Friday, February 23, 2007

Checking Off the Big To-Do

Apart from the "cook fish" line on my vacation's to-do list (lest I forget everything I learned in my fish cooking class!), I can finally cross off what I felt was my biggest to-do on my list of to-dos for my past vacation week.

Until tonight, I had never made a pie. I had never made a pie crust, and I had certainly never made the kind of pie that requires *two* crusts. But pies are so fundamental and good - especially an apple pie. Tonight, I made my first apple pie, accompanied by my own homemade vanilla ice cream. Feels so good to make the check mark!


Pie made better:

Jeudi Gras

I was accidentally Louisiana-inspired yesterday. A great coincidence, as it turned out! We had proclaimed this Thursday of our week-long vacation as official "Pajama Day" and I wanted to have only prepared and easy-to-prepare meals on hand. On Wednesday, I made a giant, tasty muffaletta sandwich (Giada's recipe) which became extra tasty overnight. We are still snacking on it.

I LOVE the Camptown Shrimp appetizer from the Border Cafe and have long dreamed of stealing the recipe from their kitchen. I did not. But I think someone else might have? I found a recipe online for "Camptown Shrimp" that looked to be a match, right down to the Negra Modelo beer. I smeared roasted garlic (love my garlic roaster!) on toasted bread, and followed the very easy shrimp recipe...kind of. I used O'Doules amber "beer" and added some flour to thicken the sauce. It came out GREAT. A little too spicy, but that can be adjusted for next time. This recipe was made even easier by mixing together all of the dried herbs and salt earlier in the day. Highly recommended!

Camptown Shrimp
as posted by Lakini Malich

2 lbs shrimp, shelled and deveined (I used 1lb)
4 TBS butter (I used a little olive oil, too)
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp cayenne pepper (will cut this bby half next time)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 cup Negra Modelo beer (or other dark beer)
Beurre ManiƩ: 1 TBS flour/1 TBS butter combined to form a paste

Saute garlic and herbs in butter until garlic is slightly browned.
Add shrimp, stirring constantly, until shrimp are pink and done.
Pour in beer, add beurre maniƩ, simmer and stir for about a minute.
Serve atop buttery grilled french bread.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Linguine in Garlic Olive Oil with Zucchini

Wow, everything I've made this week is green. Guess it's the parsley effect?

It was very nice not to follow a recipe last night. Just sauteed some garlic, shallots and red pepper flakes in olive oil and a little butter, then added the zucchini until it was cooked. Added the pasta when it was done, and sprinkled some Pecorino-Romano and parsley (because I have so much of it!). So simple and good!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Onion & Potato Frittata

My first frittata! (Not to be confused with frajitas, dad.)

Everything about it was great in terms of fundamental frittata-ness, but the potatoes made the meal a little bland. We started to get a little crazy over dinner, dreaming up tasty (bad for you) things that could go into our next frittata: sausage, bacon, more onions, mushrooms, cheese. It was very easy, and it seems like it would be a good way to use up some veggie leftovers.

Trying to get some mileage out of the parsley I needed for the moussaka recipe. I am starting to wonder if I lack the gene that allows me to taste parsley? Maybe I'll use basil next time. Mmmmm.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Attack of the Giant Moussaka

I just learned that that is the title of an actual film!

Er, "film."

I was determined to cook a dish that was really involved. I knew that making moussaka was going to take a good chunk of my day to prepare (although I wasn't expecting it to take 6 hours). Everything was going so well at first. I made the tomato/lamb sauce (although I used ground beef), I made my first bechamel sauce (which came out perfectly), and I cut two eggplants and two potatoes into lovely, consistent 1/4" slices.

Two eggplants and two potatoes cut into thin slices make for a whole lot of slices, all of which were supposed to be fried in olive oil for about three minutes per side. First of all, I could only fit three slices of eggplant at a time into my skillet. Secondly, olive oil has a very low smoke-point - holy, smoke! And lastly, eggplant is like a sponge. As soon as it hit the olive oil, it just soaked it up. All of it. So, I "fried" three slices of eggplant, realized I was going to be standing next to a smokey stove for about 10 hours if I were to continue with this method, and decided to abort the "EVOO" frying. I heated, instead, my 2-burner grill pan, brushed the eggplant slices with olive oil and grilled them. I did the same with the potatoes (which were pretty tasty on their own!). Worked like a charm.

I was hoping to LOVE the resulting layered Mediterranean lasagna-y dinner, but I didn't. So, I won't be making it again UNLESS it has transformed into something unbelievable in the fridge overnight, as these casserole-type things often do.