Saturday, July 02, 2005

Feeling Very Thaimexinese Today

Saturdays are my favorite kitchen days. I often find the time to make a snack or dessert and I have more time than usual to work on dinner. Thus, the most intimidating or time-consuming recipes are saved for Saturdays.

For a mid-morning boost, I made a batch of Thai Iced Coffee for me and The Carnivore using a recipe I pulled from the June 2005 issue of Cooking Light magazine. I'm a big fan of iced coffee (actually of coffee in any form), and this is certainly the most interesting version of it that I've had yet. As a general rule, I just brew an extremely strong pot of coffee, usually using Cafe Bustelo espresso, and then stir in half-and-half and sugar to taste. This new recipe, however, will be my new standard.

  • 1/2 cup hot espresso or very strong brewed coffee
  • 10 tsps fat-free sweetened condensed milk (this stuff was a royal pain to measure out - the stuff is like molasses and it comes out of the measuring spoon about as fast as, well, molasses)
  • 4 Tbs hot water
  • Dash of cardamom (this was the first time I have used this spice - very cool/weird stuff)
  1. Combine all ingredients, stir well and cool completely. Serve over ice.

I finally found The Right Salsa Recipe a few weeks ago, out of a cookbook my lovely mother found for me, America's Bounty. To date, my favorite restaurant salsa has been from Agua Linda, a wonderful Mexican restaurant in Athens, only about 5 blocks from where I used to live in Normaltown. In those days, I would often walk down to Agua Linda with a plastic container to purchase salsa to go. Inevitably, when I walked in and handed over my plastic container and asked that it be filled with salsa, no one ever knew what to charge me for it. This is a locally-owned place, and Plastic To Go Container of Salsa is not exactly a standard menu item. Usually everyone working at that moment at the restaurant would get in a huddle and eye me strangley while they conversed in Spanish about what to charge Weird White Lady Who Brings Her Own Tupperware.

The recipe from America's Bounty comes extremely close to the salsa from Agua Linda, and though I have tweaked it slightly, it was a good recipe to begin with. I made it for the first time a few weeks ago and The Carnivore and I devoured the entire batch in a single sitting. I had a hankering for it again today, so I made a double batch of the salsa along with a batch of Black Bean Dip.


  • 1 tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup quartered tomatillos
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 Tbs chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Put all ingredients into food processor (LOVE! those things) and pulse until desired consistency is reached.

For dinner I made my first stir-fry, using the electric wok Big Mama found for me a yard sale last weekend. The recipe that I used, from the June 2004 issue of Vegetarian Times, and adapted from Rachel Ray's 30-Minute Veggie Meals (a cookbook I still don't have, yet want desperately), was an odd one, and it will need a lot of tweaking (if I don't just throw the whole thing out and search for an entirely new recipe). The seasonings are where everything went wrong. The recipe called for soy sauce, garlic, ginger, Chinese 5-spice Powder, the juice of a large navel orange, and apricot preserves. The vegetables were standard stir-fry fare: snow peas, napa cabbage, bell pepper, bean sprouts, scallions.

The Carnivore and I, as we are known to do any time a new recipe is tried, started to deconstruct the recipe as soon as we took our first bite. The dish obviously needed more soy sauce (of which I did not have enough); cashews would have been a nice addition; but the real kicker was that there was something Odd-tasting that we couldn't put our finger on. I was most suspicious of the Chinese 5-Spice Powder, a spice I had bought only yesterday which I had never heard of before. The Carnivore thought the orange juice and the apricot preserves were the most likely suspects of the Oddness. For a short while, I tried to lay the blame on the ginger.

After we were done eating, we decided to read the spice container to see which 5 spices were included. The only guess I had to offer was anise (something I'm not fond of to begin with). I was right, as it turned out, but the anise wasn't the bad egg. The spices contained cloves. Eureka! I knew what was wrong with this recipe. The Chinese 5-Spice Powder, which clearly was spawned from the depths of hell, made my stir-fry taste EXACTLY like a Poetry Slam in a Pretentious Bar smells.

No comments: