Simple Pleasures.

Simple Pleasures.
Irish soda bread on its way up North with Noah.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Looking For Close-to-Home Adventures This Summer? Click Here.

Okay, here's the big, exhausted sigh. Siiiigggggghhhhhh. Or however you spell the sound that basically captures the "I'm so pooped I can't bring myself to stand up and I can't believe we actually made it to the summer and before I know it I'll have to start making lunches and badgering kids about homework so I'd better make the most of this supposed summer break."

Maybe you don't even feel that way. But if you've got kids in the house--and haven't been able to con them into spending 8 weeks at summer camp like my parents did with me and my sibs--I'll bet you're looking for things to do with them over the coming steamy weeks.

This is just my friendly little reminder for you to CHECK OUT THE SERIES I WROTE LAST SUMMER. There are numerous blog entries covering everything from hikes in NJ to bike rides on the West Side to evening outings in the Meat Packing District. And all suggestions are all affordable and kid friendly. I'll be making more entries as I go this season. But for now, check out what I already have--you'll see a full listing on my home page on the right side, somewhere below my profile picture and the email subscription box. And please, please feel free to post any suggestions that you might have. I'm always eager to discover new adventures in the area.

P.S. I don't quite know how to correct it now, but Buddahbar, which is mentioned in "To Hell With the Hard Rock: Take the Kiddies to Buddah Bar" blog, is now a similar spot but with a new name. It's called Ajna Bar.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Need Party Food? Be a Genius. Make This.

It’s that time of year. School is winding down, graduation parties are kicking in, bbq’s are getting into gear. And we all stand in our kitchens, scratching our heads about what to contribute to all those potluck parties etched in our calendars. Right here is a recipe that you’ll kiss me for. This cilantro shrimp appy from some old issue of Gourmet (may she RIP) is not only super delicious and makes everyone believe you’re a genius cook. It’s got all the right elements that make it perfect for a party bring with. It’s a snap to make (so you can devote more time to putting on your false eyelashes). It feels a little special, since pink little crustaceans are in the picture. It’s waistline friendly, since it doesn’t have all the mayo, sour cream and other artery busters that plague most party appetizer platters. And it can be served warm or at room temp, so you can make it at home, dump it onto a pretty dish when you arrive, and let it sit out on the table ‘til the last little shrimp vanishes. Don’t count on that taking too long, mind you. I don’t call this dish Gone Light Lightning Cilantro Shrimp for nothing. For the first dozen times I made this, I think I got to taste about three. Most of the time, they disappeared before I got my coat off. My kids actually love these shrimp so much that I am perpetually slapping their hands while I’m cooking to stop them from snitching. I stave off a full fledged mutiny by making this dish even when there isn’t a party. To stretch it from appy to main course, I whip up the recipe, then pour out the shrimp and some sauce onto a pile of angel hair pasta or thin rice noodles, toss it all up and holler “dinner!” Problem solved. Note: The original recipe calls for 1 pound of shrimp but that is a lot of work for such a skimpy output of food. I’ve found that the marinade can easily accommodate two pounds of shrimp or perhaps a bit more. You can also use half the marinade for one pound of shrimp. Then make it again a few days later with another pound of shrimp for your next shindig.

3 large garlic cloves
1 1/8 tsp. salt
½ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup sweet orange marmalade
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
4 tbsps. Olive oil
1 tbsp. Soy sauce
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. or more large shrimp in shells (21-25 per pound), peeled, tail and first segment of shell left intact, and deveined

optional garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs

Using a large knife, mince and mash garlic to a paste, with 1 tsp. salt. Whisk together garlic paste, lime juice, marmalade, cilantro, 3 tablespoons oil, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Transfer 1/3 cup mixture to another small bowl or ramekin and reserve for dipping sauce. Combine shrimp with remaining mixture in a large sealable plastic bag and seal bag, pressing out excess air. Marinate shrimp, refrigerated, turning bag once, for 15 minutes.

Drain shrimp and gently pat dry. Heat 1 ½ teaspoons oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat. Add half of shrimp and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes. (It’s tempting to cook all the shrimp at once, but try to resist. It cools down the pan and the shrimp will sort of steam instead of brown.) Transfer shrimp to a platter and cook remaining shrimp in remaining 1 ½ teaspoons of oil in the same manner. Garnish shrimp with cilantro, if desired, and serve with dipping sauce.