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Supper Club

July 29, 2010

Tuesday’s are highly celebrated around here. Miserable Monday’s are made livable knowing that TUESDAY is waiting just around the corner. Tuesday is Supper Club Night. Ahhh, sacred supper club (or fondly known as SC). Every Tuesday night we come together for a highly anticipated home made meal created by a different “chef” each week, a chance to catch up and exchange stories, and of course, many large bottles of wine. SC was formed in November 2009 by the suggestion of M‘s mom. She thought it would be a great chance for us to learn to cook for others, catch up each week and create a tradition of our own in our new apartment. She has been a part of a supper club for over 10 years. And so, supper club was born. Now, roughly 40 weeks later (we have only skipped two weeks!), we really have created our own tradition; we have had our fair share of culinary triumph along with a few dishes that have fallen flat, but along the way have learned valuable cooking skills, introduced new food into our diets (Ashley likes fish!), gotten “wild” after a few too many jumbo bottles of wine and grown stronger within our friendships. I am already looking forward to next Tuesday.

As summer rolled around, we introduced a new idea (along with a new member, welcome Steph!) into supper club. Each month, or rotation now that there are four of us, we will choose an ingredient, or type of ingredient that we all have to incorporate into our meal. Kinda like Iron Chef. But not really. The first rotation was “seafood,” which seemed perfect for summer and also allowed us to take advantage of living in Boston (Margaux, when I asked about a good place to buy seafood- “Helloo, you work in the SEAPORT.” Thanks, M.) . Ashley has great pictures and descriptions of what everyone made, mussels (with fish sauce!) , salmon, shrimp and a scallop/shrimp pasta. This months “secret” ingredient is fruit; a fun way to highlight the best of what the summer has to offer. I am the first in the rotation and I decided to make fish tacos with a mango and cabbage slaw, mexican corn and grilled peaches for dessert. I found an amazing recipe by Michael Chiarello for battered fish tacos and a nice slaw to top them off with. I ended up playing around with the recipe a little bit and came up something I think was pretty delicious. The fish is battered in a beer batter with adobo sauce that even though fried, still feels light. I chose cod because of its flaky, dense texture (and it was on sale at our whole foods) and it carried the flavor of the batter, along with its own mild flavor very well. The slaw, pickled slightly over night, gave a nice zingy crunch and the flavor was rounded out by the sweetness of the mango and some nice heat from radishes and finely diced jalapeño. The whole thing was held together by a cooling avocado lime crema. I would highly recommend this dish, but be sure to prepare the cabbage in the slaw the night before and give yourself plenty of time to chop everything (my supper club dinners are usually served after 8 because I forget these small details).

Fish Tacos
Adapted from Michael Chiarello’s recipe

Cabbage and Mango Slaw
1 head of red cabbage
1 red onion
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of apple cider vintage
1 cup of olive oil
1 ripe mango
1 jalapeño
6 radishes
2 green onions
2 tablespoons of cilantro
1 lime
S and P

I followed the first part of the recipe fairly closely the night before, boil the vinegar and sugar together, whisking the sugar into it. Once it has boiled, add the olive oil and stir in finely sliced red cabbage and red onion, add the salt and pepper. Stir together and then put into a non-reactive baking dish- I poured off some of the liquid because there seemed to be quite a bit. Place a similar sized baking dish on top of the mixture to push it down a bit and refrigerate over night. The next night, cut everything thing up- cut the mango into thin strips to be a similar size to the cabbage, the radish should be in thin, crunchy disks and be sure to cut the jalapeño small enough that someone doesn’t get a bite of just heat. Mix the cabbage mixture with everything else and squeeze half lime over it and mix in the cilantro. Taste to see how much salt and pepper to add. Put this back in the fridge to let the flavors meld while you do everything else.

Avocado Lime Crema
1 tub of sour cream
2 Limes
2 tablespoons of cilantro
2 avocados
S and P

This can be made ahead of time also, but save the avocados to mixed in before you actually eat it. Mix the sour cream, the cilantro and the juice of two limes together. It will seem pretty liquidey, but don’t worry. Cut the avocado into chunks and put into a food processor whiz until it is a smooth, creamy texture. It is tempting to leave this chunky, like gauc, but the texture once added to the sour cream mixture is best when the avocado is almost whipped.

Beer and Chipotle Battered Fish
2 ounces of canned chipotle peppers
2 eggs
2 cups of beer (mexican beer is recommended, but I used Heineken because it was what we had)
2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds of fish (I used cod, but another whitefish would work well too)1 large jug of corn oil (I found this in the mexican section of the grocery store, Goya makes it)
Corn or flour tortillas

I followed this recipe exactly I didn’t really want to mess around with the batter. In the food processor, add the chipoltes and eggs and whiz together. Pour into a large mixing bowl and whisk in the beer. In a separate bowl, mix your dry ingredients. Add the dry to the wet and whisk making sure there are no lumps. Add pepper. Set this aside so that the batter can proof-  it will become thick and spongy looking.

In a large pot, I used my beloved dutch oven, add the corn oil until it is about two inches deep. Using a candy/deep fry thermometer, heat the oil to 350 degrees. Once it reaches temperature, lower the heat so it will maintain. Add the fish to the batter and use your fingers to dredge it through, wiping off any remainder on the sides of the bowl. Carefully lower into the oil- be sure not to add to many pieces in or the temp will drastically lower and you will be stuck with soggy greasy fish (ew). Let the fish cook anywhere anywhere from 2-5 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. Once it is a golden brown, use tongs or a slotted spoon to pull the fish out and let the oil drain off a paper towel lined plate. Working in batches, finish the fish. While you are frying the fish, wap tortillas in foil and place in a 300 degree oven to warm.

To build your taco, take a warm tortilla and spread the avocado crema all over it. Place two pieces (or however much you want) of fish into the taco and top with the mango cabbage slaw. For a side, I browned some butter and then saute half of a chopped onion until translucent, then I added fresh corn cut from the cob little cherry tomatos;  let the corn get toasty, make sure it’s cooked through and some of the kernels are lightly singed and the tomatos have “popped” slightly.  I added a little bit of chopped cilantro (parsley would work too if you don’t like cilantro), pepper, and crumbled cotija cheese and a little bit of salt (go light on the salt because the cheese is salty). This was a great summer dinner- yes it did get hot standing over a bubbling pot of hot oil, but the dish was surprisingly light, with plenty of zing and crunch. The mango, my “secret ingredient” in this dish, brought a nice sweetness to balance out the tart lime and spicy jalapeno. The colors of this dish were also beautiful and made for a very appetizing plate.

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