Monday, September 02, 2013

Chick Pea and Beet Salad

I've been on this thing lately where I've been buying beets that are about as big as my head. I don't know why I'm buying these because it's seriously a lot of food. But I'm glad I have been because it's been an adventure in deciding what to do with 4 cups worth of beet that all has to be used quickly. Once again, I have (half) a beet in my fridge, though it was a lot more. The last head-sized beet probably had half of it eaten in little handfuls of diced beet as I walked on by it and the rest went into things, like an enchilada sauce (that I'll tell y'all about as soon as I remember what I did). This time, I had made falafel for dinner but was out of both sesame seeds and tahini so I couldn't make the type of hummus I wanted. Instead I used the chick peas to make a salad and we all agreed it was a wonderful addition to the falafel. Hope you enjoy!

1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed (or a can's worth of cooked from dry, so about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup roasted beet, diced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 roma tomato, diced
2 tablespoons each: vegetable oil, lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

Combine all. Chill (or not) before serving. Serves 4 as a small side, 2 as a large side or 1 as a meal.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and grits. This classic Lowcountry dish is one of those Southern foods that makes me really understand how a person could love Southern food. Which is not to say I don't like Southern food, but I do find it really heavy with its emphasis on everything fried or laden with lard (both things I love, but moderation and all that). I would call this shrimp and polenta but Ross, being a Texan, prefers the word "grits" over "polenta." I'm not sure why this is since they're basically the same thing, but here we are anyway. It's a delicious meal no matter what you call it, and one I nearly always enjoy since it has a kind of breakfast for dinner feel without actually being breakfast for dinner. Hope you enjoy!

1 cup cornmeal
3 - 3 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons each: parmesan, butter

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used previously frozen)
2 tablespoons each: vegetable oil, lard, butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup celery
2 cups field greens

Combine cornmeal, water and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly until the first starch sets (this will take a little under 10 minutes). Reduce heat and stir periodically until it is reduced to "grits" texture, about 30 minutes (unless you're using quick grits, quick polenta or similar in which case all of this will be much faster). Turn off the heat and whisk or stir in the cheese, butter and pepper.

While all this is going on, heat a very large skillet (I used a 12" cast iron) over medium to medium-high heat. Add in all your fats and let them melt. On one half of the skillet, put in your shrimp and season with the salt, pepper and cayenne. On the other half of the skillet add in your celery and season with salt and pepper. Cook the shrimp 3-4 minutes and flip them over. When you flip them over, add the field greens to the celery. Cook both two minutes (stirring the greens and celery every 30-40 seconds to wilt the greens down) then hit them with the lemon juice and cook one more minute.

To serve: pile a mound of grits/polenta on your plate, then top with greens mixture and shrimp. I served this with stewed okra. Serves 4.