Culinary frustrations

Time for a time-honored Culinary Confession … or rather, frustrations

For some time now I have found myself frustrated by a couple of things, specifically hard-boiling eggs (as many of you know) and never knowing how many cloves of garlic you’re going to get in one head

I prided myself on being able to perfectly hard-cooked eggs that would peel like a dream. This is no longer the case and I have tried everything to fix this wrong, but nothing has worked like the way I used to do it … which, again, no longer works. I am to the point where I am blaming the eggs (everything else has changed, eggs must have too)

My other frustration is with heads of garlic. It’s always a mystery until I crush the head to separate the cloves, how many cloves you’re going to get. The other day I leaned down on the head of garlic and pressed and an octodecillion microscopic cloves spilled out all over the counter. How am I supposed to work with microscopic unpeeled garlic?

These 2 things have been going on long enough now that I have already resolved to buy hard boiled eggs and peeled garlic cloves when and where I can find them and save myself the time, expense and sanity of dealing with these two things any longer

Culinary confession: A corned beef epiphany

I grew up eating corned beef, typically around St Patrick’s Day. Let me correct that: I grew up avoiding corned beef. I was not a fan, to say the least. I won’t insinuate those who made it for me, suffice to say, they really had no idea how to prepare it
Dial-ahead 100 years (what!?) and I finally had an epiphany about corned beef. Seriously, it wasn’t until recently, after a dozen decades (what!?) of avoiding and refusing, choosing something else on the menu or declining dinner invites for the same, that I had the choice: corned beef sandwich … or nothing. OK, I’ll try it
Whoa! This is not the over-cooked, tough, bitter meat I’d come to known. This was tender and fully and properly seasoned. I admit that I made a few adjustments to the sandwich, but honestly it did not need those enhancements, it was purrfect just the way it was
As it was told to me during this epiphany: “Of course it’s delicious! Protestants don’t know how to make corned beef”

Culinary confession

Culinary confessions are true confessions from the kitchen. Some might surprise, some may make you question my authority and some may entertain. In the end I hope they help and educate

Culinary confession: I am through buying frozen cooked shrimp

It is true; I have been buying and using frozen cooked shrimp for years now. It has been a crutch of sorts: easy to prepare and always a hit. I arrange (or pile) the thawed shrimp on a platter, garnish with sprigs of parsley and wedges of lemon (I’m not out to reinvent the wheel) and serve with my homemade cocktail sauce

But truth be told, I am done! I bought my ‘favorite’ frozen cooked shrimp for New Year’s Day and was nonplussed by them. It finally occurred to me: These shrimp have no flavor! None! No amount of sauce or lemon could help them. I was at a loss. I finished the Champagne and went to work on a Spicy Chicken Tortilla soup to make sure my taste buds were OK (despite enjoying the Champagne). I even thought I would just stop buying shrimp and find new recipes to make with my favorite shellfish, blue crab

Then I thought it was silly to eliminate shrimp from my repertoire, I just had to figure out a way to give them the flavor they so richly deserve


I will forever now buy raw shrimp and cook them in a flavorful court bouillon myself. If food should have flavor then it is up to me to bring it forward and not rely on sauces and presentation. I may have stumbled with frozen cooked shrimp, but I am up-right again and back on track. I’m excited for my friends and family who will surely notice and feel the love and care that may have been missing all these years

Heck, maybe raw shrimp is even a better value

Court bouillon
Court bouillon is a great poaching liquid for fish, shellfish, poultry and vegetables

1 gallon water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cup white wine
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
3 ribs celery heart (include fresh leaves)
1 medium carrot, ends trimmed, peeled, cut into thirds
1 lemon, quartered
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
8 steams fresh parsley
12 black peppercorns

Combine all of the ingredients in a large kettle or heavy bottomed stock pot. Place over high heat and bring to the boil then lower to simmer and cook 30 minutes

Strain through several layers of cheesecloth and return to low heat if poaching small fish; or cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate 1 week or freeze in a zero degrees Fahrenheit freezer indefinitely

When poaching larger fish, add to the cold Court bouillon and bring to temperature
over medium heat

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