There are a few things that have amazed me as of late: 1.) The stupidity of Atlanta drivers (I know, I know, I should know better); 2.) The absolutely horrible horrible shows about to be on TV (toddlers and tiaras, anyone?) and 3.) the versatility of some pantry items when making paleo foods (specifically, coconut milk and almond flour).
I'll let you debate over #s 1 and 2, as I cannot expend any more energy into those things that upset me, but #3 has my name all over it.
I always thought that flour, cornstarch, and/or cream had to be used in order to make a sauce creamy. I first debunked this myth a few months ago when I made a nearly perfect peanut-brown-colored roux, which was then used for a tasty gumbo. It even got thumbs up from Charles, whose mom makes an unbelievable gumbo. Score one for an almond flour/coconut flour combination to make that roux (recipe in the months to come!).
Then, an even bigger task: could I actually make biscuits and sawmill gravy? I'll share the recipe of that one soon, but rest assured, they were made and consumed. Now, I won't win any awards for best ever biscuits (as compared to those from Flying Biscuit or the like), but for ones that utilized paleo ingredients, they were pretty darn good (although certainly not something you would eat every day - more of a paleo treat). There was a tiny hint of coconut flavor left in the gravy, but just a bit.
Last night, my challenge was to make a paleo-ish shrimp bisque. I had shrimp in the fridge I had to cook, and figured might as well give this one a go.
The result: tasty-ness! Charles of course wanted his spiced up a ton, but for a rich, velvety, creamy soup that you want to serve as part of a fancy meal, this sure does the trick.
A few notes on the recipe: I made the conscious decision to keep in the brandy and sherry. I could not figure out how to replace those flavors with something else, and while yes - most of the alcohol cooks off - there is some residual. Tis the season. I'll take a mostly paleo soup with a little flavoring from alcohol over a gluten-bomb any day! I used a combination of butter and bacon fat in the recipe - I suppose you could also try coconut oil as well. I did not have a full pound of shrimp on hand, so I used a combo of shrimp and crab. I also did not have shrimp shells, but I did have some crawfish heads/claws, so I used that for the broth.
Shrimp (and/or crab) Bisque - adapted from the Ina Garten recipe
1 pound large shrimp (the uncooked kind) - peeled and deveined - saving the shells
3 cups stock (I used chicken – seafood would be preferred)
1 cup water
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped leeks, white and light green parts
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 tablespoons unsalted grassfed butter
2 tablespoons bacon fat
1/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp xantham gum
1 can coconut milk (full fat!)
1/2 cup tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste, maybe some hot sauce too! optional: a dash or two of worcestershire.
In a large pot, heat the stock and water along with the shells from the shrimp. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes. Strain the shells out, reserving all the liquid.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium/medium-low heat. Add the leeks and onions, stirring frequently, and cook over heat for about 10 minutes or until the leeks and onions are soft and translucent and somewhat caramelized (being careful not to brown). Add the garlic and cook for about 2 more minutes. Add the Old Bay, cayenne pepper and shrimp and stir. Cook for about 3 more minutes or until shrimp are pink. Add brandy to mixture and stir. Note: if you are using a gas stove, use extreme caution as brandy will ignite and set your eyebrows on fire. I suggest turning the flame off, adding the brandy, stirring, then turning heat back on. Stir for a minute or two, then add sherry. Stir for about 2 minutes more. Add all contents of pan to food processor, and blend until smooth.
In the pan you just had the shrimp/leeks/onions in, add the butter/bacon fat and melt over medium heat. Add in almond flour and xantham, stirring for a few minutes until it starts to brown. Add the mixture from the food processor, the coconut milk, and the strained stock liquid. Stir in the tomato paste, and let simmer until heated through. Taste and season as you'd like.
Wish I had a pic to share - but you'll have to use your imagination...or go here and look at this lovely bowl: http://www.antonnutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/shrimp-bisque.jpg
Happy holidays to you all!