There seem to be plans being made every day. Last year, at least the first half, was a lot slower than this. Yes, I traveled. A lot. Which helped distract me. But there were moments that were slow. Really, really slow… So slow that I started to read Fifty Shades of Grey (thirty pages in and I had to put it down because of how awful the writing was. Sorry Grey fans!). I like busy. I like having projects to work on… meetings, deadlines, things that create a sense of accomplishment.
As I type this, it does occur to me that having down time isn’t a bad thing either. I’m always go-go-go that sometimes I forget to chill. Watching TV even becomes something that gets in the way of work. I feel guilty when I’m not checking my three email accounts (maybe someone sent me a message I have to respond to RIGHT NOW). It’s a problem… But one that I’m aware of at least. Balance is what I constantly strive for. I don’t think I’ve found it yet. Actually, I know I haven’t. I want it though… Whatever “it” is. I’ll figure it out one day.
I guess my real down time comes when I’m able to work on a blog post. It’s when I stop worrying about calendars, clients and money and focus on a single creative task. Over the winter, I did most of my recipe development in the shower or on our couch sipping on mugs of coffee. Someplace warm and cozy. Now I do it on long walks with Maki. Typically this isn’t what I set out to do when I take her around the block to relieve herself, but often I return with an urge to cook. Maybe I’m just hungry.
This shrimp toast and mango butter came to me last week while on an exceptionally long, hot and sweaty walk. As Maki trotted along with her tongue sticking out, a list of available ingredients in our fridge ran through my mind. Most were things I had worked with recently. Asparagus, fiddleheads, tomatoes. And then… mango. The night before, Eric had said that we needed to do with it. That’s when it hit me… Mango Butter. Spicy mango butter. On bread topped with shrimp. Done.
Shrimp Toast with Mango Butter
Yield: Serves 6-8 as an appetizer
Baking sheet, large
Non-stick sauté pan, large
1 baguette, cut into 1/2” round slices
Ingredients for the Mango Butter
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon agave
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
Ingredients for the Shrimp
Raw shrimp, deveined and shells removed
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
Salt and pepper
Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Brush the slices of baguette with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the slices have toasted slightly (lightly browned). Alternatively, to get grill marks, cook the pieces of bread on a grill until marks form.
- Meanwhile, prepare the mango butter. Start by using the paring knife to slice thick pieces of mango, leaving the pit behind. Hold a piece of mango in one hand, flesh side up, and the paring knife in another. Being very careful not to cut yourself, make thick slices of mango using the knife (you do not want to pierce the mango skin and you definitely do not want to pierce your own skin). Take a spoon and scoop the mango flesh out from the skin.
- Once you have done this with all the mango, transfer to the bowl of a food processor, along with the butter, agave, and 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt. Process until all ingredients have mixed together. It’s ok if you see some small pieces mango in your butter. It doesn’t have to be completely blended.
- Once the baguette has toasted, remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes, or until it has cooled.
- Set a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and, once it begins to bubble, add the shrimp so they lay flat in the pan. Season the shrimp with 1 teaspoon of salt and a bit of ground black pepper. Cook on one side for 3 minutes, or until they turn pink. Flip each piece over and cook for another 2 minutes.
- To assemble the dish, spread a generous helping of mango butter on a slice of baguette. Top with two shrimp and chopped cilantro. Serve.