Shrimp Calzone with Hoisin Sauce

Shrimp Calzone with Hoisin Sauce

Having bought pizza dough for two pizzas, my housemate and I decided to make one pizza and two calzones.

We divided one Trader Joe’s pizza dough into two equally-sized balls and stretched them out into somewhat round pieces on a lightly floured surface.

For this asian-fusion calzone, I used the following ingredients:

  • onion, small strips, lightly sautéed in olive oil
  • carrot, julienne or matchstick, lightly sautéed
  • Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • cooked shrimp, e.g., lightly sautéed, from raw, frozen
  • edamame beans, cooked, shelled (e.g., ready-to-eat from TJ’s)
  • garlic, finely sliced
  • hoisin sauce (optional inside)
  • Pecorino Romano cheese, finely shredded
  • olive oil

Place the filling ingredients atop the flattened dough, e.g., in the order above, then fold the crust over and pinch the edges to close.  (Use the hoisin sauce sparingly inside; it’s quite strongly flavored and typically you do not put sauce inside a calzone anyway.)

Brush the top lightly with olive oil, and top with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

For an accompanying dipping sauce, simply mix the following to desired consistency and taste:

Bake calzones on parchment paper on a baking sheet, ~25 minutes at 425° F, until crust is golden brown, like the edges of a nice pizza crust.

Calzones made with Trader Joe’s pizza dough.

Making calzones was a nice alternative to pizza, and pretty convenient for lunch the next day.


Pan-fried Noodles with Vegetables

Pan-fried Noodles with Vegetables

Here’s a quick vegetarian, and potentially gluten-free, noodle dish.

To prepare: place rice noodles in warm water to soften (20-30 mins.)  I used rice noodles that were approximately 1/4 inch wide, but wider noodles would work well too.

Prepare a sauce by combining fish sauce, soy sauce, water, and honey, and fresh lemon or lime juice … perhaps 1/2 cup total.  (To be gluten-free, use tamari rather than soy sauce.)

Sauté vegetables in canola or peanut oil to desired tenderness in a large pan or wok; for this dish I used matchstick carrot, sliced white button mushroom, sweet onion, and minced shallot, adding a portion of the sauce as well.
Remove the vegetables from the hot pan and set aside.
Quickly scramble an egg in oil in the pan, and place it with the vegetables.

Once the noodles have softened, drain pan-fry them likewise in a bit of oil, until they begin to crisp or brown slightly.  Control cooking with the sauce (which can also be used to add some color to the noodles.)

To finish, return sautéed vegetables to the warm pan, add any remaining sauce, add chopped fresh cilantro and chopped peanut and combine thoroughly.

I served this in one large bowl per serving… a pretty simple but satisfying meal just for myself, this time. :-)

Pan-fried noodles with vegetables.

Colorful Coconut Cream Curry

Colorful curry with carrot, red potato, broccoli, and coconut cream served with jasmine rice and raita

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, mostly because I’ve been making some old favorites that I’ve already posted and otherwise enjoying the nice weather and summertime.

Today’s post is a new off-the-top-of-my-head vegetable curry with a lot of color. I’ve done a number of indian and thai curries, but this one may be something of a haphazard fusion of the two, as I just chose my ingredients by whim.

Ingredients for the rice:

  • jasmine rice
  • cumin seed
  • bay leaves
  • cinnamon stick
  • hot curry powder
  • salt

Ingredients for the raita:

  • yogurt (I was lucky to have been given some homemade, from cow’s milk)
  • garlic, minced
  • carrot, julienned
  • green pepper, finely chopped
  • tomato, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • garam masala
  • saffron threads
  • salt

Ingredients for the curry:

  • canola oil
  • water
  • carrot, peeled and sliced
  • red potato, skins intact, small-diced
  • broccoli, bite-sized pieces, steamed
  • red onion, sliced (top to bottom) into thin strips
  • garlic, minced
  • habanero pepper, seeds and veins removed, finely minced
  • cumin seed
  • turmeric
  • garam masala
  • salt and pepper
  • coconut cream/milk
  • cilantro (chopped fresh or crushed dried)
  • thai bird peppers (one per serving)

I chose coconut cream for sweetness; you could substitute coconut milk (or even a yogurt) if you prefer.  Here’s one discussion of Coconut Milk vs. Cream.


First, to prepare the rice, I simply put the ingredients in a rice cooker and let it do its thing; afterwards I removed the cinammon stick and bay leaves and added them to the curry.

While the rice was cooking, I prepared the raita.  (Of course, if you want a vegan dish, you’ll have to skip the yogurt-based raita.)  Simply mix all the ingredients together, and let sit.  (This is also nice to make in advance, and refrigerate, as the flavors mellow and blend together.)

