Saturday, August 29, 2009

My Fried Fiesta.

Every now and then my body gets a craving for something. Every now and then I want some greens and I have to have a salad with a mesclun and arugula and basil mix from the garden with fresh cucumber and heirloom tomato from the garden, with almonds, with red onion, with green pepper from the garden, with bacon and croutons and a hard-boiled egg. And some kind of cheese. And my homemade Eye-tal-yun dressing: balsamic/cider vinegar to the first line on a Good Seasons cruet minced garlic Italian seasoning oregano onion powder granulated garlic some Grey Poupon Dijon and some soy sauce. You get the picture. Every now and then I want some dark greens and I have to have some collard, turnip, and mustard greens with potatoes cooked in with them and served with vinegar and butter. It coats my very soul. Every now and then I want some red meat and I have to have a bloody rare steak. Tonight, it was fried food. I listen to my body. My body is a temple.
What I decided on for my fried tooth fix was a grit cake with a bacon vinaigrette and a shrimp cake with a chili citrus cream sauce. Sunday morning I had made sausage biscuits with gravy and a creamy, cheesy side of grits. It was the Hawthorne boys' last breakfast at home and their favorite. I saved the "leftover" grits and planned to turn them into "moreover" grits. Hence, the grit cakes.
I also followed my rule from the other week to divest my freezers of their bounty. I thawed out a bag of shrimp. Small steps. Small steps. Now I'll show you how to simultaneously peel and devein shrimp.
Take scissors and cut down the back of the shrimp, cutting deep enough so that you ...
... expose the vein. With my right thumb and forefinger, I slid the shell off and, with my thumb, swept out the vein. Rub the vein off on a paper towel. Cleans up your thumb and the vein sticks to the towel. Next, my ingredients for the shrimp cakes.
From top left going around: red onion green pepper celery parsley scallion red jalapeno 2 little hot-as-a-firecracker chiles that were volunteers in my garden egg thyme basil
After I compared the shrimp I had with the ingredients, I scaled back on the basil, red onion, green pepper, and celery. (See back of cutting board.) I'm getting my Cuisinart out for this procedure.
I put in the shrimp.
Added in the egg.
And the rest of the ingredients.
I just pulsed 6-8 times. You don't want a paste or a puree.
You want different sized chunks of shrimp. As you can see, I over-pulsed. Rosie bangs head and kicks self. BAD ROSIE!
I grated in the zest of 1/2 lemon.
A tablespoon of Grey Poupon Dijon mustard.
Next, I measured out a cup of oyster crackers.
I put the crackers in a baggie and crushed with a rolling pin. As with the shrimp, you want the crumbs multi-sized. As you can see, I didn't make the same mistake twice. My oyster crumbs are properly done.
Fold the crackers into the shrimp mix.
Cantcha jes see all the flavors??
To form the shrimp cakes, I scooped a quarter measuring cup of the shrimp mixture and plopped it out in my hand.
I had a biscuit cutter the same size as the quarter cup shrimp cake and put it over my cake.
I then inverted my shrimp cake onto a panko-sprinkled, wax-papered baking sheet.
I ended up with nine pretty little 1/4 cup shrimp cakes.
And I panko'd the tops of each cake.
Cover and set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Now, on to my Bacon Vinaigrette. For the Grit Cakes.
I chopped up 6 strips of bacon and let them cook while I prepared the rest of the ingredients.
My ingredients for the bacon vinaigrette: (Or, as Sandy would say, Vinny Garrette. And Mars Capone is Al's long lost brother. And Pauler and Guy Fairy both say pap-a-ree-ka. Pet peeves of mine.) Back to the ingredients. 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar 2 TB Dijon Mustard 1 TB Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce celery green pepper red onion 2 garlic cloves thyme chives basil parsley
I chopped, sliced, minced,
When the bacon was browned and crispy, I added the green pepper ...
... and the celery ...
... and the red onions. Cooked for about a minute.
Dropped in the herbs.
A quarter cup of Balsamic vinegar.
A tablespoon of Lea & Perrins.
Two tablespoons of Poupon Dijon.
