No Shrimping on Taste

heron-on-roofFlorida for Thanksgiving is a somewhat surreal experience. The sky is blue, the temperature is 80, and I’m kayaking between crab pots.  Dolphins played in the Gulf of Mexico, and we watched the herons and egret watching the fishermen.

It was delightful. Certainly I’m fond of the crunching leaves and dashing through the snow, but blue skies and sand between my toes was far more delightful than dealing with the weather outside being frightful.

On one of those glorious mornings, we headed into St. Petersburg for the Saturday Morning Market with a cooler bag full of ice in the back of the SUV. The first stop was the new fish vendor, who had lovely pink Key West shrimp in his stall, as well as a variety of stone crab claw. We filled our bag with both and put it back in the car. Then it was time to enjoy the rest of the market, especially the show around the pineapple stand. That was my treat for the day. It was also the first thing I tasted this morning; I packed it in my carry-on bag for the trip back north.

kombuchaWe sampled some other new products at the market as well. New meaning since the last time we were there in April. There was a ginger beer cart, more smoothie makers, and kombucha. I tried the Thai, with lemongrass and galangal and coconut. Unfortunately, the coconut oil was overwhelming the lemongrass and ginger flavors, but I can count it up to a new flavor I’ve tried. Next time, I’ll try tropical.

We stopped by to visit Juan and Chichi Garanton. Juan is an artist whose work is inspired by the colors and scenes around him in Florida. His work now hangs on three generations of Mead walls. My daughter is his newest fan.

It was Saturday, so we were trying to embrace the Shopapalooza spirit in downtown St. Petersburg. Alas, we didn’t find anything more to buy that day. This meant time for a nap before making dinner, which was as easy as chopping garlic, peeling shrimp, and serving.

This dish is perfect for those nights when you are trimming the tree and don’t have much time. Or have some unexpected company. Just put these out with dishes of Marcona almonds and some olives for an impromptu tapas party.

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Shrimp in Garlic Oil (Gambas al Ajillo)
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
people, appetizer
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
people, appetizer
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Mince 3 cloves of garlic. Slice remaining 9 cloves.
  2. In a nonractive bowl, mix shrimp with minced garlic. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and baking soda. Toss to combine thoroughly and set aside for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add remaining olive oil to a cast iron skillet. Add sliced garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic becomes fragrant and pale golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add shrimp and cook, tossing and stirring constantly until shrimp are pink and just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add lemon or sherry and parsley. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt. Serve immediately with crusty bread.
Recipe Notes

Red pepper flakes vary in heat, in part based on how long they have been on the shelf. Start with a pinch. You can dip a little bread in the olive oil before adding the shrimp and taste - this will give you a sense of the heat. It will get slightly more intense with time, but not a lot. If you want, add more red pepper flakes. Or just serve them on the table.

The best way to serve this is to give everyone 4 to 5 shrimp in a bowl with the olive oil and juices. Have loaf of sliced crusty bread on the table for dipping.

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Thanksgiving Salad Days

thanksgiving2There is no right way to celebrate Thanksgiving. Growing up, we had everyone – grandparents, parents, children – all around one or two tables with bottles of Champagne, an overcooked turkey (not when my mother and father were cooking), stuffing, gravy, and my grandmother’s grapefruit and avocado salad.

As our family changed – kids moved, grandparents died, marriages dissolved – so has the celebration. My brothers and sister and their families celebrate in their respective home states. My parents bought a second home on the Gulf Coast of Florida, where the weather is warmer and the beaches are open all year.

That became a sanctuary for Thanksgiving six years ago when liver disease nearly took my life. I was in the hospital until just before Thanksgiving (and again after Thanksgiving, and again in the week leading up to Christmas). I made a small Thanksgiving dinner at home for my then-husband and I  – our daughter had gone south with my parents. I flew down the day after and reveled in the sun, sand, and club soda.

Since then, my daughter and I have been in Florida for five of the past six years. That one year in Erie was because my job demanded being at a desk the day after Thanksgiving. We enjoyed celebrating with friends, but there’s nothing like a walk on the beach without a hat, gloves, and down jacket after the meal.

Other friends have had to change their celebration as family members have aged into nursing homes, children have moved away, or divorces dictate times with children. Then you have to improvise. Last week I celebrated Thanksgiving a week early because circumstances allowed this blended family to be together. A death brought them together, but it allowed them to sit down at a family heirloom dining table. We had vegetarians, picky eaters, and omnivores. The menu reflected this – standing rib of beef along with a butternut and spinach lasagna. And everyone united around a flourless chocolate cake with caramel sauce.

Typically, my contribution to Thanksgiving dinners is a salad since the hosts take care of the main dishes. With pears and chestnuts in season now, it seemed an ideal combination. My pears, a variety called Concorde that are delicious, made the dish quite sweet. I haven’t been able to find them this week, so I used red pear in today’s photos.

Happy Thanksgiving.

