Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Taters and Shrimps!


Okay, more cooking as promised!

I’m always on the lookout for potato salad recipes that I can make for The Man…recipes that do not involve mayonnaise, since he has this anathema towards mayo. Me—I go through stages where I like mayo, and then I just ignore mayo and don’t eat it. I don’t carry around a grudge from a thousand years ago against some suspect tartar sauce that made me ill, and I must classify ALL mayonnaise-based things in that category (yes, honey, I’m talking to you!). I prefer to think that it was the maker of the tartar sauce who was responsible for gastronomic upheaval, rather than the innocent, mayonnaise-based tartar sauce. But, I also seem to get way too anthropomorphic about food and other inanimate objects. (It’s big word day, in case you haven’t noticed.)

Anyway, I found this Rachael Ray recipe for Sliced Steak and Mushrooms and Warm Potato Salad. I promptly ignored the steak part, because I think I’ve got that down…plus, I hate to cook steak in a grill pan. I’ve got a grill. I live in the South, so unless it’s below 32ºF, I can grill out as often as I want. Enough said.

The mushrooms in this recipe were interesting, because it was a quick pan sauce of sorts, and I’ll pretty much eat sautéed mushrooms on anything. Plus, it’s pretty hard to screw up mushrooms…not that I’m issuing a challenge or anything. The potatoes were pretty phenomenal. I think it had lots to do with the type of mustard I used—the grainier, the better—and I was rewarded when The Man said this was one of the top 3 ways he liked to eat potatoes (and let’s not discount the bacon either; bacon goes with everything!).

(First prize goes the Gorgonzola Potatoes that I snagged from a Publix Aprons recipe. The gorgonzola ones have been THE default side dish item in our house for almost 2 years now.)

Warm Mustard Potato Salad (adapted from Rachael Ray); serves 4

2 pounds small red new potatoes, halved
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
3 shallots, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons grainy mustard
Flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped (a generous handful)

1. In a medium pot, combine the potatoes with enough water to cover; bring to a boil. Salt the water and cook the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and return the potatoes to the hot pot and cook off the excess moisture.

2. While the potatoes cook, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, Add the bacon and cook until almost crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots, lower the heat and cook until tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the vinegar and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then whisk in the mustard. Add the warm potatoes and the parsley, turning the potatoes until they are evenly coated and absorb the dressing. Keep warm until serving.

The Gorgonzola Potatoes are extremely bad for you…I don’t even want to think about the nutritional content of this dish, because I still want to enjoy it on occasion. The recipe says that it serves 8. Ha.

Gorgonzola Potatoes (Publix Aprons recipe)

Ingredients

3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons garlic-herb butter (Kerry Gold is good, or you could make your own…yeah, right.)
1 (20-ounce) package refrigerated home-style sliced potatoes
1/4 cup French-fried onions
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Steps

1. Combine in microwave-safe bowl, cheese, half-and-half, salt, and flour. Add butter and microwave on HIGH 2 minutes or until hot.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and microwave on HIGH 10 minutes, stirring once, or until potatoes are tender. Serve.

Note: For an elegant finish, place in oven-proof serving dish, top with more French-fried onions, and broil 3–5 minutes or until golden.

You know I totally jack this one up by adding a little more cheese and more of those French-fried onions. More is more, and those onions are evil. Pure French-fried evil, and I gladly surrender to the dark side. You can also par cook potatoes yourself, if you hate buying the pre-packed ones. I tell myself it’s for the portion control, but sometimes, I’m just lazy.

Last night was another Aprons recipe for Chipolte Shrimp and Pasta.

It was pretty good, not mention quick and easy, and I always ignore the mantra to buy the pre-chopped veggies (the only exception being the potatoes from the previous recipe). I opted not to grill the shrimp, because I hate dragging out the George Foreman, and I didn’t feel like skewering them and putting them on the big grill. The really weird thing was cooking the pasta. Look closely at the cooking directions.

Ingredients

8 ounces bowtie pasta
2 1/2 cups water
1 pound peeled/deveined shrimp (thawed, if frozen)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
large zip-top bag
1/4 cup chipotle marinade
4 ounces fresh gourmet mushroom blend ( I used sliced creminis that I had on hand)
1/2 cup pre-diced fresh tomatoes (How about some quartered grape tomatoes instead?)
1/3 cup pre-sliced green onions (Please—can I not slice onions by now.)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1. Preheat 2-sided tabletop grill. Place pasta and water in large saucepan. Cover and bring to boil on medium-high. Remove lid and cook 6–8 minutes, stirring often, or until most of water is absorbed. (Look back at the ingredients list and note that it calls for 2 1/2 cups of water...not 4-6 quarts like the pasta box recommends.)

2. Place shrimp and cornstarch in large zip-top bag. Seal bag and shake to coat shrimp. Add marinade to bag, seal tightly, and knead to coat; set aside.


3. Stir remaining ingredients gently into pasta. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until thoroughly heated.

4. Place shrimp on grill and close lid (wash hands). Grill 3–4 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Serve over pasta. (This was the part where I heated up a large pan, threw in a little of the ol’ EVOO, and sautéed my little shrimpies. Then, I threw in the pasta and veggies and tossed it around. Worked out just fine.)

I’ve never cooked pasta that way, in just a little water, kind of like rice. Well, maybe that was the basic principle of Hamburger Helper, but we prefer to forget those days ever existed. And, I was mighty skeptical that this method would work. It did, and perfectly, I might add. I may experiment with this for other pasta dishes, especially ones that follow this same basic format. It seemed like the pasta cooked faster with this method, but I could very well be delusional. I’ll try it again and report back on my results.

In other news, The Man and I had dinner at the Chiclet’s family restaurant on Sunday, and she gave me a flyer for summer cooking workshops at Fine Technical College. I’m excited about this, because there is an introductory class in July for baking! The classes are during the evenings and on Saturdays, and I hope this takes off, so that there might be more offered during the rest of the year. I’ll keep you posted as I get more info.

1 comment:

Lin said...

Great recipes! Everything goes better with gorgonzola. I find cooking the pasta in very little water to be a bit freaky. Don't they stick together from all the extra starch floating around in the water?

Taking a short course in baking might be fun, especially if it's bread. But I suppose it can't be yeast bread because it would take up too much class time to rise.