January 18, 2015: Shrimp Scampi

Tonight I tried my hand at cooking shrimp scampi. I don’t have a lot of experience cooking seafood, but I had time over the weekend to try it out.

Peeled Shrimp

Peeled Shrimp

I had a bag a frozen (in shell) shrimp, so I took about 15 of them, defrosted them, and then peeled them. I started cooking broccoli and got my pasta going – ideally I would’ve liked linguine, but I didn’t have any so settled for rotini instead. I started a pan with a little canola oil (didn’t have olive oil) and butter, then added garlic powder and red pepper flakes. I added salt and pepper to the shrimp, and added them to the pan.

Shrimp in the pan

Shrimp in the pan

I forgot that butter can’t take high heat and had it cooked on medium high – it probably would’ve been better to stick with medium heat, as the shrimp got pretty brown. To be honest I may have overcooked them a little bit on one side before flipping them over, and may have burnt the butter slightly. But after the shrimp were done cooking, I added lemon juice and some chardonnay to the pan to make a sauce to go over the pasta.

The completed dinner

The completed dinner

All in all, not a bad try! The shrimp had a nice buttery flavor, and the sauce had a strong lemon flavor. I think next time I’d be sure to add some more red pepper flakes and garlic, as those flavors didn’t come out too strongly. Maybe a little less lemon juice, or a little more wine to balance out some of the sauce flavors, and don’t let the sauce reduce quite so long so there’s a little more liquid next time. But it was a great dinner to cook!

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November 2014 – Chocolate Covered Popcorn

What is this? How was it made? Keep reading on!

What is this? How was it made? Keep reading on!

I’ll admit that I’m a pretty big fan of popcorn – stove popped, air popped, movie theater style, kettle corn – pretty much anything besides packaged microwave popcorn. Combine the high dietary fiber in popcorn, the microwave popcorn popper my parents got me, and the selling of bulk (organic!) popcorn kernels at the local Berkeley Bowl, and you’ve got a recipe for lots of popcorn a lot of the time!

Most of the time, I just throw a handful of kernels in the bowl, throw it in the microwave (no oil needed!), let it pop, salt it, and eat it! I’ll also admit that I usually don’t spend too much time in the kitchen baking or making sweets (though I would like to try my hand at some more baking, though that’s for future blog posts). However a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d try something a little more fancy and attempt chocolate covered popcorn. Luckily, Berkeley Bowl also sells bulk chocolate chips, so I bought a decent amount of semi-sweet chocolate chips (what I didn’t use for this, I could eat!)

Having popped the popcorn, I tried to figure out how to melt the chocolate. Easiest way would have been to microwave, but I wanted to try my hand at making a double boiler. Now while I do have more dishes than my original single pot, I don’t have a huge selection, and I didn’t have a pot that would fit well in another pot without touching water below. So I cheated and used a large frying pan with water, and floated a smaller frying pan in the water with the chocolate (and now wish I had taken pictures of the set up!). It worked well enough – I let the water get hot enough to start melting the chocolate, though not up to boiling. I didn’t really know how much chocolate to put in, I just grabbed a handful of chips that looked like a good amount to me. I threw in a dash of salt to the chocolate as it melted. I probably could have added some milk or butter too, but perhaps next time.

While it was melting, I put some popcorn in a baking sheet, and then once the chocolate was all melted, I just drizzled it over the popcorn, stirring it with a wooden spoon to spread out evenly.

Pan of popcorn with chcolate

Pan of popcorn with chocolate

I soon realized that I probably didn’t melt enough chocolate – it didn’t cover too much of the popcorn, and the taste didn’t come through too strongly. A few places where the chocolate clumped up tasted good mixed with the popcorn. I let it sit for a few hours to harden, and then placed it all in a sealed container. I enjoyed it a lot, though I think next time I would use a higher chocolate-to-popcorn ratio. Also, for visuals, it might look nicer to use a piping bag (for me, a ziploc bag with a corner cut off) to drizzle on chocolate rather than using the spoon, and I could probably get some cool ribbon effects. But still, a nice treat, and an attempt at a fancier dessert!

photo 2

Chocolate covered popcorn!