Nice, mostly easy week this week, compared to the last couple, now that most of our stuff is gone (movers will return December 15 for the last few things to send express) and the holiday is over.  A smattering of doctors appointments, mostly, and prep for final inspection...clean clean clean!

Sunday
Taco Bell and the movie 2012...date night.

Monday
Spicy Shrimp Stir Fry on rice
Salad
Cherry Walnut Banana Bread

Tuesday
Grilled pork skewers (Pre Packaged Turo Turo Gourmet Pork BBQ Sticks...definitely check these out!)
Roasted Cauliflower soup
Salad

Wednesday
Chicken Pizzaiolo on fettucini
Steamed Artichokes
Salad
Zucchini Bread

Thursday
Beef tacos
Yellow Rice

Friday
Oven BBQ Chicken
Macaroni and Cheese
broccoli mix
Easy Peasy coconut macaroons

Saturday
Lunch and dinner in Roma for the final time

Countdown to flight home:  19 days.

FNCC Challenge: Dave Lieberman Curried Couscous Salad With Dried Sweet Cranberries




This weed's FNCC chef was Dave Lieberman of Good Deal with Dave Lieberman.  Haven't heard of this guy either, but he has some delicious looking recipes on his website.  I went with his curried couscous salad with dried sweet cranberries.


Great simple recipe for a delicious side, though next time I would cut down on the curry powder, it just irritated my throat a bit.  Other than that, it was delicious.



Mix dry couscous, curry powder, cranberries, salt and sugar in a large bowl.  Boil water as per your couscous package directions.




Pour boiling water and OJ over the couscous mix.  Stir a bit then let sit 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.





Mix in scallions, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper.  Stir well to combine.



Toast walnuts in 400 degree oven for about 6-7 minutes (8 like the recipe says burnt the first batch.)  Mix the walnuts into the salad.




Serve!

Curried Couscous Salad with Dried Sweetened Cranberries
Adapted from a recipe by Dave Lieberman
  • 1 (5.8-ounce) box instant couscous
  • 3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 orange, juiced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on an angle
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

Stir the couscous, cranberries, curry powder, salt, and sugar together in a heatproof bowl. Bring water (amount will be listed on package directions) to a boil and pour it over the couscous. Add the orange juice. Give it a big stir, cover the bowl tightly and let it stand, giving it a big stir once or twice, until the water is absorbed and the couscous is tender, about 5 minutes.
Fluff up the couscous with a fork. Add the olive oil, scallions, parsley, lemon juice, and walnuts. Stir around until everything is distributed evenly throughout the couscous. Make up to 2 hours ahead of time and keep at room temperature until you're ready to serve. Check the seasonings just before you serve the salad and add salt and pepper, to taste.
Note: To toast the walnuts, spread them out on a baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree F oven until they turn a shade darker, about 8 minutes.


Join us next week for the next challenge...the chef is Duff Goldman.  Bake and decorate some cupcakes to show off!

Moving

Things around here are crazy....we are moving back to the states, Jacksonville Florida to be exact and busy busy busy!  Moving overseas is nothing to shake a stick at.  The movers packed our stuff on Thursday and Friday....so I have nearly nothing to cook with.  One soup pot and two small sauce pans.  Forgive me if I don't post as many blogs....I'm stuck until we reach the other end!

FNCC Challenge: Danny Boome



This week's FNCC is using a recipe from Danny Boome, the Rescue Chef!  Finally!  A FN chef that I recognize.  He's done some pretty delicious things on his show, so I was happy to peruse his recipe file, where I found this little gem, Honey and Mustard Shrimp Skewers.  

Delicious recipe that really couldn't be any simpler or healthier.

Thread skewers with shrimp and wedges of lime and lemon while your grill heats.  I used the George Foreman indoor grill as usual.

Mix dijon mustard (I used the really grainy stone ground type) and honey.  Set aside.

Grill skewers a few minutes until done (took 4 minutes on the indoor grill) then paint with the  honey mustard mix.

Delicious! Only one recommendation...I found them a tad bitter, next time I"ll squeeze the lemon and lime over the skewers before grilling instead of threading them on.

Honey and Mustard Shrimp Skewers
Adapted from Danny Boome's recipe at foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • Wooden skewers

Shrimp:

  • 3 limes, cut into 8 wedges
  • 3 lemons, cut into 8 wedges
  • 18 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • Olive oil, for brushing

Sweet Chili Dip:

  • 2 tablespoons clear honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

For the shrimp: Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes. Skewer the lemons and limes with 2 to 3 large shrimp on each stick. Brush with oil so they don't stick to the grill. Either sear on a hot BBQ or under the broiler until shrimp is cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes.


