When I'm not home taking care of a 3 month old puppy, I'm traveling. I spent some time in the southwest visiting family and friends... all in different locations. We started out in Phoenix, followed by several days in Palm Springs. My husband's goal is to see all of the national parks in the U.S. Many of them he's already been to (many without me). But on this occasion I accompanied him to Joshua Tree and Sequoia National Parks.
Of the two parks, Joshua Tree was my favorite. The rock formations were amazing.....
No....................................................................I did not sleep in a tent
Plus, in Joshua Tree's favor... it is not 7000 feet above sea level as is Sequoia National. Those who know me well, know it is extremely difficult for me to be captive in a car driving up the side of a mountain. I act obnoxiously, I've been told. It's a trait I am not proud of, and I feel badly for anyone who has to put up with my behavior. But you know... that's just the way it is. I'm sure I have many other sterling qualities that compensate for my disappointing display on the mountain side...
I also didn't pack for Sequoia National Park. Before we left, I read the 90 degree forecasts for the desert and never imagined being cold, in a place that had just received 3 feet of snow. No winter coat packed. No boots. Nothing warm. But... it was beautiful.
After spending two days in the mountainous winter wonderland, we left Sequoia with a slow descent down the mountain (tire chains required) and headed south to warmth and a couple of days with my husband's relatives outside of L.A. The last leg of our journey took us to Tucson and a visit that was very special to me. We spent time with Ginny and Ron; friends we made when I was a student at the Kansas City Art Institute back in the 70's, when I was in the Fiber Department and Ron in Ceramics. It was a visit that never felt like we parted ways when school ended so many years ago.
The Broccoli and Shrimp Pasta recipe is my version of a beautiful meal made by Ron and enjoyed outdoors... something we won't be doing in Saint Paul fore another 3 months (if that soon). Serve with some really good bread and glasses of white wine!
RECIPE SERVES 3
• Broccoli florets, halved, from 1 head of broccoli
• 3/4 pound capellini (angel hair) pasta
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• Pinch of red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
• 1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• Salt & freshly ground black pepper
• Lemon wedges, for serving
• Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1. Gently boil the broccoli florets in lightly salted water until just tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain and set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a pinch of salt. Add the capellini and cook until al dente. Drain and reserve.
3. In the meantime, in a large sauté pan, heat a generous drizzle of olive oil. Add the broccoli and cook briefly over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and cook, adding more olive oil if necessary, until the garlic is fragrant. Add a sprinkling of salt and transfer broccoli to a bowl.
4. Add a little more olive oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp to the hot pan; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the shrimp, turning once, until pink and opague. This should take approximately 3-5 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp.
5. Adjust the heat to low and add the reserved broccoli and drained pasta. Stir to combine and add an addition drizzle of oil. Divide the pasta between 3 bowls and serve. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice overs each serving and pass the Parmigiano Regginao.
TAKE a LOOK:
Whenever I visit France, I'm there in search of inspiration. And France never disappoints. Last summer in the south of France, it seems as though every amazing meal I ate incorporated a savory shortbread into the dish.
At Le Château de Mazan (check out the beautiful hotel and restaurant HERE) assorted chilled vegetable purées were piped atop a thin savory cookie.
At Chez Serge in Carpentras, my first course balanced a savory cookie over my smoked salmon.
When I returned home with thoughts of cookies, savory and sweet, I made this dessert of fresh strawberry ice cream topped with strawberry rhubarb compote, and placed it on a pistachio cookie.
... and I continue to dream of ways to include savory pastries (and cookies) in the meals I create.
For this appetizer or first course, I rested a savory jalapeño Havarti custard with honeyed cocktail sauce on top of a delicate cornmeal cookie, then crowned it all with a giant grilled, lemon shrimp. I can't wait to make this part of an al fresco meal on the patio this summer!
I fortunately had some leftover cocktail sauce that a friend made, and which I used in this recipe. * Ina Garten's cocktail sauce (recipe HERE) would be a good substitute. An excellent commercial brand of cocktail sauce would also work as a coating for the custard.
