Boiled shrimp for eating cold

If you go to a restaurant, shrimp is touted as a luxury item, high-priced and in stingy supply. At home with a bag o’ frozen shrimp in the freezer (preferably US Gulf shrimp) they are a handy and delicious protein available on a whim.

I have a favorite way to cook ’em. First you put them in a colander (6 to 7 large per person) in the sink and run water over them for about 5 minutes, moving them around to give each their turn under the spigot.

Meanwhile, put up a pot of water to boil with white and black peppercorns, juice of one lemon (cut in half, squeeze and drop in rinds), whole coriander seeds, and Old Bay seasoning. Boil for five minutes or so for flavor to disperse, adding in shells whenever available.

Peel and de-vein shrimp, saving shells and adding to water boil. (If you are going to serve by themselves, such as for a party, peel shrimp only up to last segment, leaving tails on.)

Boil shrimp for 3 minutes. Drain and chill. I like to not rinse the shrimp.

 

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Summer party menu

I am not a hot dogs and hamburger on the grill kinda gal when I invite people over for a pool party (or frankly when I go to others’ parties). I am not averse to meat, if it is good. I patronize my local organic farms when I want a semi-annual steak, and certainly whenever I want a cut of pork. I have begun to greatly appreciate the Boston Butt cut of pork. It is forgiving — you stick in the oven and it is done, whenever. It also is a fatty cut which has the glorious advantage of essentially self-basting in its fatty porkiness which accentuates the good flavor.

Menu:

Little neck clams on the grill, served with melted butter (melted in small dish on grill). Clam broth is optional.

Grilled kielbasa. Buy the best quality you can find. Fatty pork is a happy complement to clams.

Reheated pork butt. I prepared the day ahead by slow-roasting in oven; I marinated the pork in Puerto Rican style a la Mark Bittman.

Potato salad

Deviled eggs. Because it’s not a summer party without ’em! These go early and fast!

Garbanzo salad

Cherry pie

Strawberry shortcake

Garbanzo quinoa vinaigrette

This is an easy and healthy-ish salad perfect for summer gatherings. With no dairy it can go outdoors without danger. And it’s super-easy to assemble, and flexible too. It’s just a simple vinaigrette including both lemon juice and white wine vinegar, heightened with hot pepper — fresh or dried flakes — and mustard and honey to balance. It’s beans with red onion and some carrots and red peppers or whatever is fresh in early summer.

2 large cans of garbanzos (chick peas), drained and rinsed

red onion, 1/2, sliced then quartered, and macerated in white wine vinegar for 15 minutes to mellow

Vinaigrette: lemon juice (~ 2 T), garlic scapes or garlic, mustard, honey, red pepper flakes or fresh hot hot pepper, minced, S&P, olive oil.

Mix together:

Garbanzos

Onions

Red or other color peppers — not green, diced

carrots — #2-3, cut into dice about size of beans or smaller

minced parsley

cooked quinoa, cucumber, garlic scapes, cumin, and/or garlic, optional

Variation: substitute lime juice for lemon juice; substitute black beans for garbanzos, and add cilantro and scallions.  Use cumin.

 

Summer lentil salad extravaganza

When you find yourself with lovely local lettuce in early summer, and perhaps some leftover grilled chicken, cook up some Puy lentils and assemble a main course salad, great for a crowd. Pomegranate molasses adds a new flavor element to sherry vinaigrette brightened with lemon zest and juice.

Ingredients:
Stewed puy lentils, chilled
Chicken or vegetable stock for cooking lentils
Sherry shallot vinaigrette with shallots macerated in apple cider vinegar, lemon zest & juice, walnut & olive oil, sugar and pomegranate molasses
Leftover chicken, sliced thick or hard boiled eggs or boiled chilled shrimp (omit cheese)
Canned artichoke hearts and bottled roasted peppers, drained and rinsed.
Toasted walnuts (1 c), broken up when cool.
Little turnips, carrots sliced on mandoline
fresh herbs, minced — parsley and chives, at a minimum

Directions:

