Category Archives: shrimp

Big Night Dinner

People say there’s no place like New York, but there’s really no place like New York when the weather starts to warm up. Summertime in the city calls for long days in Central Park, open-air restaurants, and my personal favorite: rooftops. Two years ago I was lucky enough to befriend some guys who have a private rooftop — now we’re pretty much family, and cook out on that very roof multiple times a week. After the first balmy grill night a few weeks ago, I knew I had to bring back weekly EVOOs ASAP — plus I have the time since I just graduated and don’t have full-time employment yet. So, this really is a big night dinner: bringing back consistent EVOOs with a menu of Brandy and Orange Chicken Topped with Stuffed Shrimp, Fruited White and Wild Rice, and a Maple Nut Coffee Ice Cream Dessert. Let’s get cooking!

Mikella and I woke up on Memorial Day to sublime weather: it was 80 degrees outside with not a cloud in the sky. When it’s this nice outside hopping on the subway feels like a sin, so we decided to walk down to Chelsea Market. After an awesome, and slightly sweaty 25 block walk, we arrived at my all-time favorite fish market: The Lobster Place. I constantly rave about this place — trust me, you won’t find fresher seafood anywhere in Manhattan. We picked up eight jumbo shrimp and a tin of lump crab meat, then made our way to Trader Joe’s to continue our ingredient hunt.

We walked to the Trader Joe’s in Chelsea, and it brought me a lot of nostalgia — the Chelsea TJ’s was my first go-to when I moved to NYC…maybe it’s weird to get nostalgic over a Trader Joe’s but I’m a sentimental person, so let me be! We quickly found every item on our list…almost. I knew coffee ice cream was probably going to be a toughie to find here, and I was correct. Joe: you have the oddest ice cream flavors, why no coffee???

Due to TJ’s lack of ice cream, we made a quick stop to Fairway, then headed home.

As we were getting ready to walk over to our friends’ apartment (312) I realized my maple syrup was moldy….I didn’t even know syrup could get moldy. We needed syrup for the dessert, and no one at 312 had any, so we stopped at a bodega along the way. I have one question: why is maple syrup so expensive?! $10 for a tiny bottle is a bit ridiculous, don’t ya think?

We arrived at 312 to quite a sight: four hungover degenerates laying on the couch. The apartment had yet to be cleaned from the night before, and I was not about to cook in a grimy kitchen (guys if your reading this, sorry, but your kitchen freaks me out). Luckily my bud Christy lives across the hall and had a spotless kitchen! I prefer to have everyone assist in cooking, but I knew it was best to let the boys continue to be couch potatoes. Just Mikella and I were the master chefs of the evening.

Mikella is not very fond of raw meats, so I put her in charge of the rice dish. we chopped our respective ingredients, then she was the rice wizard while I handled the stuffing for the shrimp. The aromas of onion, pepper, and crab meat sizzling in olive oil and butter were mouthwatering. What’s stuffing without a little toasted bread too? What was supposed to be toasted bread turned out to be crispy bread (yes, there’s a difference) because I didn’t realize how quickly the toaster oven heated up. Mix a small kitchen with a girl trying to save toast and you end up burned: my one injury from the night.

I recovered quickly and let Mikella take over stuffing duties because I butterflied the shrimp. I probably should have watched a video on how to butterfly, because it was difficult, and I’m 100% positive I did not do it correctly… oh well. Once my shrimp were..uh..slightly cut, I attempted to stuff them, but they were definitely not stuffed. All of the stuffing fell out and was just sort of laying beside the shrimps. I proceeded to throw it all in the oven and hope for the best.

While the shrimp baked, I cooked the chicken. The chicken breasts we bought were some of the biggest I have ever seen in my life — I’m telling you, we got three that could feed 10 people (and they did). Due to their size, it took longer than usual to fully cook. After about 22 minutes, the chicken was tender and juicy. I promptly threw together the sauce: brandy, butter, and a bit of orange zest, then topped off our chicken.

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Once we finished our preparation, we took everything to the roof and called for the couch zombies to come eat. We all piled our plates high and had our moment of truth.

3..2..1…First bites like this are one of the many reasons I love doing EVOO. Like bitch, I MADE THAT! The shrimp, wow. Cooked to perfection and topped with buttery, delicious stuffing. Now that was amazing! It was so good I got a little greedy and took a second shrimp (sorry to whoever didn’t get to try this bite of heaven). The chicken was delightfully moist and had a citrusy hint thanks to the sauce. I was really surprised at the rice: a blend of white and wild rice dotted with golden raisins, mandarin oranges, and almonds — items you wouldn’t think would go with rice, but made a pleasant, slightly sweet mixture. I had two servings it was so yummy.

