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Tag: Shrimp

Stuffed Avocado with Garlic Shrimp

During our travels this summer, we spent some time in The Netherlands; and one evening, we ate at a lovely restaurant in Lisse, near the beach. If you’ve ever eaten out in The Netherlands, you know that evening is prime time and usually quite expensive. On the up side, the food is generally fresh and delicious.

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And as usually happens with me, since I want to try everything that sounds intriguing or new, my eyes are bigger than my stomach… I ended up ordering an avocado appetiser and a full entree. Fortunately, the fish entree was normal Dutch portions, or else I would’ve had to leave it there or exploded. 😉

The appetiser was an avocado stuffed with shrimp and other ingredients, which I cannot recall. What I do know is that it was rather creamy. In Spain, a halved avocado stuffed with shrimp and/or ensaladilla is tapa that is very typical in Granada, where bars give you a free tapa with a paid drink. I can’t recall the last time I had a stuffed avocado, so the appetiser in Lisse tasted sublimely divine!

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In recreating this, I thought I would first steam the shrimp and use mayonnaise, to achieve the creaminess…but after messing up a batch of mayonnaise*, I changed my mind.

(*Mayonnaise is not that difficult to make. But my blender broke a couple of months ago, and instead of replacing it, we purchased a food processor that has a blender as well. However, this blender doesn’t work for making mayonnaise. I’ll have to resort to my mini-pimer -immersion blender- from now on. But today, I was too lazy to keep trying.)

Back to the avocado: Sometimes it’s actually good that things don’t work out. If they had, I wouldn’t have enjoyed this delicious combination.

How I came up with the idea? Simple. I love garlic shrimp, and that mixed with the natural creaminess of avocado is, for me,  just a perfect match.

You can use this recipe as an appetiser for 2 persons or a meal for one. I had the whole avocado as lunch… talk about ingesting a lot of good, healthy fats! 😉

Stuffed Avocado with Garlic Shrimp
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1-2
Serves 1 as a meal, or 2 as an appetiser
Ingredients
  • 1 whole medium avocado
  • about 2 cups medium to large shrimp, raw or uncooked frozen (defrost prior to cooking)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • chili powder, optional
Instructions
  1. Half the avocado and take the pit out.
  2. Scrap out most of the meat, leaving a very thin layer to hold up the shell better. Set aside.
  3. Chop up the meat into squares and place in a bowl. With your hands, squish the squares a little bit, to crush some but so that most keep their shape. Set aside.
  4. In a pan, place about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the minced garlic and the shrimp.
  5. Add a dash of coarse sea salt, and over low heat, cook just until the shrimp turn pink. Do not overcook, or they’ll be dry and hard.
  6. Pour the shrimp with garlic and olive oil into the bowl with the avocado pieces.
  7. Add some chopped parsley or cilantro and mix well. (If you want to incorporate some chili powder for extra flavour, do so now before mixing.)
  8. Spoon the mixture into the avocado shells, sprinkle with some freshly ground pepper, and garnish with additional parsley/cilantro if desired.
  9. Serve immediately.
  10. (I added a leftover, hardboiled quail egg as garnish, but it’s not essential to the recipe, of course.)

 

Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp), Spanish Style

The traditional way to have this dish is in individual oven proof clay dishes. However, I don’t have any at home. I must remember to buy them on my next trip to Spain.

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You can however, of course make this on the stovetop in a regular frying/saucepan, like I did today.

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Gambas al Ajillo is a dish, typical from the region of Andalucia (Southern Spain) but that is widely eaten in other areas of the country, as well. It’s easy, quick to make and delicious. You only need five ingredients: shrimp, olive oil, garlic, and guindillas (cayenne peppers), and some sea salt.

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Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp), Spanish Style
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Serves 2-3
Ingredients
  • 1 kilo medium to small shrimp, peeled (with tail on is ok)
  • 1 large head garlic, cut the cloves in lengthwise slices
  • 3-4 guindillas (dried cayenne peppers, more or less to taste, of course), sliced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • a bunch of parsley or cilantro, chopped (I prefer cilantro)
Instructions
  1. In a large frying pan, heat up the oil over low heat with the garlic and guindillas.
  2. Sauté until the garlic is toasted and starting to change colour, but do not burn or they will go sour.
  3. Add the shrimp and sea salt.
  4. Turn up the heat to medium and sauté the shrimp until they are done. I like mine about 1 minute past turning pink. Longer makes them hard and dry.
  5. Drizzle with chopped cilantro or parsley and serve immediately.
  6. If you prefer to make them in individual bowls:
  7. Follow all the steps, but do not cook the shrimp in the pan. Sauté them about a minute, then pour them into individual oven proof dishes.
  8. Bake on the top rack at 200C (400F) just until they turn pink. Stir if necessary.
  9. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the cilantro and serve immediately with another plate underneath. (This is the traditional way to have gambas al ajillo in Spain, in individual pottery dishes.)

