Tuesday, February 8, 2011

aphrodisiac week - day two - x-rated veggies!

Asparagus - Exposed!!
Everyone has heard tales of the mighty asparagus spear, inspiring lust in all who dine on it. Once again, its rumored powers may only have started because of its contours, but asparagus is a good source of folic acid, which can boost histamine production necessary for the ability to achieve the Big O.
You don't have to go overboard with asparagus as they did in nineteenth century France, where bridegrooms were served three courses of the vegetable at prenuptial dinners. Enjoy it in a light primavera-type pasta dish, serve steamed on the side with classic Hollandaise, or try something a little different - an airy, light beer tempura asparagus appetizer.
  • 16 asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed off
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 water
  • 1/4 cup beer
  • 2 cups vegetable oil for frying (not olive oil)
In a large bowl combine flour, cornstarch, salt, sugar and baking powder. Add water and beer to the dry mixture. Whisk together slowly until tempura batter is smooth. Pour batter into a shallow dish for dipping the asparagus spears.
In a medium saucepan or skillet, heat the oil until a drop of the batter fizzes and bubbles; then the oil is hot enough.
Dip half of the asparagus spears in the batter, transfer carefully to the hot oil and fry for about 3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon or tongs to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Fry the remaining dipped asparagus spears. Serve immediately.
Of course, this is a terrific tempura batter for other vegetables like broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, etc. and for fried shrimp as well.

Monday, February 7, 2011

aphrodisiac week - day one - oysters, aw shucks!

Just in time for Valentine's Day...

This week, "Bite This! The Lonesome Road Studio Kitchen" is highlighting foods rumored to be aphrodisiacs, those lust-inspiring edibles purported to enhance romantic activities.
Truthfully, most foods with claims of aphrodisiac properties were simply deemed so because, well, they tend to look like body parts that do the deed. Bananas. Asparagus. Oysters. In their defense, there has been scientific research regarding foods historically considered to be aphrodisiacs and in some cases there is evidence to support some of the hype.
For one example: oysters. Casanova ate 50 raw oysters every morning for breakfast; did this really help to "lift his spirits" or did he just really dig bivalves? Well, there is scientific proof that oysters are high in zinc which is necessary for sperm production (this fact doesn't particularly make me feel hot and bothered, but to each his/her own). And then, there's the Dynamic Duo of Sexytown, D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate! These two substances, which are abundant in oysters, have been shown to increase testosterone levels in lab rats (lucky rodents!). On the down side, they also increase estrogen as well, not exactly famous for increasing the sex drive. Oh well, I guess you can't win them all.

For those who do enjoy vaguely vaginal bivalves now and then,

try them with gremolata...

Most raw oyster aficionados like to promote the "going down" with a dash of Avery Island's best. There are other tasty choices as well... like gremolata.
Gremolata is an Italian condiment that most typically accompanies the Milanese braised veal dish osso buco. Its fresh, intense flavors of lemon, garlic and parsley are also well-suited to seafood and can be mixed into pastas, rice dishes, vegetables and salads.
Simply combine:
  • 4 tablespoons finely minced Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For a more "saucy" gremolata, add a bit of olive oil. You can also process or grind the ingredients for a slightly smoother texture. Some recipes use minced anchovy or capers as well. However, parsley, lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper is the basis for gremolata; what you add and how you use it is entirely up to your imagination. And if oysters are involved, who knows what may happen. *wink*

Friday, February 4, 2011

something a little different for The Big Game...

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Part of all the Super Bowl hype is the food... who doesn't look forward to that big pot of chili that's been simmering away in the crock pot all day, or a big platter of hot wings, and the ubiquitous little cocktail wieners? Serve up your favorites but also try something a little different; chicken tortilla soup just might become a new tradition for the big game!
I created this recipe by doing a little research and combining several ideas into one big pot of tasty chicken tortilla soup; the recipe is made easy by using canned tomatoes and roasted red peppers from a jar for convenience (hey, the cook wants to watch The Packers lose, too, hehe!) but if you prefer the from-scratch route, by all means do so, with fresh garden tomatoes, just-picked sweet corn from a local farmstand, and your own special marinated roasted red peppers!
  • 14 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 12 ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 15.25 ounce can "fiesta" corn, the type with red and green peppers, drained
  • 14.5 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with medium-hot chiles, with their liquid
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups tortilla chips, broken in half
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • juice of one small lime
Simmer boneless chicken in water or broth until cooked through (about 25 minutes) then cool and shred. (Save liquid for another use, like cooking rice or vegetables, or just add it as part of the 8 cups of broth you'll need for this recipe.) Set aside shredded chicken.
In a large soup pot, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil. When translucent, add the shredded chicken, broth, roasted red pepper, corn, tomatoes and chiles, and the oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt and black pepper. Combine thoroughly and allow to simmer together at least 45 minutes (you can use less time, but the longer it cooks, the better it is!).
At the very end of cooking time, add the tortilla chips, cilantro and lime. Quickly combine, then serve hot, garnished with lime and cilantro. Another delicious and pretty garnish is multi-color tortillas cut into strips, lightly toasted in the oven then drizzled with lots and lots of lime juice and sprinkled with sea salt.
This makes approximately 8 servings and... if made in advance, it will be even spicier the next day.


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