Saturday, July 25, 2015

Baja Bacon Shrimp Burgers (with Marina Del Rey)

Disclosure: Marina Del Rey Foods provided me with packages of shrimp for recipe development at no cost to myself. I am being paid my usual recipe development fee. Opinions are my own. Get your taste buds ready.

Burgers are a summer staple, but there's no need to light up the barbecue every time you get a burger craving. Think beyond the grilled patty and find a world of burger satisfaction straight from the stove top, like these juicy bacon shrimp burgers made with wild-caught shrimp piled on top of a toasted bun with crispy bacon, slices of avocado and a quick and tasty chipotle mayo.

I love shrimp. Always have. In restaurants as a kid, if popcorn shrimp was on the menu, and there often was in the 1980s, that was what I wanted. But there's shrimp and then there's really good shrimp. When Quebec-based Marina Del Rey Foods asked if I would like to try their wild-caught Argentinean shrimp, which they promised have a lobster-like flavour, I really did want, no I needed, a taste.

These shrimp are sourced from the southernmost coast of Argentina - right by Antarctica. They are sushi grade and free of colour, antibiotics and bacteria. They thrive in their natural habitat before being caught, eating only what they were meant to live off of in the natural, pristine waters. They are also shelled and deveined before being frozen, which makes cooking with them easy and makes them work for something like a burger because you're not trying to pull tails off while munching.

Before creating this burger recipe, Mr. Feedbag and I tried out these shrimp in tacos and sautéed with garden zucchini and garlic and tossed with bowtie pasta. The flavour was exactly as described - slightly sweet with a lobster-like flavour. So when it came to developing a recipe to share with you here, I borrowed from the idea of a lobster roll.

The flavour, the texture, the versatility - these really are the shrimp of my dreams. You're going to love them! Get the recipe for my Baja Bacon Shrimp Burgers below...

Baja Bacon Shrimp Burgers
Makes 2 burgers (recipe can easily be doubled for 4 burgers)

10 large peeled and deveined shrimp (I used Marina Del Rey Wild-Caught Argentinean Shrimp)
1/4 cup (60 mL) prepared mayonnaise
1/4 tsp (1 mL) chipotle chili powder
2 strips of thick-sliced bacon
2 burger buns
about 2 oz (57 g) sliced Monterey Jack cheese
Juice of half a lime
6 slices of avocado

Set a frying pan over medium heat. Set the oven to broil (low). Add the shrimp to a medium mixing bowl, cover with cold water and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and chipotle powder and set aside.

Add the bacon to the hot frying pan, sizzling 3 to 4 minutes a side until lightly crisp. Transfer the bacon to a small plate. Once cool, cut or tear strips in half.

Meantime, slice the buns in half and lay cut-side up on a baking sheet. Divide the cheese evenly and position on the two bottom buns. Position the baking sheet under the broiler until the cheese is melted, which should take 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Drain the shrimp well and pat dry with a paper towel. Add the shrimp to the bacon fat in the still-hot frying pan. Sauté 2 to 3 minutes a side until fully cooked. Remove from the heat. Squeeze the lime juice over the shrimp in the pan.

To build each burger, top the cheesy bottom bun first with 2 pieces of bacon, then 3 slices of avocado and 5 shrimp. Serve with the chipotle mayo spread under the top bun.

NOTE: If you don't like it spicy, use a mild chipotle powder or substitute a regular mild chili powder instead.

What would you make with a package of wild-caught Argentinean shrimp?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Weekend Wishes

We are enjoying some much-needed wet weather here on Vancouver Island, so I'll be taking advantage of the cooler air this weekend and doing some more canning. Between games with the kids and my weekly run training, I'll be in and out of the kitchen all weekend with some different flavours in mind.

Here are my kitchen wishes for this weekend:

Pack a peck of pickled peppers
Inspiration: BC grown banana peppers from The Root Cellar

Home canners know how hard it is to resist all the piles of fresh produce at this time of year. Temptation is everywhere! So when I visited my favourite green grocer last weekend to pick up ingredients for the Crunchy Dill Pickles in The Canning Kitchen, I also picked up their gorgeous British Columbia grown banana peppers that were on for a good price. They've been in the crisper, and this weekend I'm going to slice them up for the Hot Pickled Peppers recipe in the book.

Play around with blueberries
Inspiration: Wanda's Blueberry Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Naturally sweet berries and tree fruits make so much sense to me in a grilling sauce, and I absolutely love the idea of dark and dramatic blueberries with grilled beef. This weekend I want to make something fabulous with blueberries - Wanda's sauce, a cocktail syrup, a pie, anything.

Make a minty mix
Inspiration: Joy the Baker's favourite summer drinks

I haven't really been making the most of all the mint growing along our fence in the backyard, so this weekend I'll be getting out the cocktail shaker and mixing up something minty. Perhaps with those blueberries.

What have you got planned in the kitchen this weekend?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Crunchy Dill Pickles: A Canning Photo Story

Dill pickles are a canning classic, and this weekend I preserved 30 jars of crunchy dills from one case of local pickling cucumbers. I took plenty of photos to give those who have never experienced canning pickles a sense of what it looks and feels like to turn fresh farm veggies into something crunchy, sour and oh-so-good.