I taste tested and added 2 tablespoons of cider vingegar and slightly less than a tablespoon of sugar. Heat through, cover, and set aside. Reheat before serving. Now, my chili citrus cream sauce.
The recipe: 1/4 cup lemon juice 1/4 cup lime juice 1/4 cup white wine 1 scallion 1 inch cube of fresh ginger 2 TB sweet chili garlic sauce 1/2 - 3/4 cup whipping cream 2 TB buttah
I squeezed 1/4 cup each lemon and lime juices and added 1/4 cup white wine. I sliced the scallion and nuked the piece of ginger.
Don't make me say this about the ginger again: Rosie's Tip #228: Keep ginger in the freezer in 1 inch pieces. Take out as needed. Nuke for about 20 plus seconds. And you can squeeze it with your fingers and juice it. Mince the rest of the pulp and add in.
I wanted to reduce this by half so I measured it with the end of my spoon.
And I marked it.
And reduced it over medium low heat by half.
I added the rest of my whipping cream left in my carton. It was halfway between 1/2 cup and 3/4 cups.
Check the level ...
... Mark it ...
... And reduce by half.
Add in 2 tablespoons sweet chili garlic sauce. Cover and set aside and wait for serving. At service, heat back up and enrich with ...
2 tablespoons of buttah. A tablespoon at a time, swirled in. Just a lovely finish to a qibswedyk sauce. My two sauces are done. I'm ready to fry. After I cooked Sunday morning's grits for my boys, I evenly spread the leftover grits in a 7 x 11 pan, covered, and refrigerated, planning moreover grits all the time. Moreover grits coming up:
I took a biscuit cutter and cut out 4 grit cakes, top left. The shrimp cakes are on the bottom right.
Heated up LOLB and ELBOO, slid my grit cakes in, and immediately covered with a lid since grits spit spectacularly.
Six minutes on the first side and it's nicely browned. I went to flip the cakes and I have no lovely little cakes.
The grits all broke up and became a smooshy grit pancake. Now, don't get me wrong. The grits tasted great and everything but I wanted a cake. Individual cakes. Crispy, panko encrusted cakes and creamy, buttery, cheesy, corny grits inside. I didn't get it. The cakes just dissolved. But HEY! That's why I'm here. To come up with an idea about a menu/meal. Then try to achieve it. And when it doesn't quite come up to my par, I try to tweek and correct it. I share with you my triumphs and my failures. And offer solutions. Actually, I don't look at is as failure. I look at it as learning. Next, I started on my shrimp cakes.
I slid four shrimp cakes into a hot mix of a peanut oil blend.
2 1/2 - 3 minutes on each side. Drain. And serve.
On the left, grit pancake/ wannabe grit cake/ with bacon balsamic dressing. Bacon and grits. Get it?
On the right, shrimp cake with chili citrus butter cream sauce.
My fried tooth is sated. Unfortunately, these pictures were shot without the benefit of natural light plus I forgot to show the inside of the shrimp cake, so the next afternoon, Mr. Hawthorne sauteed some tilefish and 2 more shrimp cakes for us. First he peeled and chopped one of our heirloom tomatoes.
Add some chopped green pepper.
Cooked over low heat for a while, and added freshly ground salt and pepper.
He finished his sauce with a sprinkling of basil. Here's the tilefish and the two shrimp cakes. The shrimp cakes went for about 2 1/2 minutes each side. The tile fish was a bit thick so it went for about 5-6 minutes each side.
I used the bacon vinaigrette and also the chili citrus sauce from last night's dinner. Just nuked them. I should have heated the citrus sauce on the stove top and whisked in butter at the end to keep it from separating like it did in the microwave, but it was still quite good. I loved the fresh tomato sauce with the tilefish.
Isn't that a lovely fish? Sweet and delicate. Here are the innards of my shrimp cake. So now, I'll tell you what I would have done differently with the shrimp cakes: 1) More shrimp. 2) Less cracker filler. 3) Chop/mince/slice by hand, not pulse by Cuisinart. 4) 2 - 2 1/2 minutes for sauteeing. That way ... perfection. As for the grit cakes, I'm still working on that. They were good tasting, but not what I was aiming for. I wanted a creamy inside and nice crispy outside. I got a crispy pancake. Still all good.

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