I came home from a board meeting and was starving. I’m due for a grocery store visit but I had to make dinner from what I already had on hand. It isn’t so bad when your pantry and freezer is well stocked.
This is a prime example of a pantry sauce as everything in it either came from the fridge, freezer or cabinets: I used bottled lemon juice and I made milk from some powdered no-fat milk. I have some dehydrated lemon I’m using in place of zest. I keep a bag of diced Vidalia onion in the freezer and I used about a third cup of it.
For the protein, the last time I boiled shrimp, I peeled some extra and placed them in snack bags and froze them for later use. It takes very little time to thaw them in a hot sauce as they are already cooked.
Acid tends to break dairy sauces, especially ones with lower fat. To avoid this, I tossed the pasta with the lemon juice instead of adding it to the sauce. There may still be some curdling but it won’t affect the taste at all.
To add a healthy twist, you can also add a cup of frozen broccoli. As you can see from my plate, I didn’t bother.
Lemon Pasta with Shrimp
1 tablespoon butter
½ onion or 1/3 cup frozen and diced
salt and pepper
lemon zest (about 1 teaspoon dehydrated lemon peel)
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Bring water for the pasta to a boil and cook the linguine as the package directions.
In a small pan, melt the butter and sauté the onions for 5 minutes. Add the salt and pepper and stir. Pour in the milk and lemon zest. Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring regularly and let it cook down while the pasta boils, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and broccoli, if using. Continue to stir regularly while pasta finishes cooking.
Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Toss with the lemon juice. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir to combine.
It was a bit cold last night, so rethought going outdoors to cook dinner. Instead, I cooked the shrimp on the grill pan on the stove top. The timing is the same.
I used my go to cheat – a bottle of Cajun Power Garlic Sauce on the shrimp. This isn’t a hot sauce but so well seasoned that it goes well with chicken, pork, seafood and even vegetables.
It was good to have friends over to enjoy the meal. Jess, Julie and Nancy helped warm up the house with laughter and good conversation. And, thanks again to Kenny for leaving the gallon jug of margarita’s – they were a hit!
1.5 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup Cajun Power Garlic Sauce
If using wood skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling.
In a bowl, mix the shrimp with the Cajun Power Garlic Sauce. Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to grill, up to 2 hours.
Skewer shrimp and place on a medium hot grill or a preheated grill pan. Grill about 3 minutes per side or until they are opaque throughout.
I placed the shrimp on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes – quite a tasty accompaniment and a switch from the pasta I would have usually served with them.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
2 lb. sweet potatoes (roasted and peeled), warm
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Roast sweet potatoes in a 350 degree F oven for 45 minutes or until done. Scoop out interiors and place in a bowl.
Mash together sweet potatoes, butter, milk, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Taste and add more brown sugar, cinnamon or salt, if needed. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Place warm sweet potato mixture on plates. Arrange shrimp on top.
Shrimp and grits is a perfect food pairing. I’ve posted about making them before (here and here) and many more times when I’ve eaten them at restaurants. This time, I’m poaching the shrimp in butter (a la Michael Ruhlman). I can recommend this preparation (even without the grits) as it makes the shrimp velvety and delicious.
When the poaching liquid is combined with the grits, you end up with a dish that is rich, decadent but still quintessentially southern.
Butter Poached Shrimp with Grits
4 strips bacon, diced
1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 bell pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 1/4 cups grits (not instant)
2 cups milk
2 cups water
1 cup butter, cut into 12 chunks
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon Cajun/Creole seasoning
Heat a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until slightly crisp and brown. Remove the bacon and set aside. In the bacon fat remaining in the pan, sauté the onion. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add in bell pepper and cook for just a minute or two. Pour in milk and water and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the grits and a pinch of kosher salt. Reduce the heat to low and cook the grits, stirring occasionally, until done, about 20 minutes.
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of water and bring to a simmer. Then whisk in the chunks of butter, one at a time until all are incorporated and you have an emulsion. Add the shrimp and then moderate the temperature to keep the butter just below simmering (170-180 degrees F). Poach the shrimp, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 3-5 minutes. Take the shrimp off the heat.
Add half of the poaching butter to the grits. Stir and add Cajun/Creole seasoning. Taste for seasoning. Spoon the grits into bowls, add the shrimp, sprinkle on the diced bacon and drizzle on a little more of the poaching butter. Serve.
When I lived in San Francisco in the 1990’s, one of my favorite restaurants was Cha Cha Cha in the Mission. The menu is Cuban and Puerto Rican inspired while also fusing some of the best of many other cuisines.
I recently came across the restaurant’s cookbook in the used cookbook store in New Orleans (Kitchen Witch). The literary revisiting of their restaurant made me hungry and sent me to the kitchen to cook. One of the dishes that I really liked, I fixed for my folks this week. Cha Cha Cha Cajun Shrimp is a tapas dish there and is colorful and flavorful. It can be a little spicy, so I dropped the spice level from the original (1 1/2 cups!). Serve it with lots of crusty bread to dip into the delicious sauce.
