Next up in the Old Bay October Parade are these Barbecued Corn and Prawn Tostadas.
And although it is a little early in the early in the year, I think it only appropriate to quote that modern-day philosopher Billy Joe Armstrong, speaking of the Macy’s Day Parade:
“Give me something that I need, satisfaction guaranteed.”
Ok Billy Joe, here they are. Barbecued Corn and Prawn Tostadas. Satisfaction guaranteed indeed. Although I have it in my head that he’s a vegan so maybe not. How I know anything about Billy Joe Armstrong’s eating habits is beyond me.
Yeah baby, corn and prawn = food porn!
OMG, this was good. This is the type of food that makes me glad my partner works nights. Because it means I get to eat it all!
I had a left over ear of corn and a couple of prawns (shrimp) from the Shrimp Fest so in a Maryland meets Mexico (via Melbourne) move, I used them to make these super tasty tostadas.
Start by barbecuing your corn. First melt some butter and add some old Bay and brush this mix over your corn before popping on the barbecue. Or, if it’s cold and dark outside, like it was when I made this, put your corn under the grill and let it roast away.
Roasting corn smells wonderful – like summer and fairgrounds! I like to get mine with some kernels quite charred:
After you have grilled your corn, make it into a salsa with red onions, chilli, lime juice, avocado, tomatoes and coriander.
How pretty is the salsa? So summery!
Now, you could just load this salsa onto your tostada and have a perfectly delicious meal (and keep Billy Joe happy).
But as you know, we here at casa de la retro food believe that you can gild a lily. There’s not even a hint of minimalism in this neck o’ the woods.
So, we are going to sauté some shrimp with garlic butter and Old Bay and pile them on top of our tostadas to make food worthy of the Aztec Gods. I would quite happily throw a few people I know into a volcano if it meant an endless supply of these tostadas…are you listening Quetzalcoatl? Because I have a list.
The perfect summer accompaniment to these would be an ice-cold (preferably Mexican) Beer. Or a mojito. Whatever you do, do not make the mistake I made last summer and combine the two into a Beer Mojito. DO. NOT. Erggghhhh. I can still taste it. But, DO make the Barbecued Corn and Prawn tostadas today! Or as soon as you possibly can. And then invite me over. For QA purposes only…gotta make sure you’re doing this right you know!
Barbecued Corn and Prawn Tostadas
Maryland meets Mexico in these delicious appetizers. Easy to make and a fabulous addition to your next cocktail party or snack time!
Mexican was a recent selection at the Tasty Reads Book Club. I chose Cantina by Paul Wilson for my book because it is food porny to rival Sabrina Ghayour’s Persiana!
Take a look at these pictures from Cantina.
Pacific Oyster Cebiche with Melon Salsa.
Dani made this as her bring along to the discussion and they are even more delicious in real life than the picture.
Ranchero Style Beef Broth With Bone Marrow Toasts
Personally, I’m not sure about eating the Bone Marrow Toasts but they LOOK amazing!
Street Style Tostadas With Seared Tuna and Wood Grilled Vegetables.
Would it be wrong to say this just made me want to lick the page?
Gorgeous right? However, as you may have spotted, this is not your typical bean and burrito Mexican. There is not a yellow box in sight. As a Mexican Dorothy might say, “We’re not in Chipotle anymore Toto”. Cantina delivers high end, highly complex Mexican food. For instance, those “Street Style” Tostadas?
22 ingredients – minimum. But you also need a base. So depending on which of the bases you choose you can add another
7 ingredients if you use the Jalopeno and Finger Lime Crema
13 ingredients if you use the Veracruz Sauce
8 ingredients if you make the Sesame Pipian. But hold up. One of the “ingredients” of the Sesame Pipian is a Tomatillo Verde which in turn contains another 8 ingredients…so that would be another 15 ingredients.
Thirty. Seven. Possible. Ingredients. And up to three separate recipes. For “street style” tostadas. And ok, I get it, sometimes you need a lot of ingredients to get a depth of flavour and that alone would not necessarily be enough to put me off a recipe.
