Monday, July 30, 2007

Shrimp Salamanca

I brought several kinds of the Spanish smoked paprika called pimentón home with me from a trip to Salamanca.
The pimentón adds incredible smoky depth of flavor to this dish, which would just be a straightforwardly lemony, briny shrimp piccata without it. Bill licked his fingers and groaned as he ate this, so it seems worth preserving.

Spice mixture:
Spanish smoked paprika (mild or spicy)
Garlic powder

1 pound U-16 shrimp, shelled and deveined
Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)
about 1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup capers
1 T chopped lemon zest
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 T unsalted butter
3 cups cooked brown rice

Make a spice mixture out of the cornstarch, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Taste it and adjust for seasoning. It should be salty and full of flavor. There should be about 3/4 cup of it altogether.
Pat the shrimp dry and coat them liberally with the spice mixture. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Brown the shrimp on one side, about 2 minutes, adding the sliced garlic 1 minute into the cooking time, and taking care that the garlic doesn't burn. Turn the shrimp over and add the capers, lemon juice and white wine. Bring to a boil and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Let cook until the shrimp are cooked through. Stir in the parsley and lemon zest. Adjust for seasoning. Add a little sugar if the sauce is too sour. Off the heat, swirl in the butter. Serve hot over rice, topping each serving with a final dusting of smoked paprika. Serves two.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Penne with Broccoli and Sausage

The test of blogworthiness in a dish: we couldn't stop eating it. This is a lighter version of a dish they used to make at Carmine's restaurant in New York when I worked there in the mid-90s.

1 very small head broccoli, chopped into small pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 cloves fresh garlic, sliced thin
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 chicken or turkey sausages, sliced thickly on the bias (I used sun dried tomato chicken sausages this time)
1/2 cup canned chicken broth
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Chopped Italian parsley
Handful of roasted garlic cloves
1/2 box of penne or ziti

Set a pot of salted water to boil in a pot big enough to fit the pasta. Cook the pasta and broccoli. There are two ways to do this. Either set a bamboo steamer filled with broccoli over the pot in which the pasta is cooking (my preferred method) or add the broccoli in with the pasta when the pasta is about 4 minutes from being done. Either way, the broccoli should be cooked through but still firm enough that it won't turn to mush in the pan, and the pasta should be al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, brown the turkey sausage in a large saute pan over high heat, and when it is brown add the sliced garlic and cook just until the garlic is golden. Add red pepper flakes and salt, and de-glaze the pan with the chicken stock.

Once the pasta is cooked, combine all ingredients in the saute pan, adding parsley, roasted garlic cloves and a blizzard of good grated cheese. Taste for seasoning. I sometimes add in a little of the pasta cooking liquid if it isn't brothy enough.
Bill went back for thirds, and there was a Hieronymus-sized portion left over anyway.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The most expensive steak in the history of relationships

Filet Mignon au Poivre
New calphalon pan
Smoke-filled kitchen
Hastily opened window
Disappearing air conditioner
Horrible crash in the alley

Blueberry Pancakes

Since Bill has very sweetly asked me to make these pancakes for breakfast twice this week, and has devoured each batch with loud and emphatic declarations of his good fortune, this seems like a fabulous way to kick off the chronicle of our upcoming marriage and the merging/emerging of our families and our lives in recipes.

To keep the historical record accurate, I will confess that (years of experience as a professional cook in fancy restaurants notwithstanding) I did set off a minor explosion in the kitchen while whipping up the first batch of these pancakes, involving turning the flame up under the wrong burner on Bill's still-new-to-me-stove, and inadvertently heating a glass mixing bowl to the point of combustion, sending shards of glass hurtling in all directions at high speeds. Bill was entirely good-natured about it, probably because it was almost a non-event compared to what happened a few weeks ago when I dropped his air conditioner out the window while cooking The Most Expensive Steak in the History of Relationships...
But more on that another time.

Traditionally, these would be buttermilk blueberry pancakes, but we didn't have any buttermilk and didn't feel like foraging for it, so here's what I came up with:

Dry Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 heaping teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon ground flax seed

Wet Ingredients
1 egg plus 1 egg white
2 heaping tablespoons of thick yogurt stirred into skim milk to equal one cup of liquid or a tiny bit more
1/8 cup melted unsalted butter, plus some for frying
dash of vanilla extract

3/4 cup blueberries

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Stir the wet ingredients (except for the berries) together in a separate bowl or large measuring cup. Combine the dry and the wet ingredients and stir into a lumpy batter. Don't overmix.

Heat a small amount of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Ladle 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet and dot with some of the blueberries, keeping the berries towards the center of the pancake so they are easy to flip. Cook for a minute or two minute on each side.They should be well-browned. the batter is thick, so it takes some care to be sure that they're cooked through.

Serve hot with maple syrup.
This recipe served two perfectly the other day when we were really hungry. It could have served us AND Hieronymus today. It just depends. Bill recommended that they be referred to forthwith as "The Blueberry Pancakes of Rightousness."