Saturday, February 02, 2008

Shrimp Tacos

If I had to pick one thing to eat for the rest of my life, it would be fish or Shrimp tacos, along with sushi, Indian food, and chocolate. okay so that scenario wouldn’t ever work for me….. but you get the point, Shrimp tacos rate very high in my book.

It’s the combination of chili powder, ground coriander, lime juice, delicious juicy Shrimp, and lots and lots of cumin that come together on a homemade taco topped with sliced onions, cabbage and sour cream that make me happy happy. I love these little things. If I didn’t have to watch the numbers, I’d eat 8 in one seating, at least. When we went to California, fish tacos were on the top of the list because of the freshness of the seafood and the authenticity of the meal. We stopped at a small Mexican joint around Del Rey, that served the best fish & Shrimp Tacos. I wish I had pictures to share…. we’ll have to go back…

For the best Shrimp Tacos, I highly recommend buying fresh wild caught Shrimp. If you’re on the coast, that’s not such a problem. However for us Midwesterners, ocean is a 5 letter word. I cheated, as I always do. When we visit my parents in New Jersey, I make it a point to stop at their local seafood market and load up on shrimp and various types of fish. As soon as I come back from the market, I freeze everything for lasting flavor and freshness. I suggest buying shrimp that are still in their shells. Yes, it’s a giant pain in the ass to peel and devein them, but if you want authentic shrimp tacos, this is the best method. Lynne Rossetto Kasper explains the buying, peeling and deveining process here. And provides a step by step guide.

Tacos de Camarones- Shrimp Tacos
(The spices are added approximately, as in all my recipes. Are you surprised? Cumin and Coriander are not hot spices, they add a lot of flavor so don't skimp on those. However chili powder is hot therefore add according to taste.)

2 cups of masa flour- It’s corn flour made from field corn. I use the Maseca brand.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of water, more or less

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour and water together until you get a smooth doughy texture. Knead the dough and if it is dry and crumbly, add water and on the contrary if it’s too watery, add flour. If you have to add water or flour, start small. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

25-30 count medium shrimp
2 tablespoon Vegetable oil, divided
1 tablespoons Ground Cumin
1 tablespoon Ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons red chili powder, we like it hot
Salt to taste
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Fresh Lime juice
Chopped Cilantro for garnish

1/4 of Cabbage, shredded
1/2 of Red onion, sliced
Sour cream

While the dough is resting, mix shrimp with oil, ground cumin, coriander, chili powder and salt. Allow to rest for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile shred cabbage and red onion into thin slices for toppings, and finely chop cilantro.

After the dough has rested, roll into 12 golf size balls. Using a tortilla press, make medium tortillas. I believe this is the best way to make tortillas. I’ve read recipes on rolling out the dough between pieces of plastic, though that may work, I prefer to use my press. It’s a sturdy cast iron press and cost me about $20 on Ebay. The local Mexican grocers carry it as well.

Before starting, make sure to line the top and bottom of the press with plastic, sandwich, bags to keep the dough from sticking. Two tricks: press the dough slightly in hands before pressing and press it twice in the tortilla maker.
1. Press the golf side dough ball between hands. Lay it between the two pieces of plastic in the tortilla maker, off center, and press.
2. Then, open the top, reposition the flattened dough and repress for a thinner tortilla.

Repeat the process for all tortillas.

Heat a nonstick pan, cast iron skillet or the traditional comal on high heat and cook tortillas for 30 -60 seconds on each side and remove from heat. Do not add any type of grease to the pan.

Heat a non stick pan on medium high heat, add vegetable oil. When the oil is ready, add garlic and cook for 15-20 seconds, then add marinated shrimp to the pan, spices and all. Turn down heat to medium and cook shrimp for 2-3 minutes on first side and 1-2 minutes on the other side or until opaque in the center. These cook really fast so don’t leave the room to make a margarita. As tempting as that is....

Serve warm. Top a cooked tortilla with shrimp, cabbage, red onion, and sour cream.

