Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Spicy Cajun Shrimp

Tom got me Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans for Christmas last year.  Although I enjoyed reading through it, I hadn't picked it up to make anything from it. Not sure why. That sort of thing happens when you've got stacks of cookbooks everywhere.

I finally cracked it open for actual use when I picked up some shrimp a couple of weeks ago and wanted to make something besides the same old thing. (Although I see that the shrimp scampi I usually favor isn't here ... I must share that soon!)

Who cooks shrimp better than someone from Louisiana? Probably no one.

This was a huge hit. I'm a wimp so I used less than the minimum amounts of cayenne and red pepper. In retrospect the minimums probably would have been fine. There is a wide latitude for spicy food, of course, so take your best guess!

Spicy Cajun Shrimp

Makes 2-3 servings
(It served 4 of us with leftovers)

2 dozen large shrimp, or 1 pound medium shrimp, fresh or frozen, thawed if frozen, peeled, and deveined
1/4 teaspoon - 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed (optional)
1/3 cup butter
1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 cup beer, at room temperature (this didn't seem to do much except dilute the recipe some ... I'm going to skip it next time)
Hot cooked rice for serving (optional)

Rinse the cleaned shrimp under cold running water. Drain well, then set aside. In a small bowl combine the cayenne, black pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, and herbs.

Combine the butter, garlic, Worcestershire, and the pepper-herb mixture in a large skillet over high heat. When the butter is melted, add the tomatoes, and then the shrimp. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring well. Add the beer, cover, and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat. Serve over rice, if desired. (Which we did!)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Time to Revive Home Ec

A year later, my father’s job took our family to Wales, where I attended, for a few months, a large school in a mid-size industrial city. There, students brought ingredients from home and learned to follow recipes, some simple and some not-so-simple, eventually making vegetable soups and meat and potato pies from scratch. It was the first time I had ever really cooked anything. I remember that it was fun, and with an instructor standing by, it wasn’t hard. Those were deeply empowering lessons, ones that stuck with me when I first started cooking for myself in earnest after college.
I knew a lot about cooking when I took Home Ec back in the 9th grade. But I didn't know anything about sewing, budgeting, planning a project, or the many other things that I learned in that class. I look at my children's friends and almost all of them don't know a thing about cooking. Or a lot of those other things.

This New York Times article focuses more than I'd like on obesity as a reason to revive Home Ec, although it is not without reason. I'm just sayin' there are a lot of other reasons to bring it back.