By now you know I took a holiday in the kitchen last week. But I did stumble upon two amazing recipes that will forever be stashed in my Thanksgiving file, along with all my various November issues of Bon Appetit, Food&Wine and Gourmet dating back to 1994.
Mediterranean salad with pomegranate and prosciutto
The first: Mediterranean salad with pomegranate and prosciutto. The recipe jumped out from Bon Appetit circa 2008 when I realized I had most of the ingredients on hand: arugula, mint (not yet frozen in the garden), a pomegranate (I buy them just because they’re pretty and remind me of my grandmother; she had a tree in her yard when I was little); and prosciutto. The only questionable ingredient was fennel. Time to dig through the snow and see if my fennel plant had been fertile enough to yield a bulb. It wasn’t.
Luckily we stopped by Pike Place Market the next day during an outing to see the Picasso exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. I picked up the remaining ingredients for our day-after-Thanksgiving dinner of “Scampi fra diavolo” – a clever way of making shrimp both garlicky and spicy. The recipe was just a few pages away from the pomegranate salad recipe in the old Bon Appetit. Together, the two made a welcome departure from the previous day’s turkey feast.
The chowder is amazing (this photo, not so much)
The second Thanksgiving keeper was another extracted from an old issue of Bon Appetit – 2007: Turkey Chowder with Wild Rice, Crimini and Pancetta. It actually took me a couple of days to get my act together on this one. First, I had to strip the turkey carcass and precook the wild rice. Then I made turkey stock in the pressure cooker (first time making stock in the PC – 30 minutes under pressure, done. Excellent!) And then finally assembled the chowder which was sinfully rich and chunky with carrots, celery, rice, mushrooms, turkey, corn. Thumbs up all around. Which is a good thing since I’ll be out tomorrow night and the guys will be enjoying round two!
Last weekend was nice and easy – hanging close to home after a busy vacation to regroup and yes, cook. I retrieved two favorite recipes for a relaxed time in the kitchen.
Corn muffins in the making
Greek Scampi with Orzo – I LOVE this recipe and it’s so easy. It’s my go-to recipe when I find wild domestic shrimp on sale at the market. Another great pick from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. Fortunately a kind soul at Recipezaar has posted the recipe here. Double the quantity, add orzo and steamed asparagus, and dinner for four is ready. Yum!
Vegetarian chili with tofu* – Fresh, healthy and again, a zip to prepare (especially if you have a mate gracious enough to help with the chopping.) My sons aren’t too thrilled about this one (“where’s the meat?”), but that comment cued my husband to launch into one of his favorite mini-lectures: “Beans, they’re the food of the future. Better get used to it.” You can imagine the reaction of two growing boys who view hamburgers and pizza as diet staples. We start chatting about the value of eating lower on the food chain. Complex topic, and deep enough to stop the complaints about the “toad food” in the chili.
Ironically, we were watching the amazing Life series on Discovery during our chat. TV during dinner is a taboo in our house but on Sunday nights we sometimes make exceptions. Good timing on this one!
*The recipe is by Deborah Madison, a chef I’ve followed for years for anything vegetarian. This recipe originally appeared in Cooking Light magazine. With muffins made from Arrowhead Mills cornbread mix, a chili dinner was a nice way to ease into the new week.
On night two of the “while dad’s away” meal plan, I got a thumbs-up from Erik. “I love these things,” he explained as he asked for his third helping of shrimp quesadillas. I do too. They’re easy, tasty and one of the best ways to use those tiny pink shrimp we often see in the seafood cases here in the Pacific Northwest.
Oregon shrimpmeat looks like cocktail shrimp. Elsewhere in the country I’ve tasted tiny pink shrimp scattered on top of a salad or blended into a stuffing for fish with no cause for celebration. But here in the Northwest, our tiny shrimp seem sweeter. Perhaps it’s because they’re fresh, harvested wild just off the coast. In any case, they deserve more attention. My favorite fixings are to feature the shrimp in a delectable tomato-based topping for a favorite snapper recipe (I see this appearing on a meal plan soon), scramble them into eggs or fold them into fried rice. And then there’s quesadillas.
Tonight’s dinner was super simple: flour tortillas stuffed with shredded cheddar cheese, shrimpmeat and sliced red bell pepper. Served with salsa, avocado slices, sliced black olives and a dish of steamed corn. Ahhhhh.
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Three nights in a row, I’ve grumbled, mumbled, bumbled my way to getting dinner on the table. Leftovers saved me on Tuesday. Wednesday I threw together that fried-rice dish lickety-split.
Substituted raw sliced sugar snap peas for the frozen peas. The locally harvested shrimpmeat (tiny little things) was a nice touch. Left the dish steaming in the wok to dash out the door to book club. Scooped out some to nibble in the car. Quite worth the effort. Check it out:
Shrimp and Egg Fried Rice with Napa Cabbage
But tonight, not so great. Another dinner on the run: Fried chicken, potato salad and broccoli slaw from the Safeway deli.
And then we have Friday. Always a toss-up, depending on my energy level.
I wasn’t planning to be in the kitchen tonight. Friday. Time to kick back and order out. (Actually, we rarely order out. I must be dreaming.) Then I remembered there’s broccoli in the fridge and my mind went immediately to the most fantastic recipe EVER:
Roasted broccoli with shrimp. Found this first mentioned on Molly Wizenberg’s blog Orangette. I trust anything Molly has to say about food. (If you spend enough time on her blog, you’ll know why.) It’s hit or miss on whether the shrimp actually is added to the dish at our house. We like the broccoli as is.
After streaming home in rush hour traffic from downtown Seattle, I stopped at the QFC with shrimp in mind. Not on sale. Not in the mood to pay $15/pound for wild or farmed domestic shrimp. Opted instead for dijon crusted fresh cod fillets. A hot sample in the store told me shrimp would not be missed tonight.
The roasted broccoli was great, as usual. With a side of sliced mango and the pan-fried cod, dinner was easy. Thumbs up all around. Next time, we’ll hope for earth-friendly shrimp at a civil price so our meal can look like this:
Melissa Clark's roasted broccoli with shrimp
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