Cooking, dammit! And serious about it!

April 16, 2011

Om nom nom. Sweet Baby Jesus. And whatever other superlatives come to mind.

OK, peeps. Just because I’ve been slacking lately, don’t despair. I’ve been by-God COOKING tonight!

(UPDATE: That was last night. This post has been composed in three different sections. Please bear with any incoherence. We’ve been busy here in the Spa City.)

This was a damn fine dinner, if I did cook it myownself.

We have had grilled shrimps, arepas, black bean and corn salad, guacamole, and pineapple-mango salsa, ALONG WITH a pound cake and strawberries and creme fraiche that refuses to freaking get thick.

This is what a Friday off will do for you. I highly recommend it to you and y’mama ‘n’ em.

Anyway, my friend Kate is here. And that coincided with my serious need to take a mental health day. So I lazed around this morning, got out and did a wine run and a grocery run, and came on back here. Having, of course, forgotten charcoal, which I had to send Child C out for.

OK. Shrimps. Right off the bat, I’ve got to do burgers for NS, because he don’t be doin’ no shrimps. Suckah. Perhaps I’ll teach him better someday. Or perhaps not. More shrimps for me, that way.

I bought 21-30 count shrimps at Kroger. Let them thaw — everybody’s shrimp boat flash-freezes them before they hit sand, these days — and marinate them in a mix of diced green chiles, cumin, lime juice and powdered pico de gallo seasoning.

I have spoken of powdered pico de gallo seasoning before. If you do not have this in your spice repertoire, you should have it. It’s worth going to Wal-Mart for, and that’s about as high as praise gets in my book. Go get you some.

Anyway. I marinated shrimps. I made guacamole (lime juice, seasoned salt, the same pico seasoning, smushed up); pineapple-mango salsa (pineapple; mango; cilantro, harvested from the back deck, more lime juice). I made an English pea salad, and forgot it, so it’s for tomorrow, I guess. But I served the old faithful black bean and corn salad.

I got this kick-ass grill pan from Williams Sonoma, so I figured I’d break it in grilling the shrimps, which I put on after the burgers. Whereupon I discovered that el cheapo charcoal from the gas station, which was where Child C went to get it instead of going to Kroger or WalMart like I would have, is NOT very good charcoal. I barely had enough post-burger heat to grill the shrimps, which don’t need a whole lot of grilling anyway. I will be sticking with Kingsford from here on out.

Scrumptious. I mean, these are some GOOD shrimp. The salsa went well with it, albeit I’m just not all that and a bag of chips over mangoes. They’ve got a sort of chemical taste to me. Go figure. The guacamole was good. (I do good guacamole, if you don’t like a lot of extra stuff in it.

(This is, by the way, 24 hours after the initial post was begun, and I’ve had yet another really good dinner, but I’ll detail that in another post because I just can’t burn two good dinners in one post.)

Dessert, which we did not eat until this morning, was pound cake and strawberries and creme fraiche. OK, they’re California berries; they were two quarts for three bucks at Kroger. The pound cake was reasonably good — classic pound cake, recipe from the Pioneer Woman blog, I think, but I’ll cut-and-paste it here for you, because it’s a good basic pound cake, although I’d up the salt the next time I make it. I even almost followed all the instructions to the letter. With some strawberries, macerated in a little balsamic vinegar and topped with some slightly sweetened creme fraiche, well, it don’t get much better’n that.

  • 8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, slightly firm, plus 1 Tbs. softened
    8 oz. (1-3/4 cups) all-purpose flour, sifted
    1/2 tsp. table salt
    5 large eggs
    1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
    8-3/4 oz. (1-1/4 cups) superfine sugar
    Nonstick cooking spray
    Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Using a pastry brush, thoroughly coat an 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-3/4-inch loaf pan with the 1 Tbs. softened butter. Line the bottom with a rectangle of parchment.In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt and whisk thoroughly.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until thickened and lightened in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. Clean the bowl of the stand mixer and fit it with the paddle attachment. Beat the butter on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix 1 minute longer. Add the sugar 1 to 2 Tbs. at a time, taking about 4 minutes to add it all and scraping the bowl as needed.

Still on medium-low speed, slowly add half of the beaten eggs, taking about 2 minutes to add them. Scrape the bowl as needed and beat for 30 seconds more. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the remaining eggs (divide the flour into 3 parts and the eggs into 2 parts), mixing just until each addition is incorporated. Scrape the bowl and beat on medium low for 10 seconds more.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with the back of a large soup spoon, making sure to reach well into the corners. Bang the pan on the counter two times to remove any air pockets.

Bake the cake until the top is golden-brown, the sides begin to pull away from the pan, and a thin wooden skewer inserted slightly off center into the cake (not into the crack) comes out clean, 1 hour and 20 to 25 minutes. During the last 15 minutes of baking, lightly spray a 12-inch strip of aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray and rest it loosely on top of the cake. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan.

And with that, I’m going to bid you and y’mama ‘n ’em a good evening, and I’ll write about tonight’s dinenr tomorrow.


One Response to “Cooking, dammit! And serious about it!”

  1. Grace Says:

    Mmmmm, love some skrimps!

    But why oh why do you have CA berries when the local farmers are just bursting with straw-bees? It was opening weekend of the CAFM here in LR (technically, Argenta) and fricking everyone had berries! I’m gonna put them in a salad with my lettuce baby (got a head of romaine so big I had to carry it like a baby, so it’s my lettuce baby).

    Haven’t seen local berries yet….maybe they haven’t made it to Hot Springs! Have to head down to Malvern to the strawberry farm place. I had ’em for breakfast this morning!

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