Monday, February 27, 2012

#192 Comfort Food -a la carte Pot Pies

A lobster pie from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook inspired me to come up this one. My daughters gifted me a set of coookbooks last Christmas and this one caught my attention. While Ina Garten used chopped fennel, fish stock, whole baby onions and cubed lobster meat in her Lobster Pot pie, I've used the vegetables like carrots, peas, zuchini and spanish onions in chicken broth with a touch of cornstarch and cream. Then the family got to pick their choice of cooked chicken or pan fried fish in their pot pies.
Comfort can often mean Individual Chicken Pot Pies with a hint of curry Masala. No matter what you say, curry does bring me a little comfort :) Chicken Pot Pie is a budget-friendly take on a classic American recipe with chicken, veggies and thick creamy homemade white sauce covered by a flaky crust
which my sweetie pies N and V loved when they were very young.  Even the husband R licks his fingers after emptying his individual pie.  The name 'pot pie' says something warm, brings back memories of layers of pastry with crusty brown tops over creamy vegetables and chunks of chicken floating in
thick broth. I stood back in amazement just watching the glorious crowns of puff pastry adorned with brown colored flecks. I had a bit of a disaster overcooking the chicken, but it still worked well with the delicate fish.

The best part is the childish glee and excitement you feel when you pierce the top with a spoon and dig
deep into the bottom of the urn to get to the vegetables and chunks of meat drowning in the creamy goodness beneath. Mind you the crust may fall off as you go deeper, not that it matters! Before you know it, you are bound to dunk the soft pastry in the juices until its luscious crunchiness becomes heavily
loaded with all the deep flavors from the herbs and gravy within. Since we all equally love more filling than crust I literally made it in individual soup toureens, but you can always make it in a pie plate if you'd like or in  a pyrex dish-- that's what makes it so versatile and fun.

Boneless chicken thighs- 1 cup
Fish cubes(tilapia)- 1 cup
Vegetables I used are a 1/4 cup each of cubed onions, carrots, zuchini, celery, green peas
Curry Powder- 1 tspn
Chopped Parsley- 1/2 cup
Puff pastry sheets-1 large sheet
Salt and black pepper to taste
Chicken Broth- 3 cups
Cornstarch- 1Tblspn
Heavy cream- 1/3 cup
Olive oil- 1 Tblspn
1.Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat olive oil in a saucepan, add onion and pepper,
Cook stirring constantly adding celery, carrots and add the broth.
2. Add green peas and cook well together. Mix the cream with curry powder, cornstarch and stir well.
3. Add to the broth mixture and let thicken well keep aside.
4. Cook chicken cubes and fish cubes separately. Assign individual soup bowls for each serving, if you go a la carte.
5. Add the fish cubes and chicken cubes in the dishes and mark the colors.
6. Then ladle the broth and vegetables over the meat into the dishes and top with chopped parsley.
7. Spread the pre-prepared pastry sheets on a cutting board and cut squares or circles to fit around the rim and cover around the baking dishes. Cover well, pin and fold in the sides to seal.
8. Using a little egg wash(beat an egg with 1 tspn water) brush the tops and sides of the pastry.
9. Place the dishes on a baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until the pastry
is browned and cooked well. Remove, cool for  a bit before serving.  Watch out..the broth inside the pastry is steaming hot when it comes out of the oven.

#191 Oscar Weekend with a friend's Fish Corn and Spinach Saag

It was pretty interesting to watch the Academy Awards this Sunday. I felt the best dressed was surely Cameron Diaz in Gucci !!What do you think?   The unreasonably good weather in Washington DC was just perfect this weekend. What's not to like about perfect weather at this time of year? Although on Saturday Mother Nature played a few games in our area which some of you early risers may have experienced. It was a phenomenon(no UFO sightings) of sorts.  I woke up a bit early and tested the air outside to go for a walk.  It was very cold at dawn so I stayed indoors.  The Hazelnut coffee that my husband-R brewed, wafted out to me and I had to get a large cuppa and settle down by the window.  As I was sipping the hot coffee, a light shower of snow pellets started falling from the sky, they were coming down real fast too. A little later, it stopped and turned into a soft shower and a layer of snow covered the grass.  An hour later the sky opened up and the sun was shining down upon us and all  this was happening so fast.  R had to meet with a client which meant a lunch meeting.  I was sending him off with a bagel and cream cheese when I noticed the winds getting stronger and wind chills were rising to create a wintry atmosphere.  So that's when I  made up my mind to stay at home and catch up on pending chores.

