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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summer Comfort Food

Hopefully none of you have this problem, but despite our adoration for the color and flavor that comes with using fresh herbs, we are unable to grow them ourselves for the most part. Mainly because I have black thumb. Plants come into my possession, and their life expectancy declines by 80-90%. Within a few days, they're typically wilted and decorated with increasing brown, black, or yellow tones. I've grown accustomed to this occurrence, so when after two weeks of planting this little guy, I open the door to this, you can imagine my excitement!

But what is it, you ask? On top of my black thumb plaguing our herb ambitions, we also have a very limited space that gets enough sunlight in our small yard. So, in a similar vain to our more adventurous culinary pursuits and purchase, we naturally decide to be adventurous in the herbs chosen to die grow. Who wants to use their tiny 1 x 1 space of sunlight for the parsley or basil available in the store? Nope, what you see pictured is a cutting celery plant, a leafy refreshing herb that provides all the taste of celery in its fresh form, but without the strings! I imagined this particular herb would do wonders to compliment some form of a seafood dish, so out of my competing desires to use it in shrimp & grits or a lobster mac & cheese emerges this summer comfort food.

Lobster Grits & Cheese (serves 2-3)
2 Cups Seafood Stock
1/2 Cup Stone Ground Grits*
3 Tbsp Crumbled Pecorino**
4 oz Langostine Tails
1/2 Tbsp Butter
1 Clove Garlic
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1 Tbsp Chopped Cutting Celery
*Stone ground grits are much coarser than conventional grits bought in the store, and take significantly longer to cook. Be sure to adapt package instructions if using another type.
**A  younger pecorino works best with the fresh tangy taste of the sheeps milk. Preferably one that's less salty, not a romano. 
1. Bring 2 Cups Seafood Stock to a boil. Stir in grits and reduce to a simmer over medium low heat. Partially cover and stir occasionally to prevent sticking on the bottom and clumping.Allow to simmer 30-40 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed and grits are creamy in texture.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in small nonstick skillet. Saute garlic and langostine tails. Set aside until grits finish cooking.
3. Once most of the liquid has been absorbed and the grits are creamy in texture, add cheese and sauteed langostine tails. Stir and remove from heat. 
4. Stir in chopped celery. Season with salt an pepper to taste (be sure to be careful and taste as the cheese and stock will alter the saltiness of the dish).

Typically coarser grits are cooked using milk, cream, or lots of butter to really make the creamy texture of the dish shine and really make the dish a warming comfort food. To lighten it up a bit without sacrificing the richer taste, I used a nice seafood stock to improve the flavor profile of the dish.  Paired with a nice summer salad, the rich creamy texture of the grits, tangy refreshing taste of the cheese, and the salty seafood flavor of the dish made a simple and tasty summer dinner.


Just in case you don't believe me about the black thumb, witness the thai basil plant we gleefully purchased at the same time. If you have any gardening tips you'd like to send our way, feel free!



Belinda @zomppa said...

Congrats on the plant - but lobster grits?????????? WOW!

Cook with Madin said...

Hi, I said that to myself too. I have black thumb. Because I cannot grow anything. Congratulations on the parsley. I hope someday I can grow some also.
Love this recipe. Looks really delicious. Thank you for sharing.

Rick said...

LOBSTER GRITS!!!! Now that is summer!

Mother Rimmy said...

Lobster grits, what a delicious combination of ingredients!

Tracy said...

Have you tried starting from seed? That would be my suggestion. Don't give up.

Nancy said...

Sorry to hear about the black thumb! I haven't had much luck either -- tried to keep a rosemary plant alive in my apartment last winter. It didn't last long, sadly. But the lobster grits look fantastic!

Magic of Spice said...

Oh, I am so excited about you cutting celery plant:) Looks happy and healthy. Now for you recipe...YUM!

M. said...

lobster grits sounds sooooo amazing....great recipe :)
if it comes to growing herbs I try to keep them in half shade and fertilize them...basil has always been very capricious with me :)

The Food said...

This looks so yummy, what could I use instead of prawns? - shellfish allergy you see.

RamblingTart said...

I've never heard of this herb, but it sounds wonderful!!! I kill basil like nobody's business, so I feel your pain. :-) Hopefully we'll both have better luck with herbs this year!! :-)

Drick said...

you know you had me with grits - but stone ground, as in the old country grist mill we had near our farm, you stole my heart ... and then came the lobster.. now you're just teasing my stomach...

Cocina Savant said...

thanks everyone for the support and comments!
@ Tracy, we tried growing cilantro from seed last year, got it to sprout, and then it went kaput
@ M- you and everyone I know has basil growing like its a weed! i thought the thai basil would maybe work for us, but no such luck. we may have to go standard. i will try the partial sun though, maybe the lady at the farmer's market lied when she said all the ones we bought needed full sun.
@ The Food- Daniel suggested perhaps calamari or squid, i'm a little more tame in alterations and would suggest some sort of flesh white fish poached with butter and garlic.
@Rambling Tart- hopefully so!

Stella said...

Hey Guys, these grits look wonderful. I always eat shrimp and grits, but I never thought to do this-decadent!
By the way, I'm a gardening master. You may not have a 'black thumb' (smile). Basil, will die or do very poorly without full sun, so you know. Your parsley looks great! That doesn't grow well where I am, but I always wish it did...

Anne Zimmerman said...

Oh my gosh that looks so good! I wish I was eating with you tonight.
PS I too have a black thumb-- thank goodness it does not translate to the kitchen, right?

Brie: Le Grand Fromage said...

wow, great recipe! i'm used to shrimp and grits, but this looks tasty, too. good luck with any future plants! some of them can be a little testy. ;)

Katie@Cozydelicious said...

Lobster grits! What an amazing idea! It sounds wonderful. And I know all about herbs and black thumbs... I anually murder dozens of hopeful little plants, so good for you for keeping at least one alive!

denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

That looks so much like Chinese celery! And sounds like it too by your description. It's a gorgeous herb, especially for clear soups but I like what you've done with it here! Never seen grits with shellfish before - how inspired! It looks absolutely incredible!

The Food said...

Thanks for the advice!

Kasey said...

Way to jazz up shrimp and grits! Lobster grits sound amazing!

Fresh Local and Best said...

I like that you used langoustine in this recipe, when done well, this shell fish can taste amazing!
I hate to tell you. Basil just does not do well in small containers. If you have the urge to grow something in your house, perhaps grow microgreens such as sunflower which taste great in salads. I just avoided trying to grow herbs in my small apartment because it was just so heart breaking to see the plants die.

Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial said...

Thai basil always dies, don't take it personally. :) Thanks for stopping by my blog, or I'd never have found your wonderful piece of the internet! Love your photos - will definitely be back for more!

Grits isn't something we get here and I've always wondered what they look like. The closest I found was a pack of cracked corn kernels, which took nearly an hour to soften on the stove - in the end it all became chicken feed! :)

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