Friday, October 28, 2016

Italian shrimp & grits

My boyfriend is not from the South, but for some reason he always seems to have the ingredients for shrimp & grits on hand. I am not complaining. While figuring out dinner earlier this week, we realized, once again, the best option to use what we already had was shrimp & grits, again. We decided to change it up a bit. So, based on the fact that the sausage we had was Italian, we gave the classic dish a bit of Mediterranean flair. It's a pretty obvious "twist," really... grits...polenta...

Italian Shrimp & Grits
for the shrimp:
1/2 lb. raw peeled & deveined shrimp
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh shopped oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
2 Tablespoons olive oil

for the grits:
2 cups Bob's Red Mill Corn Grits Polenta
1 teaspoon salt
7 cups water
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1.5 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

for the sausage & vegetables:
3 Tablespoons Olive oil, divided
5 fresh Italian chicken sausages
1 small onion, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 small zucchini, sliced into bite-size pieces
1 Tablespoons chopped fresh Oregano

Marinate the shrimp: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and let marinate while you cook the rest of the meal.

For the grits/polenta: In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil. Slowly stir in grits. Reduce heat to low and add the garlic powder. Stir frequently, cooking for about 30 minutes. Stir in olive oil and cheese. Serve hot with shrimp and sausage.

In a large pot or dutch oven, cook the sausages in 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil until browned on all sides. Remove and set aside. Add rest of olive oil to pot and add the onions and peppers. Cook until translucent and starting to brown. add the sage and red pepper flakes and cook about 3o seconds until fragrant. Add wine, scraping up browned bits from the pot. Cook until wine is evaporated. Add the tomatoes, zucchini, garlic and oregano. Cook until the zucchini is just tender, about 5 minutes. Chop up the sausage and add it back in. Heat through. Add the shrimp, marinade and all, and stir in, cooking another 3-5 minutes until shrimp is opaque and pink. Serve hot over polenta.

Similar recipes from the archives:
Baked Shrimp with Feta
Bacon-wrapped Shrimp
Red Bean & Shrimp Cajun Tacos
Chipotle Shrimp Tacos with Jicama Mango Salsa
Italian Sausage Balls with Gnocchi
Chicken Sausage Balls with Fennel and Waffled Polenta
Salsiccia Balls with Peppers

Friday, October 21, 2016

creamy mushroom and thyme linguine

Am I the only one who craves mushrooms and thyme regularly? Surely not. They are so delicious together! This is a pretty simple pasta dish. The only time-consuming part is prepping all the mushrooms. If you don't wanna do all that, you could just substitute pre-cleaned, pre-sliced ones. I like the variety of mushrooms, though... gives the dish a bit more flavor and depth than it would have with just one kind of mushroom. Also, I used whole-wheat linguine. I don't normally like whole wheat pastas, but they do go well with the right sauces. This sauce is earthy and creamy, and I thought it worked with the slightly nutty taste of the whole-wheat pasta.

Creamy Mushroom & Thyme Linguine

-16 oz. whole grain linguine
-2 Tablespoons olive oil
-1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
-2 shallots, finely chopped
-4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
-3 portabella mushroom caps, cleaned & cubed
-16 oz. button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
-1 cup oyster mushrooms, cleaned and cut into bite-size pieces
-1 cup shiitake mushrooms, cleaned cut into bite-size pieces
-2 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
-1/4 cup dry white wine
-1/4 cup flour
-2 cups milk
-1 cup grated Romano cheese
-salt and pepper to taste

Cook the linguine to al dente according to package instructions. reserve some of the cooking water, just in case. Drain, cool with water and set aside.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large dutch oven or pot. Cook the shallots and half the garlic until translucent and just starting to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often until they have released all their liquid, then keep cooking until they are almost completely dry again... about 10-15 minutes. Add the thyme, rest of the garlic and white wine. Cook until all the wine is absorbed/evaporated, about 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and stir, cooking about 2-3 minutes. Pour in the milk, stirring and scraping the bottom until it comes to a boil. Turn off heat and stir in cheese and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Gently toss with pasta,  check for seasoning again, and if it's too thick, stir in a splash of the pasta cooking water. Serve immediately. Makes like 6 dinner servings.

