When I was a little girl, my weekends were often spent browsing antiques at a consignment shop or tag saling with my grandmother and mom. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t loathe both activities. But now, as an adult, I love old things -- they give us this connection to the way things used to be. And much wisdom can be found in the way things were.
Because of my sweet sport for antiques and old things, I have several antiques, from a lovely sideboard to a collection of whisky jugs. Years ago, I started collecting old correspondence from the turn of the century. Someday I hope to use some of it to create some fabulous historical fiction.
My interest has, more recently, turned to vintage cookbooks and handwritten recipes. Last week, a new batch from eBay arrived and it included a 1950s cookbook of famous recipes from famous eateries. Among them was this recipe from Nelson House in Poughkeepsie, New York.
The recipe literally popped out at me, since Poughkeepsie is near and dear to my heart. I grew up in and around Poughkeepsie, so it seemed like fate for me to adapt it for a new recipe. If you haven’t heard of Nelson House (and you probably haven’t), it was a famous hotel in Poughkeepsie known for being the place that FDR’s staffers stayed when he visited his Hyde Park home. It closed in the 60s, and the city has been trying to demolish it … not sure if it’s still standing. Anyone know?
This shrimp recipe (called Marinated Fresh Shrimp in the cookbook, Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Favorite Eating Places
, originally published in 1950-- my copy is from 1955) is simple and easy, which definitely helped in the allure.
For my adaptation, Nelson House Shrimp and Tomatoes
, I cut the oil in half and traded thyme and parsley for basil. Also, instead of serving over something called a “cooked rice ring” (what is that?!?), I suggest you serve it over cooked rice.
The recipe also called for fresh shrimp … I used raw frozen shrimp, which are easy and accessible. Stock up when they go on sale, and keep ‘em in your freezer. And the great thing? Defrosting only takes maybe 10 minutes. You simply place the frozen shrimp in a colander over the sink and let cold water run over them. Maybe stir once or twice so that they all get the water treatment. Then they are soft, defrosted and ready to be peeled and cooked.
Overall, the recipe takes under 20 minutes from start to finish. And the results? Mouthwatering. the perfectly cooked shrimp is tender and almost buttery, though there is no butter to be found in this recipe.
I knew it was a hit in my house when both of my children ate every last bite -- and asked for more. We ended up standing by the stove, splitting the last few bites. It was heavenly.Sarah W. Caron (aka scaron) is a food writer, editor and blogger who writes about family-friendly foods and raising a healthy family at Sarah’s Cucina Bella.
How do you like shrimp best?