Last week, E, S, and I talked about the lack of peaches on our blog.  How could we live in the South and not have yet posted anything about peaches?!  So in honor of the peach, we decided to declare this week, Kitchen Confit Peach Week. In my mind, eating a sweet juicy peach is one of the glories of summer.  Then there is the intoxicating peach smell.  It really is hard to imagine anything better. Rarely do I think of a peach as anything but a sweet treat at the end of a summer meal.  So when we all decided to find a peach dish to make for Peach Week, I decided to seek out something savory.  That’s when I found a recipe for Grilled Shrimp Satay with Bok Choy and Peaches in the July Bon Appetit.  It sounds like it would be a little sweet, a little spicy, and all around delcious.

The sauce was a mix of peanut butter, sugar, nectar, Chili sauce, rice vinegar, and soy sauce…really when you combine these ingredients does it get any better. Salty and Sweet.  The only thing I thought it might need was a little extra chili sauce, a thought I was glad I had. Everything was easily grilled and tasted good.  However, it just is not going to look good on a plate.  As a grilled summer salad, it was quite delicious and refreshing. I will say, the grilled bok choy was probably my favorite part of this entire meal.  I know I should be praising the peach, but I think I am just a tried and true Peach as dessert type eater.  If I do decide to try this recipe again, I think I will add a little more acid to the sauce…maybe a little fish sauce.  Also, while the heat came through in the bok choy and on the shrimp, it was barey noticable on the peaches.  Anyone ever have that happen?

Grilled Shrimp Satay with Bok Choy and Peaches
Adapted from Bon Appetit from July 2008 Serves 4

Sauce
6 Tbsp Smooth Natural Peanut Butter
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar (I only had light brown sugar on had, but Bon Appetit recommends Dark Brown Sugar)
3 Tbsp Seasoned Rice Vinegar
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Hot Chili Sauce like sriracha
5 Tbsp Peach Nectar

3 Peaches, each cut into 6 wedges
16 raw large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 head Baby Bok Choy, halved lengthwise
4 Bamboo Skewers, soaked in water

Fire up your grill!

Combine the ingredients for the sauce and mix until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Skewer the Shrimp on bamboo skewers. Brush the peaches, bok choy, and shrimp first with nectar then with a little of the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

We grilled each item individually, so first the peaches, then the bok choy, and finally the shrimp. The peaches should be charred, shrimp just opaque, and the bok choy tender.

Once removed from the grill, arrange the bok choy, peaches, and shrimp on a platter and drizzle with a little more sauce. Serve with remaining sauce.

As far back as I can remember eating, I have been eating grits.  I know it sounds strange for a born and raised Californian to say she has been eating grits her entire life, but I take it as a sign that I was destined to spend a part of my life living in the South.  Grits in my house growing up were almost always prepared simply (just boiled in water) and then served with lots of butter.  Occasionally my grandmother would bake them, or fry them, but the majority of the time, I would just smother my grits in butter and devour them.  Of course, I never realized that I was missing out one of the more fabulous ways to eat grits…with Shrimp.


Had I known this when I was younger, I would have made a point of eating shrimp and grits at every meal.  I guess in the long run, it was a good thing I had to wait to learn of the glories of Shrimp and Grits.  You know, good things come to those who wait.  Boy did it last week when we had shrimp and grits with Crawfish and Pork Andouille Sausage!

One might call it excessive.  One might call it gratuitious.  I call it the perfect early Saturday morning breakfast.  A pound of leftover shrimp, a half pound of sausage, leftover diced onion from the previous nights dinner, a green pepper, a little shredded cheese, a sprinkle of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, and of course GRITS!  Now if you are not sausage fan, you can always substitute a couple slices of bacon.  It was just what I needed to get the morning off to the right start.

Shrimp and Grits
Serves 6

1 Cup Stone Ground Grits
4 Cups Water
3 Tbsp Butter

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 pound of Andouille Sausage split in half, then sliced
1 pound of Shrimp, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 of a large Vidalia Onion, diced
1 Green Pepper, diced
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

Salt and Pepper, to Taste

1. In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the grits. Return the grits to a boil and then reduced the heat to simmer. Stir frequently until they reach your desired consistency. I usually cook them until the water is absorbed and they are thickened. Add 3 Tbsp of butter and stir to combine.

