Roasted Greek Shrimp

This dish is so easy for a weeknight — no real recipe or measuring required here. Prep the shrimp the day before and you are all set for a fast and healthy dinner. If you like tomatoes, capers and shellfish, you can’t go wrong with this dish. I served the shrimp with a salad of red leaf lettuce, shaved fennel & dried blueberries dressed with just lemon juice and olive oil.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 cups diced tomatoes (can also just use canned tomatoes if you wish)
  • Handful of capers, rinsed
  • Several minced garlic cloves
  • 1 pound of shrimp or scallops (or a combination)
  • feta cheese
  • fresh herbs such as basil, dill or oregano
  • several shakes of red chile flakes if you like things spicy

Preparation:

  • Heat oven to 450 degrees
  • Dump tomatoes in a shallow baking dish, sprinkle with garlic, capers, chile flakes and salt & pepper
  • Add shrimp and a drizzle of olive oil — more chile flakes here if you wish and bake until bubbling — 10 minutes or so.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle feta on top. Bake an additional 5 minutes or so until shrimp are nice and pink. Sprinkle chopped fresh herbs on top and serve with hunks of crusty bread.

Greek shrimp

Sunday Night Supper

When I opened my packages of Cornish game hens and instantly smelled barnyard, I had a pretty good idea of how the evening’s meal was going to turn out. I honestly don’t know whether the birdies truly tasted like barn or if my olfactory senses were simply bamboozled by the odor from preparing them, but either which way, I do think the fowl truly fouled up my dinner … sorry, couldn’t resist.
Seriously though, how could cute little chickens slathered with lemon, butter and honey turn out to be anything but delicious? They were ok and my husband liked them enough, but the game hens were, in fact, gamey. I have roasted game hens a number of times and this was a first. Next time I’ll stick with a petit poulet, which I often choose when game hens are unavailable. I still don’t know why the package reads “petit poulet” rather than simply “little chicken,” but no matter, I am confident a petit poulet will deliver flavorful, non-barnyardy results.

Cornish Game Hens

Cornish Game Hens

I do think this recipe (please see weekly menu for a link) warrants a second try, however, especially since I am always looking for something to do with the preserved lemons I make during the summer influx of citrus. If you can find preserved lemons at the market, by all mean buy them, but they are also a breeze to make. The following is my go-to preserved lemon recipe from Dean & Deluca. The recipe can easily be doubled.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Lemons
  • 1/3 cup coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

  • Wash the lemons well. Cut each lemon into 8 sections and place them in a glass jar. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover tightly and shake jar well to combine ingredients. Leave lemons at room temperature, shaking the jar every day for 2 weeks. Rinse lemons before using.
  • Refrigerate after opening. Lemons will keep in the refrigerator for 6 months.
Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons

I know I sort of made fun of the quinoa on my menu, but it was actually quite good and had a very pleasant nutty flavor. And, as my husband said between forkfuls of the hallowed ancient grain, “I can feel my muscles growing bigger.” Needless to say, he has requested the leftovers as part of his work lunches this week.

As for the roasted red pepper and onion salad — absolutely delicious. Something magical happens to vegetables when they are blasted with heat and allowed to caramelize. I spooned the vegetables over arugula and added just a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt. Definitely try this one.

Caramelized Vegetables

Caramelized Vegetables

Plated Caramelized Vegetable Salad

Plated Caramelized Vegetable Salad with blue cheese wedges

Husband’s Favorite Snack

My dear husband last night asks me if I will make him popcorn. Couldn’t be easier. Hell, we’re talking about microwave popcorn in a bag. Our microwave even has a “popcorn” button. So what do I do in my Friday night, it’s-been-a-long-week stupor? I go ahead and push that popcorn button and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Why am I not hearing a pop?

What the hell?

There is no popping. Perhaps the bag is defective.

