Shrimp Pot Pie for π (Pi) Day!

Shrimp Pot Pie

Excuse me while I geek out because today is π (Pi) Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3.14 – you know it!

Shrimp Pot Pie

To be honest, I can’t say I love math……. but I can’t help but adore kitschy humor.

And I love pie.

Shrimp Pot Pie

So if given the opportunity to celebrate pie–I’ll take it!

Last year I celebrated the mathematical constant with these Mixed Berry Hand Pies that were not only scrumptious but just so darn cute and portable.

Shrimp Pot Pie

This year I opted for the savory route and made a batch of Shrimp Pot Pie. Luscious, decadent shrimp filling topped with a flaky puff pastry crust.

Shrimp Pot Pie

So good, so easy, so π-licous.

Happy π (Pi) Day!!!

_______________________________________

Shrimp Pot Pie

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1½ cup diced celery
1½ cup diced carrots
2 cups chopped leeks, thoroughly washed and dried
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups diced red potatoes
½ cup white wine
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup flour
2 cups seafood stock
½ cup heavy cream
kosher salt
black pepper
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg, beaten
1 package frozen puff pastry

In a pot, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, leeks and garlic. Sauté until softened but not browned—about 5-7 minutes. Add the red chili flakes, thyme sprigs, potatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour in the wine . Continue simmering until the wine has reduced and nearly evaporated. While the wine cooks, sprinkle the cayenne pepper over the shrimp and toss until evenly coated. Next, whisk the flour and seafood stock together in a bowl.

When the wine has evaporated, pour in the flour/stock mixture and stir while the liquids come to a soft boil. Continue cooking and stirring over medium heat for 5 minutes. Pour in the cream and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the mixture has thickened to the desired consistency.

Pull the pot off the heat and remove the thyme sprigs. Stir in the shrimp, 1 teaspoon kosher salt (more to taste), ½ teaspoon black pepper (more to taste), frozen peas and fresh parsley.

Ladle the filling into a casserole dish or other types of individual ramekins/ovenproof dishes. Brush the outside edges of the dishes/ramekins with the beaten egg. Trim the puff pastry sheets about ½ inch larger than the tops of each of the dishes/ramekins. Cover each dish/ramekin with the puff pastry and press around the edges to seal.

Brush the tops of each of the pies with the beaten egg and use a sharp knife to make small slits on top. Place the pie/pies on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and transfer to an oven that has been preheated to 400 degrees F.

Bake the pie/pies for 30-40 minutes or until the crusts are golden brown.

December Sunday Family Dinner – Party of 16

December 2013 Family Dinner

Have I ever mentioned that I’m the youngest of five kids? Four girls and one boy smack dab in the middle—wasn’t our brother so lucky?

Needless to say, it made quite the childhood experience with all of us growing up in one house with our parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles.

December 2013 Family Dinner

And it got even more crowded when 8-9 of us would cram into our Oldsmobile station wagon for our annual summer road trips from Minnesota to Texas to visit mom’s brother and his family. I don’t know how we all survived jammed into one car for so many miles (nearly 1200 each way!) but I guess anyone from a big family knows there’s no such thing as personal space. It may also have helped that it was the 80s and seat belt laws were non-existent!

I kind of wished we would have taped some of those road trips as I’m sure they would have been hysterical to look back at. We were kind of the Vietnamese version of the Griswolds.

December 2013 Family Dinner

Nowadays the five of us are a bit scattered around with my brother and his family in New York, one seester in San Francisco, two other seesters & their fams in Orange County and me in San Diego. And although we may never be able to recreate those old summer road trips to Texas, our Sunday Family Dinners have been one of our ways to start new traditions for our kids to look back at.

December 2013 Family Dinner

We’ve been going at this for about a year and half now, rotating the monthly dinners between the homes of my two seesters who live in Orange County. It’s been awesome that our sis from SF has flown down every few months to make our dinners but it’s a little difficult for our brother and his fam to make it from NY. But when we are lucky to have all of us for Sunday Family Dinner, it is quite the celebration–like the N’awlins Seafood Boil we did the first Fam Din we were all together. 50+ pounds of seafood…it was epic. Totally Gluttonous, but epic.