2. In a separate pan, melt 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Add the onions and green peppers and saute for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. In another pan add the remaining Tbsp of olive oil and saute the sausage for 10 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside. Reserve some of the grease from the sausage

4. Using some of the reserved grease, saute the shrimp until pink.

5. To assemble, fill the bowls with Grits, then onions and peppers, shrimp, and sausage. If you so choose (and I always do) top with Tony’s and shredded cheese.

Saturday morning, H, our friends Bentina, and I ventured off to one of our favorite restaurants, Hominy Grill. There are times when all I think about is a hot plate of shrimp and grits, and the shrimp and grits from hominy grill are about as close to perfection as you can get. The flavors are simple, Shrimp, Bacon, Green Onions, Mushrooms, Cheese Grits, and a spritz of lemon. Nothing is over sauced or too buttery. Just perfect comforting food…mmmmm!

Of course, a meal at Hominy Grill is not complete without some fried green tomatoes. Now, if you are not a shrimp and grits fanatic like me, the Fried Green Tomato BLT is my second favorite thing on the menu. I think fried green tomatoes are the greatest southern food discovery I ever made. I really love them, not just a lustful love, but more of a long lost soul mate love.

If you are in Charleston, stop by Hominy Grill for an amazing brunch destined to get your day started off right. Love on the food and let it make you whole.

I spent part of one very hot and humid summer living and interning in Charleston, SC. It was the first time I had ever been to a coastal southern city, but the minute I arrived I knew that this place was what I had always imagined a southern city to be. I grew up in California, but watched hours and hours of Gone with the Wind, so the beach and Spanish Moss (along with hoops skirts and parasols) always figured prominently in my mind.

That summer in Charleston, I fell in love with the city. Even now when I talk about Charleston, I feel a little like Carrie Bradshaw and the SATC episode “I Heart NY.” It is hot and feisty, but when one is left to wander downtown to a great restaurant, head off to the beach right after work, or pop into a boutique to drool over a fabulous outfit, it is hard not to be enchanted. (Unlike Carrie, money did not magically appear in my wallet to afford a pair of fabulous shoes…but if it had, I would have been well prepared to use it.)

The next year when I graduated from college, I knew exactly where I wanted to plant myself. So I packed my boxes into my 15 year old silver Saab named Rosie and moved there permanently. I guess permanently was a bit premature because 12 months later, I packed up my life again and moved to foodie heaven, aka New Orleans.

However, Charleston was the first city I really “ate my way through,” and when I go back it is like I never left. The minute I step off the plane, my stomach growls like I am in my mother’s kitchen. There is nothing quite like knowing exactly what I can get myself into in a weekend.

So this year, H and I got our act together and coordinated a trip to Charleston to visit our very good friends Bentina. (Yes, like the illustrious couples before them -Bennifer, TomKat, and Brangelia- Bentina acquired their name first as a joke, but like the others it stuck.) H and I also timed our trip to include a small sampling from the Spoleto Festival USA, a couple of trips to the beach, and lots of fantastic meals.

Our Saturday was spent preparing for our dinner, full of fresh veggies from the Charleston Farmer’s Market at Marion Square. Bentina shared a fantastic marinade recipe, which they used on some shrimp. Heavy on the garlic, but not overwhelming when it came off the grill. Along with a couple bottles of wine, some grilled veggies, and a cold tomato and cucumber salad, we enjoyed a fabulous feast.

Bentina’s Never Fail Shrimp Marinade
1 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup White Wine
3 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
Zest of 1 Lemon
6 Cloves of Garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons Fresh Oregano
1 Teaspoon Salt

Mix all ingredients together. Will easily marinade 2 pounds of shrimp. Bentina also use this marinade for Chicken and I personally think it would work for lamb as well.

Uncooked Shrimp Pot Stickers

I had bought some wonton wrappers on an impulse a few weeks ago and they had been silently mocking me from my refrigerator ever since. I had done my recipe research and decided that pork pot stickers – which I had never made before – were just the thing I needed. So when I set out for my errands yesterday, I sought out ground pork, cabbage, green onions, and fresh ginger. Ground pork was on the list, though perhaps not in the cards. Two grocery stores later (granted one was East Nashville’s Turnip Truck, a natural grocery) and I was left without ground pork. Now I live in Nashville – the pig is not exactly an alien creature down here – so clearly I shop at the wrong grocery stores.

