Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mardi Gras

Hello old friend. It's good to be back.

Mr. K and I have been on quite an adventure since I last buzzed in here, but here's the short of it: I've made my first real meal, in our adorably convenient coach house, on loan from a friend who recognized a friend in need and provided a roof. And for that, I am abundantly grateful.

Since our downsize, I only allowed myself 6 cookbooks and the rest joined our dining room table, new china and 90% of my clothes in storage. John Besh's My New Orleans made the cut. I do sincerely promise to post about Besh's other book fellows but for now let's stay focused. This book is phenomenal. It spent the first year of its residence sitting on my coffee table, with me looking at it askew as if to ask it, are you a coffee table book or a cookbook? Three recipes sampled later, I can whole-heartedly confirm it the latter.

So here we are in a 1 bed coach house with as little counter space to rival Smitten Kitchen, and I've made my first, from scratch, deliciously head shaking, fist-pounding, "oh my gosh you need to cook from this cookbook every day" husband groaning meal.

It was Mardi Gras. Rebirth, Hot 8 and Soul Rebels were blaring, I'm running around in my bachelorette crown and beads, husband rocking a stray mask atop his ski cap and shrimp and lemongrass wafting through the place.

It's good to be back.

Shrimp Creole

2 pounds jumbo Louisiana or wild American shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh lemongrass
1/4 cup olive oil
1.5 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 bell pepper, red, green or yellow, seeded and diced
2 cans of crushed tomatoes, or 2 lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
Leaves from 2 branches fresh basil, chopped
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh mint, chopped
3 cups cooked white rice

Put the shrimp into a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, then mix in lemongrass. Heat 2 T of the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over moderate heat. Add shrimp, stirring and tossing them with a spatula. Saute until they turn pink, about 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.
In the same skillet, add remaining 2 T olive oil, onions, garlic, celery and bell peppers. Cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.
Add tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low and when sauce comes to a simmer add bay leaf, allspice, and red pepper flakes. Simmer 10 minutes.
Add shrimp back to the skillet along with basil and mint. Cook for a minute or two. Season with salt and pepper. If the sauce tastes too tart, add a little sugar to balance the flavor. Remove bay leaf. Serve over steamed white rice.