 

Mango Chili Coconut Shrimp

This past Sunday was actually splendid in London. It was sunny and perfect Spring weather with temperatures reaching 17C. Londoners, or Brits for that matter, immediately start to wear flip flops and short sleeves and act like it’s Summer, something that still startles me somewhat, especially since 17C is still Winter weather in the south of Spain! But it doesn’t seem to get too much warmer on the British Isles, so we have to take what we get and enjoy the most of it, especially the rare sun rays!

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So, we spent a lot of time outdoors on Sunday soaking up as much Vitamin D as we could. And with no plans and no real thought about lunch, I found myself needing to make something quickly before we could head back outside again…

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This dish is so easy to make, it’s ridiculous to say… but it’s so delectable that it’s actually post worthy and perfect for Spring or Summer!

Bon Appétit!

Mango Chili Coconut Shrimp
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 3-4
3-4
Ingredients
  • 1/2 kilo (1 lb) peeled and deveined shrimp, raw or frozen (if frozen, thaw out first)
  • 1 medium onion, cut julienne style or chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium mango, diced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (or more, to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage or 3-4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • a few tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, for garnish and flavour
  • a squeese of lime juice, if desired
Instructions
  1. Over low to medium heat, melt the coconut oil in a frying pan.
  2. Add the onion and cook until softened.
  3. Add the garlic and shrimp and cook until the shrimp are pink, but not overdone.
  4. Add the sage, chili powder and mix well.
  5. Add the mango pieces and sauté a bit to warm up the mango.
  6. Add the desiccated coconut and mix well.
  7. Remove from heat and serve.
  8. Garnish with cilantro and a squeese of lime juice, if desired.
  9. Serve with your favourite rice or cauliflower “rice”.

Cassava & Plantain (or Bananas) Mofongo with Pollo Encebollado

I made this dish a couple of weeks ago and although it was “to die for”, I took horrible and unappetising pictures*… so I just had to repeat it of course!  Well, and the second and most important reason is that it’s really delicious. 😉

The first time I made it with regular sweet bananas, the kind you eat as fruit. I fried them just like you do with the plantains and mixed it with the cooked cassava root. The result was very tasty, slightly sweet and a great combination with the pork back rashers/bacon. So, if you don’t have plantains on hand, definitely try this with regular bananas.

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With the plantains, the flavour will depend on whether you’re using the “platano verde” (less ripe) or the “maduro” (ripe and sweeter). I happen to have one of each!

Mofongo is a traditional dish in Puerto Rico and usually served with a tomato-based sauce with chicken, shrimp or pulled pork. But the sauce and toppings you use are entirely up to you and your palate. I am not a big fan of tomato-based sauces, so I made a typical Spanish recipe, called Pollo Encebollado, which is basically chicken with onions. It’s super easy to make and always comes out delicious.

I served the mofongo with creamed spinach, for the recipe please click on the link.

Cassava & Plantain Mofongo with Pollo Encebollado
Recipe Type: Easy
Cuisine: Latin American, Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 large cassava, peeled (about 300g), cut into chunks
  • 2 large plantains (or if you don’t have them, 3 regular bananas can also be substituted – it makes the dish sweeter), cut into thick slices
  • 4 cloves garlic, halved
  • 2 strips of pork back rashers or bacon, diced
  • 3 large chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces (you can also use thighs/legs meat for juicier results)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 large golden onions
  • 3 small red onions
  • 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric/curcuma
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup filtered water
Instructions
  1. For the mofongo: Cook the pork rashers or bacon in a fry pan. Set aside.
  2. Peel and cut the cassava into slices. You can either cook it in water until tender or fry it. Drain and set aside.
  3. Fry the plantains or bananas in coconut or olive oil. Drain and set aside.
  4. In a mortar or large bowl, with a pestle, ground the 4 cloves of garlic.
  5. Add the cassava and bananas and ground everything until you form a paste. You may have to do this in step, if you have a small mortar.
  6. Add the pork rashers or bacon bits. Mix well.
  7. Place on serving plates, by shaping the mofongo into a “bowl”. I made mine by placing it inside a round cookie form and later making an indentation in the center.
  8. For the “onion chicken” or pollo encebollado:
  9. In a deep sauce pan or wok, heat the olive oil with the chicken.
  10. Cook until the chicken is slightly brown on all sides.
  11. Add the onions and turmeric and cook about 5 minutes, until the onions begin to get tender.
  12. Add the water and wine and season to taste.
  13. Cook for 20-25 minutes on low heat and until the sauce thickens. Add more water if necessary, should the sauce become too thick.
  14. Serve over the mofongo “bowls” and enjoy!

