Shrimp Scampi Florentine Pasta

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The classic Florentine preparation places the main ingredient on a bed of buttery spinach, topped with sauce and cheese and browned under the broiler. We’ve replicated the basic idea, giving you all those rich and cheesy flavors, but with less effort than a full-on Florentine. We’ve even improved it, with a bit of heat from the red pepper flakes. Tip: An easier way to mince parsley? Gather them all in one hand and lay on the cutting board. Use your knife in rocking motion to cut, then turn 90 degrees and repeat until the herbs are properly minced!

SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS:

5  ounces spaghetti pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound 16-20 count shrimp, peeled and deviened
1 shallot, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 ounces  baby spinach, roughly chopped
¼  bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, minced
2 teaspoons mirepoix base or vegetable
¼ cup light cream
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Bring 3 1/2 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil in a medium pot. Once water is boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta in a colander and set aside. While pasta boils, cook shrimp.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, until oil is shimmering. Working in batches if necessary, add shrimp to the skillet n and cook undisturbed until seared on one side, 1-2 minutes. Flip shrimp, and add shallot and garlic. Cook until aromatic, 30-60 seconds.

Lower heat to medium. Add the parsley and spinach to the skillet and stir occasionally until spinach is wilted. Add the shrimp and stir to cook until the shrimp is opaque and pink when it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 145ºF, 2-3 minutes. Stir in cream, Parmesan, half the pasta cooking water, mirepoix base, and pasta. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Once simmering, cook until sauce is slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes. If too dry, add additional pasta cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Remove the skillet from the heat and season with salt and  crushed red pepper flakes, to taste.

To serve divide, the shrimp Florentine between two plates and garnish the pasta with parsley.

 Bon appétit!

Cook’s Notes:

Many chefs consider mirepoix to be the key ingredient for adding that extra umph to a dish. It’s the secret sauce; the essential ingredient; the reason your food tastes so good. Mirepoix plays an important role in flavoring soups, stews, casseroles, braised meats, and marinades.358 (1)

You can find mirepoix soup bases in the soup aisle of your local supermarket. If that is not the case you buy it online at speciality gourmet shops. Click here for the link.

To learn how to make your own mirepoix base, just click here for the link to a great teaching video.

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Spinach Salad with Pears and Gorgonzola

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Pears with gorgonzola is  just one of those classic combinations. Put them in salad with any kind of greens. Pick what you like best, anything from a spicy arugula or watercress to a mild butter lettuce.We used fresh baby spinach.The same goes for the pears: Bosc, Bartlett, Anjou or Comice would all be great choices.

And since the ingredients in this pear salad are so delicious, a champagne vinaigrette with a hint of lemon juice and Dijon mustard worked best for this salad. A heavy dressing would mask the delicate flavors.  A sprinkling of cheese, walnuts and  pomegranate arils also adds flavors and makes for  delicious lighter first course to start off a meal.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 tablespoons minced shallot
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
10 ounces baby spinach, washed and dried
4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese*
1 medium Bosc pear, cored and thinly sliced*
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (arils), for garnish
1/2 toasted walnuts, roughly chopped, for garnish

Champagne Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
For the Salad:
In a large bowl, add shallot,  salt and pepper. Add the olive oil, whisking constantly while drizzling the oil slowly. Add the spinach and toss with tongs until the leaves are well coated.

For Champagne Vinaigrette:
In a small bowl or glass jar, add all the ingredients except the olive oil. Mix well, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil  and whisk until the mixture is emulsified. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve, evenly divide spinach greens between 4 salad plates. Top each plate with cheese and garnish with pear slices, pomegranate seeds, and walnuts and serve with a drizzle of champagne vinaigrette.

*Cook’s Notes:
You can substitute Blue cheese or Roquefort cheese for the Gorgonzola.
Any variety of apple can also be used as a substitute for the pears.

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Thank you so much!

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CREPES DE VOLAILLE VERSAILLAISE

DSC00434 (2).jpgCREPES DE VOLAILLE VERSAILLAISE
(Chicken Crepes with Asparagus and Mushrooms)

This classic French dish with Italian origins is a perfect main course that can be served during Spring Brunch.

Serves 8

Ingredients:
For the Filling:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups whole milk
1-1/4 cups chicken broth (See Cook’s Notes)
¼ cup chopped shallot
½ cup chopped mushrooms
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken (See Cook’s Notes)
3 tablespoons medium-dry Sherry
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed

For the Crepes:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1-1/4 cups whole milk
1 whole large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted

For the Finishing Sauce:
1 large egg yolk
5 tablespoons chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese, for garnish

Special Equipment:
A 3-quart flameproof ceramic or enameled shallow baking dish

Directions:
TO make the filling: Heat 5 tablespoons butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until foam subsides. Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Gradually add milk and broth, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer gently, whisking frequently, until veloute sauce is silky and thick, about 25 minutes. Reserve ½ cup sauce for topping.

Cook shallot in remaining tablespoon butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Stir into veloute sauce along with chicken and Sherry.

Cut tops from asparagus and set aside. Cut enough stalks into ¼-inch pieces to measure 1 cup, reserving remainder for another use. Cook tips in a saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl of ice and cold water with a slotted spoon. Scoop out tips and drain on paper towels, then reserve for topping. Cook and drain chopped asparagus in same manner and stir into veloute sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

TO make the crepes: Sift together flour, salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste into a bowl. Whisk together milk, whole egg, and yolk in a small bowl, then gradually whisk into flour mixture. Force batter through a fine sieve into a bowl.

Heat a dry 7-to 8-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot, and then brush very lightly with some melted butter. Spoon about 2 tablespoons batter into skillet, tilting to coat bottom. (If batter sets before skillet is coated, reduce heat slightly for next crepe.) Cook until underside is lightly browned, 6 to 10 seconds then loosen crepe with a spatula and flip. Cook until just cooked through, about 20 seconds, and transfer to a plate. Make 15 more crepes in same manner, brushing skillet with melted butter as needed and stacking crepes on a plate.

ASSEMBLE and bake the crepes: Preheat oven to 350 °F. Spread ¼ cup filling across center of 1 crepe and roll into a cylinder. Transfer, seam side down, to buttered baking dish, then assemble more crepes in same manner, fitting them snugly. Bake in middle of over 15 minutes.

MAKE the finishing sauce while the crepes a baking: Stir together yolk, 2 tablespoons cream, and reserved ½ cup sauce until smooth. Beat remaining 3 tablespoons cream with a whisk until it holds soft peaks, and then fold into yolk mixture.

Spoon the finishing sauce over crepes and broil 5 to 6 inches from heat until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Heat butter in skillet, then add reserved asparagus tips and toss until warm.

Place 2 crepes on each of 8 plates and top with asparagus tips. Garnish with Gruyere cheese and serve.

Cook’s Notes:
Fish stock or water can be used as a substitute if shellfish is being used in place of the the chicken.

About 9 ounces of chopped cooked shrimp, lobster or crab-meat can be substituted for the cooked chicken.

The filling and crepes can be made 2 days ahead and kept separately, covered and chilled in the refrigerator.

All photographs and content are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

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