Friday, August 20, 2010

Shutting it Down

Sorry folks, I'm shutting it down. Cooking my way through Ad Hoc at Home just isn't a priority for me right now. And this is why...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

crispy fried fish, sweet potato chips and BLUEBERRY COBBLER!

"I'm very angry about all these fish. Also, I'm angry about this grandpa fishing hat I'm wearing. I'm just really angry." Seriously - Jeremy refuses to smile when he's posing for a picture... so I refuse to stop making fun of him for it.
The fish should be the angry ones, shouldn't they? Guess they're not really smiling either...

Anyway, fried catfish is something Jeremy and I make often. Especially during the summer. Especially during THIS summer. Jeremy has totally become the king of catfish. So when he caught a mess of catfish at the lake last weekend I thought it'd be a good time to try Chef Keller's Crispy Fried Fish. And what goes better with fish than chipes? Fish and chips, right? So since I'd been so disappointed with the fried fingerling potatoes I tried again using sweet potatoes. Adn finally the ultimate summer dessert - blueberry cobbler.

I want to start by confessing that after trying several different fish fry recipes, we found one last year that we absolutely love - Zatarain's New Orleans, Breading Fish Fry Seasoned, 10-Ounce-TWO BAGS. The problem is that we discovered it in Murray, Kentucky and we can't find it around here! So I ordered a case online and we use it on all of our fish. We've tried Paula Dean's recipe, Emeril's recipe and several other box reciped - and nothing is as good at Zatarain's New Orleans. So I'll be honest and say that I made about half of the fish our usual way and the other half using the Ad Hoc recipe. Chef Keller's recipe is a wet batter coating, rather than a seasoned dry coating like we usually use. It was developed when he was working on waffle batters of all things!

The recipe starts with putting milk and butter in a pan to warm together, and meanwhile proofing the yeast. Proofing the yeast means to activate the yeast by sprinking it over warm water:
So I proofed the yeast, let it dissolve for 10 minutes and then stirred it together to dissolve and added the flour, sugar and salt to it. Oh yeah - and the milk and butter. I covered it tightly with plastic wrap and set it aside for an hour and a half.

I don't think you can really see it very well in the picture - but the butter mixture was bubbling (the yeast, ya know). So after an hour and a half, I whisked in a little baking soda and two eggs. The fish itself needed to be cut down to diamond shapes approximately 2 inches by 2 inches.

I used the big fryer this time so I didn't have to guess or use the stupid candy thermometer to figure out if we were at the right temp. So once the oil was at 350 degrees, I dredged the fish in flour, dipped it in the batter and dropped it into the hot oil.

In the upper left corner you can see the fish we did our usual way with the Zatarain's. I'll be honest and say I kind of had my doubts about the heavy battered fish. The Taylor family joined us for dinner so I subjected them to my little fish experiment. I think the opinions were pretty well divided. The Ad Hoc Crispy Fried Fish was good, the batter was kind of on the sweet side and there was a lot of it! It's such a thick batter that there's no way to keep it from making a very thick coating of fried batter on the fish. That being said, that's exactly what made some people like it so much. Personally, I still prefer the crispy dry breading method. And of course Jeremy liked both versions. Alot.

Now since we had the big fryer out and I knew the oil temperature would be perfect I grabbed my mandolin and sliced up a nice big sweet potato.

I popped them all into the fryer for a couple of minutes while we were waiting for the fish batter to be ready to go, took them out and sprinkled with kosher salt while they were still nice and hot.

Since I'd been disappointed the first time I tried to make the chips, I only made one of the four sweet potatoes I got at the grocery store... shoulda made 'em all. THIS WAS AWESOME. They were very thin and crispy with that bit of natural sweetness you expect from a sweet potato. Salty and sweet are one of my favorite combinations so these were right up my alley. I'm going to be making these every time we have the fryer out. Really easy, really delicious and a big hit.

