edible adventures from the centre of the universe

31 October 2007

Cookbook Challenge #2: Creepy Edition

BOO! With the scariest season of the year upon us, it was a no-brainer for me to make It Came from the Kitchen by Geoff Isaac and Gordon Reid my second virgin cookbook challenge. Acquired at the 2007 Festival of Fear, this cute little tome boasts "Monstrously delicious celebrity recipes from Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, assorted aliens, and beyond!" From deviled eggs (natch) and "Vampire Broth" to Salmon en Croute and Risotto Con Piselli E La Lattuga (a favourite of Vincent Price), the recipes included in It Came from the Kitchen span the world, outerspace, life, and the afterlife. Peppered with anecdotes and trivia about some of the biggest names to ever make you pee your pants, the authors' passion for film and food is obvious, making this cookbook a delight to use.

Choosing my first recipe from It Came from the Kitchen was difficult, but I landed on a shrimp dish attributed to Paul Naschy, the "Spanish equivalent to Lon Chaney and Bela Lugosi." It stood out to me because of its simplicity, Spanish-ness, and heavy inclusion of beer. Beer makes everything better, no? Exceedingly simple to make, Shrimp and Beer with Tomatoes features clean, bright flavours and a mess of tasty broth to soak up with fresh crusty bread (I recommend a nice olive loaf). The recipe claims to serve two, but that would only be possible if it were a romantic dinner for Godzilla and Mothra -- Paul Naschy must have an unreal appetite. This recipe can easily serve three, maybe four.

Happy Halloween, y'all!

Paul Naschy's Shrimp and Beer with Tomatoes

1.5 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup spanish onion, diced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, minced
1 bottle beer
2 tbsp tomato paste
a few dashes hot sauce

1. Warm the oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook slowly until soft. Add the shrimp and beer, and boil until the shrimp just begins to change colour to pink.
2. Add the tomatoes, hot sauce, and tomato paste and stir to combine. Simmer until shrimp is fully cooked, and remove from heat. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with fresh crusty bread for dipping.

Serves 3

Labels: ,

14 October 2007

Cookbook Challenge #1

I love collecting cookbooks. When I get a new one, I always sit down and read it from cover to cover, like a novel. Because of this obsession, I've amassed quite a few cookbooks over the years. However, a recent inventory showed me that there are 13 of them that I have never cooked from. For shame!

In an effort to correct this, I've included a challenge in my 101 in 1001 list to make something out of every cookbook I own. One of the ones that had been previously overlooked is Eat, Shrink, and Be Merry by Janet and Greta Podleski, which Dave's mom gave to me a while ago and I just never got around to using. I generally shy away from "low fat" cookbooks, because my past experience with them has often led to boring, flavourless dinners. I hoped this foray into Dietland would end in tastier results.

As I leafed through Eat, Shrink, and Be Merry, a recipe for Tofu Parmesan jumped out at me (called "Parma Chameleon" -- the sisters Podleski like to use twee, punny names for recipes in their cookbooks. Some find this cute, but it makes me cringe.). I like tofu. And cheese. And tomato sauce. It was an easy decision.

This recipe was very easy to throw together, and I served it over some lightly-seasoned spaghetti squash instead of pasta (if you're going healthy, you might as well go all the way). The results were fantastic -- crispy tofu cutlets with flavourful browned mozza and spicy tomato sauce. I would make this again in a second.

One down, twelve to go!

*Note: The recipe in the cookbook makes way too much breadcrumb mixture, so I've corrected the proportions below.

Tofu Parmesan

1lb firm tofu
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan (fresh grated, ideally)
1/2 tsp each dried basil and dried oregano
a pinch red chile flakes
1/4 tsp each salt and freshly-ground pepper
1 egg
1.5 cups of your favourite tomato sauce (I used Classico Spicy Red Pepper)
6 slices mozarella
1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a baking sheet
2. Drain tofu and blot dry with paper towel. Slice block into 8 even slices (about 1/2 inch thick), and blot slices dry again with paper towel.
3. Combine bread crumbs, 2 tbsp parmesan, basil, oregano, chile flakes, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Place egg in another shallow bowl and beat lightly.
4. Working with one piece at a time, dip tofu in egg to coat, and then in crumb mixture. The slices should be well-covered with crumbs. Place coated tofu on baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time. Remove tofu from oven.
5. Grease an 8x8 baking dish, and pour 1/2 of your tomato sauce in the base. Place browned tofu in a single layer on the tomato sauce and top with remaining sauce and parsley. Cover tofu with sliced mozarella and remaining parmesan. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes and then finish the dish under the broiler to brown the cheese. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

Spaghetti Squash

Pierce squash all over with a knife. Place entire squash in the microwave, and cook on high for 12 minutes. Once cooked, allow squash to cool slightly before cutting in half and removing seeds with a spoon. Use a fork to "shred" the flesh of the squash, and transfer it to a bowl. Toss with 1 tbsp butter and season with salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste.

Labels: ,

08 October 2007

I Ate a Hippopotamus for Lunch!

One of the easier food-related tasks on my 101 in 1001 list was to eat a bowl of Zoodles with toast, which was a childhood favourite meal of mine. I completed this task yesterday when I ate a hippopotamus (and some zebras and elephants) for lunch. While not as delicious as I remembered, my bowl of animal-shaped noodles in tomatoey sauce made for a perfectly serviceable nostalgic lunch with toast. One down, thirty-six to go!


04 October 2007

37 in 1001

I've decided to make a 101 in 1001 list. This is a challenge that has been floating around the Intarweb for a couple of years now, where the participant makes a list of 101 tasks that she would like to complete within 1001 days (roughly 2.75 years).

As I finished my list today, I noticed that a big chunk (about one third) of my tasks are food-related -- I guess that goes to show where my interests lie! These 37 tasty tasks are listed below, and I'll blog about each of them as they're completed. My deadline is July 2, 2010. Wish me luck!

1. Cook a whole lobster
2. Eat some Chicago-style pizza in Chicago
3. Make some Chicago-style pizza at home
4. Eat at one of Perigee or Splendido Done!
5. Bake a loaf of bread
6. Go on a picnic
7. Watch Tampopo Done!
8. Make a pie from scratch
9. Barbeque once per week for a month
10. Cook a complete Indian dinner (including bread!)
11. Be able to say I've cooked something out of every cookbook I own
12. Grow tomatoes
13. Make pupusas
14. Make authentic polenta
15. Go vegan for one week
16. Eat at every restaurant in the Junction
17. Go to a farmer's market
18. Go to a "U Pick" fruit farm
19. Make apple butter
20. Make fresh ravioli
21. Throw a retro (as in "ham mousse") dinner party
22. Go on a brewery tour
23. Do a beer tasting
24. Go for upscale Greek on the Danforth
25. Eat dinner at Live
26. Get my cholestorol checked
27. Make a souffle
28. Try a new restaurant in Chinatown
29. Go for dim sum
30. Try Humboldt Fog goat cheese
31. Eat a traditional English breakfast (EBCB)
32. Make popcorn on the stove
33. Make mango and sticky rice
34. Eat a mushroom-based meal (I hate mushrooms!)
35. Eat Alphaghetti or Zoodles with toast Done!
36. Check out the Beach and try Cajun Corner
37. Cook something in my bamboo steamer