XOXOXO

Marnie

marnie@marniemeadmedia.com

Print Recipe
Roasted Pear and Camembert Salad
This salad combines some of the best fall ingredients - pears and chestnuts - into a celebration of flavors. Perfect for vegetarians, too.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. For the relish: Bring the cider, honey, shallot, and raisins to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture thickens, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat. Stir in the chestnuts, vinegar, rosemary, and salt. Cool the relish to room temperature before serving, or cover and refrigerate up to 1 week.
  3. For pears, if ripe to semi-ripe: Halve and core the pears. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil to a large nonstick skillet. Place pears cut side down and saute over medium-low heat until lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes depending on the pear. Flip over and saute about 5 more minutes. Lay a slice of cheese on top of each and remove from heat. It should melt using the residual heat of the pear.
  4. If pears are not ripe (quite firm): Bake cut side down in a baking dish in a 375-degree oven for 30 minutes. Turn them over and continue roasting until tender, 5 to 10 minutes more.
  5. To serve, toss the arugula with 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of the lemon and divide it among 6 salad plates. Place a warm pear half over each and top with a spoonful of the chestnut relish.
  6. Serve immediately
Recipe Notes

If you don't want to make the chestnut relish, simply top with toasted candied pecans and golden raisins.

 

Adapted from http://usapears.org/recipe/roasted-pears-with-camembert/

 

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Super Moon Monday

Tonight the moon will be 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter – a super moon, according to NASA. This will be the closest the moon has been to Earth since 1948.

Moon on Saturday night, with an ice crystal halo. The moon will be full tonight, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016.
Moon on Saturday night, with an ice crystal halo. The moon will be full tonight, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016.

The forecast for tonight is for some clouds, so if the past couple of nights is any example, it should be quite spectacular. Not spectacular enough for me to pull the lounge chairs out of the garage and stare at the sky for an extended period of time, given that it is mid-November and all. But I will watch it rise as I take the dog for his evening stroll around the neighborhood. I might even dash out in my jammies right before bed to take another look. And I will give thanks that I don’t have to don the shearling boots and heft my nightie up to climb over a snowbank to do it.

The weather has been so delightful, I’ve been keeping the back screen door open while I bake in the evenings. The fresh night air has been cooling of the kitchen delightfully and keeping some of my little burned pieces from stinking the whole condo up.

I was experimenting with a muffin recipe from Martha Stewart that involves tender muffin filled with a seasonal jam and topped with a crumble. While I’m a fan of Martha at times, I also have difficulty with some of her recipes. In this case, there was too much muffin mix for 12 cups. I should have realized when the muffins were filled to the brim before going into the oven that it was going to overflow, which it did. Which stinks up the kitchen with burning sugar.

The muffins themselves have great potential with strawberry jam in the spring, followed by raspberry, blueberry, cherry, peach, plum, apple and pear through the fall. The recipe is worth keeping, I just need either the extra-large muffin tin or the tall muffin baking cups. So I ordered the fancy cups (take up less space than yet another pan) and will see if they are sturdy enough to bake the muffins on half-sheet pans.

In the meantime, I tried a New York Times tried-and-true Thanksgiving recipe, according to the Times’ Cooking site. The recipe was for Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Mousse Cake. 

Sprinkled with some powdered sugar, it is as pretty as a full moon.

I made a couple of changes, adding orange zest, instant espresso and a little bit of vanilla – all to coax the chocolate to its fullest potential. If you aren’t a fan of orange and chocolate, skip the zest. But do add the espresso and the vanilla. Top with real whipped cream for an extra treat.

Print Recipe
Super Moon Monday
This cake is best made a day ahead and allowed to refrigerate overnight to develop the flavors.
Course dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Course dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. You are going to need 3 bowls; 1 9-inch springform pan; 1 pan large enough to hold the springform pan with room around all the sides and at least 1 -inch deep; and foil to wrap the pan (so water doesn't leak in). You will also need to have a kettle or pot with about 4 cups of boiling water.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Prepare your springform pan by wrapping the bottom in 2 layers of foil to prevent water from seeping into the pan. You will be cooking this cake in a hot water bath. Grease pan. Place it in a large roasting pan (or a pan that has at least 1-inch of room between the edges of the two pans).
  4. In one medium-sized bowl, add butter and chocolate. Microwave in 30-second intervals. Stir after each interval. Repeat until butter and chocolate are melted. Allow to sit at room temperature while you move on with the recipe. The chocolate needs to remain warm.
  5. In the meantime, in separate deep-sided medium bowl, beat your egg whites until frothy. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar. Continue beating until peaks form. You do not want to keep beating until dry (this isn't meringue).
  6. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until frothy and lighter in color. This will take about 4 minutes. Beat in vanilla, salt, orange zest (optional), and espresso powder. Fold in chocolate mixture.
  7. Now fold in egg whites in 1/3 increments. Keep it as fluffy as possible.
  8. Pour into springform pan (which should have foil on the bottom and be in the roasting pan). Place roasting pan with cake into the oven on the middle shelf. Pour the boiling water into the roasting pan so it is about one-half way up the side of the cake pan.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes. Top will be firm.
  10. Remove pan from oven. Remove cake pan from roasting pan and place on a cooling rack. As the cake cools, it will pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove outside ring. Wrap loosely and refrigerate.
  11. Before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
Recipe Notes

The recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate. If you need to substitute semi-sweet, lessen the amount of sugar by 1/4 cup.