But speaking of big hits...this weekend brought me my favotite recipe from Ad Hoc so far. The Blueberry Cobbler. Now I've been making cobblers forever. Dude - my family is Southern. We know from cobbler. I've made cobblers with biscuit drop tops, I've made cobblers with granola crumble topping, I've made individual cobblers, I've done it all. And this was my favorite cobbler of all time.

Yes, Mary Beth, that is a little container of cinnamon sugar with a "CINN SUGAR" label on it. This is where Mary Beth will make fun of me and my love of a good label maker. Labels make me happy! Sue me. I guess this is karma for making fun of Jeremy's "angry tough guy face" in pictures.

I like blueberries, but Jeremy loves blueberries. It's funny, his mom doesn't care for them so he never had blueberries when he was growing up. When he had his first taste of blueberries and fell in love with them, he actually scolded his mother for not feeding him blueberries as a kid! :) Anyway, here's some "food porn" for Jeremy:

Mmmm, blueberries...

To make the topping, I creamed the butter and sugar together, then added the rest of the dry ingredients and buttermilk in alternating batches.

The filling was even easier. I tossed the blueberries with sugar, flour and lemon zest. (More food porn for Jeremy):
After spreading the filling evenly in the bottom of a 9 x 11 baker, I dropped dollops of the batter on top - then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.
Popped it in the oven for 40 minutes or so and voila! The best blueberry cobbler of all time, ever. There's only one cup of sugar in the entire recipe - so it's not overpoweringly sweet. And the topping wasn't too fluffy as biscuit style topping tend to be, but it wasn't heavy and overpowering either. It soaked up a bit of the blueberry liquid but was still crispy on the top.  

I wish there was some way for you all to taste this cobbler. I can't express how much I love it. It tastes like summer at my grandparent's farm in Kentucky when I was a little girl. Fresh fruit, cobbler and a big glass of cold milk. I'm 5 again and can't get enough!

Sam and Jeremy went fishing tonight and when they got back, Sam had a piece of cobbler. I think this says it all:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Red Potatoes & Green Bean Salad and Fingerling Potato Chips

Hands down, the most exciting part of this post is that it involved making aioli - which is really just mayonnaise (which was a challenge for me previously), but with garlic oil rather than vegetable oil. And I'll go ahead and let the cat out of the bag - I succeeded this time. And on the very first try. Yay, me!

Okay - moving on. Jeremy and I hosted a Father's Day gathering on Sunday and since I had to make three tons of food, I threw a few Ad Hoc recipes in the mix. I made Glazed and Rubbed Pork Spareribs again, and got a ton of compliments on them. I think I've found my permament ribs recipe - as a matter of fact, Jeremy wants to experiment with making pork steaks the same way. I'll let you all know how that works out. Jeremy and his dad went boar hunting in Texas last February, so half of the ribs I made were from that hunting trip (the other half from Dierbergs) - nice Father's Day tie-in, huh?

The new recipes for this week were Red Potato and Green Bean Salad (with Creamy Pepper Dressing) and Fingerling Potato Chips. The Red Potato and Green Bean Salad recipe included two other Ad Hoc recipes - Aioli and Creamy Pepper Dressing. So I really knocked four recipes out this week.

We'll start with the Red Potato and Green Bean Salad. I needed to make the Creamy Pepper Dressing ahead of time - and it included aioli. So I gave myself PLENTY of time to mess it up and do it over and curse and throw things and to go get stitches if they were required after the inevitably violent temper tantrum. I hauled my way too expensive mayonnaise/aioli-making-machine out of the pantry, took a deep breath, burned some sage all around the kitchen and offered up a small prayer. Threw in the egg yolks... and started the slow stream of garlic oil (which was left from the garlic confit that I made for the Smashed Marble Potatoes).
I was honestly amazed when I was able to get all of the garlic oil to emulsify without the whole batch breaking even once.
There was much celebrating in the kitchen - it may or may not have involved dancing a jig and saying things like "Yes! I am the *#!$^* master! I rock!" So there ya go - I have now used my way-too-expensive-mayonnaise-making machcine TWICE. Turns out I didn't need all that extra time after all.

