I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Shrimp Ravigote

I am recipe developer by trade, so friends and family often ask me to recreate favorite dishes from local restaurants or food businesses. I always try, with varying degrees of success. These requests become more frequent, and more urgent, when a place closes. A favorite, classic lunch place in Memphis closed not too long ago, and several friends have since asked me how to make their signature shrimp ravigote, a long time mainstay on the menu. I’ve been tinkering with it for a while, but with the heat of summer creeping in, it seemed like the perfect time to post a recipe for a cold, refreshing summer salad like this one.

There are many versions of shrimp ravigote, cold and hot, spicy and simple. Ravigote is derived from the French word meaning to “freshen up” so a fresh, chilled salad seems logical to me. I started the process of re-creating the recipe by polling everyone who asked me for it what they liked about this particular version of shrimp ravigote. A few told me they loved that it included eggs. One disputed that there were eggs in it at all. Some remembered it as being mild, while others remembered it being spicy with horseradish. That’s why reconstructing a recipe is sometimes so tough – memory and reality often diverge. So I researched recipes online and in old community cookbooks. Fortunately, I had Instagrammed a photo from the restaurants’ last week in business, so I could look back at that for reference. In the end, I am not sure I have faithfully re-created the exact restaurant version, but it is the version I like. Eggs, not too spicy, delightfully refreshing. My photo from the restaurant shows the salad served on a lettuce leaf with a few slices of avocado and a cheese straw – and I recommend that way of serving it as well.

Shrimp Ravigote
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 4 large eggs
  2. 2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp
  3. 2 cups mayonnaise
  4. 1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained
  5. 4 green onions, finely chopped
  6. 2 Tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
  7. 2 Tablespoons capers, drained
  8. 2 Tablespoons ground mustard powder
  9. 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  10. 2 teaspoons jarred horseradish
  11. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  12. ½ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Rinse off the outside of the eggs, then place them in a saucepan covered by water by about an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. When the water reaches a boil, cook the eggs for 7 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a sink or large bowl with ice water. When the seven minutes are up, transfer the eggs to the ice water with a slotted spoon. Drop the shrimp into the boiling water and cook for 3 – 4 minutes, just until they are firm, pink and cooked through. Drain and plunge into the ice water. Leave to cool completely, then drain both the eggs and the shrimp.
  2. Mix the mayonnaise, pimentos, green onions, parsley, capers, mustard powder, lemon juice, horseradish, salt and pepper together in a large bowl and stir to fully combine, making sure everything is evenly distributed.
  3. Roll the eggs on the counter to crack the shells all over, then peel. Rinse with cool water to remove any shell, then pat them dry. Finely chop the eggs and add them to the dressing. Add the shrimp and stir to coat with the dressing, again making everything is evenly distributed. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to meld. Serve chilled
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Bacon Praline Shrimp

Many years ago, I hesitate to say how many, the hot appetizer around town, both in restaurants and from party caterers, was bacon wrapped stuffed shrimp, often with a sticky glaze. They were an absolute hit with everyone. I, of course, re-created the dish at home and for some years served it at my own little gatherings. But it was (and still is) a lot of work. Butterfly the shrimp, carefully stuff them, hold them together while wrapping in bacon, securing with a toothpick, brush with a glaze, cook and serving immediately. I eventually gave up the ghost as I thought it was more trouble than I was willing to go to anymore. But bacon wrapped shrimp is just a plain delicious dish, so I worked to create something that mimicked the flavor without all the fuss. So here you go.

I’ve used shrimp of all sizes for this dish, but for toothpick appetizer purposes, little one bite morsels work best. Warm a serving dish in a low oven to serve these in, though they will remain delicious at room temperature. I have served this spooned over rice as a meal as well, and it makes a lovely supper. I do recommend making this and serving it quickly, but the sauce can be made a half hour ahead and kept warm over low heat. Up the heat and cook the shrimp as directed.

Bacon Praline Shrimp

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp

½ cup chopped pecans

3 strips of bacon

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

½ cup water

1 sprig fresh rosemary

2 Tablespoons bourbon

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Rinse and drain the shrimp and pat dry with paper towels.

