Buffalo Tiger Prawns
July 26, 2009, 7:28 pm
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It’s hot today. And by hot, I mean Pacific Northwest hot: In the low nineties and stagnant as all hell. I didn’t feel like doing a darn thing to the stove/oven today and declared it a grill night. I knew I’d be trying to grill pizza, which ended up super tasty but not super photogenic. (I’ll end up sharing that one here soon, I promise.) I just needed something to go along side with our salad and pizza. I had about twenty gorgeous tiger prawns in the freezer and needed a crowd pleazer.

Bam. Buffalo sauce. Hot and messy. This recipe is quick, easy and a great appetizer. I would have upped the heat a bit and added a little powdered cayenne, but I wanted to play to the crowd here. Use what you’ve got and go with a heat level you and whoever else might be eating them are both comfortable with. Or make separate batches! It’s simple enough that a few separate batches aren’t really that much work.

Buffalo Tiger Prawns

  • 20 prawns, shelled and deveined.
  • pinch of salt
  • stick of butter, melted
  • 1 cup vinegar based hot sauce. (I used Frank’s brand.)

Put your grill to a medium high heat and lay out your prawns. Turn them in about two minutes and then put the lid on. Check in three minutes to see if they’ve gone opaque all the way through, leave them on a minute longer if they haven’t. Melt your butter, add hot sauce and mix. If you’re interested in adding more heat, a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne or chipotle pepper would be beautiful here! Toss your prawns in some of the sauce, serving with the rest on the side. What you’ll end up with is a big, meaty prawn that is a little crispy on the sides and packs a bit of a punch!

P.S. Back to a more regular posting schedule next week, I think. Family in town means a lot more running around which means a lot more quick meals!



My Favorite Potato Salad, Plus: One Big Hunk of Beef
July 6, 2009, 7:18 pm
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Vinaigrette Potato Salad

Vinaigrette Potato Salad

 

To start off, I grew up in the American South. Every potato salad I encountered as a kid was absolutely slathered with a creamy sauce, whether it be mayonnaise based or mustard. (And hoo-boy is that a hot topic right there!) I avoided them whenever possible, taking the smallest possible serving otherwise. 

A few months ago I came across a recipe for a vinegar based potato salad. WHAT? Why had nobody informed me of this before? I’m the girl who currently has twelve varieties of vinegar fighting for a spot in her kitchen cabinets. This would be my potato salad salvation: And it was!

Vinaigrette Potato Salad

  • 5 or so medium Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp poppy seeds

Cut each potato in half and cook them in a large pot of water, don’t forget the salt! They should be tender in about half an hour or so, just keep an eye on them. Drain and run cool water over them. They should be cool enough to handle in ten minutes or so. You’ll find the jackets should just slip off the potatoes at this point, it’s actually kind of cool! Slice them to a uniform thickness, no more than 1/3 of an inch or so.

Set them aside in your serving bowl and mix your vinegar and sugar in a small bowl. Add the olive oil, onion slices and poppy seeds and mix thoroughly.  Drizzle that over your potatoes, mixing gently. Add your chopped parsley and give it just the slightest stir.  Salt and pepper to taste. Let it sit in the fridge for at least half an hour before serving, but it will do well overnight too!

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I realized recently that for all my talk about being a “recovering vegetarian”, I haven’t posted a lot of meat on here. But you know what? I don’t eat a whole lot of it to begin with! As a family we make a big effort to be both health conscious and ethical about our meat eating. We buy “freezer packs” of meat from a local butcher who gets all his meat from small local farms. Everything is grass fed and from no more than 100 miles from where I’m sitting right now. But that means it’s not cheap, to say the least.

So we treat meat as a side, really. To be savored and enjoyed in small portions. I’m not saying we don’t go out once in a while and indulge in a burger the size of our heads, but that is exactly what it should be: a treat. So to go with our tart little potato salad tonite, I snagged a big hunk of a chuck steak out of the freezer and hit the grill.

I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to steaks. If your meat is good quality, it shouldn’t NEED much more than salt and pepper and a good sear on it to be worth the money. This gorgeous beast got salt, pepper and a little smoked paprika rubbed on each side of him and was stuck in the fridge for an hour or so before I started him on the grill. What a recipe, huh? 🙂 Don’t worry, guys. Later this week I’ll be roasting a whole chicken, something I’ve never quite done to success.



