I was supposed to be in California this week with Bug. The kids are off school here in NYC, and I was just itching to get out of the city and back to the laid-back, sunny vibe of my home state. But then Bug got sick and, after delaying our flight not once but twice, we ultimately decided we'd have to let California go. So it's been a tough week, particularly when I'm really, really feeling like I need a break from NYC. And being almost 11 years old, Bug is keenly aware that this is "all my fault." It's been a sad, sad house.
So I decided to cheer myself up with these shrimp-and-bread skewers. Last summer, during our annual West Coast trip, our friends Amy and Lisa introduced us to these awesome (and easy) skewers: shrimp, bread, olive oil, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes. That's it! Naturally, Amy and Lisa barbecued them but, in my home, I have to resort to my urban BBQ: my cast-iron stovetop grill. When I told Amy I was going to make these skewers to try to make up for the fact that I wasn't seeing them this week, she replied, "Yeah, you're making Skewers of SADNESS!" And I think the name may stick in our house. Here was the menu I put up this week:
Nevertheless, these don't make me sad at all. They remind me of summer days on Amy and Lisa's patio (here's a picture), and they remind me of taking life easy...those moments when all I have to do is laugh and eat...and that's it. And couldn't we all use some sunshine, summer, laughter, conversation, friends, family, smiles? Hopefully these will take you there.
a.k.a. Skewers of Sadness
3/4 pound large shrimp, deveined, tales removed
1/2 baguette, cut into 1-inch chunks
crushed red pepper flakes
freshly ground pepper
1. Toss shrimp and bread chunks with enough olive oil to evenly and generously coat everything. Add fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, to taste.
2. Thread shrimp and bread onto skewers. I like to keep the shrimp on their own skewers, and likewise with the bread - this helps everything cook more evenly. But feel free to alternate the bread and shrimp, if you'd like, which makes for a better presentation.
3. Grill the skewers on a barbecue grill, or on a stovetop grill set on high. Grill until shrimp are pink and cooked through, and the bread should be toasted with grill marks.
4. Depending on how you made the skewers, you can either serve them directly on the plate, or you can remove the shrimp and bread from the skewers and add to a large serving platter or bowl. Add a salad as a side dish (I ate mine with sugar snap peas in this case...which are ridiculously out of season, but I just couldn't help myself...).
When I bought our tickets to California, I got super excited and made a "California Love" playlist to listen to while driving around in my parents' new convertible. Pathetically, I've had it playing on repeat in my apartment for the last four days. Here's a sample of my favorites:
The one song missing from here is "California" by Stop 186. It's my favorite California-themed song but I just couldn't get it for this playlist. And sue me...but I like Counting Crows' version of "Big Yellow Taxi" better than Joni Mitchell's...
Eat, drink, and listen to "California Dreamin'" one...more...time...