Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Recipe Knock-Off

Dear Fellow Foodie,

Here in the mountains of NC, there’s a different flow to things. The weekends are jam packed; houseguests arrive on Friday, Saturday activities begin at dawn and the rest of the F-U-N flows into the evening. Sunday comes along way too quickly, and a leisurely brunch is definitely in order. As guests depart and the realty of Monday looms, Sunday supper lends itself to being oh-so casual.

Monday thru Friday is a whole ‘nother ballgame. Many of us travel during the week – but for those of us left in town, a mini-weekday party is one hot ticket. This week, it’s my turn to host my gal pals for a casual Tuesday supper. I’m feelin’ the creative juices flow, but could still use some inspiration. It comes by way of gorgeous magazine pictures, a recent delicious restaurant meal, a favorite cookbook (usually one of the Southern Junior League ones), and, of course, from the Food Network.

As I mused over what to prepare for “da girls”, I caught the end of a Rachael Ray show where she was preparing one of her 30-minute meals. The meal involved shrimp wrapped in prosciutto , tossed with penne pasta. The final dish looked fresh and yummy. I was inspired. Of course, me being me, I simply could not prepare Rachael’s shrimp and pasta dish and then pass it off as mine…. could I? Nope, ‘cause that’s not the way I cook. If the truth be known, I probably don’t have the attention span needed to follow a recipe without adding a bit of this and deleting a bit of that.

So, in deference to my environment, my dish differed from Rachael’s, mostly due to local ingredients. I used apple smoked bacon in place of the prosciutto, baby heirloom tomatoes in place of grape tomatoes, fresh North Carolina shrimp, capellini in place of penne pasta, sautéed mushrooms and baby spinach (it’s all about the veggies…) and of course the BIG change: I turned the sauce into a cream sauce….. it was, as Rachel says, “YUMMO!!” To balance the creaminess of the dish, I served my choice for a side dish: broccoli rabe, bathed in an anchovy and crushed red pepper based sauce. Dessert was a simple fruit tart. We opened a bottle of (my favorite, but unfortunately not related) Morgan 2008 Sauvignon Blanc and poured liberally. Good F-U-N was had by all!

You can prepare my RRKO (Rachael Ray Knock Off) shrimp dish for your family “in thirty minutes or less”, or you can spend a couple of extra seconds, like I did, and really enjoy creating something delicious in your kitchen. The lesson for us foodies to take away from here, is that a recipe is not written in pasta – I mean stone. I use recipes merely as guidelines and enjoy changing ingredients with what I have on hand, or what I find fresh in the market. Rachael’s prosciutto wrapped shrimp would be just as mouth pleasing on a hors d’oeuvre platter as it is in a pasta dish. Her stewed tomato-wine sauce could just as easily be ladled over your favorite sautéed fish fillet rather than her cooked penne. You could easily substitute scallops in place of shrimp, canned tomatoes in place of fresh, or red wine in place of white. By messing around with ingredients, you broaden your weekday meal repertoire.

Now, fellow foodie, I bid you to go forth and find your inspiration, create YFRKO (Your Favorite Recipe Knock Off) and feel free to share the results with the rest of us “more-than-thirty-minute cooks”… we’re sure to enjoy!!

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