There are always many activities to be found around the town in Austin, especially during the summer. We were invited by our friends to go to a outdoor concert in Zilker Park called “Blues On the Green” this past Wednesday evening. Zilker Park is a recreational area just south of downtown Austin near Barton springs and Lady Bird Lake where thousands of people visit on weekends to hike, play frisbee, or hang out with their kids and dogs. Zilker Park is also the location for Austin City Limits music festival every September.

“Blues On The Green” is a family oriented concert series that happens every other Wednesday. People come with lawn chairs and coolers and usually camp out underneath the trees around the stage until the bands come on. For those who are not afraid of the heat, they get all the way up front by the stage where there is no shade or covering and work on their tans, and even in 90 degree weather, the park gets pretty packed by 6-7 PM.

We all decided to bring some food and drinks to make our gathering a little early summer picnic. I volunteered to make some sandwiches, and I started looking for something that was easy to put together and won’t be afraid of heat.

I found this delicious looking grilled shrimp rolls recipe on foodandwine.com that can be made ahead of time and assembled at the picnic. Since I grilled the shrimp during my lunch break and I was in a hurry to meet up with our friends afterwork, I made two mistakes during the preparation process, but the results were still excellent.

The morning of the event, I mixed the marinade ingredients together and placed them in a plastic bag along with shelled and de-veined shrimp. The marinade is made with olive oil, rosemary, lemon zests, and garlic.

The plastic bag is placed in the fridge for 4 hours. I also put some bamboo skewers into a tall vase of water to soak before going into work. Soaking bamboo stick will help them from burning while being grilled. The last thing you want is for your bamboo skewers to burn and break before your food is cooked!

The scallion tarragon mayo is composed of finely chopped cornichons, shallots, scallions, garlic, tarragon, sherry vinegar, paprika, and celery seeds mixed thoroughly together with mayonnaise. Sounds good doesn’t it? Looks good doesn’t it? In my rush to get out of the door, I left this most delicious looking dress in the fridge!

I felt like a moron sitting in traffic after realizing I had forgotten this awesome sauce, but because traffic was so bad, it was not worth going home to get it again, even though I was less than 1 mile from my house when I realized it. Because we were meeting our friends at their house near the park, I ended up taking some ranch dressing they had along with us, which worked fine on the sandwiches.

When I came back from the lunch break, I quickly built a fire on my grill using my chimney starter. I would encourage anyone who has a charcoal grill to invest in a chimney starter, since they make the whole starting fire business so much easier. I’ve tried to do the boy scout thing, I’ve tried to use those light-able charcoal briquette bags, nothing works quite as well as a chimney starter. From start to finish, you are guaranteed a hot fire in 20 minutes.

While the charcoal is getting ready, I started skewering the shrimp together. First I maneuvered the shrimps around in the bag and lined them up so I can measure about how many bamboo skewers I need.

There were 30 shrimps total, and I used 2 skewers per strip of shrimp for stabilization, so that’s total of 12 bamboo skewers.

And here is where my second cooking mistake happened. Because I was in a rush to cook and get back to work, I forgot an integral part of the recipe, which is that the shrimps are supposed to be doused with gin and sherry before getting grilled! Gin and sherry! It was going to taste really amazing, but it still tasted good without it.

Anyway, the shrimp went on the grill when the charcoals are nice and hot.

After 3 minutes, the shrimp skewers are flipped and the top side grilled.

The shrimp should be done after 3 more minutes, and they are transferred to a plate and cooled slightly.

If you are serving the sandwiches now, all you have to do is put the shrimp on your rolls and top with the mayo, but since I was going on a picnic, I let the shrimp cool enough to be handled, and then I put them up in a bowl and chilled them until I was ready to serve it.

After arriving at the park, we had some wine and cheeses (Peppered Brie and Pecan cheese spread), and enjoyed the beautiful day in the shade. I assembled my sandwiches with Pitas and arugula, topped with relish and a little ranch dressing, and they were excellent.

Our friends brough homemade beet salad with orange slices, and a Caprese pasta salad, which went wonderfully with the sandwiches.

All in all, it was a success, and I can’t wait to cook these shrimp again!

Grilled Shrimp Rolls with Sorrel

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