So the next day I tackled the rest of the recipe. The potatoes needed to be boiled along with a sachet. So I smooshed a clove of garlic and put it on a square of cheesecloth, along with a bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme and black peppercorns, then wrapped them all up. Easiest recipe yet.

Next up, the creamy pepper dressing. This is what I made the aioli for the previous night. I got my mise en place together...
And then remembered that I had to crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. So I did it - but then I didn't take the mise en place picture again. Whatever. Semantics. You get the idea. It's not easy to take five bajillion pictures while cooking all this stuff, ya know.
Okay, so my peppercorns are crushed and my aioli is ready to go. The peppercorns went into a small saucepan along with a little Banyuls vinegar and honey. After simmering for a while, there was some foam to be skimmed and discarded. I let it simmer until there was a 1/4 of reduction in the saucepan. In a separate bowl I whisked together the aioli, a bit of buttermilk and crème fraîche. Then added the still warm reduction to the mixture along with a little salt and pepper.
Another recipe down! Creamy pepper dressing - and it's yummy! Jeremy loves pepper, so I think I'll be making this for him quite a bit.

So anyway - back to the whole point, Red Potato and Green Bean Salad. My mise en place:
I threw the sachet into a large saucepot of water along with a couple of pounds of red potatoes and salt to boil.
While the potatoes were boiling, I blanched a pound of hariacots verts (skinny green beans) for a few minutes and then threw them in an ice bath to stop the cooking. This keeps them nice and bright green, but cooks them just enough to be delicious!

After chiffonading a couple of heads of Bibb lettuce, I tossed the lettuce, potatoes, and beans with a few diced shallots and chives. I poured in most of the dressing and tossed it together.
Honestly, it may not look like all that much, but it was delicious. Since everything is tossed together at the last minute, the lettuce, shallots and green beans were nice and crunch. The potatoes are soft and creamy - and with the dressing all over everything it was delicious. This could be a main dish on it's own. One of my favorite things is a baked potato with sour cream, butter and a little too much salt and pepper - this is what that tasted like, but a LOT better.  Everyone really enjoyed it and Mary Beth specifically asked to take the leftovers home. I think this one will go into the regular rotation as well.

I wanted to knock another recipe out and though homemade potato chips would be a hit with the kids. So I also made Fingerling Potato Chips. This one's mise en place was super easy: potatoes, salt and oil.
And... I got to use my way-too-expensive-mayonnaise-making-machine AGAIN! I used it to thinkly slice my fingerling potatoes. Dude, seriously, my cost per use here is plummeting!
But here's where things get a little less super easy. All I had to do was heat the oil to 350 degrees, fry the potatoes and voila... Yeah. Right. Voila. So if the oil isn't quite 350 degrees because your candy thermometer isn't meant to attach to the side of a cast iron skillet full of oil and because it keeps touching the cast iron itself it's measuring the temp of the cast iron and not the skillet but you don't notice that because you're busy doing a hundred other things like preparing a Father's Day feast for twelve people and seriously it's not my fault, OKAY??? Soggy chips. That's what you get, soggy chips. If the oil isn't quite 350 degrees and you fry the potatoes in said oil - it's soggy chips. Stupid soggy chips. The small ones were crispy and delicious - you know when you go to a restaurant that makes their own chips and they're always so much better than bag chips? Well that's what the small ones were like - yummy. The rest of them were more like... um... soggy potatoes.

But they looked pretty!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Omnivore's Hundred

Below is a list of 100 things Very Good Taste thinks every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Very Good Taste is a blog written by an English couple, Jill and Andrew. So they've encourage food bloggers to post the list to their blogs, bold all the items we've eaten, and cross out those that we'd never consider eating. (This list has been copied several times and has also been referred to online as 100 Things You Should Eat Before You Die.)

So here is my Omnivore's Hundred (aka 100 Things You Should Eat Before You Die):

1. Venison - Um, yeah... a lot. My husband's an avid hunter and I've harvested a doe before myself, so we eat a lot of venison.

