That Old Bay river…

Poached Shrimp on Succotash

SHRIMP!!! (with guest appearance by succotash)

SHRIMP!!! (with guest appearance by succotash)

This is from a feature on poaching.  I’m on record as loving poaching as a cooking method, but I’ve never poached shrimp.  It never seemed necessary to me.  I like to poach chicken because chicken gets dry when you cook it other ways (has anyone ever had dry shrimp?), needs flavor (shrimp is a flavor), and I hate checking to see if chicken is done or not (shrimp cooks almost instantly).  So the draw was not there.  It turns out that poached shrimp is amazing.  This is poached in water and Old Bay with a halved lemon thrown in there for good measure.  My can of Old Bay is almost certainly 10 years old, but this was still good.  I should probably buy another can, but let’s be honest with ourselves, I do not cook a lot of seafood, let alone the kind of awesome seafood (read: crabs) that takes a lot of Old Bay.  So old Old Bay keeps on rolling along.

The succotash is fine.  It’s just zucchini, green beans, and corn.  It’s almost certainly a waste of corn on the cob to cut it off and cook it like this.  Unless the price of corn on the cob is truly great (and it isn’t yet), then frozen corn is going to be a better bet.  Really, the shrimp is the star here.  I’d recommend poaching the shrimp this way and serving it with some cocktail sauce.  I don’t have my secret cocktail sauce recipe in front of me to share with you, so I’ll have to give it from memory…  Here it goes: about a 1/2 c. of ketchup, an 1/8 c. prepared horseradish, 1 T or more of hot sauce, 1 t Worcester sauce, maybe a little salt and pepper.  Honestly, I think the recipe might be closer to 1/4 c. horseradish.  I add so much horseradish that this is actually pink, not red.  If you like hot cocktail sauce, give this a try.

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More side dish and less main

Mexican Charred Corn Dog

Who invited that hot dog?!

Who invited that hot dog?!

This post is really just a recommendation to make the topping and skip the hot dog.  The topping is completely delicious.  I didn’t think that cooking corn (I used defrosted frozen stuff) in a dry skillet would actually make much of a difference for flavor.  I was so wrong.  The browning brings out the sugar in the corn, making it the perfect foil for all of the other sour ingredients.  I think I overcooked my corn a little, though.  The recipe says to roast the corn in a dry skillet until it is browned, then add oil and scallion greens, and cook until the scallions are soft.  Well, the corn doesn’t magically stop cooking once you add the oil and scallions, so I cut this whole process off before the scallions were cooked because the corn was edging from brown to black.  That having been said, it was delicious.  I think I would brown the corn by itself until it is very nearly fully browned, then add the oil and scallions to brown it the rest of the way while the onions cook.

I wound up absolutely loving the corn topping, dressing, everything.  So I was super excited to eat the hot dog.  Here’s roughly a transcript of what went on in my head with each bite: “whoo hoo!  Corn!  Lime mayo!  This is awesome! (chew, chew) Oh, yeah, hot dog.  Huh.  Bun.  Yeah…ok, I guess.”  Then I’d take another bite and repeat that.  The hot dog and bun really got in the way of the salad.  Unlike the banh mi dog where the hot dog added some salt and umami to the other flavors, here it just seemed like an afterthought.  So just serve the salad as a side with a hot dog that you dress as you please.  Curious how I prefer my hot dog?  I thought you’d never ask.  I like it with cheap yellow mustard, corn relish, and raw onions.  Actually, I once had that hot dog with homemade pickled watermelon rind added on and it was perfect.  That would be my ultimate dog…with this corn salad on the side.

On the other hand, you could just grill corn on the cob on the grill and dress it with the lime mayo, Cojita cheese, and chili powder.  That would probably be the best of the best.  That cheese, by the way, tastes almost exactly like feta.  I’ve also had corn dressed this way with freshly grated Parmesan.  That works too.

 

Tortilla and Black Bean Pie

I didn’t have terribly high expectations when I saw the recipe for Tortilla and Black Bean Pie. But I figured it has cheese and black beans and corn so how bad could it be really?!

I didn't trim the tortillas as suggested in the recipe and look how pretty they bake up on the edges!

I didn’t trim the tortillas as suggested in the recipe and look how pretty they bake up on the edges!

I think even if my expectations had been much higher, I would have been pleased with the outcome.  Somehow when the beans and tortillas and cheese bake together they make an incredibly satisfying texture.  And since I already knew the flavor would be decent because of the beans and cheese, the total package was awesome.

The sweetness of the corn was perfect with the savoriness of the black beans and garlic and cumin.  I don’t love a lot of spicy heat in my food so I replaced the jalapeño with green chiles and their flavor complimented the overall recipe very well.  I served it with a dollop of sour cream.

We both went back for seconds!

We both went back for seconds!

I WILL be making this again.

