"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Potato Salad with Basil and Dill; Fried Rice; Grilled Shrimp


This was dinner last night.  The specialty was the potato salad because it was my attempt to reproduce a delicious dish prepared by Lydia Petersson.  She told me what went in it, but I had to figure out proportions, cooking procedure, etc.  It turned out just like what she made!  The fried rice is not unusual or unique, but it is very good, simple, and easy to make using ingredients that you will have in your refrigerator.  The grilled shrimp I do in an iron skillet, and the only trick is to marinate them in as little olive oil and Bay Spice for 5 hours.

Potato Salad with Basil and Dill

The trick with this dish is to put the potatoes into the dressing while still warm.  This allows the sauce to penetrate the potatoes and to “cook” the spices and the oil.  A very different taste than if you put the potatoes in cold.

* 6 medium Yukon Gold or Bliss potatoes, quartered

* 2 tsp. dried basil

* 2 tsp. dried dill weed

* 1 lg. garlic clove, halved and mashed

* 2 Tbsp. olive oil

* 2 tsp. Maille mustard

- Boil the potatoes until they are done – easy to poke with a fork, but still on the firm side.  Remember: they will still cook a bit more once out of the boiling water

- While the potatoes are cooking, put the olive oil, spices, mustard, and garlic in the serving bowl, whisk to mix well.

- When the potatoes are done, remove and drain them, halve each quarter, and place in the dressing

- Toss well, and adjust for taste

Fried Rice

The trick with fried rice is to cook the rice early and let it cool and sit for about 4 hours or more.  This will assure that the rice is dry, so that when you mix it in with a the sauce, it will not become gummy.

* 1 cup rice (any kind, although I prefer Jasmine or Basmati)

* 2 Tbsp. olive oil

* 4 lg. cloves garlic, chopped

* 2 lg. bunches fresh basil, chopped

* 1 red pepper, chopped

* 2 Tbsp. soy sauce

* 1-2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

* 1 tsp. sesame oil

* 2 Tbsp. Amontillado sherry (1 Tbsp. bourbon or cognac can be substituted)

* 5-6 shakes hot pepper flakes

* 1 med. onion, chopped coarsely

* left over chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, diced (optional)

- Prepare the rice ahead of time, as above

- Sautee the garlic, onion, basil, hot pepper flakes, and red pepper over high heat until done (the red peppers should be tender, but not too soft.  This should take about 10-15 minutes

- Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sherry, sesame oil, return to high heat and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Stir constantly.

- Add the rice, and mix well with the ingredients in the pan. 

- Taste for spices.  It is easy to add any of the spices.  If you need more garlic, use a garlic mill to grind some more.

- Serve

Grilled Shrimp with Bay Spice

This is very good and simple and really only depends on the quality of the shrimp, so I would recommend that you get them from a trusted source.  I get mine from a seafood market in DC (Black Salt) and they are impeccably fresh, sometimes never frozen from the Gulf.

* 1 1/2 lb. jumbo shrimp, shells on

* 2-3 Tbsp. Bay Spice (you can substitute Cajun Spice or Madras Curry powder)

* 2 Tbsp. olive oil

- Marinate the shrimp in the olive oil and spices for 4 hours at least (more is better), turning every so often.

- Heat an iron skillet till it smokes, and add the shrimp (I don’t grill; but I assume that you will get the same results over an outdoor grill).

- Cook over very high heat, turning frequently until all shrimp are pink, and some are slightly browned.  The trick here is to cook enough, but not overcook.  It should take about 8 minutes.

- Serve with shells on, plenty of paper towels or napkins for diners.

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