However, these recipes were further complicated by a lot of the ingredients not being readily available in Australian supermarkets meaning a lot of ingredients having to be bought on the internet or having to drive across town to pick them up. And then some could only be bought in bulk – hence the almost kilo of padron peppers sitting in my freezer!
Not to mention that cooking from Cantina was like going down the rabbit hole – one recipe lead to another which required another…it seemed never ending! Here is a prime example.
Heirloom Tomato Escabeche
I made this – it was one of the things I took to the Book Club Night. It’s a salad. It’s a fancy salad. It’s maybe the BEST salad I have ever eaten. But it’s a salad.
However to make this salad, as per the recipe, you need to first have made the Mexican pickles. And you also have to have made the Pasilla Chilli relish.
Then you make a lime crema base…
THEN you make the salad.
Then you collapse in a corner quietly sobbing…or….erm…you know….
I did LOVE this, it was so pretty and also incredibly tasty. But so much work for a salad. Bear in mind this would usually be an accompaniment to something else – which probably also had multiple elements. It was hard enough cooking one thing. An entire meal would have sent me loopy!
But to really demonstrate how this book just about sent my sanity to the edge and had a damn good crack at ruining my relationship you can go no further than….
Hanger Steak with Huitlacoche Mustard and Salsa Negra.
That pictures looks pretty damn simple right? It’s steak, salad and a condiment. How hard could it be?
Let me step you through the timeline of this one meal shall I?
Order Huitlacoche off internet.
Day of the Hangar Steak
6:30pm – Get home from work
6:45pm: Make my Latin Spice Rub. This stuff is awesome. Because you make much more of this than required, I have sprinkled this over everything since I made it and it makes everything – steak, chicken, fish, eggs, calamari – taste better. Just beware it is hot, Hot, HOT so if you don’t like it spicy, go very easy!
6:55pm – Soak the dried porcinis
6:58pm – Chop onions and garlic.
7:03pm. Open can of huitlacoche. What is in the tin looks like corn covered in snot. Wonder if you have got a dodgy tin.
7:05pm. Google huitlacoche. Realise it’s supposed to look like that. Wish you hadn’t bought it.
7:15pm. Heat oil and cook onions garlic and both types of mushrooms
7:20pm. Add huitlacoche and porcini liquid.
The recipe them says to cook for 10 minutes until the liquid has reduced to a glossy sauce. This never happened. For a start it was way too chunky – bear in mind the recipe does not even tell you to chop your mushrooms (which I did) but what I had in my saucepan after ten minutes looked like chopped mushrooms and corn covered in snot.
7:40pm. “When are we eating? I’m hungr….what on God’s green earth is THAT?
“It looks like mushrooms and corn covered in snot. Why are you making mustard? Can’t we just have Colman’s?”
“You can’t have Colman’s, we’re having Mexican. It’s special Mexican mustard.”
“It looks revolting”.
It didn’t look great. And I don’t want to be pedantic (I so totally do) but surely…a major component of anything called mustard should actually be mustard?
And don’t even get me started on the Apricot and Mescal Aioli that contained no mescal and was not any sort of aioli I ever had.
7:45. I’m staring at a hot mess in a pan, thinking maybe if I blended it it would look a little bit more like the mixture in the picture.
7:55. After some blending with the hand mixer, we now have something that looks pretty much like the picture in the book. Which is to say, like baby poo.
I’ve now been cooking for an hour and have….a spice rub and some sort of condiment which probably should not be called mustard. Which he is refusing to eat and I’m losing interest in by the second..
Never mind. The rest is steak and salad. Easy Peasy.
8:00pm. Rub the steaks with the spice rub. That can sit for a while because now, we need to turn to page 36 to make the Latin Vinaigrette for the garnish. Yes. Even the garnish requires you to move to a different page.
Latin Vinaigrette contains 10 ingredients. Roll eyes, sigh. Make Latin Vinaigrette.
8:10. Latin Vinaigrette Made.
8:15pm. Start on the Salsa Negra.
8:16pm Turn back to page 36 to make Salsa Mexicana for the Salsa Negra
8:17pm Salsa Mexicana requires a Zesty Lime Dressing found on page 37. Sigh, roll eyes start muttering swear words underbreath.
