Tuesday, April 01, 2008

You Too Can Have Back!

Is it just me or do other people also hear "ass effects" every time that aciphex commercial airs on t.v.? It always makes me think it's some kind of booty boosting drug for people who don't want to mess with painful butt implant surgery, but are no longer content with feeling left out whenever they hear "Baby Got Back".

The thing is that surgery and even drugs are extreme, especially when you can be blowing up your bubble the way God intended - by eating copious amounts of delicious food! We know a little a something about food at my house. With spring birthdays, Easter, and my moon being in a decidedly non-hermit-like place (Dear Tarot, Why do you not have a card called "The Party Giver"? If you ever do, please let me know, so I can use it to illustrate this post. Love, Martina). I have been looking for excuses to have people over, so there has been a LOT of cooking and entertaining going on lately.

As a result, we have been revisiting a lot of old favorite recipes:
Killer Noodle Salad
Pear Crisp (pictured above)

And also trying a lot of new ones:

Sweet Potatoes baked with Apples and Plantains
(from Vegetarian Times - Dec. 2003)

How weird is this? About 6 weeks into my non-meat eating, I was rooting around a box in the garage looking for an old cookbook that I wanted to use for my birthday party and I found a stash of Veg Times. Apparently someone in my house had a subscription a few years back - yet none of us remember actually subscribing to it. I'm guessing it was a free trial that came with some other purchase, but the part of me that enjoys a good conspiracy, likes to attribute it to the stealth work of PETA operatives...or maybe gnomes (but not underpants gnomes). Anyway, here is the recipe along with some things that Veg Times won't tell you:

2 very ripe, blackened plantains
1 large sweet potato, peeled
3 Granny Smith apples, diced
3 T soy margarine, melted
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel and chop the plantains (1/2-inch pieces), cut potato into 1/4-inch pieces, chop up the apples. Put all three in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine everything else. Toss the sweet potato mixture with the brown sugar mixture and place in an oven proof dish. Bake for 20 minutes.

That's a paraphrase of the basic orginal recipe. Here are my additional notes:

1-Believe them when they say BLACKENED, kind of mottled with black = hard and not very sweet. I know! Who knew? (Probably everyone but me!)

2-Consider boiling the potato a bit to soften it up a bit, because it does NOT cook in the time given on the recipe. My friend Mexican Jenny (ever a big help) informed after they'd been baking for an eternity and were still crisp that she could have told me it wouldn't cook in that time and suggested the step of boiling them a bit first.

3- Apples: I used two granny smith and 1 golden delicious, because I already had it at home. No one vomited, and as far as I can see, the world IS still spinning on its axis

4-I added chopped, candied ginger to the brown sugar mixture too, because it's good and I happened to have some leftover that I'd made for another dish

5 - All this talk of plantains is reminding me of Sweetwater's Jam House. Portland people, do you remember Sweetwater's Jam House? I sure miss their coconut curry rice. I would sell any one of you for the recipe, so watch your backs!

Between the plantains and the half-raw sweet potatoes, this recipe was not exactly delicious when it debuted at my birthday party (it was more of the "interesting" and "oddly crunchy" variety), BUT when reheated so the potatoes cooked through, it was pretty good and easily possible to imagine how great it would taste with plantains that were actually ripe.

Chorizo and Cactus Leaf Tostadas

Chorizo came into my life last summer. I went through about a two week period where I ate chorizo and eggs with toast and coffee (I know! Coffee - I usually don't even like coffee!) almost every day. It got to the point where I got really sick of chorizo. For a while chorizo and I were on a break. In the end, I just couldn't stay away. But then, I started on this no meat thing and kind of had to. What would happen? Would our love affair die? Would chorizo and I go our separate ways like two ships passing in the night?

Would we?


No! Because I discovered that Food4Less (of all places!) actually stocks a really spicey vegetarian chorizo, which excites me, because I have learned (again from Mexican Jenny) that chorizo also tastes awesome with chopped cactus leaves, which Food4Less also regularly stocks. Apparently, they can also be purchased by the pound, peeled (I guess the peeling part is a pain in the ass) and chopped from a guy at a place, which I will report as soon as Mexican Jenny gives me some less vague details.

Ultimately, it would be really great, if I could get my friend to give me a chorizo and cactus tutorial, but the gist of the recipe is that the cactus leaves are boiled with onions and garlic, then added to a skillet with the chorizo and cooked together. They're then served on a tostada with refried beans, Mexican cheese, and crema and eaten by the platefuls, because they taste so good!

Mandarin Avocado Salad

One of my favorite things to make are interesting salads. This one is slightly modified from how it appears (and how it was served at my dinner party) in the Smuckers recipe it came from:

Here's what you need: A bag of greens, an orange sectioned and cut into bit sized pieces (mandarin oranges from a can work ok too in a pinch), sliced avocado, some chopped cashews, some yogurt covered raisins, dressing (recipe below)

Plate the greens on a serving platter or individual plates.

Sprinkle with orange pieces and raisins, then artistically arrange avocado slices in a pleasing pattern (because we love presentation!).

Drizzle with salad dressing and garnish with chopped cashews.

Dressing (my favorite part of this recipe, because I can see other uses for it):

1/2 cup orange marmalade
Juice of a lemon (about 1/3 c)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 c oil
1/3 c nonfat sour cream or plain yogurt
2 T white vinegar

I missed this part of the recipe and things still turned out ok, but heat marmalade and lemon juice in the microwave for a couple minutes or on the stove top over medium heat to melt the marmelade before mixing with the other dressing ingredients, then chill before serving. If you do not choose to do this God will still be in his heaven and all will be right with the world - you will just need to spend a little more time mixing the dressing.

P.s. I suspect you could get a similar dressing by just using plain old orange juice - you'd just have to play with the amounts a little to get the right consistency/flavor.


Jen said...

Yay, recipes!

I think the 3 of Cups is rather party-giver like in atmosphere.

Marc Acito said...

Of course "ass effects" could also mean flatulence, which many drugs cause.

Martina said...

Jen: You're right! I was displaying complete Major Arcana prejudice. Too bad "The Mingler" from my Celtic hippie deck isn't more standard. I bet she smells like a heady mix of patchouli and colcannon, but could really throw down at a party (or at least mingle like a mofo!).

Marc: Ha! Good point! Who would have thought when my friend Jen (above) talked me into starting a blog that one day the "How I paid for college" guy would be talking about farts in my comments section. I'm so glad Al Gore invented the Internet!