Saucy Shrimp and GritsMy young child loves shrimp -- I feel like I’m guaranteed to have a winning meal if I include shrimp in the deal. The recipe for “Saucy Shrimp and Grits,” from the December 2008 issue of Everyday Food, produced a highly edible, pleasant bowl of grits. And that’s a good thing. I used Bob’s Red Mill coarse-grain grits for the first time, and was pleased with the texture. For bacon, I chose Applegate Farms organic uncured turkey bacon. I cooked this for 6 minutes, in a pan with a bit of canola oil (there’s no real “bacon fat” in turkey bacon). I added the onion and garlic to the pan and cooked for another 5 minutes.

When I added my shrimp, I cooked the mix for another 4 minutes. I opted to exclude hot sauce (in the interest of my child’s palate). For those who enjoy the cozy comforts of grits (and you know who you are!), you’ll by pleased by this dish.

Stuffed MushroomsI also made the “Stuffed Mushrooms” from The Diabetes Snack, Munch, Nibble, Nosh Book, by Ruth Glick. Stuffed mushrooms have always been a part of my life. I’ve never had reason to resist my mother’s simple stuffing recipe of garlicky breadcrumbs and olive oil. I was intrigued by this recipe’s ingredient list, using mayonnaise, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, and some of the mushroom stems. This was a new mushroom game for me.

The mushrooms I used were much smaller than the suggested size; 1 lb. equaled 44 little mushrooms. When I needed 1/3 cup of reserved stems, I used 1/3 of the stems. The amount of stuffing that I produced was the perfect amount to stuff all my mushrooms. It’s a great feeling not to “waste” any stuffing. I did use a few hits of Tabasco here. I broiled my stuffed mushrooms for 5 minutes (and couldn’t resist drizzling them with a bit of olive oil). The flavor? It was OK, though alas, not as good as Mom’s…

RECIPES: grits are as warm and satisfying as a bowl of good oatmeal; mushrooms must be stuffed with love and with knockout flavors
PREP TIMES: you might be able to pull this meal together in less than one hour
TASTES: the texture of coarse grits provides a simple backdrop for shrimp and bacon; creamy, cheesy breadcrumbs are a decent way to stuff a mushroom

Next time, let me take a quick stop at Passover, and show you my version of matzo ball soup. My rendition of matzo balls will be added to “Double Celery Soup,” a recipe from Bistro Cooking, by Patricia Wells (recipe below). I’ll also show you my highly revered “Sephardic Roasted Eggs,” from Let My People Eat, by Zell Schulman. See these winners when you come back to my site on Tuesday, April 14.

Bistro Cooking, by Patricia Wells
Yield:  6 to 8 servings

1 medium celery root (about 1 lb.), peeled and sliced
10 celery ribs, cubed
3 leeks (about 9 oz.), trimmed, well rinsed and cut into thin rounds
Bouquet garni: 1 large sprig of thyme, 3  bay leaves, several sprigs of parsley, tied with a string
2 qts. chicken stock, preferably homemade
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A handful of chopped fresh herbs for garnish: including chervil, chives, flat-leaf parsley

In a large saucepan, combine the celery root, celery, leeks, and bouquet garni. Add the stock, and season gently with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 25 minutes. Adjust the seasonings. Pour into warmed shallow soup bowls.  Sprinkle with the chopped herbs and serve immediately.