eating it by the spoonful before I even started cooking up the cakes.  I think it would be great over grilled fish tacos.   Hmm...maybe that will be something for next weekend.  But, back to the shrimp cakes.  While these were quite tasty, I don't think they will replace crab cakes in our house.  However, with shrimp being half the cost of fresh crab meat, they might show up more often than crab cakes.  :-)  Not a bad substitute. 


Spicy Shrimp Cakes with Corn, Jicama and Avocado Salsa


1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

cooking spray

¾ cup finely chopped red bell pepper

½ clove shallot, minced

¼ cup thinly sliced green onions

2 tablespoons reduced fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 ½ tsp. Hot sauce

½ tsp. Sugar

¼ tsp salt (or more to taste)

1 large egg

¼ cup finely chopped cilantro

½ cup panko (divided)


1 cup frozen roasted corn (I used Trader Joes)

½ avocado, diced

½ cup tomato, diced

½ cup jicama, diced

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 Tbsp. Red onion, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. Finely chopped poblano pepper

1 Tbsp. Fresh lime juice.

¼ tsp salt

  1. Place shrimp in a food processor; pulse about 10 times or until finely chopped.
  2. Put bell pepper and shallot in a large microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for approx 2 min. or until softened. Add the shrimp, green onions, and the next 6 ingredients – through egg, stirring well. Stir in cilantro and ¼ cup panko.
  3. Divide shrimp mixture into patties and dredge both sides into remaining panko. 
  4. Chill at least 1 hour.
  5. Heat pan over medium- high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add cakes to

Pan and cook 4-5 minutes per side – until browned.

For Salsa: combine corn and remaining ingredients, stir gently and serve immediately with shrimp cakes.


We served the Crios Torrontes with our meal and it was spectacular. (Unfortunately, so spectacular that I forgot to photograph it.) This white wine from Argentina was the perfect accompaniment to the shrimp cakes. Spicy, light, and just a bit racy it is almost like a hybrid of gewurztraminer and viognier. Muy fantastico!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Andrew Murray Syrah

One of the advantages of having a wine fridge in the kitchen is the accessibility. Not so much how easy it is to get to the wine, but more seeing that there are empty spots in the fridge -- little "homes" calling out for more wine....which is something that I cannot pass up. So I end up buying more wine in a week than Scott and I can safely consume in a month. (Honestly, we could open a wine bar on the inventory we keep.) Luckily, we have friends to help us out on that front.

Now back to my point. The fun part of the inventory stockpile is finding those hidden gems that we forgot we bought, or that we were saving for a special occasion. The other night the special occasion was little more than "let's see what else is in the wine fridge", which was a perfect opportunity to pull out the Andrew Murray 2003 Estate Grown Syrah.


And what a little gem it was. From the Santa Ynez Valley,with a a rich color and a full bodied feel, this fruit forward syrah was a perfect treat. With a little tannins, it was balanced and luscious. As the Andrew Murray store says, a great value wine that makes for an ideal "house wine". Here's to rediscovering good wines in your own fridge!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pascual Toso Malbec 2005



I really love a good malbec, but oddly, I don't pick them up all that often.  Add to that, malbecs are not that well represented on wine lists at restaurants.  Most malbecs hail from Argentina and are a great value.  This one was no different.

The Pascual Toso 2005 had a delicious blackberry flavor, with just enough spice and smoke.  I don't like the real smokey wines, but just a slight nuance is perfect.  It was velvety smooth and easy to sip!  Not only that, but the medium structure held up well to the grilled salmon we had that evening.  We're looking forward to having another bottle of this again soon. 

Friday, August 15, 2008

The last of the Farmer's Market

OK, after this I will stop going on and on about those San Diego farmers' markets.  We managed to hit one in the afternoon on our drive back to Phoenix and nab a couple things.  Yes, some may stop and get T-shirts and post cards to remember their trip, while we break for fresh produce (or wine.)  To each his own, right?

A delicacy that we rarely find in the Phoenix area...fresh figs!  Most were consumed in the first few hours of the drive, but the ones that did make it home were a nice snack simply stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with balsamic syrup.  HEAVEN!


