Friday, June 19, 2009

Birthday Bash Giveaway!!! 5 Fabulous Prizes!

It's my birthday and I'm giving away fabulous presents!!!

This has been a wonderful, blessed year! We've moved into a house, which has given all of us much needed space and peace and quiet, besides upgrading me to a wonderful new kitchen with TONS OF STORAGE SPACE!!! My family is healthy, I have the best job ever, and the best friends anyone could ever have-- which includes all of my wonderful friends in foodie blogland! In my culture, one of the ways we show gratitude for our blessings is by giving gifts. So I would like to host a giveaway in honor of my birthday.

A few weeks ago, I approached Lynn at The Handmaiden's Cottage about helping with a giveaway for DomesticMuse. I know you all just adore Lynn's gorgeous aprons-- each one is an original work of art!! Lyn was extremely generous!! With special thanks to Lynn-- here is what we came up with: I am giving away a beautiful and unique set of "Me and Mommy" aprons: there is a big sister, a little sister, and a mommy apron in this sweet, handcrafted set.

Birthdays are also times for reflecting on what the kind of life we want to create. Mojo Spa in Chicago organizes all of their fantastic, home-made products into categories of "desires," and, just for fun, formulates the ingredients to help you attract what you desire into your life. So I am giving away TWO of their incredibly soothing lip balms.

Sweet Success lip balm is infused with orange, cinnamon and vanilla, and energized with a carnelian crystal, which in crystal lore is thought to attract energy, power, and abundance into your life.

Strike it Rich lip balm is infused with mint, pachouli, bergamot, and nutmeg, and energized with a green aventurine crystal, thought to attract wealth. You can get your Mojo on with one of these soothing and fun lip balms!

Birthdays are times for acknowledging our special mentors. Gloria Chadwick, of Tex-Mex Foodies and Foods and Flavors of San Antonio, is a published cookbook author and all around-amazing person. Gloria has also been a fabulous friend and mentor to me this year, and is a source of inspiration to me! To honor Gloria, I am also giving away a copy of her new cookbook,

Foods and Flavors of San Antonio.

Birthdays are times for bringingNEW things into our lives. I have recently been learning to work with gemstones and make jewelry, and am planning to open an Etsy store this summer. I'll post details when the shop is up and running. As my final and special gift, I am offering one of my Harmony necklaces, custom-made especially for the lucky winner. Each necklace is created to harmonize and balance one of your own personal energy centers, known as chakras.
Keeping the chakras balanced and clear is believed to promote optimal well-being. Each chakra is associated with certain colors, gemstones, and even foods!

For example, this simple and beautiful necklace is created to balance the second, or sacral (Hara) chakra, which governs creativity, fertility, desire, and intuition.

It includes a red aventurine on an orange silken cord, one of the gemstones attuned to the vibration and color (orange) of the second chakra. I will work with the winner to design a special Harmony necklace just for you!

So, here's all you have to do to win:
1. Leave a comment on this post, and tell me which gift(s) are your favorite and I will enter you in that category to win. Winners will be chosen randomly.
2. Sign up to follow my blog, if you aren't already a follower. All followers will get "2" entries for the gift(s) of their choice.

All gifts, except for the Harmony necklace, will ship directly from the original retailer. I will notify winners and ask you to send me your shipping addresses so I can have the gifts shipped to out to you immediately.

I will announce winners on June 28!

Here's a lineup of the fabulous gifts!!

The Me and Mommy Apron Set from the Handmaiden's Cottage

Sweet Success Lip Balm from Mojo Spa

Strike it Rich Lip Balm from Mojo Spa

Foods and Flavors of San Antonio by Gloria Chadwick

A custom-made Harmony Necklace

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ridiculously Easy Dinner

Well, I am slowly recuperating from the intensity of the last few weeks. Last week was a double whammy at work, as I had to go out of town to teach 1/2 semester's worth of material in 2 days, at the same time as the deadline for grants I've been helping several libraries write was mere days away. I am happy to say I survived! The grant deadline was yesterday, and everybody got their proposals in on time.

However, having worked through the weekend, after having been out of town for 4 days, my kitchen was in very sad shape. The cupboard's been bare; we've had no vittles in the house for days now and have been subsisting on restaurant meals and leftovers of same. The absolute nadir was Sunday night, when we were forced by time constraints to eat at the Teeter plaza near our house, gnawing on dried-out and practically flavorless chicken wings (one of the tastier offerings at that particular establishment). Afterward, DS & I went next door for "ice cream," where I ordered something called a key lime "gelati," and was handed a paper cup filled with a puddle of electric green slushy, a dollop of vanilla softserve, and topped with another puddle of green slushy. I adore gelato, but this was not it. Even when I eventually succeeded in amalgamating the separate components of my "gelati," it tasted like a green Life-Saver.

