Clearly, the holidays and the several weekends preceding them have taking a toll on my blogging. Thinking back, I have not had a weekend without house guests or a major event since before Halloween. Not that any of this is an excuse for me being such a blog slacker lately, but at least I now know where the last couple of months have gone.
In the effort to make a new start, I have lots of pictures piled up from Ginny's recent visit to blog about! As usual, we were cooking fools, but the weekend did have an actual purpose. A dual purpose, even.
See, Ginny and I always get together in December to spend an entire weekend making candy. We then arrange all of the candy on trays to distribute to the various friends and businesses that we have done a lot with over the past year. And, every year, Ginny puts on her "slave driver" hat because I am not as motivated to do all the candy as she is. This year, unfortunately, we had multiple distractions to work around, which didn't help, but we still managed to get all the trays made. For one thing, both of our birthdays land in the general vicinity of Christmas/January, so we decided to treat ourselves to a nice birthday lunch out at a restaurant we've been dying to try since we started attending some cooking classes led by the executive chef and wine director from Annie Gunn's in St Louis.
If a drive to St Louis for lunch wasn't enough of a detour from the weekend's workload, we also were in charge of cooking breakfast for twenty on Sunday morning, my annual Christmas sugar cooking decorating day at my sister in law's....and for some reason, Ginny thought we needed MORE to do, so she brought along about five other recipes she wanted us to try.
What the hell were we thinking?
I guess I should just start from the beginning! The first dish we made (Ginny has recently developed a fascination with Rick Bayless' recipes) was Chilled Shrimp and Crab a la Veracruzana. Talk about an easy dish to make! Ginny made the salsa up ahead of time and brought it with her, so there was almost no prep work to speak of for this one. We snacked on this one the night she arrived with a lovely bottle of wine. I would not have expected that having olives in a latin-inspired dish would appeal to me, but the flavors really worked!
Chilled Shrimp and Crab a la Veracruzana
(Mariscos Frios con Sabor Veracruzano)
Makes about 4 cups
Recipe from Season 7 of Mexico - One Plate at a Time
2 cups top-quality bottled tomato salsa (I prefer one made from roasted tomatoes)1/4 cup chopped green olives (the firm texture of a manzanilla olive is welcome here)2 tablespoons capers, drained (rinse them in a small strainer if they seem really salty/briny)2 to 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves1 pound medium-to-small cooked shrimp4 or 5 ounces of crabmeat (lump crabmeat holds up best in this preparation)
In a medium saucepan, combine the salsa, olives, capers and parsley. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, simmer for several minutes to blend the flavors (and if the salsa is at all watery, to reduce a little of the liquid), then remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, combine the shrimp and crab meat.
Gently stir in the sauce, then cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.