Saturday, October 30, 2010

Late-Night Mexican

Alright, so it's not even late. But when I'm home alone on a Saturday night, there's something that's bound to happen--snack concocting. And my kind of snack often starts with a drink. I was recently given a cocktail book, with everything from classics (a Manhattan) to "pitcher drinks" (Bloody Marys and rum punch). And then in-between there are handy little chapters organized by type of spirit. I have tons of tequila, but all I ever know what to do with it is make a margarita--wonderful, but maybe not on a cool autumn evening. So I turned to the book and found a sueno. Still has the lime of a margarita, but a little rosemary for warmth. To make:

Muddle a few slices of cucumber and some rosemary leaves in a cocktail shaker with 3/4 oz. lime juice and a pinch of sugar. Add 2 oz. tequila and ice. Shake. Strain into highball glass with ice. Pour over 1 oz. tonic water. Garnish with rosemary sprig.

Once the drink was made, I couldn't just leave it at that. I had some tomatillos that I got from my farm share today, so I chopped them into a simple salsa with onion, chili, sea salt and lime. Simple. And perfect for a little alone time.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

After School Snack

I'm not great at packing lunches. It annoys me. I don't want to spend my precious morning time figuring out what I'm going to eat in five hours. Mostly, I just bring leftovers, and try to pack them up the night before.
Due to my dislike of lunch packing, I never end up packing a big lunch. And so I'm always hungry when I get home around 3:00.

But then I'm presented with another problem, which is that I never have much snack food around the place. It's for the best, but sometimes I want to eat something quickly, which means I have to make something quickly.

Now, sometimes I know exactly where I get food ideas. Just reading the mention of some food in a book makes me in the mood for it. But today I was in the mood for fried shrimp, and I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe it was the nearly empty can of coconut milk in my fridge, begging for a use. In any case, I decided to give it a go.

There are certain foods that just scream "restaurant food," and I'd say fried shrimp is one of them. I've never had fried shrimp at someone's house, but it is the ubiquitous seafood appetizer on countless menus. I don't think of myself as a restaurant food cook, but it happened today. A bit of snooping around at, and I developed a passable fried shrimp with ingredients I had on hand. And quickly, too. Nice.

Here's the batter I used:
3 T flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. red Thai curry paste
3 T beer (you can drink the rest!)

Put first four ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to combine. Measure out the beer and whisk in red curry paste. Whisk beer into dry ingredients to form a batter. Small quantities, but enough batter to coat nine shrimp, which was a good serving for one.

Heat oil in a wok to almost point of smoking, then turn down heat to medium-low.

Dredge shrimp in cornstarch, dip in batter, and fry a few at a time, for about two minutes, until golden brown.
Serve shrimp with a sauce made with coconut milk, a little lime, a little cardamom, a little chili, and little salt, a little sugar.

Quick. Easy. Delicious.