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Sunday, December 18, 2011

A chicken disaster, a killer sandwich--and an unusual take on shrimp

I love chicken thighs, and last night I thought I could reconstruct from memory a recipe I have somewhere for herbed chicken thighs. You melt butter and add lemon juice in your baking dish, then dip the chicken, and season with a mixture of as many herbs as you want--I'd stick with garden herbs and shy away from Mexican flavors or else stick to all Mexican spices. I remember you mixed them with salt. Well, I got my proportions way off, and it was too salty to eat. Next time I'll go back to my standby: start them skin side down, sprinkle with soy, then seasoned salt and garlic powder. Bake half an hour, turn, and re-season. Best eaten cold. Yumm, good.
The other day in the market I asked for sliced rare roast beef--they only had well done in the Angus beef so they sold me Kobe at the same price. Jordan, Christian and I feasted on rich roast beef sandwiches today--with tomato, provolone, red onion, and mayo on lightly toasted sourdough bread. I was afraid the beef would be too rare for Jordan and she'd microve itwhich would have been sacriledge, but she took the ends which were fairly well done. Felt like I'd had a real treat.
Here's my Christmas recipe for today, though I suspect you could serve it any time. It was a Christmas Eve tradition in my family's house;

Pickled shrimp
2½ lbs. shrimp
Shrimp boil or ½ c. celery tops, 3½ tsp. salt, and ¼ c. pickling spices
Sliced onions
7-8 bay leaves
1¼ c. salad oil
¾ c. white vinegar
1½ tsp. salt
2½ Tbsp. capers with juice
Dash of Tabasco
Cook shrimp, using shrimp boil or alternate seasonings. Drain, cool, and peel. Alternate layers of shrimp (sliced in half lengthwise is best) and sliced onions in a shallow dish. Add bay leaves. Mix oil, vinegar, salt, capers, and Tabasco and pour over shrimp and onions. Cover and store in refrigerator at least 24 hours before serving. This will keep a week or more in the refrigerator.
In my thirties, I developed an allergy to shrimp. I always thought it was because I overdosed on it, eating it every chance I got. I remember a shrimp dinner one night at Brentano’s in Dallas—by the time we got home I had a startling red mask across my cheeks. My then-husband, a physician, sat me up in bed and told his nurse, who had gone with us to dinner, to watch me while he took the babysitter home. Another time I had shrimp quiche, clearly made with canned shrimp and the same thing happened. Once I bought lobster tails on sale and didn’t realize until I got them home that the label said “Previously frozen.” Same red mask. So I’m careful—sometimes I’ll take a bite of someone’s very fresh shrimp, but now I’ve almost lost my taste for it. Except sometimes at Christmas I do long for pickled shrimp. (Sorry, I don't seem to be able to single-space this paragraph.)

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