BBQ Shrimp

This September I went to Paris. Great bread, buttery sauces, beautiful architecture. But the whole time I was there, I couldn’t help but think–We do all this better in the US, right? New Orleans is basically Paris…but better? Right?

Delicious Ledenheimer bread. Beautiful, colorful buildings. Drinking in the middle of the street. Buttery and spicy sauces.

NOLA wins.

While I’m not from New Orleans or the South, I take great pride in recreating dishes from their incredible food culture. Dishes like gumbo have been labors of love. But this BBQ Shrimp dish, lifted from Paul Prudhomme, has been a simple slam dunk from the first time I made it (many, many, many mouthwatering meals ago).

BBQ Shrimp

1 pound large shrimp with shells on

Spice mix: 1 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp rosemary, 1/8 tsp oregano

1 stick unsalted butter and 5 tbs

1 tsp Worcestshire sauce

3 clove grated garlic

1/2 cup seafood stock

1/4 Abita beer (Purple Haze recommended)

Method

Put large skillet on high heat. Add 1 stick butter, garlic, Worcestshire, and spice mix. Once butter is melted, add shrimp. Cook for 2 minutes. Rather than stir the shrimp, shake the pan. Make sure those shrimp dance around in the sauce. Get them well coated and starting to pink and plump up. Then add stock and 5tbs butter and cook for 2 minutes, shaking continuously. Add beer and cook for one more minute. Remove the shrimp from the heat and serve in a bowl of butter sauce with many, many slices of crusty bread.

I gua-ran-tee you will enjoy this!

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Apple Crisp

I’m not a huge dessert person, generally, but I’m a sucker for this apple crisp. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and tart. In fact, we may be eating this very same apple crisp recipe less than a week from now as part of our Thanksgiving feast, but the thought of waiting that long to stuff my face with it was simply not an option. Once you try it, you’ll see why. There’s simply no such thing as too much apple crisp.

Apple Crisp

Ingredients:

Filling:

7 cups sliced peeled Granny Smith apples (7 or 8 apples)

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Topping:

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 1/4 cups flour

2/3 cup butter or 1 stick margarine

Method: 

Core, peel, and slice 7-8 apples. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in with the sliced apples. Put in a greased 13 x 9 pan.

In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and flour for the topping. Using a fork, break cold butter in the flour/sugar mixture.

Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Orzo Pasta Salad with Mustard and Honey

Neither god nor man has created a food more perfect pasta. I defy you to find something better.

Endlessly versatile. Comforting. A perfect canvas for sauces and cheeses and veggies and meats. I sing your praises eternal, oh pasta.

And while I enjoy a bowl of homemade spaghetti coated in a thick ragu , I’m just as content with 99 cent cheap-o grocery store noodles with butter and a good parmesan.

Pasta does not discriminate and I refuse to discriminate against it.

There’ll be countless pasta recipes on this site in time, I’m sure, but today’s offering is a fresh, light orzo dish that capitalizes on the last gasps of summer. It’s simple and tasty as a side dish, but holds up well to the addition of grilled chicken or fish, canned tuna, or a large dollop of hummus.

Orzo Pasta Salad with Mustard and Honey

Ingredients:

1 container grape tomatoes

1 English cucumber

1 red onion

1 16 oz package orzo

3/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup scant Dijon Mustard (fill the cup to the top with a good glug of honey)

Salt

Pepper

Dry oregano

Garlic powder

Method:

Bring water to a boil in a large pot and cook orzo according to package directions.

Meanwhile, chop your veggies. I prefer a making a very small dice on the red onion, slicing the cucumber into thin discs, and halving the grape tomatoes. But you do you!

In a large container add the white wine vinegar and whisk in mustard and honey. Season liberally with salt and pepper (about a small palmful of each). Make sure the mustard and honey are incorporated fully. Slowly stream in olive oil, making sure to whisk continuously. Add a small palmful of dry oregano and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Whisk, taste, and adjust seasonings to your preference. You may find you prefer a less vinegary dressing. If so, add a bit more honey or olive oil for balance.

Toss your veggies into the dressing and add more salt and pepper to taste.

When the orzo is done, drain and add to the veggies. Stir, making sure to coat all the pasta and that the veggies are running throughout. Season again with salt and pepper to taste.

Chill for 4-6 hours or overnight. When you’re ready to eat, recheck the seasonings. Time in the fridge and cold temps can reduce the punch of an initial application of salt and other seasonings.

Fuck yeah! It’s time to eat your veggies.

Paul and Kathleen’s (Pretty Damn Close to) Definitive Chili

The best time of the year has arrived. The leaves change to crimson and apricot, the air’s crisp, and the light turns mellow and golden.

