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Spicy Sautéed Shrimp with Coconut Milk Rice

5 Apr

One of the best main dishes I’ve ever prepared

This is the first time I’ve ever posted two days in a row, but dinner last night was so mind-glowingly wonderful, I had to share this recipe.  With a simple extra step, the coconut milk rice is as luscious and creamy and divine as imaginable. It’s the perfect counterpoint to the light, incredibly flavorful shrimp on top. 

Trust me. Make this soon.

Spicy Shrimp

Spicy Sautéed Shrimp with Coconut Milk Rice

 

SPICY SAUTEED SHRIMP AND COCONUT MILK RICE

This will feed 2 hungry people. It will double easily.

Ingredients

1 lb Gulf shrimp, peeled and cleaned

1 Serrano pepper, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1 Fresno Chili, thinly sliced on the diagonal

(or whatever red chili you can find… don’t miss the red)

1/2 sweet onion, halved then thinly sliced into half-rings

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 small knob ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

juice of 1 lime

1 cup jasmine or basmati rice, rinsed in cold water

1 1/2 cup coconut milk (or 1 cup coconut cream mixed with 1/2 cup milk) mixed with 1/2 cup water. Remember, rice ratio is easy… twice the liquid as the amount of rice.

4 T butter

2 t. salt

NOTE ON SPICE: with the chilis, spice is in the seeds, flavor is in the pepper. So if you don’t like a lot of spice, don’t be afraid of using Serranos and Fresnos. Wash the seeds out of the peppers, being careful with your hands… if you get the spice on your hands and wipe your eyes (or elsewhere!) it’s not pleasant. Do note the coconut really tempers the spice. So at least leave a few seeds in! 

Directions

–  In a ziplock bag or the equivalent, put the shrimp, the lime juice and the sliced peppers. Seal, toss and let marinate for 15 minutes or so at room temperature. (You might even do this after you start the rice… you don’t want this to sit longer than 30 minutes as the lime juice essentially ‘cooks’ the shrimp.)

–  Melt 2 T butter in the pot you will use for the rice. Medium temp is fine here. Let the butter start to brown. Add the rice, stir and let it sauté, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Add the coconut milk mixture, a teaspoon of salt, stir once and bring to a boil, then cover, lowering the heat all the way down. Let it simmer, without opening the cover, for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit ten more minutes, covered.

– When you pull the rice from the heat:

Remove the sliced Serrano and Fresno chilis from the marinade.  In a skillet, melt the remaining 2 T butter. Add the sliced onion and the sliced chilis.  Sauté until soft. Add the sliced garlic and sliced ginger. Sauté 2 minutes, stirring, to soften. 

Add the shrimp and juices from the bag, and 1 t. salt. Stir it all up, then let the shrimp cook on one side, about 2 minutes max, when it will turn pink. Turn the shrimp over and cook on the other side. Shrimp can get tough fast… don’t over cook! They will continue to cook even when you pull them from the heat.

–  Fluff up the rice, spoon into warmed bowls and top with the shrimp and chili saute, with all the wonderfulness in the pan. 

Heaven.

I served these with Brussels, roasted simply in the oven at 400. Halve each sprout, toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast in a cast iron skillet, face down, for 30 or so minutes. (The larger that are, the longer they take.)

About 5 minutes before the sprouts are done, toss them in the skillet with a little more olive oil and a few cloves of minced garlic.

Simple. Easy. Delicious.

(I’m about done with Balsamic but if you like it, add a little to the sprouts when you add the garlic.)

 

Lockdown Dinners

4 Apr

cooking during the pandemic

I’m lucky during the COVID 19 lockdown to live with one of my best friends, Rob. He’s been working from home since January. I’m now working from home for the duration of the pandemic. During the day, he works in the office upstairs, I work in my office downstairs (set up in the kitchen) and we come together for dinner and binging after dinner. (Binging TV! Not drinks… or, well…)

Rob says cooking is my ‘Happy Place” and I guess he’s right. Cooking stresses some people out but it de-stresses me. After a long day, to make a martini and cook a great meal relaxes me entirely. Hell, it relaxes me even without the martini! The kitchen and food were always a comfort for me growing up. A safe space, if you will, to use a modern phrase. I guess that just continued into my adult life.

