Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Cookbook" - Shrimp and Feta Vermicelli - For Forrest Gump's 20th "birthday"

Date I made this recipe:  September 7, 2014:  Forrest Gump is 20 years old!

The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Cookbook – Recipes & Reflections from FORREST GUMP; foreword by Winston Groom, author of the novel, Forrest Gump
Published by:  Oxmoor House
ISBN:  0-8487-1479-2
Purchased at Riverbank Antiques & Bookshop, Prescott, WI
Recipe:  Shrimp and Feta Vermicelli – p. 88

Ways to make your husband happy, part 802:  Make him a shrimp and pasta dish from The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Cookbook that he loved to commemorate the 20th anniversary of one of his favorite movies, Forrest Gump.  I am a genius!

Believe it or not folks, Forrest Gump (the movie, not the fictional character) turns 20 this month.  It was a cute little movie, wasn't it, featuring a loveable main character, Forrest, a fun group of friends – Bubba and Captain Dan - and a mama who imparted all kinds of wisdom to her baby boy.  And the movie is fun because it is emminently quotable, although truth be told, my favorite line is not "Life is like a box of chocolates..." but rather "Stupid is as stupid does." No elaboration, needed, right?

Now, I don't have scientific evidence to support this, but I think a movie has made its mark in society when it is played and replayed and replyaed on various and sundry cable channels until you feel like you must have stared in it, or at the very least, written it, you've seen it so often.  Forrest Gump is now one of those movies.  Of course, being the Academy Award winner for Best Picture might also have something to do with it. 

On the other hand, for the longest time, the running joke was that cable station, TNT, had morphed into "The Shawshank Channel" as The Shawshank Redemption was the only show that on that channel.  Daytime, nighttime, anytime in between, when you tuned in, it was Shawshank followed by more Shawshank followed by yet another round of Shawshank.  Like Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption was also released in 1994 along with these other contenders for Best Picture:  Pulp Fiction, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Quiz Show.  I have to tell you that I'm rather surprised that Pulp Fiction (the only movie I did not see that year) did not win but that is the beauty of the awards, right, because say it with me, folks:  "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."  "Thank you, thank you, I'm here all week..."

By the way, the ending of The Shawshank Redemption is the stuff [my] dreams are made of – well, except for that prison part.  And shall I tell you that I have yet to watch Pulp Fiction? I know, right?  I mean, I've seen parts of it but not the entire movie although some of the music from the movie is fantastic.  Two words:  Dick Dale!  (Dick Dale wrote the song Misirlou that was used in the movie and is known as The King of the Surf Guitar).  Four Weddings and a Funeral is still good for a laugh or two (save for anything uttered by actress Andie MacDowell who did not work for me in that movie.)  My favorite line from that movie came from  Gareth, played by actor, Simon Callow, who uttered "It's bloody Brigadoon!" upon seeing, and then participating in the Scottish dancing at "Carrie's" (Andie MacDowell) Scottish wedding. (FYI—the movie/musical, Brigadoon, starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse, was about Americans in Scotland, hence the remark.)

Okay, where was I?  Ah yes, Forrest Gump.   If you watched the movie (and you have, correct?), then you know that the character, Bubba, was pivotal to the plot and was instrumental in Forrest becoming a shrimp boat captain.  In 1996, The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., named after characters "Bubba" Blue and Forrest Gump, opened a restaurant by the same name (there's even one in the Mall of America) and the rest is history.  The cookbook though, was published in 1994, shortly after the movie came out.

Like Bubba and Forrest, we love shrimp in this household, so any and all of the recipes in this book would have worked for us but Andy decided on "Shrimp and Feta Vermicelli" over "the other pasta dish" (his description), "Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp" (p. 87).   As he put it, "the shrimp and feta had fewer ingredients and I liked that."  After eating his way through an entire serving, he declared "I LOVE this pasta!"  And so there you have it.

Happily, this book did not contain any shrimp for dessert (or worse, in dessert) recipes because we are not the TV show, Chopped and therefore do not do crazy things with our food.  There are limits, people, limits.  But, as the Table of Contents suggests, You Can Bake It, You Can Barbecue It, etc. and if you can't find something yummy to make in any of those chapters then put the book down and walk away. 

And speaking of Chopped and other TV cooking contest shows, I've heard many times that seafood and cheese do not go together and yes, there are some fish that should never be slathered with cheese, but shrimp and feta go well together.  In fact, this recipe is somewhat similar to a favorite we made and remade and remade from Bon Appétit magazine many years ago.  If you want a simple but impressive and tasty party dish, this is the one!

One final note, I also have another Forrest Gump cookbook – Forrest Gump My Favorite Chocolate Recipes, but Andy and I both agreed that chocolate did not go with shrimp at all (worse than cheese!) and so we will cook from that another time.  In the meantime, start channel flipping as you don't want to miss a minute, not even for the 300th time, of the movie.

PS—The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Cookbook contains a lot movie quotes including "Bubba sure knew his shrimp," but not this one from Forrest in response to LBJ's  (President Lyndon Baines Johnson) question "Where were you hit?:  "In the buttocks."  Hilarious!  Well done, Winston Groom!

Shrimp and Feta Vermicelli – Yield:  3 servings
8 ounces vermicelli, uncooked
1 pound unpeeled medium-size shrimp (Ann's Note:  the instructions say to peel and devein the shrimp but you can save yourself a lot of trouble if you just buy shrimp that is already peeled and deveined)
¼ cup olive oil, divided
Pinch of sweet red pepper flakes
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
½ teaspoon crushed garlic
1 (14 ½ - ounce) can tomato wedges, undrained (Ann's Note:  I searched the world over in my grocery story and couldn't find tomato wedges so I substituted diced tomatoes.)
¼ cup Chablis or other dry white wine
¾ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Garnish:  fresh basil sprigs

 Cook vermicelli according to package directions; drain.  Set aside and keep warm.  (Ann's Note:  vermicelli doesn't take long to cook so start it when you're on the final 10 minutes of the dish.)

Peel and devein shrimp.  (Ann's Note:  Those who can, do.  Those who can't (or don't want to), buy it frozen and ready to go!)  Cook shrimp and red pepper flakes in 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until shrimp turn slightly pink.  Arrange in an ungreased 10- x 6- x 2-inch baking dish; sprinkle with cheese.

Add remaining oil to skillet; add garlic, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until tender.  Add tomatoes; cook 1 minute.  Stir in wine and next four ingredients (spices); simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Spoon over shrimp.  Bake, uncovered, at 400F for 10 minutes.  Serve over pasta.  Garnish, if desired.

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