Starters for Turkey Day — celery root soup, shrimp

Published 12:08 pm Saturday, November 12, 2016

Last week for All Saint’s day I had a small party in our cemetery. I like doing this every year and had another couple from a nearby plantation come for drinks and appetizers. We set a small table in the cemetery with real napkins, a nice tablecloth, and flowers. It was a hot day, but very nice nonetheless and I decided to start with a cold soup. Now this soup was to be a starter for my Thanksgiving dinner, (I was trying it out). It was to be served hot, but decided it would taste good cold. It was a hit and I think I can serve it as a starter for Thanksgiving. There is nothing worse than people standing around waiting for the feast and there is nothing to snack on. So a cup of soup is a good idea to help the wait.

So for another starter, (one that can be done ahead since you have your hands full) I chose a marinated shrimp on crackers. This is from my new cookbook from Julia Reed and it seemed so Southern and easy to do ahead. It was delicious also. So if you need something to serve ahead of the feast think about these two things, they are light enough not to ruin the appetite for all the food to come.


From ‘Food and Wine’ November 2016.

Celery Root Bisque with Walnut-Parsley Gremolata

Serves 8

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 large leek, white and light parts only, thinly sliced

5 cloves garlic, crushed

2 ½ lbs. celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice (8 cups)

One 2-inch chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (10z.), plus ¼ cup freshly grated cheese

2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

½ cup walnuts

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup coarsely chopped parsley

½ cup heavy cream

Kosher salt and pepper

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the leek and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the celery root, Parmesan chunk, stock and 5 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over moderately low heat. Stirring occasionally, until the celery root is tender, 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the walnuts in a pie place and toast for 5 to 7 minutes, until golden. Let cool, then finely chop and transfer to a bowl. Add the oil, parsley and grated cheese and mix well.

In a blender, puree the soup in 2 batches until very smooth. Pour into a clean saucepan and stir in the heavy cream; season with salt and pepper and reheat if necessary. Serve topped with the walnut gremolata. Serve hot or cold.


From Julia Reed’s South

Marinated Shrimp

2 pounds (16 to 20 count) shrimp, shelled, shells reserved

6 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus more for finishing

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 bay leaves

Baked Saltines (recipe follows)

Using the shells from shrimp you can make the stock as follows:

2 pounds shrimp, preferably with the heads still attached

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 cups water

Generous pinch of salt

Remove the shrimp shells and heads. In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shells and heads, and sauté both stirring and shaking for about 4 minutes. Add the water and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn down the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour. Strain the stock into a smaller pot and reduce the liquid by at least 1 cup.

To marinate the shrimp:

Smash the garlic cloves and sprinkle the cloves with ½ teaspoon of the salt and make a small paste and put into a small bowl.

Coarsely grind the peppercorns, add the additional ½ teaspoon salt and the lime juice and mix well. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the shrimp stock.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bay leaves, garlic mixture, and peppercorns and cook for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan and stirring often. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, still shaking the pan and make sure the shrimp are pink on both sides.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Taste the shrimp to make sure they are just cooked through and add more salt as necessary. Finish by stirring in a squeeze of lime juice and remaining 1 tablespoon shrimp stock.

Serve immediately or at room temperature. When the shrimp have cooled, you may cover and refrigerate them, but remove the shrimp 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Accompany them with baked saltines.

These are good on their own!

Bakes Saltines

Makes about 40 crackers

1 sleeve Nabisco Premium Saltine crackers

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Old Bay Seasoning for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the saltines crackers in a single layer on a baking sheet. Use a pastry brush to baste the saltines with a layer of the butter and sprinkle each cracker with Old Bay. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until golden. Let cool, and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.