2. Nettle tea - Nettle tea is supposed to have all kinds of health benefits. It fights skin problems, intestinal disorders, arthritis, urinary tract infections. Shrug.

3. Huevos rancheros - Yup. Best huevos rancheros I've ever had was when I was visiting my cousins in San Francisco and we went to a total hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint in the middle of nowhere.

4. Steak tartare - I've had it in two or three different places. I've had it chopped (yuck) and I've had it prepared by being very thinly sliced and served cold (not yuck).

5. Crocodile - But I've had fried alligator chunks. Guess that doesn't count.

6. Black pudding - I don't know if I have the guts to try this. It's blood pudding (a type of sausage). Okay, I promise to at least try to try it when I visit my cousins in Scotland. I'll report back then.

7. Cheese fondue - OMG, yes, yes, yes! I LOVE cheese fondue. I love cheese. I especially love stinky cheese. But cheese of any type is wonderful and even better when all melty and hot.

8. Carp - I've seen a lot of carp, I've caught some carp - but I threw them back. I don't know that I've ever eaten carp.

9. Borscht - I had a small bowl of borscht when Zhivago's Russian Restaurant was open in Ballwin. It's a soup made mostly of beets and potatoes. I basically ordered it to try something new - and I don't honestly remember if I cared for it or not since this was well over ten years ago. Must not have made much of an impression.

10. Baba ghanoush - Haven't tried baba ghanoush yet, but this is definately on the list of things to try.

11. Calamari - I have had great calamari and I have had bad calamari... and I have had really bad calamari (i.e. battered rubber bands). If I can see the ocean it came out of I'll try it - and it's usually pretty good then.

12. Pho - Not yet, but sooner or later I'll try pho.

13. PB&J sandwich - I've had no less than three hundred bajillion PB&J's. I've had double-deckers PB&J's, I've had it between crackers, between muffins, between pancakes - everything I could think of. But the very best PB&J I've ever had was at Garden Cafe Ala Fleur - it's a double-decker PB&J made with strawberry jam on cinnamon bread and then grilled.

14. Aloo gobi - Not yet, but it'll happen. It sounds yummy.

15. Hot dog from a street cart - I know the mere idea sounds gross to many of you, but after a nice long evening on Bourbon Street, nothing quite hits the spot like a Lucky Dog. I've also had them in NYC and Chicago.

16. Epoisses - Not yet, but you know it's just a matter of time. It's a stinky cheese, an especially stinky cheese, so you know I'll love it.

17. Black truffle - I've had black truffle oil, but I'm not counting that and I've also had dishes with little black flecks of black truffle in them, but I'm not counting that either. Because I really want to have shaved black truffle.  Specifically, I want to have White Truffle Oil-Infused Custard in Black Truffle Ragout and Chive Potato Chip at The French Laundry (scroll down to 8th pic).

18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes - I've had strawberry wine and it was very sweet. VERY sweet. I don't like sweet wine.

19. Steamed pork buns - Basically these are barbecued shredded pork inside of a steamed bun. In other words, delicious and full of fat and calories. Right up my alley.

20. Pistachio ice cream - My mom loves pistachio ice cream, so I've had it several times. It's no dark chocolate, that's all I'll say.

21. Heirloom tomatoes - Since I grew up on a farm, I've had plenty of heirloom tomatoes, and mostly against my will. I hated tomatoes when I was growing up but my parents made me "at least take a taste" of everything. Including slimy okra and nasty brussel sprouts. I now love them all. Go figure.

22. Fresh wild berries - Yep, see above. Farmgirl.

23. Foie gras - I know it's politically incorrect, but I have had it. It was before I knew that they were force-fed, so I haven't had it since then. I have had regular duck and goose liver pâté many times since then (which is the same thing, just not made from force feeding (gavage). Honestly, it's freaking delicous. But pâté is pretty darn good too.

24. Rice and beans - I have a Southern heritage and a love of all things cajun. So I've certainly had my fair share of red beans and rice. Bring it on.

