With cookbooks, I’ll test out one or two recipes. If they’re successful, I’ll try some more. If they’re not, that cookbook moves down to a shelf near the floor of my kitchen and may never be consulted again. If it was an epic fail, I banish the cookbook to the garage.
I save recipes from certain food writers because I trust them. Others I avoid because their recipes have led me to disaster.
If I eat a dish I like, I’ll ask for the recipe. This doesn’t always work, though, because the recipe I’m given isn’t necessarily accurate. But I know enough about cooking to avoid any obvious errors. For instance, if a dessert recipe calls for 1 tablespoon salt, I’ll start with 1/2 teaspoon.
One of the best recipes I got recently was from a total stranger. I was checking out at the grocery store, and the cashier asked me what I was going to make with the shrimp I was buying. I hadn’t decided so I asked what she would do with them.
She suggested Shrimp Chowder. She said she threw potatoes, celery, garlic, milk, Worcestershire sauce and some spices into a pot and cooked them till they were soft and then added the shrimp near the end.
It sounded good to me, so I tried it out, with a few alterations. We licked the pot clean.
Shrimp Chowder – serves 4-6 as an appetizer or 3 as a main dish
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups milk + more if necessary
1 pound peeled small shrimp or 1 pound large shrimp cut in half
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 scallions, cut into 1/2-inch slices
Put the potatoes, celery, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, paprika, salt and black pepper into a medium-large pot. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft enough to mash. Remove from the heat and mash as many of the potatoes as possible with the back of a fork.
Stir the mixture. Then add the shrimp. Return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. If the shrimp are raw, cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they turn pink. If they are already cooked, just heat them until hot. Stir in the cream and continue heating until the mixture is hot. If it seems too thick, add more milk, 1/4 cup at a time, until it’s the thickness you prefer. Sprinkle with scallion pieces and serve immediately.
For easy recipes, order "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!"