Monday, March 4, 2013

In the Kitchen With...

Charlene Lyon -- my very first guest blogger!

Please allow me to introduce her to you.

Premiere guest blogger, Charlene Lyon
Charlene was, by her own admission, a late bloomer when it came to cooking. It was only recently that she discovered this passion. Granted, she always enjoyed cooking...but only as a hobby. Truth be told, she never had to do it.

While growing up and living at home, she got to reap the rewards of her mother's and grandmother's Hungarian cooking. "Wonderful comfort food," she calls it. Plus, she got to try all her brother's inventive culinary creations after his stays in Chicago and San Francisco. And when she was finally living on her own as a single woman who worked in sales for Cleveland Magazine and Northern Ohio Live, she much preferred dining out with friends at her client's restaurants.

It was only when she fell in love that she felt two sparks at once! For the guy and for cooking. In fact, she started to enjoy -- really enjoy! -- cooking for this guy who would eventually become her fiancé and then husband...especially after they moved to their home (and larger kitchen) in Ravenna in 2009.

Charlene holds a BA degree in journalism from Ashland University and used to write for Sun Newspapers, Cleveland Magazine, Northern Ohio Live, and the Plain Dealer's Sunday Magazine before embarking on a career in advertising sales. She is now a certified Open Water SCUBA Diver and enjoys cycling, hiking, and listening to many music genres.

Now, without further ado, here is Charlene's guest blog post -- in her own words and pictures:

Sergio Abramof's Shrimp Santos
by Charlene Lyon

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way as a teen on my first vacation to the Atlantic seashore that I'm allergic to shellfish. It was unfortunate, indeed, as I had always loved every bite of shrimp, crab, lobster, and scallops. But my husband loves shellfish, especially shrimp and lobster.

It's Lent right now, and although I'm a non-active Catholic, I still adhere to the Lenten tradition regarding no meat on Friday. My husband, who is Episcopalian and a certified carnivore, has graciously accepted this tradition. And although I've never cooked shellfish before this recipe for Sergio's Shrimp Santos, this appetizer seemed attractive and ended up being a huge hit for my husband. In fact, his first reaction was, "It's right up there on the hit parade of life." He also said that it was "restaurant quality" and practically licked the sauce off his plate!

For someone like myself who has never made a seafood dish before, I can only thank our dearly departed Sergio Abramof for giving non-pro cooks like me such a delicious and easy recipe.

Seriously, this recipe is so simple to make, even for someone who has never cooked shellfish like me. You only need peeled, uncooked shrimp, garlic, flour, parsley, oil (I used canola instead of vegetable), salt, and pepper (see below).

Don't skip his recommendation to dry the shrimp with paper towels (see below).  

There will still be enough moisture for the flour to stick (but not clump), and it will brown better, even in a non-stick pan (see below).

I got such a joy turning over my shrimp for the first time when it looked as golden brown as Sergio said it should (see below).

I loved the aromatics when I added the garlic, butter, and parsley. Since Sergio warned us not to burn the chopped garlic, I did turn down the stove from 7.5 to 5. I guessed the oil was still hot enough, and it was. The garlic and other side of the shrimp still browned nicely, too (see below).

Since I only intended one person to enjoy this dish (i.e., my husband), I only bought a dozen shrimp instead of the recipe's suggested 20 to serve four. My husband inhaled the 10, and I reserved two for our two cats, who were more than happy with their special treat. (See my husband's dish below.) 

I decided to make the sauce exactly as described for four servings, as I thought it couldn't be bad to have extra. It wasn't. I quickly boiled a serving or two of angel hair pasta for two and a half minutes and added it straight from the pot with a pasta spoon (in order to incorporate some of the pasta water). I then tossed it a bit in the warm sauce and topped it with a bit of grated Parmesan cheese. This is now an anticipated lunch for my husband (see below).

Thank you, Sergio! And thank you, Maria, for sharing his background in Brazil, his later youth in Cleveland Heights, and how he got to be one of our most beloved chefs.

As a side note, in Sergio's honor, I listened to Brazilian Bossa Nova music on iTunes radio's "Bossa Nova Hits" as I created this. It was a truly lovely experience.


Unknown said...

OMG Charlene, this is totally cool! Now look what you've done. I am now hungry for!!

Maria Isabella said...

Charlene really did a fantastic job with this recipe, Audrey! To make your own, just get my book and follow the easy directions. You'll be amazed, I assure you!

Unknown said...

I actually wrote the first comment just from looking at the pictures but now that I have read the whole article, I can not wait for your next installment. Keep 'em coming Charlene!!

P.S. Lucky!!

TikiKitty said...

WONDERFUL, Charlene! Good to see you writing again! :)

the foodie said...

This looks WONDERFUL, Charlene! Truly a beautiful presentation! Admittedly, you are much nicer to your cats than I am to mine because I doubt I could or would share my shrimp! ;)

scuba diving gear packages said...

Oh that's Delicious!! :P keep blogging!! ;)