Hello, hello! I’m finally back! And man, it’s certainly been a while. It was pretty crazy around here for a good week or so, what with my big catering gig and everything. (Which, by the way, went really great. Thank you all for the good lucks and well wishes.) And then after that, we were out of town to NYC for week, and then I got bogged down with even more work. But even with these good excuses, it’s still been a while. Way too long a while. Thanks all of you, for being so patient.
But believe it or not, I’m still right on track with the dinner parties. Actually, we’ve thrown three in the last ten days, so I’m still completely on schedule, as far as the cooking and the hostessing goes. The only element that’s lagging behind a bit in this blogging project, is well, the blogging element. But with this post, I’m making some instant progress. And you can be sure you’ll see a couple more posts up here pretty quickly, over the next couple days.
We had an special dinner guest this last week: my dad, who was in town for a few days on a business trip. On the single night that he didn’t take us out and treat us to steak dinners (Yes, plural steak dinners - We were conducting a comparative study of Chicago’s steakhouses), we invited him to our place and treated him, this time to surf, rather than turf.
This Yellow Curry Shrimp is one of our favorite dinners. I don’t know who loves it more, me or Ben. But that hardly matters – What does matter is that absolutely everyone who tastes it, including my dad who tasted it for the first time last week, positively loves it.
It’s a recipe I learned in my ‘Cuisines of Asia’ class in culinary school. I have to say, I learned to make some sensational stuff in school, and took away more than a few fabulous recipes. But it’s funny, I rarely make any of these dishes at home. This dish though, is different. This dish became part of my home cooking repertoire right away – I cooked it again in my own kitchen, only a couple days after preparing it in class. It was so incredibly good, I couldn’t wait for Ben to try it. What’s more, I couldn’t wait to eat it again myself!
One taste and Ben was as in love with it as I was. And what, you may be asking, is so lovable about this dish? For starters, the yellow curry sauce. Warm, toasted spices - turmeric, coriander, cumin, and chile - with flashes of bright citrus, heady aromatics and a velvety background of rich, cool coconut milk. This vivid yellow sauce is so full of incredible flavor, it’s no wonder we’ve all fallen in love at first taste.
And with this perfect sauce, sweet and tender sautéed shrimp. And who doesn’t love shrimp? But the best part has definitely got to be the cherry tomatoes. The small red orbs are simmered for a just few minutes in the bubbling sauce, just long enough to barely cook them though, taking them right to the point just before they burst. One bite and the whole tomatoes literally explode with flavor, releasing the the bright, juicy goodness their insides have become, like delicate capsules of the freshest, most delicious tomato sauce in the world.
Between the sauce, the tomatoes and the shrimp, this dish already has a lot going on. And so I always tend towards simplicity with the sides. A basic rice pilaf and a quick wilting of spinach. Both delicious in their own right, but wonderfully unassuming. These two humble sides make no threat of competition, which is important, because the last thing I’d want is for the spotlight to be stolen away from this divine curry.
When it came time for making dessert, I can’t remember if it was simply coincidence, or if I made a conscious decision to again choose a recipe from the annals of my culinary education. But at any rate, that’s what I ended up doing. And both Dad and Ben were pretty thrilled that I did. This pineapple upside-down cake is definitely one of the best things I took with me from cooking school, and that’s saying a lot. (Thanks again, Chef Higgins!)
I still remember my first extraordinary bite - It’s been my favorite dessert ever since. The pineapple, so sweet at the height of its ripeness, becomes even more delectable as it slowly bakes - its natural sugars concentrating and caramelizing, its flavor intensifying, its deliciousness growing with every minute in the oven. Over the pineapple oozes a marvelous gooeyness of buttery brown sugar caramel. This wonderfully sticky nectar soaks half-way through the cloud of a cake, saturating its light crumb with a deliciously sugary density. Still warm from the oven, this cake is the embodiment of pure joy.
I know it took me a while to write this post. But please, don’t wait that long to make this cake!