Saturday night with my fella. He had bought a gorgeous bottle of wine and I was feeling all domestic-like, so I had grand plans to make Lizzy’s Crab Stuffed Filet Mignon with Whiskey Peppercorn Sauce with a side of Sautéed Swiss Chard. Caesar Salad to start and a Fresh Strawberry Shortcake to finish. Ambitious, right? I was feeling my cooking swagger come on and I was up to the challenge.
A little while later, we were in the grocery store looking at the gorgeous cuts of aged beef, and I was
barking out asking nicely if the beau could go find other ingredients on our list. He looked at me, the wild look in my eye, the mounting amount of groceries in the cart that would need to be washed, chopped and mixed with his help and the idea of a relaxing evening drinking wine and listening to music quickly faded from view. He turned to me and said “Hey, want to just go to Morton’s instead?” I left the cart where it was and we had an 8pm reservation before you could say “I said peppercorns, now, mister.” The relief was palpable on the beau’s face.
Because we had some delicious wine to drink, I decided to make some hors d’oeuvres at home to enjoy with our wine before dinner. See, I’m not all bad.
The Shrimp Cocktail could not have been easier; before I abandoned the cart for Morton’s, the beau had bought a half-pound of fresh shrimp for us to have for a snack. Homemade cocktail sauce is a SNAP to make and more healthful as there are no nasty preservatives or extra sugars in there. I added the romaine spears for the pop of color on the plate and nice crunch of freshness when eaten with the shrimp, but it’s totally optional.
Shrimp Cocktail with Homemade Cocktail Sauce
1/2 lb fresh, cooked shrimp, tails on
1/2 c. ketchup (look for a no high-fructose corn syrup brand)
1 shallot, minced
2-3 heaping tablespoons of horseradish*
1 tsp garlic powder
Pinch each: Sea Salt & Freshly Cracked Pepper
Hot Sauce (optional)
1 head of romaine or endive (optional)
In a large strainer, rinse shrimp thoroughly with cold water, pat dry. Set strainer of shrimp over a large bowl and put in the fridge to stay chilled while you mix the sauce.
In a medium mixing bowl, add ketchup, shallot and horseradish, starting with just two tbs. Stir thoroughly. The horseradish is HOT, so be sure you like the heat level before adding more. If you’ve made the mix too hot, simply add more ketchup until the heat level comes down. Add seasonings (including hot sauce if you really like it HOT). Pour into a small serving bowl.
If you’re using lettuce, simply wash thoroughly and separate out the inner, more-crunchy leaves and arrange on your serving plate. Remove shrimp from the fridge and plate alongside the lettuce and cocktail sauce. Serves 2-3.
* You want to use REAL horseradish in this, not prepared. Prepared is often a creamy dressing in the condiment aisle. Real horseradish looks like shreds of a white root and will be in the refrigerated section, usually with the produce or cheeses.
Onto the Ravioli….
The beau had beautiful Mushroom Agnolotti (aka ravioli) just sitting in his fridge. I wanted to make something more “appetizer-like” rather than “dinner-like” with them to have with our shrimp.
Toasted Mushroom Agnolotti (Ravioli)
1 package of Mushroom Agnolotti**
20 Ritz Crackers, crumbled (or you could used bread crumbs or Panko crumbs)
1 egg, beaten
Garlic Powder, Black Pepper, Sea Salt
1/2 c. Vegetable Oil
**You could use another type of ravioli. You just want them to be large enough and flat enough to fry without falling apart.
Set a large pot of water on to boil. Once water has come to a rolling boil add sea salt and Agnolotti. While the pasta is boiling, in a separate bowl, mix cracker crumbs with a pinch each of garlic powder, salt and pepper. Toss thoroughly and pour onto a plate for dredging. Separately, prepare a large plate lined with paper towels with more paper towels on the side for blotting.
Set a medium-sized, deep saute pan over medium-high heat. Add half of the vegetable oil. While the oil heats up, set up an assembly line of ingredients Cooked Agnolotti. Beaten egg in a small bowl. Flavored Cracker Crumbs. Once oil is hot (and you want this HOT so the Agnolotti won’t get soggy), work quickly to get them into the pan.
1) Dip one Agnolotti entirely into the egg mix, then into the crumbs, covering both sides, then immediately place in the hot oil.
2) Repeat with 4 or 5 more Agnolotti or however many your pan can hold with room for flipping.
3) Flip over after about 3-4 minutes (or until a peek underneath shows the crumbs turning golden brown).
Back to your saute pan. If the oil has cooked off, add the remaining amount of vegetable oil, allow to get HOT once again and then repeat steps 1-5 with the rest of the Agnolotti.
Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as an appetizer.
I used a bit of store-bought Green Goddess dressing for dipping, but marinara sauce would be lovely for a more traditional twist or even a simple creme fraiche or sour cream dip with fresh dill and scallion would be perfect. Enjoy!