Monday, April 18, 2005

Magicdude's Cold Asian Fish Salad

This is a recipe from my friend Magicdude. He still lives in Key West, and routinely sends me updates that make me thoroughly homesick. sigh. He also has come up with a fish salad I really want to make. (damn my family and friends for hating fish) Of course, Magicdude usually cooks to feed an army, so when he says "4 servings" he means 4 servings for very hungry people.

Magic Dude's Cold Asian Fish Salad

1 head romaine lettuce
2 zucchini
½ white onion
4-6 stalks green onions/scallions
1 green bell pepper
1 tomato
2 cans baby corn nuggets or spears
2 oz. capers, drained
8-10 oz. Asian sesame and/or ginger dressing
crunchy Oriental noodles
2 package (4 oz. each) smoked salmon
2 tins (2 oz. each) anchovy fillets

Rinse all produce. Chop romaine lettuce and zucchini to bite size pieces. Cut white onion, scallions and pepper to small pieces. Dice tomato. If using whole baby corn spears, cut to nugget size. Slice salmon and achovies to small pieces.

Place bed of lettuce in large salad or serving bowl. Add the rest of the chopped produce, and capers. Add dressing. Top with crunchy noodles, anchovies and salmon. Feeds four.

If you make it before I do, tell me how it is!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Macho Gazpacho

This chilled soup ain't for sissies. At least not the way I make it. It also makes a ton, so be prepared to eat it a few days, or feed your friends. All of them. (You could also probably freeze this with no ill effects.)

What you'll need

1 can corn (I use sodium free, or you can use a can's worth of frozen)
1 can black beans rinse and drain these well
1 carrot, diced 2 if you're freaky like that.
1-2 stalks celery
1-2 medium sized tomatoes, diced or one can of GOOD tomatoes if you're doing this in January
1 cucumber, seeded, chopped use English if you like.
1/2 to 1 green pepper or another color if you're feeling fancy
1-2 jalapenos or use a hotter pepper if you're so inclined- minced.
1 large bottle V-8 or tomato juice Spicy, if you like
Tabasco optional, but I like it
sour cream this is for garnish, and is optional

Now, for the love of all that's holy, wear GLOVES when you seed and mince your jalapenos. Trust me, it sucks having hands that burn all night long. And don't poke at your eyes, nose, or other damp bits unless you've washed your hands thoroughly, repeatedly, unles you enjoy weeeping and cursing the day you ever looked at a hot pepper.

That said. Prep your veggies, and put them in a big whonkin' container. Aim for bite sized hunks. If you like things spicy, don't seed your jalapeno, if you prefer milder fare, omit the jalapeno, or carefully remove the ribs and seeds.

Once all of your veggies are in the container, pour on enough vegetable or tomato juice to make it soup. Season with tabasco, and chill for an hour or so (though if you don't, you won't die). Serve cold, topped with a dab of sour cream and some really good crackers.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Inaugural Posting

As I write this, the crust for a strawberry tart is cooling in my freezer. This is, as Martha Stewart would say, "a good thing". My goal is to put the recipes I'd normally throw on my other blog, here, as well as some of the weird stuff I've learned in a lifetime of reading cookbooks like they were Harlequin romance novels.

This won't be just my recipes, but things I've received from friends, and adaptations of established recipes (by those lucky bastards with TV shows-- I'm looking at you Alton & Rachael) and a place to mock the good, the bad, and the Atkins. My forte is food that looks impressive, tastes pretty damned good, and doesn't take all day to make. So,if you want roast suckling pig, you are barking up the wrong tree.

Hope you'll enjoy this, and check in frequently. Also, don't be afraid to send me your recipes, tips and tricks.

And never fear- that strawberry tart recipe is coming.

Strawberry Tart

This tart can be made with any fruit, actually. Strawberries just happen to be coming into peak right around now.

The basic components are crust, filling & fruit. The filling is custard-style yogurt, in a flavor that will complement your fruit. The fruit is whatever is in season but more on that in a bit. First up, the crust.