8:20pm. : “When are we eating? ”
“Soon. I just need to make the steak. And the salad”
“I thought that’s what we were having”
“It is” This through gritted teeth.
“But…you’ve been cooking for hours…why is there no steak? Or salad?”
“Because it’s Mexican and it’s driving me insane. I just need to make this dressing first. And I really need you to be quiet.”
“I thought you just made dressing”
“I did. That was a different dressing”
“Right. So you’ve been cooking for ages. And you’ve made a mustard that isn’t even a mustard and two salad dressings? When will you cook the steak? I’m starving!!!!”
“Just. Don’t. Speak. This Mexican is doing my head in and the more I have to chitter chatter with you, the longer this is going to take.”
8:30pm Zesty Lime Dressing Made.
8:40pm Salsa Mexicana made.
8:45pm “Where’s the can of black beans that we absolutely definitely had in the cupboard?”
“I ate them for lunch…”
“But….the salad is back bean salad. How are are supposed to have black bean salad with no black beans?”
“We have white beans”
“You can’t make black bean salad with white beans”
“Don’t be a bean racist”.
We didn’t have white beans. By now I was slightly hysterical. Two hours and no beans to make the bean salad.
8:55pm “I’m hungry….when are we eating?”
“Shut up, I need to think”
“I’m going to have some cereal”
“Don’t eat cereal, we’re just about to have dinner”
“A likely story…”
9:05pm. We had couscous in the fridge. I ended up making the black bean salad with couscous.
9:15pm. The steak finally hits the grill.
9:30pm. Nearly three hours later, we sit down to eat. It was good. It was really good. The couscous was fine – maybe even better than black beans. But it was steak and salad. And it had taken nearly three hours to make. And i was in such a bad mood by the time it was ready I didn’t really enjoy it on the night. Next day for lunch though? Super!
And here in lies the what I feel is the dilemma of Cantina. Two and a half hours of cooking is WAY to long for a weekday meal. Ok, you could make the rub and the dressings and the mustard before hand but that it still time spent somewhere. And for me this is not a dinner party dish either. It’s something…I’m just not sure what – it’s too complex for a casual meal but not fancy enough for a dinner party meal.
Oh, and that so called mustard? I wouldn’t even bother with that. I didn’t like the taste of it and there was enough flavour in the rub and the dressings and the other bits and bobs so that you would not miss it.
And finally…here it is:
Don’t get me wrong. It was DELICIOUS. Nothing I made from Cantina was bad. Except for maybe that mustard. But you had to work hard for that goodness.
Will I cook from Cantina again? Hmmm….Possibly. There are still a few recipes I really want to try. But I would do it on a weekend. Ideally a long weekend.
Here is some of the other stuff I made:
Jalapeno and Finger Lime Crema
Mexican Style Pickles
Baked Devilled Eggs with Sobrasado
I did a cheaty version of this in that I swapped in similar stuff I had for the listed ingredients such as barley wraps for the corn tortillas, pancetta and salami for the serrano ham and sobrasado, cheddar cheese for the Mahon…It was still awesome if not exactly remotely authentic.
Chorizo with Apricot and (no) Mescal Aioli
Pumpkin Soup with Chorizo Migas
I had to buy achiote paste for this and didn’t like the flavour of it at all.
I do enjoy saying Chorizo Migas in a very bad (a la Speedy Gonzales) Mexcan accent though.
Your’re meant to drink this alternating with sips of a shot of tequila. I just put my tequila in the drink along with all the rest of the stuff. Loved this!
Here is the recipe for the Spice Rub, direct from Cantina. And also serves as my Spice Blend for a Daring Kitchen Challenge MONTHS ago. And hey, I guess the Hangar Steaks cover off on their Grilling challenge!
Latin Spice Rub
A Latin spice rub ideal for grilled meats (and fish and eggs and oysters and cheese). With the addition of rosemary it is especially good with lamb. This is great to make in advance as it stores well.
Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container.
Keep for up to a month.
