Posts Tagged ‘Shrimp’


This is a fabulous dish to start off the New Year in the kitchen.  Lemon juice and zest add a tangy brightness to the fresh asparagus and sweet shrimp.  There’s a little bit of grated parmesan cheese and butter for creamy richness. And, the white wine and minced onion yield a great depth of flavor.  The recipe, from the venerated archives of Gourmet Magazine, gives a good reminder: “the rice should be creamy and tender but still al dente — like the consistency of a thick soup.”   Solid guidance that led to a perfect outcome this time around!


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Skewered grilled shrimp.

Gemelli and sliced green and white beans tossed with homemade pesto.

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Ask pretty much anyone who’s lived in the greater Washington, DC, area where to find the best blue crab and at the top of their list will likely be Jimmy Cantler’s Riverside Inn on the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis.  I recently ventured out to this local institution as a blue crab “novice” and returned after a fantastic experience an expert in shelling and feasting on the insides of Maryland’s favorite seafood treat.  At Cantler’s, the beer is cold, the crabs are fresh and sweet — coated in savory Old Bay seasoning — and the crispy fries and fresh slaw are perfect nibbles on the side for an afternoon outdoor dinner with friends on the shores of the Bay.

The no-frills restaurant, where picnic tables are topped with paper and the food is served on paper and plastic, is tucked away at the end of a windy, dead-end road in a remote neighborhood outside Annapolis. (As one colleague told me, you almost need a GPS to find it!)  But if you don’t have a GPS just look for the parade of cars that cram the small parking lot starting mid-afternoon and pile up along the road for hours after. Don’t worry about the wait though (and you will have to wait) — grab a cold drink and head down to the docks to see where they bring the crabs ashore and take in the scenic views.

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After a little hiatus from this space in March, I’m kicking off April — and capping a beautiful Easter Weekend — with this wonderful, simple shrimp and pasta dish. I find myself increasingly drawn to “simple” preparations, like this one, in which the flavors, colors, textures of the individual elements of a dish shine for what they are.   The vibrant colors of the fresh Roma tomatoes, crisp Italian parsley and wild caught shrimp play big when tossed lightly with spaghetti in an olive oil, white wine, onion, garlic sauce.  The juices from the shrimp give the sauce added depth and a couple pinches of dried red pepper flakes give it a little punch. The dish does not have a lot of ingredients and doesn’t take long to prepare, but it’s packed with flavor.  I really love how healthy and light this is, too. Perfect for a warm spring or summer evening meal with a tossed salad and crusty bread.

Spaghetti with Shrimp Sauce

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deviened

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 pound ripe roma or plum tomatoes

3/4 pound spaghetti

1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped

Red pepper flakes, salt/pepper to taste

(1) Boil spaghetti, drain and set aside.

(2) Saute onion and garlic in olive oil for 3 minutes over low heat in a large fry or saute pan.  Then add shrimp and saute over medium heat for 2 minutes, being careful not to overcook.

(2) Add the white wine and cook until liquid begins to evaporate, about 2-3 minutes. Then, add tomatoes and seasoning to taste, cooking for an additional 2 minutes.

(4) Toss spaghetti in the pan with the sauce and shrimp, topping with the fresh chopped parsley.

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What do you get when you give a bunch of professional journalists sharp knives, a couple bottles of champagne, and instructions to work together to prepare a gourmet meal?  An incredibly lively — and dangerously unpredictable! — dinner party that you’ll never forget. Some of the best times among friends are spent in the kitchen, and this night proved that once again.  Check out this rockin’ menu we compiled and prepared with help from our friends at the DC-based cooking school “Company’s Coming:”

Appetizers: Portuguese Tuna and Beans; Goat Cheese Spread; Sizzling Lemon Shrimp with Garlic; Selection of Grilled Gourmet Sausages

Entree: Flat Iron Steak with Shallot Confit; Rissotto with Red Wine, Pancetta, and Parmesan; Boston Lettuce Salad with Pine Nuts

Dessert: Molten Chocolate Cake with Raspberries

Wines: Montelliana, Prosecco, ‘Montello e Colli Asolani’; 2007 La Carraia, ‘Orvieto,’ Classico; 2007 Banfi, ‘Chianti Classico’

And now the winning take-away recipe from the evening….Molten Chocolate Cake!  ( This is not, repeat not, a healthy dessert, but it’s a divine re-creation of a classic steakhouse favorite that I love to order when I’m out.)

Molten Chocolate Cake from Ed and Jinny Fleischman

1 cup butter

8 oz bittersweet chocolate

4 eggs

4 egg yolks (in addition to the 4 whole eggs!)

1/2 cup white sugar

4 teaspoons of flour

(1) Prepare ceramic ramekins or other small baking cups by buttering the inside and dusting with flour.  Repeat twice for each cup – this is key so the cake will pop out.

(2) Melt butter over low heat in saucepan. Add chocolate and stir until just melted.

(3) Beat eggs, yolks and sugar until light and thick. Stir the butter and chocolate together and add in the egg mixture. Quickly beat in the flour.

(4) Divide mixture evenly between ramekins. Either refrigerate for later baking or continue by baking.

(5) Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 6-7 minutes at 450 degrees. (Note: the center will not be firm but the sides will be set.)

(6) Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 seconds before flipping out of the mold.

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One of my all-time favorite restaurants is Watershed in Atlanta — owned by Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls and run by chef Scott Peacock, a James Beard Award winner. This place has the best Southern food I’ve ever had; hands down. And one of the best dishes on the menu is the shrimp grits with toasted pullman plank. The flavorful coarse-ground grits — prepared with butter, cream, sherry, lemon juice and a dash of cayenne — are blended with with chunks of fresh shrimp for a rich treat atop a crunchy piece of toast.

I decided to take a crack at recreating the dish at home, and I have to say it turned out pretty well for not having a blender or quality stone-ground grits to work with. The dish is concocted in two parts: the grits and the shrimp paste. Then you blend the two together.

Scott Peacock & Edna Lewis’ Shrimp Paste

2 sticks of butter

1 pound of shrimp

1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper

1/4 cup sherry

2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

(1) Heat 6 tablespoons of butter in a skillet until it’s hot and foaming. Then add the shrimp, salt and pepper and cook over high heat for 4-7 minues.

(2) Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon to a blender (or chop on a cutting board if not blending).

(3) Add sherry, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper to the skillet and reduce over medium-high heat until syrupy.  Then add the liquid to the shrimp in the blender or food processor.

(4) As you blend the shrimp and juices, add the remaining butter in small pieces.

*Blend one cup of hot grits per 1/4 cup of shrimp paste to make the shrimp grits.  You can prepare the grits any number of ways, using cream, butter, chicken broth and/or other herbs and spices. After combining the paste with the grits, sprinkle with chives before serving.

*The shrimp paste recipe above makes 2 1/2 cups of paste — enough to feed 8-10 people when combined with grits.

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Grilled swordfish

Grilled swordfish

“Eat it raw!” That’s the slogan at Half Shell Raw Bar in Key West, where raw is “in” and the clams and oysters are fresh as can be. The wooden seaside shack at the end of Margaret Street is open-air, overlooking the marina and out to the Gulf. It’s a very laid back atmosphere with Jimmy Buffet playing overhead. To start, enjoy a cold beer or rum runner with a bucket of beer-steamed mussels or shrimp or a platter of oysters on the half-shell.  Then, go for a basket of fried or stuffed Key West shrimp or a grilled fillet of snapper, grouper or swordfish, fresh off the boat. No frills here, just incredibly delicious.

Stuffed shrimp

Stuffed shrimp

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