June 27, 2009
Sometimes packages lie. Sometimes they will tell you that your creamy and delicious grits are only 25 to 30 minutes away, but it is just lies. An hour later you will still be stirring and babysitting those grits. You will still be tasting them every 5 minutes to see if they have lost their “slightly crunchy should not fill your mouth as much” texture.
But eventually, the grits will soften and be able to provide the perfect bed for this spicy and rich shrimp sauce. Once you taste this dish, you will forget about the horrible lies the package told you, about the chained to the stove feeling you had, and about the “always in trouble still in time out” cat that stole a shrimp from your plate when you went to get your camera. Well, maybe you will not forget about the cat but the shrimp and grits will help soothe your frustrated soul.
Mike Lata’s Shrimp and Grits
The meal was fabulous. Great comfort food; the creamy and buttery flavor of the grits was a perfect compliment to the spicy sauce of the shrimp. Make sure to taste the sauce and the grits as you cook and season accordingly. It makes a difference in this meal.
2 cups milk (I needed 2 to 3 extra cups of milk during the cooking process)
1 cup fresh white grits
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons finely diced onion
3 tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper
2 ounces diced country ham
½ cup shrimp stock or milk (I did ½ chicken broth and 1/8 milk)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
6 dashes of hot sauce (I added two more or so)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Couple shakes of Old Bay Seasoning (I feel it is required with shrimp)
For the grits: Bring the milk just up to a tiny boil around the edge of a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add the grits and stir for 1 minute. Turn the heat to low. If there are any hulls, skim and remove them now using a slotted spoon. Add the butter, and stir frequently for the first 10 minutes, then stir every 10 minutes to grits are done, about 1 to 1 ½ hrs. Add more liquid if the grits are absorbing the milk. Cover between stirrings. When cream, add salt and pepper to taste.
For the shrimp: Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottom fry pan or enamel skillet. Add the onion and red pepper, cooking till translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ham and sauté briefly. Stir in the milk or stock, scraping the sides and bottom of the skillet to deglaze the pan. Bring to a boil, and cook till the liquid is reduced by half. Add the cream, bring to a boil, and reduce the liquid making a loose sauce. Add the shrimp, stir, and cook till the shrimp turn pink. Add the chives and season to taste with salt, pepper and old bay.
Divide the grits among four plates, top with the shrimp and some of the sauce. Serve immediately. If you are cooking for less than two, this dish reheats well the next day, just use separate dishes to reheat separately.
June 18, 2009
If I had to pick my favorite food in the world, it would be sandwiches. No, I am not getting more descriptive than that. I am picking a category as my favorite food and there is not much you can do about it. I love the sandwich; it is the perfect vessel for almost anything. Its bulky carb-loaded exterior only makes me love it more.
Sandwiches are the chameleons of the food world. They can adapt to your mood and palate and satisfy what whatever culinary need you have at the time. Almost anything I can think of can go on a sandwich or goes with a sandwich and many foods already come in sandwich format: the breakfast sandwich, ice sandwiches. When you think about it, a layer cake is pretty much a big delicious sandwich. Two halves of moist cake like bread sandwiching a sweet usually fruit laden filling.
Sandwiches options are endless. When you combine the number of types of available supporting exteriors with the number of types of available filling interiors, the exponential possibilities could fill a million Olympic sized swimming pools. (Disclaimer: I am not a mathematician. This illustration is merely conjecture on my part and nothing more unless you have access to a million Olympic sized swimming pools; then we shall talk).
For example, take a grilled cheese sandwich. With the amount of cheeses and type of bread out there, you could live on different types of grilled cheese sandwiches for at least a year, I would think. And if you add tomatoes or basil or bacon or tomato sauce or apples or whatever to the mix you could add another 6 months. You could sustain yourself on different types of grilled cheese alone for many years; infact many children and college students do. And while this might not be a viable option for you, you have to appreciate the fact that it exists.
Yes, the world is full of sandwiches and what a wonderful world it is.
Adapted from Yum
These salmon sandwiches are awesome. The flavors of the marinade really work well with the fish and come across in the sandwich. It is a perfect summer dish that doesn’t take much time. We marinated the salmon for about 5 hours. We also used a regular French bread loaf. I would probably use Ciabatta as the original recipe suggests because the French bread was too chewy for the salmon and some of the taste was lost. We also left the capers off. Overall the meal was great and I cannot wait to make it again. The salmon would also work sans bread but why wouldn’t you want to have a sandwich if you could.