(I took the pictures before adding sour cream)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

under construction

I am trying to get an idea for html and coding for this blog. I know, the picture and the title are overlapping and until I figure it out, it'll stay that way. Your suggestions are welcomed.

thanks for your patience with the site update.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A what?- How about F-Avari

Couple weeks ago, I ate dinner at Avari Deli & Bistro in Blue Ash after volunteering. That day had especially been a hectic at work. I had a big lunch that morning so instead of going home to prepare a meal, I decided to try Avari. It was an experience.

The front end of the restaurant has a deli shop appeal, hence the name. Creamy salads and deli meats are displayed next to the cash register. One side of the entrance holds perishable canned kosher foods, and the other side had a refrigerator with kosher deli products, eggs and meat. I asked the young man at the register about ordering and was informed I could eat at the restaurant or order take out; I chose to eat at the place. He forgot to leave out a minor detail that I'll get to at the end. I read the large menu behind the counter and went with Low Carb Green salad with an addition of egg salad, for a dollar extra. He informed me they didn’t have egg salad because they were out of eggs. Hmm, Okay. I asked to try the Chicken salad, which was laden with mayonnaise. I don’t really care for those and asked to try the Tuna salad, and he said “it’s the same. The Chef adds a lot of mayonnaise to all the creamy salads.” Strike 1. He was implying the chef didn’t know what he was doing, and I wondered why any knowledgeable person that’s been in the restaurant business for 2 days would belittle the chef and the food? I ordered the chicken salad with my Low Carb salad anyway.

When I sat down, I noticed one other table was taken by a Rabbi and his teenage son. The young man that had taken my order and the restaurant’s chef/owner were conversing with the Rabbi. I presume they are friends or family. As I looked around, the wall d├ęcor was half done. The decorations that were up looked marvelous but I think they either ran out of money or gave up half way after starting; there were patches of unpainted plaster, not exactly appealing to the eye.

While I waited for my food, all of 25 minutes for a green salad, I was flabbergasted when I overheard the Rabbi’s phone conversation. He spoke of removing evolutionism theory from schools, especially from the school he was planning to fund because creationism was the “accurate version" to teach the children. All this while the owner looked on. I was very put off by this because as an owner of the restaurant he did not tell the Rabbi, a patron- friend , to mind his manners. Strike 2. And as a respectable patron, the Rabbi 1) should not discuss his personal views on such issues loud enough for others to hear and 2) should have public manners. I found the whole thing to be rude and offensive. Unacceptable.

Seeing that the entire restaurant was empty, except for one other table, I was surprised my food took a long time to prepare. It eventually arrived and it was disappointing and tasteless. The salad consisted of roughly chopped lettuce, onions on one side, mushrooms and tomatoes on the other, with a big blob of chicken salad on top. I ordered a Caesar dressing on the side that tasted nothing like a good Caesar dressing. Strike 3. Usually restaurants that have bad or slow service make up for it in food.

The restaurant had made enough errors for the night, it couldn’t have gotten worse, but it did. I finished my dinner and walked up to pay for my food. My total was $7.90; I thought to myself if the salad was $4.99 + chicken salad, $1.00, with tax included it should be around $6.50. I asked why it was $7.90 and he said, Avari charges $1.00 extra for eating at the restaurant. When I inquired about ordering, he failed to mention that minor detail. I haven't been living under the rock the past few years or have I? When did restaurants start charging for eating in? Restaurants should love patrons and encourage them eating in for tips and to prove their good service. Clearly that wasn’t the case for Avari. It’s not the $1.00 that bothers me, it’s the principle of charging patrons for choosing to eat at the restaurant I disagree with. Strike Out completely. F

Avari scored low in the food as well as the service. Maybe it was the salad, but I don't care to go back to find out. It’s not worth my money to order and wait for a salad that tastes okay and get charged unnecessarily. I rarely give restaurants a low rating, however Avari missed all the marks. It is in prime location and I hope a better restaurant with good food and service replaces this one, soon.