Friday, September 20, 2013

Buttered Shrimp and Scallops with Tomato, Olives and Arak

I am two weeks behind in my posts about our little dinners and I am downright ashamed of myself. I have no excuses either, other than I just have not sat down to put pen to paper or, more appropriately, fingers to keys.

BUT, just because you haven’t read about our adventures, doesn’t mean they haven’t occurred. Since our summer hiatus ended, Foodie and Architect have both hosted, well, Architect kind of hosted.  She fell and sprained her ankle (a true damsel in distress situation complete with a local knight teacher riding in on a white horse Honda to save her) so Mr. Architect cooked one of his specialties for us.  A nice little dish of chicken, prosciutto, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese served on a bed of rice. Quite tasty.

I hope I don’t embarrass my friends with my little quips…that’s the nuisance of having a friend who is also a blogger.

Back to dinner.  Recently, there has been a lot of chatter about the cookbook Jerusalem.  Apparently, the book has caused quite a supply/demand quandary with local spice markets who can’t keep the spices used in the book in stock….spices we may not be as familiar with like arak, sumac, and za’atar.  A more common ingredient used in many of the dessert recipes is Orange Blossom Water and I just ordered a bottle on because I am so making the Semolina, Coconut & Marmalade Cake on page…well I don’t know what page because I have the damn Kindle version of the book (that’s the LAST time I do that)! You can read the NYTimes review of the Jerusalem cookbook here. 

Arak, btw, is an alcoholic spirit that tastes like anise.

There is a predecessor book by the same authors of Jerusalem called Ottolenghi and Foodie make a dish from it…Buttered Shrimp with Tomato, Olives and Arak except she added scallops too.

Buttered Shrimp (Prawns) and Scallops with Tomato, Olives and Arak
From:  Ottolenghi

4 plum tomatoes
12 large shrimp
1 lb. of scallops
4 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup pitted kalamata olives
4 teaspoons of Arak or Pernod
3 cloves of garlic
2 Tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Coarse sea salt
Start by preparing the tomatoes.  Make a tiny shallow cross with a sharp knife at the bottom of each one and put them in boiling water for 30 seconds.  Remove, refresh under plenty of cold water, then drain.  Now peel the skin away and cut each tomato into wedges.  To prepare the shrimp, peel the shells and remove the dark vein.  Place a frying pan over high heat and when very hot, add 2 ½ tablespoons of the butter and sauté the prawns and scallops quickly for a few minutes, shaking the pan as you go along.  Add the tomatoes, pepper flakes, and olives and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the shrimp and scallops are nearly cooked through.  Add the arak carefully (it tends to catch fire!) and let the alcohol evaporate for a minute before adding the remaining butter, garlic, parsley and some salt.  Toss for a second for everything to incorporate in a runny sauce then serve immediately. 

We also had Grilled Broccoli with Garlic, garnished with grilled lemons.  It was Singer’s birthday so dessert was a vanilla birthday cake with goat cheese icing garnished with pistachios.

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