Monday, March 2, 2015

Home Shrimp

Once again, not a restaurant. Once again, winter weather and on-call. But we decided to make it count. Angel's birthday was coming up, this meal is something we've celebrated things like that for many years. Simple, easy, awfully decadent and satisfying.
We'd planned ahead, the only thing I needed to pick up this weekend was the dessert, which we'd just decided on.
I made the meal.
There was a steak on standby for when Adam got home from work, he doesn't like seafood.
The Food:
Shrimp, salad, garlic toast. Simple.
Of course the shrimp was frozen, this is middle America after all. Fortunately freezing shrimp does not change its taste and texture much. We get the de-veined (it's not really a vein) and shell-on. We picked up a big pot with a strainer and steamer basket a few years ago, this is pretty much the only thing we use it for. We'd let the sea bugs thaw in the lower part of the fridge most of the afternoon, it was thawed nicely by dinnertime.
Step one, turn on the oven and start the pot of water. Into the water I added salt and a heaping helping of Old Bay seasoning. While waiting, not watching, the water to boil, I prepped the toast. A loaf of fresh French bread from our local bakery (Walmart). I sliced half of it in about 3/4 inch slices and laid them out on the sheet pan that had been rubbed down with olive oil. This, I recently found, adds a subtle flavor kick to the finished toast. Using my press, I smashed a few cloves of garlic, sliced a stick of butter and set that in the microwave just long enough for the butter to melt completely. I let it set for a bit to soak up the garlic. This garlic/butter mix serves two purposes.
The first is to butter the bread. applied with a basting brush. Not too much, just a shiny sheen's worth.
The water was starting to boil so I set the steamer basket full of shrimp, which I'd salted and Old Bay'd as well, into it and covered it. The seasoning doesn't actually add a lot of flavor to the shell covered shrimp, but man, does it make the house smell good!
Time to prep the salad. 
The salad bar.
We rarely make family salads, rather we make our own mini salad bar. I chopped, sliced, washed and shaved red bell pepper, onion, cucumber, tomato and carrot. The greens, Romaine lettuce and spinach were chopped, washed and spun in our big salad spinner that we picked up at some sort of kitchen outlet store in southeastern Missouri, while on a drive back from Kentucky.
By this time The shrimp was pinking up nicely. I reduced the heat and let the residual steam finish it off.
The toast went into the oven, I spread the newspaper.
Peeling shrimp is messy, let's not pretend otherwise. Sure, we use plates, but the peels go into a pile on laid out newspaper, it's just the way we've always done it.
I made sure Angel would be done with the current round of dog needs and noticed that this snowfall was piling up heavier than I'd thought it would. the boy was on the road by then. Angel had texted him and let him know that the roads and driveway were starting to get covered, He was driving home from Arnold, it would be a while.
Angel came in, removed about five layers of coats, gloves, scarves and hoodies, took off her fur lined boots while I prepared my plate.
I set the whole pot on a big cork coaster on the table, reheated the garlic butter just a bit and assembled my salad.
She followed soon, doing the same. Yeah, I'd made myself some fresh tea, one Luzianne teabag into my one cup coffee maker filled with bottled water (our tap water is highly mineral rich and clogs coffee makers in just a few months). Fill a big glass with ice and pour the hot brew over the top, done. Dark, tasty, fresh. If you don't make your tea this way, you are doing it wrong.
Then the wonderful messy part. The shrimp in the pot was almost too hot to handle, but we were really ready to start eating so we suffered thought peeling a bunch. I dropped my denuded bugs one at a time into the garlic butter. 
If your mouth is not watering heavily at this point then you are just an ignorant America-hater.
I'll admit that the toast had stayed in the oven for maybe a minute longer than it should have, a little crispier than I'd intended. That was Angel's fault though, she took too long coming in from outside.
It was still delicious though. Not drowning in butter or garlic or olive oil, but a pleasant, aromatic blend of the flavors. I'd topped my salad with a slightly sweet poppy seed dressing, to compliment the buttery, savory shrimp and toast.
We absolutely stuffed ourselves. There was certainly some shrimp left, but we could use that in the upcoming meals, on lighter salad days.
The taste, as you can imagine, was heavenly. 
The pile of shells had Rudy's undivided attention. he didn't get any. I do think he got a little steak later when Adam got home. Whenever he's upstairs and we're preparing a meal he can be found underfoot. He's discovered that Angel and I are somewhat clumsy and tend to drop things. He's an opportunist.
I post a lot of pictures of Rudy on the social media. He's quite expressive and comical. People ask me what kind of dog he is. I'm tired of saying 'it's complicated' or 'I don't know'. He's a mutt, a mix of unknown lineage. He doesn't really look like any one breed, which is fine with us since 'breed' is not a scientific term anyhow, it's just a set of standards voted on by kennel clubs so they can be on a register and can be inbred for a high price. But don't get me started on that soap box. I've decided that he's a Kasehund. Which is, roughly, German for 'cheese hound'. Friends and followers of him on social media will get the cheese reference for Rudy. Why German? Because Queso Pero (Spanish) and Fromage Chien (French) just didn't sound right. 
We didn't have dessert with the meal, that would be for later, after another round of dog stuff. I'd
picked up a pre-made New York cheesecake while at the local bakery (Walmart) earlier. I don't have the patience to learn how to make a consistently good cheesecake at home. Plus there's no real reason to. The ingredients cost nearly as much as a pre-made cake. 
For the topping, I'd also picked up a bag of frozen whole blueberries. This I could do. Put a little butter in a small skillet, toss in blueberries, add just a little sugar, let heat, then smash with a spatula. Done. Serve with a fresh cup of coffee. . .Mmm, mmm good! 
There is very little in this world I love more than blueberry cheesecake. Not even Angel rises to this level. It's okay, Angel's always known this. It gives her a goal. A standard to try to live up to. 

Happy Birthday Dear!

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