Shrimp Charmoula, Fennel Carrot Salad, fresh bread

For a Sunday post-golf meal, I considered the February issue of Gourmet and it's North African menu. While I would have been interested in trying more dishes from the menu, such as whole wheat flat breads and clementines in ginger syrup, there was not time for that many dishes.

Since my father in law liked the NYT quick bread so much, I was set on making another batch before he left. The Shrimp Charmoula looked good, as did fennel and carrot salad. So the menu:
  • Plate of cheeses and cured meats: manchego, sage derby, tuscan sausage
  • Shrimp Charmoula - Gourmet 2/2008
  • Fennel and Carrot Salad - Gourmet 2/2008
  • NYT Quick Bread
The Charmoula differs from the lamb chops charmoula first published in Gourmet in the summer of 1999 (Ruth Reichl's first issue as editor). There are markedly fewer ground spices and a much larger quantity of aromatics - shallots and serranno pepper. I chose to add a little more garlic than the recipe, and it could tolerate quite a bit more. But I didn't notice at first that the shrimp is marinated after being cooked, not before. It's actually a better approach, as is grilling the shrimp instead of the instruction to boil it. So I just tossed the shrimp in oil, S&P, skewered them and grilled briefly. They were then tossed into the marinade which included sauteed shallot, pepper and garlic combined with oil, lemon juice, honey, cilantro, turmeric and paprika.

Very positive results, and this recipe can probably withstand a fair amount of fiddling with ingredient proportions and choices based on what you have on hand.

The Fennel and Carrot salad was labor intensive, in order to cut the fennel pieces in to very thin slivers. The mixture of balsamic vinegar and lemon juice should have created a nice playful viniagrette, but it was dominated by an overly generous portion of chopped olive. In the end, the olives dominated all the other flavors. Not a great payoff for having done so much fine prep work on the vegetables. However, I hold out hope for the use of these two ingredients, with adjustments to the seasonings.

Chilean Sea Bass, Asian Slaw and Herbed Rice

For a weeknight dinner I had a craving for Sea Bass and was pleased to find it for only $14.99 a pound. Originally considered grilling, but settled on the saute and high heat oven technique. One fillet was just coated with olive oil, others with oil and the ground spice mix I've used for tuna. Unfortunately, a moderate dusting of this mix was lost with the rich sea bass. Also, since the fillets were thick, 1.5" at center, the coating didn't make it into every bite. So - not worth the trouble, unless you already have the spice mix made up - which I did.

Herbed rice was simply started with onion sauted in oil, added rice and continued to saute until a few kernels popped. Then added chicken stock, salt, tarragon, fresh parsley and fresh thyme. Finish in oven 15 minutes.

The winner of the evening was an asian slaw, of my own creation.

1 small head napa cabbage, sliced thin
6-7 raddichio leaves, sliced thin
1/4 C diced red onion
4 scallions, sliced
1/2 C cilantro, chopped
1 serrano pepper, seeded and diced finely

1/4 C rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)
2 T sugar
1 T salt
1/2 t sesame oil (more depending on strength)

Combine all, stir occasionally, needs at least 30 minutes to absorb flavors. Cabbage will wilt slightly.

Steak and Potato Frittata with Blue Cheese Butter

With Margie's father in law Pete visiting us for most of the month of February, we needed a nice Saturday morning breakfast today. Cuisine Rapide (CR) has a couple of frittata recipes which have been staples for years. Today's frittata uses some ingredient proportions based on the CR recipe, but differs greatly in main ingredients.

The choice of steak is based on some leftovers in the fridge. Chunks of ham, chicken, or pork would work as well, but you would want to adjust the herb choices. Fresh basil works with most anything, but I felt rosemary and a touch or oregano was a better match for the steak.

We also had some left over blue cheese butter. A half teaspoon on top of a warm frittata slice is more than enough to add a finishing complementary flavor.

We also served this with browned sausages and fresh baked bread using the NYT no-knead recipe.

A classic frittata recipe calls for flipping it in the pan after cooking about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way. However, I've avoided that complex and risky step through effective use of the broiler.