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Once everyone finished dinner, Mikella and I grabbed all of the dessert items, and spooned out coffee sundaes for everyone. A few scoops of coffee ice cream, topped with almonds and peanuts, drizzled with maple syrup, and garnished with cookie sticks — simple yet beautiful.

My tastebuds were pleasantly surprised by this dessert — I don’t particularly care for the taste of coffee, but this tasted like caramel! I’m convinced it was the syrup that made all the difference. Rachael Ray isn’t the most creative when it comes to desserts, but this one was simple and spectacular.

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Now time for the ratings. The Brandy and Orange Chicken receives ♥♥♥ (3) hearts. This wasn’t bad, but wasn’t astounding — just another chicken dish with a hint of citrus. The Stuffed Shrimp receives ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. This dish may not have exactly been stuffed shrimp, but whatever it ended up being was over-the-top GOOD. I would’ve eaten every shrimp, but it would’ve been unfair to hog all that delicious perfection. The Fruited White and Wild Rice receives ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. Typically you expect rice dishes to be savory, but the lightly sweet rice was unexpected in a good way, and really balanced the flavors of the other courses well. Finally, the Maple Nut Coffee Ice Cream Dessert receives ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. I consider this an adult twist on the classic ice cream sundae. No alcohol was involved, but the coffee and maple flavors just seem more mature than vanilla and chocolate. This is a dessert I’m going to indulge in all summer.

No matter what the activity — eating, exercising, socializing — it’s always better under and open sky. Thank goodness it’s summer so I can do all those activities in the fresh…well semi-fresh air of New York City. Next time you eat outside, stop to savor all flavors in your mouth and the people around you. I promise, you’re going to want to remember these moments for a very long time.

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

 

 

 

 

I Can’t Believe I Made This

Hello my fellow EVOOers!! I want to apologize for not posting in a while. Life was so hectic, but I finally found the time to cook! It had been way too long. I really wanted to impress you guys with tonight’s dish — as the title goes — I really can’t believe I’m making this! On tonight’s menu is Spinach-Artichoke Casserole, Rice with Sweet Red Peppers, and Shrimp Newburg. Let’s get cooking!

I spent most of my week in Atlanta, and I feared I would never make it home. The airport was a complete disaster since there were so many flight cancellations the day before due to the weather. After 6 hours of waiting, I was finally on a plane back to New York. Where was the first place I went as soon as I landed? You’re all going to think I’m crazy, but I went to Trader Joe’s. Most people would assume that I’d want to go home, relax, and de-stress, but instead I went to one of the most stress inducing grocery stores in Manhattan. Why? I DID IT FOR EVOO GUYS! Seriously though, the trip wasn’t so bad. It was actually calming to be back at Trader Joe’s since I hadn’t been in weeks.

I already knew I would have to stop at Fairway for shrimp, so I didn’t get angry at Trader Joe’s off the bat either. Altogether it was a pretty good shopping day.

Fast forward to today (Saturday). I had a full day of dog walking, so as one can imagine I worked up quite the appetite. I did all the usual things: chopping and what not, then I made the casserole. The casserole was pretty easy to put together –all I had to do was layer bread, artichokes, and spinach then top it with lots of cheese and bake it.

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While the casserole baked I moved on to the rice and shrimp. Why does peeling off shrimp tails take forever? I now understand why restaurants never do it! When I finally peeled all the shrimp, I let them cook with lemon and bay leaves. Then I made the sherry sauce. All of this was super easy…but it took forever!!

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Finally after 2 hours (30 minute meals my ass) it was time for the moment of truth. 3…2…1..This food was definitely worth the wait. The shrimp with the sherry sauce WOW. Out of this world. I literally said “I can’t believe I made this” to myself. The rice…you can never go wrong with rice, and I love rice so it was amazing. I was somewhat nervous to try the casserole because I get iffy with spinach-artichoke, but it was delicious!! I didn’t want to stop eating, I easily could’ve eaten into oblivion..that’s how good everything was.

Now time for the rating. The Spinach-Artichoke Casserole receives ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts. What made this dish so amazing was the bread: it maintained its crunch and didn’t become soggy at all. All of the cheese was a major plus too. Cheese makes anything amazing. Next, the Rice with Sweet Red Peppers receives ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. I love rice so much, but this put a little spin on it with the bell pepper. Who knew that one simple ingredient could make a dish 10x better? The pepper was a marvelous addition. Finally, the Shrimp Newburg receives ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. Everything about this dish was fabulous. The shrimp was cooked to perfection and the sauce was by far the best sauce I have ever had on any shrimp, and that’s saying a lot because I eat a lot of shrimp. Such a delicious meal.

This meal made me feel like I can really cook anything in this world and have it turn out great. I never lost my love of cooking, but this weeks meal put more fuel into that flaming love. I cannot wait to cook again — and I promise it will be soon!

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus