Tag Archives: recipes

shrimp tostadas recipe

Shrimp tostadas are what happens when you’ve got a little bit of extra shrimp in the fridge and you are dying for an afternoon snack. They’re what happens when there are a few amazing handmade corn tortillas left over from the market, and when you’ve got an avocado and a tomato that are just dying to be eaten.

They’re an amazing snack, if a little bit naughty. Hey, my excuse? It was a Sunday. If you’re adverse to pan-frying a tortilla, perhaps bake it instead. Just keep it at 250 or so and let it bake until crunchy. But I would recommend the whole shebang.

Shrimp Tostadas for Two

1/8 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp vegetable oil, separated
Large pinch salt
Large pinch chipotle chile powder
Large pinch cumin
Large pinch paprika
2 corn tortillas
1 avocado, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 shallot, minced
Fresh-squeezed lime juice, to taste
Cilantro to taste
Salt to taste

In a small bowl, mix the shrimp, 1 tbsp vegetable oil, salt, chile powder, cumin, and paprika. Allow to rest.

In another small bowl, toss together the avocado, tomato, shallot, lime juice to taste, and salt to taste. Garnish with cilantro.

In a heavy saute pan over medium high heat, heat the vegetable oil until very hot and shimmering. Fry the corn tortillas, one at a time, until crispy on both sides. Turn as necessary. Drain on paper towels.

In another preheated saute pan – or the same one, wiped clean of excess oil – cook the shrimp on medium-high heat, stirring as needed. They should be done in just a couple of minutes.

Assemble the tostadas: place half of the shrimp on each fried tortilla. Top with a scoop of avocado mixture. (The rest of the avocado salsa, you ask? Eat it with tortilla chips).

Lemon Curd

What do you do when a friend from California mails you a giant box of beautiful Meyer lemons? This was the difficult question I was faced with earlier this winter. And by difficult, I mean the hard part is choosing between all of the options. Because if regular lemons are an exciting kitchen bounty, Meyer lemons are like the culinary equivalent of winning the lottery – or at least a scratch-off.

Where regular lemons are pale yellow, Meyer lemons are golden yellow-orange. Where regular lemons are sour, Meyer lemons retain all of the lemon flavor without that puckering aftereffects. Where regular lemons can be thick-skinned and hard to juice, Meyer lemons seem to contain more potent liquor than possible in such a small fruit.

One of my first projects with the lemons was to make lemon curd. Lemon curd is kind of like jam in that you can use it anywhere. On toast? Sure. Between layers of a cake? Of course. As the base for a brisk dessert mousse? Easy. Eaten plain from the jar? Yeah, this is the most likely.

I set up an assembly line. Zest, slice, juice. Strain all the seeds out of the juice.

In a saucepan, combine the juice with butter and sugar. Keep the heat low and stir occasionally until the butter is melted and everything is smooth.

In another bowl, crack a couple of eggs, and add a couple more yolks to keep things extra-rich. Save the whites – you can make meringues later!

When the butter-lemon-sugar mixture is melted, add a little bit of the warm liquid to the eggs. Whisk it together.

Pour everything into the saucepan and whisk, keeping the heat on low. After a few minutes – ten tops – you’ll see the mixture begin to thicken. When it is the approximate consistency of mayonnaise, you’ll know you’re done.

Strain the mixture over a new bowl so the little clumps come out. You will be rewarded with a quivering mass of delicious lemon curd. Now the possibilities are endless.

Lemon Curd (makes approximately 2 cups)
1/2 c lemon juice
1/2 c sugar
6 tbsp butter
2 large eggs & 2 egg yolks
In a saucepan over low heat, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, and butter.
Place the two large eggs and two yolks in a separate small bowl.
When the lemon juice, sugar, and butter are melted together and smooth, transfer a spoonful of the mixture to the eggs. Whisk it together, then add back to the saucepan.
Stir or whisk constantly over low heat, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan. When the curd is about the consistency of mayonnaise, stop – strain it into a clean bowl through a mesh strainer.
If you can stop yourself from eating the whole thing with a spoon minutes after it comes together, it makes a wonderful addition to cakes, pastries, tarts, or pretty much anywhere else you’d use jam.

israeli spinach fritters recipe

A few months ago, we learned how to make latkes like a Jewish grandma. Now we’re going to move down a generation and you can learn how to make delicious spinach fritters like a Jewish mom, or at least, the way my Jewish mom did.

