Tag Archive: shrimp

Restaurant Memories

As a committed and well documented foodie, it is only fair I give credit where credit is due. Quite often, a meal out will inspire a new dish or flavor profile or a cake.  So, on Wednesday’s I will feature a review of a restaurant that I have dined at sometime.  You may have noticed the tagline “Meals and Memories.”  Most of these meals and memories are ones that were cooked and eaten at home.  Not always though.  I’ll start in one of the most memorable food places ever, New Orleans.

The name of the city of New Orleans alone brings to my mind a map of restaurants that I can’t leave without seeing.  How do I pick?  Brennan’s and Cafe Du Monde and Po Boys and Muffelatas, oh my!  I guess I will start with my most recent favorite:  NOLA  is celebrating their 20th anniversary this month.  BAM! What an experience.  Emeril Lagasse is one of the finest chefs and teachers.  I have made a lot of recipes from a lot of places but the ones he gives always workout perfectly and eloquently.  So, you know the folks in his kitchens do things his way and they turn out right.  I had very high expectations and was not disappointed.

Get Your Fork Ready!

On a steamy New Orleans evening in August, I walked the four blocks from my hotel to the rather unremarkable outside exterior building that housed a fantastic meal.  If you are looking for a quiet, romantic dinner go someplace else.  This was a cozy and relaxed place.  I felt like I was sitting in Emeril’s Food Network kitchen.  You couldn’t help but talk to the tables around you to see what they were ordering.  Had it not been completely gauche, I would have shared mine if they shared theirs.

I was quickly and kindly greeted and seated.  Our waiter brought me a refreshing mint julep as I studied the relatively small menu.  One thing I have learned, the smaller the menu the better.  Quality is better than quantity.

We ordered the BBQ shrimp to start and I had to taste the gumbo.  For dinner, what else would I get?  Shrimp and grits.  The BBQ shrimp had the lovely wood fire taste underneath a just finely balanced sweet/smoky sauce.  I ordered the gumbo without rice and the waiter looked at me like I was crazy.  I know, I know…not right.  My theory on rice is that it really takes away from the very intricate flavors of gumbo.  I didn’t want to miss a one in this case.  So, call me crazy but I was glad.  The gumbo was very traditional and very, very good.  The first gumbo I have had that had enough spice to it.  I didn’t need to ask for the hot sauce.  Then came the inspiration:  Shrimp and Grits.  I have had this a lot and made this a lot and Nola’s is and might always be my number one.  It was the perfect combination of everything.  Andouille sausage is totally underrated and very hard to find sometimes.  If I was going to have a criticism it would be don’t make it so big.  I felt guilty not being able to finish but it was soooo rich.  Clearly, Emeril makes his grits the right way with cream.  I should have stopped right then but how could I not try dessert?  They had a special bread pudding that night.  A chocolate with a caramel cream sauce.  It was delicious.  After three bites I literally couldn’t lift my fork.

When I was finished I just sat there.  I didn’t want to leave.  I just wanted to wait until I was hungry again.  Plus, we were having such fun with all of the new friends we met sitting around us.  Alas, it was time to go.  I didn’t take the rest of my food with me.  It deserved that place.  I do have that memory to go though!  In fact, it inspired my own shrimp and grits rendition not too long after that.  In fact, that rendition was part of a meal that took inspiration from more than one restaurant.  Take a read!  Come back next Wednesday to see where I might end up in my memories.

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Rosemary Grapes and Shrimp with Loaded Grits in Chili Garlic Oil

Rosemary for remembrance they say.  Here are a couple of rosemary recipes that bring back good memories for me.

Rosemary Roasted Grapes

Sounds strange I know.  I was a bit confused myself.  I had these at a restaurant in Austin recently.  A local hot spot on Anderson Lane called Bartletts. When the waiter put them down I went to grab some and they were hot!  Oh no, one of those over-priced restaurants that do ridiculous things, I thought.  There aren’t many things that I won’t try once though.  So, I proceeded to take a bite.  They were delicious.  They were so good that I just ordered vegetables for dinner and they were all good.  All of the creations had really great flavor combinations with very little oil and butter.  I am always looking for ways to make fruits and vegetables more appealing.  This is an easy way to do that.  These would be excellent on a cheese board for a cocktail party or appetizer.  Here is my rendition.