It’s the perfect time for a piping hot bowl of chili.

During our years together, we have made many variations of “our” chili. Each one coming closer to what will one day be our “definitive” chili. This one is pretty damn close.

#fuckbeans

Paul and Kathleen’s (Pretty Damn Close to) Definitive Chili

Ingredients:

2 pounds meatloaf mix (reserve 2 tbs meat drippings)

1 pound 93/7 lean ground beef

1/2 pound pepper bacon (and 1 tbs bacon drippings)

1 tbs canola oil

1 green bell pepper

1 red onion

2 serrano chiles

10 garlic cloves

1 20 oz can tomato puree

2 14 oz cans Rotel tomatoes with mild chiles

1 14 oz can fire roasted tomatoes

3/4 tbs syrup

Salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Paprika

Northwoods Seasoning (Pensey’s spices)

Hot chili powder (Pensey’s spices)

Chili powder

Cumin

Dry cilantro

Method:

Dice peppered bacon and brown in a skillet. Reserve fat.

Meanwhile, dice your veggies and mince (or grate) your garlic cloves. Leave the seeds in your serrano peppers, unless you’re a total wimp and can’t stand the heat.

In a separate skillet, brown your meat. Reserve fat.

In a large stock pot of Dutch oven, heat 1 tbs canola oil, 2 tbs meat drippings, and 1 tbs bacon fat. Sauté veggies until translucent. Add garlic. Season with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper and 1/2 tsp garlic powder.

Drain meat mixture and add to the veggies. Season with 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, Northwoods Seasoning, and hot chili powder. Add 1 tsp cumin and 1 1/2 tsps chili powder.

Break open the cans of tomatoes and add them, along with 10 oz water. Re-season the mixture, but reduce the cumin to 1/4 tsp and increase your chili powder to 2 tsp. Add a good size glug of syrup (about 3/4 to 1 tbs).

Bring to boil. Reduce to low simmer for 25-30 minutes. Add a palmful of dry cilantro.

Holy fuck! Enjoy!

Italian Frying Peppers

If they say mornings are meant for coffee and contemplation, then I say afternoons are meant for listening to old Ina Garten podcast appearances and attempting to reclaim recipes from my youth.

When I moved out of my parent’s house, my mom gifted me with a book filled with hand-written recipes. Most of her recipes are complete with measurements and methods, but the recipe for Italian Frying Peppers was simply a list of ingredients.

It’s been 25 years since I’ve had those peppers, and armed with a strong taste memory and a sparse “recipe,” I set to work on recreating them.

They may not be exactly like my mom’s recipe, but they’re pretty darn close.

1a

Italian Frying Peppers

Ingredients:

12 anchovies in oil with capers

1 clove minced garlic

4-6 cubanelle peppers

2 tbs parsley

1 loaf of crusty Italian bread (the soft interior only)

1/4 cup pecorino romano

Salt and pepper to taste

Vinegar ( 1-2 tbs for the stuffing, a bit more to wash the peppers)

Water (1/2 cup, plus 2-3 tbs)

Method:

Slice off tops with of the cubanelle peppers.  Pull out seeds. Rinse pepper interior with vinegar passing vinegar to consecutive peppers. Give peppers a quick rinse with cold water. Dry thoroughly with a cloth. Set aside.

Remove the white, soft interior from a crusty loaf of Italian bread. Tear into little pieces and toss into a bowl. To the bowl, add parsley, garlic, cheese, anchovies and capers (not the oil they’re packaged in), salt and pepper. Add 1-2 tbs of vinegar, depending on how strong you want to make the mixture and how much bread you get from your loaf (I had about 3 cups of bread crumbs and added about 1 1/2 tbs of vinegar). Add 1/2 cup water, plus 2-3 tbs, until the mixture is moist enough to combine. Break down anchovies with a fork (or, if you’re a savage like me, your hands), and make sure the cheese, anchovies, capers, and parsley are incorporated throughout the entire bread mixture. The bread mixture should be moist, like an uncooked Thanksgiving stuffing, but not sopping wet.

In a frying pan, heat a thin layer of canola oil.

While the oil is heating, fill the peppers. I stuffed mine over the top of the pepper. I planned poorly and should have brought 6 cubanelles. If you planned wisely, fill the peppers just to the top. If you planned poorly, pile them with stuffing until they look like ice cream cones (no sense losing any delicious filling to poor shopping!).

Once the oil is hot, fry the peppers. Cook roughly 6 minutes per side, rotating so each side of the pepper is nicely browned and cooked through.

Fuck yeah, mangia!