Clean it out and cook it up

Big-batch vegetable soup

D ran a marathon.  Go D!  :)

D ran a marathon. Go D! 🙂

This recipe is spectacular for a few reasons.  It’s a freeze it, so right away you know I’m excited.  It’s soup.  Soup’s a good thing (cite: David Sedaris…does WordPress do footnotes?  What’s the HTML tag for footnotes?  Please don’t tell me).  Here’s why this recipe is great, and it’s not something that jumped right out at me.  Take a look at the last ingredient:

8 cups mixed fresh or frozen vegetables, such as carrots, corn, green beans, lima beans, peas, potatoes, and zucchini

8 cups of whatevs.  How great is that?  Random half bags of frozen veggies in the freezer staring you in the face?  Toss em in!  Recipe last night only used one of two potatoes now you’re stuck with one potato?  Toss it in!  I had leftover calabcita from September’s squash substitutions.  I had a bunch of lima beans from making a succotash for J.  I had a ton of frozen corn because Everyday Food recipes use a surprising amount of corn.  It all went in there.  I think I actually used 6 or 7 different vegetables.  I think this makes this a great recipe for times when your freezer or fridge has an odd glut of vegetables.  Or for when lots of things look good at a farmers’ market and you can’t think of what else to do with it.  No matter the reason, this is a tasty soup.  I look forward to having it some night when I’m too lazy to cook and too guilty/cheap to order in.

Un-split shift and the best “fried” shrimp ever

“Split Shift”: recipes that were supposed to be made part in the morning and part in the evening…

  • Steak with peanut sauce and broccoli
  • Crispy shrimp with tartar sauce and red-cabbage slaw
  • Black-bean tostadas with corn relish

Steak with peanut sauce and broccoli

Steak with peanut sauce and broccoli

Steak? Money’s too tight for steak. Steak?

Ok, this one I actually did part the day before and part the evening of.  The trouble with these “split shift” recipes is that they assume you have more time in the morning than in the evening.  I’m not sure for whom this is true.  People who work the late shift or odd hours, I guess. People without children.  People with excellent time-management skills.  None of these things describe me.  I do think they could be split over a couple days.  This recipe, for example, is a good one to split over a couple days.  I marinated the steak and prepped the broccoli on day one, then broiled the steak and steamed the broccoli on day two.  The recipe only takes 30 minutes…total.  So that’s an easy maybe 15-20 minutes one evening then finish it up the next.  Not bad.

How does it taste?  Do you like peanut sauce?  Me too!!!  The one thing I will say is that flank steak can be a little tough.  This was no exception.  A nicer cut of steak would have made this less of a chore to cut and eat.

Ah, but I came up with an awesome thing to do with the leftovers.

cut up steak with broccoli and peanut sauce in small tortillas

This must be blurred because I was too excited to eat it.

I also had small tortillas on hand for the tostadas, so I heated up the steak and broccoli, piled it into tortillas, drizzled it with a little leftover sauce, and had asian steak tacos.  These were so good.  Plus, once you’re eating it with your hands and teeth, the difficulty cutting it with a knife isn’t an issue any more.

Crispy shrimp with tartar sauce and red-cabbage slaw

shrimp, lemon wedges, red cabbage slaw, tartar sauce and a beer

Is your mouth watering? Mine is.

Get ready to hear me gush.  D and I keep an index card of all of our favorite Everyday Food recipes.  It acts as a sort of index, but not every recipe makes it on there.  Only the best.  Let me put it this way: There are 98 issues, and we have maybe 20 recipes on that index card.  This recipe is index card worthy.

What makes it so special is the breading on those shrimp.  I’m the first one to be suspicious of the idea that baked things can taste just like something that’s fried.  I’m not going to go quite that far.  However, this is as close as you can get to crispy fried shrimp without busting out the oil.  I’ll stand by that.  The slaw is also lovely.  It’s just Dijon mustard, oil, and lemon juice with the red onion and cabbage.  That would be good on its own.  You could bring that to a picnic and feel like a hero.  The tartar sauce is nice.  It reminds me of the ersatz tartar sauce we used to make when I was a kid to go with fish sticks, mayonnaise and pickle relish.  This is obviously classier: chopped pickles, fresh parsley, fresh lemon juice…  The shrimp is the real star.  It’s even worth buying panko crumbs for even though you KNOW you’re never going to use that stuff again until it gets stale.

I didn’t make this 1/2 in the morning, 1/2 in the evening or over two days or anything.  It doesn’t take too long to do in one evening.

