Not a bad combination, right?

I’m a fan of impromptu dinner parties. My mom was the queen of them–many a weekday night saw her “adding more water to the soup” and a few more places set at the already full table if friends stopped in on their way to somewhere. Actually, a few children who were frequent attendees announced to their mothers that our house was their “favorite fast food restaurant” in town. Ironic, considering mom’s meals were always made-from-scratch, and her menus weren’t always classic American fare (Nana’s Slovakian Halupkis, anyone?).

Last week I turned my apartment into my own “fast food restaurant” for my roommate and good friend. I ran home after a good post-work gym session, and had a great meal whipped up in about 20 minutes (or as long as it took the pasta water pot to boil). The shrimp scampi was simple and very easy, I bought a nice baguette the day before and popped that in the oven to warm it up, and roasted some asparagus.

The asparagus was very easy…easy enough to not even warrant its own recipe. Just toss together some garlic, olive oil, fresh ground black pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes, drizzle over the spears arranged on a cookie sheet, throw a few kalamata olives on top (a little drizzle of the olive juice is never bad, either) and roast at a high temperature.

This meal is even better accompanied with that tall glass of deliciousness, Jude Law (we watched Alfie while eating).

Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair Past (adapted a bit from my favorite cookbook ever, The New Best Recipe, by the editors of Cooks Illustrated)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

shrimp (the cookbook calls for 2 pounds of uncooked shrimp, but I bought a bag of the smallish, already-cooked frozen ones, and that was OK for an inexpensive, weeknight meal)

6 tablespoons butter (the recipe calls for 3 tablespoons, but if you are serving with pasta, you need more juice)

4 medium garlic cloves, pressed

2 tablespoons lemon juice (use fresh! better!)

1 tablespoon dry vermouth

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

pinch cayenne pepper

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan, then throw in half the shrimp and cook quickly. If you are using raw shrimp, cook only about 2 minutes. If you are using already-cooked shrimp, defrost beforehand and keep them in the pan long enough to warm them up. You don’t want to overcook them. Transfer the cooked shrimp to a holding dish and put aside.

Return the saute pan to the heat, and melt half the butter. When the foaming subsides, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds (never, ever, EVER overcook or burn garlic. You’ll regret it when you have little bits of burnt bitterness). Take off of heat, stir in lemon juice and vermouth. Whisk in the remaining butter, parsley and cayenne, add salt and pepper to taste. Throw in the shrimp, toss with angel hair pasta, and serve!

Pretty, yes? Almost as delicious as Jude.

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