EDISON, NJ - I love Spanish cuisine and one of the great things about it are the various Tapas or small plates that are available at most Spanish restaurants.  Not only do they taste great individually but they also allow you to sample a few different things which affords the opportunity to get to know the cuisine a little faster.  This shrimp dish is very simple with just a few flavors taking the driver’s seat.  The bread is prepared very similarly to classic Italian garlic bread but with tomato dredged across it at the last minute.  Placed together, you get a tasty garlicky toast with which to sop up all the great tasting olive oil and garlic from the shrimp dish.  Pair this with a few tossed greens and you can make a meal of the whole thing or simply make them a tapas and enjoy the two together with friends or family as small plates.

Shrimp with Garlic:

1 Pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined

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8 Cloves of garlic

1 Bay leaf

½ Cup olive oil

Fine Sea Salt

Red Pepper Flakes

3 Tablespoons torn flat leaf parsley

·         Preheat oven to 450.  While the oven is preheating, place an earthen ware bowl in to heat with the oven.

·         While that is happening, thinly slice 7 cloves of garlic and place in the medium sized skillet along with the olive oil, bay leaf, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Turn the heat to low and allow ingredients to steep on low heat for 10-20 minutes, being careful that the olive oil does not begin to fry the garlic.  If it gets too hot, lower the heat to simmer or the lowest temperature.

·         Meanwhile, peel and devein the shrimp and toss the shrimp with a bit of fine sea salt (about 1 Teaspoon or so).  Place in a bowl and run 1 clove of garlic through a microplane grater and then toss shrimp to coat.  Refrigerate until ready to use, about 10 minutes or so.

·         Once the oven is preheated and the shrimp has be refrigerated for 10 minutes, remove shrimp from the refrigerator and the bowl from the oven.  Place the shrimp in the hot bowl and then carefully poor the garlic and oil mixture over the top of the shrimp.

·         Place in the oven and cook 3-6 minutes.  Check the shrimp after 3 minutes.  The shrimp are done when they have turned to their characteristic color and are white and no longer opaque in the center.  I took mine out after 5 minutes but you may a bit more or less time, so carefully check them minute by minute until just cooked through (the shrimp will continue to cook in the oil after you take them out so it’s important to not overcook them in the oven in order to avoid that rubbery texture you get with overcooked shrimp).

·         Remove the bay leaf and sprinkle the shrimp with the torn flat leaf parsley.

Serve immediately while hot.

For the Garlic Tomato Toasts:

Ingredients:

1 Loaf crusty bread

Olive Oil for drizzling

1-2 Clove(s) garlic

1 Tomato, halved

Pinch of sea salt

Instructions:

·         Heat a griddle, grill pan, or large skillet over medium heat until very hot (about 4-5 minutes).  In the meantime, slice the crusty bread in fairly thick slices, about ½ inch thickness is great.

·         Drizzle the bread with a bit of olive oil and place bread in heated pan.  Cook bread until the bread is toasted through on each side with a crusty, nicely browned exterior (about 5 minutes a side give or take).  If the bread starts to burn, reduce the heat to medium low and continue.

·         Once the bread is done, remove from the pan and immediately take the peeled garlic clove and rub it over the entire outside of the bread.  The hard exterior of the bread will catch some of the garlic on the bread leaving behind a nice coating of garlic.

·         Likewise, take one tomato half and rub it over the exterior of one side of the bread.  It, too, will leave behind bits of tomato creating a thin paste like coating over the bread.

·         Finish by adding a touch of sea salt over the top of each slice.

Serve while warm/hot alongside the shrimp with garlic.

Craig Thiebaud is a Diplomat of Classic Culinary Arts at the International Culinary Center (formerly The French Culinary Institute) located in SOHO in New York City. After extensive training in the Art of French cooking and professional food preparation in general, he brings his knowledge of food and passion for cooking to us by sharing culinary techniques and creating recipes that mainly use local, seasonal ingredients and can be easily recreated in the home kitchen. Good, wholesome meals for the family can be created quickly with planning, using the best techniques with the best ingredients that are both affordable and available. Let's get back into the kitchen together!