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Crispy Fish Tacos Garnished with Radish and Jicama


Put some more crunch into the popular fish taco — and stir up the flavors a bit, too. But make this recipe when you have an hour or more to work in the kitchen — great tastes are your reward.

What’s different? You’re going from soft corn tortilla wrappers to crisp. Then, for even more crunch, the fish is rolled in corn flour and deep-fried. All of this heat and crunch gets topped with a cool garnish made with matchstick-cut radishes and jicama (see photo below), halved green grapes, arugula sprouts, fresh lime juice, mint and cilantro. Spoon creamy chipotle sauce on top at the end.

(Note: the salad below is good as side salad to serve with spicy Mexican food, smoky barbecue, or tender, oven-roasted pork. Or, leave out the lettuce in your sandwich and use this mix instead.

Crispy Fish Tacos with Radish-Jicama Garnish and Creamy Chipotle Sauce

fish taco salad garnish 3SALAD:
5-6 red globe radishes, cut in matchstick slices with red-tip ends
1 quarter large jicama, peeled and cut into matchstick slices
Large handful green grapes, washed and sliced in half
1/2  carton of arugula sprouts (microgreens, not baby arugula salad greens) or radish sprouts
6-8 sprigs fresh cilantro
6-8 sprigs fresh mint
1 medium lime (divided use)
More fresh cilantro for garnish
fish taco crispy shellsFISH TACOS:
2 cups grapeseed oil, for frying
6 corn tortillas
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 cup seasoned corn flour (Zatarain’s Fish Fry Cajun Style is good, a little spicy)
10-ounces firm white fish, such as cod or flounder, cut into 1-2-inch-wide strips, about 4-6 inches long

CREAMY CHIPOTLE SAUCE:
1/2 dried chipotle (softened in hot water and minced) or 1/2 canned chipotle, minced
1/3 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Pinch of salt

For the salad: Because it takes awhile to cut up the radishes, jicama and grapes for this salad, start slicing the radishes (see photo) so the red peel is on both tips, jicama into strips, then slice grapes in half. Add arugula, cilantro and mint, gently toss then cover up and keep cold in the refrigerator. You’ll squeeze the juice of half a lime on, and toss, when ready to dish up tacos.

Crisp Fish Tacos 2For the fish tacos, preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Pour the grapeseed oil into a pan deep enough to fry them. If you have a rack that makes deep-fried tortilla shells, use those, of course. Or, just fry them in the oil, manipulating them with a spoon to fold over and leave a pocket for the fish. Or, just use boxed crispy taco shells! There’s always an easy way. Drain on paper towels, then set in the oven on a cookie sheet to stay crisp.

Set up a bowl big enough to dip fish strips in and mix together the egg and milk. Put the corn flour in a mound on the dinner plate.  Pat the fish slices dry, then dip in the milk and egg mixture, let excess moisture drip off. Then, roll in corn flour. When all of the strips are ready (you can line them up on a cookie sheet, just don’t let them touch each other) start frying. The oil is hot enough when a bit of the flour drop in sizzles. Fry the fish strips just until golden brown, turn with tongs and when they are done, set them on paper towels so they keep their crunch. Put in the oven to stay hot and crisp.

For creamy chipotle sauce, stir together all of the ingredients. Set into the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. Spoon it onto the tacos.

To assemble: Divide the fish among the taco shells, pushing it in so that it leaves room for the garnish. Add salad garnish (after tossing with the lime juice) and a few more sprigs of cilantro, if you like. Spoon on the creamy chipotle sauce and take some to the table with you, too.  We found that dipping jicama sticks into the sauce was really good!

Makes 2-3 servings.

From Bonnie Walker

 

 

 

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Radish and Cucumber Salad


Radish and Cucumber Salad

Sometimes, the simplest combinations shine more brightly than complex creations. This salad features only three ingredients outside of the dressing — radishes, cucumbers and either arugula or spinach. And the dressing isn’t that complicated either. But put them together and a rewarding salad results.

This went well with ham and seafood both on Easter and would work with just about anything else you were serving. It is yet another winning surprise from Suzanne Somers’ “The Sexy Forever Recipe Bible” (Three Rivers Press, $21.99).

