Here we go....week one of the next Slow Travel cooking event. This one's a little different in that instead of a recipe of the week, we have an ingredient of the week. Each of us will use that ingredient to make an appetizer (small bite) using a recipe that we have never made before. Our first ingredient, shrimp, was selected by Cindy Ruth of the excellent blog, Baked Alaska.
My recipe came from "The Pat Conroy Cookbook." My mom gave me this book for Christmas a few years ago and it's such a great read; it's more of a memoir with recipes than just a cookbook. Conroy is one of the most loved Southern writers, but I didn't know that he had lived in Rome for years (in fact, that's where he wrote his most famous novel, "The Prince of Tides"). I loved reading his memories of (and recipes from) Italy.
But this particular recipe is from the South Carolina low-country and it's really delicious - the shrimp have so much flavor that they don't need cocktail sauce or anything else. A perfect party recipe since they have to be made a day in advance. If I were serving these at a party, I might thread them on skewers. They'd be good in lettuce wraps too. The recipe is below.
Other Small Bites cooks are listed here. Next week's ingredient is "crab." Thanks so much to Maria (whose beautiful blog is "My Place in the Sun") and her husband Ivan for making the cool logo for us!
This week's PhotoHunt theme is "Electric." I'm looking foward to seeing what folks come up with for this theme.
An old building here in NC, probably built before electricity. You can see that the electric wires are visible outside on the tin ceiling, rather than hidden away out of sight behind the walls.
And here's one in Venice with electric Christmas lights reflected in a flooded calle (street) during acqua alta (high water).
You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.
Our ingredient of the week is crab, a seafood that I love.
In my kitchen there's a drawer full of recipes that I've clipped from magazines and newspapers, and for Small Bites, I'm going to try to use as many of those as I can. I found this recipe for Crab Salsa in the drawer; it came from a Super Bowl party article in Food and Wine magazine. Really easy to make and great flavor. The recipe called for serving the salsa with potato chips but I used Guiltless Gourmet blue chips instead.
Other Small Bites cooks are listed here. Next week's ingredient is "sun-dried tomatoes."
One of the things about organic gardening is that you sometimes run into some very interesting creepy-crawly creatures, and here's one I found munching away on one of my parsley plants. He was very big and kinda freaky, but also kinda beautiful. I googled "caterpillar eating parsley" and the first match was a picture of one of his relatives. Turns out he's a caterpillar who will eventually turn into a black swallowtail butterfly. I haven't seen the butterfly yet but I expect a beauty because he sure did a number on my poor parsley. I don't mind sharing some of my garden and fortunately, I'd planted several other parsley plants that he didn't eat (plus, the one he ate is starting to leaf out again).
I'm curious to see if this pepper looks familar to Maria. I found these at the Farmer's Market and the sign said, "Puerto Rico Peppers: All Flavor, No Fire." I bought some and they are probably the most delicious pepper I've ever had. I googled and found that they are also known as aji dolce, rocotillo, and cachucha peppers. They look like they'd be hot but they aren't, just packed with flavor and delicious.
Another find at the market, these beans have the rather unappetizing name, Greasy Beans, because the pods are kinda shiny and oily looking. These are heirloom old-fashioned beans also called string beans because you have to pull the tough string off the sides before you cook and eat them. I remember my grandmothers sitting around stringing beans when I was a kid, but most beans you find today are hybrids without the string.
Not only are these beans incredibly delicious, they are fragrant like no other beans I've ever seen. When I walked up to the table below, there was this strong, fresh green fragrance. I steamed these beans, and they were so good that I ate them plain (they didn't need butter or salt or anything!). Truly worth the trouble of stringing them first.
I've mentioned this before, but LuLu loves beans and Maria has developed an interest in them too. So when I was stringing the greasy beans, both cats were hovering around and trying to steal a pod to play with. They like to knock them on the floor and chase them around. But if I try to give them a bean, they don't want it. It's all about the thrill of the hunt for them. Cats!
This week's PhotoHunt theme is "Upside Down." Fun theme!
Pretty much everyone who goes to Venice with a camera ends up taking reflection-in-a-canal photos; it's just irresistible. Plus, you never know what you'll get since it all depends on the time of day, the position of the sun, etc.
I took these on a cold and cloudy winter day on Torcello, a beautiful island in the Venetian lagoon. I've flipped them upside down. The red brick in the upper right corner is the sidewalk I was standing on when I took the photos.
In this next one, you can see the bell tower of Santa Maria Assunta, Torcello's thousand-year-old cathedral, down in the bottom right corner. It's upside down because I flipped the photo! It's also covered with scaffolding for restoration work.
You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.
