Chinese Walnut Shrimp

We recently got back from a trip from the gulf. It was a trip that was long overdue. We had lots of rest and relaxation, as well as lots of great seafood. The food down there was something I could never get sick of, especially the shrimp. Since we have been back home for a couple of weeks, that shrimp was still on my mind. So as I normally do, I began purging items from our freezer and noticed a big bag of whole shrimp. I was stoked to say the least and knew exactly what I was going to make with them. Chinese walnut shrimp!

I can’t say this would be a dish that I would order at a Chinese restaurant but one I know that my wife loves and has talked about in the past. It was time for me to step up and impress my wife with this simple, and really tasting Chinese walnut shrimp. The kicker is the sauce, and trust me you will love it.

Chinese Walnut Shrimp Recipe
Chinese Walnut Shrimp Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the walnuts:

  • 2 cups roughly chopped walnuts
  • 3 cups canola oil
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients for the shrimp:

  • 3 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • splash of rice vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup Japanese mayonnaise or your favorite
  • 1 cup of fine corn meal or cornstarch
  • 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • cooked jasmine rice

The oil that will be used to crisp up the walnuts will be reused for the shrimp, so don’t discard it.

You will want to start by heating your oil on medium heat.  As the oil heats, go ahead and make a simple syrup. Heat another small pot on medium heat and add the water and sugar.  Bring that to a simmer, then remove it from the heat. The oil should be heated now.

Add the walnuts to the oil and cook them for a few minutes. Just be careful as you do not want to burn them. After a few minutes, remove the walnuts with a slotted spoon and place on a paper lined plate to remove any excess oil and season with salt.

Once the walnuts are strained, add them to the simple syrup and and give that a good stir, coating all of the walnuts. Add them to a parchment paper lined tray, and try to keep them from sticking together. Set aside.

Chinese Walnut Shrimp Ingredients
Chinese Walnut Shrimp Ingredients

Next, make your sauce. Add the mayonnaise, vinegar, condensed milk, honey, and salt to a mixing bowl, and stir well. Set aside on the counter.

Now to the shrimp. Reheat the oil to about 350 degrees. During this time, add the shrimp to the cornmeal (or cornstarch), and toss them around to make sure they are full coated. Once the oil is heated, take a few shrimp, enough to not crowd the pan of oil, and shake off any excess cornmeal, and gently drop them into the oil. Cook the shrimp for only a few minutes as you want crispy, succulent shrimp.

Place the cooked shrimp in a mixing bowl, season with a bit of salt, and repeat this process until all shrimp are cooked.

Cook your broccoli in boiling water for about two minutes, then blanch them in cold water.  Strain and set aside.

Add the sauce to the bowl of shrimp and gently stir, coating all of the shrimp in that delicious sauce.

Now time to plate.

I like to add cooked rice to a bowl, pack it in, then flip the bowl over onto a large serving plate. Pour the shrimp over the rice, then garnish around the rice and shrimp the broccoli. Pour over the candied walnuts, and now you are in business!

My wife, who did not know I was making this dish was floored and fell in love with it. Real deal is what I think I heard her say, but regardless this had me sold. And that shrimp… oh yeah that shrimp was something to write about. I hope you enjoy!

Cheese Fondue

I start by saying I feel blessed by knowing my wife. We met moons ago but to this day my feelings for her have never changed. On a recent anniversary, porcelain was the deal. I think I was laid up sick (not unusual nowadays), but she delivered a couple of things that she knew I would love. Porcelain.  There was a lasagna dish, and a fondue item. I LOVE FONDUE. Many years ago, probably on the start of our marriage, my wife’s friend brought over a fondue kit and that is when it started. Granted I had fondue in prior to that, but the communal experience is one that I totally love(d). So when my wife showed my that love and thought, I was all in and really excited.

Cheese Fondue Recipe
Cheese Fondue Recipe

My kids have never had fondue, or if they did it was at a very young age.

Fondue is special. It’s fun and it is simple once you have everything in place. I believe it is derived from the Swiss, but being in Wisconsin and having great cheese, wine, and everything else, well it does add up to a great cold winter appetizer or dinner.

