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.

Print Recipe
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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Peppers add Heat to end of Summer

img_4532
Lake Erie shortly after sunrise on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016.

On this last official day of summer, I’m trying to pack as much in as possible. Fortunately, the weather has cooperated, meaning I was out in my kayak taking the last paddle of summer. It won’t be my last paddle, but summer is officially closing and with it my windows of weather opportunity.

The wind was shifting around a lot, first from the south and then moving toward the east, making kayaking in Lake Erie similar to padding around in a bathtub with infants splashing around in it. No whitecaps, but wind and current were working against one another to give me a small chop. I tell myself it’s better for my arms.

img_4526What was spectacular was that I was able to spot my first eagle of the season. Some years, I see them every day. Others, I’m lucky with just a couple of sightings. This year, I have been without seeing any of these beautiful birds soaring over the bluffs until today. This was a small eagle. At first, I thought it was one of the many hawks that patrol the bluffs of western Erie County, Pennsylvania, until I saw the tell-tale white plumage on the tail. The bird perched in a tree, allowing me to paddle nearly underneath. My iPhone did an OK job capturing him (look in the center of the photo).

Aside from getting in a 2-mile paddle in open water, I’ve been trying to keep up with the tomatoes that are continuing to ripen in my garden, along with those delivered by my CSA last week. I’m not canning this year, but I am roasting batches of tomatoes and then pureeing them in the blender to create crushed tomatoes to freeze. The flavor is too intense from the roasting to use in highly spiced recipes such as chili, but are perfect for sauces and soups where tomato is the star.

One of my favorite recipes of summer is to pickle peppers. This way I can capture the heat of the season for those frigid February days.

I wasn’t always so positive about peppers. For several years, Post Apples CSA delivered more hot peppers than I could ever use. I think Gordon Post has a passion for peppers, which I have come to appreciate. In the beginning, I would freeze them. This works if you need to add a puree of hot pepper to a recipe, such as for a soup (gives a great boost to potato soup).

Then a friend shared a recipe from a co-worker, who gave away a much-coveted jar to friends each year. But one jar of these special peppers didn’t last long. I scoffed. I had jars of pickled jalapenos that were at least a year old in my fridge.

Once I made the recipe, I understood why. These are the bomb of pickled pepper recipes. They go into eggs, on top of pizzas, and into my Utica greens. I love these peppers. And it solves my plethora of peppers from Post problem. Which is now not a problem, but something I look forward to each Thursday when my  Post Apples, North East, Pennsylvania, delivers my CSA basket.

The recipe calls for a peck of peppers. You can easily cut it down. But if you have pepper lovers in your family, make the full batch and share.

Happy pickling.

XOXOXO

Marnie

marnie@marniemeadmedia.com

Print Recipe
Pickled Peppers
These peppers are great on eggs, pizza, sandwiches, or sauces. You will need a 5-gallon bucket that is food grade plastic - no metal - gloves and possibly a face mask if you are sensitive.
Course condiment
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Course condiment
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat water to boiling in a large pot. Remove from heat. Stir in salt until dissolved. Allow to cool.
  2. With gloves on, core, seed and cut peppers into rings. You may want to wear a face mask. Sometimes I start coughing as the peppers release some of their capsaicin. I find a grapefruit spoon is helpful.
  3. Combine salt water with garlic, oregano, cider and oil in a 5-gallon food-grade plastic bucket. Stir in peppers. Allow to marinate overnight.
  4. Pack peppers into 12 sterile 1 pint jars. Cover with solution. Add lids and store in refrigerator.
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Market Monday: Gazpacho Nights

IMG_4228We are in the full heat of summer, when walking the dog is an early morning and a late evening activity. The rains have taken care of the morning waterings of the garden, which is full of tomatoes and cucumbers. This is the promise that keeps gardeners going through the Ides of March until planting around Memorial Day.

In early summer, when the plants were small and promise was great, the evenings were full of neighborhood families sitting outside under patio lights or burn pits, enjoying the warmth of the season. Laughter would be mixed with the sounds of the frogs and crickets serenading the night. For the past two weeks, the sound of human company on our walks has been replaced with the hum of air conditioners. The frogs and crickets were still going strong, but the click of Bobo’s nails was accompanied by the whir of compressor units. Our walks were no longer at sunset, but more like 10:30 or 11 p.m.

After these walks, the dog naps. Smart dog. I feel like it too, but life gets in the way of a good nap. Plus, there will be plenty of time for that once fall fades into winter. But I’m still feeling quite lazy. Certainly not up to the task of making a grand dinner. Barely up to lighting the grill.

The blender is my friend on nights like this. Into it goes garlic, onion, tomatoes, peppers (sweet and hot), cucumbers, salt, a dash of vinegar and some V8 Juice. Out comes my version of gazpacho, a lovely summer soup best eaten chilled (but not cold), and drizzled with some olive oil. If you feel the need for some protein, add some lump crab or cooked shrimp. Sometimes I want a little crunch, so I add some croutons. I’ve been known to put in a dollop of Greek yogurt. It’s really about what you hanker.

Last night, I wanted nothing more than the fresh taste of the vegetables, so I garnished with nothing more than a swirl of EVOO.

There are lots of varieties in the Spanish gazpacho family: red, white and green. All traditionally have bread, fruits and vegetables, vinegar, and olive oil pureed together. The white involves almonds and grapes. Green is usually herbs. But I’ve also seen it made with green melon, which I may try a little later this summer.

Mine is not a true Spanish gazpacho, but it is my American version fresh from my garden.

I hope you enjoy this taste of summer (and the amazing sunsets still to come).

XOXOXO

Marnie

Print Recipe
Summer Gazpacho
Perfect for summer nights with vegetables fresh from your garden or a farm stand.
Cuisine American, Spanish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour, chill
Servings
bowls
Ingredients
Cuisine American, Spanish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour, chill
Servings
bowls
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, jalapeno, pepper, vinegar and V8 to blender.
  2. Blend on high until texture is consistent and to your liking.
  3. Taste. And add salt. Some of this will depend on whether you use V8 or another tomato juice.
  4. Serve in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. you can add shrimp, crab, croutons.
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