Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cooking With Stars

Visiting other bloggers - which I love to do - can be a bit intimidating when they are obviously wonderful and inventive cooks. I was an excellent and inventive cook when I lived in Michigan. What else are you going to do during the 73 month winter?? Other than shovel snow. And kick the ice bergs off the wheel wells of your car? Stay in the cozy kitchen and make wonderful soups and stews and meals using the tomato sauces and jams and jellies you put up during the summer, of course!

I had a wonderful vegetable garden and a lovely herb and everlastings garden. My pantry was full of tasty homemade foods including a special cranberry sauce that I made each Thanksgiving weekend to be served on Christmas Day. It sat ripening in all its glory on the shelf right next to the plum pudding I made the same weekend steeped in Grande Marnier. Well, yes, I was steeped in Grande Marneir too. Why do you think my kitchen was so cozy? I made bread, and pasta. I layered my smoker with turkey, fresh keilbasa and when the coals cooled down a bit I added a cheese for a wonderful smoked gouda. I even made my own vinegar - just to see how it would turn out. Bon Appetite magazines and cookbooks from a rather large collection were in my hands when I was not in the kitchen. I read them like good novels.

Then I moved to Florida. I cooked for a while out of habit, but then I realized that with all of the wonderful restaurants to be investigated, what was I doing in the kitchen??? I still make some excellent meals. If I feel like it. I made beautiful marmalade out of the delicious blood oranges that grow next to the lanai, but it wasn't because there was a blizzard howling outside. It was because deep down inside I love to cook.

I was asked to bring something edible to a Christmas party last year. My mind was in the usual catatonic holiday state. I had no ideas. No plan. No shopping list. I wandered through Publix trying to decide what to make, and settled on shrimp. The large cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp were on sale at a miraculous price. But what to serve with it? Cocktail sauce is soooo - well - cocktail sauce. I continued to browse, roaming the aisles like a lost soul. Then I spotted some miso sauce and my cooking mind suddenly clicked in. An idea formed, and I was on my way. I added several other ingredients to my basket along with a fresh lime and a lovely star fruit (carambola) for good measure.
I ended up with a beautiful and delicious holiday wreath of shrimp studded with stars and centered with a delicious miso mayo dipping sauce. It got rave reviews. It was stunning. And delicious. And most of all easy. It's what I strive for. Easy. I had the sense to write down the recipe so it didn't end up on my list of one time wonders; Wonder how I made that?

Here is my recipe:

Cold Starry Night Shrimp with Miso-Mayo Dipping Sauce

Miso-Mayo Dipping Sauce (makes 1 cup)

3/4 cup prepared mayonnaise
1/4 cup prepared Miso dressing
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice - divided
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared fresh chopped ginger (sold in tubes at fresh produce counter)

24 ounce bag frozen cooked peeled and deveined medium shrimp with tail on

1 star fruit for garnish

Prepare dipping sauce: In medium bowl, stir together mayonnaise, miso dressing, 1 tablespoon lime juice and ginger. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Thaw shrimp according to package directions. Pat dry with paper towels. On round serving tray, place shrimp in attractive layers around edge of dish with tails toward rim. Leave room at the center for small serving bowl. Drizzle shrimp with remaining tablespoon of fresh lime juice. Spoon dipping sauce into a small bowl and set in the center of the tray. Slice star fruit into 1/4 inch thick "stars." Garnish shrimp with stars saving 1 star to place at edge of dipping sauce bowl. Serve.
If carambola are not available, garnish the shrimp with slices of lime.


Sandy said...

hahahaha, now I can see why you liked to cook on those cold days. I'd be steeped in mangotinis myself.

fun post and your recipe sounds good.

MuseSwings said...

Yes, I use Grande Marinier in many recipes instead of vanilla, and of course I have the check it and make sure it tastes okay beforehand. Thank you for your comments and for stopping in for a visit!