Monday, June 24, 2013

Street Food Lunch--June Cook the Book

This month Cook the Book parent bloggers Ohbriggsy and Meg over at Grow and Resist gave us the inspiration to dive into Street Food by Susan Feniger. J.K. and I Love street food, hence our attendance at the SF Street Food Festival every year. When I picked up the book from the library this month and paged through it, I discovered a wide variety of cooking styles with great pictures to distract you. As always, I was instantly attracted to a few recipes, but postponed making them for a bit. I admire how some bloggers start cooking day 1 from the book, but it always takes me a while to decide what to make.

One recipe did catch my eye, something I thought would be perfect to take along and trade at the SF Food Swap. It was easy to get down to business and make some "Earl Grey Tea Dust" inspired by Ginger Dust (p209) I also made "Rooibos Dust" and the real deal using ginger as well. I also made Heirloom Tomatoes with Garlic and Balsamic Vinagrette (p48) as my swap potluck dish. It was a hit!

Potluck Gold!

Earl Grey Dust

Both of these recipes were simple and adaptable. In fact I felt that way about all the dishes I made from Street Food this month. It would be easy to change up the recipes I cooked to accommodate what was on hand in the pantry. However, it was more fun to plan lunch and shop for the "special" ingredients. Stephanie, J. K. and I set the date, and decided on the menu.

 When I went to buy the cactus paddles, I couldn't resist getting Mexican cheeses and sour cream as well!
Welcome to Lunch!
Cook the Book Menu:
Cactus Rellenos with Corn Salad and Arbol Chili Salsa
toppings of Mexican sour cream, avocado, pickled jicama
Canton Ginger Kick Cocktails (with ginger syrup)
Danish Black Licorice and Cherry Biscotti with Buttermilk Koldskal

Ready to eat!
The recipe for Cactus Rellenos was my choice for lunch because I have wondered what/how people cook them ever since I moved to SF and saw them for sale in the Mission at the produce bodegas. During our lunch, Stephanie said that many people use them as a vegetable. They cook them the same as peppers or squash. Considering you have to scrape all the pointy stuff off to use them I'll just keep on eating peppers instead, but now I feel ready to face the cowboy trail, able to live off the desert land (as long as I have a sharp knife to clean the spines off my food-although I bet they'd burn off if I had fire).

I made the Corn Salad the day before, I thought the dressing would meld with the corn overnight. However, when I tasted it after tossing them together it was simply delicious. It was just as tasty the next day, but I think this dressing could make any veggie salad a hit!

Corn Salad- corn with a dressing of cilantro, salt, oil, onion, and lemon juice
I picked up the dried A chilis the morning of the meal when I biked over to the mission to grab the cactus paddles. That was also when I spied the Monterey Jack and Mexican Sour Cream. They even had a bag of already "shredded" Cojita cheese. Score! I roasted the tomatoes over the open flame instead of under the broiler, I think that it uses less energy that way. Now you're cooking with gas! I took 90% of the seeds out of the chili's. It had the perfect tiny bit of heat for our trio, but if you're into the spicy, just leave in the majority of the seeds in order to burn up your taste buds. This effortless salsa also made it on the short list for swap ideas. I mean, I have Plenty of dried chilis left for another batch. They're chili'in in the freezer right now.

A nice flavorful salsa, a tiny bit spicy.
Full disclosure: I have been craving Jalapeno Poppers for a while now. They've just been on my mind. Not enough to go someplace fast food and Pay for them, but enough that I think they influenced my recipe choice this month. Because as Stephanie pointed out at lunch, "You can't go wrong when something is stuffed with cheese and fried." Such truth. I appreciated learning a new way to fry as well, first rolling the relleno in flour then immersing it into beaten eggs. It wasn't even that messy since I rolled all the rellenos in the flour first, then dipped those in the eggs to fry as needed. The main difference between my interpretation and Susan's recipe is that I didn't make "sandwiches" from the cactus. I kindof tried to "roll" them. Which ended up meaning they were smaller in size and in the end, I think that was good, because they were painless to dip in the egg batter and also cooked faster.
Fry little Rellenos, Fry!

Golden cactus "poppers". Just what I was wanting.
I also made a cocktail to go along with our meal. It's a pretty strong drink! Since I didn't have any ice made, we ended up adding water so we would all be sitting in our chairs by the end of the meal (instead of under the table). This cocktail used the Ginger syrup, and I think it would be nice with Ginger Dust as well.

The force is strong in this cocktail.
Money shot! Cactus Rellenos with Corn Salad and Arbol Chili Salsa (p70-73)
Plus, of course, Dessert. Brought to us by the letters J and K. You can learn about the Licorice and Cherry Biscotti with Buttermilk Koldskal (p180-181) here. Suffice to say the soup could be a great summer meal starter, totally refreshing. Plus the biscotti (even though they weren't Matzo toffee) were pretty darn tasty with or without licorice.

That's a lot of dipping sauce!


* Angela *REALLY* lobbied for J.K. to make matzo candy, starting asap when Angela saw the recipe in the cookbook. But since she swapped for pretzel toffee at the food swap it became less as urgent. Plus J.K. made her some biscottis w/o licorice, phew.