Thursday, September 29, 2011

recipe: drunken shrimp sambuca

Have you ever had an appetizer, entrée, dessert or overall restaurant experience that you can’t stop dreaming about?  For me, the restaurant is called the Everyday People Café in Saugatuck-Douglas, Michigan.  We had the good fortune of dining there – twice – while on vacation this summer.

Chefs Matt Balmer and Michael Beld have both been honoured with the “Best Chef” of Michigan award.  Their food is over-the-top and everything I tried was a winner.  We all had a heck of a time deciding what to order, because everything on the menu sounded so delicious.  Good thing I’m from a family that not only allows but encourages sharing.

My two favourites from the menu are their “sea salt roasted beet salad” with a warm goat cheese croquette, walnut vinaigrette and frisee; and their “drunken shrimp sambuca” with garlic, shallot, sun-dried tomatoes and cream on puff pastry.  To die for – I’m quite honestly salivating as I type this.

I complimented the owner upon leaving the restaurant and mentioned that I’d be contacting “Bon Appetit” magazine to see if they could obtain the beet salad recipe for their R.S.V.P. column.  The owner encouraged me to do so, and then mentioned that the drunken shrimp sambuca recipe was available on line.  I strongly encourage you to try this recipe – you will not be disappointed!

Drunken Shrimp Sambuca

yields: 2 appetizer-sized portions (recipe doubles easily)


§         2 (two), 5” x 5” (five inch by five inch) puff pastry squares
§         2 (two) tablespoons butter
§         2 (two) tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
§         6 (six) large shrimp, peeled and de-veined, tails on (16-20 count is best)
§         flour for dredging, as needed
§         1 1/2 (one and one half) tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and slivered
§         2 (two) tablespoons shallots, minced
§         2 (two) teaspoons garlic, minced
§         a couple pinches of salt and pepper
§         ½ (one-half) ounce vermouth, for deglazing
§         1 (one) ounce sambuca
§         1/3 (one-third) cup heavy 35% cream
§         2 (two) tablespoons fresh chopped basil


1.      Place puff pastry squares on a baking sheet and bake at 350° F until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

2.      Dredge shrimp in flour. Heat butter and olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat until bubbly but not brown. Add shrimp to butter-oil mixture and cook shrimps on each side for about 2 minutes or until golden. Add garlic and shallots to the pan and cook for one minute. 

3.      Add sun-dried tomatoes and sauté for 1 minute.  Deglaze with dry vermouth and reduce slightly.  Carefully add Sambuca and flambé.

4.      When flame dies down, add cream and basil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cook for another minute or two, to reduce slightly and to allow the flavours to mingle.

5.      Place each puff pastry square on a large plate and pour some of the sauce on the plate for decoration.  Then place 3 shrimp and half of the remaining sauce in the center of each puff pastry square.  Garnish with fresh basil and serve.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

recipe: 'to die for' caprese-style brie

The title of any recipe that starts with 'to die for' certainly grabs my attention. Such was the case with this recipe for 'to die for' Caprese-style Brie. I picked up the recipe at a charitable fundraiser cooking event that I attended in the spring, and I finally got around to testing the recipe. 

This appetizer is killer– and let’s be honest, you can never have enough recipes featuring brie! I tested the dish at work and the staff loved it. We had enough to share with several of our customers as well – and two of them asked if they could buy it on the spot!

This is a perfect appetizer to serve in September, when tomatoes are in season and taste their best. Another bonus – you don’t have to turn on the oven! 

'to die for' caprese-style brie
  • 8 (eight) ripe roma tomatoes, diced and seeded
  • 1 (one) pound double cream brie, rinds removed and sliced into small cubes
  • 2/3 (two-thirds) cup extra virgin olive oil (I used the Portuguese Arbequina that we sell in my shop)
  • 1/3 (one-third) cup of fresh pesto
  • 3 (three) cloves garlic (or more, if you like garlic) finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Combine all ingredients and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours or prepare overnight, refrigerate and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours before serving.
  • Serve with slices of baguette, crostini or crusty bread.
note: recipe halves easily.

catering, gourmet food shop, gift baskets