POTATO SOUP WITH SPICY SHRIMP

I suppose this could be some type of a personal record. I’ve had this recipe on my list of “must make” for 9 years. I know that for a fact because I used to subscribe to Food and Wine magazine and when I got that issue I could not wait go to the kitchen and make it.  Apparently I was wrong. I can wait like a pro. But better late than never, I share with you a recipe that is quite simple to put together, and results in a creamy, satisfying soup that surprisingly does not have a single drop of heavy cream. I hope you’ll give it a try.

POTATO SOUP WITH SPICY SHRIMP
(adapted from Food and Wine magazine, December 2010)

1/8 cup + 3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 celery sticks, finely diced
Kosher salt
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
One 8-ounce baking potato, peeled and cut in chunks
4 cups chicken stock
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and halved horizontally
2 teaspoons rose harissa (or regular harissa)
parsley leaves to serve (optional)

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the shallots and celery and a pinch of salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring, until barely softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Strain the broth into a bowl and transfer the veggies to a blender. Add 1/8 cup of the olive oil and 1 cup of the broth and puree until smooth. Return the puree to the pot. Stir in the remaining broth and season with salt. Bring the soup back to a simmer over moderate heat.

In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with the harissa and the remaining  tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt. Add the shrimp to the soup and cook just until they are pink and curled. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the parsley and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I have not stopped kicking myself for taking so long to try a recipe that I knew was going to be a winner. The blending of potatoes with the olive oil gives the soup such a luscious texture that you will swear there is a cup of heavy cream in there. But… there isn’t.

We had this soup on my beloved’s Birthday, it felt truly festive and special. We also had lobster tails on the grill, and there were leftovers of both soup and lobster. Guess what? Next day this turned into a Spicy Lobster Potato Soup. And it was outstanding too.  I see some crab in a future experiment.

Final comment: the soup calls for two types of potato. Yukon Golds are not very starchy, but have great taste. The baking potato brings the starchy component that helps thicken the soup, so don’t omit it.

After getting a comment from the one and only Dangerspouse, I should mention that you should consider making a quick shrimp stock to use in this soup, if you’d like to pump up the seafood flavor.  I shared a quick recipe for it not too long ago.

 

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LEMONY BARLEY WITH SHRIMP AND SPINACH

This recipe used to be a regular rotation in our kitchen then I totally forgot all about it. I was sure it was in the blog already, so I wanted to make it the other day and was shocked because… it has never been shared here. Shame. Shame. Shame. I will not walk through the streets of Manhattan in GoT fashion. Instead, I will quickly share it today, and hope to be forgiven.

LEMONY BARLEY WITH SHRIMP AND SPINACH
(inspired by a recipe from Fine Cooking)

1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined (save peels for stock)
1/2 large onion, skin on
1 lemon, cut in slices
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1 cup + 1/3 cup quick-cooking barley
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup black olives, pitted, cut in pieces
zest of 1 lemon

Make a shrimp stock simmering the shells with the half onion and lemon slices. Season it lightly with salt and pepper. Reserve.  You will use about 2 cups of the stock to cook the barley.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the shrimp seasoned with a little salt until almost fully cooked. Remove and reserve, covered with foil. Add a little more oil if needed, and saute in the same pan the onion and celery  until fragrant, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper.

 Add the barley and stir until coated with the oil and veggie pieces. Add the lemon juice and cook, stirring, for 15 seconds. Pour in 2 cups of shrimp stock, 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until the barley is tender, 12 minutes.

Uncover the pan, add in the spinach and cook until wilted. Stir in the reserved shrimp, black olives, and lemon zest.  Adjust seasoning if needed and serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This is truly delicious, and I am kicking myself for taking so long to bring this back to our table. It is quick to prepare, and if you like to make it even easier, use chicken stock, store-bought, which is actually part of the original recipe from Fine Cooking. I just feel that if you have the peels available, shrimp stock is ready so quickly, why not up the flavor of the dish with it?  Your kitchen, your decision.
.

 

NOT QUITE MOQUECA

Moqueca is one beloved dish in Brazilian cooking. Several ingredients are mandatory: coconut milk, dende oil, tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro. The main protein can be shrimp, fish, or both. It is spicy, luscious, quite filling, and always served over a simple white rice. I have already messed up with this classic before, but with this recipe I shall infuriate my fellow native Brazilians a second time.

