I haven’t been cooking much lately. I’m not sure why. It just seems that I’ve been wanting the easy option the last few weeks, which means pasta, delivery, or Taco Time. However, this weekend I decided I needed to break this slump. So, I went to my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and decided to look for something yummy. I chose two recipes and they were both just wonderful.
The first was her Baked Shrimp Scampi recipe. This recipe is easy, simple, fairly fast, and delicious. It also contains an obscene amount of butter. The panko mixed into the butter mixture makes a nice crust on the top of the shrimp. I served it over rice, so that there was something to soak up all that butter wonderful. The crusty parts mixed with the rice were my favorite part! The presentation is just beautiful and would be an excellent dish for a dinner party.
When I made it yesterday, I halved the recipe, and it worked out just fine. In fact, another note on the recipe. I used frozen shrimp that were already peeled and deveined with the tail on. I placed the frozen shrimp in a colander and ran cold water over them until they thawed, then I butterflied them. Keeping a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer is a must for me these days. It is the easiest meat in the freezer to defrost and you can quickly and easily make impressive snacks for unexpected guests.
I wish I had taken a picture, because it was really pretty! I’m just going to add in the picture from the cookbook. Mine looked just as good.
Barefoot Contessa’s Baked Shrimp Scampi
- 2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 extra-large egg yolk
- 2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
- Lemon wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.
In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.
Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.
The other amazing Barefoot Contessa recipe I made yesterday was from her first cookbook and it was her Cheddar and Dill Scones.
Oh my goodness. I don’t know if anyone else has this obsession, but when I was a child, my parents would take me to Red Lobster and all I would eat would be their cheddar biscuits. I haven’t been to a Red Lobster in probably 10 years now, but the biscuits haunt me. So, when I was searching for inspiration and came across her recipe, I knew I had to do it. I had to know if I could make something so wonderful on my own.
They were my favorite part of dinner last night, and the scampi was pretty darn good.
I’m not really sure what makes these scones instead of triangular biscuits, but the Contessa can call them whatever she likes. Now, I had some hesitation making these because of the directions. Most of her baking instructions assume you have a food processor and mixer. I don’t. So, every time it says to mix everything with a paddle on low setting or on high or until “just mixed”, I just reached my hands in and did it. There is something really satisfying about mixing dough with your hands. I’ve decided I’m going to stop being intimidated by recipes that specify a mixer. I’m just going to reach on in and do it! I suggest you give it a try.
These scones are delicate, crunchy on the bottom, and full of cheese. Watching spots of cheese ooze out of these while they were baking was rapturous. I had to bake them for the full suggested time and probably could have used a minute more. I suggest keeping an eye on them. Though, I could have thrown off the cooking time by my constant opening of the oven to see if they were done. It is a distinct possibility.
Also, here is a tip for the cutting part. When I was rolling the dough out, I wasn’t really sure how thick 3/4 was. So, I rolled it out to an approximate thickness and cut the dough into approximately 8 different squares. Well, mine were really long rectangles. So, I knew the dough was too thin. But, once things are portioned properly, I just squeezed the dough into the approximate 4 inch squares and then cut them diagonally. They came out the perfect size. It helps to know exactly how many a recipe makes! This makes 16.
Go make these soon. You won’t regret it. (This picture is also from the cookbook.)
Cheddar-Dill Scones (makes 16 large scones)
- 4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
- 4 extra-large eggs, beaten lightly
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 1/2 pound extra-sharp yellow Cheddar, small-diced
- 1 cup minced fresh dill
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk, for egg wash
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine 4 cups of flour, the baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Mix the eggs and heavy cream and quickly add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Combine until just blended. Toss together the Cheddar, dill, and 1 tablespoon of flour and add them to the dough. Mix until they are almost incorporated.
Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it for 1 minute, until the Cheddar and dill are well distributed. Roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. Cut into 4-inch squares and then in half diagonally to make triangles. Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 20 to 25 minutes, until the outside is crusty and the inside is fully baked.