Toast the pecans in a dry, deep skillet until lightly browned and they have a lovely nutty fragrance. Transfer to a plate and wipe out the skillet. Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook in the skillet over medium high heat until browned and crispy. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then carefully pour the bacon grease into a bowl. Don’t wipe out the skillet, just return it to the heat and add the water and brown sugar and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Drop in the rosemary and bring to boil. Cook until syrup and thickened, about 5- 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bourbon and lemon juice. Stir in 1 Tablespoon of the reserved bacon drippings and the butter and stir gently until the butter is melted. Stir in the bacon and toasted pecans. Return the pan to medium heat and add the shrimp, basting them with sauce until they are pink, curled and cooked through, just a few minutes.

Serve the shrimp immediately with toothpicks and some good bread for sopping up the sauce.

Serves 6 – 8

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits, technically the child of the South Carolina Low Country has been adopted by Southerners as their own. You will find shrimp and grits in homes and on menus from Florida to Misssissippi, and of course here in Tennessee. I bet most Southerners would put it on a grand list of Southern classics without even realizing its specific geographic origin.

And I imagine there are as many recipes for Shrimp and Grits as there people who cook it. You’ll find it in simple cafes and in upmarket restaurants. I have seen versions with mushrooms, burgundy wine, yellow tomatoes or hot chili peppers. I have seen grits flavored with all manner of things. When I was planning weddings, there was one venue whose most popular item was the Shrimp and Grits bar. Martini glasses with your choice of plain grits or cheese grits, covered in gravy and shrimp, with bacon, onions, herbs, hot sauce and the like that you could sprinkle on top.

I started making shrimp and grits as a dinner for myself, nothing fancy, no real recipe and it often depended on what I happened to have in the fridge. But when I decided to make it company-worthy, I tinkered around until I hit on this version, which is what I think Shrimp and Grits ought to be. It may not be truly authentic or the way you’ve had it at your favorite restaurant, but it is good. So I hereby claim these Shrimp and Grits for Tennessee, but hope you’ll share them with the world.

It’s important to use good grits and good shrimp. You need stone ground grits, not instant or quick-cooking. I know there are many brands available, but my preferred version is Delta Grind, made in Mississippi on an old grist mill. If there is a good source close to you or online, please share it with us. I buy fresh Gulf shrimp when I can (I freeze extras when it’s available in abundance) or buy frozen Wild American shrimp from reputable stores if I have to. Personally, I never use Asian farmed shrimp. The taste is not as good and they are questionably raised.

