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 hereâ€™s my process for creating a recipe like this. I wanted to do something different â€“ 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 didnâ€™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.
Thatâ€™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
- 1 Â½ cups orzo pasta
- Â¼ cup butter
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- zest of two lemons, divided
- Â¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 Â½ cups whole milk
- 8 ounces crumbled feta cheese, divided
- Â¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
- 3 Tablespoons capers, drained
- 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, thawed if frozen (18 - 20 count)
- Cook the orzo according to the package directions, reducing the cooking time by one minute. Drain and rise thoroughly with cold water.
- Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 350Â° 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
- 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/
Some years ago, I attended a lovely luncheon given for a friendâ€™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 didnâ€™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 canâ€™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 donâ€™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, theyâ€™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
- 1 Â½ pounds shrimp
- 3 celery stalks
- 1 carrot
- Â½ yellow onion
- 3 gloves garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs of marjoram or thyme
- Â½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- Â½ teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- Â½ yellow onion, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups shrimp stock
- Reserved shrimp meat
- Â½ cup cognac
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- Â¼ cup butter
- Â¼ cup all-purpose flour
- Â½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- 2 cups whole milk
- salt to taste
- 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.
- 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 Â¼ and it is very fragrant. Pour the stock into a clean bowl or 4 â€“ cup measuring cup. You should have at least 3 cups of stock. You can make this a few hours ahead of time if youâ€™d like.
- 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 Â½ teaspoon salt and puree to a rough paste. Slowly add 2 cups of the shrimp stock until you have a smooth paste.
- 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.
- Season with salt to taste and serve with the remaining cooked shrimp.
- 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/
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.
Iâ€™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 canâ€™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.
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 1 Â½ pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- Â½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Â½ teaspoon celery salt
- Â½ teaspoon salt
- Â½ teaspoon black pepper
- dash of cayenne
- 6 strips bacon, diced
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 celery stalks, chopped (about Â½ cup)
- 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (about Â½ cup)
- 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups seafood stock (or vegetable stock)
- 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 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. Donâ€™t skip this step, it will keep the perloo fluffy and not gummy. Set the cleaned rice aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Itâ€™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.
- When the shrimp are cooked through, use two forks to gently fluff the rice. Serve immediately.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
Crunchy coconut shrimp are sort of a secret treat for me. I donâ€™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 disasterâ€¦the waiters were not ready, there were problems with the lighting and the piped in music. One of the bathrooms hadnâ€™t been finished and the bar wasnâ€™t opened. But the shrimp sure were good.
I generally canâ€™t be bothered with frying at home and this baked version is a bit healthierâ€¦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
- 1 Â¼ cup panko bread crumbs
- Â½ cup shredded sweetened coconut
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound large shrimp (26- 30 count), peeled, deveined, tails intact
- 1 egg
- Â½ cup tequila
- 6 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 3 teaspoons lime zest
- 1 Â½ Tablespoon chopped cilantro
- Â½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced
- Preheat the oven to 375Â°
- 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.
- 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.
- Bake the shrimp for 10 â€“ 12 minutes until opaque and cooked through.
- 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.
- 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 pie recipes appear in a number of Southern community cookbooks, and Iâ€™ve tried a few.Â But I have always thought they lacked a little oomph.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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
Â¾ cup yellow cornmeal
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
zest of one lemon
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Â½ teaspoon pepper
1 cup buttermilk
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
For the Filling:
Melt the butter in a large saucepan (I use a 1 Â½ quart oven safe pan).Â Finely chop the green onions and add to the butter.Â SautÃ© until soft and translucent.Â Put the garlic clove through a press of finely mince it and add to the pan with the thyme leaves.Â Cook for a bout a minute, just until the garlic is fragrant.Â Sprinkle over the flour and stir until you have a smooth, pale mixture.Â Add the white wine and stir until the sauce begins to thicken.Â 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.Â Add the corn and stir until combined.Â Take the pot of the heat and add the shrimp, stirring to combine completely.Â The shrimp will begin to gently poach, but do not need to be fully cooked as the dish is going in the oven.Â 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 350Â°.
Mix the flour, cornmeal, lemon zest, thyme, baking powder, salt and pepper together with a fork in a large bowl.Â Mix the buttermilk, egg and butter together in a small bowl.Â Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix well until you have a biscuit dough.
Scoop Â¼ cup mounds of the topping over the top of the filling to cover.Â Bake for30 â€“ 35 minutes until the biscuits are firm and golden and the filling is hot through and bubbling.
