Oui Oui, French Bread & Shrimp Scampi

Jake’s dad makes a lot of really scrumptious seafood dishes. One of those dishes is his famous shrimp scampi that I have only heard whispers about, but had not actually witnessed or tried myself. Last night put an end to all those rumors! Jake’s parents came over and not only made that famous shrimp scampi for us, but also taught us how to make it. Warning: I’m not at liberty to divulge all the details, but I will talk about some of its ingredients and leave you drooling with some photos. In honor of the shrimp scampi, I also put my new stand mixer to use again and made a fresh loaf of french bread.

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The surprising and not-so-surprising thing about the shrimp scampi recipe is that it is very simple – not a lot of ingredients. It is primarily comprised of clam juice, butter, clams, and garlic. Seasonings and other flavorings seem like they could be up to you. You could even add a little at a time, taste test, adjust, and repeat until you’re happy with the flavors. In my opinion, any of the following could add some nice flavors: salt, pepper, scallions, shallots, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes, a squirt of lemon, or splash of white wine or white cooking wine. You’ll obviously need shrimp to make it shrimp scampi, but you can feel free to add whatever other seafood you like. In this case, we had shrimp, scallops, and lobster – the trifecta. A flaky white fish or muscles would also complement this dish well.

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Lobster is prepped and ready to add into the sauce
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Sauce being cooked on the stove

We enjoyed the sauce with some linguini. I almost offered to make fresh pasta with my new stand mixer pasta attachments. But since I’m still a novice at that, I didn’t want to mess up the dish or the cooking lesson. Next time, it will definitely be worth a try.

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Whenever you have a pasta dish in front of you, it is a requirement that you have some bread to sop up that extra sauce. So, here comes the french bread. As usual, I used handy dandy Pinterest to find an easy recipe. (Here’s the link to the recipe.) The actual work to make the bread isn’t difficult, but I had no idea how time consuming the entire process is. If I ever make bread again, I would not make a single loaf. If I’m going to spend an entire day waiting for the dough to rise, I would probably make a few loaves.

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In this recipe (and I think most bread recipes like this), you need to let the dough rise for an hour, then punch it down, let it rise for another 30 min, then shape the loaf, and let it rise for another 30-60 minutes. I chose to brush the loaf with an egg white wash before baking. However, it seemed a bit dry, so I decided to additionally brush it with butter and some dried rosemary near the end of the baking time and after it was done and out of the oven. Wow, the aroma from the butter and rosemary was SO good. Also, about halfway through the baking, the bottom of the bread was browning a lot faster than the rest. Since the bread was firm enough at that time, I put it on a baking rack, which sat on top of the baking sheet.

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The bread had a nice flavor, but it was a bit dense. I had to do a little research afterward to see what it would take to get a fluffier inside. I suspect I didn’t knead the dough for long enough. Also, I might experiment with the different flours that I use. Also, the “jelly roll” method that was used to make the loaf left noticeable spirals inside when slicing the bread. I wonder if I just need to either roll it tighter or maybe next time I’ll just shape the loaf without flattening first and rolling.

To finish it off, Jake’s mom had brought cupcakes for us to enjoy for dessert. We were already so full from the pasta that having an individual-sized dessert hit the spot.

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All in all, it was a great dish to mark the end of summer. Even Whiskey and Brody (our pups) wanted to try some. I can’t wait to try the recipe and hopefully perfect it!

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Sincerely
Fu’d

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Pears, Pears, Pears

A Trio of Pear Dishes –

My in-laws live in a town outside of Boston. Believe it or not, they have been in the same house for 40 years! In their side yard, they have a single pear tree. Most years it produces an abundance of pears and this year was no exception. Jake’s dad knows that we like to cook and decided to bring us a bag full of those delicious pears.

These pears were so juicy and sweet; they made for the perfect afternoon snack. If it’s at all possible, they were almost too juicy. I needed to lay out at least three napkins at my desk at work – still a small price to pay for the ripe goodness.

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After about a week, it was time to figure out what to do with the rest of the pears. We weren’t going to finish them all just by eating them as snacks. This was the perfect opportunity to find some new pear recipes and go to town. I had a mini cooking day to myself and whipped up three dishes:

I mentioned in The Fu Behind the Fu’d page that I get almost all of my recipe inspiration from Pinterest, so I linked each to the recipe I used. Because I also made multiple dishes on this occasion, I won’t provide step-by-step instructions on what I did. (It should all be in the recipes.) I will add a little commentary on my experiences making each dish and a judgment on the final products.


Raspberry Pear Pecan Bread

Get the Pinterest recipe here.

I originally chose this recipe because I had just bought my very first KitchenAid stand mixer and wanted to make bread. I don’t have a lot of experience making bread. From what I gather now, this was much less of a traditional bread recipe and much more like a banana bread recipe. I probably didn’t need my stand mixer at all. Oh well!

This bread was good. I loved the tangy and tart flavor that the raspberry left throughout each bite. I also went light on the brown sugar, so it wasn’t overly sweet. The recipe called for grating the pears. Because of how juicy the pears were, there was a lot of liquid, which I think caused the bread to fall apart a bit. I think counteracting it with more flour may have helped. The pear flavor was also barely there. For a sensitive palate, it might be the perfect hint, but I was craving more. We enjoyed the bread for a few days and ate most of it. But because I used fresh fruit, it was best to toss the rest after that. Regardless, this would make a beautiful gift during the holidays or to bring to a lunch/dinner party.


Creamy Sweet Potato and Pear Soup

Get the Pinterest recipe here.

I enjoyed this soup. I was surprised that Jake liked it, too. He is usually much more of a hearty stew type person, but he thought this had a unique flavor. I followed the recipe closely. Although, I did mistakenly sprinkle thyme leaves throughout the soup, which left a small chunk every few slurps. I should have left the thyme sprigs whole to flavor the soup and then removed them.

I don’t frequently use my immersion blender, so I get excited at any opportunity. The photo below reveals how infrequently I use it because I still have the label on it! It worked like a charm and left the soup with a great consistency.

I gave half the batch to my in-laws, but I wish had doubled the recipe and saved even more for ourselves! This soup seems like it would freeze very well, since you don’t have to worry about any chunks of vegetables or starches getting too soggy when re-heating.


Pear Vinaigrette

Get the Pinterest recipe here.

The vinaigrette was a bit of trial and error. In general, I love homemade dressings that have olive oil, fresh garlic, and lemon. I was able to use the extra juices when grating the pears for the bread recipe. However, again, the pear flavor was almost non-existent and I decided to scrounge up some extra grated pear to throw in.

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I used it a few times as a salad dressing and as a slaw dressing. I still have not figured out the best way to store something like this. I feel that the pear needs to be refrigerated, but after a couple of days, the olive oil begins to solidify at the top. This means that when I want to use the dressing, I need to let it sit out for a bit and then shake it up. I will be sure to report back if I ever figure out the right technique or perhaps you can help me out and let me know how you make it work!


Pears seem to be a great alternative to other fruits. They have a much more subtle flavor. I think that it can complement savory dishes well, but could be too mild for sweeter dishes. Overall, another successful mini cooking adventure with some lessons learned!

Sincerely,
Fu’d