Monday, June 22, 2009

The Beach House and Shrimp Scampi

For a number of years, my sister Anne and her husband John have rented beach houses in Emerald Isle, N.C. Each year they rent a different home in the same neighborhood, since there are many and each one is more spectacular than the previous year's rental. The homes have names like Sunny Bunz, No Regrets, Wind-N-Sea, and Flip Flop Inn. Painted in all shades of Caribbean pastel (with color-coordinated golf carts!) these homes are three stories high with the main living area and kitchen on the top floor. The living area spills out onto spacious outdoor decks allowing for panoramic views of the ocean. Typically, bedrooms are below, on the second floor, and rec rooms on the ground floor. There's a service elevator to help haul the many bags of groceries up to the the kitchen. Most homes have their own in-ground pool, providing a refreshing and relaxing post-beach experience! I've been so fortunate to be invited to join their family three times, and my main activity while there, other than playing in the ocean with the kids (like I'm one of them!) and loving the beach, is preparing meals for everyone to enjoy. Our sister Patsy joined us last year and, among other things, she cooked up her specialty and our nephews' favorite, chicken parmesan. Lunches were simpler. Each day we'd pack a cooler full of sandwiches and drinks for the beach and go stake out our spot, close enough to the boarded walkway so that we didn't have to lug anything too far! Early each day we decided what it was we would make for dinner, and after our late afternoon swim in the pool we'd go shopping for ingredients, including fresh seafood.

An abundance of fresh seafood is available at stands along the highway, or sometimes right off the shrimp boats just returning to shore. The first year I was there I made shrimp scampi, remembering in my head the recipe from my friend Liz who cooked it for us at one of our Girls' Night In evenings. Winging it, the dish was a huge success (many thumbs up from Anne's family) and Anne said, "It smells like a restaurant in here!" Music to my ears.

Here's my interpretation of Liz's recipe for shrimp scampi. It's a rare indulgence, so go ahead and enjoy the butter and olive oil and eat more conservatively the next day. It's worth it!

Liz's Shrimp Scampi

1 lb. linguini or pasta of choice
1 4 oz. bar of butter
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced (can be from a jar)
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup white wine (something you'd drink)
1 - 1.5 lbs. fresh shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 cup grated parmesan cheese - the good stuff
1 lemon, sliced

Bring large pot of water with a little bit of salt to boil and add linguini. Cook according to package directions, but remove from heat and drain while it's still al dente.

While the pasta water is coming to a boil, over very low heat in large skillet, melt butter in olive oil. Watch it so it doesn't brown. Let garlic sit in this over the lowest heat until just before the pasta is finished. Five minutes before the pasta is done, take 1/2 cup of the pasta water and add to butter mixture. Add lemon juice and white wine, and to thicken, add 1 tbsp. flour mixed with about 1/4 cup cold water and stir slowly into butter mixture. Increase heat to medium low and bring just to a very light boil. Add shrimp and cook only until it turns pink and is just done. Turn off heat.

In large bowl, mix drained pasta with butter/shrimp mixture, and toss with half the parmesan cheese. Platter the shrimp scampi and sprinkle the rest of the parmesan cheese on top. Arrange lemon slices around the shrimp scampi.

Provide extra napkins. You'll need them.

Photo Credit: Artwork from website for Spinnaker's Reach Realty, Emerald Isle, NC

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