Comeback Sauce is, according to my research, a specialty of Jackson, Mississippi.Â It apparently originated in Greek restaurants and is now found on restaurant tables all over the city.Â It really hasnâ€™t made its way up to Memphis, but as you meander through the Delta, you do find in on some restaurant menus.Â Thatâ€™s where I discovered it.Â And of course it shows up in community cookbooks in many forms with many uses.
Comeback sauce is a great dip for chicken tenders or fried catfish, but pairs wonderfully with big, juicy Gulf shrimp as the centerpiece dip in a Southern shrimp cocktail.Â I frequently serve it with shrimp that I smoke in rigged-up stove top or grill smoker. I had in mind sharing a shrimp remoulade recipe as a nice, cool summer salad.Â Then it occurred to me that I could make it a little more regional by using a comeback sauce dressing, and I havenâ€™t turned back.Â The flavor of the sauce is so punchy, that I only add a little celery and some capers to the shrimp for crunch.Â Use beautiful wild-caught American shrimp – I prefer big chunks of juicy shrimp, but feel free to cut smaller pieces. Â I suppose you could use pre-cooked shrimp, but this beer boil does add a nice zing.
You can serve this on lettuce to be eaten straight up, but it makes a great filling for a poâ€™ boy.Â Kind of a redneck lobster roll.
Comeback Shrimp Salad
For the Shrimp:
3 pounds shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails off
12 ounce bottle beer
1 lemon, quartered
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Â½ teaspoon mustard seeds
2 bay leaves
3 celery stalks
2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
For the Comeback Sauce:
Â¼ cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons chili sauce
1 Tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
dash hot sauce
1 garlic clove
Â¼ a small white onion or a small shallot
Â½ teaspoon salt
several grinds of black pepper
For the Shrimp:
Place the beer, 2 cups of water, the lemon, peppercorns, mustard seeds and bay leaves in a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid.Â Bring the liquid to a boil, drop in the shrimp, then cover the pot and remove from the heat.Â Leave the shrimp for about 5 minutes, then remove the lid.Â The shrimp should be nice, pink and curled now.Â Leave them in the liquid, uncovered, for a further ten minutes.Â Remove from the cooking liquid and drain. I usually do this with tongs â€“ you donâ€™t want peppercorns or mustard seeds stuck to the shrimp when you make the salad.
Cut the shrimp into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl.Â String the celery and cut it into a very fine dice and add to the bowl.Â Add the capers and toss to combine.
For the Sauce:
Place all the Comeback Sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and combined.
Pour the sauce over the shrimp and gently fold everything together until thoroughly coated with sauce.Â Cover and refrigerate for several hours to let the flavors combine.Â The salad can be made one day ahead.
Many years ago, I picked up a recipe card in the checkout line at a grocery store in London.Â It had a complicated fish recipe, but what attracted me was the artichoke tartar sauce.Â That card sat in my recipe file for years, until I rediscovered it and decided to give it a go.Â The recipe was a complete dud.Â Weird ingredients, lengthy procedures and it just didnâ€™t come together.Â It left me with a bowl of gloopy, oddly colored mess.Â So I threw the card away (and the sauce).Â But the idea stuck.Â A tangy, creamy sauce with a nice bite from artichoke hearts that would be a great accompaniment to seafood.Â So I persevered and came up with this version.Â I first took it to a friendâ€™s house for a fish fry â€“ they fried the fish caught that morning.Â It was a big hit, so I wanted to share the recipe.
But it has taken me another few years to figure out how to do it.Â I donâ€™t particularly enjoy frying fish myself, so no duplicating the tartar sauceâ€™s triumphant debut.Â Then it hit me â€“ crab cakes.Â Like a semi-deconstructed crab and artichoke dip. Â I fiddled with a classic crab cake recipe, paring it down to basic flavors so the tartar sauce wouldnâ€™t be overwhelmed.Â And pressing the mixture into little muffin tins makes them easier to cook and perfect bites for a party â€“ they tins can be filled and refrigerated just until ready to bake.Â A little dollop of tartar sauce makes them pretty, and the mini-sized, crispy sides make them easy to eat.
Crab Cake Bites with Artichoke Tartar Sauce
For the Crab Cakes:
1 pound lump crabmeat (see note)
2 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
Â½ cu panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Â½ teaspoon mustard powder
For the Tartar Sauce:
4 medium sized whole artichokes hearts (see note)
2 egg yolks
2 garlic cloves
2 Tablespoons flat leaf parsley leaves
2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
Â¼ cup safflower, grapeseed or canola oil
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Pick over the crabmeat to make sure there are no pieces of shell, then add the crab to the eggs.Â Add the melted butter, mayonnaise and parsley and fold together gently.Â You want everything well combined but try not to break up the crabmeat.
