So, it was 4th of July weekend and since I had 3 free days on my hands, I decided to make the 2 1/2 hour drive north of my house to visit my brother and his family. I also decided to cook dinner for the whole group to give my sister-in-law a break from trying to juggle dinner and 14 month old twin girls at the same time! I knew that everyone loved shrimp and it would cook quickly, and, if I made the dish partially at my house, I would then be able to spend some leisurely time in the kitchen chatting and enjoying a glass of wine, instead of burdening myself with having to do everything at once. That is exactly what I did. I made a nice long cooked red sauce to add to the shrimp, along with the rice, before I hit the road.
When I arrived I headed straight for the kitchen with my cooler, my trusty 13″ All-clad pan and my apron. I had a bottle of wine for my dish and I immediately opened it and poured two hefty glasses for myself and Jennifer. She laughed when I pulled out my camera, and chatted, cooked, drank and took pictures. She of course had been aware of my blog, but had not seen me in action. As I took a quick shot of the veggies on her counter-top she dove into the creative process and put my wine glass of wine amidst the greenery! Hmmmm….maybe I need a food stylist!
The dish was full of local produce from my CSA box (see top right of my blog for more details) and herbs from my garden. I felt so artisanal! It was great fun making dinner with lots of kids spiralling my feet and my brother hovering, not remotely interested in the process by the way; he was hungry.
My son gave a hand by chopping the parsley garnish into a neat pile of wispy greens, while my daughter spent her time picking up her little golden-locked cousins and declaring how cute they were at every turn. The dinner was extremely delicious, and even thought he would never admit to it, my brother Pascal had thirds, which he ate while standing at the pan, not suspecting that anyone was looking!
Rich Red Sauce recipe
You will need: 1 big sweet onion, small dice, 5 sprigs thyme, 4 basil leaves, 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, 1 28oz & 1 14oz can of whole plum tomatoes, with their juices, coarse sea salt, (I used Maldon salt flakes)
1 – Heat a pan over medium heat and add oil. Add onions and garlic and saute for about 10 minutes. Add the herbs and continue to cook for another minute or two.
2 – Add the tomatoes and their juices, and a 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt. Bring liquid to a simmer.
3 – Cover and simmer gently for 40 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Set aside until ready to add to stew.
Note: This is a handy and wonderful sauce for lots of dishes, and can be simply tossed with spaghetti.
You will need: 4 cups raw rice if using stove-top method OR 6 cup measures from rice cooker if using a rice-cooker, 1/2 cup chopped mixed herbs (such as Italian parsley, basil, apium, sprig of thyme, oregano, winter savory, tarragon).
1 – When you have added the water to the rice, toss the herbs into the pot or rice cooked. When rice is cooked, stir herbs into the rice.
Make the Shrimp Stew
You will Need: 2 lbs shrimp, deveined, remove shell, (use the 31-40 count per lb size), 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (add up to 1 tsp if you want a tinge of apparent heat), 8 scallions, sliced, (or if you have them; 6 bunching onions from your garden or someone elses’), 2 cloves garlic, chopped, 2 cups pearl onions, (one or more color varieties), 3 inner tender celery ribs with leaves, chopped, 3 cups white wine, rich red sauce (recipe above), 1/3 cup freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley, coarse sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, 8 big kale leaves, center vein removed and finely chopped.
1 – Blanch the onions: Bring pot of water to boil and add onions. time for 4 minutes. drain and when cool enough to handle snip off the long stringy end of the onion and squeeze onion from root end. onion should pop out. you may need to assist it by cutting the skin at the top and peeling it off. Set aside until needed.
2 – Put a big saute pan on low/medium heat and add oil. When it has warmed, add the scallions, celery and garlic. Saute for 8 minutes. Add the pearl onions and continue to cook for another 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3 – Add wine and bring to a boil. simmer until wine reduces by half (about 6 minutes)
4 – Add the tomato sauce, bring back to a simmer. Cover and cook on low (gently simmer) for 5 or 6 minutes.
5 – While sauce is cooking, cook your finely chopped kale in pot or saute pan and 2/3 cup water for 5 minutes (time when water is boiling). Drain.
6 – Add kale to sauce and stir. Bring back to a simmer and add shrimp. When it starts to simmer again cook shrimp in sauce for about 4 minutes. Turn off heat (shrimp will continue to cook)
Serve on a bed rice and add parsley garnish.