Friday, February 15, 2013

Low Country Valentine's Day Dinner

As I mentioned yesterday, I wanted to make a shrimp pie for our Valentine's dinner.  I'd never tasted one or made one before, but the recipe was very intriguing!  This is another recipe from "Mrs. Whaley Entertains" because currently I'm obsessed with her "story"!  Also, when Marie and I visited Charleston a couple years ago, I became crazy about low country cuisine and love learning all about it.  
So, okay, this is a fantastic recipe!!!  It is SO EASY!  You make it ahead of time so that it sits in your refrigerator all day or overnight.  I love those kinds of recipes because they help so much on busy days.  The real beauty of this dish though is that it is that-- beautiful!  It bakes up puffy and golden, almost like a souffle, but not so fragile.  It tastes marvelous:  creamy, buttery, cheesy, and shrimpy, but not too rich because it's also very airy and light.  
I think this is my new "go to" dish when I want something special, but I'm pressed for time.  This recipe serves 3 people easily, and probably could serve four as a luncheon dish.  
If you like shrimp, please try this!  It's practically mistake proof and really delicious!!  I served mine with low country red rice (another terrific recipe-- I'll add it later!), and green peas with chives.  I think a green salad might be a nice, crisp accompaniment, but Ben had to go to the dentist that day, so I didn't know if he'd be up to anything too crunchy!  Cooks must be adaptable-- married ones at least :)

Shrimp Pie (serves 3)
1 lb. shrimp, cleaned and de-veined
ice cubes
1 cup half and half cream
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Dash cayenne or few drops Tabasco (optional)
4 slices white bread, crusts removed (use a good quality bakery bread), torn into pieces
4 oz. grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Spray a 1 qt. casserole dish with PAM.  I used a souffle dish.  It should be more deep than shallow.
Boil the shrimp in enough salted water to cover them until opaque and pink.  I usually drop them in, cover, let the water come to a boil again and check.  They will probably be cooked through.  Drain them in a colander, and put ice cubes over them to cool them down quickly.
Beat the eggs with the cream, salt, mustard, nutmeg, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and cayenne if using.  Set aside.
Put 1/2 torn bread pieces on the bottom on the dish.  Cover with 1/2 of the shrimp.  Cover shrimp with 1/2 of the cheese.  Make another layer of bread, shrimp, and cheese.  Pour the melted butter over all.  Then pour the cream mixture over all.
Cover and refrigerate all day or overnight (at least 8 hours).
*Take the dish out of the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350F.  Bake the shrimp pie for 50-60 minutes, until set, puffed, and browned.  Yay!

*If you don't have time to do this part, microwave the casserole on high for 1-2 minutes-- just until it doesn't feel ice cold-- DO NOT LET IT BEGIN COOKING.  It bakes more evenly if it doesn't start out super cold.

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