Thursday, March 7, 2019

Mardi Gras in Minutes - Cajun Shrimp & Grits with Chard

Sorry it's taken so long for me to do a new post. Life's gotten extra busy -- I'm sure you can relate. Though I'm committed to adding more content here on my very first love, Neurotic Kitchen, you can always find frequent updates on our everyday meals and exploits over on instagram. Today's dish, an easy Mardi Gras meal that comes together in just 20 minutes (if you get pre-cleaned shrimp), originated over on instagram! I so enjoyed making and eating it, I knew it had to be recorded here for my archives. 

Check out the details below and I promise it won't be so long until I post again! 

Cajun Shrimp & Grits with Chard, Photo: NK

Cajun Shrimp & Grits with Chard
Serves 3-4
Timing: can be made in 20 minutes with pre-cleaned shrimp

1 Cup Quick Grits
1 Lb medium sized wild Shrimp, peeled, pre-cleaned, tails on or off 
Cajun Spice Blend (double recipe below)
1 Bunch Rainbow or Red Swiss Chard
2 Pats Butter
Canola or Grapeseed Oil for cooking Shrimp
Cheddar Cheese, for grating, optional
Hot Sauce of your choice

Mix Cajun Spice Blend (do ahead if possible). Recipe follows below. 
Wash and dry Chard, cut the leaves into 2 inch ribbons and the stems into half-inch lengths (do ahead if possible)
Rinse shrimp and pat dry. Season on both sides with Cajun Spice Blend.

Start your Quick Grits according to the package instructions (boil water and add the grits) and while you are doing so, add 2 tablespoons of oil in a separate skillet and cook your shrimp, a few minutes per side, until fully pink and golden from the spices - the inside should be opaque but not dry. When shrimp are done set aside. In the same skillet, add a few tablespoons of water and toss in the chard over medium high heat. Let it wilt in the pan, stirring a few times (3-4 minutes). Add some butter to the Grits and loosen with water if needed.

To serve, spoon some Grits into each bowl, add grated cheddar if you like. Top with shrimp and chard, plus hot sauce of your liking. Enjoy!   

Cajun Spice Blend
Yield: Enough for 8 servings of shrimp

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano

1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
Optional crushed red pepper (will be quite hot with it)  

Mix! Can be made ahead. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Italian Grill - Spicy Shrimp Skewers

Today I'd like you to check out one of my favorite recipes this summer -- Spicy Calabrian Shrimp Skewers. You may already know I'm a sucker for Calabrian chili, so when I find it in a jar anywhere I always stock up in order to have it on hand. I make Giada De Laurentiis' incredibly easy dish with large shrimp (about 16-20 count per pound). The recipe consists of a simple marinade which you let sit on the shrimp a few hours (4 is perfect). I then portion out the shrimp (4 per person alongside another protein is a good amount), and skewer them through the tail and opposite end of the shrimp. Using two skewers is a little trick I learned to prevent them from spinning on the stake, making them easier to flip. 

Remember to soak the wooden skewers for at least an hour beforehand to prevent them from burning. Grill these just a few minutes per side until they are opaque and cooked through. Serve the shrimp kebabs alongside any other fish (or meat for surf and turf) atop lightly dressed greens or herbs -- so easy!

Spicy Shrimp Skewers with Grilled Calamari on the side, Photo: NK

***To check out the Spicy Calabrian Shrimp recipe, click HERE.  

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Marinated Chicken on the Grill with Zesty Drizzling Oil

I always say I am not the world's biggest chicken fan but my family remains unconvinced. They say that for someone who claims not to like it, I sure make it a lot (a bit of an overstatement, if you ask me). The truth is, it's not that I really dislike chicken, it's that so much chicken out there is underwhelming, mediocre, and sometimes, awful. While I generally see chicken as a vehicle for other flavors, I will grant that when it's perfectly cooked perfectly, it doesn't need all that much enhancement. My rules for chicken are simple - bone in and skin on. With those two starting points, you're already ahead of the game. 

Marinated Chicken on the Grill with Zesty Drizzling Oil, Photo: NK 

The zesty marinade and drizzling oil that I will share with you today is perfect for chicken on the bone. The basic marinade paired with a bright and tangy dressing for serving come together to make a chicken dish that manages to be super juicy and flavorful, without taking away from understated greatness of well-cooked chicken. I like to use a mix of drums and thighs but you can select any combination of chicken pieces, including breast. 

