Friday, January 27, 2012

52 weeks of cooking, Week 4: Tomato frog legs and shrimp, white wine risotto, stuffed mushrooms, and green peas

I am fuming right now.

It's rare that I get really angry with my family, but this is one of those times. I had a fantastic plan for this week's theme, which was pan frying - I was going to do duck breast with crispy skin in a fruity red wine reduction, a sweet potato gratin, and some brussels sprouts with bacon. It was going to be glorious - GLORIOUS, I tell you. And then, I noticed that frog legs were on sale at the grocery store. Now, my dad has often mentioned how much he likes frog legs, so I decided that I would do something for him and base a meal around them. After consulting my copy of Culinary Artistry and what few internet resources on frog legs I could find, I decided to serve frog legs in a diced tomato sauce, a white wine risotto, and some stuffed mushrooms. It wasn't plain old fried frog legs, but I don't cook that way on the evenings when I am cooking for my challenges. I don't do plain old ANYTHING, I do a full, carefully planned meal. In this case, I'd even told them EXACTLY how I planned on cooking the meal. I saw them in the grocery store as I was purchasing supplies for the meal. We even got the shrimp they asked for to supplement the frog legs, which I cooked in the same manner.

I couldn't even get a decent picture. It's that kind of day, I guess.

As soon as my dad (who I'd chosen the frog legs for in the first place) saw the finished product and started to fix his plate, he complained. "If I'd known you weren't just frying them, I would've bought more for myself," he says - a big sign of trouble. It was a quiet meal, for the most part. My mother commented on how everything was good but she didn't like the risotto, because the flavor was so strong (I thought it was still quite bland and was mixing in some tomatoes with them to bring in even more acid and depth of flavor, but I suppose 'wine' isn't a flavor they're used to). The mushrooms and peas were fine, at least... *grumble*

Honestly, I shouldn't have been surprised by it. My dad prefers everything to be deep fried and/or in gravy, or just beans and cornbread. My mom is more open minded, but wasn't thrilled at the idea of frog legs. Fine. Whatever. I'm not keen on salmon patties (the smell of which makes me want to vomit), or most fried fish. I don't eat organ meats, I don't eat eggs, I don't eat mayo - those are my few limitations, and they're not often respected. I should not have been surprised. I should not be angry.

But I am angry, and it's at myself. I should not have expected them to have an open mind, because they don't with anything else. They aren't adventurous with food as I am, and I should've found another audience to serve dinner tonight.

Pan Fried Frog Legs and Shrimp with Tomato-White Wine Sauce

  • 1 lb frog legs
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Self rising flour
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Dredge frog legs and shrimp in self-rising flour, and allow to rest for five minutes. Re-dredge, and fry on medium heat in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a pan. Remove and place seafood on paper towels to rest. Drain off any excess oil, and add tomatoes and white wine to the skillet. Add salt and pepper according to taste, and allow the liquid to cook down for 2-3 minutes. Return seafood to the pan, and toss with tomatoes until the coating from the fried seafood creates a thin sauce with the wine and tomato juices.

White Wine Risotto

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, garlic, and onions over medium until they become slightly aromatic, then stir in rice. Heat the wine and stock over low heat, and add a ladleful at a time to the rice, stirring slowly until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in thyme and parsley, and repeat adding liquid until all liquid is used, or the rice will not accept any more liquid, about 30 minutes.

Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 1 lb whole mushrooms, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated romano, parmesean, or asiago cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus additional for drizzle

Remove stems from mushrooms and chop finely, place caps in a small baking dish. Stir together chopped mushroom stems, breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, and olive oil, then place spoonfuls in caps. Drizzle with additional olive oil, and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. Top with additional cheese if desired.

Total prep/cook time: 1.5 hours
Family happiness rating: 4/10, but I really could care less. My personal rating was an 8/10.

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