Shrimp and Grits
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. Shrimp and Grits
For the Grits
  1. 2 cups chicken broth
  2. 2 cups heavy cream
  3. ¼ cup ( ½ stick) butter
  4. 1 cup stone ground grits (I use Delta Grind)
  5. 2 ½ teaspoons salt
  6. Several grinds of black pepper
  7. For the Shrimp
  8. 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I prefer fresh Gulf shrimp or frozen wild American)
  9. 1 teaspoon paprika
  10. ½ teaspoon regular mustard powder
  11. ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  12. ¼ teaspoon salt
  13. A few grinds of black pepper
  14. Dash of cayenne pepper
  15. 6 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces
  16. 1 green bell pepper, finely diced
  17. ¾ cups chopped green onion, white, light green and a little dark green (from a big bunch)
  18. 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
  19. 2 Tablespoons flour
  20. 1 cup chicken broth
  21. 1 quarter of a large lemon
  22. Finely chopped parsley for garnish
For the Grits
  1. In a deep-sided large pan (grits tend to spatter), stir the broth, cream and butter together over medium high heat until the butter is melted and it all comes to a low boil. Stir in the grits, salt, and pepper and reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 30 – 45 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. The grits should be tender and the liquid absorbed. You may add a bit more broth if needed. When cooked, the grits can be kept covered for an hour or so, then slowly reheated over low, stirring in a little broth.
For the Shrimp
  1. Mix together the paprika, mustard, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne. Pat the shrimp dry if necessary and place on plate. Sprinkle the spice mix liberally over both sides of the shrimp, turning over to get a good coating. Leave the shrimp in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.
  2. When the shrimp are ready, sauté the bacon pieces in a wide skillet over medium high until crispy. Remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels using a slotted spoon. Pour the bacon grease into a small bowl. Spoon 2 Tablespoons of grease back into the pan and heat over medium high. Sear the shrimp briefly – just a few seconds per side – to seal in the spice mixture. You do not want to cook the shrimp. Remove the shrimp to a plate (you can scoot the bacon to one side and use the same plate). Reduce the heat to medium and add more bacon grease to the pan so that you have about 4 Tablespoons, then drop in the green pepper and the green onion. Sauté until the pepper and green onion are soft. As they release some liquid, you can scrape the tasty brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  3. While the vegetables are cooking, drain most of the juice from the tomatoes into a measuring cup. You can just hold the top of the can askew and drain out what you can – no need to dirty a strainer. Add enough chicken broth to make one cup of liquid and set aside.
  4. When the green vegetables are soft, add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are heated through and start to soften. Break up any large pieces. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to coat. There should not be any white flour visible. Pour in the broth and tomato liquid and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat a little and let the mixture bubble away until it is nice and thick, stirring to avoid scorching. Squeeze over a quarter of a lemon (making sure you’ve removed seeds) and stir. Add the shrimp to the sauce in the pan, cover and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. You can add a bit more broth if you like a saucier version.
  5. Spoon the grits into shallow bowls and spoon over the shrimp and sauce. Sprinkle over the crispy bacon pieces and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Greek Inspired Shrimp and Feta Spaghetti

Greek Inspired Shrimp and Feta SpaghettiThe Greek flavors of a shrimp, tomato and feta are a favorite of mine, and always remind me of summer, and a trip to Greece and the island of Mykonos one summer many years ago. Our favorite dish was Shrimp Saganaki, a rich tomato sauce with shrimp nestled in, covered in a blanket of fresh feta cheese. None of my travelling companions or I knew much about Greek food at the time, and when we discovered this, we were glad to see it on almost every menu. I am sure we ate it every day of our trip, possibly even twice a day. This particular dish is also inspired by one of my favorite summer pastas, the Tomato, Herb and Brie Pasta I unknowingly laid claim to as my own creation for years. The idea of leaving ingredients to steep and soften before tossing in hot pasta struck me and I have used the technique in many ways, but this is a great version and perfect for a quick summer meal.

Feta cheese doesn’t melt like the brie in the original dish, but the small crumbles will cling to the pasta and the shrimp. While the sauce mixture is sitting, the tomatoes soften and release some juice and the herbs and lemon meld together, making for a really bright and fresh dish. Feta cheese is salty, so season lightly at first, then adjust at serving.

Greek Inspired Shrimp and Feta Spaghetti
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 4 plum tomatoes
  2. 1 clove garlic
  3. ¼ cup chopped oregano
  4. zest and juice of one lemon
  5. 8 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  6. ¼ cup olive oil
  7. salt and pepper
  8. 1 pound spaghetti
  9. 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  10. ½ cup white wine
Instructions
  1. Remove the seeds from the tomatoes, finely dice the flesh and place in a bowl big enough to hold all the pasta. Put the garlic through a press, or finely chop it, sprinkling a little salt over it during the process.  This helps mellow the garlic - you don’t want big chunks. Add the lemon zest and juice, the oregano and feta cheese to the bowl and season lighlty with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and stir to combine. Leave to sit for at least an hour, but up to three is fine.
  2. When ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the package instructions, about 12 minutes. While the pasta is cooking, bring the wine to a boil in a medium skillet and add the shrimp. Continue cooking until the shrimp are pink and cooked through and the wine is reduced to just a couple of Tablespoons.
  3. Put the cooked shrimp and reduced wine in the bowl with the other ingredients, then drain the pasta and put it on top. Cover with a towel and let sit a few minutes, then toss everything together and serve immediately.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Beer Shrimp Boil with Beer Sauce and Homemade Shrimp Boil Spice

