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.

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