Recipes totally worth the effort–episode one

I am neither the greatest cook nor the greatest baker, but I do love good food and occasionally get sick of eating out. Just like A&E used to have arty, entertaining shows, The Food Network used to actually have cooking shows on it, in the evening and everything.

My favorite show by far was Good Eats, it was cooking meets silly pop culture meets Bill Nye the Science Guy and I loved it. Interestingly enough, I don’t think I have ever cooked a single recipe of Alton Brown’s but I feel like that was beside the point. It was more about being interested in the process and how things worked, like chemistry without the icky smells.

Ina Gerten lives in the Hamptons and all her friends are fabulous and she can get on my nerves going on about Jeffrey and I am 100% jealous of her garden, but I can honestly say I have never made one of her recipes that: a) wasn’t good; b) wasn’t a giant pain in the ass to make; c) wasn’t cheap; and d), that I wouldn’t NOT make again. Here’s one that definitely is worth the time:

Roasted Shrimp with Orzo 

Kosher salt

Olive oil

3/4 pound orzo pasta–now where I shop orzo comes in one pound bags or boxes. I dump the whole thing in

1.5 cups fresh lemon juice (about three lemons)

freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds (16-18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined–two pounds! I told you her stuff was not cheap eats (see c, above). I try to only make this for people I REALLY like because not only is it expensive, it is also a pain in the ass (see d, above)

1 cup minced scallions–i always buy these but usually forget to put them in. I am an onion phobe so I would never willingly put an onion in anything. It tastes fine without them.

1 cup chopped fresh dill

1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1 cucumber unpeeled, seeded and medium diced

1/2 cup small diced red onion— I have never even considered putting this in 

3/4 pound feta cheese, large diced–i just buy one package and throw it in, I don’t weigh it. 

Preheat the over to 400. cook the orzo in boiling, salted water with a dollop of olive oil for 9 to 11 minutes. Stir it every once in awhile until it is cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a LARGE bowl. This makes a lot so you can make it for more than just three or four friends you really like, it can be for like EIGHT of them. Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir.

Put the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out on a single layer. Roast for 5-6 minutes, do not overcook. Set your timer and DO NOT WALK away. Nothing is grosser than overcooked, rubbery shrimp that you just spent about thirty bucks on. That would not be cool.

Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the scallions (if you must), dill, parsley, cucumber, onion (if you think you need anymore) 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and mix super carefully so it doesn’t all fall apart. The Contessa says to set it aside at room temperature for an hour to allow the flavors to blend which I don’t do since I usually make this the night before I have the people over I like. The Contessa says to let it sit to get to room temperature before eating which is fine, but I like it cold just as well.




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