We made big plans.

On the menu: Fideuà (Spanish Pasta with Tomatoes and Shrimp)

How many times have I tried to write this blog post? Too many. This is attempt number four, I think. Thinking outside of school has become kind of difficult lately. When I’m not absorbing as much information as I can manage about bees, blueberries, or statistics, I’m on Pinterest or playing Bakery Story. Yeah, Bakery Story, that game where you build your own virtual bakery. It’s a major guilty pleasure and it’s a total brainsucker. Anyway, I haven’t been spending much time thinking about food. Real food, that is.

It boils down to this: cooking around here has become (gulp) a chore. A chore!

What is going on here?! Here’s my introspective take on the situation: I started this blog almost two years ago because I was so disinterested in pretty much all aspects of my existence. By all aspects I mean school, which was also work, and work is always what I have based my happiness on. It’s a huge character flaw. I didn’t like what I was studying, and studying was my life, so I found something to hold my interest: cooking. My obsession grew by leaps and bounds. All I could think about was food. I look back on old posts of mine (but you shouldn’t; they’re real gross) and marvel (in a small way; ego trips is not my thing) at my progress. I learned a lot in a short period of time.

Two years later, I’m in a totally different place. Well, I’m in the same town at the same school and crazy in love with the same guy, but I’m studying something new. And I love it. I’m not so crazy about the late nights reading scientific literature and the constant pressure to determine my dissertation topic with basically no knowledge of my study area, but it’s part of the job, and I am loving this job. With me constantly reading papers and Kevin finishing his thesis, we’re spending far more time at our desks lately than at the dining room table.

This dish, which we made about a month ago, is our most recent culinary adventure. It’s been almost a month since we’ve cooked something new and exciting. Gah! But we made big plans with this one. Making anything from Cook’s Illustrated is always an endeavor. We were on a roll of cooking at least one meal from every issue until I left to work on the blueberry farm, but once I got back home, it was time to get down to business.

Spanish cuisine makes us happy because it’s full of paprika. There is a lot of love for the sweet (or smoky!) peppery goodness that is paprika in our house, and paprika definitely played a role in this dish. Also making an appearance are fideo, a Spanish pasta that is essentially short spaghetti, a quick shrimp stock, and aioli, a lemony mayonnaise that is pretty pervasive throughout Spanish cuisine. It takes a bit of time and a lot of dishes to put together, but you are rewarded with a delicious dinner that is full of flavor.

I sincerely hope Kevin and I get back into the kitchen soon. All work and no play is making us very dull graduate students!

Fideuà (Spanish Pasta with Tomatoes and Shrimp)
slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, July/August 2012

I think I remembered why I don’t cook too often from Cook’s Illustrated as I was typing up this recipe: their recipes are so long! I split it into a few parts so that it’s easier to understand. It takes some time, and plenty of dishes, but the effort is so worth it. If you can’t find fideo, you can wrap a handful of spaghetti in a kitchen towel and snap it along the edge of your kitchen counter into 2 inch pieces.

For the shrimp:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound large shrimp

For pasta:
2 3/4 cup water
reserved shrimp shells
1 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 7 oz bag fideo
1 onion, finely chopped
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/4 cup dry vermouth
Aioli, chopped fresh parsley, and lemon wedges, for serving

For Aioli:
1 garlic clove, finely grated (or use a garlic press!)
2 large egg yolks
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon sugar
ground white pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Start with the shrimp: peel and devein the shrimp, reserving the shells. Combine olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, then toss with the shrimp and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make a quick stock: place shrimp shells, water, chicken stock, and bay leaf into a 2 quart saucepan. Bring to a slight simmer over medium heat, then keep on low heat until ready to use. You just want to heat the liquid and cook the shrimp shells until they turn pink.

Prepare the pasta: toss the fideo and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Toast the pasta over medium high heat until it turns golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 7-8 minutes. Transfer pasta to a bowl.

Preheat your broiler, placing an oven rack 6 inches from the heating element. Add the last 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add the onion and soften, stirring frequently, 4-6 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens a bit, 4-6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add 2 tablespoons garlic, paprika, smoked paprika, and anchovy paste. Cook until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add pasta and stir to combine. Pour broth through a fine mesh strainer into skillet. Add wine, salt, pepper, and stir well. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until pasta is cooked, 8-10 minutes.

The final step: Transfer pasta to an oven safe dish (or use the same skillet, if it’s ovenproof). Add shrimp and stir into pasta mixture to partially submerge. Broil until shrimp are opaque and pasta is dry with browned, crispy spots, 5-7 minutes. Serve with parsley, lemon wedges, and aioli.

