Get Your Grit On: Short Stack and SFA Grits Muffins Friday, Nov 8 2013 

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I love grits. I am a Grits Missionary. Folks tell me they don’t like grits and I tell them they haven’t had the right grits.

I like grits so much I wrote a little book about them that’s coming out in a few weeks. It’s a little collectible booklet by Short Stack Editions. Short Stack is a series of small-format cookbooks about inspiring ingredients, authored by America’s top culinary talents.  Each edition is a collectible, single-subject booklet packed with recipes that offer ingenious new ways to cook your favorite ingredients. They are  beautifully designed, hand-stitched, and retail for only $12. I am thrilled  to be a part of something so innovative in publishing and honored to be in such good company.

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To be able to write about grits is a dream come true. I can preach the gospel of grits beyond the Mason Dixon line! My grandmother fed my mother and her siblings grits for breakfast each morning when they were children. She would fill the plates to the brim. To this day, my mama has cheese grits every morning without fail.

I come from grits-loving people.

My short stack has over 20 recipes for grits of all kinds. I’ve got old-timey Southern recipes for grits including Cheese Grits Casserole, Nassau Grits, Garlic Cheese Grits, and my version of Shrimp and Grits. I’ve also got Italian polenta inspired recipes like Rabbit in Red Wine with Sage Grits and Baked Grits with Sausage Ragu. I share recipes for Caribbean-style savory grits with Fish Stew and Jamaican style sweet breakfast grits. I went crazy and mashed grits up with recipes from other cultures — I have a recipe for Chinese Congee made with grits not rice, and with the Grits and Pork Tamales below, in which the traditional corn product masa, is replaced with grits.

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Or, with these idlis, a traditional Indian steamed lentil bread I replaced the traditional accompanying grain, rice with grits. These are served with Spiced Okra and Tomatoes. Crazy, I tell you, I got to go crazy! Theses recipes may be out of the box, but every last one of them are absolutely delicious. It was very freeing to shake loose convention and just get gritty-with-it.

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My grits book explains the difference between hominy grits and stone-ground grits as well as the difference between polenta and grits. (There’s not much.) We include a source list of grits to try and chat a bit about the difference between yellow and white corn, as well as cormneal and grits. That little book is packed!

Then, in the midst of all of this, I was asked to cook the grab-and-go breakfast at the Southern Foodway’s Alliance Symposium. Director John T. Edge stipulated that whatever I served needed to be able to stand up to the excesses of the night before….I knew we needed starch and fat.

Typically, the grab and go is a breakfast sandwich or a biscuit. And, I might add it’s for about 400 people so make ahead was a must. I contemplated a few different dishes, but then I saw the light.

What could possibly be better than Cheese Grits Casserole? Who doesn’t like cheesy-baked goodness? I added a bit of sausage and bread to fill the boozy bellies. We made them in muffin cups so they would be grab and go and served heirloom apples on the side. Word on the street is that they were a huge success. It was such an honor to cook for this esteemed bunch, and I am glad everyone loved them so much.

Grits proverb 1: Grits are good and good for you.

Grits proverb 2: Grits will cure what ails you. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe for my SFA Cheese Grits Casserole Muffins. And, I hope you’ll consider buying my Short Stack Grits book, too.

It’s my Grits Missionary Bible.

Bon Appétit Y’all!
VA

PS Lots of BIG news coming – including a great, new gig on Comfort Food that launches in the new year. Details to come! Please keep up with my on Facebook and Twitter.

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Many thanks to John Currence and his staff for helping me get the job done and make 500 cheese grits casserole “muffins.” They did a great job and I couldn’t have done it without them.

SFA Cheese Grits Casserole “Muffins” 
Makes 8

Use extra stiff paper liners for these and understand they don’t actually come out of the paper like a baked muffin, and still need to be eaten with a spoon. I think they will be excellent for the holidays with guests and company. And, if you don’t want to make individual servings, you can always bake this in a buttered casserole dish. Simply increase the cooking time to 45 to 60 minutes.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups water
2 cups milk
1 cup coarse-ground grits
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 ounces country style breakfast pork or turkey sausage
2 slices challah or egg bread, cubed
1 1/2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
2 green onions, white and green parts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a jumbo muffin tin with cups. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the water and milk and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the grits and return to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Decrease the heat to low, and simmer until creamy and thick, 45 to 60 minutes.

While the grits are cooking brown sausage in a skillet until cooked through, about 8-10 minutes, breaking up the meat with the edge of your spoon.

Remove the grits from the heat. Add the cheese and 2 tablespoons butter.Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add ¾ of the sausage, the eggs, cayenne, jalapeño, and green onions and 
stir until well incorporated. Scoop a heaping 1/2 cup of the mixture into each cup.

