Saturday, November 15, 2014

FLAMING Shrimp (Gambas Flambees with Sambuca via A KITCHEN IN FRANCE) - Recipe and Cookbook Review

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Day three of my dinner party review...

The party was part of a review of of "A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse " by Mimi Thorisson.... 6 Recipes from the book,  8 Friends and family... And this one even features FIRE... What could go wrong???

Not a thing actually.  The dish flambeed; and no first responders needed to be called.

First, my disclaimer... I received this book FREE! courtesy of BLOGGING FOR BOOKS.  I was sent the book in exchange for this review.  The book was theirs, but the opinions are mine.

I posted my first course for a dinner party for 8 of my family and friends; Her Onion Tart recipe... (LOVED IT!).

I served the tart as my Sandwich in a Soup and Sandwich course.  I made Mimi's
PUMPKIN SOUP as the soup course.

The short version of my longer review of the book (see this post) is that  the book is astounding.  Stunningly beautiful photographs, wonderful descriptions of her family and life in the French countryside and of course wonderful recipes.  I made 6 dishes for my party and each came out as expected, and wonderful!

I served in courses, First course was to be a Soup and Sandwich.  I sort of fudged the sandwich and served the Onion Tart as the sandwich.  The pumpkin soup was served with the tart.

Next cam my Appetizer course... Her title for the recipe is "Gambas Flambees with Pastis" which translates to Prawns (or Shrimp) Flamed with an Anise flavored Liquor.  I am a big fan of Sambuca.  tastes great and flames perfect!  I did go hunting Pastis but was not able to find any.

This is a cooking technique called, "A la Minute" (be sure to say minute with a French accent). Which means made to order.  So, for the logistics of the dinner party I made the soup well in advance (Crock Pot easy).  The Tart was scheduled to come out of the oven just as my guests arrive (giving me 10-15 minutes of greetings and making sure drinks are served).  This dish was prepped, all the ingredients assembled and ready to go.  But the actual cooking does not start until about 5 minutes before time to serve... Cooked to order.

It is also very dramatic for your guests to watch you adding ingredients to the pan and then suddenly... Whooppa!

Just a couple of Flambee' tips... You are actually burning the fumes from the liquor.  You only need to get the flame close to the top of the liquid, do not try to put the flame into the liquid (it goes out).

Next, make your sauce and then pour the liquor into the pan on just one edge.  DO not mix before flambeeing.  Once you have the flame going, shake the pan like a TV chef, do the TV chef flip thing (while flaming,.. be careful) to mix the burning liquor with the sauce and prawns.  You can see the left side of the dish s flaming while the right side has no flame.  It did once I mixed!

I LOVED making this dish.  First, delicious!  The sauce has the Anise aftertaste, a little sweet, the tomatoes and prawns work perfect together, colorful and again... Delicious.  The sauce is wonderful.  Butter rich and again... Delicious.  I served this on a bed of pan fried potatoes.  the potatoes soaked up the sauce and the whole thing  was simply perfect!

As an appetizer, a little potato, a couple of shrimp and a few tomatoes... And that Dramatic Ala Minute Flambee' presentation right in the middle of the meal!

OK... Here's what I did...

Gambas Flambees with Sambuca
(FLAMING Shrimp)

  • 4 TBS Butter
  • 4 Shallots, Thinly sliced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Thinly Sliced
  • 20 Large Shrimp, Raw, not pre-cooked
  • 1/4 Cup Sambuca (or any Anise flavored Liquor, like Pastis)
  • 1 Pound Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Fine Sea Salt and Fresh ground Black Pepper
  • 2 TBS Butter
  • 1 TBS Red Pepper Flakes
Cooking Directions
  1. In a large Saute pan over medium heat, add the butter and melt. Add the Shallots and garlic and saute for 3 minutes until cooked and softened. Raise the heat to high and add the Shrimp/ Cook, turning once until opaque throughout, about 2 minutes per side.
  2. Add the Sambuca. Light a match and carefully ignite the cooking liquid (NOTE: you are actually igniting the vapors that come from the liquor. No need to light the liquid, just get close and it will light). Shake the pan briskly until the flame dies out (about 2 minutes). Stir everything to coat as it flames.
  3. Add the Tomatoes, season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and add additional butter. Stir to coat until the bitter melts and the tomatoes begin to wilt.
  4. Serve over a few grilled potatoes (even French Fries) to sop up the sauce... And ENJOY!


So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Appetizers Recipes"!!!

From Dips and Salsas to everyone's favorite, Deviled Eggs; Appetizers will set the mood for something special. And make enough different ones and you have a Tapas Meal!

Links include Dips (Take a Look at the WORLD's BEST Guacamole recipe (and world's easiest to make), Salsas, Grilled Bites, Watermelon Art, and of course something with a spectacular presentation and taste... Take a look, something to match any occasion...


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    Here's my Menu for the night...

    Pumpkin Soup
    With an Onion Tart

    Gambas Flambees
    With Pastis

    Roast Chicken With
    Creme Fraiche and Herbs
    Served with a
    Butternut Squash

    PLUS and AMAZING Spectacular
    Chocolate Meringue Swirl

    As I said, Each of the 6 recipes I tried from the book worked and worked spectacularly.  I have been doing a lot of non-challenging catering dishes lately.  It was fun and exciting to whip these dishes up and serve this menu to my friends.  All well received, all went as best as I could have imagined and I could not recommend this book highly enough.

    Beautiful enough to be a table top book, inspiring enough to get lost in on a rainy Sunday afternoon...

    And wonderful accessible workable recipes!

    And one last disclaimer...
    "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."  But the review and opinions are 100% accurate and mine!

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