I know it’s been some time since I last posted on this blog. Well, there’s a couple of reasons for that: time, motivation, and depression. The first two are self explanatory I think, but the last, depression, is due to my recent trip to Italy. The food was so good there that I knew whatever feeble attempts I tried in my kitchen would fall woefully short of the food I dined on in Italy, and I didn’t have the heart to face my rather large inadequacies in the culinary arts. That and it was summer in Dallas and who in their right mind wants to heat up the kitchen?
So with summer in it’s last stages and the memory of Italy a bit faded, I took up pan in hand and had at it. I threw caution to the wind for two reasons: I didn’t have a thing in the cupboard that was called for in the recipe, and therefore if my attempt failed, I had a reason to point to if my attempt was inedible.
So on my recent day off due to my birthday, I spent part of it at Central Market doing a little grocery shopping. I spied some Key West pink shrimp and ordered from the fish monger my usual amount-“grab a handful”.
That night I had an excellent birthday dinner with friends at Capital Grill which included among other delights a perfectly cooked (for me medium rare+) aged sirloin with a Kona coffee and cocoa rub. Melt in your mouth…so I decided to cook the shrimp the next evening. Pondering what direction I wanted to go with the shrimp- simple, sauteed in a little butter, or cooked with a tomato pasta sauce, or with a cream sauce. I opted for cream sauce, as I had some basics on hand, mainly milk and butter.
Looking through an old autographed cookbook that was mother’s, “Ann Clark’s Faboulous Fish”, I scanned for a cream sauce that would go with the shrimp and pasta I had pre set my taste buds on. I had almost nothing on hand the recipe required but I had what I thought were enough reasonable substitutes to make a daring and edible attempt.
Let’s see, the recipe called for:
a) 1 leek and 1 shallot…nope, I have some mild onion and some dried chives-close enough
b) butter…ok, got that
c) shrimp…ok, still good
d) dry white wine…how about a cheap sweet wine a co worker gave me last Christmas?
e) fresh basil…how ’bout dried?
f) heavy cream or creme fraiche…yeah, right, how about fat free milk and some butter
g) salt…sea salt (fancy! score one for me)
h) freshly ground white pepper…um, forgot to refill the pepper mill so with a nod to my mother who used lemon pepper in almost everything but ice cream, I used some of that
i) Moutarde de Meaux or other grainy prepared french mustard…Does an old jar of a grainy mustard that all the vinegar had evaporated out of work for ya?
j) freshly chopped chives, dill, tarragon…gunna use the dried chives again
I boiled some water for the pasta, and while waiting for it to come to a boil that was enough time to make the sauce. I’ve gotten a bit lazy lately as I don’t even drain the pasta water anymore, I just scoop the pasta out of the pot to reserve the pasta water in case the sauce needs a little extra moisture.
Here’s the final plating with the wine and the yellowed cookbook that paved the way.
It turned out pretty good. I thankfully used only half the mustard called for in the recipe as the mustard was evident in the sauce, but not overwhelming. More of a “what’s that flavor?” as opposed to “wow, that’s some spicy mustard”.