Batter Licker

December 27, 2010

spice-boiled shrimp and cocktail sauce

I’ve had a lot of bad shrimp cocktails in my life. You know, the ones where the shrimp is rubbery from overcooking, the $19 restaurant appetizer features only four measly little creatures, the shrimp has absolutely zero seasoning whatsoever, or the cocktail sauce tastes like ketchup and ketchup only. But all those shrimp cocktail mishaps (especially the ones at renowned, expensive fish restaurants!) were for the better because they encouraged me to start making shrimp cocktail at home.

In other words, this is not one of those disappointing, lackluster recipes.

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This shrimp cocktail may be unlike any one you’ve ever had in that the shrimp, while boiled, is actually seasoned. A little lemon, some very flavorful Creole seasoning from my Jambalaya recipe, and a tiny bit of salt infuse the shrimp with the subtle flavor you may not have realized you were missing. And with just two minutes of cooking time and a quick shock in ice water to prevent shrimp from continuing to cook and becoming rubbery, this dish comes together in mere minutes.

The cocktail sauce also comes together with a quickly whisked combination of sweet ketchup, spicy horseradish, fresh lemon juice, and a little Worcestershire sauce, chili powder and salt to round it out. (more…)

November 15, 2010

creole jambalaya

I love spicy foods, and when I have some peppers and onions left over from fajitas, jambalaya is a good way to make use of these veggies and other pantry items I always have on hand. Plus, jambalaya mixes it up a bit so the leftover-friendly dish has some bite without having the same Mexican flavor profile and doesn’t seem quite so left over.

Compared to other spicy, complex, and delicious Southern creole dishes, such as gumbos and étouffées, jambalaya is much simpler and less time consuming to prepare. But it still looks and tastes incredibly flavorful and much more labor intensive than it is, which is never a bad thing.

While there are several types of jambalaya out there, the creole variety is my personal preference. Not that I’d turn down a cajun jambalaya, but there’s something about the tomato-based creole version – probably the acidity of the tomatoes – that just really balances the spice intensiveness of this dish.

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Jambalaya is typically made with rice cooked directly in the sauce, but I usually do a pasta version. Pasta not only cooks faster than rice, but penne rigate is particularly fantastic for this dish because the ridges add texture and really catch more of the sauce. (more…)

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