Pea-wrapped Grilled Shrimp

Pea-wrapped Grilled Shrimp

If you’re staring longingly at your half-grown peas, wishing you could be enjoying that fresh spring taste right now, then I’ve got a great recipe for you!

You might not know it, but the entire pea plant — shoots, leaves, flowers and pods — is edible, and all of it taste like peas.  I often grab a random pea leaf to munch on when I’m strolling in the garden.  They also stand up to grilling, and the flavor is a great match with freshly grilled shrimp.  Here’s how you do it:

  • Turn the grill on high.
  • Peel and clean your shrimp, then sprinkle with salt, lemon, and any other seasonings you might have (I didn’t use dill, but it would probably be fantastic).
  • Remove the seeds from a sweet pepper and chop it into skewerable squares.
  • Head over to your pea plants and pick a leaf or two off each plant.  The bigger and older, the better.  You’ll need one leaf for each shrimp.
  • Grab one shrimp, wrap it in a leaf, skewer it, then stick on a piece of sweet pepper.  Repeat until done.
  • Add a bit of oil to protect while cooking.  I gave the skewers a quick spritz of cooking spray; alternately you could toss or brush with oil.
  • Throw ’em on the grill!  With  high heat, they need just a few minutes on each side.
  • Enjoy!

Pea-wrapped Shrimp

The pea leaves help to protect the shrimp from drying out in the high heat of the grill, and they provide a nice, subtle hint of pea flavor that goes well with the light sweetness of the shrimp.  We enjoyed ours with some other springtime favorites: grilled asparagus and sweet Walla Walla onions.  Add some simply dressed lemon-parsley noodles and a glass of wine and you’ve got a great spring meal!

Ping Pong Soup

Here’s a great recipe that is perfect for those days when I come home from work with no ideas for dinner, some random ingredients in the fridge, and a Ruby who wants to spend time with Papa.

The recipe is simple: just put a carton off chicken broth in a pot, turn on the heat, and then take turns adding ingredients. Anything goes. Yes, anything.

The last time we played it turned out something like this:

Me: leftover chicken meat and bones.

Ruby: Blueberries!

Me: A handful of cooked rice

Ruby: Apple juice!

Me: Some chopped up onions

Ruby: Carrots!

Me: Chinese five-spice powder

Ruby: Cheerios!

You’ll notice that all of Ruby’s ingredients end in an exclamation mark, because she’s having tons of fun.  As a parent, it’s a good exercise of your ability to deal with the randomness of toddlerhood.  It’s actually hard to think of any ingredients I would veto — especially since, as the person who is dealing with the bubbling pot, I get to control the amount of each ingredient and when it is added.  So (for example) in our previous round, the Cheerios were sprinkled on top, as a garnish, after the soup had been served.

This recipe is also a good challenge to aspiring chefs to learn to roll with what’s available, and find common flavor threads to unite the random bits bubbling in the pot.

My advice if you try this (and I hope you do!):

  • Put healthy basics in at the beginning — stock, meat, rice, barley, potatoes, that kind of thing.
  • Save the spices for the end, when you know what kinds of flavors you’re dealing with.
  • Keep an open mind!

Hopping’ John

I came up with a great Hoppin’ John recipe today. Very easy to prepare and quite tasty.

  • Quick-soak 1.5 cups of black-eyed peas: put ’em in a pot with water, bring to a boil, then take off the heat and let sit for a few hours.
  • Later, put the following in a dutch oven:
    • 2 smoked pork hocks
    • 1 cup brown rice
    • 2 bottles of beer
    • the black-eyed peas
    • 1 tbsp dried thyme (less if powdered)
    • 2 tsp salt
  • Bake in an oven at 300 degree for four hours. Stir once or twice while cooking
  • Add more salt if needed. Serve with hot sauce, Jufran’s Banana Ketchup, or anything else you find tasty.

As usual with my cooking, all amounts are approximate. Adjust things as necessary.

Molecular Gastronomy

The descriptions and photos of this dinner just blew my mind [via boingboing]:

http://www.howithappened.com/2007/05/underground-menu-at-lenclume.html

Kate and I had an upscale dinner last weekend where one dish featured “rhubarb caviar”.  It wasn’t actual caviar, but liquid-filled blobs of rhubarb jelly.  We were curious as to how it was made, and the above report provided a link to the answer:

http://hungryinhogtown.typepad.com/hungry_in_hogtown/2006/04/liquid_pea_ravi.html

Hope for Spinach

Rudd Sound Bites is the blog for the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale.  At first glance, it looks pretty interesting.  I’ve got a Feedwhip subscription set up.

Here’s a post that inspires me to aim high for Ruby’s diet:

http://ruddsoundbites.typepad.com/rudd_sound_bites/2006/07/spinach_im_look.html#more

While six-year-old Faith and four-year-old Elijah cycle through finicky preferences, like any other children, Steinberger reports, “Neither of them cares for soft drinks (‘Too spicy,’ says my son).  Both like almost any kind of vegetable, and are particularly fond of kale (with sesame seeds and tamari sauce), broccoli, and peas… Both are willing to try new foods.” As a bedtime snack, they prefer sweet potatoes.