Kitchen Karma

May 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm Leave a comment

   Serendipity.  I’ve used the term here before.  Defined as “the lucky tendency to find interesting or valuable things by chance,” it was one of my dear stepmother’s favorite concepts and lies at the heart of many a bout of culinary creativity.  Paula Dean’s bacon cheeseburger served on a glazed, raised donut comes to mind as an example, but I don’t encourage you to test the merits of that particular nutritional disaster. 

I do encourage you to stock up on novel finds at the grocery store, cook often enough to have interesting leftovers around, and experiment with meals suggested by whatever you happen to have on hand.  I’m thrilled when I can extract inspiration from among the miscellany that is my refrigerator’s contents.  Yes, I know I need to expand my world.  The solitary life of the writer, and all that… 

Back on topic, I recently shared the web address for a lovely site called Cooking for Seven, which offers quality recipes and exquisite photography – all done by a very young woman living in northern Minnesota.  I served her recipe for the world’s best guacamole for my mother-in-law’s 87th birthday celebration, and (I am not hyperbolizing here) it was truly incredible stuff.  It was also the basis for a very tasty lunch I put together for myself last week, and it works right into today’s theme.  

Inspired by the Taco Bell Lenten special of shrimp tacos, which I fell in love with but couldn’t seem to replicate at home, I grabbed the leftover guacamole, some whole grain tortilla wraps, some leftover blanched broccoli from the birthday party spread, and an excess handful of walnuts chopped for cookie-baking to put together a menu of Shrimp Tacos, Warm Butter Bean Salsa, and Grilled Peaches with Ricotta.  Lucky tendency, indeed.

A blurb from the online magazine Nation’s Restaurant News describes Taco Bell’s limited time shrimp taco offer as “six non-fried shrimp marinated in a variety of Mexican spices, served in a warm flour tortilla and topped with shredded lettuce, Fiesta Salsa and Avocado Ranch Sauce.”  I keep a bag of frozen, pre-cooked shrimp in my freezer, and made my slightly lighter, quickie, two-taco version by tossing together, in a small bowl: 

12 large shrimp              1/8 tsp coriander            1/8 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp chili powder                        1/8 tsp garlic powder   

Let this sit while you are making the bean side dish and the guacamole  Just before serving, spray a small non-stick skillet with canola oil and place it over medium-low heat; add the shrimp to the pan and stir frequently as they take on a little bit of a golden crust – three-to-four minutes.  Lay two small whole grain tortillas on top of the browned shrimp for the last 30 seconds or so before spooning the shrimp into the wraps.  Top with a good-size dollop of… 

The world’s best guacamole, from which I deleted the fresh, chopped cilantro* (because biting into a snip of cilantro reminds me of the time I was in a rush to pop a stick of Juicy Fruit into my mouth and ended up chewing on bits of the tin foil inner-wrap): 

3 medium, ripe Haas avocados             2 TB onion, minced

1 medium clove garlic, minced            1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced

3/4 tsp sea salt                                             3/4 tsp ground cumin

2 TB lime juice

Halve, peel, pit, and dice avocados into a medium bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir with a fork, mashing just slightly, until well combined.  The flavors permeate nicely if you can make this up ahead of time.

*I am, perversely, very fond of the dried, powdered version of the plant, coriander, which has a distinctly different flavor.

For the simple warm butter bean salsa, place into a small heavy skillet:

1-16 oz canbutter beans                              1-14 oz can diced tomatoes               

1-1/2 C raw or parboiled broccoli          1/2 tsp onion powder

Partially drain beans and tomatoes, leaving just enough liquid to moisten the mixture and “steam” the broccoli.  Warm over medium-low, covered, stirring gently from time to time, until heated through and broccoli is crisp-tender.    

And for the lovely, Mediterranean-style dessert of grilled peaches with ricotta

2 large peaches                                  1/2 tsp melted butter

2/3 C part-skim ricotta                   1/2 tsp lemon juice  

1 TB honey                                            1 tsp almond extract (or vanilla)

sprinkle of cinnamon                        1/4 C toasted walnuts, chopped 

Halve and pit the peaches.  Pre-heat a small grill pan over medium-low.  Brush cut side of peaches with melted butter and place cut-side down on heated pan.  Let cook for 10-15 minutes, or until grill lines are nicely caramelized into the surface.

Meanwhile, mix cheese, lemon juice, honey, and extract well.  When peaches are ready, remove them to a pretty serving plate, scoop ricotta mixture into the hollow of each peach half, sprinkle with cinnamon, and top with walnuts. 

Anybody in the mood for a “eureka” moment?

Entry filed under: Musings of a Midwestern Foodie. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

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