Only having a few minutes to pick out a few things (the husband and dog were putting pressure on me to hurry,) I quickly selected more of the baby squash and some heirloom tomatoes.  These provided tasty side dishes for the next couple evenings after we returned home.   The squash and carrots were prepared by simply spraying and tossing with Kosher salt.  We were grilling them, but I put them on this grill pan to keep them from falling through the grates, as they were tinier than this picture makes them appear. 


End product...


Since the tomatoes were so flavorful on their own, we stuck with the simple theme.  Sprinkled with feta, and drizzled with some good olive oil and aged balsamic.  A little fresh basil and it is the perfect "sort of" caprese salad.  ( A few squash blossoms thrown in for good measure.)


It was fun to enjoy the vibrant flavors of fresh produce.  Something that is hard to come by here in the desert in the middle of August.  We are already planning the trip next summer!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More San Diego Fun

A little look at more of what we ate on our week at the beach.

After our second trip to the Farmer's Market, Renee and I were inspired to cook up a nice Sunday night meal, using all fresh, local ingredients.  Even the fish was local and purchased at the Del Mar Farmer's Market! 

We started with a small salad of organic greens with goat cheese stuffed squash blossoms, lemon cucumber and a bit of fennel.


The main dish featured fish packets that had beautiful heirloom tomatoes, fresh chives, kosher salt and a splash of white wine.  We garnished it with some peach salsa that Scott whipped up with some of the juicy California peaches. 


Unfortunately, I became to anxious to dig in, and forgot to photograph our side dishes which included grilled fingerling potatoes and grilled baby zucchini and pattypan squashes.  We felt pretty satisfied with our gourmet-ish meal using what was available, not to mention  a not very well-equipped kitchen.

One of the wines we started with (and used in the fish packets) was this unoaked chardonnay.  It is Chilean, and no, I did not have to much to drink, the label really is upside down.  For an inexpensive Chardonnay, we were really impressed.  It had a nice hint of green apple, a touch of citrus, and absolutely no oak.  Very light and refreshing, it was a nice apertif to get the evening started. 


Here is Chase showing off his new bone while we enjoyed dinner al fresco on the patio.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Back Home Again

We had a wonderful week in Solana Beach.  The day we left Phoenix it was 114, and we arrived 6 hours later in beautiful 75 degree weather with an ocean breeze.  HEAVEN! 

Not to mention, that our friends, Renee and John, that were spending the weekend there with us, beat us to the beach house and had some wine chilling.  By 3 in the afternoon, we were sitting out on the patio relaxing with some wine and munchies.  Look at the fabulous spread Renee and I put out for "happy hour." IMG_1575

Thanks to Renee and John for bringing some lovely Buena Vista wines from their recent trip to Sonoma.  We had the Pinot Gris and the Syrah with our appetizers.  Both were delicious.   The syrah shown was really delightful with lots of ripe fruit and a velvet like finish. 


Wine was in abundance all weekend.  I think we went through at least 7 bottles, not counting what we had in restaurants (and what Scott and I drank the rest of the week after our friends' departure.) 

PS-  Can you tell the wine glasses are plastic?  A beach friendly find that I got at Crate and Barrel.

Wining and dining would not have been as much fun without friends that also shared in the love of great food and wine.  Renee and I had daily foodie adventures at the local Farmer's Markets.  We hit the one in Del Mar on Saturday and one is Solana Beach on Sunday.   I am jealous of all you Californians that have access to these markets all the time!  Look at some of the lovely squash...  Can you see the one that is exactly half yellow and half green?IMG_1590

After a morning of gawking at all the gorgeous produce and flowers, we came back and made a light lunch with some of the goodies we picked up.  Grilled Peach and Arugula Salads with Goat Cheese.  I posted this recipe here.


To compliment our lunch we had the McManis Viognier.  Simply. Amazing. Combination.  This was a great viognier that had lots of floral character and little to no oak.  (The way I like my viogniers.)  The peaches brought out a hint of sweetness, but overall it was dry with a nice hint of acidity. 


Phew, that just about gets us through the first 24 hours.  Stay tuned for more San Diego Food and Wine Madness...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Gone to the beach, doggie style!


Get your minds out of the gutter... We are headed to San Diego for a week of cooler temperatures, relaxing, and daily trips to the Del Mar Dog Beach.  Chase has a blast and we have fun seeing all the dogs frolicking in the waves.  We will be back next week to talk about all of the good food and great wines we have in San Diego.

This is a picture of Chase enjoying the Dog Beach last summer.