I also learned to cook because I love to eat. I remember realizing in High School that when I went to college, I wouldn’t be able to keep eating all the wonderful food my mom and grandmothers prepared. So I decided to learn how to cook their food before I graduated so I could make the food in college. I’ve been cooking ever since.

Additionally, my mind is on constant overdrive, I can’t turn it off, which is one of the reasons I don’t sleep much. Cooking is one of two things I’ve found (painting is the other) that clears my head of anything but the process. When I cook, all that shit rattling around in my head goes away, for a time. It’s a balm. And so, in this incredible and difficult time, I’ve been cooking like crazy.

If you click over to the Facebook Page, I’ve been posting photos and recipes of the dinners I’ve been cooking. I’m going to continue to do more frequent posts there, particularly of other chefs’ recipes I’m trying, while I’ll also post my own inventions here.

On Food And Film FB page

In the meantime, I’ll give you a couple of recent favorites. There are also some killer recipes upcoming here as the lockdown continues! So stay tuned and if you haven’t subscribed, sign up! You will not get pelted with emails, promise.

A book I’ve been cooking through that is terrific is Alison Roman’s Nothing FancyI’ve tried a lot from this book, including a killer dip I love, and I highly recommend her book.

Here is a dinner I made from Nothing Fancy, her salmon and green beans:

Salmon Green beans

Alison Roman’s Buttered Salmon and Walnut Green Beans

This is the best salmon I’ve ever eaten. Made with lemon, red onion and brown butter, it is ridiculously simple and divine. I’m linking to Stacy Snacks wonderful food blog for the recipe:

Alison Roman’s Buttered Salmon with Lemon and Red Onion

Her green beans were also a revelation:

Alison Roman’s Mustardy Green Beans with Anchovyed Walnuts

Another dinner was my Mushroom “Farroto” (risotto made with farro), with a light salad and creamed kale:

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Mushroom “Farroto” and Creamed Kale

These are easy dishes that are fairly healthy and very comforting.

You can find the recipe for the Mushroom Farotto here:

Mushroom Farrotto

You can find the Creamed Kale recipe here:

Creamed Kale

And for the salad, simply use mixed greens and my vinaigrette, which you should be making all the time ; ) 

Perfect Vinaigrette

So! Keep in touch on the FB page for fun stuff during the week, and once or twice a week my goal is to post some new inventions and discoveries here. As always, let me know what you think… and what you are cooking!

Blessings in this unbelievable time. 

A Cook/Book Who Changed My Life Vol. II

17 Mar

my tribute to a wonderful woman who changed my life and continues to affect it

I’ve written about a few of the cooks who influenced me, from my grandmothers to friends  and family members to Patricia Wells to Suzanne Goin …. Today I’d like to tell you about the cook and her book who influenced me the most — in cooking, certainly, but also in life. 

One of my closest friends growing up was Marty Roos. We spent tons of time together; consequently, I was at his house a lot. It was a warm and fun place to be. I loved his two older sisters, Dorothy and Stephanie (who could make me laugh like no other) as well as his parents. Mr. Roos, Stephen, was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met and had a dry sharp wit that could knock you flat. Mrs. Roos, Fern, was a caterer so she was usually in the kitchen cooking for her family and/or cooking for one of her many clients/parties. 

fern 1

Fern Roos with her children Stephanie, Dorothy and Marty

Fern Roos started her catering business in 1973 with her best friend, Renee Bennett. In the years leading up to 1973,  Fern and Renee made sandwiches and food for their temple as well as their many friends. Renee’s father, Pop, suggested they start a catering business… and so they did. They called their company fernee’s and turned it into one of the most successful catering businesses in our area of Southeast Texas which is called The Golden Triangle, formed by the towns of Port Arthur, Beaumont and Orange. For well over 25 years, fernee’s was the go-to for gatherings small and large, sometimes very large, in our part of Texas. 