Here’s the thing about spinach fritters. They’re made out of spinach, which pretty much means that you can eat as many as you want and call it a healthy treat. They’re green, after all. In the scale of healthy, green overrides fried, every single time.

Here’s the other thing about spinach fritters. They don’t sound very appealing. If I had discovered them on my own, in recipe form while browsing blogs or a magazine, I would not have taken the initiative to make them. But I discovered them because they appeared in my house, on a platter next to some potato latkes that my mom made, and from the first bite it was true love. Everyone else who’s tried them has agreed. Initial hesitation is followed by eyes widening in enjoyment, and then reaching for another fritter. They’re delightfully crispy outside, yielding and yummy inside, what’s not to love? And did I mention they’re green? That means healthy!

They’re pretty simple to make. For me, the first step is always finding bulk baby spinach. I like to use at least two pounds of spinach for this, and buying eight pre-packed grocery store bags at $3 each isn’t how I roll. This most recent batch was inspired by spinach for $1/pound at the farmer’s market.

So you start with fresh spinach (I guess you could use frozen and thawed, but I’ve never tried). It gets sauteed it for a few minutes, just until it’s wilted.

Drain it, chop it. Then, stir it into a simple binding mixture: eggs, matzo meal, scallions, cumin, cayenne, and salt.

You’ll form the mixture into little patties and pan-fry them, turning once so you get crispy spinach exteriors.

My mom always served these with potato latkes when she was feeling ambitious in the kitchen. Fortunately for us, that was often. They work well as a side dish for steak, or if you’re like me, as a meal onto themselves. Because they’re green, and therefore healthy – or so I tell myself. Whatever they are, they’re surprisingly delicious.

Recipe: Israeli Spinach Fritters
adapted from Joan Nathan. serves 2-4 as entree, 4-6 as appetizer

1 lb spinach
2 eggs
1/4c scallion, sliced thin
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1/3 c matzo meal
Grapeseed or vegetable oil, for pan-frying

Wash, drain, and saute spinach until wilted. Drain and chop roughly.

In a large bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients (except oil). Add chopped spinach and mix everything together well.

Heat a large cast-iron or saute pan over medium-high. Add oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When oil shimmers, drop in spinach balls. Around a tablespoon of mixture works well. Flip after bottom browns. Cook in batches, replenishing the oil as necessary. Drain on paper towels if desired. Eat hot and enjoy!

All photos are mine.

locro de papas receta/recipe

I was in Ecuador and, thanks to food poisoning, hadn’t eaten a solid meal for approximately 60 hours. Jello and crackers were all that I’d been able to keep down. When we arrived at Xavier’s dad’s house for lunch, I was toeing the fine line between real hunger and abject fear of eating.

We sat down for the meal, beginning with a primero of ceviche de camaron: shrimp in a mixture of lime juice, tomato, and onion. It’s served with popcorn, which adds just a little bit more crunch. I ate tentatively, enjoying the food but still scared of retribution from the gods of food poisoning. Next came mellocos, tiny potato-like vegetables with a texture that can only be described as slimy at first and slimier still as you chew. They definitely weren’t my favorite. We also tried habas, boiled fava beans that are dipped in salt and squeezed out of their shells with your fingers.
Then came the next course, and all of a sudden my appetite returned with a vengeance. It was soup. But not just any soup. Steaming-hot potato soup and on top, a huge slice of avocado. Within, slivers of queso fresco melted into the creamy mixture of broth and potatoes. Is there a person in existence who can resist a bowl full of potatoes, cheese, and avocado? Avocado is like the bacon of the vegetable world. It makes everything better. And when the flavor of avocado is dancing around your mouth with little bursts of cilantro over a lush background of potatoes and melted cheese? It’s perfection. Locro de papas… a revelation.
I finished my bowl quickly and made a huge dent in a second before I was too full to continue. The soup was so good that I refused to let anyone take it away from me. For the next few hours, I waited impatiently for the feeling of fullness to subside; as soon as it did, I launched myself mouth-first at the remaining soup. It was that good.
Before we left Ecuador, I tried another version of locro at a restaurant in the Cotopaxi region. It was great, but much thicker than homemade soup I’d loved. It was more like loose mashed potatoes. In my opinion, locro de papas is best when its texture is distinctively broth, enriched with potato. When we got back home to Atlanta, I made it my mission to recreate the bowl of my dreams. Using what I learned from Xavier’s stepmom about her recipe and all the recipes I found on Google, I came up with a my own version. And after we had sampled my creation, even my Ecuadorian roommate agreed that it was a taste of home – “better, even.”
It’s not hard to make. Here’s what you’ll need.

