Shrimp Scampi

The first time I ever had Shrimp Scampi was when I was pregnant, I had recently started eating fish after not having eaten it in 20 years. My dad made dinner that night, and I thought it was the best seafood dish I’d ever had. Instead of serving it with pasta, he ladled the shrimp scampi over grilled bread, so that we could take full advantage of the buttery, juicy goodness that was the sauce.

Tonight, I used this recipe from the food network. It’s not the same recipe my dad uses, and it would be fine if the plan was to serve it over pasta. In order to serve it over grilled bread, you need to double the butter, the lemon juice, and the vermouth. Next time I might also add 1/2 cup of broth. All this in order to create adequate juice to mop up with the bread.

• Grilled Bread •
Use a hearty ciabatta. Cut the bread into thick slices (at least 1.5″) and brush both sides, generously, with olive oil and sprinkle them with coarse salt. Put the slices of bread on a baking tray and into the hot broiler for a couple of minutes per side, until golden.
You need to really watch the bread as it toasts, or it will burn. I burnt the first batch. To a crisp.

When ready to serve, place a slice of bread on your plate and spoon the shrimp and lots of juice over it. Rose demonstrates the kid version in the photo above right. She prefers to remove the tails and pick off the tiny bits of parsley before topping her bread with shrimp. She’d also advise you to avoid the vegetables all together.

We had simple, mustardy green beans and an arugula salad to balance things out. All agreed it was a great meal. Even the  4-year-old.


I’ve mentioned before that Shane is an unofficial-award-winning Pasta alla Carbonara maker. Tonight, he proclaimed his Carbonara “the best ever”. It was good, juicy-eggy-salty good. His never before published recipe is below. With it, we had buffala mozzarella, arugula, tomatoes and a lovely sesame-balsamic dressing that Shane made.

• Shane’s Famous Pasta alla Carbonara •
1″ thick slice of pancetta cut into 1/2″ x 1/4″ chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1lb pasta (Shane prefers penne or bucatini)
5 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups freshly and finely grated parmesan cheese 

Put a pot of water on to boil. Brown the pancetta in a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan. Turn off the heat. Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons butter and 1tsp red pepper flakes to pancetta, cover with lid and set aside. When the pasta water boils add a lot of salt, stir and then add pasta, stir again so pasta doesn’t stick together. Stir every few minutes. Meanwhile, beat 5 eggs with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Finely grate about 2 cups of parmesan cheese. The cheese needs to be finely grated in order to melt and create a smooth sauce. When pasta is ready, reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and drain. Add pasta to pan with pancetta, stir to coat. Put pan on range top and turn heat to high, cook for about a minute. Turn flame off and immediately pour in egg mixture, stirring constantly so egg doesn’t curdle. While still stirring add about 1 cup of parmesan until you achieve a thick, creamy egg sauce. If sauce is too thick, thin with pasta water. Serve immediately with remaining parmesan for sprinkling.

Potato basil frittata

Ina Garten’s Potato Basil Frittata is a crowd pleaser. Whenever I make it for company, at least two people ask for the recipe. What makes it so very delicious is the cheese (gruyere and ricotta) and the basil. The potatoes give it substance. The frittata is not quick, there are a lot of steps, but it’s not difficult to make either. The nice thing about it is that it cooks for 50 minutes to an hour, so you can make whatever else you’re going to serve it with while it bakes.

My secret to pleasing the carnivores when serving an essentially vegetarian meal is to add a side of prosciutto. Rose and Shane piled their frittata slices high with prosciutto, and then asked that I photograph their plates.

We had an arugula and tomato salad with the tart dressing that I think goes best with good, spicy arugula and proper tomatoes. It might seem counter-intuitive to mix balsamic dressing with lemon juice but it really works well with quality tomatoes, which can hold their own.

• Tart Dressing •
Mix the juice of 1 lemon, 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, salt to taste (I like a lot) and 1/2 cup of olive oil (approx). Taste for seasoning and serve over tomatoes and arugula (optional).

Oh spaghetti squash!

I didn’t know spaghetti squash could be so good. This recipe for Moroccan-spiced spaghetti squash was absolutely, positively, the winner tonight. Even Shane, never the veggie enthusiast, had a second helping. I bet it would be even more extraordinary if made with fresh cilantro, which the recipe calls for but I forgot to buy.

Like Deb over at Smitten Kitchen, where the recipe came from, I don’t own a microwave. Even with out one, this recipe is very quick as far as hands-on time goes. You just pop the squash in the oven and come back 45 minutes later. The rest goes by in a flash.

We had some other new and yummy dishes tonight as well. Soy-Glazed Salmon, which was good but probably would have benefitted from a few little holes sliced into the salmon, so the glaze flavor could seep into the meat. The Farro Salad with Citrus Parmesan Dressing, was loosely based on this recipe from 101 Cookbooks. I’d like to try it with lemon instead of  (or maybe in addition to) the orange in the dressing next time.

Lazy Wednesday: Hers & Hers

Rose is happy if she can have a plate of meat, straight up, for dinner.  I feel the same way about salad. Ordinarily I’d try to get her to eat a few veggies and put a bit of thought into me getting some protein, but today is Lazy Wednesday. Between the two of us it’s a well-rounded meal, and that seems good enough.

I got Rose a quarter chicken from the Original American Chicken in our neighborhood and made myself a salad out of what little was left in the fridge. A few leaves of csa lettuce, some corn (which I toasted in the broiler), rice, chick peas, basil and a stalk of celery and (of course) Rita’s dressing.

We’re having groceries delivered tonight, and tomorrow is Farm Spot. Much more interesting meals will be coming soon.

Steak etc.

I knew there’d be a mutiny if I served my family another meat-free meal tonight, so I had Shane pick up a steak at the Butcher Block in Sunnyside. We had the leftover Olive Mill Pasta, which was a casual stand-in for potatoes. It was fine on the second day, I didn’t reheat it, just left it out all day so it would be room temperature. Since this week’s csa box is nearly depleted, for the veg, I made a ‘whatever you’ve got’ chopped salad with green beans, chick peas, basil, & lettuce.

Alain Ducasse’s Olive Mill Pasta

This dish is so yummy, I don’t know why I don’t make it more often. It’s pasta cooked like risotto, meaning, instead of boiling it, you coat it in butter and oil and then cook it with stuff and broth until it’s perfectly al-dente. The result is a flavorful sauce which coats, and saturates, every piece of beautifully cooked pasta.

Olive Mill Pasta is particularly hearty because it’s got potatoes in it. (And I have a thing about starch with starch.) The dish has enough veggies in it (basil, tomatoes, scallions) that you can call it a meal, if you’re not particularly protein-starved on the day you decide to make it. Which I hope you will, because it’s so yummy.


Baby on the brain

I was so excited about our first day with our new nephew, that I forgot to photograph dinner! (Salad and this delicious little nugget excepted.)

What we had was Spaghetti alla Norma (with tomatoes and eggplant), a recipe my dad clipped from the New York Times. Morgan is a seriously committed Times recipe clipper. And that kale salad that only my sister Anna seems able to make properly. It was all delicious, but really, we would have just as happily eaten dirt. We’re so overjoyed about this baby that it eclipses everything else.