By Paul Wilson - Cantina
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
I honestly feel like cooking from Cantina once a week which is what I try to do with the Tasty Read selections almost broke me. And, if the end result hadn’t almost invariably been delicious I would have gladly tossed the book in the trash multiple times. Instead, it’s filed away in the bookshelf just waiting for the right occasion. So, just know this. If you ever come to my house and I make you Mexican food that looks lovely and casual, know that I must REALLY like you! Because that stuff is hard!
It’s been a while since we dipped into the pages of The A-Z of Cooking…and yep, we’re still only up to C. This time though we head away from the fun, fun, fun of Children’s Favourites and into the darker world of cost savers. Retro Frugality can a very scary place!
Surprisingly, all three recipes featured in this section were things I would have been happy to make. There was the Chili Con Carne, a Tagliatelle with Bacon and Tomato Sauce and an Oxtail Casserole. I REALLY wanted to make the Oxtail Casserole just because the others are things we probably eat fairly regularly and I have never cooked with o before. But, someone had a hissy fit in the butcher when I asked for oxtails. Sometimes it’s difficult trying to be a retro food blogger when you live with the fussiest eater on the planet!!! It will be made though. I have enough meals alone to warrant making some, even if just for myself.
But for now, we needed a meal to be eaten together and, turned out, we had everything to make this chilli already in the freezer, fridge and store cupboard. This is really important as you will soon find out that not all my ventures into Mexican cooking have been so expeditious. You will also notice that there are no green peppers, as specified by the recipe ingredients, and there are mushrooms which are not mentioned. I am not fond of bell peppers of any sort as they tend to repeat on me for HOURS after I have eaten them. Plus, I had mushrooms and, in the cost cutting vibe of this post, waste not, want not right?
I had one problem with this recipe. And that was the lack of cumin. Funnily enough, as I was writing this post, I was watching a Heston Blumenthal show where he made chili con carne and he too mentioned how important it was to have cumin in your chili recipe.
Then again, Heston’s’ chili contains 27 ingredients and at least 3 processes….I love Heston, I really do. But 27 ingredients for chilli? And that doesn’t even include the muffins?
I’m sure Heston’s recipe is the best chili you’ve ever eaten. I’m equally sure that the A-Z of Cooking’s Cost Saving Recipe won’t be.
BUT. And it’s a big but. (Sir Mixalot would be proud).
Is this a tasty dish? This recipe lacked some flavour, most notably cumin. And personally, I would have increased the chilli content too. However, I think the mushrooms added some umami that would not have been present had the green peppers been used instead. And it was tasty even without the cumin. So yes, big tick on tasty.
Does it fill the brief of being a cost saver? Absolutely. The basic chili cost around $7.00. And that made 4 large or 5 medium sized serves.
Should this become something that is in your repertoire of basic dishes that you can then flavour and snazz up whatever way you want? Totally!
Is it something you will make over and over? You bet!
It’s a good, solid, basic chili recipe. Sure it’s not Heston. But it not everything needs to be. In fact, nothing except food at The Fat Duck should be.
And if you want to jazz it up, any, or all, of the following would make good additions:
Corn Chips as dippers
Pico Di Gallo
Cojita or crumbled feta cheese
Tabasco or other hot sauce
This is great, quick easy weeknight cooking, it is also great, maybe even better the next day for lunch or dinner.
Eat, enjoy! With the money you save on this why not treat yourself to a margarita or two.
About a billion years ago, the wonderful team at the Spice Peddlers sent me some fabulous Ancho Chillies to have my evil way with. I had never cooked with Ancho chillies before so this was a totally new and delicious experience for me.
I also have a new manifesto for my Spice Peddler treats – I’m going to try to cook one thing in the spirit of which it was intended and then I’m going to go kind of out there with the next one. So, to familiarise myself with the anchos and also to push my own boundaries I decided to make a ceviche. I have always been terrified to make sashimi or any “raw” fish at home in case it killed me. And before you start shouting, I am aware that ceviche is technically cooked but it’s not like it’s been crumbed, fried and coated with cheese is it?
But I did it and hey, still alive!!!
And it was super delish!!!!