I jotted down four assignments on my 'to-do' list today. Even though it's a bit early for spring-cleaning, a few boxed mixes and cans have passed their 'used best before' dates and were waiting in my pantry to be discarded, my old cook-books needed dusting and cleaning from my cabinets(any excuse to flip through meaningful old recipes to read) and last but not least- pack up un-used clothes for the Salvation Army.  Who knows if I am good, I would like to catch up on long due phone calls to my best buddies!!  I will confess that I am a procrastinator and for those of you who know me well enough, you'll agree that once I'm on the phone I may end up on the couch for a nap, munch on a few snacks and that may be the end of my 'to-do' list!!LOL! While at it, I'm making dinner too and that too a side dish from one of my favorite blogs.

A few days back I was reading an interesting post on 'Only Fish Recipes' by Sonali Pradhan. Her incredibly delicious seafood dishes are so innovative, they've inspired me to return everytime she comes up with something new.  I've always wanted to try some of them in my own kitchen, but as I mentioned earlier, I have not got down to it yet. So today I am proud to say that the time has come. The time to stop putting things for later, the time to get down to cooking a nice dish from Sonali's kitchen and also catching up on my chores. So I set up my Laptop on the kitchen counter looking for ingredients at hand and recipes that I could cook from..  While doing so it may give me time to clean up my pantry too! That sounds like a plan, right?

Sonali's 'Fish Corn-Palak'  grabbed my attention this time. The full flavors of an unusual saag(mashed spinach/palak curry) with a beautiful spinach sauce and fried salmon immersed in the saag. I could not resist the temptation to eat something so delectable and healthy! Fortunately I had spinach, frozen corn and some Tilapia filets in the fridge which was sufficient to satisfy that temptation. It turned out so delicious you've got to try it out to know what I mean!! Here's the link to Sonali's recipe with detailed instructions on how to make it....

Thanks dear Sonali :0) I was able to get to most of the chores---mmmm all except for packing clothes for the Salvation Army!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

#190 Hasselback Swedish Sweet Potatoes

It takes only a few kitchen essentials to make these fancy Swedish style potatoes.You'll see why Good Housekeeping calls them 'Accordian Potatoes' with the way they look!!  Appearances can be deceptive and these could look like a lot of work, but actually it was a lot of fun.  Originally the potatoes were served in Hasselbacken, a restaurant in Stockholm. The gorgeous arrangement became a crowd pleaser and soon became well-liked by restaurant clientele. This is where the name Hasselback was born...

My twist with Sweet Potatoes is a variation from the original Hasselback Potatoes with a touch of sweet and spicy melted butter. I am surprised why this creamy flavorful 'hot potato' didn't make its appearance at my dinner table more often? I had to make one of the original Hasselback to compare the differences in flavor. They make a pretty picture too, because of the series of thin parallel cuts that run almost through the whole potato, allowing the melted butter to penetrate into the crevices and crisp up the exposed edges to perfection.

4 Sweet potatoes or 1 Russet Potato
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 tspn brown sugar
3 tablespoons Paprika
1 Tblspn fine dry bread crumbs and 1 tspn Orange rind
Special equipment: 2 wooden chopsticks and parchment paper
 To season the Russet potato mix together 1 Tablespoon Olive oil, salt, black pepper, lemon juice- 1/2tspn and 1/2 tspn dried basil. Pour over before baking. You have a sweet potato with orange flavors but the savory Russet potato with basil and olive oil.

How to:
•Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.
•Peel potatoes, transferring to a large bowl of cold water as peeled (to prevent browning). Working with 1 potato at a time, cut a thin sliver lengthwise from 1 side of potato with a sharp paring knife to make it stand flat on a cutting board, if necessary. Lay chopsticks or spoons parallel to each other on cutting board and arrange potato lengthwise between them. Holding chopsticks against potato, make crosswise cuts,
1/8 inch apart, down to chopsticks (do not cut all the way down to chopsticks on narrow ends of potato or slices will fall off). Drop potato back into water after cutting.
•Line bottom of a shallow baking pan (1 inch deep) with parchment, then butter parchment. Drain potatoes and pat dry. Brush potatoes all over with 2 tablespoons butter (total), then arrange in baking pan and
sprinkle with salt. Cover pan tightly with foil and bake potatoes until just tender, 40 to 45 minutes, then remove foil and bake until tender, 10 to 15 minutes more.
•Preheat broiler.
•Brush potatoes with 2 tablespoons butter, then sprinkle with bread crumbs and broil about 5 inches from heat until golden, about 2 minutes. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons butter and serve immediately.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

