Sunday, January 10, 2010

Housebound in the Hamptons

I am a contra-snowbird. Instead of Florida or Arizona, I motor out to eastern Long Island every weekend. Not the Winter of My Discontent exactly, more like High Solitude. Nothing but me, a cord of firewood, book-lined walls in room after room, a studio grand piano and about 10,000 Canada geese for an audience. What more could one ask for?
If everything goes according to plan, I usually sneak out of work early Thursday afternoon just in time for the bullet train to the Hamptons. It gets me to my destination - without any transfers - just before 7pm. I rush to turn up the water heater and furnace and get to the market for the weekend's shopping. Then I hole up until Sunday afternoon.
This past weekend, I was late getting out to my Cobb neighborhood. Dealing with a difficult work subordinate forced me into taking the later and slower train out to the island. It was after 11:00 by the time I opened the house and got to the corner market for some half-n-half for my morning coffee. Shopping would have to wait. Over night and through the early part of the next day, it snowed, making the driveway all but impassable. Short of actually shoveling the drifts from in front of the garage doors (which I did on Sunday anyway), I was pretty much a shut in. But no cook and food diarist worth his salt lacks for survival skills. I had onions, tomatoes, garlic, a few wilting herbs and a bag of shrimp that didn't get used on New Year's Eve, ending up in the freezer instead. There are always lemons and limes on hand, for booze mostly, but those are just the house rules. Can you say shrimp scampi?
Shrimp Scampi - adapted from everywhere by Blog O. Food
  • 1 lb egg noodles
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ lb large shrimp, shelled and de-veined
  • 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish
Bring lots of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add egg noodles and cook to just al dente.
Meanwhile, heat butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat until butter has melted. Sweat onions until translucent and add garlic. Cook another two minutes or so.
Raise heat to medium high and sauté shrimp just until barely pink and slightly firm. (Do not worry about under cooking the shrimp, they will get more heat when you build your sauce.)
Remove shrimp from pan, add lemon juice and white wine, simmering to reduce by one quarter. Return shrimp to the pan, add tomatoes and cook to heat through. Add a couple more pats of butter to make a silky sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Drain egg noodles in a colander and add to the shrimp and sauce. Toss with tongs to fully incorporate.
Spoon into a large serving bowl and garnish with parsley and lemon wedges. Serve immediately.
Know why you add olive oil to the butter in your sauté pan? That's right, so the butter doesn't burn. Anyway, the shrimp were just cooked through, firm, yet still tender, and juicy. Lemon, garlic, herbs and white wine would be a food triumvirate if you could just pick one item to omit (there's no such word as quadumvirate, btw). I sat with a heaping, steaming bowlful of noodles and shrimp in front of the television watching the first 30 minutes of the Chronicles of Narnia -- "cause we're 'bout to get taken to a dream world of magic!" After that, it was back to my books and a little Für Elise on the ol' ivories. There are worse ways to be stranded in the Hamptons, you know. On Saturday, I gorged on Jarlsberg cheese & crackers, and leftover scampi. By Sunday I could make it down the drive for breakfast and the NY Times. All in all, a successful pilgrimage into isolation.
Next weekend Master Chef of Chebeague, Muffy is making a rare appearance at the house. In preparation, I'm scouring every cookbook in my impressive arsenal. If I have to move heaven and earth, I'm gonna wow her with my culinary acumen. Maybe a bleu cheese Porterhouse served with roasted cauliflower, topped with savory herb bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. What if I did a curried sweet potato soup, that would curl her toes, don't you think? And for dessert (Muffy loves dessert), a red velvet cake, or a berry cobbler with fresh whipped cream. Holy crap, why wait until the weekend!
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

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