The whole gang was back together this past December to celebrate the holidays and spend some QT with each other. It’s probably the most time that the five of us have spent together in years!

December 2013 Family Dinner

 

We all attended our cousin’s baby’s first month celebration (Đầy Tháng), Mom’s death anniversary (ngày giỗ), a snow day in the mountains, Leonidas‘ (our brother’s son) 2nd birthday party, Christmas Eve festivities with the entire clan, the New Year’s Eve bash, endless meals in Little Saigon at our old favorite haunts, and of course– December’s Sunday Family Dinner.

8 siblings (including the sibs-in-law), 6 kids and 2 canine kids– a packed house again!

With all of the craziness that was going on, we tried to create a menu that had the least bit of stress and prep time. As for the theme, we did a slight homage to our N’awlins Feast and kept it open to EVERYTHING SEAFOOD! Well, except dessert….that would be a little too hardcore- even for us!

December 2013 Family Dinner

Dinner consisted of:

We kind of pulled everything together at the last minute but I think it was a definite Nguyen-er!

Now if we could just convince my brother and his fam to move back to Cali, we could have dinners like this all of the time!

1978Snapshot of the fam a few months after yours truly was born. I may have been the originator of the faux-hawk.

And a special HAPPY BIRTHDAY today to our seester, TUONG!

Oh those Capricorns…..

Pork & Shrimp Gyoza and Our Kid Chefs

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

One of the neatest things about our family dinners is seeing how accomplished my neices have become in the kitchen. We got them involved quite young with baking, creating their own pizzas, and so forth—and I think that it’s really helped them become more at ease with cooking.

Fast forward to today where Nina (14 years old) and Nini (13 years old) have developed their own specialities in the kitchen. Nina can whip up a wonderful dressing and a to die for chocolate cake. Nini is a whiz at shucking oysters, cupcake decorating, and quite recently has become a dumpling-making pro.

Nini and Nina

With the endless things that had to be done at our last family dinner, I needed some help finishing the Gyozas. I showed Nini only once how to fold a Gyoza and the next thing I knew it, she had completed an entire tray of dumplings for me–and they were perfect!

Gyozas are the Japanese version of delish panfried dumplings. They can be filled with a variety of proteins and are wrapped with thin dumpling skins made from flour, salt, and boiling water. Here’s how I make them:

Start off by creating the filling. I like to do a Vietnamese-Japanese fusion and mix ground pork, roughly chopped shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, fish sauce, soy and a variety of other aromatics and spices. The shrimp adds a slight sweetness and great texture. Once the filling has been thoroughly mixed, it’s time to assemble the gyozas.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

Place one gyoza wrapper on a flat surface. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edge of the wrapper. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center. Be careful to not over stuff your dumplings or else the filling will burst from the seams.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

Pick up the gyoza and fold it in half.

Um…I really should have gotten a manicure before I took these pics.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

Start pleating the top layer of the gyoza wrapper. After each pleat, fold, and firmly press the edges together, ensuring that that the gyoza is well sealed.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

Place the gyoza on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with either flour or cornstarch to prevent them from sticking. Cover the sheet with a dish towel while you finish making the rest of the gyozas.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

After the gyozas have been pan fried, serve them up with a soy-vinegar sauce or my preferred sauce– ponzu.

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

These gyozas have a wonderful flavor and all of your loved ones will gobble them up. And if given the chance, get the kids involved and exposed to the cooking process. They’ll have a lot of fun and take pride that they are eating what they helped to make.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, like our aunties, we can retire from cooking duty soon so that the kiddos can take over. Now if we could only get them as excited to do the dishes.