Meanwhile combine the remaining sausage with the cubed bread. Top each cup with a couple of tablespoons of the bread-sausage mixture. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool slightly before serving.

Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission is prohibited. Feel free to excerpt and link, just give credit where credit is due and send folks to my website, virginiawillis.com. Thanks so much.

Photo credits – Virginia Willis

Copyright © 2013 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.

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Get out the Hat Rack! Wednesday, Jul 24 2013 


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Quick note to let you know I am actually not on vacation, but guest blogging on a couple of other sites. Click on the links and please check out Dianne Jacob’s Will Write for Food where I talk about being a food writer and wearing many hats. I am also blogging this summer for an organization near and dear to my heart and stomach, the Southern Foodway’s Alliance. We are featuring iconic summer foods through Labor Day. So far, we’ve had ice cream, corn, and this week is about tomatoes — and I make very clear my feelings on the purity of Tomato Sandwiches. (Next week, I am spilling the peas and the beans.)

Lastly, I was interviewed for HGTV’s Frontdoor and I’m now a guest blogger for Ty Pennington. I am honored and thrilled with these opportunities.

Soon, I will pop back over to this blog, too, but I wanted to share my new connections. Thanks so much for reading.

In the meanwhile, I have a very, very important question for you:

Bon Appétit Y’all!

VA

Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission is prohibited. Feel free to excerpt and link, just give credit where credit is due and send folks to my website, virginiawillis.com. Thanks so much.

Photo credit: Scott M. Porush

Copyright © 2013 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.

Not What You Expected: Southern Foodways Alliance Monday, Oct 15 2012 

Southern Foodways

In keeping with our fall tradition, I’m heading over to the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium this week. SFA is a great group and if you are a Southerner by birth or by frame of mind, you should be a member of this great group. I jokingly call it the Bourbon and Bacon Festival as there is not lack of either. Seriously, one year there were strips of Allen Benton’s bacon hanging from trees lining the entryway as hors d’ouevres. All that aside – it’s not just about the food. It’s more than what you might expect. Sure, there’s great food, but it’s also about fellowship and education. The Southern Foodways Alliance feeds my head, my heart, and my stomach.

The mission statement reads.”The Southern Foodways Alliance documents, studies, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the changing American South. We set a common table where black and white, rich and poor — all who gather — may consider our history and our future in a spirit of reconciliation.

I strongly believe in these values as a Southerner. And, as a cook, in my opinion, everything about the whole entire world can be summarized by the food that goes into our mouths – politics, race, finance, agriculture, art, religion, education, and geography. Everything. It’s more than you might expect.

Last week I taught in Ohio and Indiana. All of the classes were sold out. Some people might not expect that, but Southern food is very popular across the country. Yet, as I travel, I often find myself explaining what Southern food actually is. People think all Southern food is unhealthy. People think all Southern food is fried. I didn’t grow up eating Bacon-Wrapped-Breaded-Deep-Fried-Macaroni and Cheese or Cheeseburgers served on Krispy Kreme or Red Velvet Pancakes with Cream Cheese Syrup.

Yes, I did grow up eating Fried Chicken. But, Southern food is more than fried chicken. Frankly, to define Southern food as fried chicken is one-dimensional. That’s like saying Japanese food is solely sushi, Italian food is no more than spaghetti and meatballs, and all French food is bathed in a buttery rich cream sauce. Assumptions are dangerous, often wrong, and the truth is more than you’d expect.

Real Southern Food

NY Times Atlanta Bureau Chief Kim Severson recently interviewed Paula Deen on Times Talk. I am asked about Paula almost as much as I am asked about working for Martha Stewart. Paula has been nice to me – I’ve been featured in her magazine and she’s had me on as a guest on her TV show. When she announced her diabetes to the world I did share with the NY Times that French chefs weren’t vilified for their use of butter. However, I also said I don’t think what Paula Deen shares with the world on Food Network defines Southern food — and I’d say that to her if she were sitting down right beside me. In fact, she very well might agree with me. She’s your cook, not your doctor, as she famously pointed out. I might only add that she’s entertainment.

I’ve lived and traveled all over the world. The South does not have a monopoly on rednecks or racism, but people assume that most Southerners are racist. I do think that the South somehow lives with this menace better, but then, I am not black and I do not face the prejudice an African American faces in our society. I only say that racism is part of our daily lives in the South. That’s part of our dialogue in SFA. Racism does exist and there are people that do judge people by the color of their skin, and there are people that do not. Geography has nothing to do with it and that’s not what most people think.

