Shrimp & Grits with Mustard Seed Chowchow

Charleston, South Carolina is a very special place for me. As a tribute, I make a lot of Southern food. 🙂 I also make shrimp and grits as part of our traditional Easter celebration.

We were lucky enough to travel back to Charleston recently and we brought home a couple of different types of grits. The fresh from South Carolina grits really made this dish extra special. I also baked the grits for the first time and the results were amazing. I used a blend of stone ground white and yellow grits for this dish, but, I also have special pink “unicorn grits” from Millers All Day which I’ll be sure to share with you in another dish.

This dish is from a Food and Wine “staff-favorite” recipe, contributed by Isaac Toups of Toups South in New Orleans. It was absolutely incredible. (We need to go to his restaurant!)  It may be quite difficult to try a new version next year. I served it with roasted asparagus. Lovely.

  1. Preheat oven to 200°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Toss together shrimp and Cajun seasoning in a medium bowl. Cover; refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Place milk and 1/4 cup butter in a medium ovenproof saucepan. Bring to a vigorous simmer over medium, stirring occasionally.
  4. Gradually add grits, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens slightly and grits are evenly suspended in milk, about 6 minutes.
  5. Cover saucepan; transfer to preheated oven. Bake until grits are tender, 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove from oven; stir in 2 teaspoons salt and remaining 1/4 cup butter. Cover to keep warm until ready to use. (I put the pot in a warming oven.)
  6. While the grits are in the oven, stir together vinegar, 3/4 cup water, sugar, and remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil over high.
  7. Stir in mustard seeds. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until seeds are tender, about 35 minutes.
  8. Add tomato and bell pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and mixture has thickened, 14 to 16 minutes. Remove from heat.
  9. Remove shrimp from refrigerator. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high until smoking.
  10. Add shrimp to skillet in a single layer; cook until opaque and lightly charred, about 1 minute and 30 seconds per side.
  11. To serve, divide grits among 4 bowls. Top evenly with shrimp and chowchow; sprinkle with sliced scallion.

Note: The chowchow can be made up to a week in advance.

Pressure Cooker Masoor Dal (Split Red Lentils) with Spinach

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Every time I have made an Indian dal, I tell myself that I really need to make it in a pressure cooker to save time. Spotting several dal recipes in a pressure cooker cookbook made me take the plunge. Such a time saver! This dish cooks on high pressure for only ONE minute… What have I (or you!) been waiting for? 🙂

This dal is super creamy and thick. I loved that it was loaded with fresh spinach. We ate it served over brown Basmati rice, but because we love scooping it up with naan or roti, bread was an essential add-on to this meal as well. This recipe was adapted from Hip Pressure Cooking: Fast, Fresh, and Flavorful by Laura D.A. Pazzaglia. I think this will wrap up my recent pressure cooker frenzy- for now, at least! 🙂

For the Dal Base:

  • 4 cups dried masoor (red split lentils)
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 T vegetable oil
  • 4 to 6 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 2 T peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger root
  • 2 T pressed garlic
  • 4 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp amchoor (mango powder) (I omitted this)
  • 2 to 4 tsp coarse salt, to taste
  • boiling water, to adjust texture to taste

For the Tadka:

  • 6 T ghee or vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 strips of lemon zest
  1. Rinse and drain the red split lentils. Pour into a medium bowl, cover with water and let soak for about 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse, drain, and then add to the base of the pressure cooker.
  2. Add the water, oil, spinach, ginger, garlic, garam masala, turmeric, and amchoor (if using).
  3. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker; cook at high pressure for 1 minute.
  4. Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to release naturally as the pot lowers in temperature, about 15 to 20 minutes. (The dal will continue to cook.)
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the tadka: Heat the ghee in a small saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to crackle, stir in the bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and the paprika.
  6. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest. Stir well.
  7. When the cooker is open, mix the dal well and add the salt. Adjust the consistency with boiling water as you desire.
  8. Pour the tadka over the dal just before serving. Stir to incorporate, if desired.

Note: Leftover dal can be made into fritters, pan-fried, and served with tzatziki or tahini sauce. Great!!