Related posts from the archives:
Chanterelle Andouille Risotto
Homemade Pasta with Morel Mushrooms
Mushroom Soup and Gougeres
Cider Bourbon Cocktail for Fall
Caramelized Leeks and Morel Tart
Fettuccine with Tuna and Capers
Walnut Ricotta Pesto
Chanterelle-Stuffed Gnocchi
Bacon Corn Pesto with Pierogies
Pasta with Anchovies, Garlic & Eggs
Pumpkin Risotto with Vanilla Scallops

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

new york

I haven't been to New York since 2001. Lots can change in 15 years. Back then I was just out of college, and hadn't traveled much. I wasn't yet obsessed with food...we chose restaurants based on their pop culture connections... Hello Deli from the Dave Letterman show, the diner from Seinfeld, A deli with sandwiches named after famous New Yorkers. This time food was the center of our wanderings. I am more star-struck by chefs and amazing dishes now. One thing hasn't changed. I am still completely smitten with this city. Great people, great energy, always something to do, look at, talk about, taste... I *heart* New York!

First things first...RAMEN. I love St. Louis, I really really do... but we are lacking in TRADITIONAL ramen. Our first meal in NY was at Ippudo West. I have to confess, my BF and I had been to several ramen places here in STL, and he was disappointed every time. I thought he was being overly-picky. Now that I've tasted how traditional ramen is supposed to taste, at Ippudo, I understand his pickyness. This ramen was otherworldly. Rich broth, milky and unctuous with glistening pork fat. The noodles had a perfectly al-dente texture. The meat was savory and the eggs were perfectly gooey. I could not get enough. Wow. I have seen the ramen light. I am transformed.

The appetizers we got at Ippudo were fantastic, too. Shishito peppers with yes dipping salt and Fried octopus with matcha dipping salt. Both were addicting. I love the idea of dipping salts instead of sauces. I hope it becomes a trend (I hope my doctor isn't reading this...)

Another thing New York has that is harder to find in St. Louis... great bagels. We went to Russ & Daughters Cafe for some bagels and smoked fish. The classic bagel and lox was dreamy. 
The Super Heebster was fun and a flavor win: whitefish and baked salmon salad, wasabi-infused fish roe, horseradish, dill cream cheese on bagel toast. Super, indeed!
I loved the look of Russ & Daughters cafe, too. Such a gorgeously cute place... all white marble and old woods and the servers wearing pharmacists jackets. 

Alas, R&D is more about their smoked fish than they are about bagels (though they do make their own). So we sought out the best bagels where we were staying in Astoria, Queens. After some research we went to Astoria Bagel Company. Just look at that chewy, golden beauty. So fresh and scrumptious. Check it out if you're in area. Also in Astoria (but I didn't get any decent photos), look for the King of Tacos taco truck outside the CVS. We pretty much stopped there every night, because they are open late and the tacos are seriously top-notch.

OF COURSE we had to get classic, foldable New York slices. Joe's Pizza was just what the pizza doctor ordered. 

Fishs Eddy is my dinnerware Mecca. I could spend all day there, surrounded by plates and kitchen gadgets and dish towels. Some funny, some gorgeous, all of it interesting. Look for new props in my photos soon :)

 New York Loves Brunch. I, too, love brunch. So we brunched! Above are the brisket bao buns at Momofuko SaƤm Bar. I was so excited to finally eat a David Chang joint, and I was not disappointed. The bao buns were so fluffy with such flavorful fillings.
 The shrimp and grits had XO sauce and flash-fried baby kale and were such smart blend of southern comfort food and bold Asian flavors. 

We also brunched at Jeepney, a super-cool Filipino restaurant. Pro-tip: Get the bottomless brunch... so many great boozy brunch drinks, as many as you want! I got the Kare Kare Fried Chicken with peanut butter gravy and pickled green beans. PEANUT BUTTER GRAVY. Swoon.

NYC is sweet. Literally. I got some of the legen-dairy cereal milk soft serve at Milk Bar (photo at top of post) and this Salty Pimp at Big Gay Ice Cream. Quirky but appropriate name. Salted caramel, chocolate, creamy soft serve. If this thing drank, it would be out of a chalice.

Also, Waffles & Dingus! Funny name, glorious fresh waffles. 

During our trip, we learned that Carnegie Deli will be closing permanently at the end of this year. We had planned on going to a classic deli, so knowing this was our last chance to eat at this time-honored landmark made our decision easy. The pickles were honestly my favorite part of the meal. I love a good half-sour. 
The Reuben was silly big. I could only manage to eat 1/3. It was the last day of our trip, so I was kind of burnt out on indulgent foods. Well, I did still have room for the blueberry cheesecake, though. Yum!

Oh, New York. I can't wait to get back to you! Was there anything we missed out on? Leave a comment with your favorite New York eats!