Artichoke and Shellfish Soup

So I was suddenly confronted with a windfall of canned shellfish when our local WalMart Neighborhood store closed this month.  I decided to get even more serious about recipes based on McIntosh’s Tin Fish Gourmet.  She gives a simple recipe for Oyster and Artichoke Stew, which I embellished beyond all recognition into this rich, creamy (and low-carb) soup:

  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery rib, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, halved
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 oz butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 or 2 tins of diced clams, smoked oysters, mussels, or whatever
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large avocado, quartered and (you guessed it) thinly sliced

Saute the carrot, celery, and red onion slices in oil until the onion is transparent, then add the artichoke hearts, reserving the liquid for a bit later.  When everything is nicely sauteed, set these vegetables aside.  Add the butter and flour to the pan, and whisk into a roux.  When the roux is bubbling and starting to darken, add the liquid from the artichoke hearts and any liquid from the tinned shellfish to make a sauce.  Once it comes to a boil, add the sour cream and enough milk to get a creamy soup consistency.  Add the sauteed vegetables and the shellfish, and bring to a boil.  Then turn off the heat.

Serve in shallow soup dishes, topped with 3 or 4 slices of avocado and some of the green onion.  This cries out for a dry white wine on the side.

 

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A Tinned Oyster Treat

Some time ago, I promised I’d report on my attempts at recipes from Barbara-Jo McIntosh’s Tin Fish Gourmet.  As usual, I didn’t read the cookbook so much as fixed recipes, but as more of a guide.  So I combined elements from two different recipes, “Christmas Eve Oysters” (p 82) and “Shrimp and Spinach-Stuffed Tomatoes” (p 133).  The result is delicious.

TinFishGourmet

So here’s my first offering: Oyster-Stuffed Tomatoes.

  • 8 Campari tomatoes
  • one mushroom
  • one green onion
  • one tablespoon capers
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • one 3 1/2 oz can smoked oysters

With a paring knife, cut off the tops of the tomatoes, removing the stem.  Then use a melon baller to scoop out most of the flesh of the tomatoes (save this for your soup or sauce stock).  Dice the mushroom to pea size, and slice the green onion finely.  Mix mushroom, onion, capers, cheese, and oysters in a bowl, using the oil from the tinned oysters to moisten the mixture.  Spoon mixture into the tomatoes.  Place stuffed tomatoes in a shallow, foil-lined pan, and broil for 10 minutes.  Serve immediately.

My wife’s only complaint was that the tomatoes should have been bigger, with more stuffing.

 

Nacho Cheese Soup

nachocheesesoup

So the Mrs and I were sitting in a cafe at the Denver Airport a couple of weeks ago, snacking on a big plate of nachos, and I got this goofy idea.  The nachos are tastiest down at the bottom, when the chips start getting soggy, and there’s a lot of melted cheese left on the plate.  So why not take it to an extreme?  Back home, I tried it out, and ¡mira! it’s good.

Nacho Cheese Soup

  • 6 corn tortillas, fried into crispy strips, about 1 x 2″ (I do my own in peanut oil, YMMV)
  • one Fresno or serrano pepper, minced
  • one Hatch or Anaheim pepper, sliced into thin rings
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 12 oz processed cheese food (“velveeta”), cut into ~1″ cubes
  • 2 cups coarsely grated medium or sharp cheddar
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (I use grape tomatoes, halved)
  • 1/2 cup sliced olives
  • one avocado, sliced into thin wedges
  • 2 oz butter
  • 1/4 cup flour

Saute the peppers and onions in some olive oil until the onions are translucent, and set aside.  In a large saucepan, make a roux with the butter and flour.  When it’s bubbling and starting to brown, add the chicken stock and wisk into a gravy.  Then add in the cheesy cubes, wisking as they melt.  Then add the grated cheddar.  Then add the sauteed peppers and onions, and remove from heat.

Just before serving, stir in the chopped tomatoes (you want them cool and firm, not cooked).  In each serving bowl, place a half-dozen tortilla strips, fill with soup, and garnish with more chips, 3 or 4 avocado slices, and some sliced olives.  Serves two or three.

