Thursday, February 27, 2014

Shrimp Diablo Enchiladas.

Photo shoot today at Los Vaqueros Stockyards.

My Food Photography

I've finally found my one true love. Food Photography. Take a look. I'm just getting started, but I really do love it. Shooting with my Nikon D5300 with a Tamron 90 mm. marcro lens.

Ingredients for my Meyer Lemon Soufle:
Sugar, lemon juice, egg yolks, lemon zest, and of course, the lovely Meyer lemons.

Meyer Lemon: A cross between a lemon and a tangerine.

I have the most beautiful light coming in through my kitchen windows. Almonds and dried cranberries.

Fig jam, apple and walnut flat bread. This was left over from dinner at Kona Grill in Fort Worth. Shot in my kitchen inside the black Styrofoam take-home box.

I got this lovely bowl at the BlogHer Food Conference in 2013.

This is a spice rack located inside a specialty grocery store in New Orleans.

The Pescado Vera Cruz at Los Vaqueros in the Fort Worth Stockyards. The fish was covered with onion and avocado so you can't really see it here. But I love the light and the depth here.

Shrimp Diable Enchilladas, also at Los Vaqueros in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Tangy red sauce with tender, delicious little shrimp inside.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Moroccan Lamb Tagine

We traveled from Spain to Morocco a couple of years ago and I fell in love with the rich flavors and exotic spices used in cooking traditional Moroccan food. I've tried a few different recipes and even made up my own, but this recipe for Moroccan Lamb Tagine from is one of the best Tagines I've made. It has a lot of ingredients, but after making the Ras El Hanoud, the traditional Moroccan spice blend, and marinating the meat overnight, the rest goes fairly quickly. If you don't have time to marinate overnight, 30 minutes to an hour will do.

If you love cooking exotic fare, be sure to buy a traditional Tagine. The conical cover of the vessel allows the juices and flavors of the meat and vegetables to circulate and enhance the flavor of the dish. You'll be tempted to open the top to peek, but don't do it until at least halfway through the cooking time. I waited 1 1/2 hours before opening the top to check on it.

I've used store-bought Tagine Spice before, but take the time to make the spice blend yourself. The result is a complexity of flavors that only comes from making it from scratch.

I'm happy to report that of all the spices in the list, the only one that was not in my pantry was the Cardamom. Making this recipe also gave me the chance to clean out old jars of spices I've had for a bit too long. You should replace spices in your pantry after about 2 years.

To serve, bring the Tagine to the table. Your guests will love this exotic presentation, and your home will be filled with its fragrant aroma.


Moroccan Lamb Tagine

For the Ras El Hanoud (Moroccan Spice Blend)
2 Tbsp. Paprika
¼ tsp. Tumeric
½ tsp. Ground Cumin
¼ tsp. Cayenne
1 tsp. Cinnamon
¼ tsp. Ground Cloves
½ tsp. Ground Cardamom
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
½ tsp. Ground Ginger
Pinch of Saffron
¾ tsp. Garlic Powder
¾ tsp. Ground Coriander

Other Ingredients
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 pounds lamb meat, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes – or 3 medium sized lamb shanks
2 medium onions, sliced
5 carrots, peeled and sliced into ½ inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. freshly ground ginger
1 lemon, zested
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. cornstarch (optional)
1 Tbsp. water (optional)
10 dried apricots
Pine nuts
Parsley sprigs

1.    Place lamb in a bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and set aside. In a large resealable bag, toss together the paprika, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, salt, ginger, saffron, garlic powder and coriander. Mix well. Add the lamb to the bag, and toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

2.    Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add 1/3 of the lab, and brown well. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining lamb. Add onions and carrots to the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the fresh garlic and ginger, continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Return the lamb to the pot and stir in the lemon zest, chicken broth, tomato paste, apricots and honey. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 ½ - 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is fork tender.

3.    If the consistency is too thin, you may thicken it with a mixture of cornstarch and water during the last 5 minutes.

4.    Garnish with pine nuts and parsley and serve with couscous.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Grilled Shrimp with Watermelon, Basil, Corn and Burrata from Chef Joseph Lenn at The Barn at Blackberry Farm

I read the Wall Street Journal every weekend and there's always an amazing recipe just calling my name. Ed chose this one, and we decided I had to make it today. The perfect Sunday supper. Grilled Shrimp with Watermelon, Basil, Corn and Burrata.

This recipe is from Chef Joseph Lenn at The Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee.

I made some minor alterations just due to what I had on hand, so I'll share those here. This was amazingly easy and even more amazingly delicious. It actually made Ed do a dance in the kitchen. He won't let me post the video of him doing the "corn salsa dance." Trust me. It was priceless.

This recipe has delicious fresh ingredients - shrimp, olive oil, minced garlic, sliced basil, salt and pepper, kernels of fresh corn, white balsamic (which I didn't have so found the perfect substitute), watermelon, and burrata (which Whole Food was out of, so I substituted small fresh balls of mozzarella.

