shrimp with spicy green rice

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A Southeast Asian-flavored dish inspired by Venetian risi e bisi, an Italian rice with peas. To me, this dish is reminiscent of  khao tom, a Thai rice soup with meat or seafood, served with steamed rice in a broth. In Thai cooking, condiments are served on the side so you can make it as salty, sour, sweet or spicy as you like. Although this recipe recommends seasoning the dish in the kitchen, I have reserved some of the herb sauce for seasoning at the table. 

Shrimp with Spicy Green Rice (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 21 minutes

2-4 large cloves garlic
1-2 green Thai chilies, sliced with or without seeds, depending on your preference for heat
1 cup packed fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons fresh ginger (4-inch piece), minced
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/4 cup veg oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 small leek, thinly sliced (2 cups)
3 cups chicken broth/stock preferably home made and low sodium
4 oz sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup long-grain white rice (recommend: Thai jasmine rice)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
Salt

For serving:
Herb sauce
Cilantro, chopped
Basil, chopped
Lime wedges

Special equipment: a medium-sized Dutch pot with a lid

Prepare all ingredients.

In a food processor, pulse garlic until finely chopped. Add 2 tablespoons ginger, chili, basil, cilantro, fish sauce, and sugar. Process until finely chopped. Add 1 tablespoon oil and 3 tablespoons water and process finely. You should have about 2/3 cup of sauce. Set aside

In the pot without the lid, heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil on medium-high heat. Add leeks and remaining 1 tablespoon ginger. Cook until leek is translucent, 3-4 minutes. Stir in rice and broth along with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover pot and simmer rice until it is very soft, 17-18 minutes. The texture will be soupy.

Add shrimp, simmer, stirring once or twice, until shrimp just turns pink, 1-2 minutes. Stir in peas and 2 tablespoons of the herb sauce. Taste for seasoning and heat. If you wish, add more sauce—it’s quite salty and you won’t need any additional salt. It’s better to be cautious and not add all the sauce to the pot, but reserve the remainder for spicing up individual plates at the table. Remove from heat and serve with more cilantro, basil, and lime wedges, as well as the remaining sauce. I found that the dish didn’t need any additional cilantro, basil, or lime so I left them out, and just served it with the remaining herb sauce.

white buttercake

John said, is this cake made with white butter? I said no, it’s a white buttercake, as in This is not a yellow buttercake. But in this light, it sure looks yellow, doesn’t it? From the first mouthful, this cake was heavenly. It’s so moist, tender, and has that wonderful smell of vanilla. So get a good vanilla, like a Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract.

This cake is good enough to eat without frosting. It’s also versatile enough to be the tiers in a wedding cake covered with an elegant fondant or a decadent buttercream. If it is going to be decorated, it should be made three days before serving. If wrapped well and refrigerated, it will stay fresh. To add moisture and flavor, you can brush the layers with a simple syrup. To make a simple syrup, boil a cup of sugar with a cup of water. I’m not sure if the cake recipe can be doubled for a tier wedding cake. I should think it could. As promised, here is Martha Stewart’s excellent recipe.

Yield Makes 6 cups batter

Martha Stewart’s White Buttercake

Ingredients

  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans
  • 3 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature

 Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the cake pans with butter (see below for pan sizes and batter amounts). Line with parchment paper; butter parchment, and dust with flour, tapping out any excess. Set aside.
  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Stir the milk and vanilla to combine; set aside. Beat the butter in a mixer bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar in a steady stream; mix until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  1. Reduce the speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 additions, and beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until combined.

Cook’s Tip: I know that’s confusing. Think of it this way: flour-milk-flour-milk-flour.

  1. In a clean mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites just until stiff peaks form.  Fold one-third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten. Gently fold in the remaining whites in two batches. Divide the batter among the prepared pans; smooth the tops with an offset spatula. Firmly tap the pans on a work surface to release any air bubbles.

Cook’s Tip: Instead of under-mixing the egg whites, I had a problem with over-mixing. I would say, stop whipping the egg whites when the whites start to look glossy and the tips bend over when the beaters are slowly raised.

  1. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean and the tops are springy to the touch (see below for baking times). Let cool in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks. Remove the parchment; re-invert and cool completely.

Cook’s Note: I used an 8 inch springform pan. The sides were too high so the cake fell a bit in the middle. It took 50 minutes at 300˚F to bake. I reduced the temperature 50˚ because the pan was so deep.

Cook’s Note from Martha Stewart:

Approximate batter amounts and baking times for 3-inch-deep round pans: 6-inch layer: 3 cups batter, 30 minutes; 8-inch: 5 cups, 40 minutes; 10-inch: 8 cups, 1 hour 5 minutes; 12-inch: 11 cups, 1 hour 15 minutes.