One step at a time. :)

___________________________________________

Pork and Shrimp Gyozas
Makes approximately 40 dumplings

Ingredients:

¼ pound shrimp, shelled and devined
½ pound ground pork
1 heaping cup finely chopped cabbage
1 heaping cup finely chopped shiitake mushrooms
½ cup finely diced scallions
¼ cup diced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1½ tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sake
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, additional (for frying)
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 package gyoza wrappers (50 count)
vegetable oil (for frying)
water (for frying)
ponzu sauce, or your choice of dipping sauces
chives

Chop the shrimp into small pieces and add them to a large bowl. Add in the pork, cabbage, mushrooms, scallions, shallots, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, sake, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Using your cleans hands, mix the filling until thoroughly combined.

To make the gyozas, lay one gyoza wrapper on a flat surface. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edge of the wrapper. Place about 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center. Pick up the gyoza and fold it in half. Pleat – fold – and press the edges together, ensuring that you seal the gyoza tightly. Place the gyoza on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch or lined with parchment paper to avoid them sticking to the pan. Repeat until all of the filling has been used.

Heat a large frying pan to medium heat with vegetable oil. Place a layer of the gyozas in the pan. Fry the gyozas for 1-2 minutes until the bottoms are golden. Add about 3-4 tablespoons of water and immediately place the lid on the pan. Lower the heat to medium-low and allow the gyozas to steam until almost all of the water has evaporated.

Remove the lid, turn the heat back up to medium and lightly drizzle sesame oil around the inner edge of the pan. Continue cooking until remaining water has evaporated. Plate and garnish with chives or scallions. Serve immediately with ponzu sauce.

N’awlins Seafood Boil for Sunday Family Dinner & Cajun Crab Puffs

Cajun Crab Puffs

In May, we began our new tradition of Sunday Family Dinners. And although each month has been wonderful, September was a milestone as it was the first dinner that all of my siblings and their families were in attendance. My brother and his family were in from NYC and my sister from SF came down….it was a full house!

Sunday Family Dinner

With all the sibs in attendance, we needed to have an epic Sunday Family Dinner. The theme for our dinner was a N’awlins inspired Seafood Boil! Crabs, Lobsters, Prawns, Crawfish, Calamari, Clams, Oysters— OH MY! We seriously threw down over 50 pounds of seafood!

Sunday Family Dinner

For dessert, my sister P, whipped up fresh beignets showered with powdered sugar and served with homemade Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream. The beignets were so beautifully tender and crispy…. and the ice cream was To Die For.

Sunday Family Dinner

My contribution for the night were these little appetizers that I was initially going to call Baby Po’Boys but have since changed the name to Cajun Crab Puffs. These little buggers were TASTY! The crab was wonderfully sweet and paired well with the spicy aioli. The tomato and scallions gave a bright, fresh note and c’mon…who doesn’t love flaky, butter puff pastry?!

Sunday Family Dinner

But as decadently delicious as everything was, it was just incredible to have everyone under one roof again. The kids were running around and they even made personalized “seafood bibs” for each of us out of trash bags. Adorable and quite useful!

And although it was a bit chaotic (c’mon, what family shinding isn’t?), it was the epitome of why we started Sunday Family Dinners in the first place.

Cajun Crab Puffs

ps. These Cajun Crab Puffs were really yummy and easy to pull together. With the holidays now in full swing, they would be a great appetizer for any party you may be having.

__________________________________

Cajun Crab Puffs

Ingredients:

½ tablespoon minced garlic
1 large egg yolk
½ tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
6 ounces lump crab
2-3 pinches cayenne powder
1 cup cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped chives (although I used scallions)

Prepare the aioli. Add garlic, egg yolk, and lemon juice into a blender. Pulse several times until the items have blended together. Turn the blender on low and slowly stream in the olive oil. Continue to blend until all of the oil has been used and the consistency reaches a thick consistency. Blend in the hot sauce and Old Bay. Check for seasonings and adjust with kosher salt and pepper as needed. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Take the sheet of puff pastry and cut squares about 1½ inch in diameter. Bake the squares for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on wire racks. Once cooled, slice each square in half.

Season the lump crab with cayenne powder.

