Friday, April 23, 2010

Yogurt-Marinated Shrimp, Fiery Cauliflower & Indian-Spiced Sweet Potatoes

Someone stage an intervention. Because I think I'm addicted to serrano peppers.

How else to explain my constant craving for the lip-numbing heat, the crisp chili-ness, the slow burn? Serranos just make everything more delicious - bottom line. And I know at least one chef who would agree with me.

The British have a reputation for bland, boring food, but Jamie (like me) adds chilies to almost everything he cooks. And mainstream American curry powders have their roots not in India, but in the derivative Indian cooking of England. I hope that Jamie's uber-inspirational new show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, will inspire people around the country who have never so much as picked up a pan to try their hands at making healthy, unprocessed food in their home kitchens.

The show is fantastic - and if you don't catch it in its normal timeslot, every full episode is on Hulu. The amount of resistance Jamie gets from the people of Huntington, VA, is astonishing - but the way he overcomes every obstacle is truly amazing. It's a great show, and I hope that it's reaching the audience that needs to see it most (obviously, people like me are already on the home-cooking bandwagon).

And if YOU weren't interested in home cooking, you probably wouldn't be reading this blog! Hopefully these recipes will be more fodder for creating a great meal of your own - and don't worry, if you're sensitive to spice, you could leave out the serranos entirely and still have a great dinner on your hands. But if you're one of those crazies who can't quell the craving for heat, forget deseeding those babies and have a fiery field day, my friends.

The potato recipe would actually be a great way to indroduce kids to the complex flavors of Indian spices. They're sweet, creamy, and when you use a light hand with the spices, very mild and completely delicious. They'd be as at home on a Thanksgiving spread as they are on an Indian-themed plate.

The idea for marinating the shrimp in yogurt is based on the traditional preparation method for chicken tikka masala (funnily enough, people joke that it's the national dish of the UK) - the chicken is marinated in yogurt and then cooked in the tandoori oven before being stewed with vegetables. If you haven't ever had chicken tikka masala, find your nearest Indian restaurant immediately and try it - it's absolutely delicious. I don't happen to have a tandoori oven in my apartment, but the yogurt marinade gave the shrimp a tangy and complex flavor. The lemon juice thins it out, so only a little of the marinade sticks to the shrimp when you grill it, but the flavor really comes through.


12-15 medium sized shrimp, cleaned, peeled, and deveined (if frozen, thaw)
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
several dashes curry powder
a couple dashes cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
juice of one lemon

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
2-3 T. butter
~1/2 cup milk
cayenne pepper
salt and black pepper

2-3 T. olive oil
1 head caulifower, cored and cut into florets
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 medium sweet onion, cut into chunks
2 serrano peppers, minced, with all seeds (for less heat, remove seeds and/or leave out serranos)
salt and pepper
a few dashes curry powder
~1/3 cup water


In a bowl with a lid, mix all the ingredients under the word "shrimp" (except the shrimp, haha) together in a bowl. Place the shrimp in the marinade and make sure they're all covered. Marinate for 30 min to an hour in the fridge.


Boil the sweet potatoes until very tender. Drain. Pass through a potato ricer (or you can skip this part and just mash them with a fork in the pot you boiled them in) and add in the milk, butter, and spices. Set aside and keep warm.


Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet with a lid. Add the bell peppers, onion, chilies, and cauliflower. Add the seasonings and curry powder. Cook until veggies are beginning to brown at the edges. Add the water and cover and cook until the cauliflower is tender.


Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Cook the shrimp, flipping once, until cooked through (about 2 minutes per side). Serve with the potatoes and veggies.

I hope I've helped inspire you to stay in and cook fresh! Check out Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution - maybe over a big dish of spicy sweet potatoes. Eat well and enjoy life! More soon...

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