Daily Archives: March 14, 2014

Fish Tacos!

I used to have these in Eugene, Oregon on the Fourth of July, but we’ve tweaked the recipe (plain slaw, fried fish, grated cheese on a flour tortilla) quite a bit, and tonight, I think we found the perfect combination of ingredients.

Start with the slaw. Make this at least four hours before dinner, so the flavors have a chance to meld. Stir it a couple of times. Bruce got the original recipe from “Obscure Topics Television” – aka public TV – and you can find it on ChristineCooks.com. The only thing we’ve done differently is use half red and half green cabbage, and taken a short cut on the roasted red peppers. Here goes:

Spicy Cole Slaw

1/2 small head red cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 small head green cabbage, finely shredded
2 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels
3-4 Tbsp. bottled chopped, roasted red peppers
3/4 c. coarsely chopped cilantro
1 c. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 fresh jalepeno, finely chopped (leave the seeds in for more heat)
sea salt

Combine the cabbage, corn, peppers, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Whisk together vinegar, oil, cumin, chili, and salt to taste. Toss with vegetables to coat. Chill completely, tossing again just before serving.

Honestly, this stuff is divine and I will never make a mayonnaise-dressed slaw again.

Now for the tacos:

Grate some cheddar into a bowl and set aside.

Make a sauce of half Ranch dressing and half sour cream, and set aside.

Warm some corn tortillas. You can use flour tortillas if you want to, since they hold together better when soft, but the flavor of the corn is better, I think. Warm the tortillas over a gas flame, or wrapped in waxed paper in the microwave, or wrapped in a damp towel in a 200-degree oven – or some combination of the three methods.

Cut about a pound of tilapia (or cod) into 1-inch wide strips.

In a pie plate, make a batter of:
1 c. flour
1 c. amber ale
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. lemon pepper

Combine 1/2 c. flour with 1/2. plain bread crumbs in another pie plate.

Heat an inch of oil in a heavy skillet. Coat each fish strip in the batter, then dredge in the flour mixture, and fry in small batches for about a minute and a half. Turn with tongs and fry another minute or so, until golden brown. Remove to a baking sheet covered in several layers of paper towels, and keep warm in a 200-degree oven. Then repeat with remaining fish. My skillet holds about four strips at a time, leaving plenty of room to turn easily.

To assemble the tacos, pass elements around the table in this order:
tortillas
slaw (use a slotted spoon – this stuff is juicy)
fish
Ranch sauce
cheese

Makes about 8 tacos.
Have damp towels ready – good food, like life, gets messy sometimes.
Enjoy your favorite micro-brew with your tacos!

Cocido or Caldo (depending on your Iberian origins)

Now I have to tell you that, when I was posting these notes on Facebook back in 2009, I had no idea if anyone was actually reading them.  I was just trying to see if I could come up with enough recipes to fill a whole month.  Turns out, that wasn’t a problem.  Especially when my friends started chiming in.  So this next recipe isn’t mine. You have been warned.

Getting into the spirit of sharing food ideas, here’s something from Andrew Peterson of Kansas City. Andy is the one who got the Kansas City Chorale connected to Nimbus Records back in the 1990s, and I am pleased to share his recipe with you here (but I take no responsibility for his editorial comments).

“Here’s something to spring on your friends. An old family heirloom handed down from my great great aunt Dona Singularo Edwarda Mephisto Caracas Meyer Petersen. (A quiet and gentle servant of the Lord.):

Cocido or Caldo (depending on your Iberian origins)

“This recipe can have as many variants as you decide, though in Spain the important and consistent ingredient is Garbanzos.

2-3 lbs of pork (boned) Loin, Butt – it does not matter. (A bit of fat on.)
1 Cup Breadcrumbs
2 Large Onions (any color) – it does not matter – sliced thin.
1 Cup Jalepeno Salsa or fresh Jalepenos or Anaheim Chiles or Serrano peppers – it does not matter.
1/4 Cup Olive Oil – it does not matter – so don’t listen to that freak Rachel Rae. Sin verguenza!
1tbs Garlic powder
1tbs Spanish (smoked) Paprika) – it does indeed matter.
11/2tbs Kosher Salt
1tsp Cumin
1tbs Oregano
1tbs Basil
1tbs Cracked Black Pepper
1Bay Leaf
1/2tsp Ground Cloves
2-3 (12oz) Cans of Garbanzo beans
2-3 (12oz) Cans of Diced Tomatoes
(1 Cup of Red Wine)
1 ½ Cup of Green Olives (pimento stuffed)

“Okay, here we go. In a bowl, add the Breadcrumbs and half the Salt and Pepper. On the stove Heat a large (3-4 quart) Dutch Oven or pot. Turn heat to low. Add ¼ cup of olive oil. Dredge the meat in the breadcrumb mixture and turn into pot…browning on all sides.

