I am not writing a cookbook! But then again …. nope I just needed to refill my wine glass and give that a good thought! But I do love to cook, bake and find myself spending the majority of my days between The Fresh Market and my kitchen. I am not good at creating my own recipes but thanks to my FoodNetwork junkie I get lots (LOTS) of great ideas and can tweak them enough to be somewhat original! Now truth be told here I have a house full of extremely picky eaters; all the way from the top of the food chain to the bottom. Everything from texture to taste to even the color of what just might end up on their plate so I am always in adjust and accommodate mode. I try not to get too adventurous which takes out some of the fun in cooking but one thing I know for sure; if Alex asks for seconds it was good.
I love to entertain! I love a house full of family and friends standing around the kitchen with a grown-up beverage in hand and grazing along the butlers pantry asking things like … ohhhh what’s this? Or how did you make that? Have I mentioned I have a butlers pantry?
Well, I do and it was what sold me on this house. Okay not really the only thing but as soon I walked into the kitchen I visioned rows of fun foods, mixed drinks and the ultimate spread that my guests would tell their friends about! It’s the perfect place for me to display my hours (yes, hours … Mark says I always spend too much time in the kitchen and make way too much food; is that even possible?!) of Pinterest pins and pretty platters of deliciousness. Dinner is much like a party to me! It’s all about the delivery, the show and how good it looks when photographed. Oh and it has to taste good, too! So, if the kids want crab legs well we are having an all out shrimp boil complete with butcher paper draped from one end of the table to the other, wooden mallets and ramekins full of melted butter.
One thing for certain is that this house loves fresh seafood. Salmon is a favorite but no one passes up a plate full of shrimp and pasta or seared scallops. Now, we are somewhat land locked here in NWA and the abundance of freshly caught seafood is not always available. Let me tell you a story and begin with there might be a tad of hyperbole but most of it is accurate! So years ago my dad was invited on an Alaskan fishing trip with his friends. Do you know my dad?? We used to do some weekend fishing at Gastons back in my childhood years, which by the way were some of my fondest memories of time spent with my dad. But other than that, fishing was not really a “thing” I remember my dad doing on a regular basis. When he announced he was packing up and heading out for some deep sea fishing I was not at all shy to remind him the last time we were on a boat deep in the ocean Down Under our time spent hanging over the rails of the boat was not to catch a glimpse of the mounds of fish we were catching! Now not one to back down from a challenge off he went, he and his buddies to catch us a freezer full of Alaskan goodness. Well, several weeks after having returned home a box arrived at the front door. The words perishable, fresh fish and keep frozen had me curious as to why this had been delivered long after my dads trip as the freezer sat empty still waiting for the promised Alaskan feast. So this is where the story might get a bit skewed but I am going to tell you whatever the real story is, this is my favorite way to tell it and I am sticking to my side of it! It had been quietly discussed that my dads experience out there on that boat was not a pleasant one and quite possibly there we very few fish caught. Well coming home empty handed was not an option so he set out to find a local fishing company that would catch and ship fresh fish to your home, packed on dry ice so that it was as if you had caught it yourself and brought it home to your waiting family! At first one might think he caught it himself, had it packed and sent home however given the amount of time between his return and the arrival of the box there was definitely a fish story there that didn’t quite add up! Now fast forward a few years and realize that your dad has not been back to Alaska yet every few months your doorbell rings only to be greeted by a very familiar box full of fresh Alaskan seafood with a note from your dad that says …. “Enjoy!” So whatever the real story is and amongst all the fun in telling it I am just really happy that he stumbled across the locals who played along!
Now that you know a little back story of how we happen to have a freezer full of fresh shrimp and crab I can finish telling you the story behind our Saturday Night Shrimp Boil and share with you what everyone is asking for. Even with my love of cooking big and elaborate Tuesday night dinners at home there are those days when we can’t be seen at Chick Fil A for the third day in a row and we need something quick and easy that everyone will like but no one wants spaghetti again! I think I was out of butcher paper and the thought of flying crab shells and spilled butter was more than I wanted to take on so I thought why can’t I just put everything on a sheet pan, drown it in Old Bay and butter and wala dinner is served! It was a crowd favorite, everyone asking for leftovers, which by the I think it was soooo much better the next day! There is just a little prep work but worth the extra steps!
SHEET PAN SHRIMP BOIL
1.5 pounds yellow/red baby dutch potatoes quartered
4 ears fresh corn cut crosswise into 3 pieces each
1 pound Smoked Andouille Sausage sliced
1.5 pounds shrimp peeled and deveined, tails left on
½ c butter
8 cloves garlic grated
2.5 TBS Old Bay Seasoning
Fresh chopped parsley
Preheat your oven to 400 degress and lightly oil a large sheet pan
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and add potatoes
Cook for 10 min, add corn and cook 5 more min
Drain well and spread out on sheet pan
Add shrimp and sliced sausage
Melt butter in a small sauce pan and add garlic and Old Bay Seasoning
Let this simmer for a few minutes allowing your flavors to get to know each other
Pour over sheet pan and gently toss all ingredients
Bake 10 minutes
Squeeze several lemon wedges and garnish with parsley
So a few notes ….. I know it’s so much easier to use the smaller frozen corn on the cob; but don’t, just don’t. The fresh corn makes this sooo much better! Also, because shrimp cooks so quickly it is best to leave the tails on which is where all the flavor is. Make sure all your ingredients are in a single layer and try to get every little piece coated with the butter mixture. Now, I’m going to confess something here. I always double the butter concoction, I mean why wouldn’t you?! It helps to have a little bit extra the next day when you are heating up the extras for lunch … or breakfast which Mark personally says is the way to go with it! Grab a sourdough loaf right in front of the seafood counter there at Fresh Market (actually grab 2, you will thank me for this) and give that a quick warm up in the oven and serve it in torn pieces on the side of your plates. Oh and the bread will also help you soak up your doubled butter!!