Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Flexitarian Table

I purchased Peter's book "The Flexitarian Table" earlier this year and had opened it a couple times, perused the pages, but it mostly sat on my bookshelf taunting me, unused. I am familiar with Peter's cooking as I took a public class he taught at the Natural Gourmet last year in New York City. All of the dishes were amazing. I have thought many times of his Duck with Raspberry Frambroise, wanting to make it at home for my family. The title of his book refers to a term created a couple years ago for those that eat mainly a vegetarian diet but add animal protein occasionally. The recipes in the book all have a vegetarian option as well as how to make it with meat.

So finally I picked one of the summer menus from the book for last nights meal. I made "Grilled Shrimp in Harissa" and "Fresh Corn Polenta with Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes". Something about the picture by the recipe just jumped out and said delicious. It also happens to be one of the dishes he is holding on the cover.

First I worked on the Shrimp and Harissa. For the spice mixture, he recommends toasting the spices yourself and then crushing them in a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder. I tried using the mortar and pestle but could not grind them fine enough for my liking. So I did end up using my coffee grinder that is reserved for non-coffee uses. Although, up til now I had only used it for grinding sugars. We will see if I can clean it well enough to rid it of the spice flavor, or I will have to get a new one for my desserts. The Harissa was extremely easy to make and then the shrimp cooked up quickly. The texture of the Harissa on the shrimp was like eating BBQ'd chicken with a dry rub. I found it to be delicious.

The polenta recipe called for adding fresh corn to the pot of corn grits. I loved the combination of creamy polenta with bits of crunchy sweet corn. It also went very well with the Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes which packed a lot of heat. I may have put in too many red pepper flakes for my boyfriend's taste, but I loved every bite. My polenta took far longer to cook than what Peter wrote in his recipe. Mine took about 25 minutes and I did add extra water and some vegetable stock.

I am looking forward to trying another recipe from his book, "Summer Bean Ratatouille" and the "Steak With Bread Crumb Salsa". My interest in this one may be because I finally saw the movie Ratatouille by Pixar. My bread crumb salsa will of course be, Gluten Free.


Chef said...

sounds and looks yummy. about the spices- If you put a handful of white rice into your spice grinder and grind it to a powder, then dump it out, you will find yourself left with a clean grinding chamber! yay!

Joe Horn said...

Cool recipe. I just found your blog while looking around for other shrimp recipes. I just recently posted a recipe for Caramel and Ginger Shrimp that I adapted from “The Spended Table” cookbook and posted it on my blog @ if you would like to come take a look. I love feedback and other cook's opinions for sure.

Thanks and have a great one!


Sophie said...

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hungrywoolf said...

I made the polenta/tomato recipe and LOVED it. I found the polenta cooked quickly as he said - I used Red Mill brand. It was so good I almost purred eating it. I have made a few of the other recipes and also some from his Fresh food fast book. I recommend trying the Quinoa bean and corn salad. It is wonderful.

chefandrea said...

Thanks hungrywoolf. I will try it. I made some bbq shrimp skewers this weekend and used the Harissa marinade from the Polenta recipe. It delighted our tastebuds AGAIN that we were so disappointed that we didn't make more.