From time to time, Bas Bleu’s editorial staff “samples” recipes from cookbooks and other culinary guides found in our catalog. Our efforts are amateur at best: If you’re looking for advanced epicurean know-how or glossy food photography, you’re about to be disappointed. We’re humble home cooks, you see, like (most of) you—pressed for time, with non-matching cookware and the tendency to scatter flour everywhere. But we know delicious when we taste it, and if you try your hand at these recipes we think you’ll agree!
If you’re like us, you are destined, most weeks of the year, to be an armchair traveler, exploring exotic locales and cultures in the pages of your favorite books. Cookbooks serve as particularly excellent literary “passports,” and Tori Haschka’s A Suitcase and a Spatula—in which the Australian-born food and travel writer shares her favorite recipes from around the world—is no exception.
So while this blogger would love to spend two weeks basking in the sun on a Portuguese beach, such a leisurely vacation is not in the budget. Fortunately, the seaside color and flavor of Estoril can be recaptured in my American kitchen with this delectable combination of fresh shrimp, citrus, and fruity wine.
700 g/1½ lbs. fresh prawns/shrimp (or 350 g/¾ lb. shelled prawns/shrimp)
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
250 ml/1 cup fruity red wine
160 ml/2/3 cup olive oil
Zest of ½ lemon
6 garlic cloves (4 thinly sliced, 2 crushed)
½ red chilli, diced
½ small green apple, diced
1 handful mint, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
Bread, to serve
Serves 4 as part of a tapas-style meal, with bread and salad, or generous meal for 2
Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF) Gas 6
Break the heads off the prawns/shrimp and peel off the shell and legs. Keep the tails on for presentation. Slit their backs with a knife and lift out the “poo shoot” (the black vein). Put the cleaned prawns in a bowl.
Using a vegetable peeler, make 3 long strips of orange zest (half the orange’s zest in total). Put the strips of zest in a saucepan and add the red wine. Heat over high heat until reduced by two-thirds and the wine is syrupy. Taste and it it’s too acrid, add the sugar. Put the prawns in a baking dish. Pour over the olive oil. Grate in the remaining orange zest and the lemon zest. Add the garlic and chilli.
Cover with foil and cool in the oven for about 15-18 minutes (the larger the prawns, the longer they will take to cook). Once cooked, the prawns should be pink and firm, but not stiff to the touch. Drizzle the prawns with the red wine syrup and top with the diced apple and chopped mint. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with bread on the side to mop up the garlic/red wine juices.
A Suitcase and a Spatula
by Tori Haschka
Ryland Peters and Small, $24.95; http://www.rylandpeters.com
Photo credit: Photography by Isobel Wield
Summer cooking is easy if you keep it simple: shrimp, fruit, garlic, olive oil, fresh mint, and a fruity Spanish Rioja wine.
I purchased my shrimp (wild caught in U.S. waters, because friends don’t let friends eat imported shrimp) with the heads already removed. If you’ve never peeled shrimp before, grasp the “feet” between your thumb and forefinger and pull gently. I didn’t leave the tails on “for presentation” because I’m not about to let anything slow down The Eating.
What Tori Haschka refers to as the “poo shoot,” we Americans call the digestive tract or vein. Whatever its name, it needs to be removed before cooking or you’ll get a mouthful of grit. For lack of a proper shrimp de-veiner (yes, those exist), I used a paring knife. Draw the tip of the blade alongside the vein, creating an opening just wide enough to lift it out.
Orange rinds simmering in red wine? Heavenly.
In my attempts to reduce the recipe down to a lunch portion, the olive oil may have gotten away from me a bit. But it’s healthier than cooking the shrimp in butter, right? Also, since I have a low tolerance for spicy food, I opted for red pepper flakes over raw chilies.
This mouth-watering combination of flavors came together beautifully to create a light, yet satisfying meal. Prepping your shrimp ahead of time will allow you to throw this dish together for a quick lunch or weeknight dinner.
Careful not to toss those “drippings!” Wine, oil, garlic, and mint are delicious when sopped up with fresh bread (and washed down with more wine).