Update:  Gustavo Arellano takes a chainsaw to the media in a quick history of the nacho:

But the death of the 84-year-old San Antonio native Frank Liberto is a reminder that cultural appropriation’s biggest enablers aren’t entrepreneurs but rather clueless reporters who’ll swallow any Montezuma’s Revenge that PR hacks and Google feed them. Liberto died on November 6, one day before National Nachos Day….

Liberto didn’t invent nachos. That genius was Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, who whipped up a quick meal of fried tortilla strips, melted cheese, and pickled jalapeños for hungry American military wives at his Piedras Negras restaurant in 1943. But facts didn’t stop the San Antonio Express-NewsSan Francisco Chronicle, and Washington Post from calling Liberto the “Father of Nachos,” even as they all acknowledged Anaya’s innovation—and betcha more media outlets will do the same in the days to come.

Why? Because the National Association of Concessionaires deemed Liberto as such in 2004, then Smithsonian Magazine did the same in 2013, so why not?

Media love to use the Big Lie…

Tip from Maggie’s Farm

Do you have King Salmon in a can?

At last, we tinned fish eaters will have our day!  Aaron Gilbreath pens an Ode to Canned Fish, and it’s  a treat.

tonnino-tuna

Just a few minutes with Bing found some great suggestions from the Chowhound.  What’s not to like?  I’ve just ordered McIntosh’s Tin Fish Gourmet, and I’ll post recommendations as I try recipes.

Tip from American Digest, which is patronized by a band of deplorable band of canned fish and (gasp!) Spam eaters.

Chorizo, seriously?

nationaltacodaylogo

I see that Chipotle Grill has chosen Nation Taco Day* to announce an exciting “new” addition to their menu–chorizo.  Like everyone south of the  Riviere Rouge hasn’t been eating chorizo and egg breakfast tacos since the Eisenhower Lincoln Administration.  Still, what can you expect from America’s innovator in digestive surprises, when they have a suppository** as their mascot?

chipotleopenwide
Uh, no thanks.

*Or, as we say in San Antonio, “today.”

**If you haven’t heard it, ask one of your more knowledgeable and vulgar friends to tell you The Suppository Joke.  Stupid, but funny.

Update: Chacho’s Tacos in Corpus Christi (San Antonio-by-the-Sea) sports the ne plus ultra of tacos.  Betch can’t eat just (even) one!

chachosallmightytaco

Man Invents Fire, Women and Minorities Hardest Hit

No, really.

farsidedinosaurs

I suppose men standing around the barbecue burning meat and drinking beer is just another ritual of the Patriarchy.

Mark Twain was hip to this sort of thinking over a century ago:

In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long. . . . There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

–Life on the Mississippi

You say “potato,” I say “po-tah-to”

Looks like potatoes are back on the OK to Eat This list, and the usual thumbsuckers are outraged.

Nutritionist Marion Nestle and other progressive reformers called foul, denouncing the change. “Really?” Nestle scoffed. “I have a hard time believing that WIC recipients are suffering from lack of potatoes in their diets.” Several watchdog groups and the national WIC advocacy group opposed the change, too. “It’s disappointing that politics has trumped science,” Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told reporters.

It seems that much of what our betters the Feds have been telling us about foods and nutrition is a bunch of Just-So Stories:

Rather it’s that the David-and-Goliath narrative of science versus Big Ag may be blinding us to another, even bigger problem: the fact that there is often very little solid science backing recommendations about what we eat.

Most of our devout beliefs about nutrition have not been subjected to a robust, experimental, controlled clinical trial, the type of study that shows cause and effect, which may be why Americans are pummeled with contradictory and confounding nutritional advice.

Any day now, I expect to hear that I should add a shot of tequila to my ideal breakfast of steak and (whole) eggs…and potatoes.

Update (14 April): There’s evidence to suggest that we can improve the good carbs-bad carbs ratio by changing the way we prepare starchy foods.  I’ve replaced mashed and roasted potatoes with cooked-then-chilled potatoes (mmm, spicy potato salad).