Begin assembling the puffs. Take one half of a puff pastry square and top with a slice of tomato and a spoonful of crab. Drizzle some of the aioli on top of the crab and then garnish with chives. Top with the other half of the puff pastry square. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and serve.

Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo

Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo

I’m quite pleased to share that our Sunday Family Dinners have been going swimmingly well.

And what’s fun is that we’ve adopted some international themes for each dinner—the last inspired by Latin flavors. It was a memorable afternoon/evening where everyone had a hand in creating our delicioso menu.

My contribution this time around were fresh margaritas (no pre-bottled stuff here!) and a huge bowl of Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo.

Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo

I’m pretty obsessed with Chimichurri Sauce –full of bright herbs and citrus flavors. I usually drizzle it over grilled skirt steak but I’ve been known to stir a spoonful of it into scrambled eggs or as a spread in sandwiches in lieu of pesto.

The dish turned out to be a winning combination that can be served either warm or at room temperature. Total Nguyen-Win :)

Stay tuned for our upcoming Family Dinner where we will venture to Europe!

__________________________________________

Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo
Serves approximately 6

Ingredients:

1 Pound Dried Orzo
1 Pound Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher Salt
Pepper

Chimichurri Sauce
1 Large Bunch Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
1 Large Bunch Fresh Parsley, roughly chopped
6 Sprigs Fresh Oregano
2 Large Garlic Cloves
1 Serrano Chile Pepper*
1 Tablespoon Lime Zest
¼ Cup Lime Juice
½ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes*
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 Cup Olive Oil, more if needed
Kosher Salt
Pepper

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and set aside.

Prepare the Chimichurri Sauce. In a food processor or blender, add the first nine ingredients and pulse several times. Stream in the olive oil and blend until the items have fully incorporated. More olive oil can be added if a smoother, loose texture is desired. Check for seasonings and add salt and pepper as needed. Refrigerate until ready to be used. (*Chile amounts can be adjusted based on heat level preference)

Bring a grill pan to medium high heat. Cover the pan with cooking spray and grill the shrimp about 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer the shrimp to a plate and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain well.

In a large bowl, toss together the orzo, shrimp and ½ cup of the Chimichurri Sauce at a time. (Add additional sauce as needed.) Plate and garnish with additional cilantro.

Bacon wrapped Shrimp with Pesto…..and our new Family tradition.

Bacon wrapped Shrimp with Pesto

I love the movie Soul Food and have watched it at least a cajillion times. Sure, it had some predictable spin of dramas but I always envied the Sunday family dinner at Big Mama’s house with all the delish soul food and of course–the family time.

Since moving back down to Southern California, I have really appreciated the frequency and quality time I get to spend with my family—and in particular, my nieces and nephew. Because of the distance, I only used to see them on sporadic weekend trips for holidays or special occasions. And it was because of this that I was always worried that I was missing out on seeing them grow up.

Now that I’m only about an hour’s drive away, I try to see them as often as possible—for “non-holiday” visits. And truth be told, I’m trying to squeeze in as much time as possible since my older nieces (now 13 and 11) will soon get to the age where it won’t be cool for them to hang out with their auntie. Eeek! Add that with the fact that we’re all busier than ever, it is so  important that we establish some type of traditions to keep our family ties strong.

So, with a little inspiration from Soul Food, I cajoled my siblings into agreeing on having a monthly Sunday dinner—something that is established and routine so that no matter what invitations roll in or events arise, we would say– “Sorry, I’ve got to pass—it’s my family dinner.”

Several weeks ago we kicked off our first family dinner and it was a great start to a new tradition. We cooked together (getting the kids involved, too), lounged about, sped “plasma cars” up and down the street, searched frantically for the eclipse, and of course–delved into some delish eats. Grilled steaks topped with blue cheese & fried onions, “dirty rice”, corn, bacon wrapped shrimp and strawberry pastries. YUM! Unfortunately our sister P  (who lives in SF) and our brother V and his family (who live in NYC) weren’t physically at dinner—they were sure there in spirit. Plus, I’m hoping they’ll plan their future visits so that it’ll land on a Sunday Family Dinner.

