Thursday, August 23, 2012

Learning His Way Around

From a perch on our shady porch, a young black-crested titmouse takes a daily break for bugs and water.

Copyright 2009-2012 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tropical Shrimp Pineapple and Bacon Pasta

Sometimes my best ideas are accidents. Last night's accident was a collision of leftovers plus Denny's desire to avoid grilling outdoors in 100 degree heat. As I said goodby to chili garlic grilled shrimp, I wondered what else to do with the beauties. 

Here's what I found in the refrigerator:  cooked whole wheat spaghetti (about half a package), red bell pepper, a small slab of fresh pineapple, 2 slices of peppered lean bacon, and a clutch of cilantro.  Add the pantry and ingenuity and the result was a winner.  Colorful, sweet, a little smoky and tangy with a hit of hot, a vacation of a dish.

Makes 3-4 servings.  Takes about 40 minutes start to finish.

1 lb large shrimp
~ 1/4 to 1/3 cup white Worcestershire sauce (also labelled as Chicken Marinade)
2 slices lean bacon
~ 1 cup pineapple chunks (fresh is best but canned in juice is ok)
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
~ 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, less if you don't like heat
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 tblsp sherry (drinking sherry, not cooking sherry) Sherry gives a hint of nutty flavor but if you don't have it on hand, use white wine or pineapple juice.
~ 1 tsp ginger, grated (I keep a knob in the freezer, it lasts longer and frozen is easier to peel & grate) 
Salt & pepper to taste
a handful of cilantro, chopped
3-4 servings of cooked whole wheat spaghetti or whatever shape you prefer

1) Peel & halve shrimp lengthwise, removing vein (halving creates more surface for flavor).  
2) Put shrimp in a zipper bag with white Worcestershire, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes.  Squish bag around until all pieces are sauced then return to fridge for 15 minutes.
3) Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet until crispy. If you have more than about a tablespoon of drippings, pour off extra.
4)  Add pineapple and red bell pepper to the bacon drippings in the hot skillet.  
5)  When pepper has begun to brown, deglaze pan with sherry (start with 2 tblsp, add more if needed) stirring until sherry is mostly evaporated.
6) Add shrimp in sauce and stir to mix. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes or until the shrimp is opaque.  Sauce will reduce. Take off the fire as soon as shrimp is opaque (keeps it tender). 
7) Crumble bacon and add with cooked pasta, mixing everything in well (OK if pasta is cold, it will warm in the pan). Taste, add salt and pepper to preference. Dish up and sprinkle with cilantro.

I roasted aspargus for a side dish. An Acacia Chardonnay complemented the meal with crisp pear and apple flavors and a whisper of toast.

We'll have this again, any time I want a vacation.

Copyright 2009-2012 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.