1-1.5 lb. fresh salmon
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. soy sauce
3 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. mustard
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
2 T. Worchestershire
12 or so garlic cloves, crushed
Garlic Lemon Mayo:
1/3 c. mayo
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1-3 garlic cloves (I use 3) pressed in garlic press
capers and lemon wedges to garnish
Whisk marinade ingredients together and place in zip-lock bag. Add salmon and refrigerate to marinate. 30 minutes to 24 hours. Turn oven to broil and broil salmon until dark on top and meat is done to your preference about 10-15 minutes depending on thickness of fish.
While salmon is broiling, combine mayo, garlic and lemon juice. Mix well. Toast ciabatta pieces and spread with mayo mixture. Top with romaine, tomato, salmon and capers. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on right before serving.
October 28, 2008
There are many possible pitfalls for the cynical chef. Imminent disaster awaits around every corner. Infact you may not believe this but, I have an arch nemesis in the kitchen. His goal is to destroy any of my attempts to send culinary goodness out of the kitchen. He is deliberate and cunning. I picture him creating battle plans and studying our kitchen blue prints when I am not home.
Please do not be fooled by his soft and cuddly exterior and his ever so cute way of lounging. That is part of his plan. He will attempt to lull you into a false sense of security so you do not foresee his attacks.
But, I promise you they are coming. Since Spike came into our lives 4 months ago, culinary chaos has become commonplace. Some of his more brilliant attacks include climbing into a bowl of butter cream frosting, pushing a container of brown sugar off the counter, infiltrating the refrigerator to sample its bounty, and causing a domino effect of events resulting in the cracking of my Dutch oven which left a dent in my kitchen floor.
And when the food is to his liking, he enters into stealth mode hoping to catch a tasty morsel. That is what happened last night. I lost a salmon cake in our battle of wits last night. One of those poor, golden and tasty little cakes became Spike’s latest victim. I am not even sure how it happened. Spike was sleeping in the windowsill. The cakes were taking a rest on a paper towel while I finished the rice. When I turned around, it was all over.
Yes, that little operative is good at his job. Especially since he cuddled up in my arms and started to purr after dessert, and all was forgotten; that is until dinner tonight.
Recipe was found at The Way the Cookie Crumbles. A blog that I am very much in love with.
This Salmon Cakes are amazing. Everyone loves them including Spike.
Pan-Fried Fresh Salmon Cakes (from Cooks Illustrated January 2000)
CI note: A big wedge of lemon is the simplest accompaniment to salmon cakes, but if you decide to go with dipping sauce, make it before preparing the cakes so the sauce flavors have time to meld. If possible, use panko (Japanese bread crumbs).
Makes eight 2½- by ¾-inch cakes
1¼ pounds salmon fillet
1 slice white sandwich bread, such as Pepperidge Farm, crusts removed and white part chopped very fine (about 5 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ cup grated onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
¾ teaspoon table salt
1½ tablespoons lemon juice from 1 lemon
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup vegetable oil, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
¾ cup fine, unflavored dried bread crumbs, preferably panko
1. Locate and remove any pin bones from salmon flesh. Using sharp knife, cut flesh off skin, then discard skin. Chop salmon flesh into ¼- to 1/3-inch pieces and mix with chopped bread, mayonnaise, onion, parsley, salt, and lemon juice in medium bowl. Scoop a generous ¼-cup portion salmon mixture from bowl and use hands to form into a patty measuring roughly 2½-inches in diameter and ¾-inch thick; place on parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining salmon mixture until you have 8 patties. Place patties in freezer until surface moisture has evaporated, about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, spread flour in pie plate or shallow baking dish. Beat eggs with 1½ teaspoons vegetable oil and 1½ teaspoons water in second pie plate or shallow baking dish, and spread bread crumbs in a third. Dip chilled salmon patties in flour to cover; shake off excess. Transfer to beaten egg and, using slotted spatula, turn to coat; let excess drip off. Transfer to bread crumbs; shake pan to coat patties completely. Return now-breaded patties to baking sheet.
3. Heat remaining ½ cup vegetable oil in large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 3 minutes; add salmon patties and cook until medium golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip cakes over and continue cooking until medium golden brown on second side, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer cakes to plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil on surface, if desired, about 30 seconds, and then serve immediately, with one of the sauces that follow, if you like.
Tips- I add one teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning and 1 teaspoon of pepper to the salmon cake mixture. I will also use my food processor to help with the cubing of the salmon. I will use it to buzz the bread and empty, then the onions and empty, then I cut the salmon into big chunks and pulse it a couple times. It works out perfectly.