Mix the breadcrumbs, baking powder, Old Bay and mustard powder together in a small bowl.Â Add to the crab mixture and gently fold through.Â Again, you want everything combined, but donâ€™t break up the crabmeat. Refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour, but several is fine.Â This binds the mixture together and makes it easier to fill the tins.
Preheat the oven to 350Â°.Â Spray 24 mini-muffin cups well with non-stick cooking spray.Â Fill each cup with crab cake mixture, pressing it in to fill it well.Â Press a rounded teaspoon down in the middle of each cake to make a little well in the center (this will keep them from mounding up and create a nice flat surface for the tartar sauce).Â You can cover the tins with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for several hours at this point.
Bake the crab cakes for 20 â€“ 25 minutes until golden brown, then cool in the pan for 5 minutes.Â Use a knife to loosen the cakes and remove them from the pan.Â Spoon a little tartar sauce on top of each cake and serve immediately, though these taste lovely at room temperature.
For the Tartar Sauce
Drain and rinse the artichoke hearts well and pat dry.Â Drop them in a food processor (I use the mini) and add the capers, egg yolks, parsley and garlic cloves.Â Pulse three to four times to break everything up into a rough paste; scrape down the sides of the bowl.Â With the motor running, drizzle the oil into the bowl in a thin, steady stream.Â Process until the sauce is thick and creamy.Â Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl halfway through.Â Scrape the tartar sauce into a container and keep covered in the fridge until ready to use.Â It will keep overnight.
Makes 24 crab cakes
I prefer pasteurized lump crab meat that I find in containers at the seafood counter at better grocery stores.
I generally used canned artichoke hearts in brine, rather than the marinated, quartered ones in jars because the marinated ones have some flavor additions.Â If you can only find those, rinse them really well.Â If you can only find quartered, use 12 quarters.
Itâ€™s winter.Â Generally, itâ€™s cold and grey, though here in Memphis, the months are punctuated with weirdly frustrating days of seventy degree weather.Â I love winter food, but I have souped and stewed and braised myself silly and Iâ€™m ready for something lighter and fresher.Â This recipe started as just that.Â A quick whip-up with the last citrus at the bottom of the fruit bowl and some shrimp from the freezer.Â But this good enough to share, and could not be a quicker family meal or company dish.
Big juicy shrimp remind me of summer, and citrus is sometimes the one spot of sunshine in the winter foodscape.Â Add a little garlic and fresh, leafy parsley and this is a bright, sunny dish.Â A touch of cream adds some body, but mostly this sauce just glazes the pasta and shrimp with zest.Â Use a high-quality olive oil to make sure the citrus really shines.
Citrus Shrimp Linguine
12 ounces linguine
3 garlic cloves
Â½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Â¼ cup heavy cream
small handful flat leaf parsley leaves, plus more for sprinkling
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper
Cook the linguine in a pot of well-salted water according to the package instructions.Â Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water.
Grate the zest the orange, lemon and lime into the carafe of a blender.Â Juice the citrus to produce Â¾ cup juice combined.Â Add the juice to the blender with the garlic, parsley, olive oil, cream, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper.Â Blend until smooth.
Pour the sauce into a large skillet or pot that will hold the pasta.Â Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened.Â Add the shrimp and cook, turning once, until cooked through. They will be pink and firm and curled tightly.Â Immediately add the pasta to the pot and a couple of Tablespoons of cooking water.Â Use tongs to toss everything together, coating all the pasta with the sauce.
Serve immediately sprinkled with a little chopped fresh parsley.
As Mardi Gras time comes around, I start to get a good craving for some Louisiana cooking.Â And what is more Louisiana than crawdads?Â This creamy crawfish spread is perfect for a Mardi Gras party, or any time you need a little Creole kick.Â I like to serve this as an appetizer or on the buffet with some thick rounds of baguette, but it ainâ€™t bad over pasta!
Mardi Crawfish Spread
Look for frozen crawfish tails in the frozen seafood section.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Â½ cup finely chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
Â½ cup finely chopped green bell pepper (about 1 small pepper)
Â½ cup finely chopped white onion (about Â½ a medium onion)
1 pound peeled, cooked crawfish tail meat (thawed if frozen, rinsed and drained)
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
3 teaspoon Creole mustard
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
In a medium sautÃ© pan, heat the oil and cook the celery, pepper and onion until soft and translucent.Â Add the crawfish meat (if it is in large pieces, chop into bite-sized bits first) and 1/3 cup water.Â Bring to a boil and cook until the water has completely evaporated.Â Sprinkle on the Creole seasoning and cook one more minute, stirring.Â Add the tomato paste and mustard and stir to coat.Â Cut the cream cheese into cubes and add to the crawfish bit by bit, stirring until all the cream cheese is melted.