Today, DS and I were able, at last, to get to the WF for some vittles. We were even out of eggs and milk.... Craving a delicious homemade meal, I asked DS what he was hungry for. Scallops!!

I remembered a delicious recipe featuring scallops that I used to make out of a great little cookbook by Anna Pump, called Loaves and Fishes. I acquired it for free about 20 years ago at the Indian bookstore in Seattle (another story, another time!) and remembered the recipe as being somewhat exotic.

Glancing at it before heading out to the store, I realized the only reason it had seemed exotic was the difficulty of getting scallops back in the days when I was marooned in a small town in the Ozarks. The recipe itself is ridiculously easy, and would lend itself to all sorts of delicious variations, so of course I have to share it with you!

It could hardly be simpler, or quicker to make.

Scallops with Garlic and Tomato Cream Sauce

I served this with a salad of mixed baby lettuces, a warm, crusty rosemary demi-baguette, and some orzo tossed with butter, garlic, and parsley. DC cleaned his plate, and DS even had seconds!

Here are the ingredients:

4 T unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced (natch, I used 7, what's the point of such a piddly amount of garlic?)
2 c. heavy cream (I used 1 1/2 c.)
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
4 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped or 1 c. canned tomatoes
(I used a whole can of THESE:)

2 1/2 lb. bay scallops (I used 2 lbs)
1/2 c. unbleached flour
1 t. salt
black pepper to taste
1/4 c. clarified butter

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the minced garlic and cook over low-heat for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the cream, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer 5-6 minutes, or until somewhat thickened.

Meanwhile, toss together the flour, salt and pepper. (I used a ziptop bag). Add the scallops and toss to coat thoroughly with the flour mixture.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the clarified butter. When hot, add the scallops and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir, and cook another minute or so, until just cooked through.

Add the scallops to the sauce, adjust the seasoning as needed, and serve immediately.

There's quite a bit of sauce, so the orzo came in handy! This is an excellent quick, tasty dinner. We have leftovers which I am sure everyone will enjoy for lunch tomorrow (DS is out of school, and DC has been brown-bagging it).

For dessert, I splurged on a delicious-looking peach pie at WF, which DS only grudgingly agreed to, (he's not a fruit pie fan) and some Stonyfield Farm organic vanilla ice cream, which I can't wait to taste. (It was on sale!) DC, OTOH, was totally psyched about the pie. Since he's not a huge scallops fan, and DS had requested them, I figured the pie evened things out. I'll let you know if the pie is any good!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Help, I think I'm drowning!

Hi, All--

Just a quick update to say that I have several posts in the works, one for Scottish Jam Buns, another for a Lentil and Eggplant Salad, and one for yesterday's soup and sammie meal: Tequila Lime Chicken Open-Face Melts and homemade Mushroom Bisque.

Not sure if I will get to any of this today, and tomorrow I am leaving for a business trip to FL, where I am teaching a 2-day class, Wed. & Thurs. Home Fri. I hope to have time to get some new posts up this week.

Meanwhile, I miss you all and hope to be able to be more active after the 16th! :)

Karen, the DomesticMuse

Monday, June 1, 2009

June Joust: Carolina Perloo Samosas

Nuria of Spanish Recipe, and Winner! of last month's Royal Joust, (congratulations, Nuria!!) chose a wonderful trio of ingredients for this month's contest: rice, bacon, and tomato. (Y'know, I think it is really the June Joust!) How could any dish combining these marvelous ingredients not be a winner? This month's Royal Foodie Joust is presided over as always by The Leftover Queen.

This combination made me recall with fondness the "Spanish Rice" my mom used to fix for us when we were growing up. It was one of our favorites. I really have no idea why it's called Spanish Rice, as it is unlike either Mexican red rice or the classic saffron rice dishes of Spain. It is, however, one of the best things you could ever put in your mouth, dubious origins aside.

Truthfully, Mom's Spanish Rice has more in common with Low Country dishes like perloo ( a kind of rice pilaf similar to jambalaya) than anything from Spain. Because of this, I thought it would be fun to play with Mom's recipe to create my own version of Carolina Perloo.

Taking things a step further, even more fun to add a multucultural twist to the whole thing by using the perloo to fill some Indian Samosas.

