Shrimp Po’Boys

These sandwiches are so, so good.  I don’t usually post dinner recipes; the light is horrible in my kitchen at night, and I rarely plan in advance enough to make things during daylight hours that would be nice to photograph.  These sandwiches are the exception, though.  They’re way too good not to share. You know that thing, with really, really delicious foods, where you get a bite and it totally transcends anything you’d find in the individual ingredients?  To give you a more specific example: I remember one night in particular, when we were out in San Francisco and we’d just left a concert.  We were far from sober, which of course, meant that the next stop was Taqueria Cancun on Market Street for burritos. There it was, that magical bite of food.  That bite of avocado, melted cheese, rice, beans, fresh salsa, cilantro, all of it — in that one taste.    And then the drunken moans about how good burritos are.  And then, just a few minutes later, all of us wandering back out into the night, ready for more.

(This sounds like a love note to burritos.)

This is about more than that, though.  I want to write something eloquent about street foods here, but the best way to explain it is that every city has some kind of food that you absolutely have to eat when it’s the middle of the night and you’re really intoxicated.

Sure,  you don’t have to be intoxicated.  It could be two in the afternoon and you could be stone cold sober when you eat these.  They will still be delicious. Shrimp po’boys remind me of many happy nights out in New Orleans.  I’ve actually also had some pretty good ones in Key West, which isn’t too shabby as a vacation destination either.  We haven’t gotten away anywhere in quite awhile now, and, while I’d rather hop on an airplane an get a po’boy in a place where the weather’s a bit warmer, realizing that I should just make some vacation food for us while we’re here at the farm was like a revelation.  Whether it’s San Francisco burritos, New Orleans po’boys, New York pizza, or whatever you love: If you can’t make it to where the food is, why not bring the food to where you are.  Fried Shrimp Po’Boys

Since I hadn’t actually made these before, the recipe is kind of pieced together from several different sources- Emeril’s Creole Seasoning, Hank Shaw’s remoulade recipe, and my boyfriend’s crazy cooking skills.  (After managing a seafood restaurant for many years, he can fry the hell out of a shrimp…)

Serves: 4

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Fried Shrimp:

  • 1 lb. shrimp, 26-30s (mediums) peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • 1 can of beer
  • 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. fine ground cornmeal
  • 1 tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 tbs. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • Canola oil, for frying

Cajun Spice:

  • 2 1/2 tbs. smoked paprika
  • 2 tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 tbs. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbs onion powder
  • 1 tbs. cayenne
  • 1 tbs. poultry seasoning (or really whatever you have with some thyme or oregano in it)

Remoulade:

  • 1 1/2 c. mayo
  • 1/4 c. dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. dill pickle juice
  • 1 tsp. tabasco sauce
  • 1 tbs. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. cajun spice
  • juice from one wedge of lemon (or to taste)

To Make the Sandwiches:

  • 4 sandwich rolls, french bread style
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/4-1/2 head of iceberg lettuce or green cabbage, shredded
  • tabasco, to taste

The summary: Shrimp seasoned with cajun spice get dipped in a beer batter and then rolled in a cornmeal breading, then deep-fried.  Then you put ’em on a roll with lots of remoulade, hot sauce, lettuce and tomato.  The actual process is quick, if you make sure you set it up right. More specific instructions:

In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the remoulade.  Set aside.  In another small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the cajun spice.  Set this   aside too.  In yet another bowl, this one medium sized, stir together a beer and 1 1/2 cups of flour.  This will be the beer batter. It should be pretty thick, similar to pancake batter. Set it aside.  Rinse the shrimp.  Put them in a bowl and season them with 2 tsp. cajun spice.  Mix well.  Set aside.  Next, make the dry cornmeal breading by whisking together the rest of the flour (3/4 c.), cornmeal, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Put this breading mix in a large, shallow dish.  Set up one last big plate or lined cookie sheet to put the breaded shrimp on before the go into the fryer.

Put about an inch of canola oil in a large cast iron skillet and turn the heat on to medium-high.  If you have a thermometer, the oil should read around 350 degrees.  Make sure the oil is hot before you put in the shrimp.  If you don’t have a thermometer, you can put a few drops of water in the oil. You’ll know it’s hot if the water sizzles like crazy.

Dip each shrimp in the beer batter first, then roll it in the dry breading, then set it on a plate.   Once all of the shrimp are breaded, they’re ready to be fried.For one pound of shrimp, you’ll probably need to do two batches in the skillet so they’re not too close together.  Fry each batch until they’re nice and golden brown.  Put the finished shrimp on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels so the breading doesn’t get soggy.

To assemble the sandwich, spread remoulade on each side of the bun.  Lay out the lettuce, then the sliced tomato, and then the fried shrimp.  Throw a little tabasco on there if you want it to have some extra kick.  Then, the most important step of the whole process: press down on the finished sandwich to smoosh everything together.  I have no idea why this really matters, but somehow it all just comes together after you do this.  It’s magical.

Serve immediately, preferably with a cocktail.

Rumtopf Shirley Temples
I have a batch of rumtopf in my pantry.  It’s a fermented fruit & booze concoction that’s pretty amazing.  You can use the fruit for all kinds of desserty projects, and the boozy part is great in cocktails.  I’ve only made it once, and it pretty much tastes like strawberries since I put in too many.  If you want instructions, read here from the Hungry Tigress or here from Well Preserved.
Makes: 1 cocktail
Cook time: 3 minutes?
Ingredients:
  • ice
  • rumtopf
  • a splash of grenadine, either a fancy artisanal brand or the usual stuff with the red #5 in it
  • sprite, or some kind of fancy organic no high fructose corn syrup equivalent
Put a few ice cubes in a pint jar. Pour in an ounce  or two of rumtopf.  Pour in a splash of grenadine.  Top with sprite.  Mix well.  Drink.  Repeat.
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Oh, and in case you noticed, yah,  I used a lot of non-local, non-seasonal stuff in these recipes.  A girl can’t be perfect all the time…  Every once in a very long while, I think it can be nice to tell the kale to shove it and eat a tomato instead.
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I Ran Away To The Fog

At the end of July, I started going a little bit crazy because I was working too hard. Plus it was about a billion degrees outside (and inside, too, since our off-the-grid barn doesn’t exactly have central air). So I ran away to the fog.