You can transfer the dip to a serving dish and serve immediately, or cool it and refrigerate, covered, overnight.Â Stir in a couple of Tablespoons of milk to loosen the dip and gently reheat in the oven, stirring occasionally.Â Serve with French bread rounds or sturdy crackers.
Serves 8 â€“ 10, but can be easily doubled
Bag omelets, as we call them, are a favorite project for my family. The family legend behind this is that my Dad was watching some sort of hunting and fishing outdoor program on a Sunday afternoon and they demonstrated these as a campfire cooking idea. Dad called my Mom into watch, and they were so intrigued, they made them that night. Well, they couldnâ€™t stop talking about them, and the next weekend had us all over for a bag omelet party. And so a family tradition was born.
I tell people about these all the time, but when I do, I can see them nod skeptically, and I just know they arenâ€™t going to follow my advice and make them. Recently, I had a dozen gorgeous eggs from the chickens my friend Kristin lovingly raises, so I invited a couple of those skeptical friends for dinner, and they were finally won over. We all loved our omelets and the chance to get creative. They immediately started thinking of reasons to make them.
Bag omelets are a great project for any group meal. Everyone gets their own customized omelet, all ready at the same time. Interactive food and lots of choice are always popular with the kids in my family. And bag omelet party is a great way to jazz up a boring weeknight meal with a special breakfast-for-dinner treat. I can see this as the perfect project if you are stuck in the house on a snow day. They are a perfect clean-out-the-fridge meal – great during the busy holidays when you have lots of bits and pieces hanging around, or the night after a big party. Cut up the leftover vegetables from the dip tray, dice the ham or turkey, grate the bits from the cheese platter.
But this is also a great idea for overnight guests, adults or after a kidsâ€™ sleepover. The same goes for an adult dinner party. Everyone has fun discussing their creations and all the omelets are hot and ready at the same time. These work equally as well with leftover salami and string cheese as they do with shaved truffles and duck confit.The omelets slide out of the bags as elegant perfectly shaped cylinders. They are perfect on their own, or with some crisp toasted bread or a light salad.
Use a big Dutch oven or pot, nonstick if you have it. Fill the pot about three-quarters full with water. When you add the bags, the water level will rise, but you want as much water as possible. It shouldnâ€™t be a problem if a little splashes over the side.
Use freezer safe bags, which are thicker and stand up to the heat. Donâ€™t use the plastic slider kind, just the press together seals. Youâ€™ll want to squeeze out air so the bags donâ€™t float too much.
Use a permanent marker to write on the bags. You donâ€™t want the names to wash off â€“ you might get the wrong omelet!
Set the timer and have it ready to start when to omelets hit the water. Use tongs to lift the bags out of the water onto a plate or platter.
Wear oven mitts or use a towel to protect your hands when opening the bags and sliding out the omelets.
Youâ€™ll need 2 eggs per person, and I always recommend the best eggs you can find. If you have a source at the farmers market or a friend for farm fresh eggs, thatâ€™s the way to go. Have a nice selection of protein, vegetables, cheeses, herbs and seasonings. Cut everything into small pieces, so when they are in the bag, they will mix together well, and be easy to eat. I could definitely see doing theme nights with bag omelets â€“ all Mexican ingredients or all Italian. And donâ€™t forget you can add some toppings on the top of the cooked omelet like an extra sprinkle of cheese, a spoonful of salsa or an ingredient you may not want cooked in with the eggs, like diced avocado or some crisp diced tomato. Put out some salt and pepper as well, and maybe a few additional seasoning blends.
When I last made these for the photograph above, I created nice little spread of fillings, some grabbed off the salad bar to fill things out, some bits from my fridge. Here are some ideas from that meal:
crumbled blue cheese
grated cheddar cheese
finely diced bell peppers
diced red onion
finely chopped sage, parsley and chives
Salt and pepper
Bring a pot of water to a full boil. Each omelet-maker should write their name on the outside of a freezer-safe zip top bag. For each bag omelet, crack two eggs into a bag. Lightly seal the bag and squish the eggs around a bit to break the yolks.
Open the bag and add your choice of ingredients. Donâ€™t use more filling than egg, you need a good ratio. Seal the bag three-quarters of the way and press out as much air out as possible, then seal the bag completely.
When everyone has their bags ready, gently lower them into the water, avoiding touching the bags to the side of the pan, and set the timer for 11 minutes. Use tongs to gently push the bags down into the water if needed. Do your best to keep the bags from touching the sides of the pot. I have done as many as 8 bags at a time.
When the timer beeps, remove the bags to a platter. Let them cool for a minute, then using oven mitts, gently open each bag and slide the omelet out onto a plate.