Radish and Cucumber Salad

1 bunch radishes, sliced into quarters
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into half-moons
1 bunch arugula or spinach
Extra virgin olive oil
Sherry vinegar
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a mixing bowl, combine the radishes, cucumber and arugula. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and a splash of vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss until well coated.

Place the salad on individual plates and top sliced chicken, if desired. Serve immediately.

Makes 2-4 servings.

From “The Sexy Forever Recipe Bible” by Suzanne Somers

 

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Easy Appetizers: Stock up for the Holidays


FoodStillLife2The phone just rang. It was friends announcing they were going to drop by. You just got off work and haven’t a thing to serve them. Or so you think. The following are easy appetizers that you can create out of items you may have in your refrigerator or pantry that will make it seem as if you were expecting company.

Some items to keep on hand:

  • Chips and salsa. This is San Antonio. Any questions? You can liven up the usual mix with a jar of black bean dip, but even that’s not necessary if your salsa and your chips are good.
  • Tins of anchovies, sardines, smoked oysters and other seafood favorites, as well as canned pâté, that some guests will enjoy.
  • Several types of crackers, including soda crackers, Wheat Thins and Triscuit, so guests have a choice.
  • Three or four distinctly different cheeses. These can range from a soft cheese, like a triple crème, to a harder cheese, such as Manchego. They don’t have to fancy, either. Aged cheddar, a smoky Gouda, a spreadable goat cheese from Texas, a block of Swiss, Colby and Monterey Jack all have their fans.
  • Sliced salami of various types, from pepperoni to Genoa to spicy Hungarian styles, and prosciutto or ham are great to have on hand. Also stock up on a couple of mustards you can offer to dip them into.
  • Bread of some sort: Cocktail rye slices, pumpernickel, pita bread, flour tortillas and baguette are among the easier styles to serve at a moment’s notice.
  • Popcorn. Try seasoning your popcorn with various flavors, from black truffle to Cajun spice to Parmesan cheese and pepper. It takes only minutes to pop a fresh batch in a Dutch oven, which tastes so much better than the stuff that comes out of the microwave.
  • Jars of pickled or preserved vegetables and fruits. Roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, cornichons, giardinara and even pickled brussels sprouts are at most area supermarkets. The olive bar is a great place for easy snacks. Ethnic stores offer an even wider variety, including baby eggplants, grilled zucchini and radish.
  • A piece of ripe fruit to go with the cheeses. Pears, apples and oranges are all in season now and full of flavor.
  • Dark chocolates. Have a bar of 70 percent dark chocolate, another of 85 percent and a third with some sort of flavor. Break off a few pieces of each for a comparison tasting. Serve with dried cranberries, raisins or nuts on the side.
  • Good olive oil, good balsamic vinegar.
  • Dried fruit and nuts. Mix them together with a touch of coconut or serve them separately.
  • Chex Mix. Some snacks are classics for a reason. With this party mix, it’s the irresistible combination of Worcestershire sauce, butter and garlic powder on top of cereal, nuts and pretzels that make it so appealing.
  • Keep a bottle of white wine or sparkling wine in the refrigerator or a six-pack of beer, so you are ready with drinks. Reds are easier to have ready since they should be served at around 65 degrees or so; if the bottle is a little warm, pop in the refrigerator for a few minutes before opening.

Here are some quick appetizer ideas:

  • Wrap a radish with an anchovy. Skewer with a toothpick.
  • Drain assorted olives, rinse and warm in the oven with a little olive oil, your favorite spices, some citrus zest and a skewer of fresh rosemary.
  • Take slices of sour dough rye, layer with feta, then ripe tomatoes and fresh herbs. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and some freshly cracked black pepper. Or top the cheese with slices of pear and black pepper.
  • Top slices of cocktail rye or pumpernickel with butter, Swiss cheese and slivers of radish.
  • Roll and slice of prosciutto or black forest ham around a tender raw stalk of asparagus. The ham also works wrapped around a crunchy dill pickle.
  • Offer slivers of smoked salmon and cream cheese on cocktail rye or pumpernickel. Serve with diced onion or chopped hard-cooked egg and a touch of fresh dill.
  • Top toasted slices of baguette with hummus and crown with strips of roasted red bell pepper, herbs, toasted pine nuts, olive slices or a touch of spice, such as sumac or Chilean merkén.
  • Nachos, fresh from the broiler, are always welcome.
  • Baked brie in puff pastry is easy to assemble and always welcome. Just follow the directions on the package of brie. Serve with crackers and fruit. Or, just heat the brie up, either in the oven or microwave until it’s warm and softened and starting to ooze out of its casing. Top with a big handful of thinly sliced scallion.
  • Boil your own shrimp, which taste so much better than those processed shrimp rings, and serve with a homemade cocktail sauce that has just enough horseradish and lemon to give it a kick.
  • Another appetizer that can be made in a minute flat is to open up an 8-ounce package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, mound on top of it as much fresh jumbo lump crabmeat as you can afford, then empty a jar of good (cold) cocktail sauce over the crab. Very good with crackers.
  • Bagna cauda is a quick-and-easy Italian butter dip that’s great with vegetables. Click here for a recipe.
  • Make bagel pizzas. Slice the bagel in half, top with your favorite pizza sauce and garnish with shredded mozzarella cheese. Pop under the broiler until the cheese melts, 2 or 3 minutes. Add pepperoni, bell pepper or mushrooms, to taste.
  • Make a dip mixing equal parts 8 ounces each of salsa and cream cheese at room temperature. Whip together until full incorporated. Top with a confetti of diced red onion and green and red bell pepper. Serve with bagel chips.
  • Make quick quesadillas by using shredded cheese between two flour tortillas and your choice of filling. Add cooked beef fajitas or grilled shrimp, and it’s so much the better.
  • If you have any leftover Holiday Cran-Raspberry Sauce or sweet-spicy jelly, pour it over cream cheese.
  • This recipe for crab dip comes from my late sister-in-law, Jeanne Servais: Clean 7 ounces crab meat, mix it with 8 ounces cream cheese softened at room temperature, 1 tablespoon sour cream, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce. Mix well and bake in a greased, oven-proof dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
  • If you want to use your slow cooker, then here’s a good one to mix together. Grease the dish first, then add 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese softened at room temperature, 1 cup milk,2 1/4 ounces sliced dried beef and1 tablespoon dry mustard. Mix well. Heat on low for several hours until melted together. Serve with cubes of good bread on fondue sticks or wooden skewers as well as vegetable sticks.
  • If your guests like a mix of sweet and salty, then place individual butter pretzels (the little square kind)  on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Then place a single unwrapped Rolo candy on each pretzel. Top each candy with pecan half. Bake at 250 degrees until the candy is melted.  Allow to cool or refrigerate before serving.
  • Don’t forget one of the simplest of all appetizers: A shallow bowl of extra-good, extra virgin olive oil, seasoned as you like it, with kosher salt and cracked pepper, herbs, a few hot pepper flakes. And, have slices of very fresh baguette to dip into it.

(Photo: Zsuzsanna Kilian)

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Griffin to Go: Getting Dirty


When I was growing up, one of the last things I wanted to do was work in the garden.

For decades now, my parents have planted an annual garden, filled with lettuces, radishes, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, onions, garlic, corn, kohlrabi and the like, in addition to the fruit bushes laden with raspberries, red currants, strawberries, figs and more. Since I moved away, they have added apple, nectarine and pear trees, all of which can thrive in the Louisville, Ky., climate.

But the idea of digging up earth to plant seeds or, worse, to weed around the tender young shoots was, as a city kid, my idea of torture. I loved the food, mind you, especially those white icicle radishes with their lively bite and the salads made of oak leaf lettuce; I just never wanted to have to work for it.

I certainly didn’t want to get my hands filthy from all that mud. Who knew was crawling in all that dirt! I was never one to play with earthworms or bugs beyond the lightning bugs that sparkled each summer evening.

Times change, and people change.

Over the past few years, I have been planting more and more herbs in pots. Basil, thyme, sorrel, rosemary, chives, lovage – you name it. Last year, I added peppers and tomatoes to the mix, but everything was largely in pots. Why?

Pots are easy. If a plant dies, you just pull it out of the dirt and start all over.

And many of my plants don’t make it. Friends claim I have a black thumb. I prefer to think of myself as a Darwinian farmer. I’ve taken the time to plant the plant, but if it doesn’t survive on its own, then that the plant’s fault.

Last year, I began to change my mind. I was going figure out ways to make my plants healthier. I gave them compost plus rich soil that worked into the clay. I also learned when to water many of them. Some, like the sorrel, got water sometimes twice a day in the nasty heat; others got water every other day.

The recent deep freezes took a few of the herbs, including the thyme, the basil and mostly likely the lemon grass. But others, including the mint, are already starting to come back.

Yet I want to go further.

This weekend, I dug up a chunk of my backyard and dug in both hands to work through some of the muddy clumps. I rejoiced in the sight of all the worms and crawly things in the rich soil under the layer of grass that died in last year’s scorching heat. Digging up the soil didn’t break my back and I was finished a lot quicker than I thought I would be. Of course, my MP3 player helped.

Planting seeds has changed somewhat since I was a kid. Ferry-Morse seed company now offers something called planting strips. Forgive me if I am as out-of-date on these things as George H.W. Bush was when he first encountered a bar code scanner, but I had no idea you could by seeds already spaced out and placed inside a strip. Simply plant the strip in the soil as deep as the package says and wait. The lettuce strips should sprout within seven to 10 days, the package promises.

But I didn’t stop there.

I had to plant some old-fashioned seeds, which were for arugula and radishes, the latter of which remains a favorite food and one that is better when just picked.

I also picked up some tomato plants, not to plant in the soil but to do something the Bexar County Master Gardener Hotline calls “potting up.”

“Do you believe homegrown tomatoes are superior to store bought?” David Rodriguez, Texas Agrilife Extension service horticulturist for the county, writes in a handout I picked up at the stock show recently. “If so, February is the time for you to ‘pot up’ your spring tomatoes.”

What is this exactly? “Planting tomato transplants into containers to take advantage of growth and still be able to protect them from cold weather,” Rodriguez explains. “Until mid-March or the first of April when the weather stabilizes enough to place the transplants in the vegetable garden or plant them in large containers with a 16- to 20-inch diameter.” (Think of the forecast that it will drop below freezing on Tuesday.)

For more information on potting up or starting your own garden, call the Master Gardener Hotline at (210) 467-6575 or click here. And don’t be as silly as I was all these years. Yes, I now have a speck or two of dirt under my nails, but that will disappear with the help of a nail file. But it’s worth price to get my own fresh vegetables.

Get your kids involved, too. They may not thank you now, but they should eventually.

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Truffled Goat Cheese Spread


Want to get a little fancy on Super Bowl Sunday? The aroma and flavor of truffle oil make this simple dip simply irresistible. It can be made days ahead of time, too.

Truffled Goat Cheese Spread

1 (9-ounce) log goat cheese, at room temperature
2 to 3 teaspoons truffle oil, or to taste
4 radishes, trimmed and grated
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Place the cheese, oil, radishes and chives in a small mixing bowl and mash together with a fork to combine.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. If refrigerated, let soften a bit before serving, if desired.

[amazon-product]1558322787[/amazon-product]Variation: Use an 8-ounce package of cream cheese instead of the goat cheese.

Garnish with more scallions or radish slices, if desired.

Serve with cucumber rounds, slices of celery or triangles of thinly sliced pumpernickel.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

From “Party Dips!” by Sally Sampson

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Pickle Recipe: Pickled Radishes


Red radishes can bleed color when pickled.

Red radishes can bleed color when pickled.

If you use red radishes to make this pickle, the color will run. Don’t worry, the flavor is still great.

3 pounds radishes, small whole ones or large radishes cut in half, cleaned and stemmed
12 large sprigs fresh dill
4 cloves garlic, sliced
Fresh grape leaves or fig leaves, optional
3 cups white wine vinegar
5 cups water
1/4 cup kosher or fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

Divide radishes, dill and garlic evenly in layers in sterile quart glass jars, beginning with radishes, then dill, then sliced garlic. Place grape leaves between layers, if desired. Set aside.

Mix vinegar, water, salt and coriander seeds in large nonreactive pot and bring to boil over high heat. Immediately pour this over the vegetables, filling the jars to the top. Make sure an equal amount of coriander seeds are added to each jar.  Set aside to cool completely; then cover and refrigerate overnight before using. The pickles will keep in the refrigerator for several months.

Note: Save any extra liquid to top off jars after the ingredients have cooled and settled, so the jars are filled right to the top.

From “The Olive and Caper” by Susanna Hoffman

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