It has been quite a while since I made homemade samosas and it was a lot of fun! Since it was lying around, I used a deep-fryer that I seriously don't know if I've used in the past decade! I guess it was worth dragging with me to all the places I've lived over the years!

As I was working, I recalled that I once made 80 samosas for my friend Sarada's retirement party. ( In August, in a non-airconditioned kitchen, too!) I finished the golden-fried samosas off with a lemon-mint parsley drizzle. Both the samosa dough and the sauce are adapted from recipes by total culinary goddess, Nicole Routhier.

And while the Joust is a blast and I look forward to competing each month, I feel like this time, I've already won: DS pronouced the samosas "really, really, really yummy." And if there is one thing DS knows, it's great food! :P

I hope you enjoy my fusion-inspired creation! This is my Joust entry for June. Please don't forget to vote. Polls are open from June 3-8.

Carolina Perloo Samosas with Lemon-Mint Parsley Sauce by DomesticMuse
Makes 6 Samosas

Besides tasting fantastic, the wonderful thing about this perloo is it is very versatile-- just the thing for using up leftovers. In fact, it's one of the best uses I can think of for leftover white rice. I flavored mine with some ham I had left in the freezer along with some shrimp.

You will have lots of perloo leftover, so feel free to serve the extra along-side each person's samosa.

8 slices bacon (I used some applewood smoked bacon)
3 med. onions, chopped
1 lg, green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. salt black pepper to taste
3 1/4 c. tomato juice
2 14 1/2 oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 heaping t. sugar
2 1/2 c. cooked white rice
1- 1 1/2 c. diced ham
1/2 lb. med. shrimp, shelled

For the samosa dough:
2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. sugar
4 T unsalted butter, melted

1/2 c. ice water (plus more, if needed)

1. Cook the bacon until crisp and dry, reserving all bacon fat. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels.
2. Cook the onion and green pepper in the hot bacon fat in a large, deep skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes or so, until tender and fragrant. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

3. Add the tomato juice, diced tomatoes, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir well and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and cook at a low simmer, with the lid cracked, for 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes or so. The mixute should be somewhat thicker.
Here is my perloo base, just starting to simmer:

4. Add the white rice and the diced ham, and stir to combine.

Simmer, covered, over very low heat for 50 minutes. Check every 15 minutes to make sure rice is not getting too dry, adding a little water if needed.
5. Add the shrimp, cover and cook and additional 10 minutes. Crumble the bacon over the top, and stir into the mixture. Remove from the heat and cool.

Here's my perloo, all done!

(Mixture can be prepared 1 day ahead and brought to room temperature for stuffing the samosas.)

Make the samosa dough:
1. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process briefly to combine. Pour the melted butter over the flour mixture, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
2. Turn the processor on and with the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube. Process until the dough begins to come together. If the dough is too dry, add a bit more water. If too wet, add a teaspoon or two of flour to make a soft but workable dough.

3. Place the dough on a lightly-floured work surface and knead gently until all ingredients are incorporated.
4. Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Shape into balls and then flatten each ball into a disc.

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet or plate, sprinkle lightly with flour, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll and Fill the Samosas:
5. After 30 minutes, work with 1 piece of dough at a time, leaving the rest in the fridge. On a well-floured surface, roll each disc out into a 10" round.

6. Cut each round in half with a sharp knife. Moisten the straight edge of the dough with water and fold the dough into a cone, overlapping the dough (one side will have a double thickness of dough). Pinch the seams together, leaving the top open.
7. Fill each cone with about 1/4 c. of the perloo, and pinch the top securely shut. Place the filled samosas on a plate and refrigerate as you make them.

Cook the Samosas:
8. Heat 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a large sauce pan or use a fry cooker and fill according to manufacturer's instructions. Heat the oil to 375F.
9. Cook the samosas in the hot oil for 4 minutes, turning halfway through if needed.

Place on a paper-towel-lined plate, and keep warm in a low oven until all samosas are cooked and you are ready to serve. Serve with sauce, below.

Lemon-Mint Parsley Sauce

Juice of 2 fresh lemons
1/2 c. Italian parsley, leaves only, chopped

1/3 c., packed, fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 sweet white onion, minced
1/2 t. salt
cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil

Mix everthing together in a bowl, and drizzle on the hot Samosas. It's delicious on just the perloo, too!

DC's plate before:

And after!

!Buen provecho!

Carolina Perloo Samosas

Golden-brown samosas stuffed with a rich, savory mixture of bacon ...

See Carolina Perloo Samosas on Key Ingredient.

Chi miigwetch SCL: thank you to my son for creating this logo
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