I’m pretty sure Mom would have loved the idea of us coming together to keep the family close—-and of course, that it’s an event that revolves around food. After all, we are her kids and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree :)

 

___________________________________________

Bacon wrapped Shrimp with Pesto

Ingredients:

1 Pound Shrimp, cleaned with tails left on (about 24-30)
12 Slices Bacon
Black Pepper
Cooking Spray

Pesto:
2½ Packed Cups Sweet Basil
½ Cup Roasted Pine Nuts, unsalted
2-3 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
Approximately ½ – ¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

Soak wooden skewers in water for 10-15 minutes.

Prepare  the Pesto. In a food processor, pulse garlic and nuts. Add basil, cheese, lemon juice, and salt/pepper. With the food processor on, stream in olive oil and blend until the pesto is fully incorporated. Be sure to scrape down sides in between steps. More olive oil can be added if a smoother, loose texture is desired. Refrigerate until ready to be used.

Preheat your oven broiler.

Season the shrimp with black pepper. In batches, line a plate with paper towels and lay slices of bacon on top. Cover with additional paper towels and microwave for about 2 minutes so that the bacon is slightly cooked but still pliable.  Cut each slice of bacon into half and wrap the half around each shrimp. Skewer the shrimp in a fashion so that the bacon stays secure. Approximately 3 bacon wrapped shrimp should fit on a skewer. *Alternatively, you can use soaked toothpicks and secure each shrimp individually.

Place the skewers on a aluminum foil-lined baking sheet that has been lightly covered with cooking spray. Place the sheet directly under the broiler and cook the shrimp for 8-10 minutes (flipping halfway through) until the bacon has crisped and the shrimp have turned pink.

Slide the shrimp off the skewers and serve immediately with the Pesto.

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai

Okay. Here’s my confession.

The way I feel about Pad Thai is how I imagine “non-Vietnamese folks” feel about phở. It’s kind of the gateway dish to the culture’s cuisine but it’s so flippin’ good!

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai


Pad Thai has a whole range of textures and flavors all in one plate…what’s not to love?

So it was high time that I started to make it on my own. After grabbing a few key essentials, I turned to Alice over at Sweet Savory Life to fix up some seriously authentic and delicious Pad Thai.

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai

By far, this is the best recipe I have tried yet. The sauce is totally clutch and is what makes this version a keeper! I also suggest to not substitute cane sugar for palm sugar as it will be way too sweet.

As for the tamarind, I opted for the concentrate like Alice but my sis shared that she used tamarind pulp when she took a Thai cooking classes.

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai

And once you have the sauce done, the rest goes by super quick and easy. I owe you big time Alice—this recipe is definitely staying in heavy rotation! :)

With that dear Friends, I hope you have a fabulous Mother’s Day Weekend!

__________________________________________

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai
From The Sweet Savory Life

Ingredients:

1/3 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup palm sugar
1/2 cup tamarind juice concentrate
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces dried rice stick noodles
6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups thinly sliced shrimp and fried tofu
1 egg
1 cup carrots, match sticks
1 cup green onion cut diagonal in ½ inch segments
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 cup cilantro
1 cup toasted peanuts chopped
Lime wedge

