Shrimp Burgers with Herb Mayonnaise and Green Salad


Shrimp Burger 1



Yield: 4 servings

Okay so just to prep you: you are going to be making your own mayonnaise on this one.  I guess you could use store-bought, and mix in some fresh herbs, but let’s just assume you’re going to make your own.  Never done it before?  That’s okay, I was a newbie once too and it isn’t nearly as scary as I thought it was going to be.  The key is to create a proper emulsion, which will depend on your whisking abilities and ability to be patient when adding the oil.  Homemade mayonnaise is so much better than store-bought and I’m a real mayo connoisseur so trust me on this one.  These shrimp burgers were shockingly juicy and flavorful, even after being reheated for lunch the next day.



2 large egg yolks (as fresh as you can get)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1 cup safflower or grapeseed oil

Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon


1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely minced shallots

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 head frisée, endive or oak lettuce

Juice of 1/2 lemon

4 buns, split


Combine the egg yolks, mustard, salt, white pepper and half of the white wine vinegar.  Whisk until very smooth and slightly thickened, about 30 seconds.  Slowly drizzle in the oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, while whisking vigorously and wait for the oil to completely combine with the egg mixture before adding another tablespoon.  The mixture should begin to thicken and will turn a pale yellow color.  Continue to add the oil in this fashion until all of the oil has been used.  When emulsified, the mixture should be very thick and will look almost exactly like store-bought mayonnaise, but will be a beautiful yellow color that you only get from homemade mayo!  Add the remaining white wine vinegar; taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, to taste.  Add the lemon zest and juice and the chopped herbs and whisk to combine.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.


In the bowl of a food processor, add half of the shrimp and pulse several times to finely chop.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Finely chop the remaining shrimp and add to the bowl.  Add the parsley, shallots, garlic, Old Bay, cayenne and salt and pepper.  Gently mix to combine, taking care not to overmix.  Form into four patties, place on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least one hour to firm up the mixture.


In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the shrimp burgers and cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side.  You may have to cook the burgers in two batches.  While the burgers are cooking, make the salad.  Add the lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Toss the greens in the dressing.


To serve, spread the mayonnaise on both sides of the buns.  Place the burgers on and top with the salad.


Inspiration: Shrimp Burgers with Herbed Aioli and Frisée Salad from Burger Night by Kate McMillan


Shrimp Burger 2


Pimento Cheese with Piquillo Pepper Sauce

Pimento Cheese



Yield: 6 to 8 servings

I have an addiction to pimento cheese…part of it stems from the fact that I’ve always wanted to be a southerner and the other from the fact that I love mayonnaise and cheese.  Throw some mascarpone in this one and leave me in peace.  If a menu has pimento cheese on it, I’m all over it like…well, me on pimento cheese.  This is my favorite way to make it and it’s super simple, a little spicy and oh so cheesy.  For those that have never experienced this, it is not spicy unless you choose to make it so because pimento peppers are very mild (or you can substitute with roasted red peppers if you can’t find pimentos).  Add this to a grilled cheese, put on top of a burger, add to pasta for some delicious mac and cheese, stuff inside jalapeno peppers or throw it in some creamy grits (all of these are probable forthcoming recipes).


1/2 cup mascarpone, at room temperature

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup diced pimentos

3/4 teaspoon smoked hot paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha, or to taste

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

6 ounces coarsely shredded sharp white cheddar

6 ounces coarsely shredded sharp yellow cheddar

1/4 cup Parmesan

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely minced

2 tablespoons chives, minced


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small shallot, minced

1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

One 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers (will yield about 1 cup)

One can of tomatoes (you can use either whole peeled or crushed, you will need about 1 cup)

1 tablespoon crème fraiche

Salt and pepper, to taste


In a medium mixing bowl, combine the mascarpone, mayonnaise, Sriracha, Dijon mustard, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper, until well combined.  Add the cheeses, diced peppers, parsley and chives to the bowl and mix with a spatula until well combined.  Taste for seasoning and adjust, if necessary.  Transfer the cheese to a container and refrigerate for at least 24 hours to allow the flavors to combine.


Heat olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan or small Dutch oven.  Add the minced shallot and sprinkle with salt; sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until softened and translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.  Add the peppers, tomatoes and shallot-onion mixture to a blender and blend until completely smooth, approximately 30 seconds.  Return the mixture to the pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until slightly reduced and heated through.  Add the crème fraiche and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Make sure you taste your sauce throughout the cooking process and adjust the seasonings.  Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.  When ready to serve, in a shallow bowl, pour the piquillo pepper sauce and place a large scoop of pimiento cheese in the center.



Cheesy Stuffed Mini Potatoes

IMG_9675Cheesy Stuffed Mini Potatoes



Yield: 2 to 4 servings

These are a fun spin on your classic baked potato.  You can make your mashed potato filling any way you prefer; if you want to make a more refined version, substitute heavy cream for the buttermilk.  If you really want to go all out, use a delicious, runny triple crème-style cheese, such as  Mt. Tam, Epoisses or Rush Creek Reserve (when in season).