Oh wait. I never bothered to put the bag in the microwave to begin with. Oops. Can’t nuke popcorn without the popcorn. Let’s hope things go much better with my menu this week.

Weekly Menu — 1/12/13

Week of January 12th

Saturday:
  • We are headed out to celebrate a dear friend’s birthday so no cooking tonight. Off to try Pabu at the new Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Baltimore.

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Sunday:
  • Honey-roasted Cornish game hens with preserved lemons (the recipe actually calls for whole chicken, but I often prefer either game hens or as I like to call them, mini-chickens. They are a perfect little package of both white & dark meat for those who enjoy both.)
  • Roasted red pepper and onion salad with Spanish blue cheese (Cabrales or Valdeon)
  • Red quinoa with toasted pistachios (I am trying hard to get on board with the whole quinoa thing. I still think it’s more fun to say than to eat. Perhaps this new recipe will make me a believer. I will keep you posted.)

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Monday:
  • Greek-style roasted shrimp with tomatoes, feta and capers. *TIME SAVER* (Peel and de-vein the shrimp the day before and keep on ice) This is a bit of my own creation. Simply roast tomatoes with capers and perhaps a bit of garlic. Add shrimp or scallops, crumbled feta cheese and fresh oregano and it’s Greece on a plate. 
  • Simple green salad dressed with lemon juice and olive oil

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Tuesday:
  • Crispy duck breasts with chile-pomegranate sauce *TIME SAVER* (make the sauce on the weekend, it keeps well in the fridge for several days and freezes beautifully). This recipe is a winner. If you enjoy more heat at your house as we do, toss in a bit more adobo sauce.
  • “Celery root” remoulade (no celeriac available, so I will be substituting golden beets and rutabagas)

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Wednesday:

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Thursday & Friday:
  • Leftovers as I am packing for our upcoming Caribbean cruise!

Supper Club

Southern comfort. Julia Child French. Mediterranean. Tuscan. Kuala Lumpur street food. What do these all have in common? Well, not much really, except they have all been past themes for our Supper Club events. This Supper Club group of 8 just rocks if I do say so myself. We have been going strong now for over a year and recently met for our 9th dinner event with yet another new theme — French country.

The Supper Club rules are extremely lax and include a mishmash of the following, all of which will be broken at some point I am sure.

  • We meet every other month.
  • We alternate the host & hostess.
  • Host chooses the theme, which can be anything at all. And I do mean anything.
  • Host makes the course(s) he or she wishes and the remainder are up for grabs.
  • Everyone in the group (4 couples) must like food. (Unspoken by-law here)
  • There will be wine.

So off we went out to the burbs for the most recent French Country event. Nothing like the scent of rabbit bubbling in wine as you walk into a home on a cold January evening. As Thumper enjoyed his wine bath, the rest of us sipped French cocktails or glasses of wine (including a Sonoma County red from Ledson Winery, which is one of my husband’s favorites) and enjoyed the appetizers —   stuffed mushrooms and my pissaladiere nicoise (check out my weekly menu for more info on this traditional French tart). I battled with the all-butter tart crust most of the morning and finally nailed it — sort of. Taste and texture were fine, but I have yet to master transferring the delicate, flimsy dough to the tart pan without something going awry. Fortunately, the filling makes for a magical coverup. Unfortunately, I was not aware the hostess has an aversion to onions and olives, the two of which comprise the entire tart. Ah well, who knew? Other dishes included a fresh carrot soup, the rabbit braised with wine and mushrooms, a decadent aligot and bacony brussels sprouts lounging in cream. Mmmm cream. Butter. Cheese. Love those French!

So what’s the next theme? Our sassy friends decided to do a riff on the television show Chopped. Each couple is assigned a course and three ingredients that must be utilized in the final dish. I am charged with creating a first course using avocados, horseradish and mascarpone cheese. I have until March to perfect a recipe, so expect to see quite a bit of these ingredients in my upcoming menus. I am open to suggestions …