25. Brawn, or head cheese - Yuck. Gross. Disgusting. Yes - I have tasted head cheese. On a dare. My high school boyfriend worked behind the meat counter at our local little grocery store. He dared me to taste it - couldn't back down on a dare. So I told him if he did it, I'd do it. Yuck. Gross. Disgusting. Thanks Steve Jenkins.

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper - Raw?!? Oh heck no. One of the hottest peppers in the world. No freaking way. A jalapeño pepper has about a 3,500 rating on the Scoville scale; Scotch Bonnet peppers have a rating of 100,000 to 350,000. Forget it.

27. Dulce de leche - Love it. It's similar to caramel but made with sweetened condensed milk instead of sugar. It's mucho better than caramel.

28. Oysters - Nothing like a fried oyster po' boy at Acme Oyster House. I've also had raw oyster shooters. Not as good.

29. Baklava - I know a lot of folks just love baklava, but I could take it or leave it.

30. Bagna cauda - This souns amazingly delicious so I'm going to HAVE to try it.

31. Wasabi peas - I love wasabi peas, I could eat them like M&Ms.

32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl - Of course.

33. Salted lassi - I don't know. Maybe some day if I'm in North India. Or an Indian restaurant. I guess.

34. Sauerkraut - See heirloom tomatoes, my parents made me taste everything. I never did develop a taste for this nasty stuff.

35. Root beer float - Just writing this makes me want one. Especially from A&W. Mmmm, I remember going to A&W as a kid when they were still a drive-in and getting the little tiny kid size glass of rootbeer and every now and again getting a rootbeer float.

36. Cognac with a fat cigar - Not really. I've had cognac and I've had a fat cigar. But not together...

37. Clotted cream tea - Maybe this will be another new experience in Scotland.

38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O - Are you kidding me? Seriously. Yes. And I have no further comment.

39. Gumbo - Again, back to the beans and rice, the gumbo, etc. Love. It.

40. Oxtail - Mom makes oxtail stew. It doesn't suck.

41. Curried goat - Not yet... but I do love curry.

42. Whole insects - I'm willing to try, if only for the novelty, to eat a whole insect. But it's going to have to be roasted or fried or something.

43. Phaal - No way. It's hotter than Scotch Bonnet peppers. For-freakin-get it.

44. Goat’s milk - I've had plenty of cheeses made from goats milk, but not goats milk itself.

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more - Yes, but I didn't pay for it. Mom and I were staying at The Brown Hotel in Louisville and talking to the bartender there about having toured the area bourbon distilleries and I said I still wasn't that crazy about bourbon. He took that as a challenge. So he offered us several samples of ridiculously expensive bourbons. I get it now.

46. Fugu - Probably not. I don't think I'm willing to die for good fish. Seriuosly. There's an old Japanese expression that goes "I want to eat fugu, but I don't want to die". If they're not gonna, I'm not gonna.

47. Chicken tikka masala- Sounds good. I'd try it.

48. Eel - I've had it in sushi. Like baklava, I could take it or leave it.

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut - Way too many times. When Jeremy and I were planning our honeymoon, we had to plan our drive to incorporate the nearest Krispy Kreme so I could get a dozen original glazed doughnuts. I'd dieted for a year and hadn't had one that whole time. I bought three dozen. They were gone long before the honeymoon ended. Luckily there was another Krispy Kreme just 7 or 8 miles from our cabin. I bought more.

50. Sea urchin - I'm willing...

51. Prickly pear - I don't know much about the prickly pear, but I don't really see the point, so probably not. But you never know.

52. Umeboshi - I guess if I ever go to Japan I'll try it. Instead of the fugu.

53. Abalone - We'll see... these are endangered, but are commercially farmed in California. So I guess I'd try it if it were from a sustainable source. It's a mollusk - you've all seen abolone shell jewelry...

54. Paneer - Not yet, but it's a cheese, and you know how I feel about cheeses.

55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal - Duh.

56. Spaetzle - Had it, made it, loved it. Just wish I could get them to look like teardrops when I make them. They're so much cuter that way.