2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 6 large or 12 small)

1/4 cup crème fraiche or sour cream

1/4 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

1 to 2 ounces high-quality white cheddar cheese (or any other melting cheese)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 slices thick-cut bacon

6 to 8 chives, finely chopped

Crème fraiche or sour cream, for serving


Preheat the oven to 400°.  Lay the bacon slices out on a small, foil-lined baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 to 13 minutes.  Drain on paper towels; reserve the pan for cooking the potatoes.  When cool, cut into 1-inch squares and eat the rest of the bacon.


Bring the potatoes to a boil in a large pot of salted water; cook for 10 to 20 minute, depending on the size of the potatoes, until just tender.  Drain and let cool for about 10 minutes.  Once cooled, cut enough of the top off to allow you to scoop the inside out and a thin slice off the bottom of each potato to sit flat.  Use a melon baller to scoop out as much of the filling as possible, leaving the potato skin and a thin shell of potato inside to form a cup.  Run the potato filling through a potato ricer, food mill or mash by hand to a fine consistency (do NOT use a food processor unless you want potato gum).  Return the potato filling to the pot and add the crème fraiche, buttermilk, butter, and Parmesan cheese and mix until smooth and well combined.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Place the potato skins on the sheet pan used to cook the bacon.  Season the inside with a light drizzle of vegetable oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Add a small chunk of Cheddar to the bottom of each potato, and fill with the mashed potatoes to form a rounded top, but do not overfill.  Bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until warmed through and very lightly browned on top.  Top with a small dollop of crème fraiche, a slice of bacon and a scattering of chives.  Grate some fresh pepper over the top before serving.


Mascarpone Brownies



Yield: about 16 to 20 small brownies

Okay so it probably goes without saying that ANYTHING with mascarpone as an ingredient is going to be good, but these…these are something else.  These are the most moist, rich brownies I’ve ever had.  Basically, this is brownie fudge.  These probably don’t need frosting, but we’ve already thrown caution to the wind so go ahead and do it.



1 cup butter

3 ounces high-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, softened

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon espresso powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt


4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

4 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup butter

2 to 2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, depending on your taste

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 325°.  Cut two large strips of parchment to fit into an 8-inch square glass pan, allowing enough to overhang the pan and provide “handles” for you to remove the brownies.  Spray with nonstick cooking spray.


In a small microwave-safe bowl, add the chocolate and butter.  Microwave for 30 seconds and stir.  Continue to heat in 15-second intervals, stirring after each heating, until the butter and chocolate have just melted.  It should take about 1 minute.


Sift the sugar and cocoa powder together into a large bowl.  Add the melted chocolate mixture and stir to combine.  Add the mascarpone, eggs, espresso powder and vanilla extract and stir to combine.  Add the flour and salt, and gently fold to combine.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs.  Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and remove using the parchment handles onto a cutting board.  Allow to cool completely.  I know it’s tempting to eat warm brownies, but these are so moist that they really need to cool completely.


To make the frosting, combine the cream and mascarpone cheeses and butter in a mixing bowl and beat to combine.  Mix in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until smooth and creamy.  Add the cocoa powder and vanilla extract and mix one more time to thoroughly combine.  Add more powdered sugar, if desired, to reach your preferred sweetness and consistency.  Spread on the cooled brownies and cut into small squares to serve.


Inspiration: Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies on


Ratatouille with Goat Cheese and Basil Pistou

Image 10-12-17 at 2.29 PM.jpg



Yield: 6 to 8 servings

This dish probably won’t grab your attention right away, but it should.  Tender vegetables, topped with tangy goat cheese and silky basil pistou will have the Francophile in you screaming for joy!  I first had this at a restaurant when someone else ordered it (because GASP! This would not grab my attention on a menu) and thought about it with regularity until I went back and ordered it for myself a few months later.  Omit the goat cheese and pistou (if you dare) to make a traditional ratatouille…but really, you’re gonna want to keep them.  The zucchini will take the longest to cook, so when you’re tasting for doneness, make sure to grab a bite of zucchini.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oilå

1 large onion, chopped

1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 yellow pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped

5 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 spring of fresh rosemary

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces goat cheese


1 cup loosely packed basil leaves

2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1/3 to 1/2 cup high-quality extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large Dutch oven or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and season with salt and pepper.  Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, until softened and translucent.  Add the eggplant and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes more.  Add the zucchini, bell peppers and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes longer.  Add the tomatoes, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf, stirring to combine.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 45 minutes.  Remove the lid and cook for 15 minutes longer, until the vegetables are completely tender and most of the liquid has been released.  Taste for seasonings and adjust, as necessary.