  • bunch of grapes-rinsed but still on stem
  • 2 pinches coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Place grapes on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle on coarse salt and rosemary.  Heat in the oven for 5-7 minutes. 

Rosemary Skewered Shrimp and Mushrooms with Rosemary-Chili-Garlic Oil over Loaded Grits

I have been building this dish in my mind for some time.  Actually since I had a very delicious BBQ Shrimp and Grits at Emeril’s NOLA in New Orleans.  I love that good food just inspires more good food!

I like to have bold flavor in my food.  If it is salty, really salty, if it is spicy, really spicy etc.   Rosemary is such a robust flavor I wanted to combine it with my other favorite strong flavors, chili and garlic.  I had to have something with it.  A neutral and light conductor like shrimp was just the thing but chicken would probably be good too.  I think Polenta would work well but I chose grits.  That seems the perfect backdrop to my favorite flavors and I am crazy for shrimp and grits.  This is not an everyday meal and I made small portions because the grits are so rich.  Enjoy!  I know I will.

For 2 servings:

  • 2 woody rosemary stems
  • 8 colossal shrimp (Gulf shrimp is in season right now)
  • 8 small mushrooms baby bella or white
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • Chili garlic rosemary oil for drizzling-see recipe below
  • 2 cups of cooked grits
  • ½ cup of cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled bacon (cooked)
  • Lemon for serving

Make the chili garlic rosemary oil the night before or the morning of when you plan to have these.  Soak rosemary in water for 30 minutes.  Drain and set aside to dry.  Wipe mushrooms. Shell and clean the shrimp.    Remove almost all the leaves on the rosemary stem except some at the end for presenting.  Using a small paring knife make a point at the opposite end from where the leaves were preserved.  Alternately skewer the shrimp and mushrooms.  You can adjust the number for servings and the length of the rosemary stem.  Place the skewers in the fridge until just before cooking.

Preheat the grill.

Make the grits.  When complete add cheese, chives and bacon.  Keep warm on stove over lowest heat and stirring occasionally.

Brush the skewers with chili garlic rosemary oil and place on the grill.  Cook for about two minutes a side or until they begin to curl.

Divide the grits between two bowls (oops mine got extra).  Lay cooked skewers on top and drizzle with remaining chili garlic rosemary oil.  Serve with fresh lemon wedge.

Chili Garlic Rosemary Oil

  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4-6 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
  • 2 tablespoons of chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary

In a small saucepan, Heat over medium heat for a few minutes until very hot but not boiling.  Turn the heat off, cover and let sit until ready to serve.  The longer it sits, the better it gets!

Taking this on over to Strut Your Stuff Saturday to extend the memories!  Also sharing with:




Fresh from the Garden-Cucumber Cups

Almost too pretty to eat....ALMOST!

I am certain where I got a recipe like this one – Martha Stewart.  Over the years, I have tweaked and changed it to my taste.  I think that the original cup was a cherry tomato.  When I want a quick and refreshing little bite or plate of bites, I throw this together.  This is perfect for when the ladies come over for a glass of wine after work on Friday.

  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 ear of fresh corn (Grilled and cooled for added flavor if you like)
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 oz cocktail shrimp cooked
  • the juice from 2 limes
  • salt and pepper

Peel the cucumber.  I peel it into stripes for presentation.  Cut into about 1 to 1 ½  inch thick rounds.  Scoop out the seeds and some of the meat leaving the bottom in tact to form a cup.  I used the small end of the melon baller.  Place on the serving plate and salt lightly.

Meanwhile scrape the corn from the cob into a bowl (be careful with those silky threads).  Mix in the cilantro, lime juice, corn,shrimp and salt and pepper to taste.  Let sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Fill the cups and there you go.  Its fresh, light and a great treat straight from the garden.