MOQUECA-STYLE SHRIMP AND CHICKPEAS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1.5 pounds large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (14.5 oz)
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1 shallot, finely diced
1 red or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon harissa (or to taste)
1.5 cups crushed tomatoes with their juice
3/4 cup light coconut milk
fresh cilantro to taste
juice of half lemon

Heat the oil on a large sauce pan. Add the fennel, shallot and bell pepper, saute everything together seasoning with salt and pepper until translucent and very fragrant.

Add the crushed tomatoes, harissa, and chickpeas, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the shrimp and  coconut milk, simmer gently until the shrimp is cooked, 5 minute or so. Add the cilantro, lemon juice and serve over white rice.  If you like, add some hot sauce on the plate.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Moqueca originated in one of the hottest states of Brazil, Bahia. Even though it is a kind of stew, it is enjoyed the whole year, even at the height of the summer. I like to bring this up because those of us living in the Northern hemisphere are headed to very warm days. Don’t twist the nose to a nice serving of moqueca for that reason. This will please you no matter how hot it is outside.

I completely forgot to get fresh cilantro at the store, so I added a couple of Dorot frozen cilantro cubes together with the coconut milk/shrimp mixture. But don’t make this mistake, fresh cilantro not only looks great but it adds a lot more flavor, especially if added right before serving the meal.

I committed many sins with the recipe, but served it over white rice as any good Brazilian would. I hope this helps restore my reputation.

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SEAFOOD GRATIN FOR A SPECIAL DINNER

Phil’s brother spent last weekend with us to play some golf and relax (forgive the oxymoron). I did not join them because I am a woman of principle and will not set foot on a golf course until the temperature reaches a comfortable level. For the record, that means above 80 F.  With no excessive wind because that messes my  accuracy with the driver, some irons, and the putter. What can I say? My game is one of exquisite precision. Instead of shivering and getting drenched on the course, I stayed in our kitchen preparing a special dinner for the gentlemen.  I chose a recipe from Ina Garten, which is a bit of an unusual move for me, I find most of her recipes overly rich.  This was no exception, but once in a blue moon it’s ok to indulge. Especially when  we have a wonderful guest to share it with!

Seafood Gratin

SEAFOOD GRATIN
(slightly modified from Ina Garten)

1 cup clam juice (I used homemade shrimp stock)
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup plus 3 tbsp. white wine divided (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
3 tbsp. tomato puree
1 lb. jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
8-ounces raw cod, cut into 1-inch chunks
16 oz. cooked lobster meat, cut into 1-inch chunks
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 cup thinly sliced leeks, white and green parts
1 cup peeled, shredded carrots
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Combine the shrimp stock (or clam juice), cream, white wine and tomato puree in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and add the shrimp.  Let cook 1-2 minutes, until pink and opaque.  Remove to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon.  Add the pieces of cod to the stock mixture until just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove to the same plate with the shrimp using a slotted spoon. Add the cooked lobster to the bowl.

Continue to cook the sauce until reduced by half, about 12 minutes.  Combine 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small bowl with the flour and mash together with a fork.  Whisk the butter-flour mixture with the salt and pepper into the sauce and continue to simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

In a medium sauté pan melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat.  Add the leeks and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened.  Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of wine and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes more.

Add the cream sauce and cooked vegetables to the bowl with the seafood and toss to blend well.  Divide the mixture between individual gratin dishes.  If not baking right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

When you are ready to bake the gratins, heat the oven to 375˚ F.  Place the filled gratin dishes on a baking sheet.  Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a small bowl.  Add the Panko, parmesan, parsley and garlic to the bowl and toss with a fork to combine.  Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the prepared gratins.  Bake 20 minutes, until the top is browned and bubbling.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

mixture

Several pointers for success in this recipe: use jumbo or very large shrimp, and cook them briefly in the mixture of heavy cream and white wine.  They will bake later and you don’t want your seafood overcooked. Same is true for the fish, choose a fish with firm white flash, cod or halibut will both word well. If you can splurge, sea bass would be amazing, but when I saw the price of those, I could not bring myself to grab some.  Use any method you like for the lobster tails. I almost went with sous-vide, but in the end simmered them in a little lemony water.  The secret of cooking seafood is to never boil the liquid too hard. They are delicate creatures that will tighten on you and turn rubbery very easily.

