Thursday, December 13, 2012

Baked Shrimp

A quick and simple seafood dinner is this baked shrimp with Mediterranean flavors. Here's how I did it:

1 lb. shrimp, deveined
Olive oil
Dry vermouth
3 tbsp(+) minced garlic
Four plum tomatoes
Bunch fresh basil
1/4 lb. Greek feta block
Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 lemon

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel 1 lb. shrimp (fresh or fresh-frozen is fine.)
2) Saute a few tbsp. minced garlic in olive oil in a skillet - be careful not to burn the garlic. Add red pepper flakes. Deglaze the pan with a splash of dry vermouth.
3) Add the shrimp to the garlic-red pepper-infused oil and season with salt and black pepper. Cook for just a minute, until the shrimp begins to turn pink, and remove from heat.
4) Dice four plum tomatoes and rip a handful of fresh basil into small pieces over the tomatoes. Cut a quarter pound of good firm Greek feta into small cubes.
5) Pour shrimp with oil-garlic-vermouth sauce into a glass baking dish and spread out to ensure the bottom of the dish is oiled. Add the tomatoes, basil and feta to the shrimp, and grind more fresh pepper (though not more salt as the feta is already salty) over top.
6) Bake for 10-15 min, depending on the oven. (I only baked it for 10 min. since I hate overcooked, rubbery seafood - keep an eye on it!)
7) Squeeze fresh lemon juice over top and a drizzle of olive oil to finish. Serve with good crusty bread to sop up the juices in the pan - the flavors combine to create a light sauce, so irresistable you have to get it all. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Obama Spinach Pie

My best friend Marc clipped a recipe of First Lady Michelle Obama's favorite recipe for spinach pie and brought it home for me, and after making it I have to say I love this spinach pie almost as much as I love Michelle Obama. Almost.

Here's the original recipe from Michelle Obama's book American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America:

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Of course I made some variations to the recipe (I can't help myself ...)
In my version of the Obama spinach pie, I used lowfat milk instead of half-and-half, and a mix of extra sharp cheddar and part skim mozzarella instead of Swiss cheese. I also seasoned my sauteed spinach with a pinch of red pepper flakes for heat and a bit of nutmeg. The pie turned out to be awesome:
Packed with a pound of fresh spinach, this savory pie is good hot and bubbly out of the oven, served at room temperature or even as cold breakfast leftovers, in my opinion. This I will have to make again and again ...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Trumpet Herb Pasta with Peas

I got this pasta from Pappardelle's stand at the holiday farmer's market in Rehoboth, DE and had to share how excellent their pasta is. The wide selection at the market included everything from spinach lemon herb fettucine and garlic chive pappardelle to spicy Thai linguine and dark chocolate pasta! (Dessert pasta - crazy awesome.) They also have gluten-free pasta options such as porcini mushroom large trumpet and basil garlic penne, which is great considering the relatively limited variety in most gluten free pasta available. They retail online and sell at farmers markets and festivals all over the country and British Columbia, apparently.
I chose the trumpet herb blend with a mix of carrot tarragon, chive, and dill & parsley peppercorn pasta, and I recommend this pasta blend if you're looking for a shorter-cut pasta with lots of flavor. Pappardelle's provides sample recipes to go along with their pastas to give you ideas (I took photos of the recipes on display at the market like a nutcase but they're on the website) and they recommended trumpet herb blend for pasta salad with tuna and cauliflower, which sounds great for a summer picnic. For a late autumn dinner, this is how I prepared the pasta:
1) Bring pot of water to a boil and salt; add pasta.
2) A few minutes before the pasta's done (8-10 minutes to cook al dente, but I use my "Italian timer" ;) to determine when pasta's ready) add about 1/2 cup frozen peas to the water to warm through.
3) Drain the pasta and peas, reserving some of the starchy cooking water for the sauce.
4) Pour the pasta and peas in a bowl and add 2 tbsp. low fat cream cheese, freshly ground black pepper, a pinch of oregano and red pepper flakes to taste. *I chose a simple cream sauce for this so that the pasta's intense herb flavor is the star of the dish.
5) Add a spoonful of the starchy cooking liquid to create a sauce and stir so the cheese melts over the pasta; add more water as necessary to thin out the sauce consistency.
6) Finish with a drizzle of good olive oil and serve warm. Enjoy!