Happy Bastille Day

We spent a very busy weekend with family, celebrating niece Sela’s SIXTH BIRTHDAY. Plenty of pics to come, but I couldn’t let this date go by without posting a French (ok, Cajun/Creole)-inflected dish from Saturday: Shrimp boil seafood salad.

090713_seafood_salad

See, my parents sent me a lovely care package a few weeks ago, and that Zatarain’s had been taunting me every time I opened the pantry, so I decided on a shrimp boil seafood salad, using good gulf shrimp and lump crabmeat liberated from my parents’ freezer when I was home last month. Since Gil and I were the only two eating, I didn’t fire up the crab pot, but kept the whole thing indoors. I boiled water, salt and Zatarain’s seasoning together for a couple of minutes before tossing in 4 small yellow onions and a whole head of garlic to season the water to perfection. Once they were cooked through, I fished them out and added baby red potatoes, then shrimp in the last couple of minutes. I turned off the heat as soon as the shrimp went in, and when they floated to the top, the salad was ready to assemble.

I diced the potatoes along with carrot, avocado and red bell pepper, added some of the boiled garlic, salted capers (soaked in water and chopped) and the seafood, then tossed everything with a gorgeous Creole remoulade from Chef John Folse. Shame I didn’t make more, but there were tacos and cake to look forward to at Sela’s party and it would’ve just put us over the top.

But if you’re looking for something more properly French on this date, you could take a gander at my Paris pix from our seven-month anniversary. What I wouldn’t give to go back…

Mmmmmoules

Moules frites is a classic for good reason:

mussels + wine + butter + cream + parsley + shallots + garlic + fries = delicious

No picture of the frites, sorry. The mussels were the star of the show.

I’m half crazy, all for the love of you

shellfish-saute.jpg

Do you know Daisy Martinez? Do you love her as much as I do? I discovered her public television show Daisy Cooks! shortly after I moved to Ringwood and began scheduling my Sunday treadmill sessions around it; her PASSION for Latin cooking and sharing her knowledge not only made the time pass likethat, but she piqued my curiosity about this area of cooking that has gotten short shrift compared to, say, Italian and French.

And so how happy was I to open my Christmas gift from our friend Tom and discover her cookbook in the box?! Tom sent Gil a hilarious Jimmy Olsen comic collection in the same shipment, so we sat on the couch talking over each other for an evening:

“Oh, look! Six-armed Jimmy Olsen!”

“Hey, sofrito!”

“Ooh, I remember this one! Jimmy got zapped with a ray and turned giant sea-turtle man!”

“PERNIL!”

reading.jpg

So the presents were well received, I’d say. But back to Daisy. I bought the ingredients to make sofrito, which turned out to be a lot like the Cajun trinity, only even MORE flavorful and garlicky — heaven. I also got a big pot of chicken stock going on the stove in my new 12-quart stock pot and began dreaming of garlic soup with chorizo and chicken with soupy yellow rice and alcaparrado. (Incidentally, how great is that word? Very sexy, I think.) It involved a full weekend of cooking, but ultimately, everything was so far beyond delicious, I couldn’t even get up the nerve to post. Just incredible. Buy. This. Book.

Yesterday, we had her 20-minute shellfish sauté and even though I screwed things up in a major way, it still “made my mouth sing.” I couldn’t find littleneck clams and don’t care for them much, anyway, so we did without. Not a huge deal, but I was evidently lobotomized before doing my grocery shopping in the morning and came home with a bunch of cilantro instead of the parsley the dish called for. No worries! I added chopped chorizo to the dish to balance the more assertive cilantro. Other than that, this meal called for just a few ingredients, anyway — scallops, shrimp, white wine, a slurry of milk and cornstarch, and tons of garlic. I added some bittersweet pimentòn just before serving and it disappeared faster than anything I’ve made in a long time. So now we’re three-for-three with this cookbook. Dare I try a fourth today?

Did I mention how much I love Daisy? Cuz I do. I really do.