Thursday, January 6, 2011


I used to cook.  I used to really enjoy cooking.  When I was single and lived by myself, I'd make a big pot of tomato sauce and eat spaghetti 3 meals a day for as long as it lasted.  Then I'd make the next thing and eat it until it was gone, etc.  I could make whatever I felt like.  Now there are 3 other people whom I have a moral obligation to feed and cooking isn't quite so fun.  Nobody else is willing to eat lasagna 3 meals a day for 4 days straight.  Besides there are quilts to work on, who wants to cook when you can sew.

Occasionally, I still hit one dish out of the proverbial park.  This is a recipe I created last spring.  What I really love about it is that all the ingredients can usually be found in the house.  My kids LOVE this dish, they call it shrimp and noodles, I call it shrimp with shallot cream sauce.  I think it was Tony Bourdain who wrote that two things a home cook can do to make meals taste more like restaurant food are using shallots and finishing sauces with butter.  Check and Check!

I'm going to channel Pioneer Woman for a moment.  I promise not to do it very often.  Assemble your ingredients, thawed frozen shrimp, pasta of your choice, olive oil, butter, garlic, shallots, cream, salt, pepper, cayenne and parmesan.

As you can see I'm all about easy, my shallots and garlic come in jars.  If my grocery store has shallots, so does yours, trust me.

Bring water to a boil and cook your pasta.  While the pasta is cooking, melt a teaspoon of butter with a teaspoon of oil.  Add half a tablespoon of garlic and the same of shallots.  Cook for a minute or so, until you can smell the garlic, throw in the shrimp and season with salt and pepper.  I keep bags of frozen raw shrimp in my freezer at all times. Cook the shrimp until it just turns pink, then use your pasta scoop to take the shrimp out of the pan.  This is another trick I learned from the experts, take your protein out of the pan before your finish your sauce.  Leave all the liquid from the shrimp in the pan,  Add the cream until it looks like it will be enough sauce.  Somewhere between a quarter and half a cup.  Simmer until it reduces a little, then add a shake of cayenne, this is the secret, and a quarter cup of parmesan.  The sauce will instantly thicken.  Add back your shrimp and pour over your pasta. There should be just enough sauce to coat the pasta, but not pool.

Forgive the bad picture.  If I were a food stylist, I'd add shaved parmesan and parsley or something.  Then, because I'm a mom, I'd have pick everything shred of green off the plate before my children would even look at it.  It's easy to not add the green than to take it off later.

I started off making one pound of shrimp and one pound of pasta, but then I didn't get to eat any as the rest of the family ate it all by the time I finished filling sippy cups and the like.  Now I make 2 pounds of shrimp and half a pound of pasta.  It is sort of an insane amount, considering one of the diners is only 2, but one night she ate 16 shrimp.  It's always better to have leftovers then to run out.  The garlic and shallots don't overwhelm the delicate flavor of the shrimp and everything is better with cream.  The cayenne adds the perfect little kick, that keeps the dish from being flat and dull.

Whew, taking pretty pictures of food is hard.  Tomorrow we will go back to creating with fabric.

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