Monday, March 15, 2010

Fish Tacos with Black Beans, Avocado and Chipotle Cream

Okay, so I've never had commercially prepared fish tacos in all their batter-dipped, deep-fried glory. I love the idea of them but just haven't sought them out. And I rarely deep fry anything at home. My reason is that it makes a big mess that I'd rather not clean up and uses a ton of oil. (The Brat decided last Wednesday that I wasn't home soon enough to suit him and so he breaded some chicken and deep fried it using most of my brand new bottle of olive oil -- just wrong on so many levels).

This is my easier and healthier version than anything deep fried; the title is pretty much the directions.

Fish Tacos with Black Beans, Avocado and Chipotle Cream

For the Chipotle Cream:
2 chipotle peppers from a small can in adobo sauce, minced
1\2 c sour cream

Stir together and set aside.

For the fish:
1 lb tilapia fillets
3 limes
3 Tbs olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 avocados, diced
flour tortillas

Zest and juice the limes and place in a re-sealable plastic bag or flat dish. Add salt, pepper and olive oil and shake to combine. Add the fillets. Marinate for 30-60 minutes. Drain marinade. Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook the fillets approximately 3 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and flake.

To assemble: Warm tortillas and place some of the beans, flaked fish, avocado and chipotle cream. Wrap as for a burrito.

Variation: Should the avocado and sour cream be a little too creamy, feel free to substitute diced tomatoes for the avocado.

Serves 4.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Bread Machine is a Many-Spendoured Thang

It never would have occurred to me to get one but then my pal Margaret sent me my bread machine one year for my birthday. I went through an initial spate of bread-making, but that sort of slacked off when the first blush faded.

Then I hooked up with Daniele and he went rather nuts with it. He adores that thing and makes bread nearly every day. Everything he produces vanishes almost immediately. We bake so much bread that we've started buying flour in 25 pound bags and yeast by the pound. Even at this rate, neither lasts very long.

I don't really do that much whole wheat but may add it occasionally. Maybe it's just me, but when I do whole wheat it always comes out like a brick, even if I add more yeast (never acquired my grandmother's way with pie crust, either). I do like to use unbleached, however.

Here is our standard recipe, with handing tips for scrumptious focaccia. I used to bake a lot by hand, but having the machine speeds up the process so much that I rarely do it that way anymore. This recipe is written for using the machine. If anyone prefers to do it by hand, I can tweak it for that method.


1c water approximately 100-110 degrees (I find that 55 seconds in the microwave is exactly right)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs liquid fat of your choice (we mainly use olive oil, but one could just as easily use melted butter or margarine, vegetable oil, etc) 
3 cups of flour 
1 1\2 Tbs granular yeast
additional olive oil
kosher salt
1 Tbs or so chopped fresh rosemary leaves (take it easy, the stuff is delicious but pungent)

In the bread machine's mixer bowl, place water, salt, sugar, fat and flour. Sprinkle yeast evenly on top. Set machine to the dough setting and let 'er rip. When the dough cycle has completed (1 hour 20 minutes on our machine) shape as follows:

Pound the dough down a bit and knead, adding small amounts of flour as needed until not sticky and has a satiny feel. Coat a 15 x 10 baking sheet with olive oil. Spread dough out to cover the baking sheet. Pour a small amount (tablespoon or so) of olive oil over the top and spread over all with a pastry brush. With the top narrow end of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over the top. Sprinkle over the kosher salt and chopped rosemary. Allow dough to rise 30 minutes or so, until it seems somewhat puffy. Bake at 375 for approximately 20 minutes.

And since my pal from Salon, B&G, requested, here is the method for doing it by hand!

In a large bowl combine 1 cup of flour, the salt, sugar and yeast. Heat the water to the appropriate temperature  (check with a thermometer) and add fat. Add liquid to the flour, mix well. Add the remaining flour, a bit at a time, until the dough pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. Plop dough onto a clean floured surface and continue kneading and adding small amounts of flour until dough is smooth and elastic.

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Put in a warm, draft-free place until doubled -- about 1 1\2 hours. Return dough to a floured surface, punch down and knead again to remove air bubbles. place in prepared pan and shape as directed above.

Rachael Ray 2.0 (Yet More Food Network Propaganda)

Wow, yet another person who culls recipes from others and then publishes a cookbook. Puh-leeze. By the way, Katie, I notice none of those books on your shelf are of any particular heft.

Food Network proves once more that their channel is not about food or information, it's about a "personality" who translates well onto camera. For me, this simply translates into one more reason not to watch.

Apt comparisons to RR will be enumerated later. Looks as though she may be getting a bit long in the tooth for FN.

Although I will say that I'm glad it turns out "Lee" is her surname and not part of her given name. Phew.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I can't freaking believe it. My panini press has been stolen! We started keeping certain things likely to disappear in the bedroom. This was determined after losing items such as an Ipod, camera, cash, cigarettes. We kept the panini press in there because The Brat would use it and never clean it after he used it. So when I wanted to use it, it smelled disgusting and was filled with rotting cheese.

Anyhoo, we decided to keep it in the bedroom, along with saltines and a bag of sugar (diabetic boy doesn't need any of those).

The panini maker was being used quite a bit, so Honey decided to put it in the trunk of the car. Somehow, it has disappeared. WTF?? Who the hell is going to steal a sandwich press? I mean, if you're a tweaker looking for something to turn into cash,  why not also steal the jack that was worth more than the sandwich press?

OTOH, now I don't have to wash it any more.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Stuffed Chicken with Rosemary Polenta

I ran across this recipe in the current issue of Sunset magazine while waiting in line at the grocery store today. I think I have nearly everything I need to make it except the cheese and fresh spinach. LOL Honey tells me that Gouda is a perfectly acceptable substitute for Val d'Aosta fontina. Of course he also instructed me to make it with peppers instead of spinach. Ha!