57. Dirty gin martini - Again, duh. Except I like a vodka martini much better.

58. Beer above 8% ABV - 'Nuf said.

59. Poutine - Sounds good to me. It's french fries topped with fresh cheese curdds covered with brown gravy. It's a Canadian thing. I'll have it sooner or later.

60. Carob chips - Yeah, not a fan. Why sub for chocolate when you can have chocolate.

61. S’mores - I loved s'mores as a kid. Still like them, but I'd rather have a martini.

62. Sweetbreads - I just tried these for the first time, as a matter of fact, just a month or so ago. Mom ordered them at The Clarksville Station Restaurant at Overlook Farm. Sweetbreads are the thyus glands of lamb, beef or pork, soaked in salt water then poached in milk. Sounds gross - but they were yummy.

63. Kaolin - It's clay. Edible clay. That people with eating disorders, poor people with mineral deficiencies, and pregnant women with weird cravings eat. I don't fit into any of those categories.

64. Currywurst - I'd totally try this. It's hot pork sausage seasoned with curry sauce. Sounds good to me - it's a German diner food or street food. Guess I need to go to Germany now.

65. Durian - I'm not sure. It's an Asian fruit with a custard like flesh inside. But the odor is supposed to overwhelming and totally disgusting. It's been banned from some hotels and public transportation in southeast Asia.

66. Frogs’ legs - I've had them in French restaurants and I've had them fried after Dad caught 'em. Fried is better.

67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - I've had them all. Beignets at Cafe Du Monde is the way to go though.

68. Haggis - I think not. It's sheeps 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs) minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt - then you boil it in the sheep's stomach for three hours. I'll pass.

69. Fried plantain - Maybe I just haven't had the good ones yet, but they taste kind of plain to me...

70. Chitterlings, or andouillette - I haven't yet had chitterlings, but I'd be willing to take a taste at least. Chitterlings are pig intestines that have been chiopped up and stewed, then battered and fried.

71. Gazpacho - I love gazpacho, I especially love Chef Thomas Keller's gazpacho - it's one of the first recipes of his that I ever made after I read about it in Carol Blymire's blog. It's in his French Laundry cookbook.

72. Caviar and blini - I've had caviar, but not with blini, so I'll have to try it...

73. Louche absinthe - Honestly, I'm really curious about louche absinthe (click the link and scroll down to the "Preparation" section) so I want to try it...

74. Gjetost, or brunost - Again. Cheese.

75. Roadkill - Negatory.

76. Baijiu - Well, it's a Chinese alcoholic beverage, so I'd be happy to try it.

77. Hostess Fruit Pie - Duh.

78. Snail - I love escargot, especially in garlic butter. So yep - love it.

79. Lapsang souchong - Maybe, but I'm not rushing to try it. It's a Chinese tea that tastes like smoke. Why?

80. Bellini - Of course. Peach purée and champagne - what's not to love?

81. Tom yum - It's a Thai soup. I haven't had it yet, but it sounds good.

82. Eggs Benedict - I love eggs benedict. So I've had lotses and lotses of eggs benedict.

83. Pocky - It's a biscuit (cookie) coated with chocolate? Okay, count me in.

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant - Have I mentioned that I love Chef Keller? And French Laundry? And that I want to go there really really really bad?

85. Kobe beef - Kobe beef is beef raised according to strict Japanese tradition. It's delicious. Even raw.

86. Hare - Yes, I've had hare and loved it. Jeremy ordered it on our anniversary at Eleven Eleven Mississippi and it was amazing. I'd be happy to have it again.

87. Goulash - Not yet, doesn't sound bad, doesn't sound good... Okay - I stand corrected. Mom says I've had it!

88. Flowers - I've had edible flowers that were used as garnish. Eh.

89. Horse - No. Not gonna do it.

90. Criollo chocolate - Well it's chocolate, of course I'd be willing to try it.

91. Spam - Nasty. Gross. Disgusting. Once and only once.

92. Soft shell crab - I enjoy seafood of all kinds. I love shellfish. Soft shell crab is delicious. Maybe kind of weird, but good.

