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between a roux and a bechamel

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Weekend, glorious weekend

This weekend got top marks. It was pretty much non-stop hanging out and having fun, mostly with these folks. Friday night, a bunch of people gathered at Kate & Kay's to watch the debate, eat home made red velvet cupcakes (thanks Kate!) for Nathaniel's birthday, and then head to the Cut/Copy show at the 9:30 Club. It was really, really fun. There was fun music, lots of dancing, bourbon, and even an old high school friend and her baby brother (who is not a baby anymore, and bought me a drink, which was kind of weird, but kind of cool). Then, naturally, we had a sleepover at the cabana, in preparation for our previously planned Saturday of Seafood & Fun. 

After a delicious pancake breakfast (again, thanks Kate!), Ezra, Ben, Kay, Kate and I meticulously planned a monster menu and headed to the D.C. fish market in south west. 4 pounds of shrimp, 2 pounds of mussles, 2 whole red snappers and 2 food processors* later, we were on our way home. After a quick trip home to regroup, feed the animals, and ya know, shower, it was back to Hobart House to prepare a feast. We realized at this point that we couldn't actually eat 10 pounds of seafood on our own, so we called a couple of people to help us out. Ezra made a delicious roasted tomato & goat chevre toast appetizer and some spanish rice & garlic shrimp. Ben & Kay salt roasted one of the snappers, and prepared the other with an olive/lemon/caper sauce. Kate steamed some very tasty mussles. And I made a big elitist salad and some really great shrimp & grits. This is the part where I share a recipe with you! 

Shrimp & Grits
I used this recipe, with just a couple modifications. It was drool-enducing. The grits were unbelievably creamy because they were made with... cream. 

For the grits:
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup stone ground grits 
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the shrimp:
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small mildly spicy chili pepper, like a cayenne, finely diced
  • 1 lb andoulille or spicy Italian sausage, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shrimp shell stock
  • 2 to 3 bay leaves
  • 2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails on)
  • pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • hot sauce
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 green onions, sliced 
Before I started anything else, I (well, Ben & Ezra -- thanks fellas) shelled the shrimp. We saved a bunch of them to make stock out of. Basically, just add 3 or 4 big handfulls of shells to water and boil for 10 or 15 minutes. It's better than using chicken stock or plain water. 

Pour the milk and cream into a 3-qt pot; begin heating, slowly stirring in the grits. When they begin to bubble, turn down the heat to medium and keep stirring. Let simmer 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat when finished, adding butter, salt, pepper. 

In a deep, wide sauce pan, sautee onion, chili and garlic in olive oil until soft (2 minutes or so). Add the sausage and cook until brown. Make a roux by slowly sprinking in and stirring the flour. Pour in the shrimp shell stock and stir constantly. Add the bay leaves. When the mixture begins to bubble, add the shrimp. Poach the shrimp for 2-3 minutes (until pink and firm). At this point the gravy should be smooth and thick. Add cayenne, hot sauce, lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper, parsley, green onions. 

To serve: spoon grits into serving dish, top with shrimp mixture. Clog your arteries and enjoy every second of it. 

The rest of Saturday involved drinking lots and lots of beer with lots and lots of friends, playing Celebrity and another sleepover at the cabana. Sunday we headed back to Hobart House to help clean up and eat leftovers. Then a motley crew of lady friends (and Coleman) headed to my dad's house to watch the Redskins hand the Cowboys their hats. In the last game we'll ever have to play in Texas bloody Stadium. 

In summation, it was a perfect weekend. 

*Not actually purchased at the fish market, but rather, at Macy's. Foodie friends = spontaneous kitchen appliance shopping. 


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