Saturday, September 19, 2009

Seafood Pie for the Viking

Today is the Viking's birthday. He wanted a special dinner at home. Me, I always opt for a special dinner OUT that no one has to cook or clean up after. But, at least on this day, his wish is my command.
The menu: Grilled rib eye steak, Shrimp and Scallop Pie New England Style and colorful veggies that may not actually be eaten. Let's cook!

Start by pounding the heck out of a sleeve of Ritz crackers. If you're really careful, you can do it and keep them in the sleeve. I hate clean-up, so I go for careful rather than full on aggression soothing attack on the cackers. I love, love, love my Pampered Chef weapon of mass destruction. I thought it was a little pricey when I ordered it, but no longer. It's very well balanced and heavy enough to pound anything into submission. You're going for medium size crumbs here. Set them aside when you're done.

Now you need about a dozen big scallops. Don't even think about those tiny little wanna be scallops. Since I live in rural Nebraska, all my seafood has to be defrosted first. I just let the frozen nuggets of goodness just sit in a strainer in the sink. Less clean up that way. You'll also need about a dozen raw shrimp. Get the biggest one's you can afford. I have been know to do this with even salad shrimp, but it's so much better with larger ones. Thaw them ( Nebraska, remember?) and remove any shells. Here's where I betray my New England roots and toss in a Baltimore twist.
Sprinkle about 2 Tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning on the raw shrimp. Add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder. Squeeze on the juice of half a lemon. Mix them all together and let the shrimp marinade in this spicy goodness for at least an hour.

I've lived in many places and my cooking has been influenced by them all. Sometimes, I get nutty and do this stage with Tabasco. Sometimes, it's just a blend of fresh herbs, but Old Bay is my go-to hands down favorite.
Set your oven to 350. Grease a couple of ramekins, or a pie plate. I have nice 8oz ramekins, but trust me, no one is going to care what you cook these beauties in! Just try to not have them layered too thickly in the vessel. Put the raw seafood in the baking dish. Add a couple healthy splashes of white wine or sherry. If you want to be really adventurous, you could add some crispy peppered bacon crumbles to the seafood. I wouldn't complain one little bit. ( Don't tell anyone north of Hartford, but I've done it and it was awesome!) Set the dishes aside for now.

Back to the crackers. You didn't think I'd forgotten them, did you? Never, ever. Humble Ritz crackers are really the key to this dish. In a large bowl, melt half a stick of butter. Butter. I repeat, Butter. I do it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Add all of the crushed crackers to the melted butter. Mix well. Use all the butter cracker crumb mix to top your seafood mixture.
Next, they go into the oven for about 25-30 minutes. Remove, let cool briefly and either serve in ramekins or family style. You won't believe how good this dish smells when it's ready to come out of the oven.

See, it's really simple. And flexible. This is my version of a traditional New England Lobster Pie. Of course, Lobster Pie is one of those dishes with many, many versions. And yes, it is a million times better with fresh Maine lobster but that's not available to me here. So I make do and I tinker with recipes. I think that's where the creativity in cooking comes in. And I cook by feel. I guess after 40 years of cooking you just do that.

Sometimes, when I want to fool around in the kitchen, I'll make a very light cream sauce, add the wine and pour it over the seafood. But, usually, I'm into quicker versions of my favorite things. Fortunately, this is one where you can have all the flavor without some of the fussier steps.

And by the way, the veggies did get eaten.

Now, don't you wish you'd been at my house for this birthday supper. Now I have to do the dishes. It's not MY birthday.

Ingredients for Scallop & Shrimp New England Style Pie:

Raw Scallops
Raw Shrimp
Old Bay Seasoning
Garlic Powder
White Wine/Sherry
1 sleeve Ritz crackers
Butter, real butter. This is not a diet day recipe.
1 Lemon - not the stupid little yellow plastic squeeze one please.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

You just can't take the New England out of someone. :) This looks delicious, and I also have been wanting some clam chowder lately. I may have to do something about that.

I wanted to let you know that I've nominated you for a Kreativ Blogger Award. Your blog is one of my favorites. :)