Squash ‘Bruschetta’ with Shrimp, Bacon, and Basil Topping

Yesterday was one of those days when I stand with my arms propped on either side of the open refrigerator door, and challenge it to a duel– random ingredients vs. chef. My eyes first zeroed in on a fresh package of raw jumbo tiger shrimp, and then meandered over to the beautiful yellow summer squash that I had just picked up from the farm stand. Once the dusty cogs and wheels of my culinary mind started turning, eyes darting furiously from item to item, the following fusion of Tuscany-meets-Tapas was born: Summer Squash ‘Bruschetta’ with Shrimp, Bacon and Basil.

Traditionally, Bruschetta refers to a crusty slice of bread, roasted or toasted, rubbed with garlic, and topped with an array of fresh, mostly Italian, flavors. Well, I’m not usually one to adhere to the confines strict rules, so I decided that a nice, thick slice of roasted squash would do the trick as a base replacement (also good for my Gluten-free friends!). This dish is great as a party appetizer, or even as the star of the show when accompanied by a light salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow squash, sliced in long ¼ in pieces
  • 8-10 fresh raw jumbo shrimp, cleaned, peeled and deveined
  • ½ lb bacon, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 2 tbs dry white wine
  • 1 tomato, sliced and roasted
  • approximately 1 cup of your favorite shredded cheese
  • Fresh basil, torn or thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 425° F, and get the pan of tomato slices roasting (needs about 20 minutes). Remove and set aside for later.

Slice squash on a diagonal for longer pieces. Arrange on a spray coated baking sheet, dust both sides with S&P.

2. Coat a baking sheet with pan spray, arrange the squash slices onto the sheet, and sprinkle each side with a light amount of salt and pepper. Bake at 425° for 10-12 minutes, until you can see the bottom edges of the squash starting to brown. Remove pan from oven, flip each slice over, and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.

Roast and Flip!

3. Meanwhile, add the bacon to a sauté pan over medium heat. Render the bacon until it’s glistening and slightly translucent, about 2 minutes. If you’d like to drain a small amount of the bacon fat from the pan, now is the time to do so. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute or so.

Chop shrimp, chop bacon, render bacon, add garlic & shrimp.

4. Next, add the chopped shrimp, and stir to incorporate all ingredients. Allow to cook for about 2 minutes.

5. Add the white wine, and deglaze pan for another 2-3 minutes, giving the mixture a good stir every so often. Once all the shrimp pieces have cooked through (will turn bright white and orange in color), remove pan from heat and set aside.

Add toppings & broil until golden and bubbly.

6. Top each piece of squash with a heaping spoonful of the bacon & shrimp, a roasted tomato slice, and a sprinkling of shredded cheese (amount up to you!).

7. Broil on Hi for 1-2 minutes (keep an eye on it) until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Top with fresh basil and serve.

Time to eat!

In the Land of Cheese… Amsterdam!

As usual, the first thing I think about when planning my exploration of a new city is ‘I have to find the best place for  (insert local specialty here)’. So goes the routine on my trip to Amsterdam. In the land of tulips and Heineken, lies the Dutch famed specialty: cheese. Cheese! Glorious, wonderful, sweet, smoky, spicy, salty, savory, cheese! Kaas, as the term goes in the Netherlands, is a staple at breakfast and lunch, with Gouda leading the charge.

Promptly upon check-in at our hotel, I asked our lovely concierge where we could find the best cheese shop. He recommended a place called De Kaaskamer which is located in the vibrant shopping district of De Negen Straatjes, or ‘The Nine Streets’. It’s an easy walk a few blocks south of the Anne Frank house. De Kaaskamer prides itself on its hugely vast selection of ultra fine cheeses. They carry a cheeses not just from Holland, but imported from all over Europe. Some of the tastiest though, in my opinion, are from some of the regional cheeses that De Kaaskamer keeps in stock due to its partnership with several local farmers. Don’t be afraid to ask the cheese monger for a sample of his favorites, or for recommendations on what to bring home!

After sampling an exorbitant amount of cheeses of all varieties, I settled on several blocks that promised to push my carry-on bag just over the size limit to checked-bag territory. Among the picks were a local sheep’s milk Gouda (hard cheese with a salty, flakey crunch), cow’s milk Gouda with truffle crust, Zeekraal sheep’s cheese (creamy and smooth) with truffle flakes, and a Rypenaer hard cheese from pasturized cow’s milk (slightly sweet).

The shop also carries a great selection of wine and accouterments (salads, sides, pickled veggies etc.) for your cheese board, or picnic lunch. They will shrink wrap or vacuum seal any thing you request, and they also will ship anywhere in the world! Personally, I just couldn’t bear to part with my cheese, so I sacrificed some clothes shopping instead. If you aren’t planning an adventure to Amsterdam anytime soon, you’re in luck because they also have an online store. You can create your own package, or choose from their variety pack favorites!

De Kaaskamer

Runstraat 7

1016 GJ Amsterdam, Netherlands

tel. + 31 20 62 33 483

www.kaaskamer.nl

Guest Post: Lauren’s Veggie Quiche with Brown Rice Crust (Gluten Free!)