SFA is filled with like-minded Southerners that celebrate the diverse food cultures of the changing American South. We set a common table where black and white, rich and poor — all who gather — may consider our history and our future in a spirit of reconciliation.

Frankly, SFA gives me hope. I appreciate the work done spreading the message of the rich, diverse cultural heritage of the South. The South of the SFA is perhaps not what most people expect, but it is just as real as what is assumed to be true. This is the South that I want the world to see, to believe in, and to understand. 

And then, ungloriously heaped on  the pile of rubbish that is American television is Honey Boo Boo, a reality series about a small-town Southern family airing on a network comically called The Learning Channel.

Maybe I’ll have a slug of bourbon and a couple of slices of bacon, after all.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

VA

PS: In the spirit of “not what you expected”, today I’m sharing a recipe for Roast Delicata Squash Rings that will appear in my next book, Lighten Up, Y’all: 150 COMFORT FOOD RECIPES FOR HEART AND SOUL. I turned in my proposal just this week! In it I will lighten America’s favorite Southern recipes to make them a better choice for good health, while keeping the traditional flavors intact.

Roast Delicata Squash Rings
Serves 2

These tasty treats are beyond delicious. I could eat them every night. The seeds crisp up for a perfectly nutty savory crunch.

1 Delicata squash
1 teaspoon canola oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick silicone baking sheet. Using a chef’s knife, very thinly slice the squash, seeds and all, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle over or brush with oil. ( I actually keep my canola oil in a spray bottle and 3 squirts is one teaspoon.) Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and bake until the rings are tender and slightly charred, about 45 minutes. Serve warm.

Out and About
I’ll be at Thyme in Starkville, Mississippi on Sunday 10/21 from 12:30 to 2:30 for a Reception and Book-Signing. Also, on Sunday 11/18 I’ll be in Evans, Ga with a Tailgating Demo and Book-Signing. It’s free and open to the public. You can sign up for that event here.

PS. Please take a moment and like me on Facebook or follow on Twitter. And, if you send your information to me, I’ll do the same!

Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission is prohibited. Feel free to excerpt and link, just give credit where credit is due and send folks to my website, virginiawillis.com. Thanks so much.

Copyright © 2012 Virginia Willis Culinary Productions, LLC.

BIG Catch on the Full Moon & 10 Wild Shrimp Recipes Friday, Aug 12 2011 



Primal Urges

We’re in the middle of summer and there is a full moon this weekend.

For most folks that’s enough to generate a powerful urge for a barefoot stroll on the beach in the soft light of la belle lune. Perhaps a stolen kiss? A wishful glance? A passionate embrace? Ah, no sweet, dear romantic one.

It means a darn BIG shrimp haul.

A full moon means hundreds of pounds of shrimp on slick, wet deck. It means being at work at 4:00 am, the emptiest, loneliest time on earth. It means mud, sweat, and possibly, blood. It’s dangerous work.

So, what does this have to do with the moon?

The Earth and the moon are attracted to each other, and are constantly pulling at one another, just like magnets … or lovers on a beach. Gravity holds everything solid on earth in place — but that means the moon is able to pull the non-solid, the water. As earth rotates, the ocean is constantly moving from high tide to low tide, and then back to high tide.

You with me?


Last summer I was able to go out on a shrimp boat. It was then that I learned that a full moon typically produces a higher shrimp catch.

First, let me briefly explain the life cycle of a shrimp. Riveting stuff, I know. Just pretend you’re on a romantic moonlit beach.

Shrimp spawn about 4 miles out off the coast of Georgia. Each female lays between 500,000 to 1 million fertilized eggs that drift along in ocean currents and hatch within 24 hours. During the next month or so, the larva continue to grow, eventually migrating from the ocean into the brackish marsh. There, as juveniles, they feed on algae, small animals, and organic debris for 2-3 months until they mature. Once mature, they return to the ocean as adult shrimp.

Shrimp season usually starts in late spring or early summer and lasts until December. The opening of the season is determined by the amount and size of the shrimp harvested within 3 miles of shore. The season opens when it is determined that there are enough fully grown shrimp that have come out of the marsh.


Full Moons and BIG Hauls of Shrimp

Now that you understand the basic premise of gravitational pull and tides, let me explain about the moon. A spring tide is when the sun, moon, and Earth are in alignment creating extra-high high tides, and very low, low tides. Shrimping is often best on the “spring” tides that coincide with both full and new moons. (A neap tide is  when the tide’s range is at its minimum.)

Check out my nifty graphic from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. (You have no idea how excited I am this works.)