Black bean tostadas with corn relish

Topped with the corn and avocado

Topped with the corn and avocado

I can sum this one up quite quickly: lots of work for little reward.  I did this one all in one night also.  Taking care of the corn relish, veggie prep, and cheese ahead of time would have saved some effort.  I’ll grant them that.

tortilla, beans, cheese (waiting on vegetables)

tortilla, beans, cheese (waiting on vegetables)

This just isn’t a very special recipe.  It reminds me of the Jim Gaffigan routine about working at a Mexican restaurant in Iowa.  “What’s a tostada?”  “Tortilla, meat, cheese, vegetables?”  “What are tacos?” “Tortilla, meat, cheese, vegetables”  Change that to tortilla, beans, cheese, vegetables, and that’s what we have here.  It’s just nothing to write home about.

Yellow Squash Four Ways

September 2007, pgs. 20 – 30

B here, starting off our first joint post!!

I do love yellow squash, but I am sad to say I have rarely strayed from one recipe which features yellow squash, zucchini, onion, garlic and FETA!!

image

(You may recognized this from my post of Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Herbed Couscous)

The first recipe I tried was the Quick-Marinated Yellow Squash Salad.  It features shallots (yay!!), lemon juice, and thyme.  I never would have thought to eat yellow squash raw (mostly based on texture issues I have), but by very thinly slicing it and mixing it with the acidity of the lemon juice it changed the texture enough to be very pleasing.  It was crisp but not exactly crunchy.  And the squash itself was much more nutty than when cooked.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be making this one again.

The next squash recipe I went with was Slow-Cooked Yellow Squash, which was very similar to my standard yellow squash sauté.

image

Unfortunately, I was a little heavy handed with the salt in this instance.  It still tasted pretty good, but I drank like a camel after.  Luckily, I can safely say that when properly seasoned this recipe is absolutely delicious (especially if you toss in a little feta at the end)!

Hey, it’s G.  I took care of the creamy fusilli with yellow squash and bacon and the stuffed tex mex yellow squash.  Let me begin by informing you that today’s word is “calabcita.”  Here’s a picture of one:

I have small hands, so this isn't very good for scale

I have small hands, so this isn’t very good for scale

The internets tell me that it is a Mexican squash roughly akin to summer squash and zucchini.  Yellow squash was looking nasty at my store, but they had these instead.  They were sitting right next to the summer squash and looked summer squashy, so I decided to use them.  It was a good choice.  Here it is all hollowed out and ready for stuffing:

doing their best zucchini impression

doing their best zucchini impression

The tex-mex stuffed squash recipe is good, but not at all unique.  I count on the “have you tried?” or “in season” recipes to take the ingredient to new and interesting places.  Anyone who hasn’t had stuffed zucchini a million times, raise their hand.  I don’t see many hands.  This doesn’t break any new ground.  It’s onions, peppers, chopped up squash innards, corn, etc. all stuffed in with a tomato sauce and baked.  Yawn.  I would have liked to see maybe a Greek version with oregano and feta.  That would be something new.  I guess mine is different because of the funny squash.  It’s not different enough for me.

The note in the magazine says that all of the beef and corn and cheese adds “kid appeal.”  I’m lucky enough to a have a kid who is too young to make much of a protest, not that I tried feeding him this.  I think maybe I would, if I broke it up a little.  They say corn kernels are a choking hazard, though…  Goodness knows this kid needs to get used to eating stuff make out of Everyday Food!

at least it's colorful

at least it’s colorful

Before I go on, I’ll tell you something that might make you think of this dish differently.  I guess I have two words for today.  The other is “zuccanoe.”  You pronounce it like the first part of zucchini (the “zucc”) with the word “canoe.”  I was eating the leftovers of this dish in the break room at work when my co-worker came in, looked at my food, and said “Oh!  Zuccanoes!”  It almost sounded like he said “zut alors!”  I asked him what he was so excited about, and he told me that he has an old book that calls stuffed zucchini, zuccanoes.  I’m making up the spelling, by the way.  I thought it was so cute.  I hope it catches on.

Creamy fusilli with yellow squash and bacon

If you’re going to have pasta carbonara, but it makes you feel bad about yourself, I recommend this recipe.  Look, it has a vegetable!  Cream and bacon and cheese justified.  You’re welcome.

This recipe suffers from a problem I find with a lot of recipes, the veggies are too big for the pan.  I cut up my four yellow squash and that was enough to fill the pan:

perhaps they weren't "medium" sized after all

perhaps they weren’t “medium” sized after all

I wound up taking out about a cup and a half of cooked squash.  Otherwise, the recipe is very easy and straight-forward.  I once again failed to read closely and cooked the bacon slices whole, then chopped them after they were cooked.  I know better.  It takes longer that way, and you wind up with unpleasant, little bacon shards in your food.  Also, the recipe says you can substitute parmesan for asiago.  Don’t mind if I do!

There's a veggie in there somewhere...

There’s a veggie in there somewhere…

So if you need to use up some yellow squash (by the way, I can’t see why zucchini or our new friend calabcita wouldn’t be good in this) and/or you need an excuse to eat cream and bacon, this is a good recipe.

G over and out!