SAVORY CORNMEAL COOKIES
makes 8 cookies
• 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
• 1/8 cup cornmeal
• 1/2 teaspoon Maldon salt or fleur de sel
• 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
• 1 large egg yolk
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and set aside.
2. Combine the flour, cornmeal and salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse once or twice. Add the cubed butter and pulse until small pieces form. Add the egg yolk and pulse briefly until the mixture just starts to come together. Do not over mix.
3. Transfer the mixture to a lightly floured work surface. Roll dough to approximately 3/8-inch thickness and cut out 3 1/2-inch to 4-inch rounds. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake the cookies on the middle rack of the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until golden. Remove and allow to cool.
JALAPENO HAVARTI CUSTARDS
makes 4 servings
• 3 large eggs
• 3/4 cup whole milk
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/3 cup finely diced Jalapeño Havarti
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 4 tablespoons cocktail sauce (see * above)
1. Preheat oven to 375˚F
2. Prepare four 1/2 cup ramekins by drizzling 1/2 tablespoon honey into each. Gently spread 1 tablespoon cocktail sauce over the honey, evenly coating the bottom of the ramekin.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and Jalapeño Havarti. Divide the custard evenly between the ramekins. Place the ramekins in a baking pan and make a bain-marie (water bath) by pouring hot water in the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
4. Gently slide the baking pan onto the middle rack of the oven and bake the custards for 30 minutes, or until set. When finished baking, remove from the oven and then remove the ramekins from the bain-marie. Cool for 10 minutes.
5. Prepare and grill shrimp while custards are resting.
GRILLED LEMON SHRIMP
• 1 to 2 large shrimp for each serving of savory custard
• Olive oil
• grated lemon zest
• kosher salt
• cilantro, for serving
1. Peel and devein shrimp. In a bowl, toss the shrimp with a good drizzle of olive oil. Add lemon zest and sprinkling of salt.
2. Grill shrimp either on a preheated grill pan indoors or on an outdoor charcoal or gas grill until pink and cooked through.
1. Using a small paring knife, run the tip around the outside of the custards. Top custard with a small plate and invert. Shake to release custard. Place a cookie on a serving plate and using a thin metal spatula center a custard on the cookie. Crown the custard with a grilled shrimp and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Repeat with remaining cookies, custards, and shrimp. Serve immediately.
TAKE a LOOK:
Oh... how to make a long story short...? Well, here goes. Last spring I received an email from a stranger. The stranger, from Spain, was wondering how to get in touch with neighbors and close friends of ours. Why, of all people, was he contacting me? He had found them through LivingTastefully. Of course, I was suspicious. Yes, photos of Isla and Jeff have been on LivingTastefully's Passions to Pastry, but I never give last names. What in his search brought him to my blog in the first place? And most of all, were his questions legit or did he have nefarious intentions?
I forwarded the email onto my friends and found that they did know him. José had been a foreign exchange student many years ago and lived with Jeff and his family while attending high school for a year.
OK... I have had all of this explained to me several times -- how he put their names in search engines. But why did I come up? In one of José's searches he found a photo of Jeff and Isla at one of our New Year's Day celebrations. I still don't get it -- especially with nothing more than first names in my postings. But as my daughters always say -- "Mom, you aren't the first to know things." Or, as I'll admit, not the first to understand things, either.
Recently, José and his wife Marisa were in the Twin Cities for a class reunion, from his days as an exchange student. We finally were able to meet and one evening, along with friends Isla and Jeff, José and Marisa joined us for dinner!
Probably the most amazing thing of all, were the photos Marisa showed me of dishes she had prepared from recipes she found on Passions to Pastry.
José and Marisa
Grilled Shrimp with Watermelon, Basil, Corn, and Burrata was dinner that night. I'm crazy about this dish. Most important is that you have the freshest summer produce when making this. It may just be getting a little too late for that.
+ Grilled Shrimp with Watermelon, Basil, Corn, and Burrata