Magical Weiss Shrimp

We have a small family, and most often our get-togethers revolve around weddings and funerals. We celebrated a happy occasion two days ago: My uncle’s 80th birthday. Family flew in to Connecticut from as far away as Florida (me) and the Midwest (my sisters and our mother). We had two delicious meals, one at a restaurant Saturday night, and brunch at my uncle’s house Sunday.

Recipes aren’t just about food; sometimes they’re memories, sometimes they’re tradition, and sometimes they’re a family favorite with a back story. The birthday boy – my Uncle Don – served this easy-peasy shrimp dish at Sunday brunch. The original recipe came from his neighbor Mr. Weiss, and now it’s referred to as Magical Weiss Shrimp.

Magical Weiss Shrimp

1 can beer

1 can vinegar (any kind, use the beer can as a measure)

1 can water

1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (if you like the tails on, that’s fine)

1 bottle Italian dressing (use your favorite)

Bring the beer, vinegar, and water to a boil. Add the shrimp, and when the poaching liquid boils again, remove the shrimp. Put the cooked shrimp in a sealable container (you can use a zip-top plastic bag) with the Italian dressing; refrigerate and marinate at least 24 hours. Can be made two days ahead of time.

Serve in a bowl chilled or at room temperature. These make a lovely addition to a brunch table, or as an easy appetizer.

I enjoy adding fast and versatile recipes to my recipe box, and I bet you do too. Let me know how you like this!

Sliced Ham and Pineapple in Mustard Sauce

I had a lovely weekend visiting two beautiful homes that are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Friday night Husband and I traveled to Winter Park to celebrate the wedding of Joanna Campbell Slan’s son and his wife. A private wedding was performed in November at Joanna’s Florida home, and the family and friends partied in December at Casa Feliz. It’s a beautiful former private home that is available to tour several times a week and for weddings.

Saturday I attended the Fika Pause at Hallstrom House. Axel Hallstrom built his lovely, two-story home/office at his pineapple plantation, completing it in 1918. He was a Swedish immigrant who came to the Vero Beach/Fort Pierce area in 1903. The Fika Pause is a coffee and pastry break similar to afternoon tea. Delicious Swedish pastries were made by Kelly Thompson, one of the Indian River County Historical Society’s volunteers. After the treats, we were able to tour the house on our own.

Talk about Axel Hallstrom’s pineapple plantation got me thinking about how to use the can of sliced pineapple in my pantry. I had a jar of honey and pineapple mustard, and bought a small sliced ham. A few pantry staples later, I had a fast and easy dinner on the table.

Sliced Ham and Pineapple in Mustard Sauce

1 can sliced pineapple in juice, 1/4 C juice reserved

2T butter

2T brown sugar

2T honey and pineapple mustard (or your favorite mustard)

1 small sliced ham

In a saute pan, heat the reserved pineapple juice with the butter and brown sugar. Add the pineapple slices and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the warmed fruit from the pan, and add mustard to the pan, stirring it into the juice/butter/brown sugar mixture. Layer the sliced ham in the pan, and top with the warm pineapple, adding any juices from the pineapple to the pan. Baste the ham with the sauce, and warm through on low heat.

Serve with the side dishes of your choice. I had an acorn squash and a spaghetti squash, and cooked both to serve with the ham. Delicious! And leftovers of ham and pineapple for another meal.

What historic houses are in your area? I’d love to hear about them.

Penne with Vodka Sauce

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a delicious turkey dinner, including roasted yams with brown sugar and marshmallows, green bean casserole, stuffing, gravy, and the Cranberry-Orange Relish I made last week.

One of the benefits of such a large meal is having leftovers: all of the food, in much less time. Friday night I popped most things in the oven to heat, put the turkey and gravy together in a pot to heat, and I relaxed while the oven and stove did their thing.

I knew I was making soup with leftover turkey for dinner Sunday, and thought Penne with Vodka Sauce would be a nice break from all of the turkey. Vodka sauce comes together quickly, in the time it takes to boil water and cook the penne.

This recipe comes from a friend from South Florida, Patti Tarquinio Gonzales. She is a terrific Italian cook and a gracious hostess. I think of her every time I make this sauce – recipes are often tied into memories, don’t you think?

Friday afternoon I put the crushed red pepper flakes in the vodka to steep, covered in plastic wrap. Saturday afternoon I strained the red pepper flakes out, and had lovely, spicy pepper vodka for the sauce. Garlic bread rounded out the meal, and we have leftovers for another two meals.

Penne with Vodka Sauce

1 C vodka

1/2 t crushed red pepper

1 28 oz can whole, peeled tomatoes, pureed in the blender (I prefer the texture when I puree the tomatoes myself, but you can buy pureed tomatoes in the can if you like)

2 thick slices prosciutto, cut into julienne strips

1 medium sweet onion, diced

2 T extra-virgin olive oil

2 T unsalted butter

1 box Penne Rigate, cooked according to package directions

2/3 C heavy cream

The day before you make the sauce: Put the crushed red pepper in the vodka, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit on the counter overnight; I usually do it for 24 hours. The vodka will turn red from the red pepper flakes. Strain the vodka into a glass container, and divide. I use 1/2 C of the flavored vodka in one recipe of Vodka Sauce; save the other 1/2 C in a lidded glass container and refrigerate for another use (Bloddy Mary, perhaps?).

Use a 4 quart pot to cook the penne according to package directions. While the water heats to boiling, begin preparing the sauce.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot. Add the prosciutto and cook until it begins to brown. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the pureed tomatoes, salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Add the prepared vodka, and let the sauce come to a gentle bubble. Turn down the heat and add the cream.

Drain the penne after it’s al dente; add to the vodka sauce. Stir to combine.

I had some parsley on hand, and garnished the plated penne with the parsley. The green adds a nice pop of color to the pink sauce. Serve with garlic bread to round out a simple supper.

Let me know how you like it!

Cranberry-Orange Relish

My mother always made a raw Cranberry-Orange Relish for Thanksgiving. She cooked a whole-berry cranberry sauce, and we’d also have jellied cranberry sauce. Everyone had their favorite – I loved them all.

Husband and I are having a quiet Thanksgiving dinner, with all the traditional dishes. I made the Cranberry-Orange Relish Sunday, so the flavors would have a chance to meld by Thanksgiving.

I used my new zester, which makes long, thin strips or wider strips, and made the relish in my food processor. In previous years I’ve made it in the blender; this was much faster and easier!

Cranberry-Orange Relish

1 bag fresh cranberries, rinsed, dried, and picked through (I toss the mushy cranberries)

2 navel oranges, zested, rind removed, and cut into chunks

1/4 sugar, or more to taste if the oranges are not sweet and juicy

1 t salt

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender. Pulse until everything is combined; you can make it as chunky or as finely chopped as you prefer.

Store in airtight container, stirring daily. The sugar and salt should draw out moisture from the orange and cranberries, making the relish a little saucy.

I’ve posted the raw ingredients before processing; I’ll post another photo next week of the finished product.

This is terrific on turkey, alongside turkey, or stirred into mayo for turkey sandwiches 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!