Lies all lies

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 GritsShrimp and Grits1

From a Yankee in a Southern Kitchen

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.Shrimp and Grits


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.

Salmon SandwichesSalmonSandwiches

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

Ciabatta bread


Sliced tomato

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.