Steak and Potato Frittata

3/4 lb potato, sliced thin
2 T butter
1 red pepper, diced finely
1/2 C red onion, diced finely
1/4 t rosemary (dried). 3/4 t if using fresh

1/8 t oregano (dried). 1/2 t if using fresh

1/2 to 1 C leftover steak, cut into small cubes

10 large eggs
1/4 lb gruyere or other medium white cheese
Pinch of cayenne pepper, salt

1. Pre heat broiler
2. Add butter an potato slices to large, oven proof skillet. Cook 4-5 minutes, until potatoes are softened.
3. Whisk eggs and cheese with cayenne and salt.
4. Add pepper, onion and herbs. Mix with potatoes and cook 2-3 minutes.
5. Add steak cubes and cook 2 minutes
6. Pour egg mixture into pan, incorporate thoroughly, then leave pan alone for 1 minute to allow eggs to begin to set.
7. Gently life edges of cooked egg, tipping pan and allowing more egg to run underneath.
8. Cover and cook 2-3 minutes. Top center of eggs will be not yet be cooked.
9. Place pan under broiler until center of eggs are cooked, and the entire surface is browned.

Using spatula, check a thick part of frittata for doneness. If not fully set, cover pan and rest on stove for 3 or more minutes. Frittata can be covered and kept warm for 10 or 15 minutes before serving, but if covered, it will deflate slightly.

Cut into 6 or 8 wedges, serve with small dollop of blue cheese butter.

Blue Cheese Butter

2 T Blue cheese
2 T butter
1/4 t salt
1/4 to 1/2 t pepper

Allow cheese and butter to soften, then combine all ingredients. Keeps for 1-2 weeks refrigerated.

New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp

After golf Sunday morning Paul dropped by to watch a little of the AT&T Pro Am at Pebble Beach and was thinking that a shrimp appetizer was appealing. I grabbed a couple pounds of shrimp on the way home, but still had no plan upon arriving. Knowing that I was limited to whatever specialty ingredients were already in hand, I decided to go with an all time favorite: BBQ Shrimp.

This dish is a New Orleans creole classic, having nothing in common with grilling or barbeque sauce. 

Rather, it is a rich pan fry of shrimp in herbs, garlic and butter which is then finished as a rich sauce. I am not personally familiar with the history of this preparation, despite a cursory Google search, but know with certainty that it is a staple in New Orleans restaurants.

My adaptation is based on an out of print cookbook: Pierre Franey’s Cooking in America (Knopf, 1992). Pierre in turn adapted it from Paul Prudhomme, which in part explains the excessive quantity of butter. But before you back off the butter, realize that a large group can dig into this sauce and still leave a major portion of it behind – as it is so rich, I don’t remember ever seeing it completely consumed. Typically, we’ll run out of toasted bread for dipping even before the shrimp itself is gone.

I use the spice mixture in the same proportions as Pierre, and think that he mellowed the vast quantities of pepper in a Prudhomme recipe by using artful selection of herbs. In fact, I think it’s the rosemary that marks the secret to the flavoring of this dish. I also greatly increase the quantity of shrimp, as the volume of sauce is ample for as many as 3 or even 4 pounds of shrimp. If cooking more than 2 pounds of shrimp, be sure to cook them in multiple batches.

New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp
  • Seasoning mix; 1 t cayenne, 1 t kosher salt, 1/2 t thyme, ½t fresh black pepper, ¼ to ½ t oregano, 1 T dried rosemary, crumbled. 
  • Alternate: two large sprigs fresh rosemary, 6 long sprigs of fresh oregano, 4 sprigs fresh thyme.
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 t worchestershire sauce
  • 2/3 C shrimp stock (see below)
  • 1/3 C bottled beer, preferably hearty (yesterday I used Fat Tire)
  1. Melt 1 stick butter, add seasoning mix and garlic, mix to combine
  2. Add shrimp, cook approx 2-3 minutes, shaking pan and turning shrimp
  3. Add stock boil 1-2 minutes
  4. Add beer and additional 2-4 T butter, simmer until butter melts.
Serve with toasted baguettes or sourdough bread. The NYT no-knead bread would be an ideal choice.

Shrimp Stock
  • Shells from 2 pounds shrimp
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 6-10 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 7 C purified water
Bring to boil, simmer 5-20 minutes. Strain.

Related Posts with Thumbnails