I prepared the curry in a 12 inch cast iron skillet; first toasting the cumin seed, then mixing the spices and oil, garlic, onion, hot peppers, and cooking the potatoes.  I added the sliced carrot later, as it was sliced thinner and would cook faster.  Add water occassionally as necessary to avoid sticking to the pan, and add the (separately steamed) broccoli and the coconut cream after the potatoes and carrot are cooked to suitably tender.

Coconut Cream Curry with raita and spiced jasmine rice.

I served the rice, curry, and raita sprinkled with some crushed dry cilantro leaf and a (cooked) whole red thai bird pepper.  (This hot pepper makes it easy for each diner to spice it up to their own taste.)

A colorful curry with rice and raita

That’s it! I hope this inspires some colorful cooking for you to share to likewise share with the wonderful people that color your life. :)

By the way, WordPress tells me this is my hundredth post!
(Now the money will start rollin’ in, right?)

Sesame Pea Shoot Salad

Sesame Pea Shoot Salad with red pepper and chickpeas

This salad was my veggie offering at two Memorial Day BBQ parties that I attended; it’s a simple salad of basically 3 vegetables and a tangy dressing.

The salad dressing is my homemade version fo Trader Joe’s Goddess dressing.  I simply worked from the ingredient list on my empty bottle: vegetable oil, water, tahini, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, [lemon juice,] salt, garlic, sesame seeds, [spices, zanthan gum.]

“Goddess” dressing ingredients

I skipped the ingredients shown in brackets (above), used sunflower oil, and I used tamari instead of soy sauce.  (Tamari is basically a gluten-free soy sauce.)

Combine these ingredients in a blender and liquify while adjusting to taste.  To the best of my recollection I used these quantities:

  • ~2 T. sunflower oil
  • ~1/3 cup water
  • ~1- 1 1/2 T. apple cider vinegar
  • ~2 T. tahini
  • ~1 1/2 T. tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • salt to taste (sparingly, as the tamari or soy sauce is salty)

I deferred the addition of~4 T. sesame seeds to the salad afterward rather than blending into the salad dressing.

If you’ve not had Trader Joe’s Goddess dressing, it’s a smooth dressing that is tan in color (slightly browner than the tahini).

The blended “Goddess” dressing

To prepare the salad, I coarsely chopped 8 oz. of pea shoots, finely diced one red pepper (seeds and veins removed), and drained and rinsed one soup-sized can of chickpeas.

Then I tossed the pea shoots, red pepper, and chickpeas with about 1/4 of the aforementioned prepared dressing (add sparingly, so as not to drown the vegetables in dressing), and a generous amount of sesame seeds.

I don’t know whether or not everyone enjoyed this salad, but I did, and the dish was empty by the time I left the party.

Regardless, whether you buy it from the store or make it yourself, this dressing is a hit.

Yay, I’m all caught up – now just to read all your recipes that I missed! :-)

A Shrimpy Lobster Roll

The Grilled Shrimp Roll

Shrimp Week’s dramatic conclusion!

If you’ve ever had a Lobster Roll, then you know it’s approximately the best sandwich in the universe…
Certainly, you’ll agree it’s at least the best sandwich in Maine.
Here’s my twist on that classic, prepared with some left-over grilled shrimp.

Shrimp Roll ingredients

Ingredients (per sandwich):

  • cooked shrimp, I used 5 large grilled shrimp cut to bite-sized pieces
  • 2 napa cabbage leaves
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • chives, minced
  • ciabatta or other long sandwich roll
  • Thai Peanut-Lime Dipping Sauce

In a bowl, simply mix shrimp, celery, chives, and (sparingly) the coconut milk-based peanut-lime sauce to prepare a sort of shrimp salad.  Since the sauce is quite thin, be sure not to add too much.
Assemble the sandwich by filling the roll with that mix, atop the napa cabbage leaf; this helps prevent the thin sauce from saturating the roll.

Grilled Shrimp Salad / sandwich filling

I served the Shrimp Roll with a bit more sauce for dipping.

Grilled Shrimp Roll with Thai Peanut-Lime Dipping Sauce

As you can see, this sandwich is so tasty that I didn’t manage to get another photo before taking a few bites. :-)

You can find the recipe for the sauce here:

How to Grill Shrimp (in my humble opinion)

Grilling shrimp in their shells

I mentioned that last week was “shrimp week” for me… so, you’re going to get a total of four posts on the subject, and I’m catching up now on this pleasantly rainy sunday. :-)

This weekend past, friends had another great Bring and Braai, i.e., a South African-style “pot luck” grilling party.  My contribution was two pounds of ~20 ct. large, frozen shrimp, for $13/pound.