Make the pistou while the vegetables are cooking: combine the basil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to finely chop.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while pulsing to make a slightly chunky but homogenous sauce.  Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the Parmesan cheese.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Preheat the oven to 350° and transfer the vegetables to a large baking dish, draining off some of the liquid before transferring.  Crumble the goat cheese on top and bake for approximately 10 minutes, until the goat cheese has softened.  Remove from the oven and drizzle the pistou over the top.  Serve as a side dish or with toasted bread slices.


Coconut-White Chocolate Scones



Yield: 8 to 10 scones

I had a disastrous experience trying to perfect some strawberry muffins for y’all and I needed some reassurance that I wasn’t a total failure at baking so I whipped up some of these scones.  These come from the fabulous blog, What’s Gaby Cooking.  I follow her on social media and watched her snap some delicious raspberry-white chocolate scones for Mother’s Day and after a quick search on her site, found these babies just screaming for me to make them.  I just happened to have some coconut cream from that creamy coconut rice that you all should have made already, and I needed to use it up stat.  P.S. if you haven’t already gone to What’s Gaby Cooking, you really should…her food is delicious, fresh and beautiful.  P.S.S. (or P.P.S.? I never know) you should also follow her on social media because she’s super cute and entertaining.


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

5 tablespoons cold butter, coarsely grated with a box grater

1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1-1/2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon heavy cream

Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top


1/4 cup coconut cream (or coconut milk)

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1/2 to 2/3 confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut, for topping


Preheat the oven to 400°.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.


Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar and whisk to combine.  Add the grated butter and, using a fork, toss to combine until you see butter running throughout the flour mixture.  Add the coconut and white chocolate chips and stir to combine.  In a measuring cup, combine the heavy cream and vanilla extract.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the heavy cream.  Gently mix the ingredients together, taking care not to overmix the dough.  The dough should not be sticky and just come together.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a circle approximately 1/2-inch-thick.  Cut the dough into 8 to 10 wedges and transfer to the parchment-lined sheet.  Alternatively, you can use a scoop to form 10 to 12 small mounds of dough.  Brush heavy cream on top of each scone and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until lightly golden brown.


Combine all of the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.  If you are using coconut milk, you may not need to add the heavy cream to achieve the right consistency.


In a small skillet, toast the coconut over medium heat, stirring frequently, until lightly golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Let the scones cool slightly; drizzle the glaze over top and sprinkle with the toasted coconut.


Inspiration: Vanilla Coconut Scones on


Shaking Beef



Yield: 4 servings

This is the signature dish from The Slanted Door, a modern and trendy Vietnamese restaurant in the Ferry Building in San Francisco.  I ate there on a trip last year and was so impressed by the food.  I’m pretty sure we ordered half the menu between two people, but there were so many mouthwatering items on the menu.  If you ever have the opportunity to go (which you should), I highly recommend the papaya salad, crispy Imperial rolls, and this dish, of course.  This recipe is from The Slanted Door cookbook, which I’ve rewritten slightly for simplicity and because I prefer the onions a little softer than the recipe calls for and adding some arugula to the traditional watercress for that peppery bite.  I’ve made this several times in the few months since I returned from my trip and it’s perfect for someone who eats a low-carb diet (MOM).



2 pounds trimmed beef tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon sugar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup mirin

1/4 cup light soy sauce

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce


Juice of 2 limes

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


3 to 4 large garlic cloves, finely minced

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

5 green onions, white and green parts, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons butter

4 ounces watercress and/or arugula, thick stems removed


In a mixing bowl, combine the beef cubes, 1 tablespoon oil, sugar, salt and pepper, tossing thoroughly to coat.  Let marinate at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.


In a small bowl, combine all of the sauce ingredients and stir to dissolve the sugar.


In another small bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the lime dipping sauce and set aside until ready to serve.


Heat the largest skillet you have over high heat for at least 5 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup of the oil; it should start to heat and shimmer right away.  Add the beef in a single layer and sear for approximately 3 minutes until browned on the first side; stand back because the oil will violently spatter.  Using tongs, turn the beef cubes onto the other side and sear for 1 minute more.  You will have to sear the beef in two batches.  When all of the beef is seared, add half of the soy-vinegar sauce and 1 tablespoon of butter, shaking the pan to ensure all of the beef is coated in sauce.  Allow to cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute more.  Remove the beef to a bowl and set aside.


Add the remaining 1/4 cup of oil to the pan and add the sliced red onions and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Over high heat, cook the red onions, stirring constantly, until softened and translucent, about 4 to 6 minutes.  Add the green onions and garlic and cook for 1 minute more.  Add the remaining soy-vinegar sauce and 1 tablespoon of butter and shake the pan again to coat.  Add the beef back to the pan and allow to cook for 1 minute more to allow all the flavors to combine.   Remove from the heat.


Add a handful of greens to each serving plate and spoon the beef-onion mixture on top, draining off the sauce.  Serve with the lime dipping sauce.


Inspiration: Shaking Beef, The Slanted Door by Charles Phan