I’m so excited to have my first guest post from a great friend of mine, Lauren! A former Mathlete turned Triathlete, she is one of my favorite people (in general!) I turn to pitch recipe ideas, test out new concoctions, and share in active adventures. A fellow lover of food exploration, Lauren went through a difficult time a couple of years ago and had to participate in an elimination diet to determine exactly what ingredients were giving her trouble. Through this journey, she’s found her passion and is studying to be a nutritionist and dietitian. Enjoy her recipe, and make sure to check out her site, Newest Obsession!

Thank you Shiso Fresh for having me for a guest post! My name is Lauren and I blog over at Newest Obsession. I am a casual triathlete, experimenter in the kitchen, mathematician by day, and registered dietitian in training. I eat mostly gluten free after doing an elimination diet, and finding that I just don’t feel well after eating gluten, however I have never been tested for celiac. While eating gluten free is relatively easy these days, it still becomes challenging in certain situations. I also try to avoid gluten free impersonators that can be processed and contain additional additives, which limits my ability to make certain recipes. This quiche recipe replaces a regular pie crust with a brown rice crust. It’s perfect for a breakfast or brunch party, packs a wholesome punch of nutrition, and is so tasty your guests won’t even miss the crust of it’s gluten filled cousin.

Brown Rice Crusted Quiche (Serves 6) Inspired by the Vitamix Cookbook

  • 2 cups cooked sweet brown rice or sushi rice
  • 1 large egg white
  • 5 large eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, roughly chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon gluten free baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cabbage, spinach, chard or kale
  • 1 large roma tomato, thinly sliced
  • Feta or goat cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9” pie pan with cooking spray. Put rice and egg white in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Press into bottom of pie pan with the back of a spoon, working some of the rice up the side. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, add eggs, milk, onion, oregano, baking powder, salt and pepper to a blender. Process until combined.
  3. Once brown rice crust is done, remove from oven, and set temperature to 400 degrees F. Layer ¾ cup shredded greens (cabbage, spinach, chard or kale) in the bottom of the crust. Pour in about half of the egg mixture. Add a layer of sliced tomatoes, top with remaining greens, and egg mixture. Top off with another layer of sliced tomatoes and crumbled feta or goat cheese, if using.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes until eggs are set and top is golden brown. Cut into 6 slices and serve.

How to Throw a Summer Outdoor Dinner Party, Part 2: The Tablescape (& Video)

Studio 5 Video Segment

Now that the recipes are prepped, and ready to go, it’s time to build your beautiful outdoor dinner tablescape. The first step, and your best bet for super simple (and cheap!) decor, is to check around your home for your favorite serving items, vases, accessories, fabric / fabric remnants etc. Together, with some simple DIY projects (below) you can have a creative shabby chic tablescape in no time.

Get inspired by what you find, and pick a color palate. My theme came from the various pretty pink rose bushes in the yard, and from the fresh berries in the cobbler! Bonus: I had these vibrant teal blue linen napkins in my stash, and they were the perfect tie in for a pop of color.

Have a look outside around your neighborhood for some flowers and greenery that you can clip and use to adorn the table. A little bit of something fresh & lovely is key for any table. Once you’ve got a nice collection of some of your favorite accessory items, its time to put it all together.

A tip for assembling a beautiful table is to remember that layers create hierarchy. Table cloth (or not..), table runner and placemats create a nice base, and then you build up from there. Don’t be afraid to use a little height!

Watch the video here!

Learn the tricks of the table!

VIDEO!

On to the projects….

Twine Vases: Save some jars from your favorite spaghetti sauce, olives, jam… you get the idea. Remove the labels and glue, and wash. Using a thick ball of twine, and a glue gun, press the end of twine into a dollop of hot glue somewhere around the center of the jar. Bring the twine up to the jar’s neck, and start to tightly wrap the twine around the jar. Add a spot of glue every so often, and work your way down. When you reach the bottom of the jar, finish with about an inch long line of glue. Cut the twine, and seal down any fray with a final touch of the glue.

 

Fabric Placemats: Cut sheets of cardboard into rectangles approximately 15″ x 9″. If you can’t get exact size pieces, that is OK. Using sturdy packing tape, you can affix 2 pieces together to create the size. Just make sure the tape is tight, and the cardboard pieces are both firm. Next, lay the cardboard onto a piece of fabric about about 2″ larger all around (17″ x 11″). Wrap the cardboard like a present, and hot glue the fabric down (make sure you make smooth, tight seams so that there are no loose gaps and bumps on the front of your placemat!).

 

Jar Lanterns: More jars! Save them up ahead of time… Wrap a piece of wire around the mouth of the jar, twist tightly and fashion a little wire handle. Pop in little LED candles, and hang from any place in the yard. WARNING: do not use real flame candles for hanging lanterns.

 

‘Chalkboard’ Placecards: For these you will need, cardstock, matte black spray paint, scissors and tape. Cut place cards into whatever size you like. I made these 3″x 5″ folded. Next, create a stencil for the outside border. The easiest option is to just cut a rectangle to the size of your place card and cut out an inside rectangle 0.5″- 1″ shorter, (ie: 2″x4″). This way, you will have a nice white boarder around the side of the card. Tape the stencil to the front of the card, and spray paint away. Allow to dry, and remove the stencil.