“When the meat has browned, add the Garbanzos, Tomatoes, half the Onions, Jalepeno Salsa, Bay Leaf, Cumin, Oregano, Basil, and remaining Salt and Pepper. Turn the meat one time in this mixture and cover.

“Heat oven to 350 and cook the stew for 1 hour.

“When 1 Hour is up, remove the meat and cut into cubes. Add the meat back to the stew, and add the Wine, Olives, Paprika and cloves. At this time, depending on the consistency, add more wine or water to thin it, or more of the breadcrumbs to thicken it. Or, leave it alone. Cover, turn oven down to 300 and cook 2 hrs.

“Remove from oven. Allow to set for 30 minutes before serving. Bring to table with a rustic bread and a hearty red wine. You are now a genius!

“Listen, this recipe can be varied any number of ways. Use Lamb Shanks or Ox Tail, Duck or Turkey. The cooking time will be less for fowl. Vary the spices. You might want to substitute Thyme, or Coriander, or even Sage. What should remain stable is the Garbanzo. It is the signature to all good Spanish stews. Have fun, enjoy the recipe, and for god’s sake…if it turns out bad, it really is your fault … Don’t call me. Hope you like it, Andrew”

Pumpkin Dip

This works as an appetizer, a dessert, or a snack with a cup of afternoon coffee.

1 15 oz can pumpkin
8 oz cream cheese
1 lb powdered sugar
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
(or 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp nutmeg & 1/4 tsp cloves)

Cream the cheese and sugar together. Add the pumpkin and spices. Blend well. Refrigerate. Serve with ginger snaps (we get the Hostess brand from the bread store… buy 2-3 bags).

Bonus recipe:

Make a pumpkin pie out of the leftovers. Add 3 eggs and 1 c. Half & Half to 2 c. pumpkin dip. Add some more pumpkin pie spice. Pour into a prepared pie crust and bake at 350 for an hour, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. (You could even make a crust from crushed leftover ginger snaps and melted butter – but if you had any ginger snaps left, you’d be dipping them instead of making pie, right?)

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

This is, hands down, my all-time favorite dessert. I suppose most people consider anything with pumpkin in it to be a Fall dish, but why wait? If you have a can of pumpkin in your pantry, left over from last Thanksgiving, this is a great excuse to rinse off the dust and open it up.

6 c. French bread cubes, toasted (I use the unseasoned stuffing cubes you can buy at the day-old bread store)
2 c. Half & Half or evaporated milk
1 1/2 c sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c chopped toasted pecans
3 T. butter, melted
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (OR 1/2 tsp each of ginger, nutmeg, and allspice, with 1 tsp cinnamon & 1/4 tsp cloves)
1 tsp grated orange rind (zest)

Lightly butter an 11 x 7 baking dish, and put the bread cubes in it. Pour the Half & Half over the cubes, and stir to moisten. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl, and gently fold into the bread cubes. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until set (the top will no longer be shiny). Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Zippy Aspic

Kinda old-fashioned – who serves aspic anymore? – but when someone brought this to a church supper, I went back for seconds. This isn’t the original recipe, but I like it better.

2 c. Caliente V-8 juice (or Snappy Tom)
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 small pkg. lemon Jello
3/4 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. sliced green olives (stuffed with pimiento)

Bring 1 c. of the V-8 juice to a boil. Stir in the Jello until it dissolves completely, then add 1 c. chilled V-8 juice and the vinegar (if you use plain tomato juice, add another T. of vinegar and some ground pepper). Pour over the celery and olives in a pretty bowl, stir a bit. The olives will float to the top and this is fine. Chill until firm. If you make this in an oblong Pyrex dish, it’s easy to cut into squares to serve. You can spread softened cream cheese (beaten with a little milk to keep it soft) over the top – or dollop some sour cream or plain yogurt on each serving if you want to, but I never do.