To compliment your Halloween cocktails, here’s another recipe from Emeril that fits the bill for a spooky celebration – Torched Pumpkin served with a tasty Asian dipping sauce. Fiendishly good!

2 pounds yellow pumpkin, peeled and seeds removed, cut into 1/2-inch by 3-inch strips
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups dark beer
1 tablespoon Emeril’s Essence, plus more for dusting, recipe below
Vegetable oil, for frying
Salt
For the sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

In a heavy, deep saucepan, heat the oil to 360 degrees F.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, beer, and Essence. Dip the pumpkin strips into the batter, letting the excess drip off. Fry in the oil until golden, turning to brown evenly, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and Essence.

For the sauce: In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey, sesame oil, and green onions.

Serve hot with the sauce.

Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

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spiced-nuts.jpg
We mean that in a good way.

This is Rachael Ray’s recipe for spiced nuts, taken from Food Network which hosts her show. If you’re making this in bulk buy nuts from the market.

Ingredients

2 cups walnut halves
1 cup peeled hazelnuts
1 cup whole unsalted cashews
1 cup whole pecan halves
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ground anise
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, eyeball it
1 cup smoked almonds (recommended: Diamond Smokehouse almonds)

What’s Next

Toast nuts in a pan. This usually takes 7 minutes but use your nose as your judge. Transfer to a plate when done. Then, melt butter in the pan, adding your spices. Pour back the nuts. You’re done!

Silvana Franco
Cooking is best practiced if it has been something that was experienced from the start especially during childhood. Such is the story of one of the glamorous personalities to grace TV cooking shows in the mold of Silvana Franco. Franco trained as a chef at High Peak College in Buxton and obtained a degree in Home Economy at South Bank University.

Silvana started out writing for BBC Worldwide in its Vegetarian Good Food Magazine. She made this her cup of tea until she was elevated to a senior writer. She soon graced the TV sets for such shows as Gourmet Express 2, Ready Steady to Cook and Two�s Saturday Kitchen. But despite her continuous rise to stardom, she never let go of her writing which include that of Can�t Cook, Won�t Cook, Ainsley�s Big Cook Out and Friends for Dinner.

She also runs a food media company called Fork, proof of her continued love and loyalty in the field of cooking.

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Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Eunice Kennedy Shriver is known to be the executive vice president of the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation and honorary chairperson for the Special Olympics. Her main goal is to be able to provide support in enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all throughout the world. With such efforts comes a moniker that is used by people to associate with certain bake goodies.

Such was the tag given to an extra ordinary way of presenting the usual baked cookies that people are used to. While the recipes for preparing such are almost similar to that of mixing baking powder, vanilla, cream butter and sugar, the twist comes in when the butter is brushed and sugar is sprinkled to produce the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Sugar Cookies. This recipe was originally founded in 1989 during the Winter Games which contain heavy cream for the people who savor their sweet tooth demands.

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The year is about to end and you’d like to say goodbye to 2006 with a bang, and something delicious and different on the table. Only question now is, what to cook? Don’t give yourself a headache, check out some of the recipes the chefs recommend for this special dinner.

Rachael Ray.jpgIf you’ve only got 30 minutes, then who better to ask than Rachael Ray who hosts 30 Minute Meals. Her Crab Salad Bites on Endive are easy to make and a delicious way to get started at your party.

bobbyflay.pngIf pasta is something you want on the table and stay in the seafood theme, why not try some of Bobby Flay’s Sea Bass with Potatoes and Tomatoes in Parchment with Angel Hair Pasta. This is absolutely delicious and healthy. Chef Flay also recommends the Arugula Salad with Lemon and Olive Oil to go with this dish.

Tyler Florence.jpgA fancy dinner doesn’t have to be hard to make. In fact Tyler Florence says you can make this Filet Mignon with Mushrooms and Sauce Pinot Noir in just 20 minutes. You’ll be amazed at how quick and easy this recipe is and how wonderful it tastes.

Don’t forget to get some good champagne to welcome in the new year with. Put on your party hats, enjoy the food and the fireworks and sing Auld Lang Syne.

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From the Too Hot Tamales, Mary Sue Miliken and Susan Feniger, this recipe for Grilled Skirt Steak with Corn relish is typical of the dynamic cooking duo, using southwestern flavours, easy prep techniques and simple ingredients to create dishes that taste fabulous and is very kind on the budget.

This one is an especially healthful version of the fajita, and is a good one to serve during get-togethers. Give this one a go at one of yours this holiday season.

Grilled Skirt Steak

Ingredients:

* 3/4 cup cumin seeds
* 6 jalapeo chiles, stemmed, cut in half and seeded
* 4 garlic cloves, peeled
* 2 Tbsps. cracked black pepper
* 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
* 3 bunches cilantro, stems and leaves
* 1 1/2 cups of olive oil
* 2 tsp. salt
* 3 pounds skirt steak, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 6 serving pieces
* Avocado Corn Relish, see recipe
* warm flour tortillas for serving

Method:

* Lightly toast cumin seeds in a dry medium skillet for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender. Add jalapeos, garlic, black pepper, salt and lime and puree until the cumin seeds are finely ground. Then add cilantro, olive oil and salt and puree until smooth.