  1. To make pad thai sauce, heat a small pan on medium low and add fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind concentrate, and garlic. Cook sauce until palm sugar has completely dissolve. At this point, you will want to taste the sauce and tweek the sweetness or hotness (be careful, the sauce will be hot). To make it more spicy add a little Thai chili powder (I used Thai chiles). Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes before storing it in a jar or plastic container.
  2. Boil noodles for 4-5 minutes and drain immediately rinsing with cold water for a few seconds. Noodles should be slightly firmer than Al dente. But don’t worry, they will continue to soften and cook later when stir frying. Using kitchen shears, cut the noodle clump in half. This will make it easier to fry and eat.
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok or frying pan on high and cook raw shrimp with tofu for 3-4 minutes. Remove tofu/seafood into a small bowl. Next, heat the remaining oil and then add garlic and red onions to the hot pan and stir fry for 1 minute stirring the garlic mixture so it will not burn. Add noodles and stir for 1 minute. Add 3-4 tablespoons Pad Thai sauce continually stirring noodle mixture until well coated with sauce. Add cooked meat/tofu/seafood back and fry for 2-3 minutes. Move the noodle and meat mixture to one side of the pan and crack an egg on the other side. Scramble the egg with a wooden spoon and cook for 30 seconds. Add carrots, green onions, and sprouts and cook for one more minute frying everything together. Test the firmness of the noodle. If the noodle is too firm, fry for an additional minute. If your noodles need more flavor, add another tablespoon of sauce and fry another half minute.
  4. Remove from heat and serve. Garnish with remaining raw carrot match sticks, spouts, cilantro, toasted peanuts, and a wedge of lime. Enjoy!

Seester’s Fav–Shrimp and Prosciutto Pizza with Fresh Arugula

Shrimp and Prosciutto Pizza with Fresh Arugula

For well over a decade, my SEESTER, T,  has been obsessed with Berri’s Cafe in LA. As in, SO OBSESSED that she will face driving through LA traffic from Orange County to get her beloved Berri’s. Correction….she will make her husband face the LA traffic so she can get her Berri’s fix.

And guess what? She orders the same thing EVERY TIME–the Berri’s Original Pizza. In the many times I’ve gone there with her (and I mean MANY since I used to live down the street from Berri’s), she’s only let me order the same thing too!

T  has a fixation with their Original Pizza and compares EVERY pizza with it. She even said it’s better than the pizzas she’s had in Italy! Hey….don’t yell at me–she’s the one whose infatuated. In fact, one night when we had gone out, yours truly had a little too much boozy goodness and got sick. Instead of driving her poor little sis straight home so she could properly pray to the porcelain gods, T made a pit stop at Berri’s and had the valet keep an eye on me while she ran in to get the pizza! Good Grief! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!

Actually…it’s pretty hilarious.

Shrimp and Prosciutto Pizza with Fresh Arugula

This past weekend was my SEESTER’s (yes, purposely spelled that way) birthday. She and her fam headed up to San Francisco for a celebration weekend with our other sis, P. My work schedule wouldn’t allow me to join in on the fun but I was so bummed to be missing out on her bday festivities—not to mention all the yummy food and trip to Napa :(

So in her honor (and to make her feel a little “jelly”), I decided to take a spin on Berri’s Original-– a thin crust pizza with shrimp, prosciutto and topped with fresh arugula. And you know what? I think I did it justice!

I added fresh Bufala mozzarella which gave a level of creaminess that played off the crunch from the shrimp and saltiness from the prosciutto. The pile of peppery arugula was so bright and fresh that heck—this pizza was almost like a salad!  Ok….maybe that’s a bit of a stretch.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SEESTER!!!!!

And yes, I’ll make this again for you.

___________________________________________

Shrimp and Prosciutto Pizza with Fresh Arugula

Ingredients:

Pizza Dough:
1.75 Cups Lukewarm Water
½ Tablespoon Granulated Yeast
½ Tablespoon Kosher Salt
3.75 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
*Makes enough for 4 12-inch pizza crusts

Toppings:
2 Ounces Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced
2 Pinches Red Chili Flakes
¼ Cup Marina Sauce, or your choice of Tomato Sauce
½ Shallot, thinly sliced
2-3 Fresh Basil Leaves, torn in pieces
2 Tablespoons Shredded Mozzarella
2 Ounces Fresh Bufala Mozzarella, sliced and patted dry
1-2 Thin Slices Prosciutto, torn in pieces
1-2 Handfuls Arugula Leaves
Kosher Salt
Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Prepare the dough the night before. Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5-quart bowl. Add in the flour and mix in a heavy stand mixer (with paddle attachment) until everything is uniformly moistened, without dry patches. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow to rise at room temperature for approximately 2 hours. After rising, cover the container tightly and refrigerate overnight.

