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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Market Monday: Exploring a Virginia Farmer’s Market

It was so hot this weekend visiting the Virginia Meads that even the chocolate nor the doughnut sellers decided not to go the farmer’s market in Falls Church this weekend. There are 50 vendors at the market during the height of the season, so there were plenty of other vendors did show up, giving us plenty to choose from among the tomatoes, peaches, berries, cheeses, baked goods, organic meat producers and flowers that braved the 90-degree temps at 9 a.m.

imageWe arrived when it was a few degrees cooler at, oh 86 degrees a little before 8 a.m. By the time we left, it was too hot to even consider making any more decisions.
The stories of most of the vendors are fascinating. There’s the baker from Paris, Bonaparte Breads, of Savage, Maryland, who had exquisite pastries. The pane au chocolate were perfect, but she had selections that included multi-berry tarts, a blueberry and peach tart, quiche, almond croissant and lots of beads. I think standing in the sun for this alone was worth it.

Then there was Chris’ Marketplace, sellers of the most divine crab cakes. Chris Hoge, chef and owner, has been written up in Saveur, Gourmet and the Washingtonian. A fisherman who has worked the entire East Coast and down into the islands, says his secret was a sauce that accidentally fell into a plate of crab. The resulting seasoning was so perfect that is the reason for his success, he said. He’s got a second business going as well, making sopas from a traditional Mexican corn. He didn’t have any samples this weekend.
My sister-in-law Jenna picked up a bottle of wine from North Gate Vineyard, based in Loudoun County, Virginia. We talked wines, including Presque Isle Vineyards. it is a small world. Owned by Mark and Vicki Fedor, North Gate became a fully licensed Farm Winery in 2007. They produced their first grapes in 2002. An interesting dry wine they suggested was the Rkatsiteli, (you pronounce the “R”), which originated in the Republic of Georgia. A crisp white, it would be delish in the summer.
In addition to the fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers, we appreciated the prepared foods, which solved the dinner problem before I had finished my second cup of coffee. Cold Pantry Foods had a half-dozen types of frozen pizza to buy. The owners, Bob and Carol Vogel, started in business by selling pestos. But pesto is a limited product – so they use the pesto in all of their pizzas, which have a broader appeal.
We finished at a stop at Cavanna Pasta, which had a super array of homemade pastas. If I wasn’t traveling to Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, I probably would have brought a cooler full to take home. We settled on the sausage tortellini and containers of homemade vodka sauce and a ragu.

 

imageAmong the other highlights were Sexy Vegie, out of Baltimore, which offered lots of hummus along with salads. I bought a beet and apple salad, which would have been great topped with some local goat cheese from a nearby vendor (Sexy Vegie is vegan). Alas, I left before I could enjoy it, but I’m hoping to recreate it later this summer.
Finally, I will get to taste the wares of Stachowski Brand Charcuterie, from the D.C. Metro Area, because Jenna bought some lamb sausage to bring to Erie at the end of this week for my father.

 
While hot, this was a great way to get a taste of this region of Virginia and have an easy dinner at the same time. Kudos to the folks in Falls Church.
Erie, are you listening?
With all of the bounty of the region, why is it so hard for Erie County to coordinate this effort. I would think as part of the Health Department war on diabetes and obesity, this could be a worthwhile project.
I am in Philadelphia this week watching the Democratic National Convention and will post more from the other end of our state.
In the meantime, this is one of my favorite summer recipes that was inspired by Martha Stewart.

Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad

3 ears of cooked corn, kernels removed
2 cups sliced grape, cherry or other small tomatoes
2 to 3 tablespoons finely diced red onion or 2 green onions, sliced
1 avocado, seed removed, and diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt
1/2 jalapeño, finely chopped (optional)

In a medium bowl, toss tomatoes with lime juice and salt and allow to sit for about 15 minutes to draw out the juices. Add remaining ingredients and serve.

