Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Chili Shrimp for Any Family

Every once in awhile a new recipe catches my eye and I just know it's a keeper. This particular one from Mario Batali jumped off the page, likely because of the ingredients but also for the story behind its creation.

In Batali's place, a meal like this would be served by cooks to cooks in the wee hours of the morning, at the end of a busy dinner shift. I didn't ever experience this exactly - a pastry chef, I was routinely edged out of counter space by 4pm. But every one in awhile I would be around for the Family Meal, the meal the back of the house shares together before the dinner rush, and the end of a particularly long shift for me. "Shares together" is overstating things - we didn't actually all sit down and eat together. It more like we broke off in small groups for a short interlude. One line cook would take responsibility for preparing the family meal and it was always homey, delicious and really did feel like family time.

My only beef with Batali's recipe is that there's too much coconut milk. I love the stuff, but prefer lighter meals so I routinely use light coconut milk and much less of it than recommended.

Here's that recipe:

Chili Shrimp
Print recipe only here

Serves 4 as an appetizer

One pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 T red curry paste
2 T fish sauce
2 T sambal
2 T sweet chili sauce
1 T sesame oil or canola oil
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 T soy sauce or tamari
2 ounces light coconut milk
2-3 T cilantro, chopped

Combine shrimp, curry paste, fish sauce, sambal and chili sauce in a medium bowl and toss to coat.

Heat skillet. Add oil tand let heat for a minute, then add shrimp and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add green onion. Cover and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in soy sauce and coconut milk and cook another few minutes. Add cilantro and serve.

Serving suggestions:
Left to our own, we eat these with our fingers. For guests I griddle a few pieces of baguette, thinly sliced on the diagonal and lightly brushed with olive oil. Or, when served as a main dish to those who are not carb-adverse, with rice.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Get Thee to the Picklery

I thought I was making that word up, but no, a Picklery is a real thing! And yes, by real thing I mean a small business that, in spite of all efforts to induce profitability will only rise to prominence (The Prominent Pickle! I've named my Picklery!) as an cautionary tale told to cocksure entrepreneurs: "Yes, but Great Aunt Katie also took Econ 101 and that didn't prevent her from becoming homeless following the inevitable dissolution of The Prominent Pickle."

Anyhoo, I was at the farmers market last weekend and they had gorgeous Kirby cukes so I came home, settled on a recipe from Food and Wine, doctoring it just slightly to use Apple Cider Vinegar, and made us some fine pickles. The following day I used the same recipe with haricots verts and carrots, both equally delightful. And yes, Virginia, they do need to be haricots, not your garden variety green bean. For one, les haricots fit perfectly into a pint sized jar. Two, it's like getting all long things in Tetris - they fit together snugly with, like, no wasted space.

This week I was back at the market, and spent the afternoon cleaning and trimming haricots, carrots and pickles.

Here's that recipe:

Quick Spicy Pickles
Print recipe only here

Stuff to pickle:
4-5 Kirby cucumbers, washed and quartered
8 oz haricots verts, cleaned (I like leaving the tails)
7 carrots, peeled, washed, quartered and trimmed to fit pint jars
1 quart sized canning jar
2 pint sized canning jars

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
3 T Kosher salt
2 T white sugar
2 T coriander seeds
2 cups water
2-3 red chilis, washed and halved
7-8 garlic cloves, smashed gently
10-12 dill sprigs, rinsed and trimmed

Combine vinegars, sugar and salt and place in sun to heat until sugar and salt dissolve.
Prep and trim all veg.
Place one red chili half into each jar. More if you really want to feel the heat.
Add 2-3 cloves garlic to the Quart jar and 1-2 cloves to each pint jar
Add coriander seeds to vinegar and stir
Pack veggies into jars
Pour vinegar over veg until covers completely
Cover and refrigerate 24 hours.

Note: the carrots take 48 hours to be good.

Keeps up to one month.

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