Saturday, February 27, 2010

Shrimp Bisque And The Wrath Of Mother Nature

The other night, I felt a little bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz as the hurricane force 80 mph wind shook my house. While the rain pounded, I was grateful that it wasn't snow like places just south and inland were getting. Then it's counted in feet and not inches. The next morning I went out to assess the damage and found some of my window screens littering the yard. A neighbors fence fell just a few feet away from my car and some huge pine tree branches just graced it on the other end as they hit my electrical lines. Miraculously, I still had electricity. But...why does my car all of a sudden have good car Karma?? Maybe it knows it is on it's way to car heaven soon! Anywaaaay....I had to go to the local market and since I knew it was an astronomical high tide along with the storm surge, I brought my camera. The sun was out, but the storm hadn't finished with it's ravage. The surf roared over the street, flooding it as it hit the houses in it's way. Tree branches were scattered all over the streets and one of our favorite beaches succumbed to the high waves. You could actually swim in the parking lot now. Where we sit on benches on a hot summer's day, looked solemn with each passing wave. As the tide receded, I wiped the sea spray from my camera and made my way to the store. I had intended on buying scallops for a bisque, but some fresh wild caught shrimp were on sale for $5.99 a pound. Change of plan...change of recipe...I would make Tyler Florence's Shrimp Bisque. It has orange in it, so I grabbed one of those. Orange and shrimp together are such happy flavors. I already had brandy, another happy flavor, so I just needed some leeks to fill in the blanks. Tyler calls for chives to garnish it, but I thought a few basil leaves from my kitchen basil plant sounded better....and they were. This bisque is fresh, sunny and just can't fool with Mother Nature.I hope all facing the aftermath of this storm and the other wrathful acts of Mother Nature, have an anchor to help get them through.

Shrimp Bisque
(adapted from Tyler Florence)

1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, in the shell
1 orange, rinsed well
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks, trimmed,halved lengthwise, and rinsed well
1 onion, trimmed, peeled and halved
2 celery stalks, cut into big chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into big chunks
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup brandy
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Finely chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Peel and devein the shrimp, reserving the shells; refrigerate shrimp until ready to use. Using a vegetable peeler, peel several strips of orange zest and grate the remaining zest. Cover and refrigerate the grated zest for garnish.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and melt the butter into it. Add the shrimp shells, leeks, onion, celery, carrots, thyme, bay leaf, strips of orange zest, tomato paste and cayenne. Cook, stirring often, until the shells are red and the vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

Take the pot off of the heat and carefully pour in the brandy. Return the pot to medium heat , cook for a minute more, then sprinkle in the flour. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Now add water to cover, about 2-3 cups and deglaze, scraping up all of the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Immediately turn the heat down to low and simmer gently until the soup is reduced and thickened, 30-45 minutes. Strain into a clean pot and season with salt and pepper.

When you are ready to serve, return the bisque to simmer, add the shrimp, and cook for 2-3 minutes, just to cook the shrimp through. Give the bisque a final taste for seasoning, pour it into warmed soup bowls and serve garnished with the reserved orange zest and the chives.

Diane's notes:
I prefer basil instead of chives for the garnish, if you have some on hand. I also added some paprika to enhance the color and flavor. I just added a small amount at a time until the look and taste had more depth. Instead of deglazing the pan with water, I used a high quality fish stock or clam juice. Add more tomato paste for your taste. Since acidic foods like orange and tomato mixed with cream can cause a slight curdling, just give it a good whisking before serving. The heavy cream may be substituted for half and half, or any combination of milk or cream that suits your taste. To give the shrimp more flavor, I dusted them with paprika and gave them a quick cook over medium high heat in a cast iron skillet. This sears them with a nice crust and gives them a crunch at the first bite.

Shrimp Bisque recipe, click here.

Stumble Upon Toolbar