I doubt Mrs. Roos thinks of herself as an early progressive feminist. Yet back in the 70s, when women were fighting for equality, for good jobs and for the rights men had, Fern and Renee started their own business without anyone’s approval.  Against the typical odds that kill a majority of restaurants and catering companies, they created a business that thrived for almost 30 years. They were so successful that later in their career they would be asked to speak to college students on how to start and run a successful business. 

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Super Bowl Sunday: Killer Dips and Vegan Chili??

28 Jan

Yes! Perfect dips and vegetarian (vegan!) chili for your game day

I’ve been so swamped this January I don’t even know who is playing both in the game itself and at half time. But I’ll find out Sunday because I never miss a chance to make Super Bowl food!

I’m including three previous posts: the best dips imaginable.

What’s new is yet another dip, also wonderful, and a mind-blowing vegetarian chili recipe (actually, its vegan!) that even the staunchest carnivore will love: it tastes like chili!

So scroll down, pick some recipes you like and get ready for Sunday!

First, previous recipes that can’t be beat (click the links!):

The Best Guacamole Ever

Guac 5

(Don’t forget, you can also make Bacon Guacamole…)

and what friends of mine have now dubbed, in all seriousness, ‘crack’:

Spicy Pimento Cheese Dip

Pim Cheese corn dip

This is new! Another dip just as incredible… at least if you like pickles! Courtesy of Foodie with Family, this is divine:

Dill Pickle Dip

DillPickleDip

And now, a recipe for an amazing vegetarian chili.

Most recipes I see online for vegetarian chili are more a vegetable stew, rather than an actual chili. Take, for example, this excellent version from Emeril: Vegetarian Chili (stew)

That’s a great recipe. But it’s not chili. At least nothing like the chili I grew up with in Texas.

So… for a vegetarian (vegan!) chili that actually tastes like chili, walnuts are the way to go! Sound crazy? Not if you know raw food. I actually went raw for 4 months once, to see what eating raw was like. I actually liked the food but it was a pain in the ass! You think “Raw food… no cooking… easy!” Um, no. I spent a lot more time figuring out what to eat and how to prep it than I ever do in a normal week. Still, I enjoyed the experience and learned a lot. 

One of my favorite recipes then was Raw Tacos, about which I will soon post. Walnuts, prepped properly, were a shockingly great substitute for ground taco meat. The same transformation happens in this wonderful recipe. Give it a try and surprise yourself! You can make it in an hour, though, as with any chili, it’s best to make it the day before. This only gets better with time.

VEGETARIAN CHILI (It’s actually Vegan!)

Chili

NOTE: I’m simplifying a longer recipe I sometimes cook by using canned beans and store-bought chili powder. If you have the time, cooking your own dried beans from scratch and making your own chili powder will elevate the chili even more. But the easy version is still terrific. Which means that is all you will make. And you will be happy.

NOTE: Making your own vegetable broth really adds to the taste. You can easily make the veggie broth as you sauté your onions: In a pot, throw an onion with skin, a few chilis and/or bell peppers, carrots, celery, bay leaf and peppercorns (all chopped roughly, any or all of these that you have around) and bring to a boil. Then turn down to low. Then start your onions. By the time you need the broth in the recipe… voila!

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2019 – The Rest of the Best

10 Jan

final ruminations on 2019

When I looked back over my notes from the past year, I was shocked that some of my favorites were actually from 2019, not 2018; it seems so long ago when I read or watched some of these.

I guess it’s been a very long year.

Thankfully, the content has been tremendous. Last week I posted my favorite films. Here’s the rest of my “Best of 2019” in no particular order or genre:

1917

image

I had not yet seen 1917 when I did my best of film post last week. I was a little reticent to see this movie, thinking the technical virtuosity (even more jaw-dropping than I anticipated) would overshadow the emotional side of the story. Not at all. I was deeply, deeply moved by 1917,  less a traditional war movie than a ticking clock thriller within the war genre. 1917 is a wildly audacious, risk-taking film… against all odds, everything works brilliantly. Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins deserve many accolades but my overwhelming shoutout goes to George MacKay as a soldier tasked with a dangerous mission. If this actor wasn’t perfect, the entire movie would fall apart. MacKay carries the movie on his considerable shoulders. See this in the theatre if you can.