The mound of mozzarella look like little clouds. They were a perfect substitution for burrata cheese.

When you cut the watermelon, cut it into very small pieces. Small as the corn kernels.

The combination of corn, watermelon and basil is amazing. This would be a great accompaniment to chicken, fish or any number of summer dishes.

I didn't have white balsamic, so I Googled what the substitute might be, and it said that white wine vinegar with a touch of sugar is a good sub, so I used it. It was perfect.

Plate prep was pretty fun. The light was just perfect. These are my favorite "fish plates" that we got at the Kosta Boda factory in Kosta, Sweden when we visited my brother Gregg there a few years back. This is just the mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and a little pinch of salt.

And this is the final dish. Fresh. Light. Flavorful. Healthy. Recipe is right below. You must try this one.

Grilled Shrimp with Watermelon, Basil, Corn and Burrata
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 tablespoons finely slice basil (I did a chiffonade of basil by rolling up the basil leaves and then cutting the roll with scissors)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Kernels from 4 ears of fresh corn on the cob
1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic (substitute is white wine vinegar with a touch of sugar)
3 cups cubed watermelon (very small cubes - see the pic)
2 balls burrata, halved, at room temperature

In a small bowl, toss shrimp with 2 tbsp. olive oil, garlic and 1 tbsp. basil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss corn with vinegar and remaining basil and oil. Add watermelon and season with salt.

Recipe calls for grilling the shrimp, but I put them into the wok. Just easier....

Divide burrata, shrimp and corn-watermelon salad among 2 plates. Season burrata with salt and drizzle with olive oil and serve.

This is one we'll serve to company. Enjoy! And thanks Chef Lenn and thanks Wall Street Journal!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Dinner tonight: Harissa-marinated chicken stuffed with herbed goat cheese

Got home at 5:45 which is late for me. [spoiled] I had taken out 3 beautiful boneless, skinless chicken breasts with no plan of what to do with them. So in my typical fashion, I scavenged through the fridge to see what I could create, and I found the Harissa, a traditional Moroccan red pepper sauce, some goat cheese needing to be used up, and some fresh parsley left over from the weekend.

And VOILA~ Harissa-marinated chicken stuffed with herbed goat cheese. So easy....keep reading.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 TBSP olive oil
3 TBSP Harissa (I use Mina brand spicy Harissa from World Market)

Marinate the chicken in the olive oil and Harissa in a large ziploc bag. Just throw it all in there, rub it all around, and set it out for as long as you can. Tonight, it only set for 20 minutes. We were hungry~

Goat Cheese Stuffing
6 ounces good goat cheese
2 TBSP chopped parsley
1/4 tsp salt
3 turns of a pepper mill of black pepper (how's that for exact measurement : )
[you don't need much salt or pepper in the cheese blend because the Harissa is so spicy and flavorful.]
Mix this all together in a bowl. I warmed it a few seconds in the microwave just so the cheese was easier to stir.

Remove the chicken from the marinade.
Place foil on your baking sheet [another lazy move - don't want to have to wash the pan. could have used the lovely round baking stone, but that thing's a bitch to clean]
Slice the chicken breasts parallel to the pan at the thickest part but don't go all the way through. The slit should be deep enough so that the cheese won't spill out in the oven.
Spoon in (or stuff in with your hands if you're Italian) but don't put so much that it's spilling out before you put it in the oven.

Cook at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes. Time is totally dependent on how big your chicken breasts are. So keep an eye on it.

The spicy hotness of the Harissa is offset so nicely by the tangy coolness of the goat cheese. This was easy and delicious. I'd serve this with a nice Basmati Rice or couscous. Tonight we had mixed vegies, but only because we're trying to be good.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lark on the Park - Dallas

My husband Ed gets all the credit for the places we go to eat. And all the cities we travel to. And all the places we stay. I only get credit for loving each one more than the last and trying to share it all with the world.

So Ed was away last weekend in Dallas, PA visiting his family, (yes, there is a Dallas, PA) and he booked a reservation for us while he was away at the hottest little spot in Big D, Lark on the Park. It's another restaurant from Shannon Wynn, who also owns Meddlesome Moth, Flying Fish, and soon to open in Sundance Square, Bird Cafe' in Fort Worth. Chefs Dennis Kelley and Melody Bishop came to Lark from Suzanne Goin's Tavern in Brentwood, CA.

Lark opened in March, and sits right across the street from the lovely Klyde Warren Park. This was our first visit and the park was everything they say it is. A lovely green oasis situated above the bustling highway with book racks like you'd see on a sidewalk in Paris, food trucks galore, a kids park, and lots of room for sitting, strolling, eating or lying in the cool (or hot) grass.

So back to Lark. My first stop was to the ladies room, where this lovely piece greets you as you walk in the door. Called Forked Series #22.

The concept is to showcase both food, beverage and area illustrators. So they've placed huge chalkboards on most every wall and on a regular basis, local artists come in and showcase their work for all to see. Very cool concept.

