Showing posts with label saffron. Show all posts
Showing posts with label saffron. Show all posts

Friday, November 8, 2013

Shrimp with Garlic and Saffron

by Sheila Connolly

Shoot, this recipe is just too easy! A grand total of seven ingredients. The hardest part is finding smoked paprika (but you can’t substitute the regular kind).

A word on shrimp. My husband and I have often chat with the woman who staffs the fish counter at our local market, and we eat seafood at least once a week. They sell shrimp there, both raw (shell on) and cooked. In an adjacent case, they sell bags of frozen shrimp. Guess what: it’s all the same shrimp. The bulk shrimp are shipped to the store in large bags, and they’re frozen. For the fresh shrimp, they’re thawed in-store.

Frozen shrimp are not evil. They’re all coming from Indonesia or Thailand these days, and over there they’ve long since figured out how to flash-freeze seafood. They taste fine, and some nice people have already removed the icky vein (i.e., the digestive tube). You can buy them peeled or not. You can keep the frozen ones in your freezer for that day when you have no time and nothing fresh to cook—and now you have this quick and tasty recipe.
With shell
Cleaned and ready

One digression: shrimp are harvested off the coast of County Cork in Ireland. I was incredulous when I first heard this, but it’s true—something about the warm currents there. I was tipped off when I innocently ordered what was called a shrimp sandwich in Baltimore in County Cork (in a restaurant across the street from the harbor there), and this was what arrived:


¼ cup olive oil
3 sliced garlic cloves

1 pounds peeled shrimp (about 2 cups)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of saffron
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sliced garlic and saute until golden.

Stir in the other ingredients and cook, turning the shrimp once or twice, until the shrimp are pink—just a few minutes.

Serve over rice/pasta. Garnish with parsley if you like.

See?  Told you it was easy. One bonus: the combination smells wonderful even before you start cooking!
Coming November 22nd

A New York Times bestseller!

Friday, November 1, 2013

All Souls' Day

by Sheila Connolly

Haven’t we had fun this week with all the spooky and colorful recipes? And have you all recovered from the onslaught of costumed munchkins (we get over a hundred at our house, and we don’t even live in a city) and the sugar high you got from eating all the leftover candy (you wouldn’t want it to get stale or go to waste, now, would you?)?

But the festivities aren’t quite over yet, because today, November 1st, is All Saints’ Day, and the next day, All Souls' Day—and of course there is food involved. The event dates back to either 609 or 610 (maybe), and Pope Gregory III (731-741) made it official.  It also happens to fall on the Celtic holiday of Samhain (pronounced “sow-en”), which marks the last harvest and the beginning of winter, when you’d count your herds and tally up your food supplies, maybe light a bonfire or two on the local hilltops. And since Samhain was the time of the year when beings and souls from the Otherworld could pass into our world, of course you’d make a feast for the souls of your dead kinfolk, and tell stories about them. (But watch out for the fairies, who could steal a soul away—make sure to leave them a snack on your doorstep.)

If you read about this, you’ll notice some similarities to our modern celebration of Halloween, including those (mostly children and the poor) who would go door to door volunteering to say prayers for the dead (in the old days, that is—now we call them trick or treaters).  The traditional gift, at least in England and Ireland, was the soul cake, made with sweet spices and marked with a cross on top. (Remember the Peter, Paul and Mary song “A’Soalin,’ which in turn was based on the lyrics of a nineteenth century song; Sting borrowed it for a 2009 album.  The tradition lives on!)

So here’s one version of a Soul Cake recipe (there are many).  You’ll notice it includes saffron, which I found in more than one version.

Soul Cakes

2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter, softened

3 ½ cups flour

1 cup sugar

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp saffron

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

2 eggs

2 tsp malt vinegar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a baking sheet.

Cut the butter into the flour.

Mix in the sugar and spices.

Lightly beat the eggs and add to the flour mixture.

Add the vinegar, and mix until you have a stiff dough.  Knead briefly until you can form a ball.

Dough, with my Victorian hand-turned rolling pin
Roll out the dough one-quarter inch thick.  Cut the dough into three-inch circles.

Meet my new Irish cookie cutter!
Place on the greased baking sheet (some people make a shallow cross on top at this point) and bake for 25 minutes.

If you like, you may sprinkle these with powdered sugar while they are still warm.

As you can see, there is neither liquid (apart from the eggs) nor leavening in these cookies, but they turned out to be fairly light and crisp, and not too sweet. And the dough is very easy to handle, a plus if you’re cutting out elaborate shapes. (P.S. My husband approved of them.)

This includes my new short
story, "That Other Woman."
Available in November.

A New York Times Bestseller!