2 to 2 1/2 cups cookie crumbs They could be graham cracker, nilla wafer, shortbread, gingersnap or any combination thereof. My personal favorite is half graham and half gingersnap.

3/4 stick butter Yes. Butter. I will laugh at you if you use margarine.

a healthy squeezin' of lemon pick out the seeds.

One egg white feed the yolk to your cat/dog for a shiny coat.

Those things will make your crust. I recommend making this first. I also recommend investing in a medium-sized tart pan with a removable bottom, which will only set you back about 6 bucks (at a kitchenware outlet), but will impress the shit out of your friends. This recipe is made for a medium tart pan.

To actually assemble the crust: Preheat your oven to 350. Put the crumbs in a mixing bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave (in a pyrex cup, or bowl, covered in plastic wrap so you don't have a buttery microwave) or on the stove. Squeeze in the lemon, and once the butter is slightly cool, whisk in the egg white. Pour the whole shebang over your crumbs and mix together with a fork or spoon. You'll have a nice wet gooey sort of mess. About like cookie dough. Spray your tart pan with cooking spray, and put the crust in the pan. Squish it around with your (clean!) fingers until it covers all of the inside of the tart pan without any holes or tears. You're looking for about a quarter inch thickness.

Look at your crust, it's marvellous. It's also sticky. It needs to bake, but before it does, take your handy dandy mixing fork, and poke holes all over the bottom of the crust (not the sides). This will keep your crust from blowing up like a balloon. (Note: don't get too crazy. Think "aerating the lawn" not "taking out my frustrations on my boss".) Put your newly docked crust into the oven, and bake it for 15-20 minutes, or till it's no longer really shiny and feels more like a fresh-baked (and ever-so-tasty) cookie.

While your crust is baking, you can start prepping your fruit. Strawberries are simple. Wash, hull, and slice. But you could do one of those fancy-schmancy fruit tarts with kiwi, grapes, blueberries, mandarin oranges, apricots, peaches, pretty much any fruit you desire. You could even make a neat one with apples and caramel, but that's another recipe for another time. Whatever your fruit choice(s) just wash, slice (if necessary) into uniform pieces, and set aside. Like I said, today I'm using sliced strawberries.

If you're impatient, like I am, once your crust is done, you can pop it into the freezer for a bit (pan and all), to get it to cool off. (take the time to clean the kitchen, check your favorite blogs, call your mom... whatever) probably a good 15-20 minutes in the freezer will make it ready to go.

This step will save you a lot of headaches later
After you pull the tart crust from the freezer before you fill it, go ahead and try popping it out of the pan. Just push up gently on that removable bottom. It should come free. If it doesn't, try to gently coax it. Once it's free, you can set it back inside its pan, secure in the knowledge that, when you go to serve it- this bad boy isn't going to make you look like a twit. Next: filling!

Take 2 regular sized containers of custard-style yogurt Like Yoplait. Vanilla's always nice, but you could use a flavor to go with your fruit if you like. Mix 'em up in a bowl, so they're nice and smooth, and spread over the bottom of your crust. Lick the spoon when you're done.

Now you get to indulge your inner artist. You're going to arrange your nicely sliced strawberries in geometric patterns on top of the yogurt. Go nuts. Be as obsessive compulsive as you like. Create some sort of art-deco thing with fruit. Just be sure to cover the whole surface, because Nobody likes a wimpy fruit tart.

If you like, you can glaze the fruit, that's what makes store-bought tarts so shiny. To do this, grab some apple, peach, or apricot jelly and put it into a small microwave-safe cup. Nuke it for 15 second intervals, stirring after each, till the jelly is melted. Then take a pastry brush and gently brush the melted jelly all over your fruit (carefully!).

That's it! Stash it covered, in the refrigerator if you're not serving it immediately. You're not going to want to make this too far in advance, a day or so at the most, before serving. Your friends and family will be amazed!