Shrimp is always a winner with my dining family. I was excited by the notion of the “Goan Shrimp in Roasted-Coconut Sauce,” from the May 2008 issue of Gourmet, with its collection of spices and coconut. And finally, I could use the Laxmi Brand Natural Tamarind Concentrate that I bought at Sahadi’s ages ago. After toasting the various spices and coconut, I put them in a bowl in the freezer to “cool completely.” I used my cast-iron skillet for the sauté process. I finely chopped my ginger, rather than using the suggested microplane. Instead of using hot green chiles, I used tamer sweet mini peppers (in the interests of my youngster). The ground spices smelled nutty in the skillet while they cooked. The long list of ingredients here need not be intimidating; everything pulls together quickly and easily. The final dish was spicy, but “warm.” My youngster even tolerated the warmth. I served this over white basmati rice.

I also prepared the “Avocado-Orange Salad,” from the June 2008 issue of Cuisine at Home (recipe below), and discovered a salad that was very easy to make and very easy to eat. I halved the recipe, using 2 avocados and 2 1/2 oranges. I used olive oil in my dressing, and enjoyed the combination of sweet orange, smooth avocado, tangy dressing, and red onion.

Avocado-Orange Salad
Assemble this salad up to 2 hours in advance, but don’t add the avocado and onion until just before serving.
Makes 5 cups; Total time: 25 minutes

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. garlic, minced
2 tsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste
4 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, diced
2 cups orange segments (4-5 oranges)
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced

Whisk lime juice, oil, garlic, honey, salt, and pepper together in a bowl.

Add avocado, orange, and onion; toss to coat.

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RECIPES: warmly spiced shrimp sit aside a sweet and tangy salad
your shrimp will be done before the rice is cooked; you can eat your salad as quickly as you can assemble it
shrimp is warm and flavorful; salad is smooth and sweet

Next time, I will prepare “Greek Pita Pizzas,” from Cook’s Illustrated’s Notes from the Test Kitchen (recipe below), along with the “White-Bean and Olive Salad,” from the March 2008 issue of Everyday Food (recipe also below). This should be a fun meal. Come back to my site on Monday, September 8, to see what happens.

Greek Pita Pizzas
These simple personal pizzas make a quick and delicious weeknight meal. We tasted various flavors of packaged hummus in this recipe—red pepper hummus was the test kitchen’s favorite.
Serves 4

  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 (8-inch) pita rounds
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, red (small), sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup hummus
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 cups arugula
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Brush 2 Tbsp. oil over top and bottom of pita rounds. Transfer to baking sheet and bake until golden, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine remaining oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste in bowl. Toss onion, olives, and 2 Tbsp. vinaigrette together in separate bowl.
  3. Spread 2 Tbsp. hummus on each toasted pita round. Sprinkle cheeses evenly over hummus, then top with onion mixture. Bake until onions soften and cheese is melted, 6 to 8 minutes. Just before serving, toss arugula with remaining vinaigrette. Arrange arugula on top of pita pizzas. Serve.

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White-Bean and Olive Salad
The mustard in this fiber-rich salad helps thicken the lemon juice and olive oil dressing, and enlivens it too. Kalamata olives bring a bit of brininess.
Serves 4

  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved

In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil, and mustard; season with salt and pepper. Add beans, onion, and olives; toss to combine.