Every week, your challenge is to create an eye-opening dish within our capricious themes and parameters. Blog your submission on Open Salon under your real name by Monday 10 a.m. EST -- with photos and your story behind the dish -- and we'll republish the winners on Salon on Tuesday. (It takes only 30 seconds to start a blog.) And yes, mashed potato sculpture counts as a dish. Emphatically.
THIS WEEK'S WINNER!
Felicia Lee! For hating -- yes, hating -- peas. She did watch a pea nearly take her sister's life, so that's reasonable. But she also bucked up enough to give us that story, a fascinating linguistic account of the name of the pea, and a fantastic recipe for the one way she can stand to eat them. (Recipe for Spicy Pea Puree Soup With Mint and Cilantro included.)
AND HOW ABOUT A HAND FOR OUR CATEGORY WINNERS?
In the Artichoke category:
Sueinaz, for a wonderful little post about respecting the canned and packaged foods she learned to cook with ... and giving us a fantastic recipe for sautéed peas and artichokes with a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure twist (for whether you're using fresh or packaged vegetables). (Recipe for Artichokes and Peas Antipasto included.)
In the Cold Soup category:
Linda Shiue, for reflections on puréeing vegetables for baby food, and for sharing a very adult, very refreshing cold pea purée soup with the rest of us. (Recipe for Cold Mint Pea Soup With Indian Spices included.)
In the Sugar Snap category:
Cyndi Baker, for an explanation of the joys of living with a farm share (you might know them as Community Supported Agriculture, or CSAs): "The benefit of eating fresh vegetables may seem obvious, but ... the real epiphany was flavor. Eating something as simple as fresh Brussels sprouts changed me from the innocent house frau happily buying bruised and olden sprouts from the local Kroger to a more sophisticated produce connoisseur." (Recipe for Sautéed Sugar Snap Peas included.)
In the Fancied-up Snack category:
Mamie Chen, for an impressive, easy-to-make snack inspired by those incredibly addictive wasabi peas -- little toasts with pea purée and a wasabi crust. My advice for when you try this out: Toast the bread first to get it crisp before spreading the peas on, and make sure to taste that wasabi crust to know how much you really want to spread on! (Recipe for Wasabi-Crusted Pea Crostini included.)
In the Prosciutto Risotto category:
Just Cathy, for sharing a signature recipe from Paul Bertolli, former chef of Alice Waters' Chez Panisse restaurant, a classic combination of tender sweet peas, the deep, salty funk of prosciutto, and a creamy, stirred wave of Italian rice. (Recipe for Pea and Prosciutto Risotto included.)
In the Canned, Frozen, and Seven-Layer Salad category:
Lucy Mercer, for singing the praises of canned and frozen peas, and letting us in on one of the great traditions of the South: The Layered Salad, essentially a casserole that never sees heat. (Recipe for Sweet Pea Seven-Layered Salad included.)
In the Greek Pasta category:
Cindy Capitani, another pea-hater, comes in with a delicious pasta, with instructions that the peas are strictly optional. What is it with pea haters writing in with pea recipes? I wonder if they doth protest too much ... (Recipe for Orzo With Feta, Mint and Peas included.)
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AND NOW, FOR THIS WEEK'S CHALLENGE
Every year, right around this time, people start setting sail from towns like Bayou La Batre, Ala., Biloxi, Miss., and Venice, La., to shrimp the waters of the Gulf. It's a magical time down there. Every morning boats pull into docks, selling shrimp so fresh, so sweet they're creamy when you indulge your curiosity and bite into one raw.
Still, most people will opt to cook their shrimp, and the list of specialties is awfully long, as anyone who's seen Forrest Gump will attest.
This year, of course, shrimp season is looking a little less magical for our friends down on the Gulf, with the BP oil spill threatening some of their best fishing grounds, not to mention the incredibly complex, fragile ecosystem of the Gulf Coast. And adding to that pressure is the widespread fear that Gulf seafood is unsafe to eat (my take, based on conversations with scientists and fishery management experts: If you can still buy it at this point, it's safe).
So this week, in honor of shrimp season and the men and women who catch American shrimp, let's get all Bubba Gump and share our favorite shrimp recipes and stories.
Be sure to tag your posts: SKC shrimp
Scoring and winning
Scores will be very scientific, given for appealing photos, interesting stories behind your submissions, creativity, execution and (figurative) saltiness.