There are different kinds of fondues. Cheese, chocolate, or oil based pots for communal dipping. This is a simple cheese fondue and I’m certain there are so many different takes on it. Mine was simple. Bread and cheese on a cold winter day.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb bag of fondue cheese, or grate your own Swiss and Gruyere cheese
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • rustic bread, cubed or torn
  • Any vegetables you want (optional)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • pinch of cracked black pepper

I know there is probably a more traditional way to fondue using Kirsch, but to be honest who has Kirsch sitting around? I did once and it was consumed immediately. Wisconsin loves its brandy. This is stuff that is easy to get a hold of, and once you start mixing the cheese and keeping it warm, well it is so hard to not hit it every 10 minutes.

Cheese Fondue Ingredients
Cheese Fondue Ingredients

Start by rubbing your fondue pot with the clove of garlic. Don’t be shy. Rub that sucker. Then warm your fondue pot. You can buy the sternos at the store or online. Or if your fondue pot is electric, even better.

Once the pot is warmed, add in the cheese(s), wine, and lemon juice. Stir well. Toss in the pepper and stir some more. Once this begins to melt, keep stirring, and get ready to use your poker. The pokers are color coded. If you have a sicko around, no poker.

If your fondue starts to thicken, add a bit more wine, stir and loosen it up. Keep the heat on low and when eating, poke the break and stir that cheesey awesomeness up.

Dip and go. My wife and I love cheese fondue. The strength of the cheese kind of freaked out my kids, who love cheese, which was just fine because that meant more goodness for us. Go fondue! Hope you enjoy, and hope your new year is off to a great start.

 

Homemade Baklava using D’Vash

I find it interesting that over the last few months there are a couple of boxes of fillo dough and puff pastry in my freezer. I’m almost certain I had a couple of ideas bouncing around in my head during those purchases, but it was not until team members from D’Vash Organics contacted me once again to partner with them in creating yet another great recipe using their amazing D’Vash Date Nectar.  That’s when I knew exactly what I was going to make. A traditional baklava, in some ways, but using D’Vash date nectar in replace of honey. The result was mind blowing to say the least.

Homemade Baklava using D'Vash
Homemade Baklava using D’Vash

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 rolls or 1 box of fillo dough, thawed
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups of shelled pistachios
  • 2 cups of walnuts
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of D’Vash date nectar
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Start by making your sweet sauce that will be used after the baklava has baked. You will want to do this ahead so that it has time to cool.

Add 3/4 cup of sugar, water, lemon juice, and D’Vash date nectar to a small pot. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, then once boiling reduce the heat and cook for about 5 more minutes. Stir along the way. After 5 minutes, remove from the heat and let it cool.

Now the backbreaking work. Just kidding. This is the only time consuming part, and if you are having your kids help, this can take a bit of patience as unlayering each piece of fragile fillo can be a bit nerve wracking. Just make sure your fillo dough is completely thawed. I set mine out the day before and place it in the refrigerator overnight for a day or two to ensure it is completely thawed.

Get a baking sheet out, or if your are super detailed get a baking dish out that will fit your sheet of fillo dough. I go with my baking sheet and make sure that when I layer each fillo that it matches up with the previous fillo dough.

Make the sugar and nut mixture. To a food processor, or use a knife if you desire, pulse the nuts into a fine chop. Add the nuts to a bowl along with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon and give that a good mix.

Get your bowl of melted butter ready along with a pastry brush. Unroll a roll of fillo and get ready to baklava!

Place 10 fillo sheets onto the baking sheet one at a time, and brush each sheet with butter once it’s in the pan before adding the next sheet of fillo.  After the 10th sheet, spread about 1/5 of nut mixture over the fillo dough.

Do the same process, but this time layer only 5 sheets, buttering each sheet, then on the 5th sheet, top with the nut and sugar mixture.

Do this about 4 more times with the 5 sheet layer process, then on the final top, go back to the 10 stack of fillo, ensuring that all nut mixture is used up before layering the top 10 sheets of fillo.

Butter the top of the 10th sheet, then gently push down and form the baklava.

