Wednesday, April 25, 2012

French Yogurt Cake...not mine but quite tasty

You have to run off to page 30 of the May issue of Bon Appetite for the recipe for this cake.  Its really quite simple to make and tasty.  Perfect density and crumb with the most heavenly lemony taste to it...of course I may be biased as I used Meyer lemons off my fresh off my tree that makes all the world of difference.  Recipe HERE.  (Sorry about the linkage but I just don't reprint copyrighted material...its how I roll).

A couple of prep notes.  2 medium lemons will yield the tablespoon of zest needed for the recipe.

Another shortcut in the prep is use one of those mini food processors for the step where you mix the zest and sugar until the sugar is "wet".  It will take a while by hand, with the mini food processor you will be done in seconds and added bonus is you will be ensured that your zest is fine enough.

Greek yogurt is called for in this recipe.  It is used to substitute out a lot of the butter typically found in a pound cake.  It is appearing in grocery stores in the LA area more frequently now so its worth the effort to hunt it down.  You can't substitute regular yogurt as the stuff is very thick compared to what we typically get.  An 8 oz container will yield just about exactly 3/4 cup needed for this recipe.

I also didn't use regular vanilla in this recipe.  I used my homemade stuff which is brandy based rather than store bought bourbon vanilla.  I like the subtle sweet smoky flavor the brandy imparts to the vanilla bean.

The recipe calls for kosher salt.  By all means use it instead of the usual iodized table salt...that stuff is too salty tasting with a metallic aftertaste that I fear would alter the final outcome of this recipe.  Invest in a box if you don't already have it in your pantry.

This cake is really good.  I like it straight up.  My wife likes it with a little fruit and whipped cream on the side, regardless of how you like it it is quite tasty and worth the effort to make it from scratch.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Shrimp Scampi

This is a family least among the shrimp eaters among us.  Just the right amount of sweet, heat and tart from the lemon.  Lemon you say?  Yup...I'm blessed or cursed with a nice sized Meyer Lemon tree that leaves me with quite the bounty that must be used in the spring.  Cooking with lemons adds a brightness to dishes that I really like.  Meyer lemons have an interesting almost floral note to their juice that really adds an extra dimension of flavor to the dish that a regular lemon can't.  If you can't find a Meyer lemon by all means substitute with a regular lemon.

One caveat with this dish.  It cooks up fast and you don't want to overcook the shrimp so timing is everything. I start the sauce when I toss in the Angel Hair Pasta which takes all of 5 minutes to cook.  IF you are using bigger pasta such as a linguine set your timer to start the sauce the last 5 minutes of the cooking time.

It is really important to salt your pasta water to the same degree as sea water.  That means about a tablespoon of salt (I use kosher salt as it has less of a metallic taste) for the couple of quarts of water used to make the pasta.  It is the only way you'll get the pasta seasoned properly.

I buy the shrimp with their shell still on as they tend to stay fresher that way longer.  I save the shells and tails to make Shrimp Stock for other dishes like my Shrimp Chowder.

Before draining your pasta scoop out some of the starchy pasta water.  That little bit of starch will go a long way towards making the silky smooth sauce that will coat the pasta.

Shrimp Scampi

  • 2 Lbs peeled and de-veined shrimp
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 - 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 2 T parsley minced
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup pasta water.
  • 12 ounces Angel Hair Pasta

Put water on to boil.  Add salt.  Add pasta and set time to cook to al dente.

Over medium high heat melt butter.  Sautee garlic and red pepper flake 1 minute being careful to stir constantly so as to not burn garlic. Add juice and zest of lemon.  Add white wine.  Bring to simmer and then add shrimp.  Stir the shrimp to ensure all cook evenly, about 3-4 minutes.  When pasta is done scoop out 1/2 c pasta water and add to the shrimp.

Drain the pasta.  Add Pasta and parsley to the shrimp and stir to evenly coat the pasta with the sauce.