Cook lentils: Sauté diced carrots, celery, shallot in large saucepan. Add 1 t cumin, crumbled, ground pepper, and less than 1 t dried thyme, crumbled. When done, stir in chopped garlic and cook for one minute.
Stir in 1-1/2 c puy lentils, picked over and rinsed. Turn up heat and add stock to more than cover. Bring to a simmer and cook at least partially covered 20-30 minutes until barely tender — don’t let get mushy. Drain and chill.
Toast 1 c. walnuts in 350 degree oven for 7-8 minutes until fragrant. Let cool, then break up a bit.
Heat olive oil in small sauce pan, add couple garlic cloves cut in half and cook for a couple minutes until slightly browned and aromatic. Remove from heat and let sit.
Drain and rinse artichoke hearts; put on towel and blot dry. Put in bowl and pour garlic oil over them, adding more oil as needed.
Make vinaigrette: minced shallot and apple cider vinegar to macerate 15+ minutes. Lemon zest, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, walnut oil, olive oil, dash sugar (or honey) and 1-2 t pomegranate molasses, S&P. Taste and adjust acid, salt and sweetness as needed. Using a lettuce leaf is a good method of tasting.
When lentils are cool (or brought to room temp if cooked in advance), toss liberally with vinaigrette. Salt as needed.
Mince fresh herbs such as parsley and chives. Mix into lentils with walnuts.
Wash and spin dry lettuce leaves.
Clean turnips and cut thinly on mandoline with carrots and parmesan, if using. Cover and refrigerate to wait for salad assembly.

Assembly:
Lay lettuce leaves around outside of platter. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Dump dressed lentils in center. Top with chicken, artichokes and peppers. Sprinkle on coarsely broken up turnips, etc.

Summer coleslaw

There are many ways of making coleslaw. Almost too many that it had me perplexed and shy about plunging in.  There’s high fat with mayonnaise, mayonnaise and sour cream and/or buttermilk. And celery salt, mustard seeds and dry mustard. Add in some chopped spring onions, celery and/or red pepper. Here’s a creamy version (I prefer Bragg’s apple cider vinegar which adds flavor in addition to just acid.)  Here’s another.

Or make a vinaigrette type, perhaps with lime, cilantro and Serrano peppers. Or try this one.

I was perplexed about which way to go and then last night just plunged in when I had some oysters to fry for dinner. I mixed up some mayonnaise and sour cream (half and half is too much sour cream, I learned), mustard seed, plenty of celery seed, dry mustard, and S&P. I sliced half a head of a farmers market green cabbage, and ran a carrot through the food processor. Mixed together and put in refrigerator for half an hour while I fried some oysters. Coleslaw is good to counterbalance fatty, rich meat-type foods.

Next time I think I will use buttermilk to cut the mayo and no sour cream; add some apple cider vinegar and perhaps just a touch of sugar for balance.

Any way you do it, it will most likely be more flavorful than the sorry flaccid stuff served in tablespoon-size paper dishes at diners. Next time I’m going to experiment with buttermilk.

If you have time you can soak the cabbage for an hour. Or salt it(!) and let liquid drain, which – like cucumbers – makes the cabbage stay crisp in the liquid of the salad.

Stuffed mushrooms — appetizers for party!

There are a lot of stuffed mushrooms recipes out there, and they are rightly popular.  Similar to deviled eggs, they are always a welcome sight at parties.  They consist of sautéed chopped mushrooms stems (and extra caps, if you have them), breadcrumbs, garlic, parmesan, parsley, and I like sausage.  To bind everything, I successfully used cream cheese, and did not load up on bread crumbs.  I added an egg yolk, ’cause we were already down the high cholesterol road what with the sausage and cream cheese, might as well go whole hog.

Ingredients:

crimini mushrooms — 3- 10 oz packages, or thereabouts

italian sausage links — about 3 chubby ones, removed from casing, and CHOPPED

fresh thyme

bread crumbs — about 1/3 c

parmesan — about 1/4 c

garlic — 3-5 cloves, minced

olive oil

fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced

cream cheese — about 4 oz (I prefer Philadelphia brand), full fat

1 egg yolk

Directions:

  1. Prepare mushrooms by rinsing, and divide stems from caps, trimming off bottoms of stems.  Keep stems separate from caps.  If you have some extra mushrooms, chop them too.
  2. Sauté sausage, perhaps in some olive oil, if needed.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Sauté mushrooms, fresh thyme sprigs, and garlic.  When done, remove thyme sprigs (which should have shed their leaves into the cooked mushrooms). Return sausage to pan, or put all into another bowl.
  4. Mix in: bread crumbs, parmesan, parsley, S&P, and about 1/2 large package cream cheese, and 1 egg yolk. (or save some parsley to sprinkle on top of cooked mushrooms after oven baking).
  5. Mix and refrigerate up to 1 day. Refrigerate caps separately.
  6. Before your party, remove mushrooms and filling to come to room temp.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  7. Place mushroom caps on baking sheet, perhaps with a bit of olive oil on the bottom and as you place caps on tray, rub a little olive oil onto what will now become their bottoms, (or toss them in bowl with a bit of olive oil) and place on baking tray.
  8. Stuff mushrooms with filling, and bake about 15 minutes or until they look done.  With this large quantity, I baked in two batches so that they could stay hot.

Just try to get them all to the serving dish! If your party is like mine, people will be standing waiting for them to be removed from the oven.

Let me know YOUR favorite stuffed mushroom technique!