Small Bites: Bruschetta and spicy shrimp

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Because Jack’s uber-long commute has us eating dinner fairly late in the evening he has requested small bites versus a full coursed dinner.

Eating too much too late gives him heart burn. That’s not good; we definitely want to avoid that. But he still wants to eat something together and he wanted it to feel special the way sitting down to dinner might feel special. He wanted it to feel like a reward, a mini-event when he got home. He wanted a little culinary happiness at the end of his day. That commute sucks! When he got home he wanted to celebrate and totally relax.

I get ya, sweetie.

He wanted a gourmet snack: a crab cake and chilled glass of white wine. Maybe two scrumptious fish tacos. Or how about a fresh and flavorful ceviche with a spoonful of mango salsa?

As the weeknight cook this request works out perfectly for me. It’s small, light and relatively easy to prepare one small dish versus a main meal, which usually has a protein, veggie and a starch equalling three small dishes. With a small bite I still get to flex my creative culinary impulses, but it’s faster and heck, it’s economical. Plus, appetizers are simply more fun to make and to eat.

Tonight I went with bruschetta and spicy shrimp.

This meal took me all of 15-20 minutes to prep AND cook. LOVE. IT.

Before you do anything else prep your shrimp so that they can marinate while you’re cooking everything else. Wash em, dry em, devein them … whatever floats your boat. Dump them into a bowl and add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, a Tbsp soy sauce, a Tbsp sweet chile sauce and a crank of black pepper. Let these puppies sit around while you make your bruschetta.

Bruschetta—basically an open faced sandwich—is perfect for getting rid of whatever’s in your fridge. I had some tomatoes, avocado and a red onion left over from last night’s ceviche. I just added some thinly sliced Mexican cotijo cheese, which has a wonderful salty mozarella taste to it.

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Bruschetta
Serves 2-3 people

5-6 slices of rustic sourdough bread (or any bread of your choice)
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
2 oz cotijo cheese (or whatever you have), thinly sliced
olive oil, drizzled
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 large clove garlic, sliced in half

Preheat broiler.
Step 1: Rub garlic onto one side of your bread slices and butter the other side
Step 2: Layer onto the garlic side of the bread your onion, cotijo cheese, avocado and tomato. Drizzle with olive oil.
Step 3: If you have a grill, first toast your bruschetta (butter side down) for a couple of minutes giving your bread a buttery crispy crust. When lightly browned on the bottom, transfer them to a cookie sheet and pop them under the broiler for 3-5 minutes.
Step 4: Remove and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
Step 5: Garnish with a bit of greenery. I had leftover Italian parsley so I sprinkled a few sprigs atop each bruschetta. Cilantro would have worked equally if not better.

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While your bruschetta are in the oven pop your shrimp onto the same grill you toasted your bread on. If you don’t have a stovetop cast iron grill, go get one. Or just use a saute pan. Whatever makes you happiest. Cook three minutes on each side. Plop them on a plate and stick some toothpicks in ’em. Garnish with a bit of greenery if it makes you tingly.

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Then go pour yourself a beer (left—that was my choice) or a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc (right—Jack’s choice) and go prop your feet on the couch while you nosh on restaurant quality snacks and watch the boob tube.

Relax, man. It’s all good.

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