When grilling shrimp, I’ve learned a great technique: grill the shrimp, whole with tails, legs, and shell intact.  They should be unfrozen and will cook in a few minutes and you just need to flip them once.  Of course individual shrimp could easily fall through grill grates, so skewer them or use a grilling basked, as shown in my photo above.
While I didn’t do it here, it’s best to cut a long slit down the back of each shrimp – this makes them easier to peel after cooking.

The advantages of this method are:

  • First and foremost, the shell keeps the moisture in.
  • The shell keeps the shrimp from sticking to the grill; no oil is necessary.
  • With the shells intact, shrimp achieve beautiful color.
  • There’s much less work when preparing them…

The further advantages (some might say disadvantages) of this method are:

  • You see the shrimp as it really is.
    (Well, sans head, as they’re most often sold in the U.S.)
    I don’t have much patience for people that don’t want to know what they’re eating.
    Animals have legs, tails, bones, and heads, and (sometimes) cute faces.
    If you don’t like being reminded of that, eat tofu and leaves instead.
  • The “work” of peeling the shrimp can be passed on to whomever is lucky enough to eat them.
    And look at the reward you get for merely peeling one large shrimp.
    Sounds like a good deal to me. :-)
    Besides, we are making our food too convenient to eat, e.g. boneless chicken wings. You’ve heard of “slow food?” I propose “slow[er] eating.”

Oh, and maybe you’re thinking, “Dave, umm, those shrimp aren’t deveined; yuck.”
That’s right, they’re not (above); the digestive tract is sometimes intact. As long as shrimp are thoroughly cooked, deveining is really a matter of aesthetics. Of the shrimp I ate, perhaps 8 total leftover, only one definitely needed deveining… which I did before eating it.

When I was buying the shrimp, the employee working the seafood counter inquired, “How are you going to cook those?” When I told him, he whole-heartedly agreed that is the best way to do it and we bonded over our shared “wisdom.” He also asked, “Aren’t you afraid it’ll freak out some of your guests?” To which I replied, “If it does [freak them out], that’s just all the more for the rest of us.”

Anyway, if you prefer to devein shrimp, go for it – the grilling method works the same, and it’s easier to remove the shell that is cut down the back.

Grilling deveined shrimp with shell intact

I more often use deveined shrimp anyway as raw shrimp are often sold deveined (in the U.S.). Deveined shrimp do have their own aeasthetic appeal, for instance, as they sometimes splay open in a soup, such as Tom Yum Goong.

To accompany these large peel-and-eat shrimp, I prepared two dipping sauces, roughly according to these recipes:

The coconut-milk based Peanut-Lime Dipping Sauce was probably the more popular, but both are quite good. You’ll see me reuse the latter sauce in my next two posts!

Roasted Broccoli & Shrimp

Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli

Happy May Day!

This week is a busy one with my research work, so here’s an easy, delicious meal for you (and me). Actually, this is turning out to be “Shrimp Week” for me; this is just one of 4 posts I had in mind on the subject.

This broccoli & shrimp dish is a great find from The New York Times, c. 2009;  I’ve linked the recipe below.

For four servings, I bought 3 stalks of broccoli, 1 pound of 31-40 ct. raw, deveined shrimp, and 4 limes.

To prepare, cut broccoli into bite-sized florets.  You could use the chopped stem portion too, if you like (roasting them a bit longer than the florets), but I saved those for another recipe.  Toss the florets with olive oil (~2 T.), coriander seed (~1 t.), cumin seed (~1 t.), coarse salt, ground black pepper, and mild paprika.

Broccoli florets tossed with olive oil, coriander seed, cumin seed, salt, pepper, and mild paprika

Peel the raw shrimp and toss them separately with olive oil and the zest of 1 lime, salt and pepper.

Peel 1 pound of 31-40 ct. raw shrimp

Spread the broccoli out on a baking sheet, and roast them, first on their own, in a 425° F oven for 10 minutes.

Broccoli and shrimp arranged for roasting

After the broccoli is partially roasted, similarly arrange the shrimp in one layer on a baking sheet and bake both the broccoli and the shrimp at 425° F for about 10 minutes, just until the shrimp are perfectly done.  You can combine them with the broccoli if the baking sheet is big enough for both in one layer with a bit of space between the shrimp and florets.

Perfectly roasted broccoli and shrimp :-)

When done roasting, drizzle the juice of perhaps 2-3 limes over the broccoli and shrimp (to taste).

I served the broccoli and shrimp atop sticky white rice with a lime wedge on the side.  Give it a try; it’s a perfect combination of flavors!

Roasted Broccoli & Shrimp with Rice

Oh, and don’t skip the coriander seed; it’s important!
I found coriander seed in a bag in the bulk(ier) spice section of my grocery store.  It was less than half the price, and more than twice the quantity, of that sold in a spice rack sort of jar.

