Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Smoky Honey Lemon Mahi Mahi

I'm a bit of a whore when it comes to caramel. I'll try anything, as long as it involves gooey, nearly burning sugar. So when I was cruising for something to do with a package of frozen Trader Joe's mahi mahi (very good, by the by), I couldn't resist trying this recipe. And it was really excellent. You'll see that I did all sorts of futzy things to get the "smoky" flavor (since I lack a barbecue or a bottle of Liquid Smoke). In the end, it would probably be easier to just sprinkle on some smoked paprika or just use a lot of ground black pepper and call it quits. If you're feeling enterprising, and have the supplies on hand, my way did come out tasting nice, it was just a lot of work. Also, beware the occasional stray fleck of lapsang souchong in the final dish.

Smoky Honey Lemon Mahi Mahi

In a skillet large enough to hold the fish, combine:
1/2 cup olive oil (you could probably get by with 1/4 cup, if you're worried)
1/2 cup honey
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup strongly brewed lapsang souchong tea (see above for other options)

(Note: the original recipe says to marinate the mahi mahi in this mixture for a couple of hours. As usual, I failed to plan for that step, and as usual, it turned out fine)

Cook over high heat until mixture reduces and begins to caramelize. Stir periodically to prevent sticking.

2 medium filets of mahi mahi
At this point, you have to make a judgement call: you want to add the fish when there's still enough time for it to cook without the sugar in the sauce scorching. The amount of cooking time will vary a lot, depending on your pot, stove, and fish. As a rough guideline, cook the liquid mixture for 15 minutes, then add the fish and cook for five minutes more. If the liquid isn't satisfyingly thickened by the time your fish is done, just remove it from the pan, cover with foil and keep reducing the mixture over high heat until it's gooey.

Plop the fish on a plate and pour some sauce over each filet.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Alphabet Soup: D.C. vs. Boston

In Washington, alphabet soup is what happens when you start talking about a bunch of agencies without bothering to explain the acronyms. As in: "The DEA and the FDA can't decide whether carpal tunnel should be treated with medical marijuana. Better take the case to OSHA." But this week, in increasingly chilly Boston, alphabet soup had to be taken literally--a warming bowl of chicken soup with semolina pasta letters floating in it.

Alphabet Chicken Soup with Zucchini and Thyme

Get a pot of water boiling, to cook the pasta. Normally, I'd just throw the pasta in the soup to cook, but alphabet pasta takes on a lot of liquid, so better to use water first.

Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, warm to a simmer:
6 cups chicken stock (I made my own, and must admit I'm becoming a convert to homemade stock--something I swore I'd never be. But normal canned chicken stock would be totally fine, too. If you use boullion, add some oil to the pan for a bit of fat.)

Add to the pot:
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded (I used the leftovers from a roasted chicken, but a large chicken breast, poached and shredded for the occasion would work just as well)

When the water boils, add:
1 pound alphabet pasta

Once the pasta has gone into the water, add to the stock:
3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
You don't want to overcook the zucchini. They should retain some bite, and their own burst of juiciness in the final product, so cook carefully and test often. I cut the pieces too big in my version (see above), you should learn from my mistakes and stick with small bites and a very short cooking time.

When the pasta is soft and swollen to full size, drain and then add to the soup pot.

Grind lots of black pepper on top and salt to taste.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Pie Charts, Revisited

If the phrase "funny PowerPoint presentation about the history and geopolitical importance of pie" sounds like the ravings of a madwoman to you, don't click here.

Via Mariginal Revolution by Tyler Cowen, an economist who also keeps a bitchin' food blog surveying primarily ethic restaurants in the Washington, DC, suburbs. If you ever thought eating in a strip mall was a uniformly bad idea, Tyler will change your mind.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Does My Blog Look Good in This?

"It requires a certain kind of mind to see beauty in a hamburger bun. Yet is it any more unusual to find grace in the texture and softly carved silhouette of a bun than to reflect lovingly on the hackles of a fishing fly? Or the arrangements and textures on a butterfly's wing?"
And with those words of wisdom from Ray Kroc, founder of the McDonald's, I declare this round of Does My Blog Look Good in This? officially open.

Photos will be judged, as usual, on eatability, originality, and aesthetics. Serving as judges this month are members of the Harvard Business School Wine and Cuisine Society. (As you might have noticed from the sidebar, the Human Vacuum and I have relocated to Boston, where the aforementioned group happens to be based.)

The Rules:
1) You may submit one (1) photo.
2) The photo must be food-related.
3) It must have appeared on your blog in the month of August.
4) In your email, please include your name, your blog's name, what camera/edits you used, a link to the relevant photo, and a link to the original post in which it appeared. Feel free to send haikus, additional commentary, or cash as well.

This month's deadline is September 24, though (as always) creative excuses will be accepted for a short grace period. Send them to me, right here at ToastPoint.

I'll post a running round-up here as photos come in.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Indian Dessert Challenge Met!: From My Rasoi Roundup

It seems that our rasois were busy this month. Below, check out a round-up of your responses to my Indian Dessert Challenge, this month's From My Rasoi event. To read what you're looking at, and see who deserves credit, just click on the image. To read the original post, and figure out how to steal the recipe, click on the description.

Visit What's For Lunch Honey? to read all about the theme for next month's From My Rasoi: Pumpkin!