Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Mish Mash of a Dinner
My friend Shelly died of melanoma. At age 51. She'd moved to Phoenix about nine years ago. I'd see her when I'd go out there for a conference. Or we'd chatter away on the phone. She was the driving force behind Girls Night Out, a group of friends who've gotten together for about 20 years. She had surgery in March and they thought they got it all. In May it was back. By the end of August she was gone. The last month of her life we took turns calling to make sure she got a phone call from one of us every day. By the end she was on such heavy meds that she could barely talk. So, we had a memorial service here in Indy. It was a drizzly, grey Friday. Matched our moods. Each of us got a white balloon to write on. Then, we released them in unison. Then, each of us got about a teaspoon of her ashes to scatter. Afterward, we all went to our hangout for many years, Daddy Jacks. About half the crew had her favorite drink, Bacardi and Coke with a lime wedge. I'm not allowed caffeine so I stuck with red wine. We laughed and cried. I miss her.
So, life has been bittersweet recently. I've known that I needed to be able to grieve but wasn't really able to do so. Then, we went to see Calendar Girls. One of the characters dies of cancer. Yup, that unleashed a torrent of tears. Now, I feel better. Going to Phoenix next month for a conference will be very hard. I know I can do it. It's my broker/dealer's women's conference. They actually have a two day conference just for the women. How cool is that? About a dozen of us are flying in a day early to do our business plans for next year. The bad news is that my friend Windus who lives in San Diego won't be able to be there. And, Melissa from Kansas City has left to join another firm. I'll still get to see a whole bunch of friends. Yup, I'm pretty darned lucky!
Speaking of lucky, we had dinner with four friends at a great new Indy restaurant called Union 50. Liz is also knows as That Skinny Chick Can Bake. Her hubby Bill is such a great guy. Their across the street neighbors, Pam and Steve joined us. Steve and I have known each other since middle school... We'd highly recommend Union 50. Connie and I split a salad, mussels and a duck/duck confit/sweet potato dish. All were VERY good.
During dinner, Liz and I started chatting about how much fun a new blogging group would be. One with a monthly theme. Seasoned bloggers. By invitation only. The next day, we started chatting with our friend Christiane, The Mom Chef. The Blogger C.L.U.E. Society was born. Please come visit on November 12th for our first reveal. We'll be posting the second Wednesday of every month. November will be Thanksgiving foods. I can't wait to see what all of these talented bloggers come up with!!
After a lovely Saturday evening, it was time to head back to the office on Sunday. Someday we're going to be able to quit working seven days a week!!! After we escaped the office, we headed out to run errands. Then, we started cooking. Prepping for my last Secret Recipe Club post. Dinner for Sunday. Partial prep for Monday and Tuesday's dinners.
I'd wanted to try a shrimp dish from the Food Network cookbook I bought while we were out in Seattle. There was also a cauliflower that was getting very long in the tooth. Cauliflower gratin and coconut shrimp with jasmine rice and mango basil salsa don't exactly go together. Too bad. That's what we were having :-) What did we think? The cauliflower was amazing. I'll make that again soon. The shrimp was very good. I'd prefer larger shrimp but that's what we found today... Now, the confession... Alas, I didn't get a photo of the finished dish. Suffice to say we had it for three meals and loved every bite!
Cauliflower Gratin with Gingered Crumbs
1 1/2 lbs cauliflower, broken into florets
3 T unsalted butter, divided
2 T flour
1 c half and half or light cream
1 t lemon juice
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
dash of Tabasco
1/4 c grated Swiss cheese (I probably used half a cup...)
1/4 c fresh bread crumbs
1/4 t ground ginger
2 T finely grated Parmesan
Heat your oven to 350F. While it's heating. cook the cauliflower in salted water until just a bit more done than al dente. You do not want mushy cauliflower here... Drain and put the cauliflower in a baking dish.
In a small saucepan, melt two tablespoons of the butter. Stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Don't let it get brown. Slowly whisk in the half and half. Add the nutmeg, lemon juice, Swiss cheese and hot sauce. Cook until it's thick enough to coat your spoon.
Gently mix the cheese sauce with the cooked cauliflower. While the sauce is cooking, melt the last tablespoon of the butter in a small skillet. Add the bread crumbs and ginger and cook until browned.
Sprinkle the crumbs over the cauliflower. Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
adapted from Greene on Greens
Coconut Shrimp with Mango-Basil Salsa and Lime Jasmine Rice
for the salsa:
1 mango, finely diced (I used the jarred version from the refrigerated section...)
3 scallions, sliced (I used a shallot since that's what I had)
5 basil leaves, thinly sliced
juice of one lime
salt and pepper to taste
for the shrimp:
1 small jalapeno, seeded and sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 T dark brown sugar
zest of 1/2 lime
1/4 c coconut milk
small handful of basil leaves, torn
1-2 T vegetable oil
salt and pepper
1 lb peeled, deveined large shrimp (I'd recommend 25/lb or larger)
for the rice:
1 c jasmine rice
3/4 c coconut milk
3/4 c water
zest of 1/2 lime
This is much easier to put together than the ingredient list would have you believe! First, make a marinade for the shrimp. Mix it in a non-reactive dish. I used a plastic storage container. Add the shrimp and marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to four hours. If you're going to marinate it for more than half an hour, do so in the fridge. Um, that's a bourbon plum smash in the background... I'm hoping I can get Connie to weigh in on that one!
To make the salsa, mix all the ingredients together. Set aside.
To make the rice, put all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Simmer for 12 to 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
While the rice is cooking, pour about a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet. Heat it to shimmering. Add the shrimp in one layer. Flip them once. Cook them just until pink. Remove the shrimp from the heat and keep warm. Pour the marinade in the skillet and bring it to a boil. Cook it for at least five minutes. You'll want the sauce to thicken and you'll want enough cooking time to make it safe to eat after marinating raw seafood...
Put the dish together now. Mound a bit of rice on the plate. Top with shrimp. Put salsa on the side and pour some marinade over.
adapted from Food Network Favorites