#189 Gold Fish, Lemon rice and Bottle Gourd Kofta Curry

I am sharing our dinner from last night with you today. It wasn't planned .........I started out making a lauki kofta curry and the meal grew into a simple lemon rice with raita since I had some extra time. We washed it down with a tall glass of sweet, salty lassi(yogurt drink) and that ended our perfect weekday dinner.  The plain bottlegourd or lauki is a staple vegetable that you are sure to find in my fridge quite often. I've mentioned this vegetable in an earlier post Bottle Gourd Curry so read on for all its benefits.  Most often, children flee from it because of its bland taste and some adults too. A kofta/ball curry such as this one is usually deep fried and immersed in a tomato-onion-spice sauce which adds so much flavor to the vegetable.  The spicy sauce is then balanced out with a cool 'raita' - a boondi raita comes to mind!!

Boondi- the basic boondi is made with a thin batter of gram flour. The batter is passed though a seive with medium holes right into hot oil, fried and drained well. The evenly shaped globules of fried batter are called boondi. The crispy little droplets drown themselves in a mixture of yogurt, cilantro, chilli, sugar, salt and chaat masala to suit your taste, and it all pulls together as a boondi raita.  I didn't have the patience to make boondi today, and I didn't have any storebought ones handy so I came up with an alternative for the traditional boondi - Gold Fish crackers!! Who said boondi was unhealthy? Why are Koftas deep fried? Although I avoided deep frying of any kind today, the koftas and raita turned out as authentic as ever with no compromise on taste!

Lemon rice, Lauki koftas and Gold fish in a pre-prepared yogurt sauce spiced with onions, chopped cilantro, chillies and salt.
  How to make the Lauki kofta curry:
Bottle gourd (lauki)  1/2 lb
Gram flour (besan) or tempura flour  1/4 cup
Salt  to taste
Red chilli powder  1/2 tablespoon
A pinch of baking soda
ginger-garlic paste- 1/4 tspn
Oil  to fry using a paniyaram pan
 For gravy  
Tomatoes  2 medium
Onions  2 medium
Ginger,2 inch piece
Garlic  6-8 cloves
Red Chilli powder- 1 tspn
Turmeric powder  1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder  2 tablespoons
Cumin powder  1 teaspoon
Garam masala powder  1/2 teaspoon
Salt  to taste
Fresh coriander leaves  a few sprigs
Oil  4 tablespoons

1. Peel the lauki if you wish, I usually use the peel because most of the nutrition is in the peel.
2. Now, rinse in water and then grate it and steam lightly in microwave for about 2 mins.
3. Let this cool down before squeezing out all the water(save this for gravy). Add salt, ginger-garlic paste, red chilli,baking soda, gram flour and mix well together to combine.
4. Make even sized balls from this using water to wet the palms of your hand to prevent sticking of the gram flour.
5. Heat the Unniappam (or Aebleskiver) pan and grease each little depression.
6. add the balls and toast/cook evenly on all sides until the batter is cooked on the inside. Remove and cool.

7. For the gravy, place a pan on the fire and saute chopped onions in a little oil until well browned,
add chopped tomatoes, followed by the garlic ginger, turmeric, coriander and cumin powders and when the
tomatoes have softened remove and cool.
8. Grind the mixture from step #7 into a smooth gravy set aside.
9. Heat the same pan from step #7 and add the gravy along with salt, allow to cook with 1/2 cup water until
any remaining raw taste of onions and tomatoes is cooked down, add the juices from the grated gourd and cook until the gravy is fairly thick.
10. Finally, place the koftas in a serving bowl, pour the gravy over it, garnish with finely chopped cilantro
leaves and serve.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

#188 Promoting Good Health Hybrid Power Tropical Granola

How is your morning ? Has it been any better than mine?
The last few weeks I've been in my office gym at lunchtime to complete the new workout program that was set up by our trainer. I don't understand why I volunteered to register for it but I did and it is my second week of success. I didn't realize that it included 16 days of multiple weight lifting, situps, and many other exercises to complete the Functionally Fit game. It is a rigorous cycle to work all the muscles of the human body, but my muscles are worn out every morning for the past few weeks.

