Sunday, May 29, 2016

hide in your shell

I love shell-on shrimp. It's messy (which is some of the fun, anyway), but there's hardly ever a risk of tough, dry crustacean - I always find it to snap just the way I want it to.

This spicy ghee sauce is also sublime, especially over buttermilk polenta - something I made up just to get rid of the buttermilk in the fridge. It's creamy, but not heavy from cheese, and takes on the multi-dimensional flavor of the sauce oh so well.

Add a side of simply sauteed rainbow chard for freshness and general feeling good, and you have a delicious, well-rounded meal.

Spicy Lemon Shrimp + Buttermilk Polenta
slightly adapted from The Defined Dish via @whole30recipes
serves 4

1 lb. shell-on shrimp
1/2 lemon, sliced into four 1/4-inch rounds
2 T. ghee, divided
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 t. cayenne
1 t. black pepper
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 c. fish stock

1. Combine all of the herbs and spices in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Melt 1 t. ghee in a large skillet. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant. Add the lemon slices, and cook for one minute longer.

3. Add the shrimp, spices, and the fish stock. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until the shrimp are beginning to turn pink, about 2 minutes.

4. Add the remaining ghee, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are opaque all the way through, another 3 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately over buttermilk polenta.

Buttermilk Polenta
serves 4

1 c. fine cornmeal
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 c. water
salt, to taste

1. Bring the buttermilk and water to a simmer. Add the cornmeal, whisking constantly until large bubbles start to slowly pop on the surface of the polenta. Salt to taste, and serve immediately.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

that's so vanilla

I bought my mother-in-law a double-decker waffle iron, and it's one of my biggest regrets that I didn't think to buy one for myself.

The most painful thing about these Buttermilk-Vanilla Bean Waffles is waiting until all the batter is cooked up to start plowing in. And it's one of the reasons I rarely do waffles or pancakes - you can't just serve it up and have it ready for a crowd (or an impatient and hungry husband-wife duo) without seriously sacrificing quality. As it is, these 3 1/2-ish waffles (all I could muster out of my iron) were agonizing to wait for. The vanilla beans had already perfumed the kitchen from Step 1, and the sizzle and steam of each cooking waffle nearly did us in.

Luckily, the batter process itself was simple. I've seen a few recipes that use egg whites rather than whole eggs for the lightness, but they require whipping them first, and at my age, I can't be bothered to take that time and dirty up the stand mixer, just for breakfast.

I suppose I will have to try it once, just for science, but as written here, these waffles were delightfully crisp on the outside, but tender with an almost mochi-like chew on the inside. I hope that wasn't because I undercooked them in my haste to get fed, but it was just about perfect.

Over top - juicy, sweet, organic strawberries and Noble Tonic 02: Tahitian Vanilla Bean + Egyptian Chamomile Blossom Maple Syrup. Yes, it actually deserves a title that long and descriptive. It hits all the right notes to make this the most vanilla experience, in the best way possible.

Buttermilk-Vanilla Bean Waffles
from Serious Eats
serves 2-4

1 1/3 c. flour
6 T. powdered sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 3/4 c. buttermilk
3 T. butter, melted and cooled
2 large egg whites
1 t. vanilla extract
maple syrup and butter, for serving

1. In a large bowl, combine flour, powdered sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and the scrapings of one large vanilla bean, mixing by hand until the seeds are well dispersed. Add the buttermilk, melted butter, egg whites, and vanilla extract, and whisk until smooth.

2. Heat the waffle iron until the indicator is ready. Fill the iron as directed, then close the lid and cook until waffle is golden brown but still steaming, 4 1/2 to 6 minutes depending on the depth and heat of your machine. Griddle remaining batter as before, and serve immediately. For best results, hold the finished waffles in a low oven on a wire rack while you wait for the remaining waffles to cook.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

i don't need to hide inside this shell

Greetings from Cannes, where I've just spent a glorious week eating all of the seafood I could get my hands on. It was lovely, and fresh, and inspirational, and reminded me to blog about this magnificent dinner we had just before I left.

I've already waxed poetic about Cape Seafood + Provisions, but my love for it grows by leaps and bounds. Why? Smoked shrimp.

It's hard to pick a favorite element out of this dish. It has so much going on: stuffed mussels made both sweet and savory with a crumb topping of coconut oil and Parmesan, muhammara swirled in for spicy depth, fresh pesto dolloped on top, and of course, the stunningly fresh clams and squid. But my highlight was the juicy smoked shrimp, piled right on top, only slightly warmed by the contact of the just-cooked pasta.

I mean, a tub of this stuff could be anything from a delightful lunch (over mixed greens if you're being classy, or straight out of said tub if you're busy), to a barbecue-friendly variation on shrimp cocktail with some bourbon barbecue sauce. Absolute heaven.

Fideos with Shellfish, Muhammara + Pesto
adapted from Tasting Table and Saveur
serves 2-4

1/2 lb. spaghetti, broken in fistfuls
2 c. clam juice
12 small mussels, cleaned
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. manila clams, cleaned
1/2 lb. squid bodies, cleaned and sliced
1/2 lb. smoked shrimp
2 T. panko
2 T. coconut oil
2 T. grated Parmesan
2 T. muhammara
2 T. pesto

1. In a cast-iron pan over medium heat, dry-toast the spaghetti, stirring often, until golden-brown, about 8 minutes.

2. To a large pot, bring a splash of clam juice to simmer, and add the mussels. Cover and steam for 3-5 minutes, until they open. Discard any that don't open. Remove the mussels, and set aside until cool enough to handle.

3. Add the remaining clam juice to the pot along with the garlic, clams, and squid. Cover the pot, and cook until the spaghetti is al dente, and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.

4. In the meantime, thoroughly combine the panko, coconut oil and Parmesan. Remove and discard the top shells from the mussels and divide the crumb mixture between them. Broil for 2 minutes until golden-brown. Set aside.

5. When the pasta is done, stir in 2 T. muhammara, and then plate it in the cast-iron pan. Nestle the shrimp and stuffed mussels on top, and dollop with pesto. Serve immediately.