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*I have to admit that I’m posting this time around anyway, although I also don’t think the pictures are that great. I really must start using my better camara and learning more about styling and food photography!

Garlic Butter Shrimp & Mushrooms with Courgette Pasta

While in Vietnam, I took a cooking course in Hanoi and used this amazingly rustic kitchen tool. I was even luckier when our instructor/chef allowed me to take one home with me. It’s slightly dangerous looking (thankfully I had the Tetanus vaccination just before the trip) and can be made with a piece of wood and a can of soda actually. Anyway, we made a divine green papaya salad, which I intend to make soon, as soon as my order of Vietnamese food stuff arrives. But in the meantime, I’ve played around with the tool to make spaghetti out of courgettes or zucchini.

I’ve seen a number of gluten-free and Paleo sites using this type of “pasta” as a substitution for real pasta dishes and I thought I’d give it a try too. I have to say, they are amazing, better than wheat or regular pasta!

The dish today is a variation of an appetiser that I’ve made for one Christmas that my parents visited us in Germany. My father couldn’t stop raving about it…so I thought I’d make something similar with which to accompany the “pasta”.

 

GARLIC BUTTER SHRIMP & MUSHROOMS WITH COURGETTE PASTA

Ingredients, for 2

  • 4 courgettes/zucchini
  • 6 cloves of garlic (adjust according to your taste, however), minced
  • 1/2 kilo of raw shrimp, shelled, rinsed and pat dry
  • 6 medium brown mushrooms, sliced
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • juice of 1 1/2 lemons
  • fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese

Process

Rinse the courgettes and peel. With a special vegetable slicer (or if you are lucky to have one of the same tools I have), create noodles out of the vegetables. Set aside. Place a pot with water and a pinch of salt on the stove over  high heat and bring to boil.

In the meantime, in a saucepan or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. When both are hot, add the garlic and saute 3 minutes, stirring frequently so that the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the shrimp and cook at medium heat until they start to turn pink. Add the mushrooms and cook until shrimp are done, about 1-2 minutes (do not overcook, or the shrimp will be hard and dry). Add sea salt and pepper, to taste. Squirt lemon juice over and stir. Remove from heat.

When the water is at boiling point, add the courgette pasta and cook about 3 minutes. Do not cook longer or you’ll end up with a vegetable mush instead of the stringy pasta shape desired. You also want the vegetable to be slightly al-dente.

To serve: place the pasta on the plate and spoon the garlic shrimp and mushrooms with sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and cilantro. And it’s ready to eat!

 

 

Ceviche

I literally cried, sneezed and coughed my way through making this dish. The sneezing and coughing started when I cut up the peppers (and they were only “mild”) and the crying took place with the chopping up of the onion. Onions always do this to me. I used to get away with not crying when I have my contacts on; but lately not even the contacts protect me from a bout of tears…

My mother learned how to make ceviche, when we lived in Panama. And this dish, which is traditional in a number of Latin American countries, is a favourite at home with my father and now my husband. In fact, my husband always requests ceviche when we are visiting my parents.

Ceviche can be made with shrimp, scallops or fish (the one we use the most and which provides the best results is sea bass). But whatever seafood you do use, make sure it’s very fresh and of course, raw. The citrus juices do the “cooking”.

CEVICHE DE GAMBAS (SHRIMP CEVICHE) 

Ingredients:

  • 400g fresh, raw shrimp
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeeze lime juice
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 small green chili pepper (mine, as said, were mild; however, you can substitute for poblano or jalapeno if you want a bit more “punch” in the ceviche), finely chopped
  • 1 small red chili pepper, finely chopped
  • lime wedges, for serving
  • tortilla chips

Process:

In a glass or ceramic bowl, combine all of the ingredients, except the shrimp and lime wedges. Add the shrimp and toss well to coat. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight, until the shrimp are opaque and have absorbed the flavours of the marinade. The citrus, salt and the peppers actually “cook” or macerate the shrimp. (I left mine overnight in the fridge.)

