Monday, June 8, 2020

Tonight's Supper: Shrimp Scampi on Capellini Pasta

I don't have a single drop of Italian blood in me, and this landlocked Iowa boy would take beef, pork, or poultry over anything from the sea most every time, but I do have a weakness for shrimp.  The last time Nancy and I were in the grocery store together, which we think was sometime in March, Nancy put a bag of frozen shrimp in the cart, saying that we would use them as some kind of treat during the Covid-19 Quarantine time.  The bag was put in the freezer in the basement, and Nancy forgot about it. When she went down to retrieve her ice cream yesterday, she saw it there and asked if we could have "shrimp something" for supper after she got home from work today.

"Shrimp something" would probably have been shrimp Alfredo, but I neglected to buy cream on my last grocery run, so I had to strike out on my own.  The results were so good that I have to blog this before I forget what I did so that I can recreate this supper sometime in the future.

First, since I use this blog for personal record keeping, I need to report that as of last Friday (June 5) I have done all of our cooking out in the summer kitchen on my brother's Montgomery Ward Economy Cookstove that I blogged about back in 2013 in this post.  Our last daily fire in the Margin Gem went out on the morning of June 1, which was when it began to get pretty warm around here.  Obviously, that was also the day that I turned on the electric hot water heater, which we will run for the next four months. This was the latest in the season that we have ever waited to do that, beating our previous record of May 27th.  Thus, the stats for the 2019-2020 heating season are that from October 11 to June 1, all hot water was heated by the Margin Gem, and it cooked all but four of the meals prepared at home during that time (two frozen pizzas, one crockpot roast, and one meal cooked entirely on the grill).  Also, because of Covid-19, the Margin Gem cooked all but seven of the meals I ate between March 16 and May 31.

My brother's Montgomery Ward Economy Cookstove
temporarily installed in our summer kitchen.

I worked the primary election on June 2, and I had cooked enough food ahead that the only cooking I did between the Margin Gem and this little stove was French toast on the gas stove (a ridiculously difficult task--so hard to get it to brown evenly over a gas flame) and baking four potatoes in the electric stove in the basement.

I am writing a whole post about cooking on this little cookstove of Kevin's, so all I'll say here is that it has worked surprisingly well--great really.  I was so anxious to get cooking on it, you'll notice that I didn't get the floor of the summer kitchen scrubbed yet.

Anyway, back to supper tonight.  I started by making the angel hair pasta. To roughly a cup of all-purpose flour, I added a sprinkling of baking powder and a dash of salt, then an egg.  I worked additional flour into the pasta dough until I couldn't get it to take any more by hand.  Then, I started running it through the rollers of my Atlas pasta machine.  I got to level 7 on the rollers and then cut the pasta with the cutter labeled capellini (Italian for "little hairs," slightly larger than true angel hair).  I kind of clumped the pasta into little loosely packed nests and set them aside on a plate to dry a bit while I did other things.  These were probably the best pasta I've ever made.

Making pasta is a messy proposition no matter how you look at it.

I started the fire out in the summer kitchen then, and put a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. I also put on the base to the steamer with a little water in it.  While they were heating, I headed to the gardens and picked some garlic chives and two onion leaves.  I washed those and snipped them into a frying pan with a 1/2 stick of butter in it.  Then, I took two tiny garlic bulbs harvested yesterday and put them through my Pampered Chef garlic press; they would have been the equivalent of two store-bought garlic cloves.  The frying pan was carried out to the stove then, where the other two kettles had come to a boil.

While the butter was beginning to melt and cook the herbs from the garden, I put a large head of broccoli in the steamer and dropped the nests of pasta into the boiling water.  By that time, the butter was simmering nicely, so I added about nine oz. of the cooked, frozen shrimp and a few parsley flakes.  Since the shrimp was already cooked, it just needed to thaw and heat through.

Tonight's supper cooking on my brother's little stove.
Sorry about the lens cap on the right side of the pic.
I couldn't hold onto the lids of the two kettles and
keep the lens cap out of the way at the same time.

Everything was finished cooking at the same time, so I carried it all back into the house.  We used a slotted spoon to fish the pasta nests out of the water, draining them as we did so.  Then, we scooped the cooked shrimp and its buttery juice over the pasta and sprinkled it with grated parmesan cheese.  The steamed broccoli was seasoned with a quick sprinkle of garlic salt, and supper was served.

Our supper.  Next time we'll be sure to buy shrimp that doesn't
have its tails on.

Nancy said I had hit the nail on the head with what she had in mind for "shrimp stuff," and we agreed that our supper tasted like it had come from a fine Italian restaurant.  It really was outstanding if I do say so myself. Making the pasta was the most difficult part of this meal, and if I were in a hurry and not in the middle of a pandemic, I would have bought angel hair nests in the grocery store and not thought twice about it.  We are looking forward to having this meal again when our own broccoli is ready to eat.

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