Why? The short answer is that the full moon creates the most water movement and sweeps the most shrimp out of the marsh into waiting nets.

Don’t you love knowing that?!

It’s empowering to understand where you food comes from, why, and how. And, you know I am fiercely passionate about sustainable seafood. Mama and I both love fried shrimp—we can’t go to the beach without enjoying a meal of fried shrimp. It’s sad how many of those beach restaurants are serving imported shrimp. I like to put my money where my mouth is and try to patronize restaurants that are supporting the local fishing industry. Read up on what Seafood Watch has to say about shrimp.)

I can’t write about summer and walking on the beach with your sweetie without a recipe for fried shrimp! Scroll down where you will find there’s a whole mess of wild American shrimp recipes for you to try!

Please share with me your photos, comments, and reactions to the recipes. I love hearing about what folks are doing. And, please keep in touch on Facebook, too.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!
VA

PS Thanks to everyone helping me make the transition from newsletter and subscribing to my blog.

PSS Here’s a little lagniappe about shrimp from the Southern Food Ways Alliance.

Better than Bubba’s: Ten Wild American Shrimp Recipes

FRIED SHRIMP
Serves 4

1 pound large shrimp, tails on, peeled and deveined
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup beer
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Canola oil for frying
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Using a medium bowl, combine egg, beer, cornmeal, flour and baking powder, season with salt and pepper, mix until smooth.
Heat oil in deep fryer to 350°F. Add shrimp to batter and stir to coat. Working in batches, carefully drop shrimp in oil. Fry until light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

GRILLED SHRIMP AND TOMATO SALAD
Serves 4

1/3 cup olive oil plus additional for brushing the tomato and the shrimp
1 ½ pound jumbo shrimp (about 16), peeled and deveined
½ cup plain Greek-style yogurt
¼ red onion, finely chopped
½ stalk celery, finely chopped
¼ jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
½ bunch of flat parsley, finely chopped
2 large garden-ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered

Preheat grill to hot. Season shrimp with salt and pepper on both sides. Brush the tomato with a little oil. Place shrimp on the grill and cook for 1 ½ to 2 minutes on both sides. Remove the shrimp from the grill. In a bowl mix together yogurt, red onion, celery, jalapeño, cumin, honey, orange juice, parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Add shrimp and tomatoes; stir to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Serve immediately.

SHRIMP & GRITS WITH COUNTRY HAM

Serves 4 to 6

4 1/4 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup stone-ground grits
2 tablespoons corn oil
4 ounces country ham, cut into thin strips
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 pounds large (21/25) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, juice reserved
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup chives, chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Using a large saucepan over medium high heat, bring chicken stock, milk, butter and garlic to boil. Gradually whisk in corn grits. Return to boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low, simmer uncovered until grits thicken, whisking often, 45 to 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add ham and cook until crispy, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a plate. Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and shrimp and sauté 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to large bowl. Add white wine and boil until reduced to a syrupy consistency, about 5 minutes. Add drained diced tomatoes and half of reserved ham. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add parsley, chives and shrimp, simmer until shrimp are warmed through, about 2 minutes. If needed, thin sauce with reserved tomato juices. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon grits into shallow bowls. Top each serving with shrimp mixture. Garnish with remaining ham and serve immediately.

FRIED COCONUT SHRIMP
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups sweetened finely shredded coconut
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 pounds 26-30 count shrimp, peeled, de-veined tail on
4 cups peanut oil, for frying
3/4 cup plain low fat yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons shallot, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon Madras curry powder
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix the coconut and panko together in a shallow dish or pie pan. Scatter a handful of the coconut mixture over a baking sheet. Set aside. In another shallow dish, lightly beat the egg whites. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Dip shrimp in egg whites to coat completely; lift from whites (shaking off any excess), and dredge in coconut mixture. Place on prepared baking sheet.

In a large, deep heavy-bottom pan, heat peanut oil over medium heat until 350° on a deep-fry thermometer. Cook half the shrimp, lightly shaking to separate shrimp, until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer shrimp to paper towels to drain. Return oil to 350°; repeat with remaining shrimp.

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, lime juice, minced shallot, curry powder and chopped cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve as a dipping sauce with the coconut shrimp.

SPICY TOMATO BBQ SHRIMP
Makes about 2 dozen hors d’oeuvres

1 small onion, quartered
3/4 cups distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons apple juice
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons ground celery seeds
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoons cayenne
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled, leaving tails intact, butterflied, and deveined
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place ingredients in a blender or food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a non-reactive saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low. Simmer, stirring, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Store refrigerated in an airtight container. Sauce may be prepared up to 1 week ahead.

