In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

How to Seduce a Lady with A Shrimp

This is not my friend.
My pal at work is planning a romantic dinner for a woman he would like to... how shall I say this... "bed." He would like to "bed" her.
He's got things well in hand -- tiny little lollipops of lamb in a port wine reduction, potatoes au gratin (Julia Child-style) -- and a flourless chocolate cake for dessert. (You have a woman over: you must serve chocolate. Violate this rule at your peril.)

But he needs to start the meal with a bang if he intends to end with one.

The nice thing about appetizers is you can splurge a bit because you're not making a whole lot of it. So I suggested a fresh lobster cocktail. He demurred. Iodine aversion? No idea.

I thought of, but immediately rejected, caviar -- too obvious he would be trying to impress her. Caviar should only be served to people who really love caviar. The others will see through your smoke screen, and you'll be out $100.

So: that leaves, obviously, shrimp.
Now there are many things to do with shrimp, but if you want to do some thing impressive, easy, and sure to score you points with the ladies (and gents for that matter: my friend Leeny made these at a very uncomfortable dinner with one of her ex-boyfriends who may or may not be clinically depressed, and he perked up and ate them all), make these:
Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp
As many slices of prosciutto

as you have large, raw, deveined peeled, tail-on shrimp

Prepared pesto (try to get the fresh stuff rather than the jarred variety, but any will work in a pinch)

That's it!

Toss the raw shrimp about in a bowl of pesto, perhaps thinned with a little - I say a LITTLE - water.

Let them get all green -- they should sit for about 20 minutes, not much more.

Take out each shrimp and wrap it like a mummy from head to toe with a piece of prosciutto. Lay in a broiler-proof pan. Repeat with the other shrimp till done. Drizzle the whole thing with a little olive oil, a pinch of coarse salt, and a fresh grinding of black pepper.

Put the pan under the broiler -- about three or four inches away from the flame -- for 3 minutes. Take out the pan, flip each shrimp, and put back under the broiler for a minute. Take it out, pull one shrimp from the pan, and cut into it. it should be tender but opaque. If it is, you're done. If it's not, put it back in the oven for another minute.
Serve these bad boys warm. Prepare for the ladies to chew your fingers.


  1. Don't forget butter. Somehow I must find a way to incorporate butter into this dish.

  2. Butter is easy! toss a little into the pan in which you cook them, or make a compound butter with pesto (or just fresh basil and a little salt) and plop it on the hot shrimp to melt when they come out of the oven...