Guidelines and compensation for illustrators can be found at They install a new group of illustrations every 3 months.

This was my favorite. An illustration of Steve Jobs in an Etch A Sketch screen. Kids are sure missing something not having an Etch A Sketch!

Then being a Sunday afternoon, some bubbly was in order. A nice chilled glass (or two) of the '11 Cote Mas Estate Cremant de Limoux, Brut Rose'.

My brunch was an Heirloom Tomato Tart with fromage blanc, Gruyere, proscuitto de Parma and fried egg. It was a slightly salty, warm cheesy tart that paired perfectly with my Brut Rose'. Very French.

Ed chose a cup of potatoe leek soup to start that was creamy and ever-so-oniony. Delicious. And in the cutest little bowl.

And since Ed's quite the healthy eater, he had the Summer Wheat Berry Salad with cherry tomato, cucumber, summer squash and pistou, which is the French variation of pesto, made with garlic, fresh basil and olive oil.

It was the perfect day for our little jaunt to Dallas.

Too full to try the food trucks, but definitely will next time.

Lovely natural gardens surround the park. We picked the perfect day.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Sister Sandy's Antipasti

My sister Sandy lives near Orlando and is a wonderful cook. She made this beautiful antipasto for her guests tonight.

We're ready when you are Bobby Flay. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dinner at Ferre Fort Worth

We had a lovely dinner at Ferre in Fort Worth before seeing Rufus Wainwright in concert with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra at Bass Performance Hall. Delicious food and beautiful music make for a lovely night. Ferre makes a lovely Manhattan, complete with a Maraschino Cherry. Just like Don Draper would order. 

Mussels with garlic cloves and the most amazingly soft fresh salty-crusted homemade bread. 

If you're not familiar with Bass Hall in Fort Worth, it's a magnificent venue downtown. Ferre is across the street, which makes it a perfect spot for dinner before a show. 

We had the most amazing seats in the front row. They were publicly chastising people who attempted to take photos, so I took this quickly and put my phone away for he remainder of the night. Rufus sang just a couple of his classics at the end, including Alleluia. He also performed Four Sonnets, which he read aloud and then sang. He sang a number of songs in French, which he did just beautifully. He closed with a song from his opera. 

On a more personal note, he sang with closed eyes much of the time, giving the feeling of intensity, but he also spoke to the audience at times with his eyes closed, which gave a view of what may be his true insecurity. 

Perhaps musical genius has its burdens. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Photo of the Week

BlogHer 2013 - Day 2

Wonderful meetings with great speakers. But the biggest benefit here is the networking with so many like-minded people. Met 3 of the Six Sisters who have a very popular food blog at Attended workshops on food photography and video creation where I learned so many tips and tricks that will help tremendously.

Friday, June 7, 2013

BlogHerFood 2013

Well I did it. I'm at my very first food blogger conference. BlogHerFood 2013 in Austin. I've decided to attend sessions on food photography, video, and epicurean writing. Should be fun. 

Arrived last night and came in spite of this darn broken toe.

Don't want to start off negative, but they really shouldn't serve powdered eggs and frozen, grey-colored hash browns at a food blogger conference. That could go viral!

Here's the growing crowd for the keynote - the founders of are speaking.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Food Photography at Los Vaqueros West

Just bought a Nikon Coolpix 7700 camera so I can start taking some nice photographs and start doing photo shoots for my food clients. I chose this camera for the quality shots I can get, but also for the portability of it. It fits into my purse and I'll use it on vacations too. Won't carry some big camera bag and lenses. I know myself. So I chose this one...and can easily move up to bigger and better equipment if this little experiment of mine goes well.

I'm a bit of a novice, but I think I have a pretty good eye. Here's some of my best shots so far. The client is Los Vaqueros Restaurants in Fort Worth, Texas. These were all shot at Los Vaqueros West, one of their 3 locations. This one's inWeatherford, TX.

First you pass this store...David's Stove Shop

Then you come to this very cool sign out in the middle of nowhere, showing you that you're on the right track...the restaurant is on the The Golf Club at Crown Valley

Then you pass this guy as you're driving down the road...he had his eye on me big time...

Then you see these guys...

And then you're there to start taking some pictures...

I tried something different on a few. I really like these.

Another setting...

This might be my favorite shot. I think if you can make chips and salsa look good, you're gonna be ok at photography.

This is the plate of accompaniments for the beef and chicken fajitas.

Delicious homemade guacamole served every single day.

The beef and chicken fajitas. I actually captured the steam and was quite pleased about that. Wish my angle had been time.

I like this one a lot. Like the way the scene in the background is out of focus.

Closeup of beef and chicken fajitas.

More of my quasi-Andy Warhol look.

A different filter on this one. Had trouble making this plate look good.

If you can make a plate of brown food look good, you might have a future. PS - this was my lunch and it was DELICIOUS! Cheese enchiladas with rice and beans. Can't really beat that.