Our ingredient of the week (sun-dried tomatoes) was selected by Slow Talk moderator, Amy, whose blog is Destination Anywhere..
I had a lot of feta cheese from Costco that I wanted to use, so I googled and read a bunch of different recipes for various dips and spreads, and then came up with my own (recipe is below). The tomatoes I used were dried (not packed in oil) and the cheese was real feta from Greece. It came out great! I served it on cucumber slices but it's also good on crackers or pita chips. Quick and easy to make too.
Other Small Bites cooks are listed here. Next week's ingredient is "avocado."
When I was strolling around the island of Burano looking for shrines, I found a little corte filled with cats.
These two were not that happy to see me. I barely got this photo before they ran off and disappeared.
The other adults pretty much ignored me and continued with their meditations on life.
This beauty seems to be sticking her tongue out at me.
But then I was approached by this incredibly friendly and talkative orange kitten. He was chattering away, rubbing against my ankles, trying to climb my leg, and just generally demanding attention and petting (which he got). He was like a cross between my two cats back home - LuLu's looks and Maria's chatty personality.
The first day of autumn - I can't believe it! It sure doesn't feel like fall here in NC today - it's warm and muggy. While I love fall and its colors and the cooler temperatures, I sure am going to miss the tomatoes. They're not completely gone yet though - my tomato plants have slowed down but I'm still getting a few cherry tomatoes, and there are plenty of tomatoes at the market. I'm trying to eat as many as I can before the first frost. Love the colors in the photo above.
One good thing about buying from the people who actually grow your food is that they can tell you how to cook things you've never tried before. Here's a meal I made a couple of weekends ago using two brand-new (to me) ingredients.
First are padron peppers. When I saw the sign that said "Spanish tapas peppers," I knew I had to try them. The farmer told me to saute them over medium high heat for about 10 minutes and then put some coarse salt on them. He also told me that these are sometimes called roulette peppers since every once in a while, you get one that's really spicy! These are so tender that you don't have to remove the seeds and stems, you can just cook and eat them whole. Delicious (and I didn't get a super hot one this time).
Here's a case where you can't judge a bean by its cover (or shell). I was familiar with Christmas lima beans because they are pictured on the cover of "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver (a great book!) and I was excited to find them for sale at the market. The farmer told me to shell them and then simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender. They are easy to shell because the beans are so big and as you can see, the beans inside are absolutely beautiful.
A friend visiting Zagreb, Croatia, sent me a postcard with this painting of Basilica di San Marco on it. I love it! The card is from The Croatia Museum of Naive Art which has a number of paintings in its collection by the artist, Emerik Fejes. This painting was done in 1957.
Emerik Fejes (1904-1969), like many naive or folk artists, didn't start painting until late in life. He was a comb and button-maker who also collected postcards which became the inspiration for his paintings, most of which depict great buildings and cityscapes from around the world. According to Wikipedia, his painting technique was unusual in that he used matchsticks instead of brushes. And of course, I was charmed by this little detail:
"He also preferred painting with his cat under his arm." Wikipedia has a sweet photo of him with his tuxedo cat.
He looks like a nice guy. I love these self-taught artists who make art just because of some inner inspiration, not because it's their career or because they hope to make money on it. Many folk artists aren't discovered until after they've died, but Fejes had several exhibitions and some success and acclaim while he was still alive. Good for him. I'd love to see some of his work in person.
A few other works below:
This week's PhotoHunt theme is "Twisted."
I've got one from Venice and one from North Carolina this week. First is a sculpture in Durham Central Park here in NC. Definitely twisted.
Next is this mosaic that's on the side of the Basilica di San Marco in Venice. One of thousands of architectural details on this amazing church, this is probably close to a thousand years old but looks kinda modern to me.
Find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.
Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.
It was my turn to choose an ingredient of the week, and I picked "avocado" because I'd clipped a recipe from Food and Wine magazine that I really wanted to try: roasted tomatillo and avocado salsa. I'm growing tomatillos in my garden this year for the first time; I only put in one plant but have been impressed by how productive it's been. I'd cooked with canned tomatillos before, but this was my first experience with fresh ones.
The Food and Wine article says about avocado: "With loads of fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin E, avocados are a genuine super food." It's always nice to see something I love on a "super food" list!
I liked this salsa a lot, and it was super easy to make. It's similar to guacamole but lighter, with a tangy smoky flavor from the roasted tomatillos. I served it with my fave Guiltless Gourmet baked blue tortilla chips. Recipe is below.
A tomatillo on the plant in my garden - it looks like a little Chinese lantern. You peel the husk off and inside find something that looks like a small and hard green tomato.
Other Small Bites cooks are listed here. Next week's ingredient is "goat cheese."