May 16, 2010

* A Whole New Food Culture to Explore

I have been dining like the Queen.  Perhaps better than the Royal Table.  I wonder if Lizzie has been made aware of squash blossom soup?  Poor Lizzie, if indeed she has not, surely she has been deprived of a great delicacy.

Coming home last last evening, mentally, emotionally and physically fatigued, I was met by Sylvia (a dear, sweet 'wannabe' southern belle - actually we are both southern belle wannabe's lately) and an exquisite meal.  Tapas:  Black Refried Beans and Salsa served with freshly made tortilla chips.  Squeeze fresh lime on that and you have a mouth watering appetizer.  Starters:  Squash Blossom Soup.  Entre: Poblano Chile stuffed with Shrimp Salad.   Dessert:  Dark, Dark, Dark, Delicious, Delectable, Delightful, absolutely Divine, chocolate.  One large square each.  Enough to savour.  Plenty to satisfy.

I don't know if Pablano Chiles are available where you are, however, I'm going to give you the recipe and a photo at the end.  If you are interested, the produce market will in all likelihood have them.

Again, the rains came last evening.  The clouds rolled in, thunder cracked and bellowed across the sky.  The rain drops came in the 'extra large' variety and made enticing sounds as they hit the surfaces of the house.  Candle light, wine, good food and good company.  A restful evening.  Just what I needed.

The power was off for a short while again last night.  That's three nights in a row.  I'm beginning to miss it if it doesn't happen.  So peaceful when there is no power.  No hummmmmm through the wires.

Oh, by the way, I am 'tweeking' my sangria recipe again.   For the one dear friend who visited us the year we lived in the Caymans - you will absolutely remember how good it was .... and how much we consumed.  Well, it dawned on me today, WOW .. Sangria would be enticingly wicked in this heat.  Naturally, it was invented here or in Spain or some other hot country.  So I began to play - because I'm not quite sure what the final perfect 'tweek' contained in the Caymans.  I remember guava juice was involved.  Today I bought orange juice, fresh limes, pineapple, oranges, a bottle of tropical fruit flavoured non alcoholic wine, Mexican brandy and red wine.  It was a huge experiment because I couldn't really find what I wanted on short notice.  Came home, mixed it up in certain proportions, and voila .. not bad!  I will continue to play and let you know the outcome.

For now, here are photos of our din din.  Miss Prissy, our beloved maid, (also known as our very imaginary beloved maid) left early today, and we had to take care of our own needs (Oh My!).  It was difficult, but we managed somehow.

Tapas:  Refried beans, fresh salsa and freshly squeezed lime on ultra fresh, right our of the pan, still warm, tortillas chips.

Squash Blossom Soup.  Absolutely delightful.   

Poblano Chile stuffed with Shrimp Salad

Dessert involves deep, dark, delicious chocolate.  One square of Hersheys Dark 60%.  Then, saving the best for last, we slowly savour one square of Lindts Dark 85%.  Sometimes we can find 90%.  Believe me, it's amazing.  One square satisfies me.   .... well, two squares really ....

This is what we are left with!  Still ..... 2 square of the very best for tomorrow night!

Here's the recipe.  See if you can find the Poblano chiles.  It's worth it!

Shrimp Salad Stuffed Poblano Chile with Beet Vinaigrette

Mexico is surrounded by a beautiful coastline whether you're referring to the Pacific, the Culf coast or the Caribbean, so it makes sense that much of its cuisine incorporates seafood.  This recipe omes from the coastal region of Veracruz.  It's quite refreshing and perfect for a summer lunch.  The best part though, is that you can prepare the different ingredients the day before and then assemble the chile right before serving.

8 poblano chiles

12      ounces small shrimp, cooked
1        cup almonds, lightly toasted
3/4     cup mayonnaise
2        cups apple, peele and diced
1        cup pineapple, peeled and dices
1/2     cup celery, diced
2        tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
          salt, to taste

1/4     cup vegtable oil
1/2     cup olive oil
1/3     cup vinegar
1        cup beet, roasted, peeled and diced
1        teaspoon salt
1/2     teaspoon black pepper
1/4     cup parsley chopped.

1.  Roast the poblano chiles.  set aside

2.  Place the cooked shrimp in a medium bowl.  Add the almonds, mayonnaise, apples, pneapple, celery, parsely and salt.  Stir.  Store in the refrigerator.

3.  To make the beet vinaigrette, place the vinegar in a blender and slowly add the oils.  Then add the cooked beet, salt and pepper.  Puree.

4.  To assemble the chile stuff each poblano with sufficient shrimp salad.  Pour about 1/4 cup of the beet vinaigrette onto each plate, covering the base.  Place the chile in the middle.  Sprinkle with parsley

Plan Ahead:
1 day in advance make the vinaigrette and roast the poblano chiles.

I must say everything we used was fresh.  It's my opinion that all fresh ingredients made a huge difference.  If you have never roasted a chile this is how you do it.  Cook over a gas flame, turning often, until most of the chile is black.  Place in a plastic bag and allow the chile to sweat.  After 15 or 10 minutes, take the chile from the bag and peel, scraping most of the burnt parts away.

I will be interested to see if any of you try it.  If you do, let me know what you think.  I personally, am in love.  These peppers are very mild, but still have just enough 'zing' to make it interesting.  Enjoy.

“Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don't catch steak hanging around when you're poor and sick, do you?”
Judith Martin (Miss Manners)

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