I love the idea of strengthening muscles, so I took up the challenge along with some support buddies. That's when I realized I have countless friends ready to work out at a moments notice! An encouraging buddy your own age, can be very motivating at times like this when you must do squatts (like below) with a Pilates ball holding five pound weights. However, we've been bending over backwards just to keep up with the program, and although it has been a bit trying for me to get all the feats accomplished I am close to completion.   I'm also realizing that getting old is no fun when your mind tells you one thing,  but then your arthritic joints get a bit creaky and tell you something else!...LOL

BTW,  cooking is on the back shelf  for a couple days and I can only think of something healthy to share with you today. A commonsense approach to start the day right.  A homemade breakfast granola (while enjoying the foods you crave) with low fat Yogurt and honey loaded with all my favorite dried fruits and nuts. Mangle it with dried pineapple bits and salted pumpkin seeds for a tropical punch. A scoop of low or non-fat yogurt,  a tablespoon of honey drizzled over it and I've accelerated my morning with a boost of energy. How can you resist a breakfast that looks like this?

Quick Cooking Oats- 2 cups
Dried Figs- 1 cup
Dried Dates- 1 cup
Dried Pineapple- 1/2 cup
Dried cranberries- 1 cup
Walnuts-1/2 cup
Pumpkin Seeds- 1/2 cup
Brown Sugar- 2 Tbslpn
Ground Cinnamon- 1/2 tspn
Butter- 2 Tbslpns

1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F and place a rack in the center of the oven.
2. In a large bowl, combined oats, nuts, chopped fruits, seeds and ground cinnamon.
3. In a small bowl melt butter add the brown sugar. Mix well and toss into the large bowl. Toss well.
4. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until
the mixture is bownish, Cook it and make sure to break up large clumps before storing in an airtight container. When you are ready sprinkle over yogurt and drizzle with honey. Top with berries of your choice for an even larger parfait!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

#187 After Valentine's day Zabaglione with Raspberries

The Valentine's Day spirit is lingering around and I am craving something a little extra special! The custard I have today is a great gift from Italy. Zabaglione or 'zahbaloyne' as it is called is made by simply whisking together egg yolks, Marsala wine and sugar over slowly simmering water in a pan. The eggs thickened beautifully into a light and foamy custard while I whisked the mixture over warm water. A friend gifted us a small bottle of Passion fruit rum liqueur when they returned from an island vacation, this was my chance to open it and enjoy its full flavor. The idea of Zabaglione over fresh raspberries was a great pairing and was the perfect end to the meal.

3 egg yolks
1/4 cup Passion Fruit Rum Liqueur
2 1/2 Tblpsn White Sugar
1/2 cup Heavy cream  whipped into stiff peaks

1. Half-fill a large saucepan with water and boil well.
2. Place yolks, sugar and liqueur in a metal bowl and place over the warm water.
3. In this double-boiler, keep beating the mixture into peaks until cooked, soft and fluffy.
4. Serve berries with zabaglione and whipped cream.
5. A dusting of cocoa and your'e good to go!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

#186 Matters of the Heart with a Madame and Monsieur

The world celebrates February 14th by exchanging candy, flowers and gifts with loved ones all in the name of good old St.Valentine. Legend has it that Valentine fell in love(while in prison) with the jailor's daughter and before his death, he sent a letter expressing his love to her- signed "from your Valentine" that's how the expression came to be used.  A heart is full of joy in times of achievement and it may break in the face of loss. A heart can race in times of distress, but it can also burst with pride, skip a beat and always signifies a relationship built on care.  After all, it's no coincidence that February is the month in which Valentine's Day falls and this year it is also American Heart Month.

I've been blog-hopping today, tempted by more chocolate cakes and cookies than I have been in the past few months!  I am not going to bake today, but a little cheer up meal wouldn't hurt.  I am paying homage to the queen of the kitchen, Julia Child, and making my version of a Croque Madame/ Croque Monsieur. My version uses heart shaped potato slices and for dessert, decadent chocolate covered strawberries. This is a perfect home-made meal for two imperfect people.  As Sam Keen once said.........."You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly… "

4-6 slices of white bread
4 thin slices of white fish filet(tilapia)
4 slices of pepperjack cheese
pepper, a dash of hot sauce, salt
Quail eggs- 3
2 Tblspn butter

To assemble the sandwiches.
1. Cut the bread, fish and cheese into a heart shape making sure they are all the same shape and size. keep aside.
2. Butter the bread and place them aside.
3. In a skillet cook the fish on both sides lightly with butter until just cooked.
4. Place one slice of bread buttered side down and place first the cheese slice and then the
fish. Top with a second bread slice buttered side up.
5. Turn over gently to let both sides toast evenly and get a golden color. Remove.
6. Add some butter and crack the eggs one at a time being careful not to break the yolks.
7. Cook the eggs lightly right inside of a heart shaped cookie cutter. and center one fried egg over each sandwich.
Serve with Heart shaped fries 