 

Adapted from New York Times

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Give Thanks in Difficult Times, Too

Now that the election is over, and the public airwaves are free of the hurtful and negative messages, I’m looking forward to giving thanks for my America.

No matter what happens in the four years ahead, I still have plenty to be thankful for. I have a wonderful family – parents, siblings, and a daughter. I have friends who are wonderful and supportive. And I live in a community filled with delightful people.

Leeks, apples, pumpkin, potatoes, and more in the Post Apples CSA bag.
Leeks, apples, pumpkin, potatoes, and more in the Post Apples CSA bag.

And that community is also quite bountiful. Today I picked up my weekly bag of Community Supported Agriculture produce from Post Apples CSA . It was filled with apples and potatoes and squash and leeks and, and, and … I’m thinking of soup, pumpkin bread, apple butter, and pies. Thankfully, much of the bag will keep for a while so I can enjoy some of the produce into the new year.

The weather is so delightful that I can walk every morning without boots. My garden still has snapdragons, nasturtium, and hydrangea, in addition to mums. My herbs are flourishing, with parsley, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, and sage still going strong. There are even a few stragglers among the basil.

Unplugging for the past three days has given me this appreciation that these things around me will not change because of an election. These are the fruits of my labors, and the labors of those in the field.

My friends have not changed. Nor has my family.

We are all in this together. And for that I am thankful.

The end of the election season also marks the start of Thanksgiving planning, although some of your may have been at it earlier. I had the honor to be included in a family that celebrated Thanksgiving in August. Children and grandchildren had scattered around the country, but gathered at a cottage on Lake Erie. Knowing they wouldn’t gather for the fall feast, we prepared a turkey dinner with all the trimmings served beachside.

murray-thanksgiving

We had a roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, squash, gravy, corn, green beans, rolls, and dessert. All served at a picnic table with a view of Lake Erie. It was quite the celebration. Nothing like being able to go for a swim after dinner!

Among my contributions (in addition to roasting the turkey using the family’s paper bag method), were the Parker House rolls. The day after Thanksgiving is when these little rolls really shine. Stuff their buttery goodness with a few pieces of turkey and your favorite leftovers – whether mashed potatoes, stuffing, or cranberry sauce – and you have perfect two- to- three-bite sandwiches. So if you do put them out on the Thanksgiving table, be sure to tuck away a few for yourself for a delectable treat the next day.

Print Recipe
Remember to Give Thanks
Cuisine American
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
rolls
Cuisine American
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
rolls
Instructions
  1. Proof the yeast by dissolving in the warm water and honey. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to make sure the yeast is active (it will bubble). Melt the 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter in 2 cups of milk either on the stove top or microwave. Allow to cool so that it is warm to touch, but not scorching.
  2. Pour milk/butter and yeast mixture into the mixing bowl of a large stand mixer.
  3. Whisk 2 to 3 cups of flour with the salt. Add, 1 cup at a time, into the wet ingredients, using the paddle until fully incorporated. The dough will be wet and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, set in a warm place, and let the dough rise till doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  4. Punch it down and add in about 2 more cups of flour, 1 cup at a time, to make a dough that can be kneaded, Turn out on a lightly floured board. Knead until velvety smooth and very elastic - this will take about 15 to 20 minutes. Press with the fingers to see if the dough is resilient. Let rest for a few minutes, then form the dough into a ball. Put into a greased bowl and turn so that the surface is thoroughly covered with butter. cover and put in a warm, draft-free place to rise again until doubled in bulk.
  5. Punch the dough down with your fist, turn out on a lightly floured board, and let rest for several minutes.
  6. Roll out to 1/2-inch thick. Cut out rounds of dough with a round 2- or 2 1/2-inch cutter, or with a water glass dipped in flour. (The odd bits of leftover dough can be reworked into a ball, rolled out, and cut.) Brush the center of each round with melted butter.
  7. Take a pencil, a chopstick, or any cylinder of similar size and make a deep indentation in the center of the circle, without breaking through the dough. Fold over one-third of each round and press down to seal. Arrange these folded rolls, seam side down, on a buttered baking sheet about 1/2 inch apart or in a muffin tin. Brush again with melted butter.
  8. Let rolls to rise until almost doubled in size. They will probably touch each other.
  9. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  10. Brush them with the egg wash. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes, depending on size. Test one by gently tapping it on the top. If done, you will hear a very faint hollow sound. Or take one, break it open carefully, and see if it is cooked inside.
  11. Remove the rolls to a cooling rack.
Recipe Notes
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