Chipotle Honey Butter Shrimp Skewers with a Carrot and Cilantro Salad
June 18, 2009, 1:40 am
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Shrimpy, cilantro-y joy!
Shrimpy, cilantro-y joy!
If you’re reading this already, we probably know each other. But if, in fact, you are a stranger to my world…Let me tell you a story.
My name is Deborah, and I am a former vegetarian. I’ve never had any moral opposition to eating meat, although I do understand it. I just decided one day that meat really wasn’t worth the trouble. I caved here and there over the years and didn’t feel much guilt about it, I think I was always just too lazy to worry about meat myself. It took time and energy I didn’t want to bother putting into my food, because food was something I really didn’t enjoy thinking about. I’ve had a sorry relationship with food for most of my life, and really thought that even thinking too hard about food might end up making me fat. 
Fast forward a few years and after some begging on my husband’s part I decide to go ahead and make a real turkey for Thanksgiving. I do some serious research and decide on a recipe that sounds pretty simple and tasty: Nothing more involved than some citrus and herbs and an impressive amount of butter. And oh, it was good. I was done for from there.
But my lack of food knowledge has been crippling. I don’t think I like a great number of things, but in reality I’m ignorant. I don’t know how they should taste or how they should be enjoyed. And I’m scared! I don’t want to put a whole lot of time and effort in to find that the food doesn’t satisfy. That’s where this blog comes in, it’ll be a part of the healing process for me. I’ll try things and sometimes I’ll fail and it will always be okay. And I will indeed share my failures here as well. The intent is an update during the week and one a weekend, we’ll see if that actually works out that way. But anyway! Let’s get on to the food.

 

If I’m going to start this thing, I really can’t imagine any better meal to start with than this one: it got Spouse to eat zucchini and got me eating shrimp. Both of these things were thought to be portents of the apocalypse before tonite, but I think we’re all safe now. 

It’s a really great summer meal as there is almost no cooking to it, you blanch the zucchini and spend a few minutes hovering over the grill, that’s it! Most of the time is in prep, and it is well worth it.

Both recipes are modifications of some found in:
Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet by Padma Lakshmi.

Carrot and Cilantro Salad

This cooling salad is a near-perfect combination of tart and sweet, exactly what you need for the end of a hot day.

  • Vinaigrette 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (Rice vinegar would have been interesting here too!)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure orange oil

Salad

  • 2 pounds carrots, shredded coarsely
  • 2 cups cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup white sesame seeds, dry roasted  in a pan until golden brown (Use a fairly low heat and keep an eye on them! Approx. 5 min.)
  • 1 seeded jalapeño pepper, diced (Keep the seeds if you want a little more heat, I was hoping my 3 year old might just take a bite or two.)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 teaspoon za’atar powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Combine the vinaigrette ingredients together in a salad bowl and toss with all the salad ingredients except the za’atar powder and sea salt. Save those for just before serving and sprinkle them atop the salad.

Chipotle Honey Butter

  •  8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle pepper

Toss it all in a bowl and blend by hand or with a blender until smooth. Try not to eat it all before you hit the grill with your shrimp!

Shrimp Skewers 

  • 2 pounds jumbo shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2/3 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large zucchini (Approx 1 pound) blanched for about five minutes in boiling water and drained
  • 1/2 cup chipotle honey butter
  • wooden skewers (Don’t forget to soak them in water for 30 minutes!)

Set your shrimp aside to marinate in the lime juice and salt, at least 20 minutes before you’re ready to grill.

Whip out your mandolin if you have one, and you know that you want any excuse to take it out if you do. Otherwise sharpen your best knife and be careful! Slice the zucchini into thin ribbons.

Melt the Chipotle honey butter on low heat.

Now onto the skewers! Pierce a zucchini slice about half an inch from the edge and fold over about an inch or so, piercing again. Keep going until you’ve got the whole thing on your skewer. Slide it on down to the end and then go for a shrimp. Alternate till you’ve got three or four slices of zucchini and three or four shrimp. Don’t crowd it!

Lay them flat on your hot grill and brush each side with the melted Chipotle honey butter. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, being careful not to overcook. Continue basting them as they cook. Once they’re cooked all the way through toss a couple of skewers on a plate with your salad, squeeze a little lime juice over it and dig in!