First published in November 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. I learned the original recipe for this Brazilian fish stew from Botucatu Restaurant in Boston, which closed a couple of years ago.
Another scandalous confession: I always have crushed garlic in a jar in my fridge.
I can hear the screams. "What is she doing with that stuff in her pantry???"
Well, right up front, let me say that garlic in a jar is never ever better than fresh minced garlic. Never. Ever.
So why do I always have a jar on hand?
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When Kathy sent me this recipe, passed along from a friend who got it from an old New England cookbook, she warned me that it was good. Really good. Addictively good. So I wasn't entirely surprised when she and I tested a slightly lightened-up version of the original shrimp appetizer with tarragon, substituting Greek yogurt for half of the butter, and the two of us ate all four portions for lunch. We used shrimp labeled "jumbo", the 16-20 per pound size, so, yes, we each scarfed down eight (okay, ten) shrimp, and mopped up every last drop of sauce with slices of crusty bread. This is the kind of appetizer or light lunch entrée you can serve at a fancy dinner party or for any special occasion. For us, an abundance of French tarragon in the herb garden provided ample reason to celebrate.
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Now that my husband Ted has declared kale pesto his favorite, I'm finding other ways to use the basil I planted in my herb garden to make a winter's worth of pesto for the freezer, and I'm also finding other ways to work this kale version into my summer cooking. Pasta with kale pesto, shrimp and tomato won our hearts, and I can't wait to make it again with cherry tomatoes from the garden in a month or so. The surprising thing about kale pesto is that it doesn't taste like a dark leafy green at all; it's redolent with garlic and cheese, just like pesto Genovese made with basil, but the flavor is a bit lighter and brighter. If you prefer, omit the shrimp in this recipe, or substitute shredded rotisserie chicken to make an easy dish even easier.
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My husband Ted, Cousin Martin and I visited Cuba for one all-too-short week in 1996, and ever since I've wanted to return. Despite shortages and rationing, we tasted some wonderful food, in places like Havana's famous La Bodeguita del Medio (one of Hemingway's haunts) and in paladares, the private restaurants Cubans are allowed to operate in their homes. Picadillo, a popular filling for tacos or empanadas, traditionally brings together minced meat, onions and tomatoes. Cuban-style picadillo throws raisins, olives and capers into the mix for an irresistible sweet-and-sour tang. In this recipe I've taken those same ingredients and paired them with large, sweet shrimp, served over steamed rice. The resulting dish, fancy enough for company, comes together quickly for a great worknight dinner, too. You can make the sauce ahead and refrigerate; then, reheat, and add the shrimp to cook for a few minutes before you're ready to serve. ¡Buen provecho!
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