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Friday, April 17, 2009

A Cutacious, yet a Little Gross, but Maybe Delicious (?) Story

I recently lost my grandfather at the age of 84. He was a pretty cool guy, lived a long life and was positive until the very end. Of course after a loss, the family gets together and stories come out that you’ve never heard. My grandfather was from St. Vincent and at his heart, a pretty country dude but with a city swagger that was undeniable.

Check him out!

Anyway, I was talking to one my aunts about something he said to me once.
He had an old classic silver Lincoln Continental that he didn’t really drive at the time.

It just sat in the driveway with his personalized plates on it, RAF 35, his initials and the age he was when he got the car. It was a pretty long driveway but when you got to the back of the house where the car port was, there was only about a 4 foot wide clearance in order to get into the backyard itself.

As I came into the backyard with my little blue bike with the banana seat he looked up at me, shot me a look and said, “You scratch my car with your bike and we’ll be fighting like 2 mad dogs”, and then just went back to reading his paper in his lawn chair, just as cool as could be.

Anyway as my aunt laughed and said that that sounded like something my grandfather would say she went into a story that has happened after Easter when she was young.

Back in the day at Easter time (I guess), and probably somewhere in the country, (my grandparents lived in Hollis Queens at the time) people gave their children chicks or bunnies as gifts at Easter.

I assume with the chicks they didn’t think this plan all the way through, because according to my aunt with in about 4 or more months the chicks were full grown and the Rooster was crowing in the morning.

She says she came home from school one day, being the first of the 3 sisters to get there, and she went to the back to check on the chickens and they weren’t there, but there were feathers flying all over the driveway.

When she asked him where they were he said that the man from the came to pick them up and then later that night they had some little chickens for dinner…

R.I.P. R.A.F.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Quick and Easy Gloomy Day Treats !!!

So it’s a dreary overcast day here in Brooklyn and I figured since I had some leftovers from a dinner party I had for my family the other day, I’d make some quick snacks.


While staying in DC for the Inauguration with my girl Nicole she made some shrimp rolls with a bag of frozen Asian Style veggies and frozen shrimp that were truly delicious and ever since I saw the Nasoya Egg Roll Skins in the store, I’ve been on a little egg roll craze. The fruit tarts, we used to order at my old job for our monthly lunches and we’d always fight over them so I figured I'd better learn to make them since I’d often lose out.

I’ll warn you in advance that this may look like a lot but trust me these are super easy to make (less than an hour from start to finish for both) and you can make the stuffing and keep it in the fridge or freezer for a few days and make them fresh during the week…Trust, home made egg rolls impress but are super easy to make.

For the Shrimp Rolls you’ll need:

*Nasoya Egg Roll Skins (they cost about 3 bucks for 20)
*Roughly 12 large shrimp, cleaned, deveined, tails removed and chopped into ½ in chunks (you can use baby shrimp but I find the larger ones have more flavor)
*1 medium sized head of green cabbage shredded
*2 - 3 carrots shredded 1 teaspoons grated ginger (more or less to taste)
*½ a yellow onion sliced
*1/2 a red onion sliced
*2-3 cloves of garlic minced
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce (more or less to taste)
2 teaspoons Oyster Sauce (not mandatory but it’s nice if you have it)
Making the Shrimp Roll Stuffing:

Lightly season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Using a large shallow pot with a top, cook the shrimp in a few drops of olive oil for about 5 minutes until completely cooked. You do not want to over cook the shrimp; they get hard when over cooked.

Remove the shrimp from the pot and set aside. Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and heat on a medium flame. Add all the vegetables to the pot. This will look like a lot of cabbage but it will cook down quickly.

Add the soy sauce and oyster sauce, if you are using it and mix completely.

Cover the veggies and let cook down for about 10 – 15 minutes. Once the veggies have cooked down mix in the shrimp and let cool for roughly 10 – 15 minutes. Removing them from the pot you used to cook them in will speed up the process (and if you are making the fruit tarts this is all the time it will take).

Filling your Shrimp Rolls:
Lay your egg roll skin on a flat dry surface so they appear in the shape of a diamond in front of you.

Place roughly 2 tablespoons of shrimp & veggie mix towards the bottom of the egg roll skin.

Take the bottom point of the egg roll skin and roll upward being sure to keep the stuffing away from the sides of the skin.

Once you have rolled the skin half way up fold both sides of the skin towards the middle.

Lightly wet your fingers and fold the top point downward over the rolled portion of the egg roll creating and envelope effect.

Frying your Shrimp Rolls:
In a shallow dry skillet add about ½ inch of olive or canola oil and heat to at least 250 (you can use a deep fryer if you are making a large batch).

Gently place the shrimp rolls into the hot oil and cook on each side for roughly a minute until golden brown.

Remove the shrimp rolls from the oil and place on paper towels or brown paper bags to drain.

Serving Your Egg Rolls:

You can either sever you egg rolls whole as finger food or cut them on the bias and served them plated as individual appetizers.

I’m a spicy food junky so the Asian Chili Paste mixed with a sweat and sour sauce is perfect for me but some people like them with just soy sauce or "duck sauce".
I LOVE the Sambal Oelek Chili Sauce (I went through a bottle in a week) and Trader Joe's makes a great Sweet Chili Sauce as well. Both cost about $2.50.

TIPS: Of course you could remove the shrimp or substitute it for chicken. Red meat doesn’t really work but hey, play around and let me know what you come up with. I've done all veggie ones with broccoli, string beans, water crest etc., that came out great. If you plan on serving them plated and you have some cabbage left over, put some raw cabbage on the plate as a bed for your standing egg roll...It's look Tre Cutatious!

Happy Shrimp Rolling!!!

On to our FRUIT TARTS!

I make some great baked fruit tarts too but there are no-bake and are much better for the warmer months and take about 15 minutes from start to finish.
For the FRUIT TARTS you’ll need:
*1 package of Athens Mini Fillo Dough Shells
*1 package of vanilla (or french vanilla) Instant Jell-O Pudding
*1 ripe yet firm Haitian mango
*2-3 strawberries
*4-5 black berries or raspberries
*1/2 a sweet plum

Follow the basic pudding directions on the Jell-O box, using 2 cups of milk and mixing with a whisk for roughly 2 minutes until thickened. Place in the fridge.
Slice the raspberries in half and the strawberries, plum and skinned mango in 1 inch slices.

Fill each Fillo Dough Cup with the pudding.

Gently place slices of fruit onto the filled pudding cups being sure all the fruit is visible and standing up when possible.

Place in the fridge until time to serve, but not over night. You can top them off with powdered sugar when you are ready to serve but I’m not really a fan.

TIPS: Be advised that they do not keep or travel well. When left in the fridge for more than a few hours the pudding begins to take on the color of the fruit and the shells become less crispy. Since they are so quick to assemble you can prepare all the fruit and pudding the day before and assemble them the day you plan on serving them. These are also a great semi healthy treat and a fun little project for kids. My God-kids better get ready for me...