Croque Monsieur
Instead of fish slices, use deli ham and make croque monsieurs. Make a store bought bechamel sauce or even a homemade sauce with 1 cup of cream, 1 Tablpn butter and 1 Tblspn flour salt and pepper. Pour over the sandwich into the heart shaped portion, warm to thicken and serve.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Confectioners sugar-1 Tblspn
Water- 1 Tblspn
Chocolate Ganache(you could make home made ganache or get a store bought one like me)
Fresh Strawberries with the stem or leaves still on- 1 pint.
Walnuts- 1/2 cup chopped fine.
Sandwich Bag

1. Follow the instructions on the back of the store bought dulci ganache and dip the chocolates
using a fork to hold the leafy end to dip. Rotate until covered well and place on a wax paper.
2. Mix together just enough water to the confectioners sugar to make a thick frosting. Fill in the
Sandwich bag and snip the end slightly to make a thin hole.

3. Pipe thin lines over the chocolate over and back until lines are formed.
4. Roll some of the chocolate covered strawberries in the same way but covering with finely chopped walnuts. Cool in a fridge before serving. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

#185 Spiced Butternut Squash, Orange and Ginger Jam

I came across this savory sweet Butternut Squash Compote or 'doce de abobora', a Pumpkin jam very popular in Portugese and Brazilian cuisine. A preserve that pairs well with cheese smeared on some crusty bread. I've mentioned this before that I am a huge fan of Butternut Squash, in fact I love all kinds of vegetables in the squash family. The excuse now is that it is fairly affordable and a healthy veggie to eat. Although squashes are available year-round, they are fresher between fall to winter so why not make the most of it, right? My attraction to fresh and seasonal vegetables takes me on surprising adventures and new trails, so now you can see why seasonal veggies take over most part of my dinner table. The yummy sweet Brazilian version that I recently read about tickled my tastebuds, and I slow cooked a spiced up version of the compote...

What you would need:
2 1/2 cups roasted Butternut squash
1 cup Sugar
1/4 tspn Salt
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cloves
2 cardamoms
1 inch piece ginger grated well
1 pinch of crushed red pepper
Juice and jest of one orange
2 tblspns Apple Cider vinegar
Start with cubed squash sprinkle with salt and pepper......

Serving ideas for your jam!!

Jamming it up:

1. Place all the ingredients in a large pot and cook on medium low heat until the squash is very very soft.
(It does not take any time to cook the squash since the cubes are roasted in the oven and soft to touch)
2. Stir occasionally about 30 mins or so until the sugar has formed a nice syrup and mixed into the pulp of the squash all the flavors have melded well together. Remove the whole spices with a fork and toss them out. Remove from heat and mash the large pieces with a masher.
3. When it cools down a bit, tranfer to an air-tight container and store in fridge.
4. Serve it at room temperature sweet with a slice of cheese or smear some creamy cheese over crusty bread.
I spread laughing cow cheese(camembert or any creamy cheese may be used) over whole grain chips with a dollop of jam/chutney ---accompanied by a cup of tea of course!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

#184 Touchdown Mash Potato Bar and little bites..........

How was Super Bowl Sunday for my readers? I didn't have any  plans for super bowl night, since we decided to stay home. The last thing any football fan needs is to be away from their TV on Super Sunday. Watching the NY Giants and the New England Patriots 'tug-of-war' for the Super Powers in Indianapolis was a bit boring in the first half but the end was so exciting as the Giants made it to the top. The high-light of the show for me was Madonna's Half-time show with all the old-time classics that she brought back to life with her classic performance---I thought it was even better than some of the commercials this time!!

A couple of friends called to see if they could drop by on their way home to the game.  I peeked in my pantry and freezer, pulled out a few tricks from my hat:) The kickoff for the 46th Superbowl at Lucas Oil Stadium was scheduled for  6:30 pm leaving me little time to get some quick finger foods. Fortunately, I had some leftover tuna cutlets (frozen last week) and some store bought pizza that I thawed out of the freezer--- always helps!! You've probably heard of Touchdown Chili or dip but who knew what a Touchdown potato Bar could do for a couple of hungry folks?

A store brought pizza set up on the table, for starters  Tuna Cutlets, my younger daughter V's special
Guacamole  a few drinks to wash them down and something a little more rich and hearty with a terrific appearance- a potato bar. I'm pushing all light, low-cal eats to the back seat for now and we do need a  big blast of energy to watch NFL.

