Tag Archives: shrimp

Gumbo with Ham Hock and Shrimp

Gumbo with Ham Hock and Shrimp

I was lucky to be involved in many projects when I was teaching requiring travel to many areas of the U.S. and what I  enjoyed about each experience was that after a brain draining day of work — often dealing with a three-hour time difference — we’d wander in small groups to shop, take a tour of something interesting if it was available, and most often enjoy local cuisine.  Although it has been many years, I was able to visit New Orleans twice for two different projects, and on one of the trips happened across a tiny red book called The Little Gumbo Book by Gwen McKee.

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Fideua: Spanish Pasta with Clams, Mussels, and Shrimp

I had an urge to make paella — but not the more traditional kind made with rice — and now that I think of it, if rice isn’t in it, then it’s probably not called paella.  No, I’d seen a recipe featured in Saveur some time ago which used thin, short pieces of pasta resembling spaghetti broken to bits, and it’s taken me until recently to give it a go.  I haven’t made paella for years thinking that having a best friend who’s a pro at whipping out her four foot diameter authentic paella pan whenever anyone mentions “party” has kept me lazy.  I don’t have a paella pan, but can manage a batch in a large skillet on my stove instead of a wood fueled fire on the patio which could incite neighbors to call 911 because they think the house is on fire.

The intrigue of the pasta or fideos based paella is the cooking process.  It’s very similar to a rice-based recipe, but pasta absorbs the liquid more quickly, and there’s less a worry about whether or not to stir the rice you’re not supposed to stir so it can develop a nice crust.  That isn’t the case with the pasta version, but it’s a challenge to keep from stirring it when you’ve got an impetuous stirrer in residence.

A basic paella requires a good pan which is not so thick, heat that will be distributed evenly across the pan, a short-grained rice that will absorb liquid without making the rice gummy, and liquid.  The finished product should be moist, but unlike risotto, contain separate pieces of tender rice.  Since I was foregoing rice for the recipe I chose, and because the original recipe was relatively easy, I decided to make my own fish stock — because.

Picture me at the Asian market in front of the fish case scanning several varieties of fish heads.  Large fish heads.  Inexpensive fish heads —  all under $4/lb.  A perky young man behind the counter asks whether he can help me and I tell him while pointing to a white fish, “I’m making fish stock,” to which he responds pointing to the salmon, “It better for you.”  I know this, but also know it’s very oily.  Should I mention that no matter how good salmon is for me, I am not one of its biggest fans?  He continues, “You want me clean it up for you?”  And I say that I’m happy to do it myself, but he grins and says, “I do it better for you.  You too busy.”

I am so not busy and loving every second of it.  Any busyness in my life now is self-generated.

But he certainly was correct about doing it better than I could, because after I removed the brown paper wrapping at home, I had to admire an extremely clean,  perfectly sectioned salmon head.  What had I been thinking before?  Had I insisted on taking care of it myself, I would have had to wrestle with it without the correct type of knife, then smell like the village fish monger for my trouble.  A not very busy fish monger, but still.

I was still concerned about making broth with salmon so had to do some research before choosing a recipe.  Evidently, it’s a matter of opinion.

Have you ever made any kind of fish stock before?

If you aren’t in the mood to tackle that, there are other options, but if you’re a paella lover, try this version of Fideua for a change.  Or, if you’ve always wondered about paella but haven’t tried it, start with this.

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Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Shrimp & Corn Chowder

It’s only a matter of time once the hint of Fall teases me with cool afternoons that I start thinking of soup.  I’m not partial to any kind of soup in particular as long as it’s warm and satisfying.  Sometimes I long for a clear broth and others something silky and smooth.  This time, I was in the mood for something chunky with a bit of richness — like clam chowder — except I didn’t have clams.  Seafood chowder sounded excellent too, but I wasn’t sure the tilapia I had in the freezer would be the right kind of fish for that.  No, I’d have to settle for the plump pieces of shrimp I had and the sweet corn and potatoes that needed to be used instead.  I just needed to find  a recipe that wouldn’t take up an  afternoon to prepare.

I enjoy my recipe searches because in the process I compare and contrast general quantities of ingredients, consider the variety of spices used and admire an unusual spin here and there.  It’s always nice to find a version that is healthy without taking away the satisfying aspect of the dish, too.   Every once in a while, I find a recipe that stuns me.  In my search for Shrimp and Corn Chowder, I found a recipe that seems to be making its rounds, finding it posted at several different sites.  Serving six, it calls for one quart of half-and-half, one quart of heavy cream, and one-half cup of margerine. Seriously.  I just about fell out of my chair wondering why on Earth it was necessary to put that much fat into a recipe that could easily do with much lighter ingredients and avoid classifying it as diet food.

Thankfully, I found a great recipe at Nook & Pantry, and although I didn’t follow it exactly as written, my version is not too far off.  Shrimp & Corn Chowder anyone?

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Cool Zucchini Soup with Lemon-Cumin Shrimp and Cilantro Creme

Cool Zucchini Soup with Lemon-Cumin Shrimp and Cilantro Creme

I’d like to believe the weather we’ve been enjoying is here to stay, but I know our small slice of Paradise much too well. Instead of the often sweltering heat we experience in August, we’ve been treated to grey skies, cool, moist breezes, and yesterday, fat drops of rain that teased us late in the afternoon. It’s only a matter of time when vacations become a fleeting memory, kids are back in school, and freeways are once again jammed with rush hour traffic that it will get hot here and stay that way well into October. The heat saps one’s energy after a long day and making dinner usually isn’t high on the priority list, unless it’s something easy to make, cool, and satisfying.  The added perk is that it’s healthy.

This soup’s for you on those evenings. It’s creamy without being full of fat-laden calories as long as you go easy on the cilantro creme. Make extra, because it’s even better the next day.

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Spicy Shrimp Salad

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I’d love to say it’s salad weather here, but if you are fortunate to be a resident of San Diego, then you know that not only have we been experiencing the typical overcast weather we lovingly refer to as May Grey, but are definitely headed into a serious June Gloom.  Although I am one who doesn’t need the sun shining each day, the marine layer is extremely thick right now, and temperatures have been in the low 60s.  It’s more like sweater weather and is quite gloomy.  In fact today, it’s been drizzling all morning, and I can’t help but wonder about the outcome of  outdoor plans made by those who expect our normally perfect weather, and are now disappointed.

We are salad lovers, and that means salad is a year round treat regardless of the weather.  Recently, my husband said he needed to lose a few pounds, so that usually translates to salad for dinner with no carbs on the side.  That doesn’t mean I make more salad than I normally would.  Instead, it means I’m able to try new combinations of flavor, adding more ingredients, and warming it up a bit with something cooked.

I’ve heard others mention they don’t care for warm salads, and far be it from me to criticize someone’s taste for salad — with the exception of the “canned pea-Velveeta cubes- smothered in Miracle Whip” concoction which leaves me nearly speechless.

This shrimp and spinach salad has more than one kind of “heat.”  If you’re not one for cooking your salad ingredients, then consider what chili heat can do for your taste buds.  It’s satisfying and healthy.

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