Thursday, April 16, 2015

Shrimp Creole and the Florida Panhandle

As a little girl, living in the Florida panhandle with parents from southwest Georgia, we would eat quite a bit of fresh seafood. On Saturday afternoons, daddy would load us up in the Pontiac and head over to the coastal areas for a fresh seafood shopping day. We would have several coolers filled with ice and momma would have her shopping lists for her seafood favorites. We would always purchase fresh shrimp, quarts of shelled oysters, and usually at least one type of fish. Red Snapper was always a good choice. Either Sopchoppy or Panacea were the destinations of our travels. I always hoped that daddy chose Panacea, as there was a restaurant where I loved to eat. It was named Angelo's Seafood Restaurant and was built on stilts over the water. I would get mounds of fried shrimp with all of the trimmings, and a Shirley Temple to boot. Angelo's is still in business and a great place to continue making memories.
When I married and we moved to Florida, we were lucky enough to have a great seafood market in Placida, Florida, with the freshest seafood daily from the Gulf of Mexico. We have a beach condo on Little Gasparilla Island and always stop for fresh "pink gold" Florida shrimp. The flavor of these delectable bites is salty/sweet, and the texture is firm and appealing. They freeze great and have no loss of flavor or texture
when thawed.

One of my favorite shrimp recipes is Shrimp Creole. These days, it is the rage to serve creole dishes with grits, but I still prefer rice for this recipe.

Shrimp Creole

2 medium size green bell peppers- chopped
1 medium Vidalia or Florida sweet onion - diced
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley
about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt and a good sprinkling of pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 (16 ounce) cans whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 pound medium shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined- if you don't have access to good quality fresh shrimp- flash frozen shimp work well - and you can purchase bags that already cleaned, cooked, and deveined.

Easy Preparation

Saute the first 8 ingredients in a Dutch oven until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the canned tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes. Add shrimp; cook over medium heat until well heated. Discard the bay leaf and serve over hot cooked rice. Sprinkle on hot pepper sauce, if desired. We have too many little ones to add hot sauce to the recipe while simmering. 

This recipe was revised from a version that originally was published in a 1980 edition of Southern Living magazine.

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