Homemade Baklava Ingredients using D'Vash
Homemade Baklava Ingredients using D’Vash

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Now let’s cut the baklava. Cut the fillo into about 2 inch strips, lengthwise, then make diagonal cuts to make somewhat of a diamond shape. If you want to keep things simple, just cut into rectangles, it’s up to you.

Place the baking sheet into the oven and cook for about 1 hour, up to 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Once the baklava is a great golden brown, remove from the oven, and immediately ladle over the cooled syrup you made earlier, ensuring that you get into all of those crevices.

Now the hard part… waiting.

The goal is to not only let the baklava cool, but you want that syrup to penetrate all of that great fillo that you took your time stacking. After about 4 hours, go ahead and try the baklava, but trust me the longer you wait, the better it gets. Kids approved, neighbors and friends approved, and chef approved.

If you are looking for a great treat that will be sure to please everyone (with the exception of those with nut allergies), then give this baklava a try. The replacement of D’Vash really made this baklava stand out. It had this subtle tartness that really made this delicious baklava pop.

If you are wanting to try D’Vash Organics Date Nectar (and I highly recommend it), then head over to their store and pick some up. My lucky readers can use the coupon code DVASHSIMPLECOMFORTFOOD upon check out! Hope you enjoy D’Vash as much as we do!

Smothered Burritos with Bombero Sauce

Often times I am thinking about making a great Mexican style sauce. The taqueria I often visit has a small array of sauces that I am totally addicted to, whether that be dipping chips into or spooning all over my tacos. By default I lean on more spicy sauces, probably more spicy than most can typically handle, and this bombero sauce is right up my alley. This is a great sauce on its own as it is smokey and packs a punch, but when ladled onto a cooked burrito, well it just gets elevated to a whole other level.

Smothered Burrito with Bombero Sauce
Smothered Burrito with Bombero Sauce

Let’s get started.

For the Bombero Sauce:

  • 20 dried chile arbol, stems removed
  • Water to cover the chilies, about 2 1/2 cups
  • 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp salt, to taste

For the burritos:

  • Cooked and shredded chicken
  • Large flour tortillas, slightly warmed
  • Mexican Queso quesadilla, shredded, to your liking
  • Mexican Crema, to your liking

Start by making the sauce.

To a sauce pan, add the arbol chilies, and the water, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let the chilies steep for about 30 minutes. During this time prepare the rest of the sauce ingredients.

After 30 minutes, remove the chilies with a slotted spoon and place them into a blender or food processor. Reserve the chile water.

Add the remaining sauce ingredients into the blender or food processor, along with about 1 cup of the chili water, and 2 cups of fresh water and blend until smooth.

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and use a spoon to mash the mixture through the strainer. This will filter any seeds or thicker stuff that you can discard.

Now you have your bombero sauce. Taste and season with any additional sauce.Yep, packs a little punch, but don’t worry, my wife and kids loved this sauce and everyone devoured the smothered burritos.

Now add that sauce to a sauce pot and bring to a simmer, cooking for about 10-15 minutes. Let cool and store in your refrigerator until you are ready to use. I couldn’t wait. I was the dude sweating in the kitchen, repeating the tortilla chip dunk into the sauce. It’s addicting.

 

Bombero Sauce Recipe
Bombero Sauce Recipe

Now onto the burrito. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Warm a large flour tortilla so it is pliable, then add in shredded chicken, and about 1/2 cup of the quesadilla cheese. Roll and fold the burrito, and place onto a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. The goal is to get a slightly crunchy outside of the burrito. Repeat with as many burritos as you would like to make.

During this time, warm up the bombero sauce on the stove, and bring to a low boil.

After 10 minutes, remove the burritos, and get ready to sauce them. I ladle sauce over the top of mine, top with more cheese, and place back into the oven until the cheese is melted. I let the wife and kids ladle as much as they want and add cheese if desired. After the cheese has melted, remove and drizzle Mexican crema over the top.

Dig in.

Not only do you get this great, almost baked chimichanga, burrito, but the spiciness balanced with the cheese and crema just made this a meal so liked that I think we all wanted more the following day. It’s that good. Feel free to use that sauce to your liking. Think enchiladas, drizzle over tacos, you name it. It’s a winner. I hope you enjoy!