[ Shrimp Pasta and more ]

I told Alison at work that I'd post the recipe for the Shrimp Pasta I made on Valentine's Day. Can't find the recipe - it was online, but there are a thousand pasta recipes with shrimp online, and I can't seem to duplicate my Google search to have it come up.

Can I just say that I love Google. I read an article about Google in the latest Wired Magazine (March 2010) that just boggled my mind. Google is just a bunch of people in an office building (now huge complex) in Mountain View, California. A bunch of very brilliant people with super computers. Basically they spend their time tweaking an algorithm (what the heck is that?). It's a work in progress. They sit and do searches all day long and then figure out how to make their search engine do better searching.

For example, they figured out how to make the searches allow for context. So, when you enter the word hot dog, you don't get information about boiling a puppy. And if you type "Lincoln bio," Google know it means biography, but if you type 'bio warfare,' it means biological. And on and on.

Ya know, you really need to read the article. Go to Borders and get the magazine - or just sit in the cafe area and read the five pages starting on page 96. There's other interesting stuff in the magazine too so you may want to take that 30% coupon and buy it.

Now, the Shrimp Pasta:

You will need some pasta - I prefer THIN SPAGHETTI. It's perfect. Angel Hair Pasta is too wimpy and regular spaghetti is too fat. I only ever buy thin spaghetti - even though it costs more. I just measure carefully so I don't waste any. And nowadays, I only ever buy Barilla Plus Multigrain Pasta brand. Note - it has to be Barilla Plus. See photo below. Cook's Illustrated magazine rated the whole grain pastas - which tasted like cardboard to me - and this brand came out near the top. I'm so glad I found Barilla Plus.

Also cook some broccoli and cut up some small tomatoes. I prefer the Campari tomatoes that come on their stems. Or those little grape tomatoes are good.

Buy a bag of frozen cooked shrimp. Use about a handful per person. Thaw the shrimp in a colander under cold running water.

Put a half a stick of butter and some oil (evoo or veg. oil) in a skillet and fry up some garlic and onion - to taste. Add the shrimp and cook for about five minutes - not too long because it's already cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. Seasoned pepper looks good.

I learned this in my Google search. When the shrimp just start to curl up, they're done! I never knew that. If they get too curled up, they're TOO DONE and will be chewy.

Remember how I love the magazine Cooks Illustrated? Well, in the latest issue, which I bought for the chewy brownie recipe, they rate cooking oils. I'm not a fan of the taste of olive oil (I know, that brands me as NOT GOURMET, along with the fact that garlic gives me a stomach ache, but I can handle being not gourmet.) And there are times when a good vegetable oil is the only thing you can use - like when frying at a high temperature. The top recommended vegetable oil is Crisco Natural Blend - 'which has a subtle, pleasing blend of canola, sunflower and soy oils.' Next is Mazola Canola. That's easier to find and the oil I'll be using for my next batch of chewy brownies. NEVER EVER use corn oil. It has a nasty flavor and it's more bad for you.

Back to the shrimp pasta. Take the shrimp off the heat and add a little cream or fat free half and half and a handful of good shredded parmesan cheese. Or (this is what I did) remove the shrimp to a bowl, mix 4 T. flour into the butter mixture and stir until it bubbles a bit - but don't let it start to burn. Add a cup of chicken broth and some milk to make a thin white sauce. Stir shrimp back in and add cheese. Keep on low while you get everything on the table. This is the hardest part keeping things hot but not too hot.

To serve, dish pasta on a big platter, surrounded with broccoli and tomatoes, and at the last minute, so it will be hot, pour the shrimp and sauce over the pasta. Garnish with some big shreds of parmesan cheese (shake the little plastic container and the big shreds will stay on top) and sprinkle with pepper. If you're a gourmet cook, you will know how to make it look fabulous - with parsley or basil or whatever. Be sure to have some good bread to serve too - I loveCrumb Brothers (a local bakery) baguettes.

OK, I spent way too long on this post. I have a billion things to do today because tomorrow we are, I hardly dare admit this, going to Cancun for a week. So there's a lot of getting ready to do and I have to go do it.

I'm not even going to proofread this post. That's killing me.