Cheesy Shrimp Melts
Yield: 8 luncheon or 4 dinner servingsTo eliminate one step and a few minutes of preparation time, buy precooked shrimp at a seafood market or in the seafood department of your grocery store.
Ingredients:3 cups water
1 pound medium fresh shrimp, unpeeled
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
inch of ground cayenne pepper
4 English muffins
Instructions:In a Dutch oven, bring water to a boil; add shrimp and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or just until shrimp turn pink. Do not overcook. Drain and rinse with cold water. Peel, devein, and roughly chop shrimp.
Heat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, gently combine remaining ingredients except English muffins. Split muffins in half and bake 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread shrimp mixture on the cut side of each half. Return to the oven and bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until mixture is bubbly and bread is toasted. Serve immediately.
Any of these recipes can be turned into elegant appetizers. Slice a baguette into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick pieces; place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° 5 minutes on each side. Spread one side with any of the cheesy sandwich toppings. Bake 10 minutes, or until mixture is bubbly and bread is lightly browned.
Ham and Swiss Cheese Melts
Follow the recipe for Cheesy Shrimp Melts, substituting 3/4 pound chopped cooked ham (about three 1/4-inch-thick slices) for shrimp, 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese for cheddar cheese, and 2 tablespoons chopped red onion for scallion.
Creamy Crabmeat Melts
Follow the recipe for Cheesy Shrimp Melts, substituting 1 pound fresh crabmeat, picked over, or two 6-ounce cans lump crabmeat, rinsed and drained, for shrimp and 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese for cheddar cheese. Sprinkle each sandwich with paprika before baking.
Curry and Cheese Olive Melts
Follow the recipe for Cheesy Shrimp Melts, substituting 3/4 cup pitted and chopped kalamata olives for shrimp. Increase cheddar cheese to 2 cups (8 ounces). Add 1/2 teaspoon curry powder to cheese mixture.
Bacon, Pimiento, and Cheese Melts
Follow the recipe for Cheesy Shrimp Melts, substituting 12 ounces bacon, cooked and crumbled, for shrimp. Increase cheddar cheese to 2 cups (8 ounces) and add one 4-ounce jar diced pimientos, drained.