 

Stay cool. Eat local.

 

XOXOXO

Marnie

marnie@marniemeadmedia.com

Getaway Includes Local Flavors

 

For years I promised my best friend in Chicago I would come visit. But parenting, work, etc. always seemed to get in the way. Summer and a career change, cleared the runway for a trip to the Windy City for the weekend to visit Claudette.

The 6 a.m. direct flight from Erie to Chicago makes the trip a breeze – especially since we land before traffic becomes a nightmare. A shared ride on Uber (my first) dropped me at my friend’s door about an hour after landing. I packed lightly, except for a bag of frozen pepperoni balls (no longer frozen). Pepperoni balls, apparently, are a very local food, specific to our shores of Lake Erie. Claudette wanted to share the secret to this treat with her friends in Chicago who had opened a pizza place downtown, Robert’s Pizza Company. It gets rave reviews from both Claudette and the local reviewers – be sure to stop in if you are in town.

My trip was timed, in part, to coincide with the Lincoln Park Farmers Market being open. It’s worth a stroll through even if you are staying at a hotel. You can pick up breakfast, flowers, fruit and ideas (lots of vendors ship). We both wanted to try fava beans, which are in season, but a pain to peel. With two friends and time, neither of us minded the process of first shelling the beans, then boiling in salted water for about 1 minute so you can then remove the outer white layer of the bean to reveal a nutty and buttery bright green bean. It’s a lot of work for not a lot of produce. So we weren’t going to waste these beauties by smashing them up into a puree. Instead, we paired them with fresh arugula, some sweet cherry tomatoes tossed with the juice of half a lemon, a drizzle of fresh local honey and some delicious extra-virgin olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

The market did feature spring peas, already shelled, for $6, which seemed a bargain considering we were going to be shelling the favas. So that went on our dinner menu for that night. We were about a month too early for the spring lamb from one of the local vendors, so we wrapped up our shopping trip with fresh summer butter, zucchini flowers, a breakfast sandwich, ramps, and a brown butter something that was so delicious that I am going to have to find a recipe this week. In the meantime … we headed to Whole Foods to round out the meal.

claudette with crabsSince we were likely to be starving soon – breakfast was less than an hour old – we picked up some soft shell crab for a recipe that Claudette had from the New York Times, which you can find here. It involves broiling the crabs (which thankfully have already been cleaned) until crunchy and then placing on a toasted baguette that has been spread with butter seasoned with jalapeno, parsley, garlic and lemon.

Because it was Father’s Day weekend, there were lots of specials. I grabbed two racks of lamb for dinner that night. The farmer’s market didn’t have any because it will be another month, the vendor explained.

The lamb marinated in the juice of 1/2 a lemon, about 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, pepper and some Lake Shore Drive seasoning. I love to buy spices from my various visits, so I bought some from The Spice House . It is a mixture of  salt, shallots, garlic, onion, chives, ground green peppercorns, and scallions. When I was ready to grill, I cut them into individual chops. They only take a couple of minutes to cook.

The zucchini flowers are easy and should be cooked at the last minute. You can make a simple batter, good for fish too and zucchini sticks too, with 1 bottle of beer, 1 1/4 cup flour and a pinch of salt. Mix together and dip flowers in. Have about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a heavy pan at 350 degrees and fry flowers for 2 to 3 minutes. The basic recipe is from Epicurious.com. For a lighter batter, try a 50/50 ratio of cake and rice flour and 1 beaten egg white. I wasn’t feeling particularly ambitious since we had a lot of food.

lambchops

If I had been smart, I would have snipped a few mint leaves and sprinkled on the plate. This would have completed the dish because it would have been pretty (we eat with our eyes) and it complements the lamb and the peas.

But it had been a long day exploring the zoo, Restoration Hardware, the lily ponds, cooking and catching up. But it will be a meal I will remember sharing with my friend.

claudette

XOXO

Marnie