In the town I grew up in there is a pizza place. When I was little every time my family would get takeout from there my dad and I both had to get their spaghetti and meatballs. I’m not even sure why because it was actually incredibly mediocre. You could tell it was frozen and the sauce tasted like water, but that was my and my dad’s thing.
For the last few months while I have been on hiatus I have forced myself to do something completely shocking, something I never thought I could or would do. And that thing was teaching myself how to cook and eat on a (mostly) vegetarian and vegan diet. I get in real life that that is not nearly dramatic as I made it sound, but to put it in perspective I have had other bloggers describe my blog as “specialty in non-vegetarian food” when nominating me for awards, so I would say my recent dip into vegetable life is worth noting.
I think anyone who reads my blog at this point knows I am a garlic junkie. Have I even posted one recipe that does not use any garlic other than the dessert I posted? To be honest I don’t think I have. And can you blame me? Garlic is absolutely delicious! There is nothing better than that sweet, almost nutty flavor you get from beautifully browned garlic. Well this pasta recipe here is an ode to all the fellow garlic lovers out there, and even better, this recipe is unbelievably cheap and simple to prepare and is friendlier to the figure than a lot of the recipes I have posted.
Pretty much every time my brother offers to cook me dinner and ask what I want my response is the same, chicken marsala. For me a good chicken marsala is all about the sweet richness of the sauce. Normally I get so caught up in the sauce and mushrooms that the chicken tends to kind of fade into the background. This time I wanted the chicken to take center stage along with the sauce. I found that the key to that is braising.
For this dinner my best friend and I were reminiscing about our favorite hookah bar that recently closed down. Back when we were 19 this place was an old haunt of ours. One of our favorite things about that place was their chicken alfredo. To be honest their alfredo sauce was pretty bland, but oh lord the chicken.
Shrimp is one of the key items in South Carolina food culture. Growing up one of the main spots for my family vacations was Charleston. For those of you who have never been Charleston is a beautiful town filled with a rich history that is as old as America itself, and they also boast some of the best food in the world in my opinion. Since Charleston is on the shore you can find beautiful coastal style dishes in almost every restaurant. Think she crab soup or shrimp and grits. Every time my family would travel to Charleston we made sure to eat every bite of shrimp that was available to us and we would even get coolers full of shrimp from seafood markets to take home with us. The shrimp there is that good.
For this dish I was inspired by memories of Charleston, South Carolina. I wanted to create something with beautiful shrimp, but really turn the volume up on the flavor to create a fiery, yet decadent shrimp. I crusted the shrimp in some of my favorite spices like old bay and lots of garlic powder. Then I combined oil, butter, and garlic in the pan to create a sort of garlic butter, and then cooked the shrimp in the garlic butter for extra oomph. I paired these shrimp with my tomato basil cream pasta, recipe found here. This created an incredibly well rounded dish. The shrimp had spicy and garlicky notes while the pasta balanced it out with the sauce’s creaminess and sweetness of the tomato and basil. This pairing worked incredibly well, but I think these shrimp could go with any manner of dishes. They would be beautiful next to a steak for a surf and turf, orwould be delicious with polenta for a play on shrimp and grits. There are so many options for these little flavor bombs, plus the cooking on them is super easy to boot!
- 1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 3 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon old bay seasoning
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
Start by mixing the garlic powder, cayenne, black pepper, and old bay together. Heat the oil and butter over medium high heat. While your oil and butter heats up toss the shrimp in the spice mix. Once the butter is melted add the garlic and give it one minute to cook. After that minute add your shrimp to the pan. The shrimp should take about two minutes to cook on the first side and one minute on the second side. The spices should form a nice crust on the shrimp. For serving I topped my pasta with the shrimp and garlic from the pan, and then topped the whole plate off with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. It does not get much easier or more delicious than that!
It has to be obvious at this point that creamy pastas are my kryptonite. There is just something so magical about a cream sauce that packs a ton of flavor. The one downside of a cream sauce is that they can feel overly decadent. For tonight’s meal I wanted to try and explore the lighter side of the cream sauce, if there is such a thing.
I am about to share something very sacred with all of you. Do you recall your first food memory? Maybe something a parent, guardian, day care professional, or nanny made for you? That one special food that always just makes you feel warm, tingly, and loved? This is my version of that. Ever since I was three or four years old I remember my mom making her famous chicken parmesan.
Everyone who cooks for long enough, whether they are a home cook or a professional chef, has developed a signature dish. For my mother that dish is the most divine chicken parmesan, and for the elite chefs of Le Cirque in Manhattan it is potato wrapped sea bass. The signature dish is a universal truth of the culinary world. And now the time has come for me to share my signature dish with you.
As you probably already know my blog’s tagline is “where South Carolina meets the south of France.” I always felt like that was an accurate description of my food, soul food combined with rustic French and sometimes Italian cuisine. But what I am about to show you is all South Carolina. One of the most beloved dishes in the American regional south is casserole. Casseroles are great because the only rules to them is that they have to be goopy in the best kind of way, taste delicious, and make you feel warm and loved when you eat them. Outside of those three criteria you can do whatever you want and put whatever you want in your casserole.