Beer Shrimp Boil Summer officially kicks off with Memorial Day, and it is the perfect time for outdoor gatherings with big groups of family and friends. I think a shrimp boil makes a nice switch from the classic burgers-and-dogs grill fest. I have a big outdoor table on my patio, and this has become a favorite way to entertain. I simply cover the table with brown paper and scoop the boil ingredients onto it. Everyone gathers around the table, eats with their hands, leaving the shrimp peels and corncobs behind. When we’re all done, I just roll up the paper and take it straight to the garbage. It’s easy, fun and about the least amount of clean-up I’ve ever done after a party.

For an interesting twist, I make my own spice mix for the boil, add beer for an extra hit of flavor and serve a tangy beer sauce for dipping on the table. Don’t bother with a fancy, expensive beer, you’re basic Bud works fine, but serve a good, ice-cold local beer to drink. Corn, sausage and potatoes are the classic ingredients in a shrimp boil, but the last time I did this, I found some gorgeous artichokes and fresh asparagus, which made for a very nice addition. A friend recently clued me in to the idea of adding raw peanuts to the boil to make spiced up boiled peanuts, and I’m definitely going to give that a try. I also put some hot sauce on the table for the spicy folks and a few baguettes from a local baker. Put the beer sauce in shallow bowls spread across the table. Its great for dipping shrimp and potatoes or asparagus or artichokes, or slathering on the corn.

Here are my instructions for a shrimp boil, which easily feeds 12 people:

I use a 22-quart water bath canner on an outdoor burner, but you can use any very large stockpot and a burner on a grill, or do it inside on the stove. You can also divide the ingredients between two stockpots if you don’t have one big enough. I use a frying basket to scoop out the cooked food, but a large metal strainer with a long handle will work (protect your hands with an oven mitt around that hot boiling water). Grill tongs and a large slotted spoon come in handy too. If you happen to have a special shrimp boil pot with a straining basket, lucky you!

Line your outdoor table with brown paper, which you’ll find at a big box store in the mailing supplies section, or several layers of newspaper. Put several rolls of paper towels on the table, accessible to all the dinners. You’ll need lots of paper towels! If you need to do this indoors, scoop your ingredients into big bowls.

1 six pack or 3 (40-ounce) bottles lager beer 1 recipe Shrimp Boil spice (see below)

4 lemons, cut in half

3 heads of garlic, the tops cut off to reveal the cloves

2 pounds of smoked sausage cut into one-inch pieces

4 corn cobs into three pieces each (or thaw frozen corn cob pieces)

2 pounds very small red potatoes

4 artichokes (optional)

4 pounds of fresh, beautiful shrimp with the peels on, but heads removed

1 pound asparagus spears (optional)

3 pounds of beautiful, fresh peel on, head-off shrimp

Pour the beer into the pot, and add enough water to fill the pot halfway – remember you will be adding lots of food to the pot, so don’t fill it up. Stir in the Shrimp Boil Spice, the lemons and garlic heads (and the artichokes if using) and bring to a boil over medium heat. This can take up to 30 minutes, so leave your self plenty of time. If it comes to a boil before you’re ready to cook, just turn it down to a simmer until ready to go.

When the liquid is boiling, drop in the sausage and potatoes and bring back to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes then add the corn. Boil for another ten minutes, then test a potato to see if it is tender all the way through. When the potatoes are tender drop in the asparagus, if using, then the shrimp and give everything a good stir. Cook just until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and scoop out all the delicious food onto your table and dig in.

Beer Shrimp Boil

For the Beer Sauce:

1.55 ounce jar ground mustard powder

½ cup beer

3 green onions, white and light green parts, chopped

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 Tablespoon hot sauce (I like Crystal)

2 cups mayonnaise

Put the mustard and the beer in the carafe of a blender. Blend for a few seconds to combine. Drop in the onion pieces and add the Worcestershire, hot sauce and mayonnaise and blend until completely smooth and combined. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for several hours to allow the favors to blend and mellow. This is best made a day ahead, but can be made up to two days ahead.

