Thursday, June 11, 2009

Flour Tortillas

Adapted from Saveur Cooks Authentic American, via Orangette

Since I was only cooking for two, i halved this recipe and got nine tortillas but could have definitely squeezed 10 out of the dough.

4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 ¼ tsp salt
6 Tbs vegetable shortening (I went with Crisco, but do what you will)

In a small saucepan, bring about 2 cups of water to a boil.

In a large bowl, stir the flour and salt together with a whisk. Mix in the shortening with your fingers until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in enough boiling water (about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups) that the dough holds together; you will want to begin by stirring with a spoon, but you need to finish by kneading the dough with your hands.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth, 2-5 minutes, but no more. It should be mildly went, and easy to manage. Form the dough into a ball, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

Set a well-seasoned skillet over medium heat. Place the ball of dough on a lightly floured surface, and cut it into 6 wedges. Cut each wedge into 3 smaller wedges, for a total of 18 wedges. Use a rolling pin to roll out a wedge into a very thin circle—as thin as you can make it, like a sheet of fabric—the size of any tortilla you would normally eat a taco out of. When the skillet is hot, cook the tortilla until slightly puffed, about 20-30 seconds. Flip, then cook for 20-30 seconds more, or until flecked with golden or brown (whichever you prefer) spots. Remove to a plate. Repeat the process with the other 17 wedges. Stack away, and have some of the easiest, best-tasting tortillas in your life.

With a hefty side of self-pride, I might add.

Mexican Seafood Saute with Avocado-Mango Salsa

Courtesy of Bon Appetit

So, i know this is called "Seafood Saute" but I just made this with shrimp since my grocery store was plumb out of scallops. but scallops would rock this dish too, and do what you will! It's your taco after all.

Ingredients for the Salsa

1 mango, peeled, pitted, diced (about 1.5 cups)
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, diced
1 large shallot, chopped
1 jalapeno chile, seeded, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
one lime's worth of juice (and more if you want, like I did, because I adore lime)

Ingredients for Seafood Taco

1/2 cup chopped shallots (about 2 medium shallots)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup tequila (we omitted this because I didn't feel like spending the cash and it was STILL amazing, but your choice)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1.5 pounds uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined (so for the 2 of us, we used a little less than 3/4 of a pound, and was plenty...totally up to you)
1 pound sea scallops, side muscles removed (totally optional, but it would be fun to try it next time)
12 green onions, thinly sliced

For Salsa: Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt. Cover and chill.

For Seafood Saute: Whisk first 5 ingredients in a small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup oliv oil. Season marinade to taste with salt and pepper.

Place shrimp in large resealable plastic bag. Place scallops (if you choose to make this too) in another large resealable plastic bag. Pour marinade into bags, dividing equally (about 1/2 cup each). Seal bags, turn to coat. Chill at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Drain shrimp and scallops, reserving the marinade. Pat scallops dry. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops to skillet and saute until beginning to brown, about 1.5 minutes per side. Transfer to large bowl. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to skillet. Add shrimip and green onions, saute until shrimp are almost opaque in the center, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Return scallops with any accumulated juices to skillet. Add the reserved marinade and simmer until seafood is cooked through and the mixture is thoroughly heated, about 2 minutes. Transfer to large shallow bowl, garnish with lime slices if you want to be fancy about it. Serve with the mango salsa.

Like I said, you don't need to make the scallops, and it will completely cut your time and effort in half. The shrimp alone are super amazing with this recipe.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Harris Ranch's Pecan Drops

Makes 3 dozen cookies

2 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup egg whites (3 to 4 large egg whites)
1 1/2 pounds coarsely chopped pecan pieces (you can do this by hand which takes a while, or mash them with something heavy, or buy pre-chopped or zazz them up in the food processor. So many options!)

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl combine the brown sugar, salt, vanilla and pecan pieces. With a hand-mixer or your trusty Kitchen-Aid mixer(thanks Mom and Dad!) beat on low speed to incorporate the ingredients, then drizzle in the egg whites. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat for 4 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

2. Drop the dough in rounded tablespoons onto a greased baking sheet. If the cookies aren't holding together well, you might need to beat in an extra egg white. I'd start with three, then add the fourth if your batter needs it to hold together.

3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately remove the cookies from the baking sheet to a cooling rack or plate. The cookies will be soft but will firm up as they cool.

Try not to devour all of them at once. Also, this is a good way to get your coworkers to think you are a culinary genius. Tricky, tricky.