I love it when a plan comes together, when a dish in your imagination turns out as delicious as the actual experiment. This is one such meal.
Last night I put a little gourmet Italian twist on southern-style Shrimp n’ Grits, then added a serving of smoky-garlicky greens as a side. The results? Not only was the presentation gorgeous, it tasted heavenly. As in I would absolutely put a this recipe in the category of “the perfect bite” and serve it up in a spoon to Nigella Lawson and Anthony Bourdain on the show “The Taste”. Then step back and wait for them to swoon and hand me the prize without further debate.
In place of the traditional grits, I pan-fried thin slices of ready-made polenta, often used in Italian recipes. I used Trader Joe’s brand, which comes in package shelf (not refrigerated), usually near the Italian section of the store. It looks like moist, cooked cornmeal made into a log and wrapped in plastic. That is because, well, it is. It is not the most appetizing looking food when you open it up for slicing. (Think yellow corn grits that may have been left too long in a pan.) However, once you’ve pan-fried them in olive oil and butter, with a little salt and pepper…. Look out, Louise. They turn into crispy-edged, buttery disks of corny decadence.
I can’t wait for you to try this recipe, a Taste of Tuscany meets South in Your Mouth.
Bon appetito, Ya’ll!
Shrimp Alfredo with Crispy Polenta and Greens
½ log of pre-made polenta
1 T. butter
1T. olive oil
Dash salt and pepper
For Shrimp and Alfredo:
20 pieces of raw medium shrimp, cleaned, peeled, tails removed
1 T. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup cream
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
1 T. Olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced,
½ red onion, diced fine
2 slices pork or turkey bacon diced fine
4 cups loosely packed, rough chopped kale and/or other greens, thick stems mostly removed
½ cup water
1 t. smoked paprika
1 T. vinegar, your favorite
1 T. brown sugar
Salt and Pepper (or Grill Seasoning or Cajun Seasoning) to taste
Tabasco or Frank’s Red Sauce or Red Chili Pepper to taste
Start the greens first, so they can simmer on the back burner. In your largest deepest skillet, saute olive oil, garlic, red onion and bacon, until bacon crisps. Pile the greens on top of this mixture in the skillet, cover with ½ cup of water, cover, and let the greens cook down about 5 minutes over medium heat. Take lid off and stir in paprika, vinegar and brown sugar, add salt and pepper and hot sauce to taste. Cover again and simmer while you make the shrimp and sauce. (Adding water if needed to keep from scorching, but no more than necessary.)
In another skillet (I like my iron skillet) let oil and butter melt and get hot while you slice the polenta into ¼ inch or so rounds. Place the rounds in the skillet and turn heat up to medium high so that the polenta starts to pan fry. When it is golden brown in places, turn it over and brown the other side. Sprinkle the tops very lightly with salt and pepper. Remove to a paper towel to drain any excess grease, then cover with another paper town to keep warm.
Wipe out the iron skillet with a paper towel, and then put in oil and garlic and shrimp. Cook for just a minute or two until shrimp just turns pink on both sides. (You can add a little water to the pan if the shrimp starts to stick.) Add cream and parmesan cheese. Stir and heat until cheese is melted and the shrimp and sauce is heated through. Season lightly with salt to taste, if needed.
Put about 5 or 6 rounds of polenta on each plate. Pile with shrimp and sauce. Sprinkle with smoked paprika. Serve with a side of the greens.
(Becky, the Mama.)
If there was one dish I loved more than any other as a child, it would be my mother’s homemade waffles. Life was good when that enormous waffle iron was plugged in and heating up. She used a recipe for “Oh Boy!” Waffles from her stained, yellowed, old copy of her red and white checked Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. I asked for them for my birthday and every special occasion I could find or make up.
I’ve tried dozens of other waffle recipes, and none compares to this very old standard. Today I substituted almond milk for a little more than half of the diary milk and used a light olive oil in place of the vegetable oil in the original recipe.
Insert me high five-ing myself right here. No kidding. The BEST WAFFLES I’VE HAD IN MY LIFE. Period.
Light as air, crispy…. Simply perfect. To me there is nothing worse than a heavy waffle, the kind where, if you take one bite you feel like you already ate the whole waffle and need to go lie down. If you, like me, prefer an airy, tender waffle, brown and crisp on the outside, a waffle that leaves you perfectly, lightly satisfied instead of feeling like you swallowed a ball of dough, prepare to fall in love.
We also love bacon with waffles, and I’ve found that cutting the bacon up before browning (I use kitchen shears) and then stacking the pieces atop the waffle to serve not only looks pretty, but allows you to easily get a little bite of bacon with each bite of waffle. Plus you get a little syrup (we indulge in pure maple syrup and close our eyes at the price), on the bacon: maple and bacon together make a very happy coupling in your mouth.
Airy, Crispy, Bacon Waffles
Make 5-6 Round Belgian Waffles
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I always give the flour in my canister a little stir, then lightly put the flour into the measuring cup, leveling off)
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups almond milk (I used 30 calorie per cup brand)
1 c. dairy milk (I used 1 percent)
3/4 cup light olive oil (plus oil for waffle iron)
8 slices bacon, cut in 1/3’s, cooked crisp and drained
Heat waffle iron to your desired temperature, putting a little olive oil on the bottom iron, closing the lid to let it distribute well and let the oil get hot. (I always use the Dark setting to get them extra crisp)
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour baking powder salt and sugar together. Make an indention in the middle of the dry ingredients and put eggs, almond and dairy milks and olive oil in the indention. Whisk the wet ingredients in the middle of the bowl and graduation pull in the dry ingredients around the sides until thoroughly whisked. Batter will be loose, and you make think it is a bit on the then side. Also as it sits it will begin to rise a bit in the bowl.
Using a long-handled measuring cup, put about 3/4 cup batter into hot iron. Cook to desired crispness.
Put waffle on a plate and pile up the bacon pieces in the middle, like a little bacon haystack.
Add butter and syrup and enjoy a little bite of bacon with every piece of waffle… (I also like a little squeeze of fresh orange atop my waffle, for a bright citrus taste.)
Leftovers: Since this recipe makes quite a bit of batter you can use leftovers in two ways: 1) go ahead and make more waffles, on the light side, put them in ziploc bags and refridgerate or freeze. When ready to heat, put them on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees until re-crisped and golden. 2) Save leftover batter in Tupperware container in fridge. Just before making waffles, add another 1/2 t. baking powder to batter to help revive the “lightness” and cook as above. This is my favorite method.