“Did you know that if you dip a Frito into ketchup it tastes like fried shrimp?” asked my aunt. I told her I did not. She explained that she’d been at a party where everyone brought strange concoctions and this was one of the dishes on offer. “I was doubtful,” she said, “but it’s surprising how your mind is fooled.”
Curious, when I returned home I grabbed a bag of Fritos, squirted some ketchup into a bowl, and began to dip. It wasn’t a perfect substitution, but if I closed my eyes and hadn’t been aware of what I was eating, I might have believed it was fried shrimp. Amazing. But as much as I love Fritos I might love fried shrimp even more. Sure, that trick of the mind had been initially pleasing, but ultimately all it did was make me crave the real thing even more. It was time to make a batch and get some true satisfaction.
Inspired by the corn chips, instead of doing my usual flour or saltine dredge I opted to coat my shrimp in crushed tortilla chips. Now, in my second cookbook I have a recipe for a tortilla-crusted fish, so taking a lead from that I applied it to my shrimp. First, I lightly seasoned the shrimp then coated them with flour to help everything stick. Next the shrimp were given a quick dip in some eggs and then dredged through crushed tortilla chips seasoned with black pepper, garlic, and cayenne.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Thursday, March 09, 2017
In the spring of 2009, I visited El Paso. While I’d been there before, for this trip my plan was to fly into the city, rent a car, and then continue to Marfa like I’d done in the past. But when I told a friend that I would be in her hometown, she insisted I spend a few meals in the city before hitting the road. “The food is unlike any you’ve ever had,” she said.
She gave me a list of places to try and one of them was Carnitas Queretaro. As the name implies, this is a pork-centric restaurant that specializes in said little meats and my plan was to try the namesake dish. The morning I visited, however, a server walked past me carrying a plate of enchiladas. They were bright red and smothered with white molten cheese, and it was so fragrant that as she passed I turned my head to follow the plate to its destination. A few minutes later, the server approached my table to take my order. I nodded to where she’d dropped off the enchiladas and said I wanted the same.
When my enchiladas arrived, a light steam rose from the hot plate. On it were two soft corn tortillas smothered in that rich, vibrant sauce along with a blanket of melted cheese. I took my first bite, and they were earthy, chewy, and creamy with a touch of heat. The red chile sauce made them distinct from other cheese enchiladas I’d had in Texas, but they were still familiar. They were excellent and I loved them.
Thursday, February 23, 2017
The other day I pulled out my copy of “Talk About Good,” the Junior League of Lafayette’s cookbook. Because of Mardi Gras, this time of year I often feel an urge to eat Cajun cuisine and this collection has a host of excellent recipes from local home cooks. Though as I was flipping through the book, instead of a gumbo or an étouffée catching my eye, it was an entry for oatmeal pancakes that made me want to cook.
Now, oatmeal pancakes aren’t unique to Louisiana, as I’ve had them in Texas and in other places across the country. But nevertheless, I was drawn to this recipe, which in hindsight wasn’t that much of a surprise. See, during these final days leading up to Lent, I may think of myself as a mask-wearing, street-dancing Carnival gal. But because of how I was raised, at heart I’m more of a Shrove Tuesday, parish hall, pancake person instead.
While preferring a pancake supper to a lively party on the day before Lent isn’t a bad thing, it can be a bit boring. That said, pancakes can be also be fun—you just need to approach them with a bit of creativity. For instance, in the past I’ve made banana, bacon, and pecan pancakes, which were sweet, smoky and very exciting. Then there is my apple green chile Dutch baby, which is a skillet pancake that’s quick and good, especially if you want to spend more time visiting with people then cooking.