We cooked a very impromptu dinner last night. At about 5pm my son suggested we go visit our friend Tom for an hour before dinner. My husband was helping him sort through thousands of books (not an exaggeration) and figure out what he wanted to keep, give away and sell (I think some burning went on also – only the moldy ones – anything else would be a sin!).
It has been raining off and on for the past 3 weeks but, it turned Tom’s into a lush, heavenly scented place. (If you want to know more about his magical house and where it sits, type Mother’s Day in the search box to the right of my blog). We kidnapped our neighbor’s dog to give him a chance to run around with Tom’s dog.
We were a mad band with dogs and children running wild, burning books, Tom and I following after, wondering if it was too early to open a bottle of wine, and my husband missing, but, eventually found by the pond trying to catch a pike for our dinner – I know, a pike? However, we were assured by Tom that it is delicious. I have been trying new things lately and liking them, so, I will hold judgment until my first bite!
Of course we couldn’t possibly leave before dinner and as we stood in the kitchen opening wine Tom puzzled about what the five of us could eat? He perked up when he remembered he had about 30 large frozen shrimp and a big bag of rice. I said if he cooked the rice I would pull together some sort of vegetable medley to toss it into. I asked for an onion, “no,” some celery perhaps, “no,” He said the pickings were very slim so I started rooting around in his fridge and found a couple of carrots, after which Tom managed to find a bunch of asparagus, a head of romaine lettuce, garlic and a handful of cherry tomatoes.
I just love when dinner comes together like that. Finding the scraps from the fridge and pantry can produce some of the most memorable dinners. Tom worked away on the delicious shrimp and I was content to fry vegetables.
We enjoyed a wonderful meal and, looking back on the day I marvel at how great my life is when I make the effort. All it took was my man, kids, a couple of mad dogs and, a pair of industrious friends who wanted to cook together
For the Rice & Vegetable Medley; You will Need: 3 cups short grain sushi style rice, 1 bunch asparagus, washed and chopped into thick slices, 2 carrots, sliced, 3 cloves garlic, chopped, 1 cup torn basil leaves, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, left whole, 1 head romaine lettuce, washed and roughly torn, 2 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp coarse sea salt (more to taste), freshly ground black pepper, 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil.
1 – cook rice according to instructions and set aside. Prep all vegetables as instructed above.
2 – Put a wok or a big heavy saute pan on medium heat and add olive oil. Add garlic to pan and cook for 30 seconds before adding the carrots and asparagus. Continue to cook for 7 or so minutes. Add cumin and salt and some freshly ground black pepper and stir.
3 – Next add the basil leaves, romaine, and cherry tomatoes. Cover and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes (until lettuce has softened and wilted)
4 – Add rice and stir everything together. Turn off pan and keep covered until ready to serve. Taste for further season.
For the Shrimp dish; You will need: 30 or so large shrimp, washed and left in shell, 2 tsp sea salt (Tom had a lovely grey french sea-salt), 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes/ chili flakes, or, some other spicy seasoning.
1 – Place shrimp on a paper plate (see below) in single layer (will need to cook in about 2 batches) and season with salt and hot chili pepper. Place pan (same bottom surface size as paper plate) on high heat and with care quickly flip the paper plate of shrimp onto the dry hot pan and leave plate on top. Cook for 2 minutes like this and then carefully flip upside-down placing the shrimp back on plate. Flip onto a clean paper plate and repeat in the pan on the other side (sounds complicated, but it’s not!)
Leave the shrimp in the shell and let cool for a minute or two before serving.
Serve on warmed plates, dividing rice, and giving each person about 5 large shrimp. Pass sour cream and hot sauce if you have it!