’Tis the season of parties and entertainings. Whether we’re ready or not, the holiday season has arrived. The Other Fisherman and I were busy preparing for a holiday get-together at the main lodge (the place we call home) last week. Let me tell you, we were some kind of crazy busy. He rocked his role as my sous chef. After all the years of watching and helping me, he’s quite a pro. Our party was a great success thanks to all his help. So many details go into planning and hosting a party.
Every year when we plan the menu for this get-together, we try to think of unique and tasty things to serve that our guests would enjoy. This year our menu included New Orleans barbecue shrimp, a favorite we discovered on a trip to the Crescent City years ago. These spicy, tasty and messy shrimp are just so delicious we were sure they would be the hit of the party. They were.
Huge, juicy shrimp dripping with butter, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and spices — this dish is a classic. Leave it to eccentric New Orleans; despite the name, there’s no barbecue sauce or grill involved. Serve with lots of hot, crusty bread for mopping up the sauce, and plenty of napkins to keep everyone tidy as they peel and eat the shrimp with their hands. In New Orleans, head-on, shell-on shrimp are standard; look online for a source or ask your favorite shrimper to sell you shrimp with heads left on, or use headless, shell-on shrimp.
New Orleans barbecue shrimp
1 medium lemon
8 ounces (1 cup) butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 ounce kosher salt (1 tablespoon if using Diamond Crystal, 1/2 tablespoon if using Morton’s)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Hot sauce to your taste
24 colossal shrimp (12 to 15 per lb.), unshelled, preferably domestic wild-caught or Alaskan, and head-on
Cut the lemon in half crosswise, and juice it.
Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, Cajun seasoning, cayenne, salt, ground pepper, cracked pepper and hot sauce. Stir and simmer for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors, being careful not to let the garlic brown.
Add the shrimp and increase the heat to medium. Cook, turning with tongs, until all the shrimp are beginning to turn pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve with lots of French bread to get every bite of the sauce.
This recipe is simply a guide to New Orleans style shrimp. Spice it up or down to your taste. This festive time of year also means lots of sweets and cookies. I am always looking for a new cookie to try. This one caught my eye as it has three different kinds of nuts in it and I adore roasted nuts in a good butter cookie. It is a simple cookie with a cute oval shape, but put it in your mouth and its dissolving texture with its fine crunch of nuts and intense depth of toasted nut flavor creates a close to obsessive craving.
Three Nut Cookies
Makes 32, 2-inch by 1 ¼-inch cookies
Place 2 oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
½ cup unblanched sliced almonds — 1.5 ounces
1/3 cup pecan halves — 1.25 ounces
¼ cup hazelnuts — 1.25 ounces
¾ cup plus one tablespoon all-purpose flour — 4 ounces
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar — 1 ounce
½ cup butter — softened — 4 ounces
1 ½ teaspoons water
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Coat with ½ cup superfine sugar* — 3.5 ounces
Place the nuts in separate piles on a baking sheet and bake them, keeping the nuts separated, but stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the almonds are lightly browned. With a large spoon transfer the hazelnuts to a clean kitchen towel and wrap them with the towel. Allow them to sit for a few minutes. Use the towel to rub off as much of the skins as possible. Cool all the nuts completely.
Add all the nuts to a food processor fitted with a small bowl and blade. Process the toasted nuts until powder fine.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, nuts, and salt. In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the water and vanilla extract until incorporated. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture until incorporated. Scrape the dough into bowl.
Measure the dough into a 1 ¼ inch cookie scoop or 2 level teaspoons. Shape the dough into date like sized pieces (1 ¾ inches long by ¾ inch wide) and place them on the cookie sheets 1 ½ inches apart.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. For even baking, rotate the cookie sheets from top bottom and front to back halfway through the baking period.
Allow the cookies to cool on the sheets for a few minutes. Use a small, angled spatula or pancake turner to lift the cookies from the sheets. Gently roll them in superfine sugar.
Transfer to wire racks, and when cool, dip them in superfine sugar again. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the freezer.
*If you cannot locate superfine sugar, you can make your own by processing granulated sugar in the food processor for a few minutes or until it is as fine as sand.
Allow cookie sheets to cool completely before starting the next batch.
I hope your kitchen smells of wonderful aromas of spices and your December is filled with fun and magical times!
I would love to have you share your seasonal favorites. Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.