Thursday, April 16, 2015

Cheesy Baked Shrimp

I got this idea from the Barefoot Contessa, didn't have the recipe, and just as well as half her ingredients I couldn't find here in the SGV.  27 kinds of bok choy at one store, but not a single bulb of fresh fennel.  After a morning of searching I gave up and went for substitutions.

Cheese and shrimp or any seafood for that matter combined is considered heresy in Italian cookery, but this isn't Italian so I'm not gonna fret about it.  It sounded tasty unlike Mrs Goldberg's "Shrimp Parm".

I was able to find the Feta that is called for in this recipe.  I know this is a polarizing cheese, a reasonable swap out would be coarse grated Parmesan.  The point is you want the salty goodness of the cheese to compliment the naturally salty taste of the shrimp not drown it in gooey cheese.

Another hard to find ingredient can be Pernod. Its an anise based liquor with an herbal nose to it.  Not whack you in the face hard anise, but subtle and herby.  Quite tasty and no kitchen doing French cookery should be without it. Ask your local Liqour Store to order you a bottle, thats what I did.  If you don't like this...sub in Absinthe...still herby but no subtle anise flavor.

I use canned tomatoes as they are always available and tasty.  However, don't season with salt and pepper until you've added them and tasted.  The amount of salt varies wildly between brands and its best to season with them in place.   You can always add salt, but you can't take it away.

I used a Pinot Gris in the cooking because I like the taste and it goes well with Seafood in general.  Add it bit too cooking and it livens up the dish and compliments your wine pairing even better.  Actually any dry white wine will work so grab your favorite and swap to your hearts content.

Cheesy Baked Shrimp
  • 2 lbs 21-25 Count Shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 1 medium onion coarse chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 stalk celery thinly sliced
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 t dried marjoram
  • 1/2 C Pinot Gris
  • 2 T Pernod
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 8 oz crumbled Feta cheese
  • 1 C Panko Bread crumbs
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Baguette for dipping
Preheat  oven to 350F
Place 4, 16 oz (2 Cup) ramekins on a baking sheet

In a medium saute pan add enough olive oil to lightly coat bottom and place pan on medium heat.  Add onion and celery and cook until soft and translucent, about 5-8 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer until fragrant.  Add wine to deglaze pan, cook one minute.

Add tomatoes with juice to pan. Add Marjoram. Stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in Pernod.

Divide the sauce equally among the 4 ramekins.  Take 1/3 of the shrimp and divide equally among the ramekins arranging carefully in a single layer.

Take 1/2 the cheese and divide it equally among the ramekins on top of the shrimp.

Take another 1/3 of the shrimp and divide them equally in a single layer into the ramekins.  Top with remaining Feta cheese split between the 4 ramekins.

Take remaining shrimp and arrange in the ramekins in a single layer.  Sprinkle the lemon juice evenly over the ramekins.

Combine panko bread crumbs, pinch of salt and lemon zest to evenly distribute.  Add olive oil and toss until combined.  

Divide bread crumbs and sprinkle evenly over the ramekins.  Place in oven and bake 15 minutes.

Serve hot with a baguette for dipping in the juices and a simple green salad on the side.

Shrimp evenly and artfully arrange ensures they cook evenly and your layers are even as well.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Strawberry Rhubarb Dump Cake

I found tons of recipes for Strawberry Rhubarb Dump cakes.  Most called for even more butter and sugar than my sensibilities could stomach.  The one thing no one did that makes mine distinctive and the ultimate is that I use a strawberry cake mix instead of a boring old white or yellow cake mix.

I also used vanilla sugar.  That's stupid easy to make.  Take split vanilla bean pod and stick it in a jar with a cup of sugar.  The Vanilla will permeate the sugar in a weeks time.  A good use for a used vanilla bean pod.  If you don't have vanilla sugar handy you can use regular granulated sugar.

Strawberry Rhubarb Dump Cake

  • 1-1 1/2 lbs Rhubarb
  • 1 box strawberry cake mix
  • 1 3 oz box strawberry jello
  • 1/2 c vanilla sugar
  • 1/3 c melted butter
  • 1 c water

Preheat oven to 350F
Spray a 13X9 baking dish with cooking spray

Trim ends of rhubarb and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.  Split thicker stems lenghtwise if needed so you don't have massive chunks of rhubarb.  Place cubed rhubarb in baking dish.

Sprinkle over vanilla sugar over the rhubarb.
Sprinkle jello over the rhubarb mixture.

In mixing bowl whisk together cake mix with 1 c water and the melted butter.  Whisk until is just comes together.  A few small lumps won't harm the batter.

Pour batter over the rhubarb mixture and smooth to the corners.  Bake in preheated oven 40-45 minutes until set and top is lightly golden.  Cool completely.  Serve at room temp or chilled.
layers of rhubarb, vanilla sugar and jello
Strawberry Rhubarb Dump Cake done