It was amazing. J. and I found icy cold creeks and went wading with minnows.

We had a picnic in the redwoods…

… and went to this awesome store with stuffed animals all over the walls and gold-mining equipment for sale, and an old dude that talked to me about hiking into the mountains of Alaska where he made $360,000 off of his gold claim in one week. 

We found treasure in the tidepools.

We camped next to the ocean.

which reminds me of this:

I have lost myself in the sea many times

with my ear full of freshly cut flowers

with my tongue full of love and agony

– Garcia-Lorca, Gacela of the Flight

We ate lots of things from the ocean, of course. Clams and oysters and other fish-related things.

We brought the cast iron dutch oven with us and cooked all kinds of lovely food at the campsite. It’s amazing how good a hot-dog tastes when it’s slow-roasted on a campfire next to the ocean. I highly recommend it.

Campfire Hot Dogs

Special Equipment: Firewood, a metal shovel, Cast-Iron Dutch Oven, or a stick will work too

Cooking Time: 2 hours or so

Serves: however many you want

Ingredients:

  • a pack of hot dogs (or Italian sausage, bratwurt, or whatever floats your boat)
  • a few tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
  • for serving: buns, sauerkraut, whole grain mustard

Build a fire. Wait awhile so the wood starts turning into hot coals (don’t just throw the dutch oven on the fire immediately).  Using your shovel, pull away coals from the main fire and make a small pile of the hot coals. Set the dutch oven on top of the coals.  Pour in a little oil and add the hot dogs once the pot is hot.  Cover, and check occasionally to make sure the pot isn’t getting too hot or cold. If the dutch oven gets too hot, just pull it off of the coals for a minute.

Cooking on coals like this is the equivalent of cooking on medium heat instead of blazing hot. Your pile of coals will stay hot for about 20-30 minutes. Keep adding wood to the main fire and pulling hot coals over to the pile for the dutch oven.  The hot dogs will eventually get all nice and browned on the outside and juicy and delicious in the middle. Serve with mustard and sauerkraut. Eat s’mores for dessert.

Make sure to take care of your fire (put it out with sand or dirt, or you can sit and look at the stars until it dies.) We don’t want to be burning down the forest or anything.

If you don’t have a cast-iron dutch oven, you could just use a stick. It will still taste super good.


Taste Of Mendocino

Hey Folks, I’ll make this short because it’s a blatant plug for an event that I’m doing.

Come to the Taste of Mendocino.  It’s on Monday at the Fort Mason Building in San Francisco from 5:00-8:00 pm. Tickets are $35 and available here and at the door.

In addition to saying hi and trying lots of jam, there are vineyards bringing wine down to this event that you literally cannot buy in stores.  To drive around and do wine tasting at all of these small tasting rooms would take days and days, and probably end up in a drunk driving arrest.

Oh, and I’m also bringing a few jars sweet peas, some veggies and our fresh eggs. Come early, I’m sure they’ll sell out fast.

Jasmine and Oysters and Beignets

I am completely crazy about New Orleans. We were there this past week and I’ve never not wanted to get on a plane home quite so much in my life.

sunrise, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

The city is so magical, with walls of flowering jasmine, palm trees and ferns. Music explodes out of every crack in the sidewalk – walking down the street on a steamy Monday afternoon, I found a girl sitting in the middle of the street playing the bowed saw and singing beautiful blues songs.  Around another corner was a twenty piece brass band and children dancing in the street. I am in love!

The food, of course, is ridiculously good. We went to Mother’s, a restaurant that has been open since 1938. (Would you believe that the first day that we were back in California, there was a special about Mother’s on tv? The universe was sending a message…) Their oyster po’boy was insane, heaped with fried oysters, cabbage, and pickles, and perfect with a liberal dose of their hot pepper vinegar.

I had oysters on the half shell for breakfast and tried alligator for the first time (it was amazing!).

We went to Cafe du Monde for beignets, which is apparently A Thing That Everyone Must Do.

Normally I avoid Things That Everyone Must Do; Cafe du Monde is most certainly very crowded, and there is a line to get in pretty much all day, every day. Customers seat themselves though, so keep your eyes peeled for open tables and grab one when you see it (don’t just stand there for fifteen minutes wondering where the hostess is).

Beignets are like the most elevated piece of fried dough you will ever eat. They are perfectly fluffy and warm, and the absurd amount of powdered sugar that they are served with kind of melts into the beignet as you eat it. We ordered cafe au laits and fresh squeezed orange juice and listened to a trumpet player that was right outside of the dining area on the street. It was dark and cool in the restaurant, making it the perfect powdered-sugar-fried-donut-hideway from the humidity outside. Simply put, New Orleans is a city unlike any other. I will definitely be going back. I am still dreaming of jasmine and beignets.

And congratulations again to J. and B., our friends who got married there, the whole reason for the trip!

For more pictures, go to the grow it cook it can it facebook page.

P.S. That girl playing the bowed saw was in a band called The Jaded Optimists. They were pretty awesome and you can find their facebook page here.