* Cut steak into 6 servings. Generously brush with marinade and roll into cylinder. Arrange steaks in shallow pan and pour the remaining marinade. Cover and refrigerate 24 to 48 hours before cooking. Cook steaks 3-4 minutes per side.

Avocado Corn Relish

Ingredients:

* 3/4 cup olive oil
* 4 cups fresh corn kernels (about 5 ears)
* 1 tsp. salt
* 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
* 2 California avocados, peeled and seeded
* 1 large red bell pepper, cored and seeded
* 4 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded
* 4 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
* 1/2 cup red wine

Method:

Heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saut corn with salt and pepper, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool.

Cut avocados, bell pepper and roasted poblanos into 1/4-inch dices. Add to corn along with scallions, red wine vinegar and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil. Mix well and let sit 20 to 30 minutes to blend the flavors.

Yields 6 Servings

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Although I love to cook and actually dont mind labour-intensive recipes (if I have the time on that particular occasion that is), I must admit that I’ve never really made the effort to do a proper “dip”.

And I’m not talking about a salsa, hummous or cheese spread-type thing, but the sort of dip that one usually purchases with a big bag of chips, with the idea that an evening of full-on couch potato sloth is on the agenda.

Here’s Rachel’s version, which involves much less guilt than the bottled variety, for snobbish as well as health reasons -as you serve this one with raw veg as well.

French Onion Dip and Chips

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, a turn of the pan
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium onions, quartered lengthwise then very thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cube beef bouillon
1/2 cup water
Black pepper
1 teaspoon ground thyme, 1/3 palm full
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
2 cups sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened in microwave for 20 seconds on high
Pinch salt, optional
2 tablespoons chopped chives, 5 to 6 blades

Chips:
2 sacks chips (recommended: Onion and Garlic flavor Terra brand Yukon gold chips or other specialty chips of choice)
2 large carrots, peeled then very thinly sliced on a heavy angle
1 very firm medium sized zucchini, very thinly sliced on a heavy angle

Place a medium skillet over medium to medium high heat and add the extra-virgin olive oil and the butter. Melt butter into oil then add onions and garlic cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add bouillon cube to the pan with 1/2 cup water and cook until it “melts” coats onions, stirring frequently, 3 minutes. Season the onions with pepper, thyme and Worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate to quick-cool a bit.

In a medium bowl, mix together the sour cream and softened creamed cheese using a rubber spatula. Stir in the onion mixture until completely combined, add salt if necessary and adjust your seasonings. Serve at room temperature or chill. Garnish with chives.

Pack up chips as-is. Season the veggie chips with salt and pack up with a paper towel to capture excess moisture in a plastic food bag. If serving at home, salt vegetables in single layer, let stand 5 minutes then pat dry. Arrange chips and vegetable chips around dip and serve.

Fishcakes were one of the first things I learned how to cook – its so simple to do and the ingredients are usually at hand in the pantry or fridge, making it the perfect reliable standby when you’re feeling unimaginative. All it really is is fish (fresh or tinned) and mash, coated with breadcrumbs.

Quintessentially English, you can pretty much find fishcakes in most cafes and pubs around the UK. These days, there are other versions – like the spicy Thai type served with a cucumber dipping sauce, or with salmon and capers coated in matzo meal.

Delia’s original recipe from “How To Cook” was served with the traditionally English accompaniment, parsley sauce. My version below uses Delia’s as its foundation, but I’ve adapted it to my family‘s tastes – which includes it being served with a cheat “Aioli”. Recipe also provided below.

Fishcakes With Aioli

4 medium potatoes – peeled, quartered – boiled and mashed
1 large slice of fresh tuna (or a tin of pink salmon) – de-boned and skinned.
Butter, olive oil
3 tbsp. capers
2 tbsp. chopped cornichons
Fresh parsley, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1.4 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. plain yoghurt or creme fraiche
Lemon juice
Bread crumbs/ matzo meal
Egg, beaten

1. Grill the tuna with a little olive oil, season.

2. When tuna is done, sprinkle with lemon juice, chop into smallish peices.

3. Add fish to the mashed potatoes, with a little olive oil to moisten.

4. Add cornichons, capers, more lemon juice, parsley. Season to taste.

5. Form into patties, dip in beaten egg, roll in breadcrumbs or matzo meal. Chill in fridge.

6. Mix mayo with garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice, pepper, yoghurt. Chill in fridge.

7. Cook patties until golden brown, serve scattered with some capers and parsley, with aioli alongside for dipping.


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