So why the century ceviche I hear you ask? First I am fond of alliteration but second…the last post I wrote was the hundredth for this blog!!!
So let’s all raise a glass of something (Jenny, I hope it’s another of those Joan Crawford Cocktails) and join in as I do a little celebratory dance….
It seems fitting to celebrate this milestone by showing off some of the ingredients from the amazing team at the Spice Peddlers. They have been such big supporters of this blog and I, in turn adore them and their products!!! The ancho chilles were a very dark blackish red colour, and quite fleshy. They were not not very hot at all but were quite fruity and had a touch of sweetness ( this actually went really well with the scallops which are also slightly sweet.
The perceptive of you may have noticed from the photos that my ceviche is loaded onto a very un-Mexican pappadam. I guess traditionally this should be a tortilla chip. However, we had gobbled all of them with Joan Crawford Danti-Chips and I couldn’t be bothered going back to the shops so pappadams it was. And in some weird Indo-Mexican affinity they actually worked quite well with the ceviche.
The last 100 posts have been super fun to do and I am really looking forward to the next 100. In fact, I have so many ideas for posts at the moment, I feel like I have the next 100 already planned.
I was going to end this with one of my favourite ever Blur songs “End of A Century” then I realised the key lyric is “End of a century, it’s nothing special” which is completely wrong because whilst I love doing this you guys are what makes it special. Thanks to you all for reading and your comments, it is always lovely to hear from you.
You’re the best.
So, as you wax on, wax off this week, make it fabulous!
Have you ever read a recipe where the ingredients seem right….but the execution just seems horribly wrong?
The other day I was looking for something in…you know THAT room? Otherwise known as the room where we dumped all the crap we didn’t have a specific home for when we first moved in. Nearly a year later? It’s all still there. Thank the Lord for whoever invented doors. It makes it so much easier to metaphorically close the door and walk away from the room when you can literally close the door and walk away from the room.
I didn’t find what I was looking for in the room, because most things that go in there don’t come out. What I did find was a manilla folder full of old recipe clippings which included one for something called for Trout and Mascarpone Triangles.
Before we get to the point does anyone else have problems spelling mascarpone? For some reason in my mind it’s marscapone. I also can’t say the word “Preliminary” – that one just ends up a hot mess of r’s and l’s where they shouldn’t be.
But anyway, immediately in my head, (yeah the same one that can’t spell ma-scar-pone or pronounce pre-lim-in-ary) I had a vision of what these would be. They would look like exactly like these:
Hmm…except….maybe a little more triangular.
So, I was bitterly disappointed when I actually read the recipe and found it was nothing like that.
In fact, that whole recipe annoyed the hell out of me. In most cooking circles when you call something an X & Y triangle it’s pretty much a given that the X and Y are IN the triangle. Take these delicious looking cheese and spinach triangles from taste.com.au. Spinach and Cheese both EXACTLY where they should be i.e. inside the pastry triangle.
That is what I wanted from my trout and mascarpone triangles! Golden puff pastry filled with chunks of gorgeous pink smoked trout, creamy mascarpone, fresh herbs, a touch of chilli….that was what my mind told me a Trout and Mascarpone Triangle could, and should, be.
At best the original recipe is for trout and mascarpone ON triangles. And who the hell wants that? No one that’s who. I’m calling shenanigans on that recipe.
In some circles they say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. In my circle I say if you think their recipe is a crock, make it like you think it should have been. And while we’re in the spirit of rebellion – the fancy pants Italian cheese I can’t be bothered writing the name of (because I would only have to re-write it to spell it correctly) can go fuck itself too. I’m using good old Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Which I forgot to take a photo of. The rest of the stuff is here:
I used a smoked trout, you could sub in smoked salmon if you prefer or cook a fillet of fish as per the original recipe. Or even used canned salmon or tuna to make these. Up to you. And I had an empanada maker thing but you could make triangles as per the original recipe. Or embrace the spririt of doing it your way and make them any shape you want!
If you are going to use an empanada maker, here’s how you do it from an expert,Connie Veneracion. Shame I didn’t read this until after I had made mine and hence some of mine were a little…shall we call them rustic? 😉