Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spicy Shrimp with Creamy Polenta

What's the old saying? "April showers bring May flowers". Today is April 11 and we had more than showers here in sunny CA. It rained like Noah was building his ark all night long and into the day. I expect masses of flowers next month from last night's rain alone!

When the weather is like that, all I want to make is some sort of cozy, warm food.   Are you like that too?  I had everything I needed for this recipe except chicken broth for the polenta. I used water and a bit of milk and frankly my dear, I like the way it turned out better than with chicken broth.

I neglected to take step by step pictures this time (sorry about that!), but this is EASY! 

Here's how to do it:


For the polenta:

4 C water
1 C milk
1 C polenta
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 TBL creme fraiche
1/2 C heavy cream or half & half
3/4 C Parmesan cheese

For the shrimp:

2 TBL olive oil
2 large shallots, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with juice
1/4 C water
1 pound frozen shrimp, thawed, peeled and deveined
1/4 tsp hot sauce
finely chopped parsley for garnish

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and milk just to a boil for the polenta. With a whisk, add the polenta, a little at a time, whisking thoroughly each time.  Season with the salt and pepper and turn the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, whisking OFTEN! ( I like to keep a lid on the pan to hold in the moisture).

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic, cooking til soft but not browned, about 6-8 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, plus the 1/4 C water to the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low.

3. When the polenta has cooked for 20 minutes, add the creme fraiche, cream and Parmesan cheese, stirring between each addition. Stir it some more.  Keep stirring.

4. Add the shrimp to the tomato mixture and cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes or until shrimp have just turned pink. Don't overcook or you will have rubbery shrimp.  Add the hot sauce and serve over the polenta. Garnish with parsley.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Oh Galette!

Why do I love the Galette? Because it's like "Pie For Dummies". You don't need any sort of expertise or crust making skills to make a galette.  A galette is a rustic kind of food - country folk food - otherwise known as "not fancy" (although I really like being fancy....but that's for another post). 

Here's what the internet has to say about the galette: Galette is a general term used in the French cuisine to designate various types of flat, round or freeform crusty cakes.  In my opinion, "FREEFORM" is the operative in this sentence!  

If you are wondering what you can put inside of the amazing galette, just do an internet search for fruit galette and also savory galette and you will find a myriad of recipes. 

This recipe comes from a food magazine....that I love. The founder of the magazine has a name that rhymes with "Artha" and also has gone to jail. I love her. 

I promise you - this crust is to DIE for.  If you decide to make this, I hope you will leave a comment saying how fab the crust is so that others will know it's not just me.

Here's how to do it:


2 1/2 C plus 2 TBL all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 C (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
5 TBL plus 1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 C ice water
1/4 C almonds (whole, skin on, toasted)
5-6 plums, halved, pitted, and sliced 1/4 inch thick (keep slices together to make it look pretty......or just throw them in there - it's a galette! Do whatever you'd like!)
1-2 TBL heavy cream


1. In a food processor, combine 2 1/2 C flour, butter and 1 tsp sugar and salt. Pulse until the mixture is like sand or coarse meal. Sprinkle with 1/4 C of the ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed. Only add remaining 1/4 C water, 1 TBL at a time, if the mixture doesn't hold together.   Remove dough from processor and shape into a disk. Then wrap the disk in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for about an hour.

See...sandy, but holds together...not too dry...not too wet.  

Dump the mess onto the plastic wrap - then form into a disk. 

Wrap the whole thing and it should look like this
 (you can see my finger marks from smoothing it out).

2. Wipe the processor bowl and add the almonds, 3 TBL sugar and 2 TBL flour. Pulse until ground to a coarse meal.

3. Preheat oven to 350. Take the dough disk out of the fridge and let it warm up for several minutes on the counter. On a floured surface, and with a floured rolling pin,  roll the dough disk to 1/4 inch thickness. It should be as wide of a circle as you can get for 1/4 inch thickness. 

(I like to roll right on a silpat, then transfer the mat right to the baking sheet, but you can roll and transfer the dough by rolling it gently around the pin and then onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper).

4. Sprinkle the almond mixture over the dough. With a spatula, transfer the plums to the dough (or just throw them on doesn't's a galette!) and slightly fan the plums out a bit, leaving about a 2 inch border. Fold the edge of the dough over the fruit.  Refrigerate about 20 minutes then brush the crust with a bit of heavy cream and sprinkle with 2 TBL of sugar. 

Honestly...I made the edges of this crust a wee bit too large. But HEY! It's a galette!
You can do whatever you want to do!

5. Bake until crust is golden - about 70 minutes.

It is divine with a little vanilla ice cream.  Just sayin'.