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Shrimp Scampi My Way

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Once long time ago we were visiting Lui-Lui, an Italian Pizzeria & Restaurant in New Hampshire. Recent immigrants and inexperienced out-eaters at that time, we had a vague understanding of local and international food. Dishes in the menu looked intriguing and mysterious. Calsone, antipasto, bruschetta, prosciutto, ciabatta, and what not. Among those difficult to pronounce viands was shrimp scampi. Luckily we knew what shrimp was, so why not to try this, we thought. The dish was served and looked like shrimps floating in a pink sauce of a kind. It was hard to tell what the sauce was made of, but it was very tasty. It seemed like creamy cheese sauce with buttery flavor, garlic, and a hint of red pepper.
Then some time later I suddenly decided to improvise, as it often happens to me in the kitchen. What about making my own shrimp scampi, I thought. In the fridge I happened to have precooked frozen jumbo shrimp, some cream cheese, half & half, and butter. The ingredients compiled in my mind in a pretty attractive recipe. That's how this easy pseudo-scampi was born and later became one of Alex's favorites.

What you need:
10 frozen jumbo precooked shrimp
1.5 cups half & half
0.5 cup milk
4-6 tb spoons whipped cream cheese
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp butter
Dash of pepperoncini or cayenne
Chopped greens
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Put half & half, milk, and cream cheese in a sauce pan and put on a very low heat. Mix it occasionally and break up clumps of cream cheese. Add salt and pepperoncini to taste. Watch the consistency of the sauce: if it's not thick enough, add more cheese. When cream cheese is all melted, add garlic, frozen shrimp, and warm it thoroughly through on low heat. At the end mix in butter. When serving, sprinkle with greens and grated parmesan cheese.
This is a rather fattening dish, definitely not for dieters. To reduce fat, use whole milk, neafchatel cheese (it has about 1/3 less fat) and flour thickener (mix well 2-3 tsp flour in 1/5 cup water, pour in sauce constantly mixing to desired thickness).
This sauce calls for good fresh bread with crunchy crust or a toast. It also goes very well with any kind of pasta or rice. So you can easily transform  this appetiser into a main course.

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