GingerShrimpGreen Onion

Back at home and considering if it was worth the gas to go to a third grocery store, I remembered the frozen shrimp in my freezer. Suddenly the idea of shrimp pot stickers sounded great and I set out to find a recipe that would not require another trip to the grocery store. I found a recipe that would work from that doyenne of Asian cooking – Martha Stewart. Now I readily admit that this recipe was one where I left out or modified many ingredients I didn’t have, but in the end the filling tasted great. Perhaps it would have been even better if I had left in the cilantro (I’m not a big fan of cilantro, so I doubt it); if I had used real chili oil (olive oil and a pinch of chili powder worked fine); or if I had used a shallot (I used minced onion and with a bit of garlic and no one was the wiser).

Shrimp Filling Mixture

I also realized I had stupidly bought rectangular wonton wrappers all those weeks before – Martha thinks that round ones are better. But I couldn’t have managed to do that signature wrinkle top on them, so really it was all for the best. I would note that I had to trim the rectangular wontons into squares so I could have perfect triangle pot stickers. But I saved the scraps and with the leftover ginger and green onions I figure I’ll make Asian flavored noodle soup next week.

Uncooked Shrimp Pot Stickers

Now cooking the pot stickers – this was where this entire experiment could fall apart. In theory, pot stickers are supposed to stick to the bottom of the pot and then release when you add water for the steaming. In reality, I would urge you to modify Martha once again. Don’t bother with the cast iron pot even if it’s perfectly seasoned. After one batch stuck a little too much to my cast iron pot – even after adding the steaming water – I switched to nonstick and they browned perfectly, released easily, and saved my sanity. Perhaps it was not exactly authentic – but then my pot stickers are inspired by Martha Stewart, so I’m not exactly worried about authenticity.

Cooked Shrimp Pot Stickers with Dipping Sauce

In the end, the pot stickers were a satisfying and unusual treat. As an added benefit, the recipe made a ton, so I have a freezer full of shrimp pot stickers and am looking forward to pulling them out the next time I’m craving something different.

Shrimp Potstickers

From Martha Stewart Living

Ingredients

Makes about 30.

  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves ( I left this out)
  • 1/2 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chile oil, or 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil mixed with a pinch of cayenne/chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil ( I used toasted sesame oil)
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped (about 2 ounces) Napa cabbage
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 small scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced (about 1 small) shallot ( I used a combo of minced onion and garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 package 3-inch round Chinese dumpling wrappers, available at large supermarkets
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon rice-wine vinegar
  • 1 scallion, sliced

Directions

  1. Finely chop 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves. Set aside. Coarsely chop half of the shrimp by hand, and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine remaining shrimp, egg white, chile oil, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Puree into a smooth paste. Transfer to a medium bowl, add chopped cilantro, reserved chopped shrimp, carrot, cabbage, ginger, scallions, shallots, salt, and pepper, and mix well.
  3. Place 1 teaspoon of filling toward the front of a dumpling wrapper. There are two methods of sealing dumplings. Pleating one edge of the wrapper gives the dumpling its distinctive curved shape and allows it to stand upright in the pan. Do this by moistening edges with water using your finger. Bring the edges together, forming a taco shape, and pinch them together only in the top center to seal. Pinch 6 small pleats (3 on either side of the sealed center point) along one thickness only of the wrapper. Seal dumpling by pressing pleated and unpleated edges tightly together, enclosing filling. Alternatively, moisten wrapper edges with water, fold in half into a crescent shape around the filling, and pinch edges tightly closed. While forming dumplings, keep remaining wrappers covered with plastic wrap. Place filled dumplings on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and cover with plastic wrap.
  4. In a small serving bowl, whisk together ingredients for dipping sauce.
  5. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a well-seasoned 11-inch cast-iron skillet (or nonstick skillet) over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Arrange half of the dumplings tightly together in heated skillet, and cook until deep golden brown, shaking the pan one or two times, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 cup hot water, partially cover, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until the bottoms of the dumplings are very crisp and all the water has evaporated, about 4 to 5 more minutes. Slide a spatula under dumplings to loosen them from the pan. Serve this batch of dumplings immediately or place them on a baking sheet, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and keep warm in a low oven. Wash skillet, and repeat process with remaining dumplings. Transfer to a plate, garnish with remaining cilantro leaves, and serve with dipping sauce.