November 14, 2008

Live to Eat

Dining on elegant meals served on expensive porcelain plates by amazingly well dressed, attentive wait staff in Philippe Starck-like rooms has always been a favorite form of entertainment for me and my boyfriend. That is until the economy’s brutal downturn made spending $150 - $200 for such gastronomic frivolities both unwise and unwarranted. The Harrison, Gotham Bar & Grill and The Modern will remain our favorite New York City fine dining establishments and we sincerely hope they successfully weather this fiscal storm so that we can return in better times. But tightening our belts has allowed us to explore some of our more economical local eating establishments on a regular rotation. Over the river (that would be the Hudson), near my design studio in cosmopolitan downtown Jersey City, NJ, we frequent the ever popular Marco & Pepe for weekend brunch. The French Toast is made with a decadent, buttery croissant…there are no words to describe. South City Grill has become our regular place for date night because of the scrumptious Crab Cakes (as good as Maryland’s) and the superb Prime Rib, which my steak connoisseur man says rivals some he’s eaten in a few Zagat top-rated steakhouses. I’m excited about OX, a hot, new addition to the neighborhood, which I hope we’ll be able to add to the list soon.


But what we are most happy to be doing more of is cooking at home. I’ve awakened my dormant chef skills and created some pretty amazing home-cooked meals recently. I’ll be featuring one of my dishes (or someone’s dish I’ve claimed) each month in a new Live to Eat series here on Style Baubles. The dish that has received recent raves is my mouth-watering Shrimp Creole. Actually, I can’t really claim the original recipe. The late, great 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley is responsible but I’ve added my own flair so I could legitimately put my name on it. I won’t share my secret adaptations but I can definitely let you in on Ed Bradley’s incredible version:

INGREDIENTS

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
about 4 medium 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic, about 3 cloves
1 cup chopped celery
2 to 3 stalks 3 green peppers, seeded and chopped into 3/4-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 cups cubed tomatoes, about 4 medium
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons **Matouk's Hot Calypso hot sauce, or more to taste
2 pounds medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined.


COOKING INSTRUCTIONS


1. Heat two tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté the onions and garlic for five minutes. Do not brown.

2. Add the celery, green peppers and jalapeno peppers to the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about four minutes, stirring often. Do not let the vegetables become soggy; they should remain crisp.

3. Add the tomatoes, parsley and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes and stir in the *Matouk's sauce. Remove the bay leaf.

4. Heat the remaining butter in a frying pan over high heat and sauté the shrimp for one minute. Pour the tomato mixture over the shrimp, stir well and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat and serve with rice and lemon wedges.

Yield: Six servings.



Feel free to substitute chicken (cut into cubes) for shrimp – it’s just as delicious. You can substitute another hot sauce for Matouk’s but it will change the dish significantly. **Here is a place where this potent hot sauce can be purchased online. (Be forewarned – Matouk’s will open a flaming hole in the top of your head if overused.) Although a true New Orleans chef may question this version's authenticity, you can serve this delectable dish with confidence.

I believe that the opportunity to eat wonderful food is one of the many great reasons to get out of bed every morning so join my Live to Eat revolution every month. Enjoy Life!

Ed Bradley's Shrimp Creole Recipe Reprinted from nytimes.com
Shrimp Creole Photo Courtesy of bhg.com



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