For the Shrimp Boil Seasoning:

2 tablespoons celery salt

1 tablespoon dry mustard

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground mace

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Cover the jar and shake until all the spices are blended. This will keep covered in an airtight container for up to a week.

Beer Shrimp Boil

Greek Shrimp and Orzo Bake with Lemon and Dill

Greek Shrimp and Orzo Bake with Lemon and Dill


A good casserole is pure comfort food. And there are, I know, a million versions of casseroles out there, so coming up with new and unique versions is a welcome challenge for a recipe developer. So here’s my process for creating a recipe like this. I wanted to do something different – still a rich, creamy casserole, but with a twist. First I thought rice or noodles? Which led me to orzo, the small rice shaped pasta. Orzo, for some reason, always puts me in mind of Greek and Mediterranean food, and that made me think of lemons, much like one of my favorites, Greek Lemon Rice Soup. And of course, keeping with the Greek theme, feta cheese was an obvious ingredient. So I started to work out in my mind a recipe with orzo, lemon, feta cheese, herbs and chicken. Frankly, I had just finished my testing on another chicken casserole (recipe coming soon!), and didn’t really want to repeat myself, then the idea of using shrimp popped into my head. And with shrimp, I thought dill would be a bright herbal addition in keeping with the sunny Mediterranean profile. A quick shuffle through the ingredient library in my head led me to capers, to add a salty, briny note and a bit of texture.

That’s how these things work out with me. I wanted to create a creative casserole perfect for family meals or entertaining, and one thought led to another. And I am very pleased with the results, I think this dish meets all my points, unique, comforting packed with flavor and a change-up from the standards.

Greek Shrimp and Orzo Bake with Lemon and Dill
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 ½ cups orzo pasta
  2. ¼ cup butter
  3. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  4. zest of two lemons, divided
  5. ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  6. 3 ½ cups whole milk
  7. 8 ounces crumbled feta cheese, divided
  8. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  9. salt and pepper to taste
  10. 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  11. 1 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  12. 3 Tablespoons capers, drained
  13. 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  14. 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, thawed if frozen (18 - 20 count)
Instructions
  1. Cook the orzo according to the package directions, reducing the cooking time by one minute. Drain and rise thoroughly with cold water.
  2. Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium high heat, then add the minced garlic and the zest of one lemon. Cook for two minutes until fragrant, then sprinkle over the flour. Cook stirring, until the flour is pale and smooth. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking all the while, and cook until the sauce is thickened and smooth. Whisk in the nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir in half of the feta and remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the remaining lemon zest, dill and oregano. Add the capers and the lemon juice and stir until well combined. Stir in the cooked orzo until it is completely separated and coated in the sauce. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Rinse the shrimp and pat them dry with paper towels then add to the warm sauce. Stir until everything is combined and well coated with sauce. The shrimp will just begin to turn pink in the warm sauce.
  5. Spoon the casserole into the prepared dish and sprinkle the remaining feta cheese over the top. The casserole can be cooled, covered and refrigerated at this point for several hours.
  6. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 350° and bake until heated through and bubbling around the edges, about 30 minutes. Turn on the broiler for a few minutes to brown the feta cheese on top if you would like
Notes
  1. Personally, I prefer leaving the shrimp whole, but you may cut them in half before adding to the casserole if you prefer.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Classic Shrimp Bisque

Classic Shrimp BisqueSome years ago, I attended a lovely luncheon given for a friend’s birthday. The hostess laid tables on beautiful linens with her best silver and crystal and magnificent flowers. All the ladies in attendance were dressed in their spring best. It was a very sophisticated event that made me feel like a true grown-up in the best possible way. The first course was a fresh shrimp bisque, served in antique soup cups, and given the occasion and surroundings it seemed like an impossibly chic dish. The hostess told me that her grandmother used to serve shrimp bisque at luncheons, and though she had tried to duplicate that version, she just had to take shortcuts, using bottled and boxed stocks. Ever since, I have wanted to make a refined shrimp bisque from start-to-finish, but just didn’t have the patience.

