Monday, June 25, 2012

Fried Shrimp

For those of you who don't know, my mom travels sometimes for her job. My dad and I used to eat out a lot when she was out of town but we got tired of going to the same old places.  Now,  instead of eating out, my dad and I like to cook meals at home when mom is away.

One of the best things we have made lately is fried shrimp. Sounds simple, but there is a real art to cooking good fried shrimp.  We had never really tried cooking fried shrimp at home, but a while back we had extra uncooked shrimp in the fridge left over from a low country boil and we needed to use them before they spoiled.  My dad decided that he didn't want to just have plain old boiled shrimp, so he looked up a recipe for fried shrimp and took it from there. They were SOOOO good that I single-handedly ate 12 of them. Yeah, I know.  Wish you had some?  Well, I am here to give you the method for the best fried shrimp you will ever make!

Fresh shrimp
Start out with fresh, preferably local, peeled shrimp and make sure that they are really dry before you bread them.  Lay them on a paper towel and pat them dry before you start.  This way the breading will stick better.

 Next, take flour (about 1 cup for 1 lb. of shrimp) and season it with salt and pepper to taste.

Then you dredge the dry shrimp into the flour.
(Thanks to my dad for being a lovely hand model :))

After you dredge the shrimp in flour, dredge it in a beaten egg.

Finally, dredge it in cornmeal. The cornmeal is what makes the shrimp crunchy.

They should look like this when you are done.

After you finish breading, put some oil in a pan heated on medium to medium high heat and put the shrimp in.

Shrimp really do only take about a minute and a half to cook on one side -- maybe 2 minutes if the shrimp are particularly large -- but my dad does a minute and a half on each side and they are great every time!

After a minute and a half, they will be golden brown on one side. Flip them over and cook the other side for another minute and a half.

After 3 minutes total, take the shrimp out of the oil and drain on paper towels.   They should be golden brown on both sides.

Now I will let you in on a little secret that my mom loves! It is a dipping sauce that really tastes good on anything but is especially good on fried shrimp. The best part is, it is only two ingredients!

You only need coarse ground mustard and orange marmalade.

All you have to do is mix equal parts mustard to marmalade and you have a fabulous dipping sauce! The mustard gives it a bit of heat but is balanced perfectly by the sweet marmalade.

Believe it or not this is also a great dipping sauce just for plain pretzels!

It is optional to leave the tails on but I think it looks prettier and makes it easier to eat.

Now of course, this is not something you are going to eat every day, but when you do, you will wish you could eat it every day!  It truly is one of my favorite things that my dad has made for me.  Just the sheer beauty of fried food combined with that scrumptious dipping sauce makes this dish like heaven! If you try out the shrimp or dipping sauce (or both), leave me a comment telling me how you liked them. 

Until next time...

Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Laura's Tea Room, Ridgeway, SC

Last weekend my family and I went to visit my Nana for my uncle Jerry's birthday. Nana kept telling me about a tea room in Ridgeway, SC called Laura's Tea Room that she and her friends had been to and how much I would love it. Nana lives in Blythewood, SC, which is only 10 minutes from Ridgeway, so we decided to make reservations for Saturday High Tea. We have two tea rooms here in Savannah and I enjoy them both, but I must say Laura's shines above them. Ridgeway is a small town that has a certain charm that makes you feel like you've traveled back in time. You just want to stay there and soak everything in. It reminded me a lot of Plains, Ga. Here are some pictures of downtown Ridgeway where Laura's is located.

Ridgeway is home to the smallest police department in South Carolina.

When you go inside Laura's Tea Room, you will see a long counter with shelves and a rolling ladder because Laura's used to be a general store.

The section where tea is served is located on the second story.  The first story is a gift shop/coffee shop deli. Once you are upstairs in the mezzanine, you can wait in chairs and pick out a hat if you'd like.

I was already wearing a hat, however.  I brought my Granny Fuller's church hat that she bought in 1950. Here is a picture of me wearing it. I added the scarf around the top, but other than that, it looks just like it did when she bought it.

When you go into the main room to have tea, there is a large table full of tea cups and you get to pick out your favorite.  It also has a picture of Laura, the lady who started it all.

 This is the tea cup that I chose. I also thought the spoon was so pretty that I bought one in the gift shop after we finished. You can buy them individually or in a set.

This was the entire place setting.

 The cream and sugar.

 I loved the pattern on the silverware!

This is just one thing I thought was so cute! What a darling little lemon press! You put the lemon slice in the body of the hummingbird and squeeze the tail so the juice comes out of the beak! So cute!

 Devonshire clotted cream with orange zest to put on the scones.

Homemade strawberry jam.

When you are first seated, there is they a glass of the iced "tea of the day" waiting on you. In our case it was a blueberry hibiscus tea.  It was so delicious. It was sweet, fruity, and tangy. Delightful and refreshing!

You are also served a hot tea of the day to go along with the iced tea. Ours was a strawberry hibiscus.

 The first course served is a triple berry scone (strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry) and a chilled strawberry soup.

 Also, in addition to the hot tea of the day, you get to pick out two additional hot teas from her 
never-ending menu.

 We ordered pomegranate green tea and Lady Londonberry which is a strawberry and lemon flavor.

 The item in the picture above is something I found really neat. The cloth around the spout of the tea pot absorbs the tea that dribbles down the edge when you pour.   Just one of those things that I find interesting.

 The next course was a spring salad with a house vinaigrette and a vegetable quiche.

 Quiche with broccoli and tomatoes.

Close-up of the spring salad.

 Finally, to top it all off you get a 3 tier dessert platter.

 Finally, we were served tea sandwiches that included pimento cheese, cucumber and cream cheese, and tomato.  We also got a mini chocolate raspberry tart with a chocolate shell.

 In the middle we had chocolate covered strawberries, strawberry cream cheese on banana nut bread, and pineapple cream cheese on cinnamon swirl bread.

 Finally on the top we got lemon curd cupcakes, and mini fudge brownies.

 Overall, I had a wonderful experience at Laura's Tea Room.  Personally, I prefer Laura's over the tea rooms in Savannah. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful and all of the courses were delectable. Everything about it was fabulous!  The next time I visit Nana,  I will make sure we go to visit Laura's again.  So amazing!  If you are ever near Ridgeway, SC, please check out Laura's Tea Room.  I promise you won't be disappointed! Until next time...

Happy cooking,