I love being treated to a decadent meal at my friend Jane’s house. Not only is the food delicious and expertly prepared, but she always manages to make the evening special by using the fancy martini glasses or opening a singular wine.
However, when pressed to provide her deepest entertaining secrets, Jane will tell you that she sticks with recipes that are simple to prepare. She might even cheat and buy her dessert at the local bakery….ssshh! That way she can enjoy her guests and not be stuck in the kitchen all night.
Here are 2 of my favorites that look pretty on the serving dish and are also semi-healthy.
SHRIMP WITH CHINESE PEA PODS:
This is an appetizer recipe that will serve approximately a dozen people. Place an 8 ounce package of cream cheese, ¼ cup green onion slices, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ cup mayonnaise and 1 ½ cups packed watercress leaves into a food processor or blender and process until blended thoroughly. Chill this mixture.
Blanch ½ pound of Chinese pea pods and set aside, then cut a red bell pepper into thin strips. Clean 1 ½ pounds medium cooked shrimp and then wrap each shrimp with a pea pod and a strip of pepper, securing it in place with a toothpick. Serve with the cream cheese sauce. If you cannot find the watercress at your local store, feel free to skip it.
GRILLED SWORDFISH STEAKS WITH BASIL CAPER BUTTER:
In a small bowl, blend 6 tablespoons of softened butter with 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil, 2 teaspoons of drained capers and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and then refrigerate. You can keep this in your frig for a couple of days prior to using.
In a large shallow dish, mix 1 tablespoon of good quality olive oil with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Season the 4 8-ounce swordfish steaks (cut approximately 1 inch thick) with salt and pepper and then turn the fish over in the marinade a couple of times. Refrigerate the fish for about 15 minutes while you are lighting your grill.
Over a hot fire, grill the swordfish until nicely charred on both sides and cooked within, but don’t overcook it. About 4 minutes per side should do it. Transfer the fish to your serving plate and then top each one with a dollop of the basil butter and serve immediately.
I have also made this recipe with snapper. It was excellent and I imagine that you could use any steak-type fish at home. Don’t think that this dish is for guests only! It is simple enough to throw together for a quick weeknight supper. Freshly chopped tomatoes would be yummy on top also. Use our imagination – it’s hard to mess up a piece of good quality seafood. Serve with an arugula salad, steamed asparagus, and brown rice for a meal that won’t be on your conscience when you step on the scale the next morning.