Saturday, December 31, 2005

Feta-baked Shrimp

As previously noted I love feta cheese! For a special occasion dinner, like tonight's New Year's Eve feast, this seems decadent and novel but is oh-so-simple to prepare that you'll not spend the whole celebration in the kitchen.

1 pound peeled shrimp (raw)
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
a sprig of thyme
2 tsp. minced oregano
2 tbsp. minced parsley
white wine
1/4 c. cream or evaporated milk
1/3 c. feta cheese (or to taste)

Oven 400`.

Arrange the shrimp in a casserole dish or oven-proof baking/serving dish. Zest the lemon and set aside. Squeeze half the lemon over top of the shrimp and let it marinate while you mince up the herbs, garlic and shallot.

In a small saucepan, heat some extra virgin olive oil, add the garlic and shallot and saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the herbs, then splash on a little wine (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup). Add the cream and the lemon zest. Stir, bring to a boil, then pour over the shrimp.

Use a fork to break thin chunks off the feta block and sprinkle them all over the top of the shrimp. Bake for 10 minute until the cheese is melty and the shrimp is cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges and a dusting of finely minced parsley.

I like to serve this with couscous or orzo, both of which I cook in chicken broth for richer flavor.

Happy New Year!~

copyright 2005 Valerie Schneider

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Antipasti Semplice

With the holiday season upon us, we've been entertaining friends and have been invited to potluck-type parties. With limited time there's always the dilemma of what to take, what to put out for nibbles while I finish cooking. I've concocted a couple simple antipasti that go over extremely well and take only minutes to prepare. Both involve prosciutto, a satisfying "decadence" that gives an upscale feel to your antispasto plate. Ready?

1) Prosciutto wrapped breadsticks
This one's real tough...take a rosemary-sea salt crunchy breadstick (available in your regular grocery store, often at the deli area) and take a strip of prosciutto and - yep, wrap it around the top of the breadstick. Repeat. Lay them on a plate or stick them upright in a water glass. Done.

2) Gamberi con pesto e prosciutto
Buy large precooked, peeled shrimp. Dip them in pesto (either a jar of store-bought or homemade, whichever you prefer), then wrap a strip of prosciutto around it. Arrange them on a plate. Done.

You can also purchase extra shrimp and put them out with a little bowl of pesto for dipping. Makes a nice change from tomatoey cocktail sauce.

Semplice. Soooo simple but they never fail to impress our guests.
Buon natale!

copyright 2005 Valerie Schneider

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Spaghetti alla Giorgio (al' limone)

On my last visit to Italy, friends Giorgio and Francesca took us to their seaside home for lunch. After a mixed grill feast that left me ready for a three-day nap, Giorgio took me by the arm, led back to the table, handed me a pen and paper and said, "Write down this recipe. It's spaghetti al'limone, but you can call it Spaghetti all'Giorgio!". He proceeded to dictate the simple concoction to me in Italian and I've made it several times when I'm in a pinch for time for ingredients. Simplicity! Here's the translation:

grated lemon peel (one lemon for a dish that serves four people)
a couple handfuls of grated pecorino cheese (or you may use parmeggiano)
salt and pepper
an egg
a little bit of milk

Cook the spaghetti. Mix the other ingredients together in a bowl. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and put it while still wet into a large bowl. Pour the other ingredients over the top, toss it well. The hot pasta will cook the egg while creating a silky sauce. Top with a little bit of chopped fresh parsley.

"And now, mangiarla!"

copyright 2005 Valerie Schneider