We ate it as a main course after doubling everything and served it with rosemary sweet potatoes medallions.
I will be returning to their cookbook for other recipes soon!
Cha Cha Cha Cajun Shrimp
1/2 cup Cajun Spice Mix
12 ounce dark beer
2 cups heavy cream
1 lb peeled medium sized shrimp
In a heavy saucepan, mix cajun spice mix and beer. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk to make a thick paste. Gradually stir in cream to make a smooth sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 8 to 10 minutes or until sauce thickens. Add shrimp and stir. Reduce heat and cook shrimp over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp are opaque. Serve with fresh, crusty bread.
My dad will pull a shrimp trawl several times over the summer and then we get to enjoy Alabama shrimp for the rest of the year. Here is a picture of him sorting the catch – we throw all the small fish back and the dolphins and pelicans come to feast.
This recipe uses a dry spice mix on the veggies and a one hour marinade on the shrimp for a quick, weeknight dinner. I served these on flour tortillas with refried beans, cheese, salsa and guacamole.
The picture illustrates my family’s preferred shrimp to veggie ratio!
Oven Baked Shrimp Fajitas
1.5 to 2 lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 to 2 14.4 packages of bell pepper and onion stir fry
10 flour tortillas
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cloves minced garlic
Veggie Spice Mix
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon dried cilantro flakes
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
½ teaspoon of onion powder
½ teaspoon of ground cumin
½ teaspoon of smoked paprika
Whisk together all of the ingredients for the shrimp marinade and place in a zip top bag with the peeled and deveined shrimp. Smoosh the bag around to completely coat the shrimp. Place in the fridge for one hour.
Put together the dry spices. Place the veggies in a large bowl and toss with the spice mixture.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Lightly oil a large, rimmed baking sheet. Put down the veggies as a base layer. Sprinkle the shrimp on top. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for about 8 minutes. Remove the shrimp and turn on the broiler. Cook for 2 additional minutes until shrimp is done.
Squeeze a little lime juice over the dish and serve with warm tortillas and your choice of add ins.
I was craving drunken shrimp and decided to put them on flour tortillas to make quesadillas for a quick dinner.
Oh, and feel free to use the remainder of the limeade concentrate to make margaritas. I used drained Ro-Tel juice as part of the liquid for Spanish rice.
1 lb medium shrimp – peeled, deveined and butterflied
1 tablespoon paprika
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup limeade concentrate
1/2 cup tequila
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups Monterey pepper jack or cheddar cheese, grated
1 10 ounce can of Ro-tel diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained
8 flour tortillas
Combine paprika, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, limeade and tequila and mix well. Place shrimp in marinade and refrigerate for no more than one hour.
Heat a large skillet with the oil and sauté shrimp and the marinade until shrimp are cooked through. Remove from heat.
Place 4 tortillas on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with cheese. Arrange shrimp on tortillas and sprinkle on Ro-Tel. Top with more cheese. Place remaining tortillas on top.
Bake until the tortilla is crisp and golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5 minutes at 450 degrees F. Let sit for 2 minutes and then cut into slices. Serve with guacamole, salsa and sour cream and a side of Spanish rice.
I basically do a cheat for the Spanish rice. This is enough for two people. Bring 1/3 cup of drained Ro-Tel juices and 1/3 cup water to a boil. Add two tablespoons of Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chilies, 1/4 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder and ground cumin to 1/3 cup rice. Stir well, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until all the water is absorbed and serve.
I was over at my parents’ house and we decided to experiment on grilled shrimp. We were looking for both hot and sweet, so we decided to go with honey and hot sauce. But what sort of heat? For this trial we divided the shrimp in half and used Sriracha in one batch and for the other we used good old Louisiana hot sauce.
The Sriracha had a rounder, more full flavor, although the Louisiana hot sauce was still pretty tasty. Try it with your favorite hot sauce!
Hot Honey Shrimp
1 lb uncooked shrimp, look for medium or large
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoon (or more to taste) hot sauce
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 tablespoon lime juice
Use scissors to cut the back of the shrimp shells and remove the vein. Place the rinsed and drained shrimp in a quart bag.
Microwave honey for about 15 seconds until it has loosened a bit. Mix with a hot sauce of your choice. Pour over the shrimp and massage to coat. Let marinade for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Set up the grill for direct cooking. Place the shrimp on the grill and baste with melted butter and lime juice. Grill one side and flip over after 2-3 minutes and the shrimp are starting to go pink. Baste again and cook until done through.
You can serve this with rice or make tacos with it or, be like us, and just sit and peel and eat until you’re ready to bust. Mmmmhmmm, good!