One hour before baking, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with a pizza stone on the lower rack. If baking the pizza on a sheet, preheat 30 minutes before baking.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Sprinkle the work surface and top of the pizza dough with flour. Using kitchen shears, pull up and cut a piece of dough about the size of an apple. Hold the piece of dough in your hands and add more flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch and fold the dough underneath itself to create a ball. Allow the dough to rest, covered with plastic wrap on the work surface for about 20 minutes.

While dough is resting, mix the shrimp, garlic, chili flakes, pinch of kosher salt, and drizzle of olive oil in a small bowl. Set aside.

When the dough has rested, flatten it with your hands and use a floured rolling pin to make a crust about 1/8 of an inch. Transfer the dough to a pizza peel (if baking directly on stone) or onto a baking sheet. Spread the marina sauce on top of the crust so it creates a thin, even layer. Sprinkle the fresh basil, cheese, shallots, and shrimp all over the pizza.

Lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. If using a pizza peel, carefully slide the pizza in the oven on the stone. If using a baking sheet, place pizza in the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the pizza midway for even cooking. In the last 1-2 minutes of baking, add the prosciutto to the pizza and continue baking.

When done, remove the pizza and top with fresh arugula. Drizzle the top of the pizza with olive oil and serve.

Pizza Dough Adapted From: Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day

Spicy Prawns with Ginger Peanut Noodles

Spicy Prawns with Ginger Peanut Noodles

I was thrilled at the chance to participate in this month’s 24×24 with Foodbuzz—particularly since the theme was focused on budget friendly meals. And not only did our meal need to be budget conscience but we had to use items already found in our pantries. Sounds like the making of a good cooking show to me.

I began thinking of things that I ALWAYS have on hand either in my cupboards or fridge and came up with the following things:

  1. Dried pastas
  2. Fresh Garlic and Chili (whether chili sauce, paste, or even fresh chili peppers)
  3. Some type of protein in the freezer (usually shrimp or chicken)
  4. Canned vegetables
  5. Condiments (Remember, I’m a condiment monster.)
  6. Booze (Um……self explanatory.)

With that list, it became a no brainer for me………. I was going to make some type of pasta for this challenge.

 

 

Nini and Nina_9.24.11

I decided to make Ginger Peanut Noodles for lunch with my nieces and served it with some spicy grilled prawns. Stephanie and Nina are always such willing taste testers for my experiments. And don’t let their age fool you, they’ve got quite the refined palettes. Oh—and in case you missed the photo above, Bella was trying to squeeze in on the taste testing, too.  She heard “peanut butter” and came running.

I’ve made these Ginger Peanut Noodles on several occasions with just items pulled right out of my pantry. The type of noodle can be substituted with whatever you have on hand as I’ve used spaghetti, fettuccine, and even chow mein—anything goes! For this particular preparation we happened to have some red bell pepper which added great texture and freshness. However, thinly sliced cucumber, zucchini or even bean sprouts would be great in it, too.

Bella is still focused on the fact that I just said “peanut butter”.

 

 

Bella_9.24.11

 

 

As for the protein, I happen to prefer prawns with this but chicken, pork, or even tofu would be just as delicious. Just use the same marinade for whichever you choose.

 

 

Spicy Prawns with Ginger Peanut Noodles

This entire meal comes together in about 30 minutes and is perfect for a weeknight dinner or when you’re short on time during the weekends.

Fast? Budget friendly? Yummy?

Now that is a Trifecta of Goodness.

________________________________________________

Spicy Prawns with Ginger Peanut Noodles
Serves approximately 6

Ingredients:

Prawns:
1 Pound Prawns, shelled, deveined with tails on
1 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
1 Tablespoon Sriracha Chili Sauce, or chili sauce of your choice
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Sesame Olive Oil
2 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

Noodles:
¾ Cup Smooth Peanut Butter
1 Tablespoon Honey
1/3 Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
¼ Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1½ Tablespoons Sesame Oil
1½ Tablespoons Sambal Chili Paste
2 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1 Teaspoon Lime Zest
½ Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
¼ – ½ Cup Hot Starchy Water (from boiling the pasta)
1 Whole Red Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
2 Scallions, cut into 1 inch strips
1 Pound Linguine
*Top with ¼ Cup Toasted Sesame Seeds and ½ Cup of Crushed Roasted Peanuts

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Cook linguine noodles barely over al dente.