There are two ingredients that might be unfamiliar: annatto seeds, and queso fresco. For the annatto seeds, if you don’t see them marketed by Badia brand in the spice section of your grocery store, you can definitely find them at an ethnic grocery. It’s also sold as a powder. Queso fresco, or fresh cheese, seems to be pretty popular these days. It’s in the Mexican section at the Kroger next to my house. But you can likely find it at an ethnic market.
You might also notice that those potatoes are of the ginormous mutant variety. Here’s one next to an iPhone to demonstrate how huge they are. Apparently potatoes are on steroids these days.

Anyway, you’ll make a pretty orange-red base for your soup by heating the annatto seeds in vegetable oil. After you strain the solids out, you’ll saute diced onions in that red oil.

Since the oil is so brightly colored, it can be hard to tell when the onions have changed color and are tender enough to proceed. Just wait until they start bubbling a little bit. That’s usually a good indicator that they’re nice and soft.
You’ll add cumin and salt to the mix, then water and potatoes. Lots of potatoes.

Having misjudged the quantity of soup you’d be preparing, you will find that the mixture threatens to overflow from the saucepan and sabotage your freshly cleaned stovetop, so you’ll have to curse loudly and switch to a huge Dutch oven at this point. Or… not.
The potatoes will simmer until nice and tender, then you’ll mash them against the sides of your pan with a wooden spoon. The idea is to completely pulverize some so that they dissolve into the soup, getting it nice and thick. But you’ll want some pieces to stay chunky, for texture.
Then you’ll add milk and cilantro. The soup will simmer for another ten minutes, thickening into amazingness from the effects of dissolving potato. I may have let mine simmer for about 20 minutes while we walked to the store to swap Redbox selections. The additional time really helped to thicken things. As it wasn’t even close to the loose mashed-potato texture of before, I loved it. But some might prefer their soup to have a clearer delineation between broth and potato. Keep an eye on your pot, and taste throughout so you can stop cooking when you like the texture.
Every recipe I’ve found in my research calls for adding cheese at this point as well. In Ecuador, we were always served cheese on the side so we could add as much as we wished. For your own soup, it depends how gooey you prefer your cheese. If it goes in now, it’ll be nice and melty. If you wait, it won’t be as soft, but there will be fun little nuggets of cheese in your bowl.
We have reached the most important part of the recipe. All of your work until now comes to fruition at this moment. Ladle the locro into bowls. Top with cheese (if you haven’t already) and sliced avocado. Enjoy!
Here’s the recipe.
Locro de papas
serves 4-6 as entree, 8-10 as appetizer

2 tsp annato (achiote) seeds
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 white onion, diced
1/2 tsp cumin
2 1/2 tsp salt
7c  water
3 1/2 lbs Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1c milk
6 oz queso fresco, cubed
Small handful cilantro leaves, minced
Avocados to taste, for garnish

In a small saucepan over very low heat, heat the annato seeds and vegetable oil. When the oil turns red and simmers, remove from the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes. Strain out the seeds with a fine-mesh sieve; you can throw them away.

Heat the oil on moderate-high in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook until tender, stirring frequently – approximately five minutes. Next, add the cumin and salt; cook for about a minute, stirring frequently, then add water. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender – about 30 minutes. When tender, mash potatoes into the broth until potatoes are mostly dissolved, but there are still some small chunks; you want the broth to stay thick and creamy, but studded with pieces of whole potato.

Stir in milk, cheese, and cilantro. Raise the heat to medium high, letting it all simmer together for another 5-20 minutes (depending on how thick and puree-like you want it). 

Remove from the heat, top with avocado, and enjoy!

And as always, all photos are mine (but a couple were snapped by the ever-supportive and helpful Xavier!).