For a good shrimp bisque, you need to use shrimp shells to produce a rich stock that creates layers of flavor. But peeling shrimp is a kitchen task I just hate. I can’t explain why, it is hardly the worst kitchen task, and many people I know do it without thinking. I simply do not like it. You can buy raw, peeled shrimp, of course, but then you don’t get the shells. I recently discovered, however, that the fish counter at a good market will peel and devein shrimp for you, and if you ask, they’ll save the shells for you. I should have figured this out years ago, but there you go. I soon went to work on a shrimp bisque recipe and this is where I landed.

The pale pink you and delicate shrimp flavor make this a sophisticated dish for entertaining, ladies luncheon or grown-up dinner party. And curled, blushing shrimp balanced on the top of the soup make a beautiful presentation. But I also find this a comforting soup meal, with some crusty bread or corn muffins.

Classic Shrimp Bisque
Serves 6
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For the Stock
  1. 1 ½ pounds shrimp
  2. 3 celery stalks
  3. 1 carrot
  4. ½ yellow onion
  5. 3 gloves garlic
  6. 2 bay leaves
  7. 3 sprigs of marjoram or thyme
  8. ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  9. ½ teaspoon salt
For the Bisque
  1. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  2. ½ yellow onion, diced
  3. 1 celery stalk, diced
  4. 1 carrot, diced
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 3 cups shrimp stock
  7. Reserved shrimp meat
  8. ½ cup cognac
  9. 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  10. ¼ cup butter
  11. ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  12. ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  13. 2 cups whole milk
  14. salt to taste
For the stock
  1. Shell and devein the shrimp. Place the shells and 4 of the shrimp in a 5-quart Dutch oven. Return the remaining shrimp meat to the refrigerator. Add the remaining ingredients into the pot, then pour over 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.
  2. Place a strainer over a bowl and strain the stock through it. Discard the solids. Rinse and wipe out the pot and the strainer, then line the strainer with a piece of damp cheesecloth or a thin tea towel. Pour the stock back through the strainer into the pot and bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes, until the stock is reduced by about ¼ and it is very fragrant. Pour the stock into a clean bowl or 4 – cup measuring cup. You should have at least 3 cups of stock. You can make this a few hours ahead of time if you’d like.
For the Bisque
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are soft and the onions are glossy. Add the reserved shrimp meat to the pot and cook, stirring, until the shrimp begin to turn pink. Pour in the cognac and bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are completely cooked and the cognac has boiled away. Reserve 6 whole shrimp for serving. Place the remaining shrimp and vegetables in the bowl of a food processor. Add the tomato paste and ½ teaspoon salt and puree to a rough paste. Slowly add 2 cups of the shrimp stock until you have a smooth paste.
  2. Thoroughly clean the soup pot, making sure to wipe out any dark or brown residue. Melt the butter in the pot over medium heat, then whisk in the flour and the paprika until smooth. Cook until the paste is thick and completely smooth, then add the milk, stirring constantly until it is thickened and smooth. Scrape in the shrimp puree and stir well to combine. Add the remaining 1 cup of shrimp stock and stir until heated through. If you prefer, you can use an immersion blender to give the soup some extra smoothness, or push it through a strainer.
  3. Season with salt to taste and serve with the remaining cooked shrimp.
Notes
  1. Ask the fish counter at your local high end or natural market if they will clean the shrimp for you and save you the shells.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Shrimp Perloo (Low Country Shrimp and Rice)

Shrimp Perloo

I love delving into traditional recipes from the South, learning new things or rediscovering classics. Perloo (pronounced purlow, and sometimes spelled that way, or pilau, or any number of variations) is a dish I first heard of when my brother returned from a trip to South Carolina and suggested that I figure out how to make it. He described is as kind of a jambalaya or dirty rice, but somehow different. So over the years, I have read recipes and fiddled around with the idea, but never really understood it. Until I traveled to South Carolina and had a version of perloo in Charleston. Perloo, you see, comes in all shapes and sizes. Chicken, duck, shrimp, oyster sausage or a combination. The one I ordered had several main ingredients, in a flavorful bed of rice. I settled on shrimp perloo, because I love the combination of big, juicy shrimp and rich, seasoned rice, plus the shrimp give it a low country feel.