Join us next week for another entry in the challenge....Next week's chef is Dave Lieberman...
For the chili dip: In a small bowl mix the honey, mustard, and crushed red pepper flakes. Brush over cooked kebabs and serve.

Have The Cake Challenge: Coconut Cake




The dessert for the month of November over at Have The Cake is coconut cake....one that I've never tried before.  Sure, I've done the standard Easter Bunny Cake with the dyed coconut, and the German Chocolate cake with the coconut-pecan icing, but never an honest-to-goodness coconut flavored cake, so this is a new thing for me as well.  This challenge is definitely stretching my experience!

I chose Tyler Florence's White Coconut Cake recipe as it looked yummy and utilized rum, which, having an entire bottle of Coconut Rum in the fridge to get rid of, sounded like just the ticket!



I'm a huge fan of coconut rum, especially in Coke.  Nothing better, really.  So off we go after the jump.


FNCC Challenge: Daisy Martines Grilled Skirt Steak Churrasuco


The chef for this week's challenge is Daisy Martinez.  She hosts a show entitled "Viva Daisy" after having been an actess and model.  Yes, another "chef" that I have doubts about the credibility of, however the recipe I chose made me change my mind.




I made her Grilled Skirt Steak (Churrasuco) and it was fabulous, although I did make one change...delicious, and the garlic was so spicy.  I'll definitely make this again...


First the meat:  Our commissary here doesn't stock skirt steak, so instead I chose some top sirloin steaks.










Seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder since I forgot to buy onion powder, which is what the recipe calls for.









Sprinkle with white wine vinegar and brush with olive oil.  Let marinate for at least half an hour.










Grilled on the George Foreman grill for 5 minutes..  Cook to your desired doneness.









To make the sauce:

Grab 4 cups of  parsley.  The packs sold here are from the Italian economy.










Also grab 6 cloves of garlic...One had a blemish..cut that off.










Put the parsley and garlic in the food processor...












Process until fine.  It's amazing mow much the parsley breaks down.











Scoop out into a bowl and add 1/2 cup of Olive Oil...









A fourth cup of red wine vinegar...











Salt....I just love action shots...












Fresh ground pepper...










Mix it all up until it's happy...












Serve on top of the steaks..muy delicioso!  All of those garlic cloves really make the sauce peppery!









Join us for next week's challenge: Danny Boome, yet another chef I'm unfamiliar with.

BBA Challenge: Ciabatta or an exercise in humilty


I finally was motivated to try another bread in the bread baker's apprentice challenge this week...the Ciabatta.  Ultimately, I failed.  I've had a lot of ciabatta here while living in Italy...in fact it's almost silly to even try to make it here when it is so cheap and easy to get, but hey, some of us have to try to do everything once.  I won't be making this again, since it was not the easiest bread to deal with and didn't come out well.  It was fun to try though.  I"m not entire sure where I went wrong....instead of the huge holes I had a tight crumb.  The bread tasted delicious but just wants ciabatta. Here's the scoop on what I did.





Measured out 13.5 ounces of white bread flour. Into that I mixed:













Salt..













and yeast.  Next:













I had a few ounces less than the recipe called for of the poolish, so I used it all.













I actually love the smell of poolish....like bread as it's baking.













6 tablespoons of water.  I added more later since the dough was dry.













You're supposed to mix 5-7 minutes with dough hook.  This may have been where the problems originated, since I have a crappy cheap mixer and had to keep adjusting it, and may have over kneaded.  Who knows...













Make an 8 inch square bed of flour on the counter and scrape out the dough onto it.













Fold like an envelope, spray with oil and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rest 30 minutes.













Fold like an envelope again and recover.  Let ferment 1 1/2 to 2 hours.













This was shortly before 1 1/2 hours..the dough wasn't supposed to rise very much but it exploded.













Cut into three, form a couche with floured linen (I used a table cloth), and fold like envelopes again.  Let ferment an hour.













Done.. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and place a steam pan in bottom of the oven.













Preheat oven to 500F and place a metal pan in the bottom of the oven.  Meanwhile, slid breads onto parchment covered baking pan (don't have a stone).  When the oven is preheated, pour a cup of water into the steam pan on the bottom of the oven and slide the pan with the bread in.  Spray the sides of the oven with room temp water from a water bottle.  Close the oven, then spray 3 times more at 30 second intervals.  When that's done reduce heat to 450 and bake 10 minutes.  Rotate pan and bake 10 minutes more.  I actually had to add 5 minutes to that because my loaves just weren't brown.  This is after;













Baked and sliced to show crumb:













Maybe next time I'll have better luck..it's Cinnamon rolls.