Friday, May 16, 2008

Looking Through Cookbooks Over the Phone With Aimee...

Aimee called this afternoon just to chat. (For those who don't know, Aimee is my oldest daughter, married to Josiah.) Eventually, as it often does, our conversation turned to food and cooking. Aimee said that lately she's loving the flavors of Mexican food and often craves it. She wants to buy a Mexican cookbook. I suggested that she might want to look at books by either Rick Bayless or Diana Kennedy, and Aimee told me that that is exactly what she already intended to do.

While we talked, I scanned my cookbook shelves and mentioned that I have a good, uncomplicated sort of cookbook by Rick Bayless called Everyday Mexican. I took the book from the shelf and began flipping through it, reading recipe titles to Aimee over the phone. Now I was craving Mexican food, too! "Ooh, I love his avacado-mango salad with blue cheese, bacon, and toasted pumpkin seeds!" "Yum-- the chipotle shrimp!" "And the seafood salad tacos are tasty." "Oh, and I want to try his Swiss Chard Tacos with Carmelized Onion, Feta Cheese, and Red Chile!"

We continuted to talk about cookbooks and recipes, and pretty soon, I had three open cookbooks spread across the counter-- the Rick Bayless book, Vegetarian Suppers From Deborah Madison's Kitchen, and Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson (of Aimee owns the latter two, but we mostly flipped through Deborah Madison's book together over the phone, comparing notes as to which recipes we've already tried and which ones we intend to make in the future: "The grilled vegetable sandwiches with chipotle mayonnaise are delicious," I told Aimee, "and you have to try the yummy spinach quesadillas. They taste better than they sound." We have both made and love the yellow peppers stuffed with quinoa, corn, and feta cheese. And Aimee says I need to try the fideos with pasilla chiles, avacado, and crema.

On we went talking about recipes, ingredients, flavors, and cookbooks. (I'm sure some people can't begin to imagine this being fun!) Aimee calls herself a "fishetarian" because she eats some seafood, which makes her not quite a full-blown vegetarian, and since she was craving Mexican flavors, I told her about a quick and easy supper I pulled together one night: Chipotle Shrimp Tacos with Avacado and Pickled Red Onion. It's a nice, light, fresh-tasting thing to eat. Aimee told me to email her the instructions, so I did, and since I have it typed out, I'll post it here, too:

(It's easy. It's quick. It's light. And it tastes good. I'm guessing this serves 4 to 6.)

You'll need:

1 red onion
1 or 2 avacadoes
Tortillas (corn, flour, or sprouted grain)
Ingredients for chipotle shrimp (below)

Make the chipotle shrimp.

(The following recipe is an adapted version of Chipotle Shrimp Scampi from Sara Foster's book, Casual Cooking. I either use this or Rick Bayless' Chipotle Shrimp recipe. This one cooks more quickly.)

2 T. olive oil
2 lbs. large, raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 chipotle chile in adobo (2 if you like it spicier), minced
1/2 c. dry white wine (you can use chicken broth)
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Heat 1 T. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it's hot. Add half the shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and saute for about 30 seconds per side, until they just begin to turn pink. Add half the garlic and half of the chipotle chile and cook and stir about 1 minute more. Remove shrimp to a plate and cover loosely to keep warm. Repeat, heating the remaining oil and cooking the shrimp, garlic, and chipotle in the same way. Remove the second batch of shrimp to the plate.

Add the wine (or broth) to the skillet you cooked the shrimp in and simmer over medium heat for about 1 minute to reduce slightly. Return the shrimp and juices collected on the plate they were resting on to the skillet. Add the lemon zest and juice and cook and stir for about 1 minute to combine the ingredients and coat the shrimp with the sauce. Remove from the heat, stir in the cilantro, and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.


To make pickled red onions, cut the onion in halves or fourths, and slice very thinly. Place in a bowl and cover with white distilled vinegar or brown rice vinegar (the distilled makes a cleaner tasting pickled onion). Sprinkle with a few good pinches of sugar and stir to dissolve. Let sit 15 minutes or until red onions have turned a very bright pink. You can make these ahead and keep in the fridge.


To assemble:

Coarsely chop fresh cilantro to make about 1/4 c.
Slice avacado(es) or cut them in chunks.

We use sprouted grain tortillas, but you can use whatever you like. It's good to warm the tortillas. Place some (how much? I don't know! whatever seems to be a serving...) shrimp with a little sauce down the center of the tortilla, but make sure to save some sauce for the rest of the tacos. Top the shirmp with avacado slices or chunks and pickled red onion (it can drip some). Use whatever amount seems right to you! (Sorry that I don' t have specific amounts.) Sprinkle with cilantro. And eat.