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Shrimp with garlic and cava reduction/gambes a l'all amb reducció de cava

Shrimp with garlic and cava reduction/gambes a l’all amb reducció de cava

The last few weeks have not been particularly kind to us here at The Manhattan [food] Project, thanks to a series of injuries, illnesses, and mounting work stress that inevitably comes at the end of the calendar year. While everyone is physically fine (or at least close to it) now, in the last few weeks I had to deal with a husband who had a nasty sinus infection and a father who smacked his head against a curb when he tripped on a slippery ramp in Danbury during a weekend visit. (They are both fine now, but I feel like my sanity was hanging by a thread there for a while.) Even before all of that excitement I had been feeling discouraged, frustrated, and uninspired, and had it not been for an email exchange with a lovely reader, I’d be a lot crankier right now because I wouldn’t have this dish, straight from La Boqueria, in my repertoire. Read More

Barbecue Shrimp, New Orleans Style

Barbecue Shrimp, New Orleans Style

A few Sundays ago, when we were waiting for our flight back to New York from Chicago, Michael and I were wandering through the United Express terminal at O’Hare and saw that there was a flight to New Orleans was on the board, and while it was full…we saw two seats were open. For all of two minutes we toyed with the fantasy of getting a flight there instead of back home, but alas–practicality won the day. (Also helping: those two seats were gone by the time we came back from getting a bite to eat.)

So while there are no immediate plans to take in the NOLA food and music in person, at least we have this season of Top Chef to live vicariously and recipes from Saveur to transport us there…if only for a meal.  Read More

Ajo blanco de malagueño (or, white gazpacho)

Ajo blanco de malagueño (or, white gazpacho)

Yes, that’s a whole mess of Spanish and Català up there in the post title.  No, I make no apologies.

This meal was a bit ambitious for us, even for a Sunday night: in the mood for some delicious José Andrés-style tapas after hearing about Michael’s visit to Zaytinya during his recent trip to DC. Picking four dishes (the three listed here, along with a variation of this salad), I made a plan to get some of the work done early in the afternoon, after my workout but before I went down the street to see the Chilean movie No at the local non-profit movie theater. I really thought that I had it all in hand: I made the sofrito for the rossejat after we got back from the store, and everything else was pretty much self-explanatory. Or so I thought. Read More

Roncal-stuffed piquilo peppers

Roncal-stuffed piquilo peppers

Michael didn’t really believe me, I think, when I first mentioned that a storm was coming this weekend (and said storm has since blanketed the Northeast with a sizable amount of snow), but he willingly went along with my plan to stay in on Friday and Saturday and cook anyway. He balked a bit when I came home Thursday night laden with bags of provisions–likely thinking I was going overboard–but lo and behold, my instinct to stock up was right on the nose. That I was also able to get in and out of Fairway despite the fuller-than-usual parking lot was simply a bonus.

So while the snow fell and the wind howled on Friday night, we opened up a bottle of prosecco and got to work on a tapas spread. The one you see above was a bit of a punt. A delicious, delicious, punt.

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Bucatini con pesto trapanese/Bucatini with Trapanese pesto

It was with very mixed emotions I said goodbye to Michael a few Saturdays ago—I was off to Pennsylvania for some early-birthday celebrations with my family, while he was getting ready to head to England for a near-week-long trip. This wasn’t the longest he’s ever been away, but it is the furthest, and not having him handy when I was cooking, even remotely, meant that I was really on my own when it came to meal planning that week. And unlike the last time he was away for a long stretch, I wouldn’t have nearly enough time as I have in the past to plan my meals; after all, there was a Clásico to watch, and a barbell to lift, and groceries to buy on Sunday once I returned home from the Stamford train station. Fortunately, I was wise enough to ask for Made in Sicily for my birthday from my family, so I had a quiet ride on the Keystone to flip through its sizable pages.

It’s a pretty exhaustive tome on all things Sicilian that’s heavy on the vegetable, pasta, and seafood dishes, and it made me wish a few times at least that my birthday was a little earlier on the calendar so I’d have more time to take advantage of the many delicious tomato dishes on display. Other recipes definitely intrigued me until I realized the called for bottarga or uni (i.e. sea urchin roe), two ingredients that aren’t exactly cheap here in the U.S., but perhaps if I’m feeling particularly adventurous (and flush with cash), there may come a time to treat myself if only to try it in the future. I settled on a recipe that I had seen before, but never made from this book: a pesto trapanese that was exactly what I wanted: a fresh sauce made thicker by the inclusion of almonds and more refreshing with a healthy addition of mint. It may not need the processing I put it through via the blender, but I prefer a blended  pesto over a very rustic one, and I loved how it coated every strand of the bucatini. Read More

Outside Taller de Tapas, L’Argenteria, en El Born

Ever since I started seriously reading through Andrew Coleman’s Catalan Cuisine a few years ago with its gentle rejection of the tapas culture found elsewhere in Spain, the quasi-misnomer of Barcelona Wine Bar here in CT (and now Atlanta!) has kind of bugged me. If tapas aren’t a big thing in Catalunya, then why name a tapas place after its capital city? Fortunately, Andy and Sasha answer that question within the first pages of their cookbook:

We chose the name Barcelona because, while we planned to offer an authentic tapas experience, we wanted to feature a wide-ranging selection of Mediterranean food and wine. Spain’s Barcelona is a cosmopolitan, pan-European city that reflects this outlook.

