Flambe shrimp in anise-flavored liqueur

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Shrimp cooked in an anise-flavored liqueur is perfect for a weeknight or weekend dinner.

I learned to like this liqueur, usually Pernod or Ricard, in Paris where it was a popular aperitif at our local brasserie. It's also an excellent flavoring for shellfish.

Tarragon also has an anise flavor, and Tarragon Rice adds to the French flavor of this meal. Here's how to make it:

Heat 1 package microwaveable white rice according to directions. Measure out 1 1/2 cups (save the rest for another use). Toss the rice with about 1 cup cubed ripe tomato (from 1 small tomato), 2 teaspoons canola oil, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dried) and salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 servings.

Pernod Shrimp

Makes 2 servings.

2 teaspoons canola oil

1/2 cup coarsely chopped shallots

2 cups sliced fennel bulb

3/4 pound peeled shrimp

1/4 cup Pernod or Ricard

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and fennel and saute 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add shrimp and saute another minute, tossing them in the pan. Pour in the Pernod and flambe. Do this carefully: As soon as Pernod is hot, tip the pan and let the liqueur catch the gas flame. If using an electric stove, ignite with a match. Remove from the heat while flame dies down. Be sure to have a cover nearby as a safety measure.

Return to the heat and add water. Let shrimp simmer 2 to 3 minutes or until they turn pink. Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon. Raise the heat and reduce the juices in the pan by half. Add the cream and cook on low 1 minute. Return shrimp to the pan and turn over in the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide between 2 dinner plates.

Per serving: 382 calories (31 percent from fat), 13.1 g fat (4.3 g saturated, 4.9 g monounsaturated), 278 mg cholesterol, 36.5 g protein, 11.7 g carbohydrates, 2.7 g fiber, 305 mg sodium.