93. Rose harissa - I've heard a lot about rose harissa, it's something I'd really like to try.

94. Catfish - Are you kidding me? I grew up on the Mississippi. Seriously, I had catfish for dinner last night and the night before that. Jeremy can't bring home enough!

95. Mole poblano - Since it includes chocolate you'd think I'd like it more, but it's just okay by me.

96. Bagel and lox - Like I had a choice. I married a Jew.

97. Lobster Thermidor - Not yet, but I totally want to!

98. Polenta - I love corn in any way, so ground and made into a grainy mush and then fried. Yep, gimme.

99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee - I LOVE COFFEE. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world. One day I will have it.

100. Snake - Probably tastes like chicken.

So there you have it. I've had 54 out of 100 and refuse only seven of them. So what have you had/not had/want to try/refuse to try???

Monday, June 7, 2010

sautéed shrimp with garlic

As many of you already know, I just returned from a week-long vacation in Hawaii to see one of my cousins get married on the beach. The wedding was beautiful and touching, the scenery was gorgeous and the company way fabulous... but the best part of visiting Hawaii was the food! I love fresh seafood. I think I may have eaten my weight in sashimi alone.

On the road between our resort (Turtle Bay Resort) and the estate my cousins rented was a large shrimp farm. And there were several roadside stands selling fresh cooked shrimp. As we drove by every day you could smell the butter and garlic and it was intoxicating. So I also had my fair share of roadside stand shrimp. Specifically butter and garlic shrimp at Fumi's. It was so fresh that I think the shrimp you’d watched them gather as you drove by was the same shrimp was being walked in the backdoor to be cooked as you ordered.
So I didn’t get my fill of butter and garlic shrimp. I was still craving it when I got home. So as soon as I was rested I knew my next Ad Hoc recipe was going to have to be the Sautéed Shrimp with Garlic. Butter, wine, garlic and shrimp – what could be better? Not much.
Chef Keller’s recipe calls for U-12 jumbo shrimp (this means that there are under 12 shrimp to a pound), but I could only get my hands on 15/18 count shrimp. But that’s pretty close and I didn’t really think it’d make much difference. So I bought 15 shrimp for about $12 and hoped that this would be as good as what I’d had on North Shore.
But the first thing I had to do was peel and devein the shrimp. I’ve peeled a lot of shrimp in my day – but I’d never actually deveined them before. I could have asked them to peel and devein them for me at the seafood counter, but new experiences are good. Plus, Chef Keller says to do it yourself, so I did. Turns out – it’s easy. Not so pleasant, but easy. So once I’d peeled and deveined the shrimp, they needed to sit in a cold brine solution (4 cups water to 6 T kosher salt) for about ten minutes.

I think that was probably the most time consuming and difficult part of the whole dish.

I melted some butter in a large skillet. By the way, and totally off the subject, but I love this big huge cast iron skillet. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend getting one – you can use it for so many things and it heats so evenly. It's a Lodge Logic 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet.  I was too lazy to use cast iron for a long time because I thought it was too high maintenance since I couldn’t just throw it in the dishwasher. Wrong. Anyway – back to the shrimp. Just as the butter starts to foam, add the shrimp and garlic.

Swirl the pan around a little and cook the shrimp for about 90 seconds on each side.

How easy was that?!? Then you add some dry white wine and chives to the pan to make a sauce to pour over the shrimp.

Two of my shrimp wouldn’t stand up on the plate all nice and pretty like they did in Ad Hoc picture – so Jeremy ate them while I was still plating.

His exact words: “Oh my God this is amazing.” And it was. This was so incredibly delicious and easy – I’m making this one over and over and over and over. Decadent and easy and delicious.

Was it as good as what I had at Fumi’s Shrimp stand? Well, yes and no. The shrimp itself wasn’t quite as good – it wasn’t as fresh or as big, and of course that does make a difference. But the flavor was totally there. So the next time I get my hands on some really fresh shrimp, I know what I’m doing with it. Like I said, I’ll be making this over and over. Jeremy said this one is his favorite so far – even better than the ribs.