I had home-made shrimp stock frozen, and in my opinion that worked much better than bottled clam juice. Great that I remembered having that liquid gold in the freezer. And, what’s even better, it was properly labeled! HA!

This is a perfect dish to entertain, because you can assemble the whole thing in advance and do the final baking while you prepare any side dishes of your choice.  I served it with a bucatini in olive oil with lemon zest, very simple. And roasted asparagus. Dessert was a duo of sorbets, chocolate and raspberry, both recipes should be on the blog in the near future. Ok, near future is a relative term when it comes to my posts. But hang in there, patience will pay off.

😉

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INSPIRATIONS AND A BLOG AWARD!

Every once in a while events happen in beautiful harmony. Last week I got notification of a new blog post by Kelly over at Inspired Edibles.  She shared a recipe for cauliflower puree, and her post immediately made me crave some.  I even exchanged a couple of emails with her comparing notes, as I had a version in my blog, from a couple of years ago.   I made the puree on a Sunday to have it ready for our dinner next day.  To serve with it, I picked a simple recipe (Mondays are busy days for us):  Shrimp in Spicy Orange Sauce…    Right as my shrimp defrosted in the fridge next day, Kelly published a new post with a recipe for Spicy Orange Ginger Shrimp!   subliminal, virtual inspiration?   I like to think so…  😉

SHRIMP WITH SPICY ORANGE SAUCE
(from Cooking Light magazine, August 2007)

1 + 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp  soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp chile paste
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp minced, peeled fresh ginger
1/3 cup chopped green onions

Place shrimp in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with cornstarch, toss well to
coat, and set aside.  Combine orange juice, soy, honey, vinegar, and chile paste in a small bowl.  Reserve.

Heat canola oil in a large skillet  over medium-high heat. Add minced ginger to the pan.  Stir fry for 15 seconds or until fragrant. Add shrimp mixture, stir fry for 3 minutes. Add the juice mixture and onions, cook for a couple of minutes or until the sauce thickens and the shrimp are done, stirring frequently.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

So here is my delicious dinner, served!   Shrimp in a tasty and quick to prepare orange sauce,  over  cauliflower puree with a hint of apple.  A match I had never attempted, but is now classified as “made in heaven!”  Usually I would serve this type of dish with steamed rice, but I must say the cauli puree worked its magic here.  The meal was slightly more substantial, leaning into the comfort food zone,  great way to wrap up a Fall weeknight.

And, to go along in the inspired route,   Alaina from Flat Leaf Parsley   awarded me the  “Very Inspiring Blogger Award“.  Inspiring!  How wonderful is that?    The award requires that you say 7 things about yourself.  I’ve played this game before, and was tempted to just copy the same 7 facts here, but I thought that would be almost cheating.   So here you have seven “new” ones:

1. I’ve worn the same perfume for the past 30 years: a Brazilian cologne called Free.  Every year when I go to Brazil I stock up, and usually also get a couple of bottles from friends and family as gifts.  They know I would have a hard time without it!

2.  I have no sense of orientation whatsoever, and get in frequent trouble because of it.  I turn to the wrong side on the street and inside buildings. I get lost going from the bathroom to  my table in restaurants. It is pathetic and at times very embarrassing.

3. I am very good both at parallel and back -parking,  love the challenge of fitting our pick up truck in the tiniest spots.  And, I am obviously very modest!  😉

4. I used to drive a Porsche 944 Turbo.  Red. Gorgeous. Not a wise economical decision from a maintenance perspective  (it had over 100 thousand miles when I bought it), but I had a blast driving it!

5.  I studied Mandarin Chinese for a few years, wish one day I can find the energy and time to go back to it. Writing ideograms is an introspective and rewarding experience.

6.  Every day for the past 4 years, I send a picture of something beautiful (landscape, animals, flowers, sunsets) by email to a group of family members and friends. I call it “Beleza do Dia” (Beauty of the Day), and really enjoy doing it.

7. My motto: everything in moderation, except exercise…  😉    I have more than 30 fitness-related DVDs to provide enough “muscle confusion”, although P90X is my favorite.

Thank you so much, Alaina, for passing me this award!

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