I’ve streamlined more traditional recipes to produce the rich flavor that could be a great party dish or a weeknight meal. If you can get your hands on some Carolina Gold rice, use that for an authentic version, but long grain white works for me. I find good seafood stock made with shrimp at the grocery, but use a flavorful vegetable stock if you can’t. Of course, it you have fresh, head on shrimp, you can go full traditional and make your own stock with the heads and shells.

Shrimp Perloo
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup long grain white rice
  2. 1 ½ pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
  3. 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  4. ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  5. ½ teaspoon celery salt
  6. ½ teaspoon salt
  7. ½ teaspoon black pepper
  8. dash of cayenne
  9. 6 strips bacon, diced
  10. 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  11. 2 celery stalks, chopped (about ½ cup)
  12. 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (about ½ cup)
  13. 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  14. 2 cups seafood stock (or vegetable stock)
  15. 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  16. 1 bay leaf
Instructions
  1. Place the rice in a bowl and cover with cool water by about an inch. Leave to soak for ten minutes, then strain the rice through a fine mesh sieve. Rinse the rice with cool water, shaking it around a few times, until the water coming out of the sieve is clear and not cloudy. Don’t skip this step, it will keep the perloo fluffy and not gummy. Set the cleaned rice aside.
  2. Pat the shrimp dry and spread out on a plate. Mix the sweet and smoked paprika, celery salt, salt and pepper together and sprinkle evenly over the shrimp. Keep the shrimp in the fridge until ready to use.
  3. Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid until it is crispy and brown. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon and set aside. Carefully pour off all but 3 Tablespoons of bacon grease and leave it to cool in the pot for a few minutes. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are soft and the onions translucent. Do not brown. Add the rice and stir to coat with the fat. Cook for about 2 minutes until the edges of most of the grains are a little translucent. Add the tomatoes, seafood stock, parsley and bay leaf and stir a few times to combine. Do not stir a lot, just distribute the ingredients. Bring the perloo to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 12 minutes. Quickly peek under the lid to make sure the liquid is absorbed. If it needs another few minutes, cover the pot and keep cooking.
  4. When the liquid is absorbed into the rice, sprinkle the reserved bacon pieces over the top over the, then spread the shrimp out over the rice. It’s okay if there are two layers. Cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes on low, then turn off the heat and leave for a further five minutes. Take the lid off, and use a spatula to gently fold the rice over the shrimp. Do not stir like crazy or agitate things too much or the rice will get gluey. If the shrimp are not fully cooked, cover the pot and put it back on low heat for a few minutes.
  5. When the shrimp are cooked through, use two forks to gently fluff the rice. Serve immediately.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Baked Coconut Shrimp with Tequila Lime Butter Sauce

Baked Coconut Shrimp with Tequila Lime Butter Sauce

Crunchy coconut shrimp are sort of a secret treat for me. I don’t eat at a lot of chain restaurants, but there are a few that really excel and I make the occasional visit to sample them. The first time I had coconut shrimp years ago, I was attending the trial run of a chain restaurant opening its first branch in town. The night was a real disaster…the waiters were not ready, there were problems with the lighting and the piped in music. One of the bathrooms hadn’t been finished and the bar wasn’t opened. But the shrimp sure were good.

I generally can’t be bothered with frying at home and this baked version is a bit healthier…leaving room for this creamy tequila lime sauce. I think it adds a little Cinco de Mayo tropical flair to the crispy shrimp. Serve these as a starter to a larger Mexican meal, or make this the main with some rice with lime and cilantro stirred through. Pop open a cold beer with a slice of lime and celebrate.

