Many people are shying away from large portion entrées. If you are French, the preceding sentence doesn't make sense. To them, an entrée is a smaller dish served before the main course, but we follow an old tradition that tells us this is the main event.
But back to the point: a meal with friends that consists of many small courses, or appetizers, can be delightful. The Spanish call such small courses, tapas, and it is similar to the Italian idea of an antipasto.
With tapas or antipasto, a variety of foods are sampled, and your appetite is not sated on one large selection. The idea not only allows you to sample more delicious offerings, but more importantly, it provides a completely different atmosphere.
Stop for a minute and think about what you are trying to do. Is the idea just to fill everybody up and then be on your way? Lets sure hope not. What you are engaging in is an ancient ceremony, breaking bread with friends, sharing food.
What could be more important than that? Invite your friends to your home and table. Do the best you can in the kitchen, then fill that table with what abundance you can. Show your generosity not only with the food you share, but also with the conversation in which you engage. Not only talking, but listening.
Now just remember to take your time about it. Don't put all the food on the table at once. Break the meal, even if the portions are small, into courses that will provide a delightfully relaxed cadence. Enjoy your friends, enjoy the food and wine, and enjoy each moment that you all can be together.
So this holiday season consider a table full of small offerings, a bot
tle or two of good wine, lots of seafood and a leisurely evening with good friends.
SIMPLE QUICK SAUTÉED SHRIMP
There is one small dilemma in serving this recipe. Clothes on or clothes off -- for the shrimp, of course. If you leave the shell on, the shrimp will be moist and delectable, but your guests will have to get their fingers dirty. Consider serving this recipe on a bed of cheesy grits.
1 pound large shrimp
Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
Red pepper flakes
Dry the shrimp completely, and season aggressively with Tony's. Add some olive oil to a large sauté pan, then add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes, the hot oil will wake them up a bit. When the oil is almost smoking, add 2-3 tablespoons of butter, then immediately add a small handful of the shrimp. Do not cook more than 1 minute on a side, or they will be overcooked. Remove and serve at once. Repeat until all the shrimp are cooked. If you like, add a squeeze of fresh lemon, and serve with a good white wine, perhaps a Gruner Veltliner.
FRIED SHRIMP STUFFED WITH PIMENTO AND CHEESE WITH COMEBACK SAUCE
This recipe is a knock-off of what Chef Kelly English does at the Magnolia House in Biloxi. The larger the shrimp you use, the easier this recipe will be. Add a little cayenne if you want it to have a kick.
1 pound large, shelled shrimp
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon grated red onion
Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup flour
1 whole egg
Place the flour in a large bowl, beat the egg, add a tablespoon of water and place in another bowl. Make the pimento and cheese by combining the cheddar, cream cheese, mayonnaise, red onion and seasoning with black pepper. Butter fly the shrimp, put a small amount of pimento and cheese in the opening, dip in the egg wash and then in the flour. Deep fry in 2-3 inches of hot oil, but remember not to overcrowd the pan. They are done when they turn golden brown.
1 cup mayonnaise, homemade is best
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon spicy mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoon lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
Combine all of the ingredients and serve chilled. It is delicious with the stuffed shrimp.
DEVILED EGGS WITH SPICY SHRIMP
6-8 large shrimp prepared as in the recipe above
8 hardboiled eggs
Egg yellows reserved
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2-3 tablespoons Valentino Hot Sauce
1-2 small Gherkin pickles chopped
1 small chopped jalapeno pepper
When the eggs have cooled, cut in half and remove the yellows. Combine the egg yellows with the mayonnaise, hot sauce, finely chopped pickles and jalapenos. Rough chop the shrimp pretty small, but not a dice. Combine with the other ingredients and stuff each egg half. Serve chilled.
This recipe may be problematic for some of us. First it does require a very hot grill or broiler, gas is OK, but electric just won't cut it. Secondly, if you are not careful, the ingredients you add to the oysters will overpower the delicate flavor of the oyster. Proceed with caution on both counts. Additionally, use the largest oysters you can find.
12 oysters on the half shell with liquor
1 stick softened butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic (or less)
4-5 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons minced basil
Combine the softened butter, garlic, cheese, lemon juice and basic. Add a teaspoon to each oyster and carefully place on a very hot grill. Be prepared for flare-ups, so stand clear. Just as soon as the oysters start to bubble, they are done. Remove and serve at once.