Combine the prawns with all of its marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

In a blender, combine the first 10 ingredients of the noodles together. Blend until smooth. Add the starchy liquid from the pasta water until you reach the desired consistency—about ¼ – ½ Cup. Set aside.

Bring a grill pan or a large skillet to medium high heat. Lightly cover with cooking spray and cook prawns for 1-2 minutes on each side until they are opaque and golden. Remove to a clean plate and cover.

When then noodles have cooked, drain well and return to the hot pot. Ladle in a few spoonfuls of the peanut sauce at a time until the noodles have been thoroughly coated. Toss in the scallions and bell pepper slices. Plate with a mound of the peanut noodles, prawns, and sprinkle the tops of each plate with sesame seeds and crushed peanuts.

Tôm Rang Muối (Vietnamese Style Crispy Salted Prawns)

Tôm Rang Muối (Vietnamese Style Crispy Salted Prawns)

To me, comfort food consists of simple, everyday dishes my family grew up eating. Uncomplicated Vietnamese dishes really…. but packed with flavor—and memories.

They included braised bamboo shoots, sauteed greens in shrimp paste, beef stir fry with potatoes, and  if we were lucky–fried shrimp.

Tôm Rang Muối (Vietnamese Style Crispy Salted Prawns)

Depending on Mom’s mood—meaning if she was in the mood of peeling the shrimp or not, we would be treated to either Tôm Lăn Bột (batter fried shrimp) or Tôm Rang Muối (salted fried shrimp). Either way–I LOVED both dishes.

Tôm Lăn Bột are peeled headless shrimp, dipped into a batter, and then fried until golden brown. Tôm Rang Muối are head-on shrimp that are tossed into salt and flour (or cornstarch) and quickly fried. Since the shrimp are left with their shells on, they retain a lot of their moisture and add great texture. And the bonus—you get to suck the deliciousness from the heads!

Tôm Rang Muối (Vietnamese Style Crispy Salted Prawns)

Mom and the aunties would often make Tôm Rang Muối at our family parties, too. Since it’s so quick to make, they would whip up several batches to tie us over before we got to eat. Big plates of Tôm Rang Muối would also get sent over to wherever the “menfolk” were sitting to “nhậu“—-which is the Vietnamese word for drinking adult beverages while nibbling on food.

I’m sure my mom would scold me for broadcasting this but THANK BUDDHA that I can nhậu now, too! :)

Hope you enjoy!

_________________________________________________

Tôm Rang Muối (Vietnamese Style Crispy Salted Prawns)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 Pound Prawns, heads-on
1 Cup Rice Flour (or cornstarch, tempura powder, etc.)
1½ Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 Red Chili Pepper, sliced
¼ Cup Green Scallions, sliced
Vegetable Oil for Frying

Devein the prawns while keeping the shells in tact. This can be done by using a sharp knife to slice the backs of the prawns. Remove and discard the veins. Using kitchen shears, snip off the antennas and legs. Place the prawns in a colander and run cool water over them. Gently shake to drain the water and use paper towels to dry off excess moisture. Sprinkle salt over the prawns, tossing well to cover each prawn. Place the colander with prawns (with a bowl underneath to catch any excess fluid) in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

In a large pot (or deep fryer), preheat oil to 375 degrees.

Remove prawns from the refrigerator and sprinkle rice flour all over. Toss the prawns to coat and sift to get rid of any extra flour. In batches, carefully add the prawns into the hot oil and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until lightly golden and crispy. Transfer the fried prawns to a paper towel lined plate. When the grease has been drained, gently toss the prawns with scallions and chilies. Serve immediately.

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #17 a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Phuoc from Phuoc’n’delicious for hosting this month!**