Another shrimpy evening

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It was one of those weeks. Late nights at work (and many more to come for the next three months — my boss starts her maternity leave Monday) had me getting home too late to even consider cooking. But I hit the wall yesterday and decided to take off on time! Oh, what luxury!

In need of serious comfort food after such a grueling week, but not wanting to spend too much time in thought, I turned to my old standby — shrimp and grits. I never make it the same way twice, which hasn’t always been such a great idea, but this time it really hit the spot.

To about 3/4 lb. of peeled jumbo shrimp, I added some hot pimenton, a clove of chopped garlic, thyme, and oregano, then started on the grits. I like to use old fashioned, but if you don’t care that much or have no experience with grits at all, quick-cooking is probably fine. I set them to simmer in a mixture of 1/2 chicken stock and 1/2 water with a touch of salt and a bay leaf thrown in.

While the grits were cooking, I got the sauce ready. In about a teaspoon of avocado oil, I sauteed thinly sliced garlic and one slice of chopped bacon until the bacon had rendered and the garlic was golden. To that, I added a splash of white wine, a small can of whole tomatoes which I broke up with the back of the spoon, about a tablespoon of chopped sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil, then seasoned with crushed red pepper and more pimenton, thyme, and oregano. Once the mixture thickened, I added the shrimp to cook for a few minutes, then stirred in some heavy cream at the end of the cooking time to mellow out the flavors a bit.

Now the grits were ready, so I removed the bay leaf and added about 1/4 cup of heavy cream and maybe 1/2 cup of shredded asiago cheese. I served the shrimp over grits in bowls and topped the whole thing with slivers of green onions, then sat down to a home-cooked dinner with my husband. A perfect end to an imperfect week.

Getting there

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Still under the weather, friends, but I did manage to cook one meal this week! Poor Gil, it’s been takeout (hot and sour soup, mostly) or indoor picnicking for the past couple of weeks and I’m sure he’s tired of it. But hey, we’re leaving for Milan in a few hours — I’m positive we’ll be able to scare up a few amazing meals while we’re away.

Growing up, I never developed much love for shrimp. We always had a ton of it in the freezer, so whenever Mom was feeling uninspired, a shrimp dish appeared on the table for dinner. Now that I’m older and live in an area where the little buggers are more precious, I feel more appreciative of them, but I think I inherited my mom’s predisposition — whenever I’m not feeling up to cooking, shrimp make an appearance.

This time I marinated the shrimp (split and cleaned, but still wearing their shells) in a wonderful Moroccan grilling paste from Williams-Sonoma which I can’t find on their website. Anyway, the ingredients are basically what I would’ve blended up myself, but were ready to go without any real work on my part — just the thing. We had the shrimp with a yogurt/fresh herbs/garlic dipping sauce I mixed up and it was very good.

But the real star of the show was the couscous:

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I adapted a recipe from Epicurious, using regular couscous instead of Israeli, cooking it without the cinnamon stick, but adding plenty ground cinnamon at the end. As it turned out, the couscous was so surprisingly good, it was the main course, and the shrimp were the side.

And apart from a few busy days at work, that’s been my week. I hope to post something more exciting in the next few days.

Arrivederci!

Broadening our chorizons

Deb left too early Sunday morning to partake in one of my favorite Creole dishes — shrimp & grits. Sausage or bacon really helps this dish along, but I have no idea where I’d find chaurice up here, so we went with chorizo instead. To keep the Spanish influence going, I used Manchego cheese in the grits, which lent them a subtle depth without overpowering their delicate flavor. It’s one of my favorite non-eggy brunch dishes and cooks up in a flash, the perfect meal for those mornings when your head feels too heavy to lug around for very long.

recipe after the jump

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Shrimp berl

I walked into the house this evening to find my husband at the top of the stairs with a look of panic on his face. “I tried to call you. I swear, I tried to call you.”

“It’s okay. You didn’t need to peel the onions or the garlic.”

Some couples finish each other’s sentences; we just process how badly the other has screwed up. It works for us.

See, I’d asked him to put a pot of water to boil with a couple of onions, a head of garlic, and a bag of Zatarain’s Crab Boil in preparation for our shrimp boil this evening. Specifically, I asked:

And around 7pm, can you fill the big silver pot (kept under the sink) about 3/4 with water and put a Zatarain’s bag in there to boil? Once the water starts boiling, add some salt, the onions and garlic to the pot. It needs to infuse the water before we begin our seafood boil!

Pretty clear, right? I know him well enough at this point to spell out everything when it comes to cooking, so I thought the lack of cutting/chopping direction would be enough. Sigh. Anyway, he could’ve always called my dad, but chose instead to peruse his iPhoto library to see how it looked last time.

Despite his worries, things turned out fine. I threw in some small red potatoes, some smoked sausage cut into pieces, and boiled until the potatoes were tender. The shrimp went in next and boiled for a couple of minutes until they floated to the top. At this point, I used a trick my dad taught me — I turned off the flame and threw in a package of frozen corn on the cob. It stops the cooking process and heats the corn through at the same time. After it rests for about 10 minutes, everything is ready to eat.

In Louisiana, we pour the boiled seafood over a table covered with newspaper (see below), but only made enough tonight for the two of us, so it went onto a platter. Not as colorful, maybe, but not as messy, either.

Delicious! I served it with dipping sauce from Leah Chase’s The Dooky Chase Cookbook.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Shrimp berl”