I’m having the most ridiculous day today. Can’t even put it in words. Having company tonight, I wanted to get all the prep work done before they arrived. Surveying my stock of food, scampi was to be the featured item on the menu. I bought two pounds of Wild American Shrimp on special the end of October and wanted to use them up. I took them out of the freezer yesterday to thaw.
To accompany the scampi, I bought fresh asparagus spears, the thinner ones. They’re my favorites. This morning I went to town early and got a couple of still warm sweet baguettes to serve with the Caesar salad, and having made the rice last night was good to go.
Going through my list, I made the stuffed mushrooms first. Having leftover turkey stuffing, I thawed that at the same time as the shrimp. First I sauteed the mushroom caps in 2 Tbsp. of butter for about five minutes. Then, I chopped the mushroom stems and sauteed them in 1 Tbsp. butter and deglazed the pan with a little white wine, added them to the stuffing, and filled the lovely browned caps. All that’s left to do is pop them in the oven to brown. Yum.
At this point I was singing Christmas carols out loud. For those of you that read my blogs regularly, you might be aware that my days do not generally go as well as this, so when one actually cooperates I sing its praises, loudly and with feeling.
Knowing I had two pounds of shrimp to clean and butterfly, I decided to get them done and ice them until ready to make them pretty. In the bag they looked so beautiful, quite large, 21-24 in the two lbs. Our found cat, Mouse, was lying at my feet entertaining herself by batting at the furballs on the side of my super soft, super fuzzy, socks. I placed the bag of shrimp in a dish in the sink with a colandar near by. I’m fussy about shrimp, I clean them well and generally use gloves so I don’t smell like kin after I’m done.
On opening the bag, the kitchen was instantly engulfed (no pun intended) in the most amazingly rank smell, far worse than my other half’s workout shoes, even on a bad day. The cat, spurred into action as the aroma wafted up her nose, momentarily lost her mind. In a court of law temporary insanity would have been an easy verdict. Jumping up as though I’d lit her tail on fire she uncharacteriscally hopped up on the counter and was now fighting me for the stinky shrimp. To preface this, the poor cat has digestive issues consequently giving her the hourglass look of a black widow spider on most days. Forced to exist on diet cat food and no kitty treats (I’m not lying here) she probably would have killed me for the fish and eaten them stinky and all happily perched on my lifeless body.
Finally I threw off my plastic gloves grabbed the cat and put her in her room. The fish smell was permeating the entire kitchen and I was afraid I’d have to throw out the bread should it absorb it. Quickly I bagged the nastiness and put them in the downstairs freezer. Anything to squelch the smell. I spared a moment to think about my friends who were excitedly awaiting their scampi dinner tonight at 6:00 before total panic set in. I then called the market where I’d bought them. Getting a real human in the meat department, she aplogized, explaining that one batch of the shrimp had been flowing back into the store with complaints about the smell. Maybe you want to put up a sign or post this on the website? What if we’d eaten them?? Yes?
We’re in the boonies out here, but surprisingly there’s a wonderful high-end market not far away. Live butchers, you remember those? Beautiful well trimmed cuts of meat and fabulous seafood, all of which you pay well for the privilege of having them wrap these babies up in their really costly butcher paper. Short on time and no time to thaw, I opted for filet mignon. Arriving home with my packages, my other half suggested that the next time I panic, think fowl. I was thinking it as he was speaking, however the homophone.
Also on the menu was an angel food cake, which I made yesterday, with raspberry sauce, fresh raspberries and whipped cream. Getting ready to make the sauce, I discovered I was out of cornstarch. Back in the car now looking ten years older, I entered the high-end store for the second time and thankfully they had cornstarch, and were only asking the price of a small chicken for it. Okay, sign me up, Susie needs it. It took me a while to find it as it was in a new container, which touted that it eliminates the mess associated with opening a box of the light as air fluffy white stuff. Unusually there was a huge line in the store. It appears that they provide liscenses for tree cutting, and today was the day. I was number twenty in line. Yea.
Before leaving the house I had vacuumed the kitchen carpet and the rest of the top floor. Running back into the house, my other half ignoring me and now deciding that we will never entertain again, I start getting my raspberry sauce going. All that was left as far as measuring was incorporating the cornstarch with the water. Opening the new, easy no mess container, cornstarch goes all over my arms, my freshly vacuumed carpet, the new black hand towels I had just hung, and added foam to my iced tea. Really?
Well, the good news is I’m moving forward. Mushrooms are stuffed, guacamole is chilling, bath is run, and I’m starting to look less and less like a Kabuki stand-in. Some days all you can do is keep moving forward because if you dare to look behind you there lies only destruction. Wish me luck.
This is a nice tart. Light and elegant. Unlike myself, at least today.
Light White Chocolate and Pistachio Tart
8 Tbsp. of unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsalted pistachios
dash of salt
1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. honey
White chocolate filling
4 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/2 Tbsp. boiling water
1 8 oz. pkgs. softened cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. unsalted pistachios, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine butter, 3 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. lemon peel, and 1/4 tsp. salt in med. mixing bowl. Stir in flour until well mixed. Press dough on bottom and sides evenly on 9″ tart pan with removable bottom. Place on baking sheet.
Bake for 15 mins. If tart puffs up, press down gently. Bake for an addition 5-10 mins. until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.
Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Pule 3/4 cup pistachios and a dash of salt in food processor until finely ground. Add 1/2 tsp. lemon and orange peel, pulse to combine.
Add honey and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Place white chocolate in small bowl. Add boiling water. Let stand 2 mins. or until chocolate is softened. Stir until smooth.
Beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar in large bowl at med. speed until smooth. Add egg; beat until smooth. Beat in white chocolate at low speed.
Press pistachio mixture over bottom of hot crust. Pour white chocolate mix over pistachio layer. Use spatula to spread evenly.
Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes until filling looks set but moves slightly like firm gelatin. Cool completely on wire rack. Refrigerate 24 hours. Sprinkle with additional pistachios before serving. Yum.