We Louisianans tend to flock to one another when we find ourselves somewhere else in the world, matched up by distant connections and an unwavering love of Who Dat nation and faraway friends who still live in the boot and worry, probably daily, that their expat loved ones might go mad without their colorful Mardi Gras parades and spicy crawfish boils. Most recently, the matchmaking went a little something like this:
A woman named Mia says to her best friend from college: “You need to meet Brooke. She’s my dear friend Cathy’s son Barrett’s wife and she lives in Portland too. You’d like each other, you’re both from Louisiana.”
Lynne emails me and suggests we meet. She’s a designer. I read her blog. I fall in love with her style. I secretly hope we become best friends so that I can ask her for home design advice, an area where I’m sorely lacking. I email her back: “How about this Wednesday afternoon? We could do coffee. Or, we could meet for a slice of pie…”
Lynne and I did our first collaborative dinner yesterday, a Southern Holiday Feast for the ages. She styled, I cooked. My mother who’s in town visiting played an invaluable sous chef and Lynne’s two assistants, Ali and Lindsay, made stunning cocktails and took gorgeous photos.
And then, the five of us girls, not a one of us born in Portland, sat down for an epic southern dinner. We ate our way through a menu inspired by traditional southern holiday fare, including one recipe for a simple pickled shrimp and satsuma salad that’s sure to brighten any holiday table and was recently featured in last month’s issue of Saveur. A feature I have probably read two dozen times because 1) Chef Justin is doing rad things down in my hometown and 2) the whole story made me long to head home for the holidays. But instead, on a gray Portland day with the kind of wind that rattles windows and a mist so thick that it swallows houses whole, we brought the southern holidays to us.
A Southern Holiday Menu
Spinach and Arugula Salad with Pomegranate, Pecans, Goat Cheese, and Fig Vinaigrette
Cornbread and Salted Butter
Pickled Shrimp and Satsuma Salad with Mint
Spinach and Oyster Pie with Buttermilk Biscuit Topping
Praline Baked Ham
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
Many thanks to New Seasons Market for sponsoring this post and providing fresh, local ingredients for us to create a Southern Holiday Feast with. And thanks to this amazing tribe of women for coming together for such a fun festive dinner!
- 2 pounds of shell-on medium shrimp
- 3 satsumas, peeled and sliced into rounds
- 1 cup of lemon juice
- ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon celery seed
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 fresh or 4 dried bay leaves
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
- kosher salt, to taste
- Heat a large pot of water over high heat until boiling. Once boiling, add shrimp and bring back to a boil, cooking until they turn bright orange, about 2 minutes. Do not overcook or else they will become rubbery. Drain the shrimp, rinse with cold water, and allow to come to room temperature. Peel legs and shells from shrimp, keeping tails on for presentation, and discard shells.
- Mix the remaining ingredients (except salt) in a large bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator for 24 hours, stirring halfway through. When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator, sprinkle with kosher salt to taste, and serve.