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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day Menu, Part One

First things first - I'm completely, totally, 100% brand-new at this blogging "thing".  If anyone has pointers - widgets, templates, all that stuff - I'm all ears.  This is definitely a work-in-progress!

If you missed my first blog entry, check below for my introduction and some background information on who I am and from where Girl Versus Kitchen came.  The purpose of this blog, however, is really out of popular demand.  After posting various pictures and statuses on (what else) FB about various things I've made or restaurants I've visited, I got a lot of feedback asking for recipes, reviews, and MORE FOOD!  And so, alas, that's what I'm giving you!  Things I'm making, things I want to make, how to make it, where I've eaten, what I've had, how I liked it, and as many pictures as I can post.  The biggest problem is remembering to take pictures of the food before eating it all.

A lot of my ideas come from previously-existing recipes I come across online, in magazines, or through word-of-mouth; then I give it my own flair.  When I post recipes here, I'll write them exactly how I prepare them; however I'll always give credit where it's due.  That way, if any of my readers decide to experiment, they can either use my recipe, or the one I used to create my version! 

I'll also do my best to add photographs that either E or I have taken; but, honestly, sometimes we're too hungry to stop and take a picture.  Or we simply forget.  In which case, I'll include a picture from the recipe I adapted the dish from.  Sound good?  Deal?  Okay deal!

For Valentine's Day this year, I decided to prepare an extensive three-course menu to surprise E when he came home from work.  Here's the rundown:

Champagne (of course) .. ok, it was Asti.  Not real Champagne.  But still delicious.

Whole Kalamata and Feta-Stuffed Green Olives

Shrimp Francesca with Artichoke Hearts and Grape Tomatoes

Proscuitto-Wrapped Asparagus with Onion-Chive Cream Cheese

Baked Salmon in Puff Pastry, stuffed with Baby Spinach and Shiitake Mushrooms

Hand-Dipped Chocolate Dipped Strawberries with Peanut Butter Drizzle

The olives were from the Olive Bar from my Happy Place, ShopRite - so no real culinary talent needed there.  I was introduced to kalamatas by E and fell in love; the green olives I did not try, E said they were okay but almost too much feta in such a giant olive took away from the experience.  Hey, at least the kalamatas went over well.  They're a popular ingredient in my kitchen, so be ready to see these little purple babies often! 

The Shrimp Francesca was a delicious suggestion by the fantastic folks over at AllRecipes as either a yummy app, or as an entree served over cappelini or any other pasta.  I chose to pair the olives with the Francesca as an appetizer over chilled glasses of 1997 Dom Perignon a bottle of Martini & Rossi Asti I had left over from New Years Eve.  Came out amazing, and I would definitely make this again as an entree with a side of steamed broccoli rabe or spinach.  E and I helped ourselves to cocktail plates of the shrimp while the Salmon Puff Pastry baked in the oven. 

I'm so excited, my first blog recipe!!

Shrimp Francesca with Artichoke Hearts and Grape Tomatoes

picture from AllRecipes recipe; not really what our dish looked like because for some reason this picture omits the artichokes, and the tomatoes were my own addition; plus this shows as over rice which could be a good option but we did not do.  Wow this is a long caption.
  • 1/2 lb large to colossal shrimp, uncooked, peeled and de-veined
  • 8 to 10 artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 15 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 c bread crumbs or panko
  • 1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning or 1/2 tsp each basil, oregano, parsley, and garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp Smart Balance (I like to use this in place of butter, but butter is acceptable)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • parmesano romano cheese, grated, to taste (I use about 1 and 1/2 tbsp)

Preheat oven to 375*F.

Spray a 9 by 9 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and arrange the shrimp at the bottom of the dish.  Make sure none overlap.

Stuff pieces of artichoke and tomato among the shrimp, creating a colorful evenness throughout the dish.

Sprinkle breadcrumbs and Italian seasonings/basil, oregano, parsley, garlic powder over everything, and then sprinkle with the lemon juice.

While the shrimp marinates for a few minutes (do NOT let sit for more than a half-hour in the lemon juice, as the shrimp will begin to dissolve and become grainy from the citric acid), make your garlic-butter: Melt the Smart Balance in a small saucepan under medium-low heat, then before completely melted add the garlic.  Let it all bubble together until the garlic begins to cook through, about two to three minutes.

Drizzle the garlic/SB mixture over the shrimp dish, and top with the parmesano romano cheese.

Bake on top rack until cheese and crumbs begin to brown and shrimp turn pink - about 10-12 minutes.  At this point, I like to turn on the broiler and really crisp up the top, but no more than 60 seconds here.  GVK's rule number one: Nothing worse than overcooking!  It's so sad when your big, gorgeous shrimpies turn itty-bitty and tough.  Bleh.

Serve hot; as an app, goes well alone or on crusty slices of bread.  As an entree, serve over pasta.  Serves 2 as an app; this recipe is easily multipliable...? is that a word?

Tomorrow I'll detail the remaining portions of our fantastic V-Day meal.  Cheers!

PS - any and all feedback is appreciated!  Tell me how to improve!  Tell me what you'd like to see!  Help me with formatting, content, anything and everything!
Help me.. help you!

1 comment:

  1. Mmmmm that shrimp sounds delicious!! Definitely will have to try that. :)

    (Love the Tom Cruise reference!haha)