Thursday, October 11, 2007

Stop 2 on the Magical Culinary Tour

11 october

i swear, not as long this time, since we've clarified the rules and all that crap.
the recipe is SHRIMP WITH TOMATO SAUCE, SAFFRON AIOLI, AND PESTO. this one has a fair amount of components, but let's check it out:

2 pounds jumbo or extra-large headless shrimp, peeled, deveined if desired
25 fresh basil leaves
6 tablespoons
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup saffron aiolli (recipe follows)
4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
salt and white pepper

What to do:
Rinse the shrimp and refrigerate until needed.
Puree the basil leaves in a blender with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and the water. Cover this light, very green sauce and reserve at room temperature. (Don't try to make the basil sauce more than 2 hours in advance, or it will lose flavor and color.)
Thin the aioli with about a tablespoon of water so that it is just slightly thicker than heavy cream. Reserve.
Cook the chopped tomatoes in a wide nonstick saute pan over medium heat until they thicken slightly into a light sauce, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Saute the shrimp in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil for about 3 minutes, until they have completely turned red. season with salt and pepper.
immediately arrange the shrimp on hot plates and carefully spoon the tomato sauce over and around them. wipe out the pan used for sauteing the shrimp with a paper towel and use the pan to heat the basil sauce. spoon the basil sauce and the aioli around and partially over the shrimp. serve immediately. serves 8 as a first course/4 as entree

saffron aioli (which is garlic mayonnaise -- and homemade mayo is WAY better than store bought and totally easy)
crush 2 peeled garlic cloves into a paste in a mortar and pestle or chop the garlic and then crush it into a paste with the side of a chef's knife on a cutting board. combine the paste with 2 egg yolks, salt and pepper, and a teaspoon of lemon juice in the mortar or in a small mixing bowl. gently work 3/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil into the mixture gradually with the pestle or with a wooden spoon. if the mayonnaise starts to get too thick, stir in a teaspoon or two of water or lemon juice. soak a pinch of saffron threads in a tablespoon of water for 30 minutes. stir the saffron and soaking liquid into the aioli.

how we did it:
i made the aioli just as the recipe says to make it. in order to peel the tomatoes, i slit the bottoms of 4 large roma tomatoes and blanched them in boiling water for 30 seconds. i put them in a bowl with ice water then just peeled them easily then seeded them. i sauteed the tomatoes in a wide, large pan (not nonstick) with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil. they got all smokey and yummy. i then deglazed the pan with 1/2 cup of water, stirred it gently for a little bit, letting it thicken and added some salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. i put that aside and cooked the shrimp in the same pan until pink and opaque, then took the shrimp out, but left the juice/broth in there. i added the pesto to the pan to heat, then added the tomato sauce and the aioli, then heated that, stirring gently. it thickens. then i added about 1/4 cup of shredded parmesano reggiano, stirred and then added the shrimp back, then shredded a bit more parmesano reggiano -- about 1/4 cup more. i stirred, then added 1/2 lb of some multigrain/high protein spaghetti i had boiled up -- without rinsing, it holds the sauce better that way -- then tossed all of this together, heated it through, then served it on heated plates with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese on it. i did all of this while brandon was at football practice, so i dropped him off, prepped everything: made the aioli; washed the shrimp; peeled, deseeded and chopped the tomatoes; made the pesto and boiled the pasta all before picking brandon up from practice. cook time of all of the components took very little time and that's big for us. two boys, both on football, needing to eat RIGHT NOW? yep, that's major.

i served this along with holiday grapes -- this big, round seedless beauties that are really delicious.

report card:
Nicholas LOVES shrimp with pasta, so he devoured his without a second thought. i don't think he even took one breath. Brandon isn't a shrimp fan, but he ate this and really liked it. one tip i would give is to let the aioli rest for a bit so the garlic really infuses it and it has no sharp taste. also, use really excellent parmesan to grate. i recommend it highly. splurge on it and on the saffron. while saffron IS expensive, a little goes a long way and it's well worth it. and, just for the record, i don't make a lot of dough, but when it comes to cooking and putting food in our bodies, i'm realy big on making sure we have the best quality and all of that.

the original recipe talks about how it's really important to keep the sauces separate for color and taste, but this was a really basic solution that went over well. and if i get lucky enough to work these things out like this each time, i will be totally jazzed. tomorrow night, shrimp and pork cabbage rolls from my cookbook, LET'S COOK JAPANESE!

fingers crossed.

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