Bring on the heat! It’s cold. It’s rainy. And, well, we have enough hot peppers in this house to film an episode of Fear Factor (where did that show go?).
Let me let you in on a little secret. I’m competitive. To a fault. Competitive in the “let’s race to finish the Sunday crossword” type of way. I make up my own competitions. And I win them.
Currently, I’m trying to win a bet with Jon. You see, as soon as the nighttime temperature drops below about 55 degrees, I want to turn on the heat. The only problem is that there is another person living in this house, one whose internal temperature is something slightly less than the surface of the sun. The result is an epic battle over the thermostat, which usually ends in a compromise – him wearing shorts and me geared up for my Antarctic tour.
But now there’s a bet. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something like “I bet you can’t keep from turning on the heat this week.” That’s all I needed to hear, the competition is ON. Yes, I know he’s outsmarted me. My hands and feet may be numb, but I cannot let him win! Did I really fall for this? The thermostat is calling me. Can I turn it on for a bit and then turn it off before he gets home? No. That is cheating, and Grandma says “Cheaters never win.” But are cheaters warm? Because it might be worth it.
No, I’m going to win this bet fair and square. So I decided to try some natural heating from the inside out, which brings me to this dish. Shrimp and Sweet Potatoes, kicked up! This dish is simple, comforting, and best of all warm. The shrimp is spiced with cumin and hot paprika, and if that wasn’t enough, the mashed sweet potatoes have a little touch of lime and a wallop of heat. Cold? Not, anymore, get your sweatband. The heat is ON!
For the Shrimp:
1lb shrimp, peeled
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
crushed red pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
salt/pepper – to taste
Heat oil, shallot and crushed red pepper in a pan over med high heat for about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, toss the shrimp with salt, pepper, hot paprika and cumin. Add the seasoned shrimp to the pan and cook fully until firm to the touch (about 8-10 minutes).
For the Sweet Potatoes:
Adapted from a cooking club recipe submitted by my friend Jamie
1.5 lbs of sweet potatoes (makes about 2-2.5 cups mashed)
1 chili pepper
2 tablespoons cilantro
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt/pepper – to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus a little for drizzling
1 chili from a can of chilies in adobo sauce (optional – add this and you really will need your sweatband)
Preheat oven to 350°. Poke the potatoes with a fork and cut the chili in half. Place them all on a cookie sheet and drizzle a little olive oil over them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Remove from oven and let cool.
Once cooled, in a food processor, add the meat of the potatoes, the chili, the zest of the whole lime and the juice of 1/2 of it. Add the cilantro and cumin. While drizzling in the 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, process until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you’re feeling brave, add the chili in adobo sauce and process until smooth.
Posted on October 20, 2010