Here’s the recipe from The New York Times; I substituted lime for lemon and mild Turkish paprika for chili powder:

Tea-Smoked Catfish

Tea-Smoked Catfish on Cucumber with Honey Tzatziki

Tonight I experimented with a Chinese cooking technique: tea smoking, that you can do indoors in your kitchen… if you want to stink up your house; ha ha, only kidding; my housemate arrived mid-smoke and said it smelled pretty good. :)

I learned about tea smoking on Chef Ming Tsai’s program, Simply Ming, perhaps a month or two ago.

First, tea smoking typically calls for a covered pan with a lid, and a screen or wire grill that can fit inside to suspend the fish or meat above the smoking materials.  I decided to use an old pan that I no longer use, and should have discarded because the non-stick surface is flaking off.  I figured it was perfect for this application since the food doesn’t come in contact with the pan’s surface and it has a tight fitting lid.

I lined the pan with two layers of aluminum foil, and placed the smoking materials in it: some uncooked Calrose rice, Darjeeling tea, brown sugar, and some tarragon leaves.  (The tarragon was once fresh, but that was a long time ago, so I thought cremating it was reasonable.)  I used Darjeeling, an Indian rather than Chinese tea, simply because that was the only leaf tea I had on hand.  I don’t see why you couldn’t use any tea, even ground tea leaves, though.

Ingredients and tea-smoking materials in a pan.

The fish I chose was an unusual kind of catfish, well, unusual to most Americans: it’s sold here by the name “Swai,” and is a typically farm-raised in the Mekong Delta region.  This fish is just a bit lighter and more flaky (less meaty texture) than U.S. catfish. While technically a catfish, it isn’t allowed to be sold by that name here because it competes with the U.S. farm-raised catfish.  If you’d like to know more about this increasingly popular and sometimes controversial fish, you can read more in my recipe for  Moo Shu Catfish.

I prepared the thawed fish filet (3-4 oz., about 1/2″ at its thickest point) by rubbing it with some five spice powder and brown sugar and placing atop napa cabbage leaves in a steamer to be placed in the smoking pan, with another layer of aluminum foil between the steamer and the smoking materials so that they don’t adhere to the steamer as they burn.  (I didn’t have a screen or wire rack, so I improvised by temporarily removing the plastic handles from my rice cooker’s steamer basket.)

Swai fillet atop napa cabbage, ready for smoking.

Next, I set the burner to a medium-high heat, and when it began to smoke a bit, covered the pan with a tight-fitting lid, reduced to medium heat, and cooked for 15 minutes; luckily the lid was just high enough to accommodate the steamer basket.

After those 15 minutes, I removed the pan from the heat and allowed it to sit another 15 minutes, then uncovered it.

The tea-smoked and cooked Swai fillet.

I served the filet on lightly salted, peeled cucumber slices (overlapped, otherwise they can’t be picked up with chopsticks!) and topped it with a simple tzatziki-like sauce of greek yogurt, minced garlic, black pepper, salt, and a touch of honey.  While I used fresh garlic here, I’d suggest using roasted garlic as the sauce’s garlic flavor was a bit harsh for this mild fish.

Tea-Smoked Catfish

So, the verdict? The fish was moist and tender with a significant smoky flavor, but quite unlike that of wood-smoked fish. It’s a tasty option. I do think, however, I would have experienced the smoky flavor more genuinely had I not been essentially standing in or over the smoke for a half hour or more just prior to dinner. :)

I’ll experiment with different rices and teas, and perhaps tea-smoke a brined Cornish game hen before baking it.

Lastly, I see why some tea smoking demonstrations suggest covering everything with foil (including the lid). The smoke mixes with the moisture and can make for a couple extra minutes of scrubbing during clean-up.  It’s super easy to just discard the foil instead.

Here are the recipes I consulted:

St. Paul Sandwich


St. Paul Sandwich

Here’s a great sandwich that I had this morning instead of a typical breakfast sandwich: the St. Paul Sandwich; it’s essentially a hamburger made with an Egg Foo Young patty instead of a beef patty.  I was introduced to this sandwich on the public television program, “Sandwiches That You Will Like” some years ago.
Despite its name, the sandwich originated in St. Louis.

To prepare, first make the egg foo young like in my earlier recipe; this time I used leftover chopped Easter ham, thinly sliced napa cabage, and chopped baby bella mushroom.  (I used 4 “large” eggs for 3 patties.)

I served the patty with sauce on a small bun (another Easter leftover), topped with some julienned carrot and a bit of onion, a leaf of napa cabbage, a couple slices of roma tomato, and mayonnaise.

This is a tasty and unique sandwich for any time of the day, but it’s quick to prepare for breakfast or lunch from leftover egg foo young; the patties with sauce will keep for a day or two in the fridge and reheat well in a microwave.