Curious, Eccentric, Eclectic Musings about Life, Loves and (Most Important) Food....

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tapas--"Caliente Baby" tells us that tapas were originally "a slice of ham or chorizo sausage placed over the mouth of a wine glass, from tapa 'to cover', some say to keep out flies and others say to increase thirst.  Now consists of small portions of any kind of made-up dish or small snack served with wine in Spanish bars (although not exclusively Spanish in nature)."

I followed my Spanish theme this weekend and cooked a meal of tapas (although tapas in Spain are never meant to be the main course).  All the dishes looked so good that I couldn't keep myself to just one.  The first wonderful discovery for me was that these mediterranean dishes were all fabulously flavorful with a scant 4-5 ingredients.  The main staples (all my favorites) olive oil, garlic, salt (sea salt of course), pepper, lemon or lime juice and chopped parsley.

The best of the five tapas dishes that I tried was (blue ribbon winner by far) the "Lime-Drizzled Shrimp."  From the cookbook "Tapas" by Susanna Tee.

4 limes, 12 raw jumbo shrimp, 3 tbs spanish olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, splash of white wine, salt and pepper and 4 tbsp chopped cilantro (the recipe called for fino sherry which I didn't have and instead of chopped cilantro, it was flat leaf parsley, but I thought that the cilantro would pair nicely with the lime and I was correct).

grate the rind and squeeze the juice from 2 limes....cut the remaining 2 limes and use later.  Remove the shells from the shrimp (leaving the tail intact).  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add shrimp and cook 3 minutes (until pink).  Mix in lime rind, juice, and a splash of white wine then stir well together.  Transfer shrimp to a serving dish and season to taste with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with cilantro.  Serve piping hot and accompanied by lime wedges for squeezing over shrimp.  Include crusty french bread for dipping in sauce and ENJOY!!!

My other dishes....
Sauteed Garlic Mushrooms, Crusty French Bread and Olive Tapenade, and Green Beans with Pine Nuts

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cool Idea

I hope that you find this an interesting twist for a food blog.  Really, my blog is just anything that I have an idea/opinion/care/concern about.....well you know what I mean.  Food tends to be central because really good home-cooked, borderline gourmet is one of my passions.  My other passion is reading finely written literature and trying to copy the masters and write a book of my own.  While I am slow at finishing my first book (just getting to chapter 3 and I haven't let anyone take a peek yet), I read other's works voraciously.  I thought that I would combine my two passions and follow a recipe that relates to my recent read.  I just finished "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.....oh my goodness, what a treat.  This book follows along the gothic lines and is a throw back to some of the great gothic novels of our time (do you really know Mary Shelley's Frankenstein....really???  It is not the hollywood the original sometime).

Back to Zafon's novel.  Pick it up at Barnes and Nobles or order off of Amazon.  I promise that you will not be disappointed.  Zafon was born in Barcelona (that is Spain for all of you other geographically challenged folks out there).  "The Shadow of the Wind" is the most successful novel in Spanish publishing history AFTER "Don Quixote"....pretty good company, I'd say.  It is a gloomy mystery that combines a lost book, two previous lives, romance, lost love, death, and all other good, scary thoughts.

To follow along with my theme of combining my love of a good book with my love of a good bite of food.  I have a simple Spanish bread recipe (Pa Amb Tomaquet) that apparently is something that Spaniards "never leave home without"....

Toast hearty french bread slice and rub with a clove of garlic.  Then cut a very ripe tomato in half and squeeze the contents over the toasted, garlicky bread.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on some sea salt and have fun!!!  Because I never cook a recipe exactly as I read it (this one is courtesy of, I also chopped up some black and calamata olives and spread on the top with a very thin slice of wonderful vine-ripe tomato (even extra yummy).  Pair with my "wine of the week"......


Monday, May 10, 2010

No Cool

Time's short and apparently life as we know it on the Gulf Coast might be even shorter....balls of tar are arriving on the AL coastline thanks to BP.  Take a look at our beautiful beach while it still exists....

Friday, April 30, 2010

Famous Cool

Ok....I have to admit that I am a closet hollywood junkie.  I don't know what I would do if I shared an elevator ride with a famous actor or actress.....probably just stare at the doors, afraid to start a conversation or say something incredibly stupid like "slow elevator huh....." with a goofy smile and leftover lunch stuck between my teeth (this is my own personal nightmare so just stay with me....).  I just found a new blog by Gwyneth  As I read through the site and enjoy the newsletters, I find that her questions, concerns and care for her family are really the same as mine....pretty normal.....except she is staring in a blockbuster movie set for release, married to a superstar rocker, living in the UK and jet setting back and forth to the states.....yeah, the simularities are amazing!!!!

