Archive for October, 2009

Old Bay Shrimp Pasta

Old-Bay-shrimp pasta

I have a new book called The Flavor Bible.  It is very cool — it is an index of ingredients, cross-referenced with complementary ingredients.  For example, if you were to look up “Cabbage”, you will get a list like this:

apples and apple cider
BACON
bay leaf
beef
bell peppers, red
butter, unsalted
CARAWAY SEEDS
carrots

celery: leaves, salt, seeds
Champagne
cheese: cheddar, feta, goat, Parmesan, Swiss, Taleggio, Teleme
chestnuts
(etc.)

The flavor pairings are ranked by how many chefs and food experts mentioned the pairing.  Capital letters with an asterisk (*) are the “holy grail” pairings, like mint and lamb or white chocolate and raspberries. Capital letters are very strong, familiar pairings.  Bolded are well accepted pairings, and the rest were mentioned by one or more experts.  The book also supplies flavor affinities — several ingredients often used together such as mustard + shallots + oil + vinegar — and combinations to avoid, such as coffee and lavender.

I haven’t yet used the book as a reference for my improvisations, though I did use the principle.  I was staring at some great looking shrimp and wondering what to do with them that I hadn’t tried before.  The only thing I could think of, however, was Old Bay seasoning, since regardless of how I decide to cook shrimp, my dear husband always douses them with Old Bay anyway.  Rather than fight his system, I embraced it.

I decided to use the cooking method for my salt-and-pepper shrimp and replace Chinese 5-spice with Old Bay, and the chiles, garlic and ginger with, um, more garlic.  Then I used the same pan to make a shallot and white wine sauce  The result was fantastic.  A little spicy, but rich and buttery too.  As it happens, when I looked up shrimp in the Flavor Bible, Old Bay seasoning appeared in bold letters.  Definitely some wisdom in the new tome!

Old Bay Shrimp Pasta for 2

3/4 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1-2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning (to taste)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 lb. spaghetti-like pasta
Butter
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 shallot, chopped fine or sliced thinly
1 Tbs. flour
3/4 c. white wine
chicken broth (optional)
1 lemon
1 1/2 Tbs. chopped parsley

Put a pot of water to boil on the stove. In a small saucepan, bring oil and garlic up to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Set aside.

Old-Bay-garlic-oil

Dry the shrimp on paper towels. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the cornstarch and Old Bay. In a large saute pan, heat 1 Tbs. of the garlic-infused oil, reserving the garlic solids.  Toss shrimp in the Old Bay mixture to coat. Immediately place the shrimp in the oil, one by one. Cook shrimp until brown on one side (about 2 minutes), then flip to brown the second side (about a minute). Remove shrimp to a pan or bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

Old-bay-shrimp

Add pasta to boiling water. In the same pan used for the shrimp, add a tablespoon of butter and let melt over medium heat. Then, add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the shallots and stir over heat for about a minute. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the white wine. Let boil until reduced and slightly thickened — should be pourable but also thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If you don’t seem to have enough sauce to coat the pasta, add in a half cup of chicken stock and let boil for a minute or so until proper consistency is regained. Swirl in butter to your taste.

Old-bay-sauce

Add cooked pasta to sauce in the pan, and toss to coat. Add shrimp and sprinkle with parsley and squeeze of lemon juice. Plate and serve.  Delicious!

October 23, 2009 at 9:56 am 5 comments

Pot Roast

Pot Roast

There is a great scene in Wedding Crashers where a middle-aged, pajama-clad Will Ferrell yells to his mom (who is in the kitchen) from his seat in front of the TV, “MA!  The meatloaf! We want it NOW!”  Whenever I make the retro dishes that RJ loves so much — Meatloaf, Beef Stroganoff, Mac n’ Cheese, Pot Roast, I always think of that scene.  Something about being that faceless mother figure with a boy who only eats meat and noodles.  Strange, I know.  Anyhoo… this pot roast is full of retro goodness, complete with slow cooker appliance and a can of Campbell’s soup.  I may be more than a little hypocritical, given this previous post and my known distaste for processed food products, but for some reason I just really wanted to try this recipe.  And it came out really well.  I feel shame…

I have a couple versions of pot roast in my arsenal, but this one is great for the slow cooker.  The tender meat and the beefy-tomato sauce basically epitomize comfort food, especially when draped over fresh linguini pasta (from Dave’s).  Even my recalcitrant husband ate up all of his carrots since, as he said, they were the perfect size.  Finally, the swirl of balsamic vinegar added right before serving added just the right amount of acidic zip to wake up the palate.  I highly recommend this recipe for two reasons: dinner #1 and dinner #2 (aka Leftovers).  Dinner #2 involves stirring shredded leftover pot roast into a homemade tomato sauce with red wine and lots of garlic.  A healthy dose of parmesan cheese and a side of garlic bread are all that’s needed to round out the meal (for RJ anyway — I would recommend some salad or greens as well!).  Here’s a look at that ragú on cheese ravioli:

shredded-beef-leftovers
Easy Pot Roast with Rich Tomato Gravy
, adapted from The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes
(Serves 6-8)

