Recipe fantasy to food reality.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Baby's first tequila hangover

If I've overindulged, I tend to wake up very early and very chipper. Headachy and dizzy, but chipper. All I wanted for breakfast was cold sparkling mineral water, applesauce, and a grilled ham and swiss sandwich. And that's exactly what I had.

Green Rice with Crab and Shrimp

It was getting to be time for another girls' night in, so I invited all my girlfriends over for dinner and cocktails. The tequila was flowing plentifully, so I didn't manage to get any good pictures in.

Green Rice with Crab and Shrimp

generous 1 cup long-grain white rice
3 1/2 cups drained canned tomatillos
large bunch cilantro
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 poblano or other green, fresh chiles, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound crabmeat
1/2 pound cooked shrimp
1 1/4 cups fish stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
slices scallions to garnish

1. Put rice in a heatproof bolw, pout in boiling water to cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Drain thoroughly.
2. Put the tomatillos in a food processor or a blender and process until smooth. Chop half the cilantro and add to the tomatillo puree with the onion, chiles and garlic. Process again until smooth.
3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the rice and fry over medium heat for 5 minutes, until all the oil has been absorbed. Stir occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking.
4. Stir in the tomatillo mixture, with the crabmeat, stock and wine. Cover and cook over low heat for about 20 mminutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Stir occasionally and add a little more liquid if the rice starts to stick to the pan. Add salt as required, then spoon into a dish and garnish with the remaining cilantro and the sliced scallions. Green salad and lime wedges make good accompaniments.

I've made it before, but the first time I tried this recipe, there were some really surprising elements. I'm going to include a bunch of notes here, so you're not as scared as I was if you try this. First of all, the tomatillo-pepper-onion-cilantro puree (I forgot to put in the cilantro last night - duh!) has quite a lot of body and liquid to it. The texture ends up being really odd and not light and fluffy. This may not be true with people who are not cursed with rice, but it's always been the case for me. I didn't even add the stock, because there was so much liquid in the puree. Also, to prepare the shrimp, I just fried them on high heat quickly, with the shells on, and then removed the shells and tails before adding them to the dish before serving. The shrimp added a nice color contrast, which was nice because the dish is so green.

I don't think I've perfected it (and you can't get a straight answer from partygoers about the quality of your food) so I'll keep playing with it. It's a really yummy, healthy dish, though, so do check it out. And it goes really well with pinot grigio or margaritas. Maybe too well.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


No, it's not real chili. But just like when I have a nasty cold or other miscellaneous ailment and I call it the "flu," what I made tonight I call "chili." It's got prissy ingredients like beans and sweet bell peppers, but it's also delicious with a dollop of sour cream and a hunk of corn bread on the side.

2 slices thick-cut bacon
2 onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp kosher (or oak-smoked) salt
4 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
2 pasilla peppers, diced
2 sweet bell peppers (red, yellow, whatever), diced
1.5 lbs ground pork
2 cans diced and peeled tomatoes
2 cans beans (I usually use 1 can kidney, 1 can pinto)
salt, pepper and chili powder

Fry bacon in a large soup pot. Remove bacon once it has cooked, and add the onions, peppers, garlic and spices to the bacon fat along with the salt. Allow the vegetables to cook until tender. Add the ground meat and cook until juices run clear. Add beans and tomatoes, and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasonings until satisfied.

Stuck in a rut

I haven't posted in a while. Not because I'm busy or making lackluster food. I'm not making any food. I've gotten into a funk where I don't want to clean, so I just avoid my house as much as possible. I've eaten two Big Macs in the last four days, if you want an indication that I'm having a real problem here. I'm sitting in a coffee shop right now, drinking coffee someone else made in a room that someone else cleaned.

If I don't want to die of fast-food-poisoning, I need to get domestic here, stat. Tonight I'm making chili, and I am declaring here that I will report back so I have someone to be accountable to.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Generic Organic

Here's a pleasant sight at the grocery store: organic products in generic packaging. This is exactly the sort of thing that I think needs to happen before organic or other more worker-friendly or environmentally-friendly food production becomes a truly integral part of American consumption. It's affordable (even these organic generic beans werere less expensive than the brand-name conventionally-produced beans), and on the shelf right next to the conventionally-produced food. No henna-printed labels picturing pandas smoking pot, no rhyming pun names, just a can of beans that you see on the shelf, and decide that the ten cents might be worth buying organic.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Moscow empties out over the winter break, so my New Year's Eve was spent at home with fondue, champagne and Soul Caliber II.