01 November 2009

Get Well Food

I haven't been feeling well in oh-so-many ways lately, so George made me some simple get well food. Nothing brilliant, but expertly executed. He has gotten good at poaching eggs.

The key, according to George, is to get the salted water to a very gentle simmer. (You have to salt it so it doesn't lose its boil when you add the egg.) Then crack an egg into a tiny bowl. Lower the dish to right above the water, then slowly slowly rotate the dish 90 degrees until the side of the bowl is horizontal on the surface of the water. The egg should slowly ooze out sideways into the water. Cook until awesome.

He also boiled collard green leaves (until tender but they hadn't lost their color) and tossed them with fresh squeezed lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Both greens and egg were served on hot fresh rice.

I feel better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sarah: Regarding your desire to get some authentic Mexican recipes in your repertoire, one of the best resources is Rick Bayless' great cookbook "Mexico: One Plate at a Time." Bayless' emphasis is on fresh ingredients, and his instructions are clear yet comprehensive.

You mentioned two Mexican items: tomatillo salsa and fresh corn tortillas. www.rickbayless.com has recipes for many excellent salsas, including a raw tomatillo salsa. However, I think Bayless omits an important step. I caution everyone who uses tomatillos, especially those who are getting them at farmer's markets, to blanch them first, skins and all. It's much easier to get the skins off after blanching, plus that sticky substance on the outside melts away, and the microscopic little bugs that seem to love the underside of tomatillo skins will be eradicated.

Regarding fresh corn tortillas: unless you're going to be eating them all the time, you're better off learning some other cooking technique. The tortilla effort is hardly worth it, because it's time-consuming, it takes a long while to master the equipment, and, mainly, the cost of the pre-made tortillas you can buy at the grocery store (especially in neighborhoods like yours) rival the cost of the ingredients and equipment. They also store in the fridge for 3 months, and can freeze for a year (although once out of the freezer, then tend to be more brittle).

You're much better served by trying different brands of packaged tortillas and seeing which one you like best. Try to buy tortillas made locally. Here in Chicago, we're blessed with many excellent tortilla purveyors, and it's surprising how much the taste and texture vary from one tortillaria to another.

But, if you really want to try it at home, a couple of suggestions. First, you're going to need a tortilla press. Get a cast-iron one, not aluminum. You need something that will remain stable on the counter. Get one that has at least an 8-inch diameter. You can often find these at garage sales in Mexican neighborhoods.

Next, buy yourself a bag of corn flour for tortillas, called masa harina. You can find this with the other flours at your local carniceria. The best brand is Maseca. They have one that's flavored with lime which is very tasty. Don't buy the coarse grind Maseca, which is for tamales. A recipe for tortillas is printed on every bag of masa harina, but you can add other ingredients as you wish - just make sure the other ingredients are well incorporated and watch the moisture content carefully. I like adding spinach and sauted onion.

Tortillas are made by being pressed between pieces of plastic. You have to work quickly or the little devils will stick and you spend all your time peeling plastic off the tortillas.

Good luck!

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