17 August 2007

Something original

As I've said before, I'm a bit of a slave to recipes, but lately I've been trying to branch out and put my own spin on things at least a little bit. These two recipes are both "everything in the fridge" type concoctions, the first born out of a need to use the rest of the fresh corn remaining after my Corn Stuffed Red Peppers and the leftover coconut milk from my Coconut Curried Tofu, and the second coming from a disappointing experience with my usual devilled egg recipe (adapted from my mother's) that made me want to try something new.

Coconut Corn and Black Bean Salsa

This might be a bit wet to serve on chips, but it's very tasty just eaten cold with a fork straight out of the container you're refrigerating it in. The recipe is a simple one. I threw some chopped onions in a pan with a pat of butter and sautéed until they were fairly tender, then added about a cup of fresh corn kernels and the juice from a wedge of lime. Once the corn was nearly tender enough to eat, I added half a can of black beans and let the mixture simmer until almost all the liquid had cooked off. Then I added a splash of coconut milk and let it cook a little longer, again trying to cook off some of the liquid. I seasoned it with a little more lime juice and some grated coconut. The result was a slightly soupy, but thick salsa. I ate some hot, but most of it cold. I also tried adding some tart cherries, but that ended up being a bad plan. I think regular cherries, especially fresh black ones, would have been good, but tart cherries just aren't sweet enough for me.

Everything But the Kitchen Sink Devilled Eggs

For a long time, I've been using a variation on my mother's tried and true devilled egg recipe. We used to always have this tasty treat at Easter, and it was one of the first things to get eaten up. The recipe is simple—hard boil your eggs, then peel, slice in half, and mash the yolks with salt, pepper, onion powder, a healthy spoonful of mayo, about a teaspoon of good mustard, and a little bit of sugar and red wine vinegar. Spoon the mixture into the whites and sprinkle liberally with paprika.

A few weeks ago, I had five eggs I needed to use up, so I tried to follow this recipe, and something went wrong. I brought the eggs to a rolling boil and then immediately reduced the heat, cooking twelve minutes. I spun them on the counter, determined that they were still a little wobbly, and cooked a few minutes more. Then I put them in a bowl as I always do and ran cold water over them continually for a couple of minutes to avoid a green tinge when peeling (something that always kind of bugged me as a child).

I have a trick for peeling eggs, which is basically to rap them against a hard edge and then slip my thumb underneath, nail facing up, between the egg and the shell. This way I can break off large pieces, sometimes even half the shell at a time, and it's less time-consuming. This time, however, it didn't work at all! The white kept wanting to peel in layers, like an onion. If I got that thin outer skin, the actual egg would want to come with me as well. Sometimes one end of the white would just bread off entirely. Though I was able to salvage the eggs, I lost a few halves in the process and they weren't as pretty as I would have liked.

Wednesday, I decided to try devilled eggs again, but as my karma wasn't too great for the original recipe, I improvised instead. First I found some hard-boiling tips online, and used the suggestion of several websites to take the pot off the heat once the water reaches a boil, then let sit eighteen minutes with the lid on. Not having a lid, I used an upside-down cake pan, but that worked fine. I still had a bit of trouble with the peeling process, but I was much more careful this time and got some really nice looking eggs. I used a mix of large regular eggs and jumbo organic eggs (the brown ones). I noticed that the smaller eggs were easier to peel, so maybe the jumbo ones could have cooked longer. Anyway, once I sliced the eggs in half the yolks happily jumped free, some with a really nice, bright yellow colour, unlike my previous attempt wherein the whites tended to break when I removed the yolks and I had to use the devilled egg mixture as a paste to hold them together.

For the filling, I went a bit crazy. I decided to experiment with some various savoury flavours, so I used a little bit of salt and pepper and a big spoonful of mayo as usual but then added a teaspoon of grey poupon, a handful of finely diced sundried tomatoes (oil squeezed out), a few capers, a big splash of balsamic vinegar, and some crumbled Maytag blue cheese (local Iowa brand). Once it was all mixed up, I piped it into the whites using the 'ole ziplock with the corner cut off method.

The verdict? Immediately after preparing, it was pretty good. As you can see, the colour leaves something to be desired, and the piping really didn't make it look all that much better than spooning. But the flavours were nice, the cheese and the vinegar's tanginess balanced by the more gentle but still distinct flavour of the tomato and the mellowness of the mayo. The next day, though, once the flavours had blended together more overnight in the fridge, the cheese was overpowering and the combination with the vinegar was a bit much. I think next time I would use less vinegar and leave out the cheese altogether.

So there's a bit of a foray into original recipe-making! Next up, we explore some fresh ingredients from my local co-op and the combination of fresh bread and mint with two recipes borrowed from other food blogs. And perhaps tomorrow I will take some tasty food-related photos for you all at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. Mm, funnel cake. I can hardly wait!

1 comment:

Carver said...

I hope you're having fun at the Fair. I think you're discovering the trick to making up your own recipes. It often is a trial and error thing like with the eggs so the best ones are about the third try, or that's my experience.