char kuey teow

char kuey teow

I really like noodles – all kinds of noodles. And when the recipe involves pan-searing the noodles over high heat with savory, spicy seasonings, shrimp and scallions, I’m all over it. Especially when I can get my husband to toast the shrimp paste for me.

rice noodles
dry muscat Continue reading

the first green beans of summer

prawns and green beans

Of course these weren’t the first green beans we’ve eaten all summer, but they were the first picking from Blue Heron Farm, and they were lovely. I wanted to let them shine as much as possible, so all I did was blanch them, then saute them with olive oil, lots of garlic, prawns and a little white wine. I served them on soft polenta, and the flavors were really bright and fresh.

polenta pot

Polenta isn’t usually the first starch I think of, but I’m always happy when I make it. This batch turned out particularly well. I let it cook long enough to get really smooth, then I beat in a nugget of butter and nothing else – no cheese or cream. I poured it out into soup bowls and let it set, then put the shrimp and green beans on top. Mmmmm. Continue reading

butter lettuce with garlicky prawns and avocado

shrimp avocado salad

One of the joys of Sunday is doing our weekly grocery run and picking up something fresh for a quick but fun lunch at home – in other words, Not Leftovers! This salad is one of my favorites for a fast home lunch: butter lettuce dressed with a simple vinaigrette, split onto plates and topped with avocado slices and prawns cooked with garlic and spices. With this one we drank a Falanghina that was seriously on sale at the grocery store – it was lovely.

Prawns for salad

1/2 pound fresh large prawns, shelled
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
kosher salt

Dress your salad greens and arrange them on plates. Heat a goodly amount of olive oil in a saute pan. As it gets hot, add the garlic; when it just starts to sizzle, add the prawns. Give them a good shake of salt, cumin and paprika, and stir them around. When the shrimp are pink and curled up on themselves, dump them and their juices out onto the prepared salads.

shrimp gratin

prawn gratin

It’s a strange thing that sometimes, when you first glance through a new cookbook, one particular recipe catches your eye. You make it, and like it, then never make any other recipe out of that book – you just keep making that first recipe over and over again. Or maybe that’s just me.

This recipe is out of a library book, Jacques Pépin’s Fast Food My Way, which I checked out when I was feeling particularly crunched for time and wanted some quick dinner ideas. I was thrilled when I discovered this gratin, which is quick to assemble, even quicker to bake, and doesn’t taste quite like anything else I make. And it’s very easy to make just enough for two people – no messy leftovers. The shrimp both bake and steam in the moisture from the wine and vegetables and are beautifully crisp and tender, with the nice crunchy breadcrumb topping over all.

rainbow chard

Because of the basic perfection of the original recipe, I’ve not played around with it at all, except to get rather casual about quantities – except that this time I decided to gather a few leaves of fresh rainbow chard from my tiny backyard plot, shred them and scatter them into the gratin. Continue reading

experiments with shrimp & potatoes

wine by candlelight

shrimp and potatoes

This was our first month as members of the local wine shop’s special wine club, and we had two bottles of beautiful-looking tempranillo calling out to be drunk as a result. I spent a couple of weeks unable to drink wine due to various medications I was on – not fun – but I am finally getting better. So this week, more or less drug-free, I was finally able to taste them. We had one dinner (roast pork and yams) where we opened both bottles and tasted them side-by-side, then planned meals to suit each for the following two nights. This first bottle, Mapema from Argentina, gave me a strong hankering for romesco sauce – which we happened to have some of in the freezer.

saucing broiled shrimp

One of our favorite dishes from last summer was the grilled shrimp recipe from a 2006 issue of Cook’s Illustrated – we made it over and over again, and were very sad to see it go with the end of grilling season. J wanted to try it with the broiler to see if it could be had in the off season. In the original recipe, the shrimp are grilled until partially cooked, then finished in a warm sauce, so we figured it should adapt fine. Continue reading