Have I enticed you yet? Good, all is going according to plan... Whahahahahaha....
While I do cook all of our family meals, I've been so sick for the last two weeks, and was out of town for a while before that, that I haven't made a real good, home cooked, everything-from-scratch meal in a while. Last night some friends dropped over unexpectedly, and I was thrilled to see them. So I decided to bump up the similar, but less fancy version of this meal that I was going to make for DH & I, and invite them to say. One quick trip to the Mexican grocery store on the corner got me the extra veggies I needed, and I was on a roll in the kitchen, accompanied by a very lovely glass of Reisling. Let me share my culinary magic with you...House Pride: Roar, Roar, Gryffindor!
Project Name: Bold Gryffindor's Cajun Shrimp
Brief Description: The inspiration for this recipe came from Godric Gryffindor himself. With bold red spices and bright golden yellow lemons, it's perfect for this Gryffindor Girl's special Saturday night dinner with friends. I knew I wanted to use Cajun flavors, as they are one of my husband's favorites, and I had lots of lemons in the house due to last week's trip to Aldi. (Can't buy just one there!) So I set out in search of a recipe that would marry the flavors of Louisiana hot sauce & lemons. I found this recipe by Paula Deen for Fiery Cajun Shrimp
, but modified it a lot to suit our tastes, and the size of the crowd. (Her's calls for 4 sticks of butter & five pounds of shrimp!)
1/4 - 1/3 cups melted butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/4 tsp. liquid smoke
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 - 2 tsp. Louisiana hot sauce (I go easy on this, and let folks add more to their own portions)
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp. minced garlic from a jar)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
sprinkle of garlic powder & onion powder
pinch of cayenne pepper (I used less than 1/8 tsp.)
1 pound unpeeled medium shrimp, thawed if frozen
1 1/2 lemons, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
Directions: Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Peel your shrimp if necessary, and set aside. Melt the butter or margarine in a heat-proof glass measuring cup. Add the liquid smoke, ground pepper, smoked paprika, oregano, hot sauce, garlic, kosher salt, and a dash each of garlic powder, onion powder & cayenne pepper. Stir to combine. Slice your lemons thinly. (Mine were about 3/16 to 1/4 inch.) Lay the lemon slices in the bottom of a baking dish. (I used 1 1/2 lemons. Use whatever fits your dish.) Place your peeled shrimp on top of the lemon slices. Pour the melted butter mixture over the top. Sprinkle on a 1/2 tsp of Cajun seasoning, and a dash more smoked paprika if you like it. (I love smoked paprika.) Bake for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice, until your shrimp are cooked through. Serve with extra hot sauce on the side for those who like it super-spicy. And try dipping some crusty bread into the spicy lemon-butter sauce!As a side note, the best way to know if your shrimp are cooked is to know your A, B, C's! If your shrimp are Uncooked, they are a U shape. If they are perfectly Cooked they are a C shape. If they are Overdone, they are a perfect O.Challenge: Bertie Bott's Mini Challenge - Lemon
Project Name: Lemon & Herb French Green Beans
Brief Description: I have a whole bag of lemons in my fridge, and wanted to use them with some beautiful French Green Beans I found this week. Since Cajun cooking is influenced by French cooking as well, I went with some classic French flavors on these.
1 lb. French Green Beans
1 T. lemon juice
1-2 T. fresh chopped parsley (I used some I had frozen)
1 T. minced shallots
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 - 1 tsp. ground mustard (or whole grain prepared mustard)
1/4 tsp. salt (I used pink salt)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
zest from about half the lemon skin
Whisk together the lemon juice, parsely, shallots, olive oil, mustard, salt, pepper, & zest. Set aside while you steam the green beans. You can do this in a steamer basket over a pan over boiling water for 5-7 minutes, or in the microwave. Once the beans are cooked to crisp-tender, pour on the lemon dressing and toss to coat.Challenge: Hogsmeade Challenge
Project Name: The Three Broomsticks Famous Roasted Root Veggies
Brief Description: Classic pub food is always warm and comforting, just like my favorite place in Hogsmeade, the Three Broomsticks. This recipe was inspired by the friendly pub, and it's lovely mistress, Madam Rosmerta, who you just know always has something hot and comforting to offer a weary witch or wizard after a long day of traveling.
2 large parsnips
2-3 large carrots
1 sweet potato
5-6 honey gold potatoes
4-5 small red potatoes
1 shallot or very small red onion, chopped small (but not minced)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
several grinds of black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1 T. dried parsley
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. (If you are making this with the shrimp recipe above, you will want to start these veggies first!) Peel and chop your veggies into nice bite sized pieces. (I leave the skin on my honey gold and red potatoes.) Pour a half tablespoon of olive oil into the bottom of your roasting pan, and rub it around to coat the bottom and sides. Add your chopped veggies. Sprinkle on the kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Pour on 1 T. more olive oil and toss to coat evenly. (I just use my clean hands to get in there and toss everything about!). Use an additional 1/2 T. of olive oil if needed. Roast the veggies at 400 for 30 minutes. Stir and return to the over for another 20-30 minutes, stirring as needed. You want the edges getting golden brown, but you don't want everything baking onto your pan forever. Once they are out of the oven, sprinkle on the parsley, and stir again.
Notes: This recipe is very easy, and can be made with whatever you have on hand. Try adding red or golden beets, Brussels sprouts, turnips, or anything else you have laying around! If using Brussels sprouts however, add them to the pan 20-30 minutes into the cooking time, or they will be overdone.
Also, if you've never tried the honey gold variety of potatoes, I highly recommend them, as well as all the other varieties by Tasteful Selections. The purple potatoes are very particularly pretty mixed into this recipe, and all of them have a wonderful smooth & creamy texture. I find them at both Kroger and Walmart, and while they are slightly more expensive than regular red potatoes, their texture and flavor is totally worth it. If on a busy night you don't have time to roast everything, you can also chop them, and microwave them in zip lock steamer bags, with a sprinkle of salt, pepper, garlic powder & parsley. Add a tsp. of butter after they are done cooking, and you're done with an easy side dish that looks like it took more work than it did.