Baked Coconut Shrimp with Tequila Lime Butter Sauce
Serves 4
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Shrimp
  1. 1 ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
  2. ½ cup shredded sweetened coconut
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 pound large shrimp (26- 30 count), peeled, deveined, tails intact
  5. 1 egg
Sauce
  1. ½ cup tequila
  2. 6 Tablespoons heavy cream
  3. 2 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  4. 3 teaspoons lime zest
  5. 1 ½ Tablespoon chopped cilantro
  6. ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced
For the shrimp
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°
  2. Stir the panko, coconut and salt together in a large, deep skillet and place over medium heat. Stirring and flipping the crumbs constantly, toast until evenly golden brown. Be careful not to burn the coating. Spread the crumbs on a plate and leave to cool.
  3. Place a rack in a rimmed baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Beat the egg with 2 teaspoons of water in a small bowl until blended. Pat the shrimp dry, then dip by the tail in the egg. Place the shrimp in the crumbs and press to coat each side fully. Place each bread shrimp on the prepared rack.
  4. Bake the shrimp for 10 – 12 minutes until opaque and cooked through.
For the sauce
  1. While the shrimp are cooking, stir the tequila, cream, lime juice, zest and cilantro together in a medium skillet. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently until reduced by half and thickened. Stir the butter in a piece at a time, stirring to melt after each addition.
  2. Serve the shrimp immediately drizzled with the sauce, or with the sauce on the side as a dip.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Shrimp and Corn Cobbler

Shrimp and Corn Cobbler

Shrimp and corn pie recipes appear in a number of Southern community cookbooks, and I’ve tried a few.  But I have always thought they lacked a little oomph.  But the delicious combination of shrimp and corn deserves attention, so I put my mind to it and decided on a tangy filling and an old-fashioned biscuit top to make perfect transitional comfort food.  When summer has wound up, but it is not quite cool enough for heavy winter stews.

The clean, bright taste of white wine and lemon complement sweet corn and juicy shrimp without overwhelming either.  I forego a lot of extra add-ins to highlight that simple pairing. Tender biscuits soak up the light and creamy sauce with an extra hit of lemon and thyme.  This dish is simple enough for a family dinner, but sophisticated for a gathering of friends.

Shrimp and Corn Cobbler

For the Filling:

3 Tablespoons butter

2 bunches green onions (about 12)

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

2 Tablespoons flour

1 cup white wine

2 cups whole milk

zest of one lemon

1 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

1 (12-ounce) package frozen corn, thawed and drained

1 pound frozen Gulf shrimp, thawed and drained

For the topping:

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup yellow cornmeal

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

zest of one lemon

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

3 Tablespoons butter, melted

For the Filling:

Melt the butter in a large saucepan (I use a 1 ½ quart oven safe pan).  Finely chop the green onions and add to the butter.  Sauté until soft and translucent.  Put the garlic clove through a press of finely mince it and add to the pan with the thyme leaves.  Cook for a bout a minute, just until the garlic is fragrant.  Sprinkle over the flour and stir until you have a smooth, pale mixture.  Add the white wine and stir until the sauce begins to thicken.  Slowly add the milk, stirring the whole time, and cook over medium-high heat until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, juice and salt and pepper to taste.  Add the corn and stir until combined.  Take the pot of the heat and add the shrimp, stirring to combine completely.  The shrimp will begin to gently poach, but do not need to be fully cooked as the dish is going in the oven.  At this point, you can cool, cover and refrigerate the filling for several hours. (If you are not using an oven-safe saucepan, scrape the filling into a baking dish).

For the topping:

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Mix the flour, cornmeal, lemon zest, thyme, baking powder, salt and pepper together with a fork in a large bowl.  Mix the buttermilk, egg and butter together in a small bowl.  Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix well until you have a biscuit dough.

Scoop ¼ cup mounds of the topping over the top of the filling to cover.  Bake for30 – 35 minutes until the biscuits are firm and golden and the filling is hot through and bubbling.

Serves 6