Thursday, September 30, 2010
I love shrimp and grits. Really. Never heard of it till we moved to New Bern. Okay, so I've led a sheltered life. But I've been redeemed, and now I can't get enough of this Southern specialty. When we went to Boston at the Bend recently, it was what I ordered, and what disappointed me. So I dug up a recipe from Southern Living's May 2009 magazine and tweaked it to make it my own. Southern Living printed three recipes for shrimp and grits from three different restaurants. I chose the one from Hominy Grill and added scallops, tomatoes and white wine. The article included a recipe for Creamy Cheddar Cheese Grits, inspired by Emeril Lagasse. Instead of milk, I used chicken broth. I used Monterey Jack cheese with jalapenos for some of the cheddar. Finally, I got my shrimp and grits, and loved every delicious morsel. This recipe has wonderful complex flavors. The grits are super creamy and the shrimp and scallops are in a flavorful sauce. I had grits left over, so I spooned them into a small baking dish and let them set up in the fridge. Once they gelled, I cut them into portion-size servings and froze them for future use. When I want grits, I just take out a package, thaw slightly, and fry it up in a pan. Southern shrimp and grits.....it doesn't get much better than this.
Shrimp and Scallops with Cheesy Grits
Adapted from Southern Living Magazine, May 2009
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Cheesy Creamy Grits
4 tsp. Smart Balance buttery spread or butter, divided use
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 tsp. Louisiana hot sauce
1 small garlic clove, grated
1/2 cup stone-ground polenta (grits)
3-1/2 - 4 oz. cheese (I used 2.5 oz. Monterey Jack with jalapenos + 1 oz. aged white cheddar)
2 Tbsp. heavy cream (optional -- I decided not to add it, because it was creamy without it)
In a small heavy saucepan, heat 2 tsp. Smart Balance, broth, hot sauce and garlic to a boil over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in grits and bring back to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 1-1/2 hours, stirring as needed, or till thickened and creamy. (Mine took almost 2 hours.) Stir in remaining 2 tsp. Smart Balance, cheese and cream (if using). Cover and keep hot till serving time.
Shrimp and Scallops in Tomato-Mushroom Wine Sauce
1 lb. shrimp, peeled, deveined (Of course, I used Carolina shrimp, fresh, but frozen will do)
1/2 lb. bay scallops
1-1/2 Tbsp. flour
2-1/2 thick bacon slices, chopped (I used Applewood smoked uncured)
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 tomato, diced (or about 3/4 cup canned diced tomatoes)
1 garlic clove, minced
3 Tbsp. drinking-quality white wine
Big pinch of sea salt
2-1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 tsp. Louisiana hot sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)
Toss shrimp and scallops in flour; set aside. In medium saute pan over medium heat, cook bacon till crisp; drain on paper towels, reserving bacon grease for pan. Saute mushrooms in same pan in bacon drippings. When mushrooms are starting to brown, add tomatoes. Bring to boil, add shrimp & scallops; saute 3 minutes, or till shrimp turn pink. Add garlic, saute 1 minute. Stir in wine, salt, lemon juice, green onions and hot sauce. Serve immediately over grits. Sprinkle the reserved bacon over the shrimp and grits. Yield: 4 servings
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Taste of Coastal Carolina, I wanted to visit his Morehead City restaurant and get some more. We finally had the opportunity this week to have lunch in Morehead City on a day the restaurant was open (Monday). The outside of the restaurant is landscaped Caribbean style with lush tropical plants. The inside is spacious with high ceilings and nice ambiance.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
We are not fans of the Morehead City restaurant. First off, our table was beset with pesky flies. When I mentioned it to the server, her comment was, "I don't know why that booth always has flies." We finally asked if we could have another table. She made no effort to help us move there. The new table had no flies and I am wondering why she would let patrons sit in a booth with flies and not offer them another table right from the start.
Our meal started with a salad, served family style. It was supposedly dressed, but the amount of dressing must have been minimal, because I couldn't taste it.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Pia's of New Bern was my favorite restaurant until it closed in August. How excited were we when Chef Pia invited my hubby and me to dine at her Washington restaurant as her guests. After multiple disappointments with New Bern restaurants, we couldn't wait to have some more of Pia's quality New American cuisine with a Mediterranean flair. The easy 40-minute drive from New Bern is a no-brainer. Just follow Route 17 North. A bypass is almost completed around Washington, so you have to make a left onto Business 17 to get onto Main Street, where the restaurant is. A bright green sign on the left side of the street alerts you to the exact location.
Chef Pia and her hubby, Van, greeted us warmly when we arrived. Van manages the restaurant and does a superb job of ensuring that customers are well taken care of.
And speaking of being full, as we left the restaurant, I couldn't help but notice how many people had gradually filled the dining room. Amazingly, the noise levels were quite comfortable. Pia explained that she purposely decorated the walls with shaggy rug pieces to absorb sound. Quite clever.
You can spend less at other restaurants and get a sub-par meal that won't leave you satisfied. Or you can pay the very reasonable prices at Chef Pia's for quality, exquisitely prepared meals that you won't soon forget. The choice is yours. Pia's of Washington is located at 156 West Main Street, Washington, NC. Phone 252-940-0600 for reservations or information. Menus, prices and hours are available at Chef Pia's website.