3-4 lbs. beef pot roast (cross rib, rump, or chuck roast)
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, peeled and thinly sliced
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cracked black peppercorns
2 Tbs. flour
1 can (10 oz.) condensed tomato soup
1/2 c. condensed beef broth (undiluted)
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. packed brown sugar (optional)
2 Tbs. balsamic or red wine vinegar (optional)

Pat roast dry with paper towel. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add roast and cook, turning, until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer beef to slow cooker insert.

pot-roast-browned

Reduce heat to medium. Add onions, celery, and carrots to pan and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened. Add garlic, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring for one minutes. Sprinkle mixture with flour and stir. Add tomato soup and beef broth and stir to combine, cooking until thickened. Stir in Worcestershire sauce.

pot-roast-sauce

Pour sauce mixture over roast, cover and cook on Low setting for 10 to 12 hours or on High setting for 5 to 6 hours. Remove roast from slow cooker and place on serving platter. Stir in brown sugar and vinegar, if using, to pan juices. Pour sauce over roast or serve in a separate sauceboat.

pot-roast-donepot-roast-gravy

If you want to plan ahead you can cook the vegetables and sauce the night before, and store it in the refrigerator.  The next morning, brown roast (this step may also be skipped if you are really pressed for time, though the browning really adds flavor), put the meat in the slow cooker, then pour the sauce over the beef.

Another option would be to cook the whole recipe the day before you’re serving and store the sauce and meat together in the fridge.  The next night, slice the roast and place slices in a casserole dish, covered with the sauce.  Bake in a 350 degree oven until warmed through (or simmer on the stovetop until piping hot).

October 15, 2009 at 4:22 pm Leave a comment

Profiteroles

Profiteroles

You will know that school is going well and that I have retained my sanity when posts appear here on From My Table.  As you can tell, it was touch and go there for a while, since my last post was put up here almost a month ago.  But today I finished writing my first paper (and it was a doozy!) and I finally have time to catch up here.  To set your minds at ease, it isn’t that I haven’t been eating or cooking.  I have just found that I can either post on the blog or cook and photograph, but not both.  I have stored up quite a few meals in my camera, but my typing time (and sterling wit) has been expended elsewhere for the past month — namely, at school.

Here’s the good news: I have a killer dessert for you.  Made of chou dough (the same used for gougères), these are simple and scrumptious and versatile to boot.  The ingredients are probably in your fridge and on your counter right now, and they take a mere half hour to make.  Plus (as if you needed further incentive), profiteroles cut an elegant figure and thus can be served at your next dinner party.  If you can wait that long…

Profiteroles, from the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts

(Serves 6-8)

1 cup water
5 Tbs. butter
1 c. unbleached white flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar. When water and butter boil, add the dry ingredients at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan, like so:

profiterole-dough-ball-stage

Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes. Then, beat the eggs in, one at a time. Each egg will make the mixture gloppy and slimy for a minute, but will turn back into smooth dough after some sustained stirring.

Profit-dough-gloppy

profit-smooth-dough

Lightly oil a baking sheet and/or line sheet with parchment paper. Using the wooden spoon or, if you’re fancy, a pastry bag, form mounds of dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Use about 1/4 cup of dough for each large puff or about 2 1/2 Tbs. for smaller puffs. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees then reduce temperature to 350 (don’t open the oven!) and bake for 20 minutes more for smaller puffs or 25 minutes more for larger puffs.

profit-dough-balls

When the puffs are firm, turn off the oven, remove the puffs, and using a small sharp knife, score a horizontal cut about 2/3 of the way up each puff (this is much easier right out of the oven when the puffs are crispy). Return the puffs to the still-warm oven for about 15 minutes to let the residual heat dry them a bit. Remove and cool completely.

Profiterole

When ready to serve, fill as desired by cutting the top from each puff at its scored mark, mounding the filling inside and replacing the top.

Profiterole-Caramel

My favorite fillings include:
Brigham’s vanilla ice cream with Herrell’s hot fudge sauce and/or dulce de leche (I used Stonewall Kitchen)
Home-made ice cream (coconut? strawberry? mocha chip?)
Apple chunks sauteed in butter, sugar, and cinnamon.
Cannoli filling (sweet ricotta, mmmm…)

October 3, 2009 at 3:19 pm 2 comments


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