9.19.2015

Will Travel for Food

Today's recipe is another I created while we were traveling last summer up the west coast by train. Our time on the train alternated with staying for a few nights in each of several cities, so there was ample opportunity to cook for ourselves and friends. Today's creation is Shrimp Risottouffée, as it combines my love of both Italian and New Orleanian cuisines.

Cooking is one of the most fun things I do when we travel, no matter where we go. One requirement I have is renting an apartment or house with a decent kitchen. Airbnb has been a great way to make this happen; nice places at really reasonable prices. The kitchens may be ample or tiny, but they always have a stove top, decent equipment, and sometimes an oven. Another requirement is, of course, close proximity to a farmers market and other local ingredients.

The seasonal vegetables, meats, fish, and many other ingredients are different from what we get at home. Sometimes it's a particular mushroom, a variety of rice, or a vegetable that doesn't grow in the desert heat. It could also be sauces, pastas, or herbs. 


Even though the West Coast has its distinctive culinary practices, they arent so different from our own Southwest cookery, so I enjoyed getting really inventive on that train tour.

When we travel, our day generally looks like this: Get up early. Go to the market. Get an idea. Buy the ingredients. Return to the apartment. Sight-see. Nap. Create. Repeat.

We have had some funny experiences along the way... like the time we rented a farmhouse in Tuscany, and got all the ingredients to roast some pork. Turning on appliances in a foreign country is always a little challenging, with the unfamiliar and cryptic logos on the dials. Just when you think you know what you are doing, you end up broiling something instead of baking it, or your have only pre-soaked your clothes when you fully intended to wash them.

In the case of the pork roast, we tried everything to get the oven started, and sought out the owner to explain to her - in a mixture of Italian, French, and German - that we couldn't get it to heat. Her first response was shock. "You are cooking?" she asked incredulously. Our guess is that most touring Americans have no more than yogurt for breakfast and otherwise eat out. Her second statement was, "It worked four years ago when someone else used it..."

In the end, she let me use her kitchen, and all was well. When she discovered that I love to cook, we became fast friends. She kept tabs on what I was making, was astonished when I showed her my zuccotto (another story), and even taught me how to brine capers.

We have been lucky that there have been very few appliance incidents like this. Most kitchens have been well equipped, although we have purchased and left a trail of rolling pins behind us.

Because you always need to bake a pie when traveling, right?

~ David

Shrimp Risottoufée

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces pancetta, diced
1 large white onion, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced thinly
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (recipe HERE)
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine
6 cups chicken stock, simmering
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the pancetta and let cook a couple of minutes, until it begins to release its fat.

Add the onions, celery, and the green and red bell peppers. Sauté until the vegetables are softened a bit, then add the Cajun seasoning. Cook for 2 minutes to release the flavors of the spices. Add the tomatoes and cook until all the vegetables are soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Set a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When hot, add shallots and sauté until soft and beginning to turn golden. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until rice is milky-white and opaque. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until wine is almost all absorbed. Add stock, one ladleful at a time. Cook, stirring, and add the next ladleful of stock only when the previous one is almost fully absorbed.

As you near the end of the stock, reheat the skillet with the pancetta and vegetables over high heat and add the shrimp. Sauté the shrimp briefly until pink. Add the cream and stir to blend. Season with salt and pepper; reduce heat to keep warm.

When the last of the stock has been added, keep stirring and, when the risotto is still loose but not too runny, add the cheese and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and divide risotto among 4 bowls, then top with the shrimp mixture.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Serves 4. 

A rare photo of the elusive blogger. Photo courtesy of J. Lee Compton.

28 comments:

  1. Travelling and cooking! I don't think there are two things that combine so well, except for eating and good company. Love the tuscany tale, it's exactly what you would expect isn't it? jaja
    I still have the idea of travelling every year and cooking in a different part of the world, with different ingredients. The best way to spend my vacations!

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    1. It really is the best combination, Paula! Where do you dream of going and cooking?

      PS - I love how you always comment on my fish and seafood posts! It means a lot, because I know you don't like it! Jaja,

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  2. You two certainly know how to enjoy yourselves! Sounds like the good life to me. :)

    Your shrimp risottoufée looks and sounds amazing! So that's how you take such awesome photos!! By the way, the cherry tomatoes in the little cart made me smile.

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    1. I don't think we can complain, Cathleen! We do love well!

      I have a wonderful kitchen window with great photo light, and, yes, I love that little cart of tomatoes!

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  3. What a wonderful story, David... yes, love staying in places with a stove AND close to a market! Perfection!

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    1. And aren't we lucky that our other halves enjoy our cooking enough to go along with this!

