It has still been pretty crazy around our humble chateau but I finally got around to inviting people for Sunday supper.
I invited Sara & Vern. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve known Sara for a very long time, like since she was in high school. Her husband Vern is a great guy, he’s funny and as long as there’s plenty of iced tea he’s a happy camper. They got married last September and I was the maid of honor in the wedding. I told Sara I didn’t want to be called “Matron of Honor”. When I hear that term all I can think of is Miss Trunchbull from “Matilda” and I’m too pretty for that.
Sara & Vern, Christmas 2010
I’ve been craving fish a lot lately so I decided I would make something with fish and maybe some rice and a vegetable and of course dessert. I went with my version of fish Vera Cruz, saffron rice, asparagus, and lime creme trifle.
I’m not sure what exactly happened but the rice was not what I wanted and I cooked the fuck outta the asparagus. I wanted to make saffron rice and I found a recipe that sounded great that I could make it my rice cooker but when we went to the grocery and I saw that a thing of saffron threads with 4 little vial things of the threads was over 15$, I was like ‘oh HELL no’. I love my friends but holy shit, I couldn’t bring myself to buy that. Then I remembered my grocery has boxed saffron rice and I figured that would be good but I bought the wrong thing. I was on the phone trying to get in touch with a friend who needed getting in touch with while I was getting the rice and I didn’t really look at the package. It had the words “saffron” and “rice” on it so I chucked it in the buggy and went on my merry way. When I got home and was unpacking the groceries I saw that it was “zesty” saffron rice and I was like, well piss, it’s too late now I hope it turns out. I used chicken broth instead of water and olive oil instead of margarine when I cooked it hoping to make it better. Sara and Vern both said they liked it but I wasn’t happy with it. I thought the only flavor was too salty. Next time I will fork out the cash for better ingredients and make what I want so I have more control over what is and isn’t in my dish.
And the poor asparagus…*sigh*
I very rarely cook in the microwave. I don’t ever even really use it to heat things up unless I’m at work. I just eat cold leftovers or heat stuff up a pan on the stove. I don’t know why, it’s just a Renee quirk I guess. I do like to steam vegetables in there sometimes though because when we finally got a new microwave, it came with a vegetable button and I just throw the stuff in a bowl, put a little water in, cover it with plastic wrap, hit the veg button and TAH DAH! Steamed broccoli. I did exactly that yesterday and ended up with a nasty asparagus-ish mess. I was highly less than pleased. Roger was happy though, he never got over eating canned veg as a kid and as a grown up still thinks vegetables should be cooked until they are past dead and not even Law & Order SVU could figure out what the fuck they were in a previous life.
I was happy with the fish and the dessert. I can’t remember where I found the recipe for the fish but I got the recipe for dessert here.
This is how I did the fish:
For the sauce I used garlic, green and kalamata olives, canned tomatoes, and an onion.
Just put the olives on the board and give them a good chop. On a taste note, I prefer kalamata olives to plain black olives because they just taste so much better. You can buy some kalamata olives and save the juice and put some regular black olives in there and they taste really good.
Get your olives to look as close to this as you can.
Put the capers in with the olives and set it to the side.
Drain your tomatoes. I put a bowl under the sieve to catch some of the juices in case I needed more liquid later. If you forget this part, it's okay, you can add some wine or chicken broth (reduced sodium please) or even just water if you think you need some extra cooking liquid in there later.
Heat your skillet and add some oil, I used olive oil but you can use what you have or what you like.
Add your chopped onion to the pan.
Cook the onion for a bit and then add the garlic. Try to remember not to add the garlic too soon or it will burn. I forget this all the time so we've become accustom to eating overdone garlic. 😐
Add the tomatoes and olive/caper mix to the pan.
Give it a good stir and let it cook for a bit.
Slap the lid on it and turn the heat down and put it to the back burner. Keep an eye on it so you don't let too much of the liquid cook out. If you think it's too dry then it probably is and you can add one of the pre-approved liquids to the pan and that will save it unless you've just burnt the shit out of it. And then you will just have to call for pizza or eat your fish plain.
I got tilapia for the fish because it wasn't too spendy and it looked nice and it's not from Vietnam. Roger saw this thing on TV from Alton Brown about not eating fish from Vietnam because even farm raised fish from there eat nasty stuff (aka poop) and so now he is all freaked out about not eating "doo-doo fish". *sigh* Thanks Alton! Don't forget to salt and pepper the fish.
I wanted the fish to have a nice crust on it so I ran it through some flour. After you flour the fish, make sure you tap off the extra so you don't have lots of burnt flour in the bottom of the pan. That's good when you've fried chicken or chicken fried some steaks or pork chops so you have some nice crusties in your gravy but not when you're just shallow frying fish.
Get your fish nice and brown. Make sure your skillet is nice and hot before you add the oil to it and make sure the oil is hot before you add the fish that way it doesn't sit in the oil and just soak it all up. Then you'll end up with greasy fish. Yuk.
This is the finished product, complete with yukkie rice and sad asparagus. The fish and the sauce turned out just right. (thanks Sara for reminding me to take a finished plate photo, I forget to do that all the time!)
After dinner, we played Uno and Sara and I had a couple more glasses of wine and then we had dessert. I made Lime Creme Trifle. This shit is so easy anybody can do it. I will say that you really do need to make it in the blender. I tried to make it in my Kitchen Aid mixer one time and it ended up a fucking mess. You could probably use a food processor if you don’t have a blender but I absolutely do not recommend trying to make it with a hand mixer, stand mixer, or whisk. You will end up with crap. I promise.
This is what you do:
You need a can of evaporated milk, a can of sweetened condensed milk, a roll of Maria cookies and some limes. It can take anywhere from 3 to 5 limes depending on how juicy your limes are and how limey you want it. Maria cookies are pretty much Mexican animal crackers and they are the shit. You can use graham crackers if you can't find Marias, or you could probably use animal crackers too but if you have an HEB or your grocery has a good Latin/Hispanic/International food selection, they'll probably have these. Or you could go to a Mexican grocery if there's one of those close to you.
Add your milks to the blender.
And the zest of one or two of the limes.
And the lime juice. My Grandma taught me to pick the limes (or lemons) with the thinnest skin on them because they have the most juice. Even if they're small, they will be the juiciest. Roll them around on the counter before you cut them and that will break them up a bit so you get more juice too.
Then blend the Jeebus out of it on high for about 3 or 4 minutes.
When you've blended it good, it should be pretty thick. If it's not you can blend it more and if that doesn't work, add some more lime juice and that should do the trick.
Put some of the cookies in the bottom of a nice serving dish. This one my Mom gave me, it was from my Grandma's China set. I just wish it had the lid but it got broken a long time ago.
Poor the creme over the cookies. They kind of slid around but that's okay.
You just keep layering cookies and creme until your out of cream. Make sure creme is your last layer.
Then you just decorate the top layer so it looks nice. You could use some crumbled cookies but I used some more lime zest. You could even do both if you wanted, that would look nice too.
After you get the dessert made, you just put some plastic on it and put it in the fridge for a few hours. The longer you let it sit, the better it gets and thicker it will be. Some of the reviews of the recipe on the Food Network website say theirs didn’t set up and some times mine doesn’t set up as nicely as I’d like it to but still tastes good.
Oh, and it doesn’t keep very long either, if you try to keep it more than a day, it will get watery. I still eat it though. I just give it a good stir and have at it.
Well, that’s it for this time. I hope you make these things, they’re both fairly simple, the fish just has quite a few steps to it.
Let me know if you make them and what you did to make them your own.