 I was introduced to a mashed potato bar a few months back. We were attending a reception for my younger daughter V's graduation ceremony and along with dainty gourmet finger foods there was an impressive mashed potato 'bar' which really caught my attention.  Why? A staple food like the potato, was so artfully converted into a Gourmet treat by perfect composition and food styling.  It said a lot about making Gourmet meals on a budget and giving it an attractive feature to draw a crowd. I said to myself  "I don't have to spend a fortune on an expensive steak or Lobster to create an elegant spread,  it just took a bit of imagination and creativity to make something so simple".  Times are tough these days and money is tight, so what better way to be frugal than to make a "recession-style" Gourmet mash bar at a Super Bowl gathering?  You can go all out with special attention for each individual guest at your next large party. Make sure to set up pretty glass dessert cups and spoons to scoop, that way guests choose to top or layer with as many or as few toppings as they like. 

4 Potatoes.
11/2 cup cream
6 cloves garlic
1 1/2 stick Sweet cream butter
1  Chicken gravy Packet
1 cup bottled medium heat Salsa
1 cup Sour Cream
1 cup chopped scallions
1 cup Bacon bits
1 cup grated cheese
1 cup Sausage and Mushroom scramble
Salt and pepper to taste
The highlight of my Super Sunday Spread:)
Brown bread sandwiches with Almond Butter, Guava Jelly and crushed salt and pepper potato chips.

1. Place a Heavy bottomed pan half-filled with cold water on the stove and let it boil.or Use a Crockpot with water.
2. Meanwhile, wash and scrape the skins off of the potato and garlic.
3. Cube the potatoes and add to the boiling water along with the garlic.
4. Let them cook well and drain most of the water out. Don't drain completely since
the water gets absorbed very fast in the cooked potato.
5. Add enough salt and pepper to it and turn off the fire after a moment.
6. Add warm cream and 1 stick of butter and mix and mash with a potato masher.
7. When ready to eat, place the warm mash into a serving bowl. Slice a few cubes butter
just before re-heating the mash for serving.
8. Make the gravy and place in a dessert bowl.
9. Place all the rest of the ingredients in seperate dessert bowls from the same set.
This is a good opportunity to dust off some of those beautiful dessert sets or bowls
you have in your kitchen cabinet and display them:)
10. Have little cups or bowls and spoons for guests to make their own topping combinations.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

#183 Roman Arrabbiata meets Shrimp Pasta Puttanesca

Today my challenge is to get the family to eat a whole range of different grains. Sometimes pasta, bread or rice does get plain boring and I'm looking for ways to dress it up. What recipe is more appealing to the intellectually curious than the Puttanesa? I discovered that this recipe just builds up layers of flavor in a simple spaghetti sauce, the aroma of which permeates the kitchen and reminds you of many different seafood meals enjoyed in the past.  It is frugal with very few ingredients, affordable and nurtured to perfection with loads and loads of  new flavors. A pasta sauce with attitude the 'sugo alla puttanesca'(literally means 'whoreish sauce'). Although there are stories, it should not be attributed to a certain profession by any means. The sauce can be a bit tricky if the proportion of anchovies or garlic is exceeded, but I found out it's a perfect combination with a few shrimp and red pepper flakes thrown in with the sauce.  An experiment of sorts with fresh ingredients and Tadah! I serve before you the resulting family style platter..................

1 lb Pasta anytype of pasta can be used.
7 Garlic Cloves minced
2-3 Tblspn good Olive Oil
2 Tblspn red Pepper flakes
8-10 fillets of anchovies
1 (28 oz) can crushed or petite diced tomatoes
3 tblspns capers
1/2 cup black olives pitted and chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves.
1 Tbslpn water and reserved pasta water 1/2 cup
1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp

1. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a crockpot. Add a tablspoon salt and the pasta. Stir well and cook.
2. While the pasta is cooking, place a pan on the stove on low fire.
3. Mix together the minced garlic and red pepper flakes and keep aside.
4. Gently pour Oil in the warm pan followed by the garlic mixture and then the shrimp --be careful not to throw it in too fast,because it will spurt over you.
5. Add the anchovies along with the oil, and cook stirring frequently until the garlic is fragrant but not brown.
6. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for about 8 mins until the sauce is thickened.
7. When the pasta is cooked until al dente, drain and toss into the tomato sauce along with the reserved liquids.
8. Stir in capers, olives, and parsley and toss to combine well. Serve immediately.

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