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  4. Hi David, so funny, we love to do the same thing, but we use vrbo, will have to try airbnb. Love this shrimp risottoufée, this dish could easily be one of my new favorite's!

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    1. We used to use VRBO a lot, Cheri, but have found that Airbnb is more flexible on the length of stay and often the number of options. Definitely worth trying!

      Hope you enjoy the risottouffée!

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  5. This recipe sounds wonderful. My only worry is how to source shrimp that I know is not farm raised nor comes from the Gulf. I stopped buying shrimp a few years ago. I don't want to eat farm raised shrimp, either, so I guess I am "out of luck" on that score.Maybe I have not researched it well enough. Sorry about that. Perhaps when you were in California you were able to buy shrimp fresh from the Pacific. Living in landlocked Colorado makes getting almost any seafood tricky. I have to rely on lake caught trout and not much more. Oh well, at least we have elk and venison! I love your blog and eagerly await each Sunday recipe. Thanks!

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    1. Caterina - I have to say that I tend to trust certain purveyors more than others when buying shrimp. I use Trader Joe's "wild" Argentinian and Blue shrimp, but they may actually be farmed and I am unaware of that. I also buy them at Whole Foods, where they certify the wild caught varieties. Finally, we are lucky here, to be close to the Gulf of Mexico where wild shrimp are caught (also farmed) so we just need to ask questions! Now, since you have all that elk and venison, I suggest you try making this with some elk or venison sausage instead of shrimp! I wish we had that here!

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  6. I love how you guys travel. I wish my schedule were that every day, starting with the market. And you even get a nap. Lovely! (Oh, and delicious, of course!)

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    1. Napping while traveling is very important! Gives you all sorts of energy for all the other things!

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  7. You could visit me any time! This looks delicious--and perfectly seasonal right now!

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    1. Thanks, Inger! It is a great recipe for the fall!

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  8. Your idea of the perfect vacation is just like mine! I am hoping to rent an apartment in Paris next summer for a couple of weeks. I think it would be an excellent cultural experience for my kiddos.

    Love this recipe, may try it with crayfish from the farmer's market next weekend!

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    1. Cali - that is a great idea - there is so much to don in Paris for everyone! I have some very special hot chocolate places if anyone in your family is a fan! (Like, who isn't?) Let me know - I am happy to share them!

      This recipe is wonderful with crayfish - I think it is even better. I once used Trader Joe's pre-cooked langoustine tails, and they were really good, as well.

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  9. It is so nice to be able to cook on trips. I love eating out, but boy can you gain weight doing that! Love that mini shopping cart!

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    1. Thanks,, Mimi! Actually, I usually prefer eating in when I travel - not for the weight issues, I just LOVE to cook! I found the mini shopping cart at Flying Tiger in New York City. So cute!

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  10. Shrimp Risottouffée - I'm liking the sound of this! In retrospect, I really wish I utilised the kitchens we had in our Airbnb apartments and lofts in New York a little more. I only went as far as salads. I guess in a city like that we were more interested in eating out.

    Hopefully on our next big trip I'll do more cooking. OK, want to travel now.

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    1. I know, John - I am constantly wanting to travel and see new (and familiar) places. I love the way you travel, because it is all about the food. With Markipedia in tow, I do have to go to a number of historic museums and houses, but that is fun, too!

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  11. That sounds like a lovely way to travel! But I usually want to try the local restaurants when I go somewhere. Mike and I found some great spots in Montreal on our honeymoon last year!

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    1. Caroline - I guess the truth is that I like doing both. Usually, we eat out for our midday meal, and then at home for the evening. Nice combination for us!

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  12. D, this looks scrumptious! I love the li'l shopping cart. Your humor shows in your presentation. You just solved my Friday-night-what-are-we-having-for-dinner dilemma.
    Happy w/end, sweet friend! xoox

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    1. I love the cart, too, Colette! I wish I had bought several! Thanks - and j hope you like the risottouffée when you make it! xox

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  13. Oh my, this creation of yours looks truly delicious! Love the story about the farmhouse stove. Sounds like it was a wonderful adventure. Hopefully, we'll get to travel like you someday. Lately, we always find a hotel with a kitchenette too, but right now it's to serve breakfast to picky children! :)

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    1. Hi, Marcelle - the nice thing about Airbnb is that many of them are family friendly, and often cheaper than hotels. You should try it for your next vacation! Glad you like the risottouffée!

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  14. So perhaps we could trace your whereabouts by the trail of crumbs or the rolling pins left behind. Great images for the cover of your cook book! And, by the way, the recipe sounds delicious!

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    1. I love the trail of rolling pins, Susan! That really is the way it is! My cookbook... well, we will just have to wait and see! If there are any publishers reading, I am ready willing and able! :)

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