Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Behold the Supper Club!

We've been invited to join a supper club. Five couples get together once every two months, dividing up the menu and rotating the hosting duties. The menus come from a common cookbook, with the host choosing the menu, making the entree, and assigning the other dishes. The sixth time around they all go out to eat.

The Chosen Cookbook
Cookbook author Debi Shawcross mentions other variations on supper club setups: having the host cook everything--no way!; voting on menus--who has the time?; cooking it all together at the host's house--which means we would drop out before it got to our house because we have a one-person kitchen. There are also ideas for theming the night with decorations or--gag--having a masquerade party. I suppose, as long as you've chosen like-minded friends, any of these ideas could fly.

Okay, who's got the Tater Tot Casserole? [pic: National Geographic]
I do like how Shawcross groups her menus seasonally, with five complete menus for each quarter of the year, to allow for monthly meetings and one menu being vetoed by the picky among us. Our inaugural club meal will take place this Friday, firmly in spring.

Artichoke Quesadillas
Southwestern Caesar Salad
Tequila-Marinated Halibut with Grapefruit-Avocado Relish
Creamy Green Chile Rice
Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

To my delight, I was assigned the cake. Never had chocolate tres leches cake, but the run-of-the-mill variety is luscious, even when made by a supermarket bakery. Best of all, the recipe calls for a final drizzling with a jar of "warmed caramel sauce." It turns out I have just the jar!

Been saving this puppy since the Market!
I'll let you know how the kick-off goes, but if you'd like to bake along with me, here's the recipe:

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
1 cup chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
1-1/2 c heavy whipping cream
1/4 c powdered sugar
2 Tbsp powdered hot chocolate mix
1 jar caramel sauce, warmed

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 13x9 baking dish.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar. Mix in the eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Add the melted chocolate and mix until combined.

In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients and add gradually to butter mixture, stirring to blend. Pour the batter in the prepared dish, and bake for 30 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Pierce the cake all over with a fork.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk, and pour over the top of cake. Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Before serving, whip the cream with powdered sugar, hot chocolate powder, and remaining vanilla at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Spread over the cake. Cut the whole shebang into squares and drizzle with warmed caramel sauce.

I'm pretty sure it's too much. Just typing out the recipe gave me diabetes. But I think it'll be worth it.

If you'd like to come on the journey, call up some friends! Starting now means plenty of fresh, seasonal ingredients from the Market, and the dinner out could even be a casual Thursday one at a Market picnic table, with live music and fresh flowers. Delightful.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Fresh From the Can

Is it one more week till spring? A few more days? Who knows. But this time of year always finds me rooting through the pantry and the so-called crisper bin in the fridge, looking in vain for something to whip up, since there's nothing fresh and seasonal going on.

This week, may I present Salmon Soft Tacos? As in, canned Loki salmon and shredded cabbage in place of lettuce and tortillas from the depths of the freezer.

Now that's canned salmon!
I don't know about you, but my husband associates canned salmon with the infamous "Salmon Loaf" his mom would make in the '60s, far, far away from any coastline or fresh specimens. I thought maybe some taco seasoning would disguise any canned-fish overwhelmingness. (As the comedian Jim Gaffigan points out, there's something wrong with fish if the overall goal is to make it not taste like itself!)

To this end, I seasoned up the canned salmon with homemade taco seasoning.

I sautéed some onions.

I gathered some fixings.

Fresh cabbage, cilantro and avocado!
And I served them up, alongside Mexican Roasted Potatoes. (Oh, and I did open a can of refried beans, to stretch the salmon and further de-fishify for the kids.)

The result? Success! At least, for this season of the year. The husband still said he'd rather have fresh salmon. The boy still said he'd rather have a beef taco. The girls thought it was fine enough.

Anywho, it went over far better than last night's pantry meal, an egg-and-bean brunch casserole that the 11YO declared "disgusting" and the 15YO said, more diplomatically, "I didn't really like it." I'll spare you that recipe...

May fresh, local food come soon!

Canned Salmon Soft Tacos
3 cans Loki salmon (these cans are smaller than tuna cans)
taco seasoning (I went with homemade link above, adjusted to amount of salmon I had)
1 onion, sliced thin
1 small can refried beans
1 pkg small flour tortillas

shredded cabbage
chopped cilantro
sliced avocado
sour cream
shredded cheese

Mix canned salmon with taco seasoning. Check for bones.

Sauté onions in oil or bacon fat over medium-low heat until soft or of desired consistency.

Microwave the beans in a microwave-safe container.

Heat the tortillas according to pkg directions. (I just lay them, one at a time, straight on my gas burner, turning frequently.)

Assemble all ingredients and have people serve themselves.