I can’t believe I did it. I honestly cannot believe that I posted every single day on two blogs for 30 days. More importantly, I can’t believe November is over and December is here and 2008 is nearly upon us and oh God I think I just got short of breath from a touch of anxiety.
Today I got a little wild hair up my ass and decided it was well past high time to get on the organization train. Late this afternoon I went around town procuring items for baking (although what is up with most stores having only sweetened coconut?) and I scrubbed the holy hell out of my sink. We’re talking a serious deep clean – I soaked it in hot water and bleach, scoured it with Bar Keepers Friend (how that missing apostrophe breaks my heart) and with S.O.S. pads, used a toothbrush in the hard to reach places, and wiped it down repeatedly with paper towels and dish rags. Oooh, does that baby shine. It’s great! But also sort of a bummer because a) was it that dirty before and if so, ew and b) now I don’t want to use it.
I was going to start baking tonight, but by the time errands and sink spit-shining were done I was so hungry I could barely see straight. So instead I cooked, and messed up my nice pretty sink.
The other day, my mom (who is a physician) told me that fennel is supposedly very good for digestive problems. Well, boy howdy, and here’s me over here been dying to try that braised fennel with Meyer lemon and parmesan that Luisa wrote about earlier this year. And I have all these Meyer lemons lying around because I’m making so many of those Meyer lemon sablés. So at the store, I got some fennel, and tonight I made it.
There must be an error somewhere in whatever information my mom was given, because there’s no way something that tastes this fantastic can also be good for me – particularly not me of the endless digestive woes. Oooh, if this is good for me, I am in heaven.
I laid it atop some pre-made grits-in-a-tube (thank you Trader Joe’s! Like polenta-in-a-tube, only white) and I paired it with one of my favorite quick ‘n’ easy main dishes: gambas a la plancha. Or, at least, my version of them.
Do you have frozen shrimp in your freezer? No? You should. Especially if you are an IBS-sufferer. Frozen shrimp are so perfect and so very handy, when it is 7:30 p.m. and you are starving and you need to eat NOW and there is nothing in the fridge and you refuse to risk getting sick and you’re also not hauling your ass to the store. I have both the e-z to peel shell-on shrimp, as well as the pre-shelled kind; the latter come in handy when I’m putting the shrimp in something or need to chop them up into bits. I get both at Trader Joe’s, I’m sure you can find a similar version at a happenin’ store near you.
The rich saltiness of the shrimp played off the creaminess of both the fennel and the grits, and the deeply infused lemon flavor of the fennel gave the shrimp the extra bit of pizazz they needed. And the grits were the perfect foil to the powerful, complex flavors of the two stars. Best of all? It’s honestly good for you, IBSers and gluten-free people alike. Lactose-intolerant too, if you leave off the parmesan! Ah, a meal for the arsenal. So to speak.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go lick out the pot and re-scrub the sink.
Gambas a la Plancha, a la Leah
4 oz. jumbo shrimp, preferably shell on/e-z peel (16-20 count, so this will be about 5 or 6 large shrimp)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
Italian parsley, chopped (I know there’s none in the photo – in my rush to eat, I forgot to put it on)
1. Defrost the shrimp: place in a strainer and run cold water over them for 5-7 minutes until they are defrosted. They’ll be nice and pliable.
2. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft, 1-2 minutes. Before the garlic browns, add the red pepper flakes and cook for a minute more to release the flavor. Remember, the more you add, the spicier they will be – I usually do a sprinkle or three of the shaker.
3. Add the shrimp to the pan. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until bright pink. Turn the shrimp and cook on the other side. They should be bright pink on both sides, with a nice white inside. Do not overcook or you will have rubbery shrimp. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve with lemon on the side.