How To Be a Domestic Rockstar for Under $12, Part 2

Things are excellent in your life right now! You just made delicious roasted chicken that everyone enjoyed very much. Now that your group is full and satiated, you’re ready to make stock for tomorrow’s soup. This will largely happen slowly and stealthily in the background while you’re doing other things. Here’s what to do.

You saved the bones from the chicken feast, and from the chicken that you cut up earlier. Rinse those off. Try to make sure they’re free of skin, but don’t go too crazy with it.

Place your bones in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Don’t forget the backbone and wing tips that you removed earlier! Add water to the pan, enough to cover the bones by a few inches.

Then heat the pot over medium-low until it reaches a gentle simmer. Some foamy stuff might float up to the surface of the pot while this is happening. Try to skim it off using a spoon or strainer. When the stock simmers, lower the heat to the absolute lowest setting on the stove. You do not want this pot to boil. You want it cooking for a long time.

As soon as you turn down the heat, cover the pot and leave it alone for a few hours. You’ll know it’s ready when your house smells amazing and the stock has turned a pale golden color. If that doesn’t happen, give it three hours minimum on the stove. I’ve been known to fall asleep and let mine go for eight. As long as the pot is covered and not simmering, this is just fine.

If you know a little bit about cooking, you might be wondering why we didn’t add any aromatics to the stock. You should absolutely feel free to add carrot, onion, leek, celery, peppercorns, etc. But for the soup we’re making with the stock, which will be heavily flavored with spicy peppers, garlic, and onions, it’s not completely necessary.
When you’re finished cooking the stock, use tongs to extract the bones and wing tips as soon as you can. Let it cool for a while on the stovetop, then in the fridge. Try not to agitate the broth; let it settle so all the gunk stays on the bottom. When it looks very clear, it’s time to separate the gunk at the bottom from the clean broth that will become your soup. There are a few ways to do this, but you should pick what’s most comfortable. You can use a ladle, or by carefully pouring out the good stuff without disrupting the bottom waste layer. Be as gentle as possible and don’t worry too much about the last inch or so of cloudy stock; focus on getting out the good stuff. Throw out the rest.

You can put the stock in the fridge overnight so that fat rises to the surface and is easier to remove, but there shouldn’t be much, so don’t feel guilty about making soup straight from here!


Making soup from scratch is incredibly easy and incredibly satisfying. You might have five minutes of hands-on work. All you do is cook some veggies in oil, add seasonings, and then add your homemade stock to let all of the flavors blend together into happy harmony. Here’s how.

In a large saucepan, heat up a little bit of olive oil over medium. Mince two cloves of garlic and an onion, then saute them in the oil until softened and browned.

Then, add some chopped peppers. Use bell pepper, jalepeno, serrano, roasted poblano, or any combination that reaches your spice level. For this batch, I used what was on hand: a green bell pepper and a jar of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. The adobo adds a smoky kick to the finished soup.

Add tomato paste and season with cumin, chili powder, coriander, and salt.

Add tomatoes and stock. Bring to simmer, then turn the heat down to low. Add all of the chicken pieces that you reserved – shredding or chopping them to the size you’d like. Let it simmer for at least twenty minutes, but as long as an hour if you want – let the flavors mingle!

Boom. Tortilla soup.

Half the fun of this is in garnishing the soup with delicious toppings that add crunch and creaminess! While delicious and filling as an appetizer, this soup can be bulked out to make a meal if you add rice, corn, or black beans.

Can you believe all of that took just forty minutes? Congratulations, you’re a chef.

Next-Day Chicken Tortilla Soup (serves 3-4 as entree, 8 as appetizer)
Two quarts chicken stock
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup peppers of your choice, chopped (bell, jalapeno, serrano, roasted poblano, ancho, etc)
1/4 c tomato paste
1 cup tomato, chopped, from about 2 tomatoes (or one 14.5 oz can fire-roasted)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
Garnishes (cilantro, lime, avocado, tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, etc)

In a large saucepan, heat a splash of canola oil over medium. Add onion and garlic, stirring often until browned. Add peppers and saute for a couple of minutes until soft. Toss in the tomato paste and spices, stirring until fragrant. Add tomatoes and stock. Let the mixture come to a strong simmer. When it does, add chicken. Lower heat and let it simmer gently for as long as you can stand it.

Ladle into bowls, garnishing as desired!

As always, thanks to Xavier for photographing the kitchen madness!