Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bad pictures of tasty things

Not to be redundant, but: interviewing is a very filling process. So why, every time I'm home for 12 to 24 hours*, do I make something complicated rather than abstemiously nibble on field greens? This time around, my excuse is that Andy surprised me with a new metal spatula, zester, and sifter when I got home. A friend of ours also came by with a nifty little blender as a thank-you for caring for her cat**. The upshot is that I had all sorts of fun new toys to play with.

Without a doubt, I can say that this is one of the most delicious things I've ever made. It's shrimp poached in a lemon butter sauce, served over a potato cake and topped with a homemade spicy relish of sorts.

With the exception of the shrimp (which, to be fair, were fancy low-bycatch shrimp), the ingredients are inexpensive and accessible, given a decent olive bar at your local grocery store. The size of the dish, as composed, is also small; this may work better as a substantial appetizer or tapas-type dish than as a true main. In fact, I kind of want to do this as a one-bite appetizer, using a much smaller ring mold to shape the potato cake (and perhaps only one shrimp per).

And now, the award for worst presentation goes to...

Molten chocolate cake is awesome, though. I misunderstood Andy when he said he wanted something that was "the opposite of a big pool of chocolate" and made him, basically, a big pool of chocolate***.

Butter-poached shrimp on potato cake

3-4 baby red potatoes
1/2 lb shrimp, cleaned and shelled with tails left on
4 tbsp butter, divided
1 shallot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
dash white wine
1 lemon
1-2 tbsp capers
3-4 large Cerignola red olives, chopped
1 large artichoke, chopped either a good jarred variety or from an olive bar, grilled/roasted preferable
chopped parsley
salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 F. With a mandoline or very sharp knife, thinly slice the potatoes. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and paprika over a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Using a ring mold for shape, if you have one, layer potato rounds in concentric circles until you have rounds of 3-4 potato layers. Generously spray the tops of the rounds with olive oil and salt, pepper, and paprika them again. Bake until the top layer is crispy and browned; the edges may be a little charred, which I think is nice.

If you want to make a fancy sauce, start by clarifying the butter: In a small pan, melt 3 of the 4 tbsp butter. Set aside until the milk solids settle out, then skim off the clear butter floating at the top; this is what you will use. In a fresh pan, add the butter, diced shallot, juice of 1/2 lemon, dash of white wine, and garlic. Cook, whisking, until the shallot is soft, then remove from the heat and whisk in the final tablespoon of butter. If you want to skip the clarifying step, just use all 4 tablespoons and cook everything together.

When the shallots have softened and the sauce is done, cook the shrimp in it until they are just pink on either side. Meanwhile, to make the relish, mix the chopped artichoke, chopped olives, capers, a bit of the butter along with some of the shallots and garlic, and zest from the whole lemon. Add salt, pepper, cayenne, and additional chopped garlic to taste.

To assemble: lay a potato round on a plate and top with a couple shrimp. Grind some pepper and salt on the shrimp (I found I did not need much salt because of the relish and potatoes). On top of that goes some relish with additional butter sauce, lemon juice, or lemon zest as desired. Liberally sprinkle with parsley.

*Yup. Home from Boston, immediately turn around and leave for Philly.
**Which, if you're reading this, is totally unnecessary because he's the best cat in the world and I would spend all day with him if I could. Gratis.
***"I feel so guilty! I wish I'd done a caramel bread pudding like you'd mentioned."
" feel guilty for making lavish desserts because they're not precisely to my specifications?"
"I'm a terrible feminist. Deal with it."

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