Friday, November 24, 2006

Shrimp Bisque

It has been so long… I have a holiday sale coming up at my studio and made a mad push to fire one last kiln load before the big day. If you’re in the New York City area and think handmade ceramics might be up your gift giving alley (or for you personally), all are welcome. Eleven ceramic artists all with very different styles will have pieces on sale. Food, drinks and even some live music--music on Saturday only--will be part of the celebrations. The sale is Dec 7-10 in Long Island City, Queens (first stop into Queens from Manhattan, 15 minutes from midtown). Email me if you would like more details-- the bad news: this is our last sale, the building that houses our studio will be turned into luxury condos!

So are you already tired of all that turkey? Or maybe it’s the turkey that is making you tired. I’ve already turned my leftovers into my grandmother’s savory Latvian Pancakes and stashed them in the freezer for a rainy day. Okay, I popped a few along the way. But I learned that making these time consuming treasures is much easier taken in steps: day 1 make crepe batter and filling; day 2 make crepes, fill and finish. Mmm, I might go grab another one…

But really, the shrimp bisque already. If you have fish stock on hand this recipe is a cinch. It is quick, filling and warming on a cold, rainy day. With some warm bread (or in a bread bowl) this makes a fantastic meal.

My mother sent me Ina Garten’s new book Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You'll Make Over and Over Again. Most recipes are pretty basic with ingredients that can easily be substituted for what you have on hand. I’ve heard the writing matches Ina’s personality, and if you don’t like her show, you won’t like the book. I don’t have cable (so I have never seen the show) and I haven't really taken the time to read her stories, so the recipes suit me well enough as a jumping off point.

I saw this shrimp bisque recipe and while I was really craving clam chowder, this recipe seemed a little less labor intensive (and I had clam chowder at a restaurant the previous night so why over due it?). With my old lean to, the handheld blender, I was able to whip this one up in just about 30 minutes. I had fish stock frozen and waiting for use from the seafood paella and today was its day!

Adapted from The Barefoot’s Contessa at Home cookbook
Makes about 6 servings. Active time= 20 minutes. Inactive time= about 10 minutes.
*1 pound shrimp, shells removed and set aside
* 1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil)
* 1 onion, chopped
* 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
* 2 celery stalks, chopped
* 1 rosemary branch, 4-6 inches
* 2 teaspoons paprkia
* ½ cup brandy
* 5 cups fish stock (see my paella for a recipe if you cannot find it at the store)
* 1 8oz can tomato paste (get one with no salt/ no flavors added)
* 1 pint heavy cream or half and half

1) In a small pot on medium heat, bring fish stock and shrimp shells to a simmer, about 15 minutes. Do not boil.
2) While stock is warming, in your main stock pot over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon butter. Add onions, garlic, celery and rosemary. Sauté 8-10 minutes, until onions turn translucent.
3) Add paprika and shrimp, cook for 3 minutes until shrimp begin to turn pink and curl.
4) Add brandy and cook for 3 minutes more.
5) Remove the rosemary branch (okay if some leaves remain). Strain the fish stock to remove the shrimp shells and add to the main pot.
6) Add tomato paste and stir until dissolved.
7) Using a handheld blender (or carefully in batches with a regular blender) pulse the soup. Break down most of the shrimp, but overall, leave the soup chunky. Add cream, bring to a simmer and serve.

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