Archive for December, 2009

Carribean Shrimp Fettucine

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

As I stopped at the roadside fruit stand today, I decided that I liked the look of the grapefruit and the pineapple.  I got a couple starfruit for good measure because I like them and they’re actually regional here (read: inexpensive) as compared to being such a rare commodity back in the northeast USA.

I spent much of my day today comparison shopping the many small grocery stores in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, and had come up with a couple pounds of fettucine and a pound of shrimp as the main attractions for dinner tonight.  As I pedaled my bike down the bumpy dirt path, a plan formed in my mind for a Carribean Shrimp Alfredo featuring regional fruits and their juices to create the sauce.

Carribean Shrimp Fettucine

  • 1 pound 36/40 raw shrimp (36-40 per pound)
  • 1/2 small onion, cut to very small dice (brunoise)
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 papaya, cut to 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 grapefruits, segmented, and juice reserved
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 2 pounds fettucine
  • cinnamon
  • pepper
  • salt
  • butter

Heat about 3 tablespoons butter in a large saute pan.  Add a half teaspoon or so cinnamon to the butter, and then put the shrimp into the pan—don’t crowd them, make sure they all fit!  (if not, do them in batches).  Sprinkle the shrimp with salt.  When the shrimp pinkify on their first side, flip them over and cook until they have pinkified on each side and curled into a ‘fetal position’.  Remove and hold.

Add a couple tablespoons more butter to the pan and another good dose of cinnamon.  Then, the diced onion and minced garlic & ginger, all at the same time, followed closely by a sprinkling of salt.  Keep ‘em moving in the pan–don’t give them a chance to burn!  As they toast up and caramelize, put in the pineapple.  This will, in effect, deglaze the pan by cooling it down and adding enough liquid so as to incorporate any fond that may have developed on the side of the pan and give the onions/garlic/ginger enough liquid to simmer rather than brown.

Toss the pineapple to coat it with the oil, spices, and aromatics.  Keep a close eye on it, stirring frequently.  As it starts to take on a bit of a cooked appearance, add the papaya to the pan, and toss to mix thoroughly with the pan’s other contents.

Start the fettucine cooking in a large pot of boiling, salted water.  Stir well as you add it into the pot and during the cooking process to prevent the fettucine from clumping together.

After the papaya has had a chance to cook for 3-4 minutes, add the grapefruit segments into the pan.  These are what is going to make this mess of fruit into a sauce.  Watch as the heat tears those suckers into shreds.  They’re going to lose all body and pretty much disintegrate into a pulpy liquid .  Pour in the rum and give it a chance to boil off.

Drain the pasta.

Add the grapefruit juice into the pan of fruit sauce.

Return the (drained) fettucine to the (empty) pot you cooked it in and stir a couple tablespoons of butter into it to help keep it from clumping.  Add the sauce to the fettucine and stir everything together to mix it.

Return the saute pan to the burner and put the reserved shrimp into the pan to reheat them.

Portion the pasta into six plates and top each with six shrimp.  Garnish further with three slices of fresh starfruit, if you so desire.

Photo credit: Eric Thompson

Belizean Papaya Saute

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

It’s the end of my first full day in Belize.  I swam in the Carribean and scoped out some tropical fish.  I made tentative plans to go on a fishing charter later this week (so I can prepare and enjoy the freshest seafood possible).  And, most importantly, I went shopping for local ingredients and used them to create some Belizean cuisine.

OK, so I don’t knows for a fact that a Belizean food scholar would deem this creation to be traditional Belizean cuisine…but having created it from local ingredients, I think it qualifies.

Jesse’s Belizean Papaya Saute

  • one onion, cut to small dice
  • one mirliton, cut to small dice
  • one inch of ginger, minced
  • 1/4 inch strip of habanero pepper, meat only (no pith!), minced
  • 1/2 papaya, cut to julienne
  • Juice of 1/2 large lime
  • juice of 3 tangerines
  • 3/4 cup - 1 cup local yogurt
  • 3-4 tablespoons of butter
  • salt to taste

Melt the butter in a saute pan.  Add the onion with a pinch of salt and saute, briefly, until it starts to soften.  Add ginger and habanero, and cook until the onion has started to caramelize and the ginger is starting to crisp up just a bit.  Add the mirliton and another pinch of salt.  Saute until the mirliton has softened and is starting to release its faintly tart aroma.  Add the papaya to the pan and toss briefly so that the papaya heats up–but don’t let it cook too long, especially if the papaya is good and ripe–you don’t want it to get mushy!

Once the papaya has had a chance to heat, deglaze with the mixed citrus juices; let it reduce for about 45 seconds, then stir in the yogurt.  Toss so that the yogurt combines with remaining citrus juices to form a sauce, then serve in fashionable bowls to appreciative diners.  Garnish with a slice of lime, if desired.

Photo Credit: Julia Luscher Thompson

Ummmm….No. Don’t Eat That.

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Mr. Orange–

We made about four times as much Caesar Salad dressing as we should have last week.  It’s been in the fridge ever since.  Do you think it’s still safe to eat?

If you followed the traditional Caesar Salad dressing recipe calling for raw egg yolks, then, no, you shouldn’t eat it unless you’re looking to make friends with Sal Monella.

Next time you make Caesar dressing, try substituting hard boiled egg yolks for the raw yolks.  Even cooked, the egg yolks maintain their emulsificating abilities, and will yield a silky-smooth dressing that is safe to store and use over a several day period, thereby eliminating the need to make your homemade Caesar dressing to order.  Simply mash the yolks into a paste with some olive oil, and follow the standard Caesar recipe from there.  For a tasty treat, crumble the egg whites on top of your salad.

Apple Salsa

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Hey Corduroy–

I really like fresh salsa but fresh tomatoes suck in winter.  Any suggestions for a wintertime fresh salsa?

You can make a salsa with all kinds of stuff (think mango/pineapple; black bean and corn, etc.), but this time of year, around here, apples are probably your best bet.

This apple salsa goes great on a cheddar quesadilla.  It might also be good with some bacon, grilled chicken, and/or black beans in a ‘dilla or a wrap if you wanted to make it more of a dinner instead of a lunch.  As presented, it’s about a 0.5 (or less) on a scale of 10 in terms of heat, which I think is about right: but if you wanted it spicer, it’s easy to add more jalapeno or use a different kind of chili pepper.

Apple Salsa

  • 1/2 red onion, cut to small dice
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut to small dice
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (meat of pepper only, no seeds or pith), minced
  • 2 apples cut to a small dice
  • juice of 1.5 limes (about 3 tablespoons
  • Salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice: to taste

Saute onions, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeno in a small amount of oil, with salt and spices.

When vegetables are soft and the onions have started to turn a bit brown at the edges, remove to a mixing bowl and combine with apples and lime juice.  Stir together to mix thouroughly.  Taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Serve immediately or within about 3 days (kept refrigerated).