Assemble the aioli: Combine garlic, egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, sugar, and pepper. Whisking constantly, drizzle the oil very slowly into egg yolk mixture until thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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15 Responses to We made big plans.

  1. Emma says:

    Mmm, aioli. So… how does one pronounce fideuà? I’ve been giving it a try ever since I saw this post in my email last night. A lot of mouth moving and vowel sounding is happening, but I’m so very un-Spanish inclined.

    We’ve been out of paprika for ages, but finally picked up a bunch at the coop in Belfast last weekend. I was so excited to reload on that, as well as dried fruit. It’s crazy expensive up here (think $9 for a bag of craisins…).

    So glad you’re loving school/work! Makes the huge amount of time spent at it all the more enjoyable:)

    • Brianne says:

      We just uttered a jumble of syllables whenever we said it. I took Spanish all through middle and high school, but fideuà just doesn’t roll off the tongue for me. So shrimp-pa-pa it is.

      $9 Craisins?! Girl. I’ll come see you and I’ll bring you some…whatever Craisins cost down here. It’s definitely not $9! Yikes.

      I’m certainly digging school. It’s not the blueberry farm or potato inspecting, but it’ll do.

      • Emma says:

        I guess they’re only $6/lb at the regular grocery store… but I so enjoy buying them at the natural-y store, and that’s where they’re $9. Sheesh.

        Well, looks like the goat folks decided at the absolute last minute that because of the weather, they’re going to switch their event to Sunday. Which means I can’t be there. Which means I’ll have lots and lots of time to buy up bulk downstate. :/

        Yes! Come visit! It would give me an excuse to turn the heat on in our house!

  2. carey says:

    I think seafood + tomatoes is a combination that’s often overlooked in American cuisine. One look at this immediately reminded me of the brief time I spent in Spain in high school (when I was far too young to fully appreciate what I was eating…especially when there were whole shrimp with shrimp faces starting back at me). My Italian ex’s mom would make tomato + seafood pasta dishes — so so good.

    My blogging experience began much the same way, and then it seemed like my momentum slowed once I started settling into a routine and fixating on a handful of easy, tasty dishes. It feels like I have no time, but I’m definitely no where near as busy as you are, so I’m not sure where it’s going! Glad you’re enjoying the craziness. (:

    • Brianne says:

      Oh, I was SO CLOSE to going to Spain in high school! I wish I had been able to go. But shrimp faces would not have gone over well with 17 year old me, either. Ugh. 17 year old me. Moving on!

      One of my favorite seafood/tomato combinations is mussels in white wine with tomatoes. Which is not American, either. You’re so right about the lack of seafood/tomato combinations in American cooking.

      I think things will settle down for me eventually. Well, I certainly hope things will settle down. I really have no idea if they will or not. But I am indeed enjoying the craziness

  3. Hannah says:

    I do love paprika – smoky, spicy, sweet – all of it! I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying school so much, too! I hope you and Kevin can slip into the kitchen a little more often…you find some terrific recipes to share. :)

  4. shannon says:

    i want someone to make this for me right now. mostly because sometimes i spend a wee bit too much time cooking for the blog to make beautiful stuff like this for myself. i love spanish flavors, so this is on my list of soon-to-be comfort foods. i actually think i have everything but the fideo and shrimp in my kitchen right now.
    i’m going to formally request your storm 8 id for bakery story. because it’s a timesucker i’d like to be friends/neighbors with you on.
    so happy to hear how much things have turned around in the “i love work/school” department over the duration of this blog. it makes me smile.

    • Brianne says:

      Oh, lady. The things you post on your blog are rather beautiful, if I may say so. Hello, Momofuku cakes! And your daughter’s birthday party, with all of those decorations?! Whoa. That was impressive.

      Do I have to post this here? My ID is booseph, after my cat. (This confession compounded with the admission that I play this game with glee has my face as red as a beet.)

      • shannon says:

        ha! ok, i should have told you just to message me. edit your comment and no one will see your shame. :)
        don’t feel bad about your bakery story addiction; lots of us do it. i know several food bloggers that play it, so it’s okay. everyone needs a brain break. and right now, i mean, the halloween edition? it’s awesome.

        thank you re: the blog loving. she really liked her party and her cake (and it reminds me i need to get on posting that one and the apple pie layer cake i made for my own birthday). i’m gearing up for a halloween party for her next weekend; cutting out pennant flags as we speak.

  5. Audrey says:

    The shrimps look very appetizing. Paprika is indeed tasty – I cook paprika chicken pretty often. It’s easy and everybody loves it at home. So, it’s one of those dishes that appear quite a lot in our home.

  6. Like you, I’ve been using paprika in everything lately – sweet paprika to be exact. Just a pinch can do wonders to pork ribs or oven baked chicken. I love the colour and the smokiness it adds

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