A Newhall woman has found herself in a food showdown, as she competes for the grand prize in the 2010 Berry Blast Off Recipe Contest.
The contest is held through the California Strawberry Festival in Oxnard and Merry Graham is competing for a Mexican cruise vacation.
She is one of two finalists in the cookoff and is competing with her recipe of Snappy Shrimp and Strawberry Coleslaw with Hotty Maple Vinaigrette.
“I’d been playing around with this recipe for about four months, with different versions,” said Graham. “ I just knew it was a great recipe because of the maple vinaigrette is unique and I was very proud of it.”
Graham says her love of food started from her watching her dad and grandpa cook, but she really got into it after taking an International Cuisine class in college.
Despite her long time love affair with cooking, Graham is new to the competitive cooking scene, submitting and winning her first contest last year.
The first contest she won was not for a dish, but an essay she wrote about food, and from there she says she was hooked.
“I know I’m doing what I’m suppose to be doing right now in life by developing all these recipes, but I don’t know where the adventure will lead,’ said Graham.
She says that she is working on compiling her recipes into a cookbook, which she hopes will come out next year.
The final tasting and the winner of the cruise will be announced on May 15 at the festival.
Snappy Shrimp & Strawberry Coleslaw with Hotty Maple Vinaigrette
6 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons lime zest
4 tablespoons fresh limejuice
1 tablespoon extra light tasting olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce (ie: Tapatio)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound (31-40) raw shrimp, shells removed, deveined (larger shrimp is okay)
1 teaspoon fresh ground lemon pepper
3 tablespoons Hotty Maple Vinaigrette
2 cups California Strawberries, washed, stems removed
1 (10-12 ounce) package coleslaw without dressing (B cups shredded cabbage)
1 cup stringless sugar snap peas, washed, cut diagonal in half
1/+ cup chopped green onions
U3 cup chopped basil and 2 leaves for garnish
1/z cup roasted pistachios, shells removed
fresh ground pink sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 whole basil leaves
VINAIGRETTE: In small bowl, thoroughly mix maple syrup, lime zest, limejuice, l-tablespoon olive oil,
and hot sauce; reserve 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette to use while pan-frying shrimp. Remaining
vinaigrette will dress the coleslaw.
SHRIMP: Heat l-tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Sprinkle shrimp with lemon
pepper and pan-fry shrimp for 3 minutes, flip shrimp, sear 30 seconds and pour in 3-tablespoons
reserved vinaigrette. Continue to cook shrimp until opaque inside and pink on the outside (about 2
minutes dependent on size of shrimp). Pour shrimp in large salad bowl (drippings and all).
COLESLAW: Reserve the largest strawberry for the garnish; set aside. Cut remaining strawberries in
quarters (extremely large strawberries cut in sixths); add to shrimp in salad bowl along with cabbage,
snap peas, green onion, basil, and pistachios. Pour vinaigrette over coleslaw; light toss. Grind salt and pepper to taste. To garnish: make four slits in reserved strawberry without cutting to the bottom, fan out to resemble a flower and place in center of coleslaw, add basil for the leaves. over coleslaw. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 30 minutes. Serves 6.