My summer vacation is rapidly approaching its end. A large part of the vacation did not actually feel like summer because of the constant presence of overcast skies, 70 degree temperatures and the ever present threat of violent thunderstorms. However, New England weather is notoriously changeable.
This week, the last week or so of my vacation, we're averaging 90 temperatures. Look! The flowers are blooming in the town square!
I took these pictures and then went home and stood on top of the AC vent for an hour until I felt human. The neighbors who saw me through the open window and complained to the condo association can't actively prove that I was naked. And for that I will not actively try to key their cars the next time they park in the common space between our garages and block my ability to pull out of my garage and get to work on time. As far as they know.
Flaring tempers aside, when it gets this hot, one of the biggest challenges to a peaceful existence is trying to feed yourself without making the temperature in your abode more uncomfortably warm than it probably already is. For that, I like to employ a couple of recipes and one nifty gadget.
Shrimp Salad on Brioche
You can make the salad a completely no-cook recipe by using frozen cooked shrimp (thawed, unless you're some kind of mutant who likes to eat frozen shrimp. I won't judge. Actually, yes. Yes, I will judge you. Freak.). I like to use frozen raw shrimp for this because it gives me an excuse to get away from the heat and stick my head in the chest freezer while I rummage around looking for the shrimp.
1 T. whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf, whole
4 sprigs of parsley
2 T. salt
3/4 lb shrimp (unshelled), large
1/4 c. reduced fat mayonnaise
1/2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. minced parsley
1/2 T. thyme, fresh
1/8 t. salt
1/8 t. white pepper
1/3 c. finely diced celery
2 scallions, minced
1. Add the salt, peppercorns, parsley and bay leaf to a 5- to 6-quart pot of water. Bring to a boil and add the shrimp, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer shrimp with a slotted spoon to a platter. When shrimp are cool enough to handle, peel, then chill, covered, until completely cold, about 1 hour.
2. Whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and chill until ready to use.
3. Devein shrimp and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper, then add to dressing along with celery and scallions, and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Using the breadmaker lets you bake awesome, homemade bread in the height of the summer heat without heating up your kitchen. It's a no-brainer, really.
Brioche is lightly sweet, rich and eggy. It is what Legal Seafoods uses to make the buns for their lobster rolls. Being a fan of that, it seemed that the bread should be a natural match for my shrimp salad. If you would rather use hot dog buns, knock yourself out, but you'll be missing out on the awesomeness of brioche made lovingly by a coutertop robot who only exists to make you happy with warm, fresh bread. You don't want to make the robots angry. That's how you get Skynet.
Before you get started, be sure to outfit your breadmaker pan with its paddle so it's ready to go.
1/3 c. half and half
3 eggs, large
3 T. sugar
3/4 t. salt
Pour that mixture into the breadmaker pan. Sprinkle over it:
1/4 c. cold butter, cut into small cubes
Top the liquid and butter with:
3 1/3 c. bread flour
Place the pan in the breadmaker. Make a small indentation into the flour with your knuckle. Pour into the indentation:
1 t. breadmaker yeast (or normal, dried "active yeast")
Close the breadmaker lid. Plug the machine in. If your maker has a setting for sweet bread, set it for that. Otherwise, use the white bread setting. Set the loaf size (if you have that option) for 1.5 lbs. Press start. Go relax until the bread is done.
When the bread is done, remove it from the pan to a cooling rack. Let it cool for at least a half hour (preferably an hour) before trying to slice it.
We divided the shrimp salad between four slices of brioche and folded up the open faced sandwiches to eat, taco style. Go with whatever sandwich to face delivery system works best for you.