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Khatti Dal (Sour Lentils), Hyderabad-Style

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I have finally completed my mission to make all four types of dal described in the New York Times article “New York Dals.” This last one, Khatti Dal, may have been the fastest to make. I did not have the toor dal (yellow lentils) called for in the recipe and substituted chana dal (split chickpeas).  Once again, I used a balloon whisk as a stand-in for an Indian mathani to puree the dal; the resulting dish had a little more texture than the others. The “sour” comes from the addition of lime juice or tamarind concentrate- nice! This recipe is from the New York Times, contributed by Mark Bittman. I doubled the recipe (to ensure plenty of leftovers), and served it over brown basmati rice with green salad (instead of sautĂ©ed spinach) and naan on the side. Delicious vegetarian comfort food- I am ready to start the rotation over again!  🙂

Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: about 4 servings
  • 1 cup yellow lentils (toor dal) or chana dal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon green chili or jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate or 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower or safflower oil, or other neutral oil such as grape seed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (1-2 cloves)
  • 12 curry leaves (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Combine the dal, turmeric, chili, salt and 4 cups water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles aggressively and steadily and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
  2. Add the tamarind concentrate and 1/2 cup additional water, and let bubble for another minute. Turn off the heat. Use an Indian mathani (or whisk) to purée the dal for about 1 minute; the dal should be saucy but not soupy. IMG_7084
  3. To make the tadka, heat the oil in a small saucepan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and cover the pan; let the seeds pop and sizzle. When the popping begins to subside, add the garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 15 seconds. Add the curry leaves, if you’re using them. Cover the pan (to prevent spattering) and cook for about 10 seconds, allowing flavors to meld.
  4. Pour the tadka into the dal; stir gently to combine. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

One Year Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

SautĂ©ed Greens with Bacon and Mustard Seeds

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I had to post this quick recipe so that I don’t forget to make it again! I usually sautĂ© greens in olive oil with red pepper flakes and garlic, maybe onions. The mustard seeds and wine vinegar really make this side dish a little more interesting. 🙂 (Not to mention the shallots and bacon…) My CSA share this week had at least 20 cups of spinach, kale and turnip greens that I used in this dish, but any combination of greens would work well. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Grace Parisi. I used red pepper flakes instead of a chile and red wine vinegar rather than white.

  • Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish
  • 2 ounces thick-cut bacon, finely diced (about 2 slices)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 hot red chile, seeded and finely chopped or 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 1/4 pounds mixed greens, such as dandelion, turnip, mustard, collards, Tuscan kale and spinach—stems and inner ribs trimmed, leaves cut into ribbons (I used about 20 cups)
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
  1. In a large skillet, cook the diced bacon in the olive oil over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the shallot, chile and mustard seeds and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the greens (give slower cooking greens like kale and collards a head start), season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing frequently, until wilted and tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and serve.

Make Ahead: The cooked greens can be refrigerated overnight.

One Year Ago: Chicken and Dumplings

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French Green Lentil & Beet Salad with Orange-Mustard Vinaigrette

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My husband was on vacation last week and really wanted to grill a steak (for himself!) for dinner. When he made his special (out of the ordinary – for us) dinner, I made this special lentil salad for my dinner. 🙂 He ate it as a side dish too. I had orange beets from my CSA share to include in the salad, although red beets may have added more contrast in the finished dish. We ate the beet greens sautĂ©ed with CSA Swiss chard and leeks on the side. This recipe was adapted from Saveur. The dressing has a bright, wonderful flavor; I substituted Herbs de Provence for lavender.

  • 3/4 to 1 pound beets, scrubbed clean
  • 7 T olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups French green lentils
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 cups fresh orange juice (about 6 Valencia oranges)
  • 1 tsp Herbs de Provence
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (1/8″ mandolin)
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rub beets with 2 T olive oil, salt, and pepper in a 8″-square baking dish and cover with foil; cook until tender, about 1 hour on convection roast. Let cool, then peel beets and chop; set aside.
  2. Bring lentils, bay leaves, and 4 cups of water to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until tender but not mushy, about 25 to 30 minutes. Drain, discarding liquid and bay leaves.
  3. Toast mustard seeds in a 10″ or 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until they begin to pop, 1-2 minutes. Add juice; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and add Herbs de Provence.; cook until juice is reduced to about 1/2 cup, 20-30  minutes. Whisk in honey and remaining 5 T oil.
  4. Add beets, lentils, red onion, salt and pepper; toss to combine. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.

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