Burning Read sorry for my hiatus.  How can I grow my blog visitors if I don't post on a regular basis?  Just a rhetorical answers needed.  Well, I am back....for now.....and I have a great read to recommend.  Michael Connelly's 9 Dragons, his newest Harry Bosch series.  Great, entertaining, twist at the end (quick) read that you will blow through in a weekend (so don't pay full price.....).

Harry Bosch is a L.A. police detective who carries as many demons around as the criminals that he puts behind bars.  I have enjoyed other Connelly novels through the years, but the Bosch series include my favorite characters (some familiar folks show up in this story as well and some new that I expect will crop back up again in another novel or two).

The story is set in L.A. and Hong Kong with Harry chasing an Asian ready for the twist!!!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Hot" Lemon Pepper Shrimp

I love shrimp and I am so fortunate to live in the backyard of "Shrimp Heaven."  In Pensacola, we have one of the top tourist attractions in the state, but I prefer to call Joe Patti Seafood "my seafood market" (me and 100,000 other Pensacolians).  Ever since I discovered that (for only $1 more a lb) I could buy "fresh" shrimp already shelled and deveined with the tails on, I have been in "shrimp" love.  I created this dish after I stopped by the fish market one Friday night and left with a lb of shrimp.  When I arrived at home, I took a peek in my pantry and just started pulling cans, boxes, etc....out.  The result below.....yummy!!!

box thin whole wheat spaghetti noodles (about 1/2 lb)
3-4 cloves fresh garlic
1 onion
1 16oz can artichoke hearts (quartered)
1 whole lemon
lemon pepper seasoning
1 lb shelled and deveined shrimp
3 tbs olive oil
3 tbs butter
2 tbs white wine

Cook the noodles according to package directions and drain and set aside.  Add 3 tbs. olive oil to large saute pan.  Saute chopped onion and garlic until tender then add artichoke hearts and saute for about 3-5 minutes.  Add 3 tbs. butter and 2 tbs white wine and juice of whole lemon.  Saute for 3-5 minutes longer.  Sprinkle some lemon pepper seasoning.  Add cooked pasta and mix well.  Take off heat and cover.  In a cast iron skillet or another saute pan, spray lightly with olive oil.  Rinse shrimp and dredge in breadcrumbs mixed with about 2 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning (breadcrumbs on shrimp should be a light coating).  Saute shrimp for approx. 2- 3 minutes on medium heat on both sides (turn when shrimp looks pink....keep your eye on this process).  When finished, plate the spaghetti and veggies and add with freshly grated parmesan cheese and garnish with chopped italian parsley.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hot Read

While, I love to cook, taste wine and experience fun adventures with my husband, my true "passion" is the written word.  I can't remember a time when I didn't have a book by my side.  Some of my earliest memories are of a wonderful "old" library in the California Bay Area (probably Castro Valley or Hayward), where I would experience the freedom of my own imagination putting life into someone else's creation (if I close my eyes and think back, I can still "smell" the ink on the pages).  Nothing allows me more pleasure than a stack of books and the time to read.  For my recent birthday, I asked my husband to buy me a novel by Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I didn't know much about the author, but I knew it was crime fiction (my favorite genre) and the title had me hooked from the start.  I finished the 465 pages in just under a week (what took me so long???) was riveting material.  The story is actually a trillogy so I went immediately (did not pass "GO") to Barnes and Nobles and bought The Girl Who Played with Fire and I have preordered, through Amazon, the final in the series The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.  One of the two main characters is a grown-up version of Pippi Longstocking (actually Larsson based his creation on the idea of Pippi as an adult....a girl with ADD and very much on the fringe)....Lisbeth Salander is the hero that I have been waiting for all my life.  Very strange, introverted and ready to kick some....well you know the rest.  But, she is also desperately searching for something.....maybe love and acceptance....or maybe not...hmmmmm.  Mikael Blomkvist is the protagonist that is the yin to her yang.  Along with Larsson's eccentric characters frought with indiosyncracies, the story also grabs you and slaps you that you can't put down.....I promise.....go out and get your copy today!!!

As a side note, these books were published posthumously (to my deep regret) because Stieg Larsson passed away in 2004 (heart attack in his early 50's).  They were first published in Sweden and then translated into English by Reg Keeland.  The reading is interresting, beyond the crime mystery, because the first novel is set in Sweden and allows the reader a great understanding of the political climate, the culture and the geographic terrain.  For those of you that believe in the mysteries of life, the prologue mentions Pensacola, FL just briefly (my hometown) and then never returns to the states......dodododododododo....