A remarkable day

Today is the day. By now, we’ve written and rewritten grocery lists to morph recipes intended for a small dinner party into recipes for 90.

When Kathy and I cook together, we both miraculously lose whatever math faculties we normally possess, which means that whenever we need to multiply an ingredient list, we end up staring at each other blankly over our cutting boards, willing the appropriate sums to pop into the other person’s head and then shouting hysterically when one of us comes up with the answer. There must be a term for this; it’s like kitchen-induced Alzheimer’s with a twist of Tourette’s. It usually works out, but there’s always a moment when neither of us has an ounce (what is that in kilograms?) of mathematical reason. And ironically, when our answers disagree, our mistakes are never actually in our math.

Planning for this dinner was no different. The second of our appetizers is the shrimp cocktail with two sauces – blood orange miso sauce and classic cocktail sauce, layered beautifully in whatever shot glass we can find in mass quantities – from favorites. When we were listing (making lists is a verb in my vocabulary) a few days ago, Kathy on a train somewhere on the New Hampshire coast and me on my crackly new cell phone in my kitchen in Seattle, our oral calculations stalled out at horseradish. We decided we needed 15 cups of cocktail sauce, which means multiplying the original recipe by 20. How much horseradish is 40 tablespoons in bottles? My route: 4 tablespoons to 1/4 cup, means ten 1/4 cups, means 2 1/2 cups. Six bottles. Her route: 16 tablespoons in a cup, divide 16 into 40. . .three bottles. In a matter of seconds the two of us were shouting “no, wait, hush, I’m thinking!” and “how could that be?” and scribbling madly, each wondering why we were looking at the same recipe, both multiplying by 20 and coming up with answers that differed so much . . . turns out my bottle is 3.75 ounces, or a shy 1/2 cup, and her bottles have 8 ounces each. Ah ha! And so it went, with each ingredient for each recipe. We never did measure out a dash of Tabasco sauce, though.

So anyway, today I’ll wake up in Manhattan, peel and devein 10 pounds of fresh gulf coast shrimp (haven’t tasted shrimp that have never been frozen!) in Kathy’s friend’s teensy kitchen, shuffle myself and all our groceries into the tiny kitchen at the James Beard House, figure out which 5 square centimeters of counter space we get to use, and get cookin’. Should be thrilling.

Here are some serving ideas (we haven’t settled on one yet):
Shrimp in tall shot glassSkewered Shrimp bouquetSkewered Shrimp

Or we might serve the shrimp on bamboo skewers with the sauces arranged halvsies in those tiny paper cups they put product samples in at the grocery store, just for a touch of Maine. We’ll see.

Today is also my fourth wedding anniversary, which my husband is celebrating all alone in Seattle with a pint of soup from the freezer (and, most likely, a pint of something else from the refrigerator). More than anything, I wish I could be there with him, celebrating our new home and our new life together.

Recipe for Shrimp Cocktail for 90
Recipe 81 of 365

Here’s a recipe from Stonewall Kitchen Favorites, multiplied to fit the crowd we’re serving tonight and slightly modified – we’re using blood oranges instead of regular oranges (at least, that’s the plan). (Check the recipes on pages 133, 236, and 238 for the original recipes.)

TIME: good question – probably 1 hour to cook shrimp and makes sauce, plus more time for peeling and deveining, if needed, or less time if the shrimp are pre-cooked
MAKES: lots and lots of delicious shrimp cocktail

For the cocktail sauce:
10 cups ketchup
2 1/2 cups drained prepared horseradish (cream style is fine, also)
1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
40 to 60 dashes hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the blood orange-miso dipping sauce:
1 cup white miso paste
10 2/3 cups sour cream
8 cups mayonnaise
1 cup grated lemon zest
2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup grated blood orange zest
1 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

10 pounds large raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, poached, and chilled (or pre-cooked frozen shrimp, thawed)

Mix the cocktail sauce ingredients together in a large bowl, season to taste, and set aside. Do the same with the blood-orange miso dipping sauce, and cover and chill both sauces until ready to serve.

To serve, layer the sauces in small shot glasses (red-white-red in some, white-red-white in others) and hang cooked shrimp off the sides of the glasses. Double dip with wild abandon.

1 Comment

Filed under appetizers, recipe, shellfish

One response to “A remarkable day

  1. your husband

    That’s sweet of you… although pints are more of a lunch sort of thing. By evening, well, there’s a reason Prost serves by the liter. As for the pints of soup, they’re great, however one soup seems to have no bacon whatsoever– what gives?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s