Fleabag – Season 2

 

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Andrew Scott and Phoebe Waller-Bridge

 

The note I give my screenwriting students more than any other is “You’re writing about polite people acting politely. Lovely… and completely boring.” Great storytelling, whether comedy or drama, comes from savage conflict and troubled characters. Look no further than Fleabag. I know some have a hard time getting past the opening of Season 1, the literal definition of “in your face.” I implore you to continue. Season 1 is terrific. Season 2 is one of the best pieces of television I’ve ever seen. With the brilliant addition of Andrew Scott as the second lead, playing a devastatingly attractive priest, and the surprising addition of God as the third lead, the second season of Fleabag is hilarious, devastating and complex.

Creator/writer/actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Scott are both incredible. Equally genius are Sian Clifford as Fleabag’s sister Claire and Olivia Coleman as a truly evil stepmother. It was also wonderful to see Kristen Scott-Thomas (sigh) being given such a meaty, wonderful guest starring role. How cool is it that with all the accolades and awards, Waller-Bridge decided to stop the series at the end of Season 2 rather than extend it on and on, as do so many other shows. The last episode is perfect. As is the rest of the series. I love me some Fleabag.

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A Delightful Stir-Fry

13 Dec

This feisty and ultra-satisfying vegan dish turns carnivorous in one simple step

Winter may seem an odd time for a stir-fry. Aren’t vegetables best in the spring and summer? But most of the vegetables used in a stir-fry… onions, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, etc… are available year round. On a cold night, yes, a hearty stew or soup is wonderful… but so is a delicious bowl of perfectly cooked vegetables. Finished with a savory sauce and fresh herbs, this stir-fry will satisfy the hungriest soul.

StirFry ingredient line up

Stir-fry lined up and ready

I’ve been playing around with this recipe for a while, working to get it just right. I discovered there are two keys to making the best stir-fry possible:

  1. the order in which you cook the vegetables
  2. the sauce you use to bring the dish together. 

When it comes to cooking the vegetables, for ease you certainly can throw everything in a sauté pan and quick cook the vegetables all together. But different vegetables have different cooking times and if you cook everything together, you end up with a less than satisfying mush. Additionally, I like certain vegetables (onions, chili peppers, garlic) cooked down soft for flavor, while others (colored bell peppers and zucchini) I like to remain just a touch undercooked to give the stir-fry different layers of texture as well as a satisfying crunch. It takes a little more time to cook this way, but the final dish is infinitely better. Acid and fresh herbs at the end brightens the dish enormously. 

As for the sauce, most recipes I saw online were way too sweet. Experimenting with a variety of choices, over time I narrowed the sauce down to three savory ingredients with a dollop of honey. It’s killer. A lot of stores are carrying these ingredients now but you can easily order them from Amazon; just click the links in the recipe. It’s worth having these in your pantry.

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An Elevated Potato-Leek Soup

6 Dec

This revamped classic, flecked with fresh herbs, hides a delicious addition

My dentist said, “soft foods only for a couple of days.” Who was I to argue? For me that meant making both the best macaroni and cheese ever, and soup.

But which soup?

In fall and winter my mom often made a terrific and comforting potato-leek soup. Bingo: perfect for cold weather and just what the dentist ordered. But I have no recipe from mom. A wonderful cook, she rarely used recipes and when she did, she deviated every time, giving each dish her personal flair. So I had to come up with my own.

Potato leek soup

elevated potato-leek soup

Looking at various recipes online, I realized most versions of potato-leek soup are solid… and boring and a little bland. Most are also ridiculously simple, which is certainly a plus, but little time is taken at the start to prep the ingredients to insure the soup has depth of flavor. Many versions do no prep, instead throwing raw leeks, potatoes and onion in a pot with broth, boiling, then blending… easy, yes but, again, bland and a bit lifeless. I wanted to see if I could liven it up without taking the comfort out of the dish. After a little experimentation, here’s a fresh yet rich version of the classic.

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