Sunday, September 11, 2011

Midnight Feasts

     Lets get this straight: I am Indian (not British, though I was born in England and lived there for a good few months or so in my baby-hood), I never went to boarding school, and I have lived in America since I was nine. Still, I am an absolute Anglophile, and I spend far too much time (especially for a twenty year old) reading boarding school books. Have any of you ever read Enid Blyton? She writes the best boarding school books. Full of pranks and half-term holidays and Midnight Feasts.

     Midnight feasts in these books tend to consist of anchovies, and canned peaches, and condensed milk...and foods I generally don't really have an interest in. But they just sound so good all together! And what sounds best of all? Shrimp paste spread on toast. I don't know why, but when I was rereading (again) one of those books, I just got an intense craving for shrimp toast.
     This craving didn't mean I decided to turn our bag of frozen shrimp into shrimp paste. I looked up a shrimp paste recipe, but it seemed far too complicated. Instead, I came up with my own time-saving shrimp toast method. First, thaw frozen shrimp. Then, lay them out on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with herb infused olive oil, because you don't know exactly what you are going to do next. Bake them until they are rosy pink, take them out, and get stricken with inspiration! Take a handful, chop them up, throw them into a small frying pan with garlic and butter, and then squish them onto a huge hearty slice of white bread. Place back into the oven. Eat. Ahhh.

     Needless to say, this was a success. The shrimp was perfectly cooked (I had the oven at 450 degrees and the shrimp literally needed 3 minutes, watch them well and do Not let them overcook). The bread was deliciously crusty and buttery under the soft shrimp, and it all tasted absolutely gorgeous. Like an upscale garlic bread and so much more. Midnight feast worthy!

The Aftermath
Shrimp Toast
Makes 5 Toasts 

Italian White Bread (I'm sure other bread would do, but this was so good!)
25 Shrimp (I used about five shrimp per toast, so this number is dependent on how many people want toast!)
Herbed Olive Oil (if this is not available, use regular olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper, and sprinkle some oregano or thyme over the shrimp) 
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced Finely
2 tbsp Butter (plus a little more to butter the bread)

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the white bread into five 1 inch slices, make sure they are big enough to fit a large handful of shrimp (not from the end of a loaf) and butter the slices. Take the shrimp, thawed if they were frozen, and scatter them on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the olive oil (or herbs and olive oil) liberally over the shrimp, and turn the shrimp over so they are covered in olive oil and herbs. Put the baking sheet into the oven for 3-5 minutes, only until the shrimp turn light pink. Take the shrimp out and allow them to cool a little. Peel them if they are shelled, and then chop them into small pieces. Next, place a large frying pan on medium heat. Add the butter and garlic, allowing the butter to melt. Stir in the shrimp, making sure all are coated well. You only have to cook them for a minute or two, then turn off the heat. Use a large spoon to get about a handful of shrimp and press it into one slice of bread, it should require pressing and be barely fitting on the slice. Prepare all the slices, and then carefully place them on a baking sheet and put them back into the oven for two minutes, until the bread is heated through. Then serve! This went great with the tomato soup too.

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