August 24, 2015

What we cooked and ate last week:

Monday: Sole with lemon-basil pesto, sautéed corn, arugula with lemon and olive oil
Tuesday: Weeknight celebration with Hilda, Tim and Peter Slavish and Billy Stewart – Chicken Chemuin, corn, caprese salad, fig and fennel caponata
Thursday: Dunnings night at Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle
Friday: At Dick and Hilly’s place in Easton, MD with Hilda and Tim – superb soft-shell crabs, caprese salad, corn and Armagnac
Saturday: Robert Morris Inn in Oxford, MD, with the Slavishes and Greenbaum-Spences
Sunday: Corn and tomatoes from the Eastern shore with Gamberetti delll’ Adriatico (well- okay, grilled shrimp in the style of Eastern Italy)

The best meal of the week, hands-down, was Dick Greenbaum’s soft-shell crabs and Hilary Spence’s Caprese Salad. The cooking was superb, the ingredients world-class and the setting and the company may never be equaled, except by Tuesday night’s dinner. It is true that Dick’s over-the-top addition of Armagnac as a mind-altering digestif was unfairly thrown into the balance. But who can argue? Tim and I couldn’t – by then we had lost control of our consonants, or as Dick heard it, our “continents.” And Dick was adrift on a sea of French brandy and functionally deaf. Hilly, Hilda and Beez kindly refrained from calling the riot police to control us. If you want the recipe for the great meal we had on Friday, here you go: Become friends with Dick and Hilly.

And, so that you don’t feel too left out – here are some suggestions for a quick meal (maybe 30 minutes from start to finish), if you get home a little wobbly from a great road trip, facing the prospect of an early morning the next day.

On the way home from the Eastern Shore stop at a farm stand and pick up tomatoes, corn, zucchini and summer squash. Look in your refrigerator for some protein – we had some shrimp in the freezer – cleaned, with tails on.

Fix a cocktail – turn on 60 minutes and mambo through the following steps.

Grilled Shrimp w/ Eastern Shore Corn and Tomatoes

Quick defrost (10 minutes or so) – put them under running water

Then soak the shrimp in salted ice-water for about 20 minutes to plump them up.

Meanwhile, cut up some cherry tomatoes – halve if small, quarter if large – and toss into a bowl with some minced garlic, a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil and a bunch (maybe 3 or 4 tablespoons) of chopped parsley. Drain the shrimp, pat dry and toss with the tomato mixture and keep cold until you’re ready to cook. At which time, heat some olive oil over medium to medium high in a skillet and add the shrimp, leaving the vegetables in the bowl (some of the parsley and garlic will adhere – fix another drink, if necessary to avoid worrying about this). Cook until the shrimp is pink (about 3 minutes a side), dump the tomatoes and herbs into the pan to heat through and serve either hot or at room temperature.

You can figure out the corn and caprese for yourself.

You can also figure out the zucchini – but here’s something we worked out one night and have been eating ever since:

Sauted Zucchini Cut the zucchini (and summer squash, if you have it) into 1/8 inch wafers. Put some olive oil and a tablespoon or two of butter in a large skillet (or use two skillets) over medium-high and after the butter stops bubbling, place the zucchini in the skillet so that each wafer contacts the pan. This is a bit of a pain, but the result is worth it. Season aggressively with salt, pepper, dried thyme and oregano and after the zucchini gets some color – browning is even better – maybe 3 to 4 minutes – turn them to color the other side.

After dinner, don’t forget to offer your guests some Armagnac, but advise them not to drink it, if they have to get up and work the next morning.

(Note: the recipe that gave me the idea for the shrimp called for sun-dried tomatoes (5 or 6) soaked in hot water and minced, instead of cherry tomatoes. I think the recipe tastes lighter and more summery if you use raw cherry tomatoes instead – but hey, do what you think is right.)

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