LittleJudeonFood

One kid's adventures in gastronomy


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Make this for dinner tonight (part 2)

If you have a bulb of fennel, some tiny tomatoes, and a few shrimp, you can have dinner ready pretty quickly. Mama says that tomatoes and fennel go together very well. I don’t know about that, but I did enjoy what they did to the shrimp. Though I didn’t devour the meal with nearly the gusto that Mama did, I picked out the shrimp, which were a bit tangy and sweet from the sauce. And it’s so much better when dinner is quick because then I get a lot of time to play afterward.

Love, Jude

It all looks so cozy, doesn't it?

It all looks so cozy, doesn’t it?

Shrimp Braised in Fennel-Tomato Sauce

1 small bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced
A few slices of onion (optional)
½ pint (1 cup) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
Dill (or fennel fronds), roughly chopped
Butter
Olive oil
About 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (need not be precise on the amount)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Few grinds of black pepper

In a large skillet with a big pat of butter, sauté the fennel over medium heat until it begins to soften and take on color. (If you want to use onion, cook it at the same time.) Add the tomatoes and continue to cook, stirring regularly, until the tomatoes become melty and the fennel is very soft. There should be a fair amount of liquid by this point—not soupy, but just wet enough. Add the garlic and cook another minute, until fragrant. Add a good swirl of olive oil to the pan, then add the shrimp, nestling it among the fennel and tomatoes. Cook for just a couple minutes, until the shrimp curls and pinks up. (You may want to turn the shrimp over.) Squeeze some lemon and grind some pepper over, then add the dill or fennel fronds. Serve with a good hunk of bread to sop up all the juices. May also serve over pasta or rice.

Note: Why did Mama use butter and olive oil? Because it’s delicious. If you have a large bulb of fennel and want to use up the entire pint of tomatoes, go ahead and use it all. You can’t hurt this dish.


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I helped make dinner!

Since it was just Mama and me for dinner, Mama didn’t feel like dirtying the whole kitchen. She’s starting to catch on that easier is better when it comes to weeknight meals. And because I helped from start to finish, this one took us less than half an hour to make. (Mama says the quick-cooking items helped, too.) Here’s what we did:

Mama rinsed a pint of baby tomatoes under the faucet then showed me the bag of frozen, peeled & deveined shrimp she had (quick-cooking item #1), explaining that they come from the ocean. “I want to eat that,” I said, but she said that the shrimp needed to be thawed and cooked first. Into a colander they went, and she ran cool water over them.

I turned my attention to eating the tomatoes as I handed them to Mama, one by one, naming their colors, so she could slice them in half. (This happened after I dumped nearly the whole bowl of them onto the floor…and they had to be rinsed again.) Mama put the halved tomatoes (quick-cooking item #2) on a baking sheet and added the thawed shrimp. (They thawed that quickly!) She drizzled olive oil over it and mixed everything with her hands. Then we sprinkled kosher salt and pepper over everything. (One shrimp may have received the lion’s share of my salt sprinkles…) As Mama put the shrimp under the broiler, she said we had to be very careful because the oil we put on the wet shrimp and tomatoes is going to “jump away” from the water once it gets hot. Then we danced like jumping-beans.

While the shrimp cooked, and after we danced, Mama measured and I poured couscous and water into a saucepan (quick-cooking item #3). (She didn’t have thawed stock, otherwise she would’ve used that.) Using a scissors, she cut a handful of dried apricots and added those while trying to keep me from eating them up. Ditto with the handful of golden raisins. She stirred it together, covered it, got it hot on the stove, then just let it sit. (Alternatively, she could have added hot water to the couscous without ever turning on a burner.)

By the time the shrimp was done—just when they turned pink and their tails curled—the couscous was ready. Mama and I tossed in a few pine nuts, and she cut in some mint leaves with her scissors before fluffing it with a fork.

I love eating couscous. It’s funny trying to keep it on my fork or spoon. I especially liked the sweet apricots and raisins. The shrimp were really yummy, too. We even had leftovers for Papa when he came home. That’s the kind of cook I am.

Love, Jude

Roasted Shrimp & Tomatoes with Fruity Couscous

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (smaller cook quicker)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Olive oil to drizzle
Salt and pepper

½ cup couscous
6–8 dried apricots, quartered (or chopped)
2 Tbsp golden raisins
Pinch sea salt
¾ cup water (or chicken or vegetable stock)
1–2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted if desired
3 mint leaves, chopped (optional)

Preheat the broiler. Combine the shrimp and the tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil 6–8″ from heat source until the shrimp turn opaque and their tails start to curl, 3–4 minutes. (Some tomatoes will start to char, as well.)

Meanwhile, combine the couscous, apricots, raisins, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring the water (or stock) to a boil, then pour over the couscous. Stir to combine, cover, then set aside until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the mint, if using, then fluff with a fork. (Alternatively, combine the ingredients up through the mint, bring to a boil, then immediately take off the heat and cover.)

Serves 2 adults and 1 or 2 kids