Serve cold with tortilla chips and lime wedges.

Welcome with Fideua

Wow! London is so inviting when the sun shines and it’s warm out. I went out for a walk to take advantage of this rarity, in a city, which is typically grey and wet. And on the walk, I made the decision to create this blog to share my experiences, discoveries and photographs of my travels and to have a place to compile recipes, which I find in my search and passion for new foods and challenges.
Gorgeous sunshine during my walk today.


I am half-Spanish, half-American and grew up in the south of Spain. I’ve travelled around the world since the prime age of 3 months…and hope to never stop discovering new places and revisiting old ones! 

Now, I live in London with my husband, and we moved here about 6 months ago. Adjusting to the weather has been a challenge, although we were relocated from Germany, which does not necessarily have 360 days under the sun, as Spain proclaims. But London has a lot to offer otherwise and it’s an amazing place to explore.

Yet, every once in a while, there is a need to get away and soak up some Vitamin D au naturel, in Spain for example.


During my recent visit to Sevilla, not only did I procure a healthy tan, but also enjoyed a number of my favourite dishes. One of them is a typical dish from Valencia, called Fideua, which my aunt made for me.

Valencia is the region of Spain, south of Catalonia, on the Mediterranean coast. It’s famous for producing Valencia oranges, Marcona almonds, rice, and has an extensive repertoire of seafood dishes; one of the most famous is the paella.

The Fideua is similar to the paella, but is made with noodles instead of rice.


Fideua de Gandia, adapted from Evarist Miralles, Best Chef Spain 2011. 

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 400 g of Fideua noodles (number 3 in Spain) 
  • 250 g of monkfish, clean and cut up in chunks
  • 12 large shrimp, with skin and heads
  • 1 teaspoon of pimenton (or paprika)
  • 1 calamar or sepia (squid), cleaned and cut up in slices and pieces
  • 2-3 large spoonfuls of tomato sauce with chunks or homemade tomato sauce
  • “majada de ajo”: 2-3 cloves of garlic and parsley, crushed with a mortar and pestle
  • 1 litre of fish broth*
  • 1/2 cup of white cooking wine
  • sea salt to taste
Fish broth: in a pot, bring to boil and simmer, the following ingredients: 2-2.5 litres of water, one whole fish (scaled and clean), one large onion, 2 carrots (cut into large pieces), and 2 celery sticks. Cook for about 30 minutes, and leave to rest for about 20 minutes, so the flavours integrate. 

Process
In a large skillet or paella pan (for 6 persons), heat the olive oil, enough to cover about half of the bottom of the pan. Once the olive oil is warm, add a few pinches of sea salt and stir. Add the shrimp and saute, enough for the shrimp to turn pink. Remove the shrimp from the pan. 

In the same oil, saute the monkfish and remove from pan. Again in the same oil, saute the calamar/sepia. Add the pimenton to the calamar, frying just a bit and moving both the calamar and pimenton together. Do not over-fry the pimenton, or it will turn sour. Add the tomato sauce and stir well. Then add a few spoonfuls of the majada and 1/2 cup of white wine. Cook for 1-2 minutes. 

Add the fideua noodles, stir and cook about 1 minute. Add the fish broth (generally 1.5 times of broth per unit of noodles). The broth should be thin and clear, for a better fideua. Cook 5-7 minutes. 

Place the monkfish and shrimp on top of the noodles and cook an additional 4 minutes, or until the pasta is “al dente”. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

And to really bring out the flavours of the seafood in this dish, we generally pair it with a chilled Albariño, the Spanish white wine from Galicia, in northeastern Spain. Buen provecho!


Note: In the version pictured, as I didn’t have monkfish or calamar at home, I used a small whiting and clams instead. I used the fish head and the clams to make the broth, removing the clams as they opened, to not overcook. I sauteed the whiting, in large chunks, just as the recipes says to do with the monkfish. Then added the fish, with the clams, at the same time as the shrimp. 

As you can see, you can substitute a variety of seafood, depending on your taste and what you may have available in your kitchen. I tend to do that a lot, so I don’t have to go out shopping at the last minute. 😉
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