Friday, May 2, 2014

Shrimp Pâté with Crostini

Recently, we hosted a dinner with a theme that featured recipes from Maryland.  The theme was America in Miniature, and, it was based upon recipes from the book, Dishing Up Maryland. There were four courses for this dinner: an appetizer, a soup, a main course and a dessert.  

When one thinks of Maryland, the first thought turns to the Chesapeake Bay.  And, when one thinks of the Bay, the first things that come to mind are blue crabs and oysters.  I could have made an appetizer with either ingredient.  The dish would certainly be delicious and something to remember.  However, it would be too easy and too predictable to start with those ingredients.   I needed to do something different to start the meal.

The "something different" was a recipe for Shrimp Pâté.  Neither Maryland nor the Chesapeake Bay is known for its shrimp. However, the State is home to Marvesta Shrimp Farms.  Three entrepreneurs -- Scott Fritze, Guy Furman and Andy Hanzlik -- opened the farm in Dorchester county.  They learned everything they needed to know about raising shrimp and doing so in an environmentally conscious way.  Whereas most shrimp farms raise the shrimp outside, using chemicals and antibiotics, Marvesta Shrimp Farms raise their shrimp indoors, using tanks of recirculating salt water.  The young shrimp spend about 90 to 100 days growing into the tanks until they reach the right size.  They are then harvested and packaged for shipment to buyers.

I looked into becoming one of those buyers, but Marvesta Shrimp Farms ships only to restaurants and grocery stores.  In making this dish, I used wild shrimp from the United States, which is generally speaking a good alternative to to environmentally protective methods used by Marvesta.  The combination of fresh shrimp, with cayenne pepper, garlic, Tabasco Sauce and Old Bay, makes for a great pâté.  This dish was a great and different start to our Maryland-inspired dinner.

Recipe from Dishing up Maryland, page 40
Serves 6

1 pound of Marvesta or other fresh jumbo shrimp, heads on, in the shell
4 tablespoons of butter, softened
2 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
Cayenne pepper
1 lime, juiced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons of fresh dill, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon of Old Bay or other seafood seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco cause
1 baguette
2 tablespoons of olive oil

1.  Prepare the shrimp.   Bring to a boil in a large saucepan enough water to boil or steam the shrimp.  Cook them for 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove the shrimp from the water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking.  Pat the shrimp dry, remove the shells and heads and devein them.  Transfer the shrimp to a bowl of a food processor or blender.

2.  Prepare the Pâté:  Add the butter, cream cheese, mayonnaise, a pinch of cayenne pepper, lime juice, garlic, dill, salt, Old Bay and Tabasco to the shrimp and pulse the food processor several times, until the shrimp has been chopped into fine pieces.  Do not overprocess.  Transfer the mixture to a serving dish and chill for at least 1 hour.

3.  Prepare the baguette.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Slice the baguette into 1 inch thick slices.  Lay the slices on a baking sheet and brush them with half of the olive oil.  Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Turn the slices and brush them with the remaining olive oil.  Bake for 5 minutes longer.  Remove the bread from the oven and let cool slightly.  Serve the bread alongside the pâté.


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