Food Archives

I like to eat, I like to cook, and I like to blog about the both.

Shrimp and Grits, California-style

Last night I read an article about poaching shrimp in a butter emulsion called beurre monté, in order to impart the richness of lobster. Sounded simple and fun, something I hadn’t done before, so tonight I stopped at the market to pick up half a pound of shrimp and some salted butter. Making the sauce was easy: simmer a few tablespoons of water and then whisk in an obscene amount of butter. Then drop the shrimp in, peeled and deveined, and poach till they turn pink.

Couscous seemed the most natural accompaniment, so I boiled water to rehydrate a quarter cup each. We also had some arugula that wasn’t going to last forever, so I put the good bits in a large bowl along with a handful of pine nuts, and a healthy amount of cheese grated from the ends of two different types. I whipped together a quick vinaigrette with the juice of a meyer lemon, some olive oil, salt, and pepper and combined everything together with the couscous, which had cooled slightly.

I served the couscous salad in our deep plates with a ring of the butter-poached shrimp on top. It looked lovely. They did taste faintly of lobster, but more than that, the dish as whole evoked a lighter, more refined version of shrimp and grits, the classic southern dish. I think it was the grated cheese. Maybe next time lardons?

· Food

Perfecting the breakfast wrap

I heat up two pans over medium heat, one a 10 inch stainless steel skillet large enough to fit a fajita-size tortilla, which in my case happened to be organic sprouted wheat, but really could be anything. The other is a 9 1/2 inch nonstick crepe pan that I picked up at Crate and Barrel ages ago, and which I believe has never met a crepe—but it’s my favorite to cook eggs with, due to its large, flat, non-stick surface. I lubricate the pan with a small pat of butter because even Teflon could use a little help. Meanwhile I beat a single egg in a bowl with some salt (currently Angelo Garo’s seasoned Omnivore Salt) and a few healthy twists of the pepper mill. As it happens, our stove is not perfectly level, so liquids have a slight tendency to roll towards the back of the pan—but I use this to my advantage, as a single beaten egg, without any additional liquid, isn’t enough to cover the entire surface area. So as I pour it in a line across the pan’s equator, it predictably flows towards the back edge, creating a perfect half-circle. Once the egg begins to set, which happens very quickly, I turn the burner to low and position the pan so that the least cooked area is directly over the gas. Meanwhile I flip the tortilla over in the other pan and grate some good melting cheese on top. If I had some ham or prosciutto on hand, I’d add a slice of that here as well, but this morning I did not. Once the egg has cooked just enough to hold together, but still creamy on top, I slide it onto the tortilla, and when I’m ready, I slide the entire tortilla-plus-egg onto a plate. I dress it up with a small bunch of peppery arugula, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt. I fold the non-egg third of the tortilla over the egg and arugula, and I fold both sides in towards the center, creating a secure pocket to ensure that none of the creamy, oily, peppery goodness drips down my fingers and onto the plate.

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Olive picking, encore

It happened back in November. This time most of the olives were black—which made them much easier to spot against the copious green leaves. Unfortunately a fair number had been infested by the olive fly—which we had to sort out as we picked. The reward was getting to take home bottles of olive oil made from the olives we’d picked the year before. Too cool.

Justin in the olive tree
I spent most of the day in the tree

Mostly black (purplish) olives with some green
The fruits of our labor

A mix of black, purple, and green olives
Melange of black, purple, and green

Oaxacan Dog

I figured there was a chance I might be able to squeeze in a Sonoran hot dog during our return trip to Tucson, but it just didn’t seem to be in the cards. It wasn’t until we were on the way to the airport that Stephanie surprised me by directing us to Tacos Atoyac for their perro caliente de Oaxaca—an Oaxacan hot dog! We each had one with some carne asada tacos, and then rushed off to catch our flight.

perro caliente de Oaxaca (Oaxacan hot dog) from Tacos Atoyac in Phoenix, AZ
Another hot dog for my collection

· Food

Couscous insalata caprese

Stephanie is on her way to France tonight, which means I am home alone, and I happened to cook myself a dinner that she would have appreciated, which made me miss her all the more.

Through some sort of clerical error, I received our biweekly CSA veggie box today, even though I’d asked that it be suspended while we’re away (I’ll be joining her in France next week). So after pawning off some surplus veggies on my coworkers, I brought home heirloom tomatoes, plums, and a whole bunch of peppers. The tomatoes sounded like dinner to me. At first I envisioned a classic insalata caprese, with bread to sop up the juices, mais bien sûr‎, but we’d had pizza the night before, and I’d had a sandwich for lunch, so I opted for couscous instead.

While a quarter cup of couscous was hydrating, I chopped two of the tomatoes, some of the copious basil we have growing in a pot, and a handful of marcona almonds seasoned with rosemary from the pantry. All this went into a bowl along with half a ball of fresh mozzarella that I’d picked up on the way home and diced, plus the juice of an old lemon that was laying around. I mixed in the cooked couscous, some salt, and a healthy glug-glug-glug of olive oil. The result was wonderful.

· Food