Prepare a medium-hot fire and oil grill. Starting at the tail end of each shrimp, thread the shrimp on the skewers. Brush with barbecue sauce and arrange shrimp on a large platter. Just before grilling brush the shrimp again with the sauce. Grill shrimp on a rack set over hot coals until just pink, about 1 minute per side. Serve warm or at room temperature.

SHRIMP CAKES
Serves 6

1 pound large shrimp, raw, peeled and de-veined
1 large egg
1 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest from ½ lemon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
2 tablespoons canola oil

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the shrimp a few times to coarsely chop. Add egg, chives, lemon zest and juice, mustard, cilantro, hot pepper sauce, salt, and pepper. Pulse just until blended. Add 1 cup panko and pulse just until mixed in. Form mixture into twelve 3-inch-diameter cakes. Place remaining panko in a pie plate. Crust the shrimp cakes with panko. Transfer to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. (Can be made up to 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.). Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry cakes until cooked through and golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.

SAVANNAH MARINATED SHRIMP

Serves 4 to 6

2 1/2 pounds large shrimp (21/25 count), peeled and deveined
3 onions, preferably Vidalia, very thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and very thinly sliced
4 bay leaves, preferably fresh
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

In a large, nonreactive bowl, layer some of the shrimp, onions, bell pepper, bay leaf, garlic, peppercorns, red pepper flakes, and freshly ground black pepper. Create several layers of these ingredients until the remaining amount is used. Set aside.

In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the vinegar, oil, and lemon zest and juice. Pour this marinade over the shrimp mixture. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is pink and opaque, at least 6 to 8 hours. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper before serving.


MAMA’S SHRIMP CREOLE
Serves 4 to 6

11/2 pounds large shrimp (21/25 count), peeled and deveined
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
1 onion, preferably Vidalia, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups water, plus more if needed
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 green onions, white and green parts, chopped, for garnish
Rice Pilaf, for accompaniment

Place the shrimp in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to marinate while you prepare the vegetables.

In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, an additional 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, sugar, water, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to low. Simmer until the oil rises to the surface, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes. (Use more water if the sauce gets too thick.) Add the shrimp and cook until pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with the green onions. Serve with rice pilaf.

SHRIMP QUESADILLA
Makes 8 wedges

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 poblano pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
8 large shrimp, peeled
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 large flour tortillas
1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
2 tablespoons chopped scallion
2 tablespoons salsa
2 tablespoons sour cream
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onion and pepper and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Remove to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil over medium high heat. Add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook until pink and tender, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Do not over cook. Remove to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1tablespoon of canola oil over medium heat. Place one of the tortillas in the pan. Top with half the cheese, onions and peppers, shrimp, then the remaining cheese. Cook for 2 minutes (until underside is golden brown). Place second tortilla on top and flip the quesadilla over. Cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Remove. Slice into wedges. Top with sour cream and salsa. Serve immediately.


SHRIMP BUTTER

If making seafood stock with crustacean shells and not fish bones, the lobster, crawfish, and shrimp shells may be used to make Crustacean Butter. (Blue crab shells are too hard, but king and snow crab legs are fine.) Classic French technique instructs to grind shells with cold butter then work through a tamis. The few-and-far-between more modern recipes suggest using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  The former is far too labor intensive and not nearly enough flavor is extracted for all the effort. If using lobster or crawfish shells, discard the claws, they are too hard, like crab. Crush the shells with a mallet. Set aside. I first place my mixer on a rimmed baking sheet. This seems to help with containment. Place 1 pound of crushed shells or shrimp shells in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment with 1 pound of cold unsalted butter cut into chunks. Attach the guard, or carefully wrap a kitchen towel around the mixer. Start the mixer on slow so you don’t wind up with crustacean butter smelly bits everywhere. Work it on slow for at least 5 minutes. Mix the shells with the butter until the butter is pale coral colored and fragrant, pausing the machine to occasionally scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula, about 20 minutes. Transfer the butter and shell mixture to a medium heavy-duty saucepan. Place over low heat to melt and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Strain though a fine mesh sieve. Place the liquid in a bowl over a bowl of ice or cover and refrigerate to solidify. Once the butter has solidified into a solid layer remove it with a slotted spoon and transfer it to a clean saucepan. Discard the remaining liquid. Heat the crustacean butter over low heat to melt and remove any moisture. Strain the melted butter through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth into a measuring cup or Mason jar. Store covered up to 1 month in the refrigerator. Makes 1 1/4 cups of pure seafood gold.

Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission is prohibited. Feel free to excerpt and link, just give credit where credit is due and send folks to my website, virginiawillis.com. Thanks so much.

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