For other canning photo stories, see Cucumber Relish and Pickled Beets. All recipes are in my cookbook The Canning Kitchen.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Teriyaki pulled beef buns (in the Philips Multicooker)

Disclosure: Philips provided me with a Multicooker for recipe development at no cost to myself. I am charging Philips my usual recipe development/photography fee. An additional Multicooker for giveaway on Family Feedbag is also being provided by Philips at no cost to myself (giveaway in future post). Opinions are my own. Grab a napkin.

The kitchen is the most innovative room in the house. Always has been. The job of feeding a family is never ending, so it's no surprise that home cooks have always been on the lookout for the next thing that will make getting dinner on the table a little bit easier, and perhaps a little more fun, without compromising the quality and flavour of what we're making.

I love to cook, so I am not really into machines that will do it ALL for me. I still want to experience the sizzle, the boil and the steam of cooking. I like a quality tool that will simplify things a little, and maybe produce a little less mess.

When Philips asked if I would try out their brand new Multicooker, I was at first confused. What is a Multicooker, I wondered? I asked Google and concluded that it's like a slow cooker. But better. The Multicooker has a Slow Cook setting, but it also has a Brown/Sauté setting (yes, you can brown your meat first in the same pot!) as well as settings for Rice/Quinoa, Risotto, Oatmeal, Bake/Roast, Boil/Steam, Stew/Soup and Yogurt. Yes, you can even make your own yogurt in this thing.

Well, after using the Multicooker, I'm getting rid of my old slow cooker. I just don't need it anymore.

The first recipe I've created for the Multicooker is for these mouth-watering teriyaki pulled beef buns. Oh my word. So good. They're saucy and sweet and salty all at once. You could make these in a regular slow cooker, searing the beef first on the stovetop, slow cooking it, then finishing the sauce on the stovetop with the beef drippings at the end, and the results would be just as tasty. But doing it all in the same vessel is a time saver and a major mess saver. Plus, the Multicooker got the meat to pull-apart tenderness in just 3 hours. My slow cooker would never do it that fast.

Get this scrumptious recipe below and come back soon when I'll be giving away a Philips Multicooker (retail value of $249.99) to one lucky Family Feedbag reader.

Teriyaki Pulled Beef Buns (in the Philips Multicooker)
Makes 5 to 6 servings

a splash of oil
2 1/2 lb (1.125 kg) beef pot roast
1/4 cup (60 mL) soy sauce
1/4 cup (60 mL) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (60 mL) liquid honey
1 tsp (5 mL) grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch
1/4 cup (60 mL) cold water
5 to 6 buns

Set the Multicooker to the Brown/Sauté setting. Add the oil then the pot roast. Allow the roast to sizzle 2 to 3 minutes per side, rotating until all sides are nicely browned. Set the Multicooker to the Slow Cook setting for 3 hours. Close the lid and go do something else while the roast becomes tender and deeply delicious.

When the time is up, transfer the roast to a dinner plate and set aside. To the beef drippings in the Multicooker, add the soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, ginger and garlic. Set the Multicooker to Boil/Steam and bring to a boil. Meantime, in a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and water. Once boiling, stir the cornstarch mixture into the sauce. Continue boiling until thickened, about 1 minute. Turn off the Multicooker.

Remove any twine from the roast. Using two forks, shred the beef well. Transfer the beef back to the Multicooker. Stir to coat the beef in the sauce.

Serve piled onto buns. I like mine topped with crunchy coleslaw with a dill pickle on the side.

What do you think of the Philips Multicooker concept? How would you use one? Stay tuned for a giveaway soon!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Weekend Wishes

Between kids, canning and a casual ride on my turquoise bike, I have a full and fun weekend planned. Summer sometimes feels like it flies by so I'm trying to make the most of long, warm days while I can.

Here are my wishes for this weekend:

Have a successful Pickle Day 2015
Inspiration: Songza's Farm to Table playlist

Yes, this is the weekend I will make almost all of our crunchy dill pickles for the next year - at least 40 jars! So I need some good tunes to keep me company in the kitchen while I stuff jars with cloves of garlic, fresh dill and crunchy cukes. Songza's playlist called Farm to Table sounds just about right.

Pack a great picnic
Inspiration: Gaby's Picnic 101 (How to Host the Best Picnic)

Lately I've been packing pretty lame family picnics. It has either been peanut butter sandwiches or we just swing by our favourite sandwich shop on the way to the park or beach, which can really start to add up. I'd rather have whole grain crackers with homemade spreads and fresh veggies and dip. It's all about planning ahead, so I'm getting on it.

Scale down on the kitchen gadgets
Inspiration: Rhik's hilarious review of The Egg Master

Sometimes I think having a small kitchen is a burden. Other times I realize it can actually be a blessing. With no space to waste, I have to be selective about what makes it into my cupboards and drawers. I'm getting rid of my slow cooker, for example, and Saturday's blog post will explain why.

Go for a bike ride without looking like a mess after
Inspiration: The best cycling-to-work tips from Chatelaine staffers

Helmet hair aside, I'm mostly annoyed that a bike ride around town in summer requires a shower immediately after. After getting a pedal problem fixed on my bike, I'll be heading out for a casual ride this weekend to look for ripe wild blackberries, hopefully looking relaxed and pulled together when I get back, rather than looking like a sweaty mess. I can hope.

What have you got planned this weekend?