It’s true: you do see a very wide variety of options in the city of Barcelona, but it’s very easy to get the tapas experience if that’s what you happen to be craving. And frankly, when it’s in the mid-80s and it’s humid and you’re definitely a little parched because there aren’t enough 1.5L bottles of agua sin gas to properly hydrate anyone, tapas are really the best alternative. And if you’re going to go for tapas, why not follow the advice from the best place to get them on the East Coast? Read More

It all began innocuously enough: I asked Michael what he’d like to make for dinner while the Food Network played in the background, and he requested tapas. So I pulled out my copy of Culinaria: Spain to browse through their tapas spread, first pausing in the Catalonian chapter to see if they had anything tasty that might also work. Between the two, I found a simple dish of sautéed shrimp with a tomato-based romesco sauce, and a bacon-and-egg tapa called duelas y quebrantos, which translates to “pain and destruction.”

We should have taken it as a sign. But then again–what would be wrong with eggs and bacon? Surely Ron Swanson would approve.

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Shrimp with orange, tequila, and garlic

Do you have at least a few cookbooks that are actually quite good but you don’t turn to often enough, and for no good reason at that? I realized this was the case on Saturday while flipping through our copy of Gordan Ramsay’s Fast Food in search of an easy recipe for the week: it’s been ages since I cracked it open and looked through it, and I couldn’t tell you why that was the case. The layout is kind of strange–meal menus are interspersed with five recipes that fit within arbitrary categories–and some of the photos aren’t as gorgeous as one expects with food photography these days, but it hardly matters because the recipes are good and incredibly adaptable. Two are already in our regular rotation, and when the weekend rolls around and I’m planning for another Tuesday dinner, I’m going to make sure that more are at least given a proper tryout in the future. Read More

Remember this from a year ago?

Spain winning the 2010 World Cup, July 11 2010

Oh, I still do. I can still remember the emotions when I watched that game a year ago (when this posts): I can still feel how I was wracked with anxiety, willing the Spaniards to overcome that whole “no team has ever won a World Cup when they lost their first group game” statistic and win against the Netherlands. And then Andres Iniesta scored and it was amazing and wonderful and Iker Casillas started to cry in happiness.

And then this happened yesterday:

The USA triumphs over aversity. (click picture for source)

This was a quarterfinal game, yet it was treated like a semi-final or a final: the number-one-ranked team in the world versus the number-one-ranked player in the world (that would be Marta), and it was rife with controversy thanks to some really bad calls from the ref and some childish behavior from the Brazilians during the extra time in order to run out the clock. But then a (literally) last-minute goal thanks to the combined powers of Megan Rapione and Abby Wambach tied up the game at 120 minutes of play, and  then the team dominated the penalty kicks. It was an American triumph at its cheesy-80s-sports-movie-best, and dammit, it was amazing. That it fell on the 12th anniversary of the women’s team WC win in 1999 in Pasadena was the icing on the cake.

That we made some delicious food seems almost secondary, but it’s the last home-cooked food I’ll have until Thursday (as I’m off to Chicago) so we reached, we shot, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Read More

Pericatelli con Frutti di Mare

I have a confession: there is a distinct possibility that pasta might be boring me ever so slightly. This isn’t so much against the pasta itself so much as I find myself a little bored with sauces. It’s summer, so the default topping I always seem to fall back on is some combination of tomato, basil and mozzarella–all good things, believe me, but I don’t want to burn out on that trifecta before August when the really good tomatoes are in the market. Defaulting back to my favorite ragus aren’t really an option either, because they are far too heavy after a hot day.

Finding no inspiration in our cookbooks (I think this is a sign I should get a pasta-centric one, don’t you?) I turned to the New York Times. (Aside: can we discuss how awful this ad is? It’s like they decided to unironically pay homage to every infuriating stereotype about pretentious New Yorkers ever in 30 seconds, and make them sound like the American extras in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. These responses to it, on the other hand, are absolutely hysterical.) I probably used up the monthly allotted clicks on my searching mission, but it was totally worth it.

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