For me, cooking is my cure for the common cold--my way of remedying a bad day. When things seem otherwise out of control, I find solace in the knowledge that if I dice an onion and sauté it with garlic, it will make just about anything taste better. That sense of control over my ingredients might only be a stopgap measure, but I swear it works magic on my nerves. After Hurricane Sandy last week, my nerves were sufficiently frayed. After days of phone tag with family and friends in New York and New Jersey, and becoming addicted to hurricane footage, I decided a quick trip home to the Garden State was in order. There are many ways you can help the Hurricane Sandy Victims. Many communities are organizing drives for nonperishable goods, gently used or new clothing and blankets, and general hygiene products. Also, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army are accepting donations; I implore you to give what you can. Even after donating, so much still felt out of order. So I turned to the one thing I knew would provide comfort –- cooking for my family.
Because my family loves Greek food, I decided to prepare a couple of Greek dishes: Shrimp Saganaki and Spanikopita. I'll be sharing the Spanikopita recipe shortly, but if you just can’t wait, feel free to send us an e-mail at fooDCraveblog@gmail.com. I will be happy to write you back with the recipe.
Shrimp Saganaki is usually served as an appetizer at most Greek restaurants. But because my family loves seafood, and because the grocery store was out of lamb shanks, I decided to make it a main course. Served with the Spanakopita, and a delicious baguette, this was enough for 5 servings.
You will need:
1 ½ lb of shrimp – peeled and deveined
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 large fresh tomato (any variety will do)
2-3 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp of ouzo (we actually improvised with sambuca--a similar anise flavored liquor)
½ cup of a dry white wine
3 large garlic cloves – roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion – finely diced
1-2 Tbsp dried oregano
2-3 Tbsp of fresh dill
4-6 oz of crumbled feta cheese
A pinch of crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste to taste
I like to get all of my prep work out of the way up front. I chop and dice all of my vegetables and measure out my ingredients before I start cooking. After many incidents of burnt garlic and various other kitchen mishaps, I have learned that prepping my ingredients just streamlines the whole process. So first, I would recommend shelling the shrimp (if you didn't buy shelled ones), chopping the garlic, and dicing the onion and tomato. Keep them all in separate piles on your cutting board so you can add them at different times.
You should also open up your can of tomatoes and, in a large bowl, mix the canned tomatoes with the freshly chopped tomato and set it aside.
Second, heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. You should use enough olive oil that a thin layer coats the bottom of the pan. Once the oil is hot, toss in the onion and cook until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Next, add in the garlic and cook until it starts to turn golden brown, about 2 minutes. Keep a close eye on the pan as the garlic browns very quickly.
As soon as the garlic hits that golden brown sweet spot, pour the tomatoes into the pan. Let this simmer for about 8-10 minutes so that the liquid reduces by about half.
Once the liquid reduces, add the shrimp into the tomato sauce and cook until they are pink halfway up the side. Then flip over and finish cooking until they are fully pink. In total this should take 4-6 minutes. Cooking the shrimp in the tomato sauce allows it to absorb all of the flavors!
DC readers- have you found an awesome Greek restaurant in DC? We love Mourayo, and are always on the look out for other Greek or Mediterranean spots! If you have a suggestion, please leave it in the comments!
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