After the marinade is prepared, I throw the chicken in a large gallon Ziploc and pour it in so it can sit in the fridge 4 hours or so. Jiggle the bag here and there to distribute the flavor. You can now make the drizzling oil ahead. Once grilled (or cooked), plate the chicken and drizzle it over each piece, reserving some for any guests that would like a little extra.

Zesty Grilled Chicken Marinade
Serves 4 

1/3 Cup Olive Oil 
Small Sweet Pepper
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt 
1 small Hot Red Chile (or Jalapeno), roughly chopped 
1 large Lemon, (zested and zest set aside) cut in half, another large Lemon, cut in half for grilling 
1 tablespoon White Wine or White Vinegar
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice (squeezed from one of the Lemon Halves)
Handful of chopped Parsley 

Combine all ingredients and pour over chicken in a plastic bag or sealed container. Marinate in the fridge for 4 hours, turning occasionally. Bring to room temperature, scrape away the marinade from the chicken pieces and grill. Grill the second lemon cut sides down on the grill alongside the chicken (towards the end of the cook time) for a pretty, utilitarian garnish. To serve, plate the chicken and drizzle with the infused oil over it (recipe follows below). Scatter torn parsley around the platter and finish with the lemon halves. 

Infused Drizzling Oil
Enough for 4 Servings 

1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons finely minced mini Sweet Peppers (two or more colors if possible) 
Finely minced Hot Chile to taste (1/2 teaspoon is a good start) 
3 Garlic Cloves, 2 whole and crushed, 1 clove minced finely and set aside
2 teaspoons Lemon Zest 
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon White Wine or White Vinegar
Handful Curly Parsley, torn 
Salt to taste

Warm the Olive Oil over a low flame with 2 whole cloves crushed garlic until the garlic starts to become slightly golden and fragrant, but not burnt. Remove the whole cloves and discard. Add the hot chile, sweet peppers, lemon zest and 1 clove minced fresh garlic. Warm for another minute or two and turn off the flam. Add the lemon juice and white wine vinegar. Cool the drizzling oil and then and add salt to taste. Reserve until chicken is cooked and drizzle over each piece.  Enjoy! 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Instant Classic - Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

Alison Roman's recipe for Shortbread Chocolate Chunk Cookies went indisputably viral after a feature in the New York Times excerpted her controversial musings on America's favorite cookie:

“I’ve always found chocolate chip cookies to be deeply flawed (to know this about me explains a lot),” she writes. “Too sweet, too soft, or with too much chocolate, there’s a lot of room for improvement, if you ask me. But no one asked me, and rather than do a complete overhaul on the most iconic cookie known to man, I took all my favorite parts and invented something else entirely." 

Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies, Photo: NK

Featured in her absolutely indispensable cookbook, "Dining In," this recipe has everything I look for in a go-to dessert. This is probably why myself and practically every food blogger in the country tried them all at once. These cookies are really easy to make and almost impossible to mess up. They include very few ingredients, none of which are exotic. Since attempting them for the first time two months ago, I've made them four times since! I love that there is no tricky rolling or cutting of notoriously fickle shortbread dough. The other thing I love about shortbread? No egg. I am somehow always out of egg when I get the urge to bake.  

Roman's original recipe is proportioned to yield a generous quantity of rich, crumbly and buttery cookies, and the dough rolls store well in the freezer or fridge until you are ready to bake -- this means fresh cookies any time. I don't recommend halving the recipe, but you may want to make them in two rounds, even a day or so apart. Freshly sliced and baked. What could be better? Because really, they are delicious, oh, are they delicious. 

These cookies are also elegant. I was trying to explain this to my husband today, badly perhaps, as he remained unconvinced; there's something about them that is more adult than your average chocolate chip - probably the shortbread component that sets them apart. I feel as if they could stand up to a wine pairing, or look elegant served alongside fancy hors d'oeuvres. Their sparkly, sugared edges lend a sophistication to these chocolate chips that transcends the ubiquity of their genre.

One tip - once I slice and salt these, I try and put them back into the fridge for ten or so minutes to re-chill. The one time I did not they came out flatter (but still delicious). 

So there you have it, Alison Roman's masterpiece. I changed nothing in the recipe except I did use large granule sugar in the raw rather than Demerara, because it's what I had on hand. Enjoy and my hat's off to the creator of this positively essential recipe, one I know will be in my rotation for life - follow the link HERE or HERE to view it.