Family Weekend No. 2

On the last few days of October we were excited to have Phillip’s parents and their friends visit us in Charleston.  It was their first trip to the city so they were eager to do some sight-seeing and we were glad to be able to take them by the house to check on the progress.

On Sunday afternoon we went on a downtown carriage tour.  Phillip and I had been on two previous tours (both along the same route) and both were really good, so we thought everyone would enjoy that as an introduction to the city.  We all enjoyed the tour and even Phillip and I got to see some new parts of downtown since the tour took a different route.  Afterwards, we headed to Taco Boy for a light meal and then over to the house.

Phillip and I had to work on Monday while our guests were out touring the city, but we invited everyone over for dinner that night.  I made Barbecued Shrimp (and Scallops) and Baby Blue Salad (recipes below).  I also attempted Pineapple Upside Down Cake, but you can read all about that experience here.

We closed out their visit with dinner at Al Di La, a restaurant that came highly recommended.  Once you get past the fact that the parking situation is atrocious, it was a really good night out.  The restaurant was charming and the food (including house-made pasta) was delicious.  We are already looking forward to their next visit!

Barbecued Shrimp
(from Saveur magazine)

16 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (just use an appropriate amount of shrimp for the number of people you’re feeding; also works well with scallops)
2 tbsp. creole or cajun seasoning (I don’t use the full amount and it’s still usually too much)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (I usually use dried)
1/2 cup beer
6 tbsp. hot sauce (I use Tabasco)
6 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
5 tbsp. lemon juice
12 tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces
Crusty French bread

1.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat until hot.  Meanwhile, put shrimp and creole seasoning into a bowl; toss to coat.  Set aside.  Add oil and garlic to skillet and cook until golden, about 1 minute.  Add rosemary and cook for 2-3 seconds.  Add shrimp and cook, flipping once, until it starts to turn pink, about 30 seconds.  Transfer shrimp to a large plate; set aside.  Add beer, hot sauce, worcestershire, and lemon juice to skillet; stir well.  Cook, stirring, until thickened, 7-8 minutes.

2.  Remove skillet from heat; whisk in butter a few pieces at a time (sauce will start to thicken).  Return shrimp to skillet; toss to coat.  Return skillet to medium heat and cook until shrimp are cooked through, 2-3 minutes.  Transfer shrimp and sauce to 4 deep plates.  Serve with chunks of bread for dipping.

Baby Blue Salad
(recipe from Franklin’s in Homewood)

Mixed greens (I prefer a spring mix)
Mandarin oranges
Sliced strawberries
Blue cheese crumbles
Sweet and Spicy Pecans
Balsamic Vinaigrette

For the Pecans:

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 cup warm water
1 cup pecan halves
1 tbsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper

Preheat oven to 350F.  Stir together 1/4 of the sugar and the warm water until sugar dissolves.  Add pecans and soak for 10 minutes.  Drain and discard liquid.

Combine remaining 2 tbsp. sugar, chili powder, and red pepper in a large bowl.  Add the pecans and toss to coat well.  Arrange pecans in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake pecans for 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring halfway through.

For the Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 small shallots, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup olive oil

Whisk first 7 ingredients in a large bowl until blended.  Gradually whisk in olive oil, blending well.

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