Dreaming of Autumn – Creole Spiced Shrimp and Mammy’s Yummy Rice

Last Autumn, I went on a Creole cooking kick. There’s something about cooler weather and spicy foods that seemed to go hand in hand – warmed from the inside. I wanted to try my hand at a new recipe, Creole-Spiced Shrimp Packets. Feeling rather brave, I thought why not try two new recipes together such as a Creole Rice recipe for the side? With that in mind, I went in search of a Creole Rice recipe, first through my own collection before venturing out to the endlessly vast internet. That’s when I stumbled upon what had to be the strangest collection of recipes – The Gone With The Wind Cookbook – A Collection of Southern Recipes.

th1th4I must admit, my heart skipped a beat. As a young girl, Gone With The Wind was one of my favorite books. Like so many young girls, I completely skipped over the brutality and moral insanity of slaver, viewing the South through rose-colored glasses. Dashing young men, Southern Belles, romantic ideas, Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind first grabbed the pubic’s attention in 1936, less than 100 years after the American Civil War. Three years later, it was adapted for the screen and released as a beautiful film in 1939. The following year, Gone With The Wind won an Academy Award for Best Motion Picture, but is best remembered for breaking the “color” barrier when Hattie McDaniel won for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Mammy.

To publicise the release of the movie in 1939 and peak public interest, a cookbook was offered – the premise of which was that it was a collection of Southern Recipes offered by the characters themselves, and not the people who portrayed them.  One such recipe was Mammy’s Creole-Spiced Rice.  It seemed the perfect recipe to try with Creole-Spiced Shrimp. I was not disappointed – the rice, made with tiny shrimp, paired beautifully with the main attraction – jumbo shrimp with a buttery creole dipping sauce. To add a little more color to the plate while providing a little relief from all those wonderful spices, I included some sweet, ripe cubes of mango. Everything was delicious.

I know, the weather is still warm as the last days of summer linger, but I’m dreaming ahead today – to autumn, my favorite time to cook. I adore cooking when the kitchen is bathed in a soft glow of fading light and the whole house fills with the aromas of hearty, rich foods simmering on the stove. It’s easy to recall fond childhood memories while creating a few new ones along the way. I realize I am getting ahead of myself, but as Scarlett would say “Oh fiddle dee dee”.

Creole-Spiced Shrimp Packets
2 pounds Jumbo Shrimp, preferably wild-caught
1 small onion, sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
2 teaspoons hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

Preheat oven to 325-degrees.

Peel and devein shrimp. Rinse and place into a large bowl. Add next nine ingredients (onion through black pepper). Toss to coat well. Let rest about 10 minutes.

Drain liquid from shrimp into a 1 cup measuring cup. Add enough water to create 1 cup of liquid.
Cut four large pieces of foil. Line a small bowl with foil to create a “pocket. Place 1/4 of the shrimp mixture into the foil.

Add 2 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup liquid into pocket with shrimp. Fold and crimp/twist foil to seal.

Bake until shrimp are just opaque in center, about 30 minutes.

Carefully open shrimp packages. Use a slotted spoon to remove shrimp from packet and place on dinner plate. Pour sauce from packet into a small cup for dipping.

Mammy’s Creole-Spiced Rice
1 large onion, sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 ½ tablespoon butter
¾ tablespoon flour
¾ tablespoon salt
¾ cup water
1 ½ cups tomatoes, diced (canned okay)
1 ½ cups black beans, cooked (canned okay)
½ tablespoon vinegar
¼ teaspoon sugar
1 ¼ cups tiny shrimp, cooked
1 ½ tablespoons Creole Seasoning
2 cups rice, cooked and still hot

Sauté onions and celery in butter until browned.

Stir in flour and salt, and then slowly add the water. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add tomatoes, beans, vinegar, sugar, shrimp and Creole Seasoning. Continue to cook 10 minutes longer.

Place hot, cooked rice in a large, deep serving platter or bowl. Pour Creole mix over hot rice. Toss lightly to blend and serve.

Note: Today we have the convenience of readily available canned ingredients from the grocery store aisle. If you have the time and wish to make this dish in its original form, use home-canned tomatoes and cook the black beans from scratch.

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