You generally can tell how often cookbooks are used by their appearance. If they look as if they could be put on the shelf for sale in a bookstore, chances are you won’t find too many good recipes in it.
However, if they are falling apart and have tattered or sauce-marked pages, that’s a different story. They probably contain a gold mine of recipes.
My cookbook collection falls into those two categories. I have some that look like they were just purchased, and others that appear to have been rescued from someone’s recycling bin. It’s those worn and torn cookbooks that are my favorites.
One of those is entitled “Seafood Lover’s Bible,” by author and actor Michael F. Bavota, who formerly was seafood director of Program & Marketing in Tampa, Fla. The cookbook has more than 200 recipes for seafood found in most neighborhood supermarkets and offers a variety of dishes ranging from basic grilled, fried and baked to international favorites and traditional regional specialties.
Therese and I have probably tried at least a half-dozen to a dozen of the recipes in the cookbook, all of which we’ve found quite appealing. Just last week, we dined on a delicious entree called Mediterranean Shrimp Medley, which features shrimp, broccoli, scallions, white clam sauce and pasta.
The recipe I’m sharing today is for Shrimp Creole, which we had for supper last night, is also from Bavota’s cookbook. I tweaked the recipe a bit, adding some capers and substituting white wine for water when making the thickening agent. I think the result would make anyone from New Orleans salivate.
And lest I forget, there are a couple of new stains on the cookbook’s pages.
1 pound raw, frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 fresh red bell peppers
2 fresh green bell peppers
1 large onion
½ cup celery
1 clove garlic
2 ounces capers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1-pound can crushed tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1½ teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons flour
¼ cup white cooking wine
Chop peppers, onion, celery and garlic. Thaw and rinse shrimp. Select a 6-quart pot, add oil and preheat on medium heat. Stir in chopped vegetables and cook until colors turn bright and food is tender. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, cayenne pepper, black pepper, chili powder, salt and sugar. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Add shrimp and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Whisk flour and wine in a cup and stir slowly into creole to thicken. Serve with rice or black beans.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8.