Co-ed in the Kitchen
What better way to impress your parents and friends at home than by cooking them a three-course meal? Thanksgiving break is just a week away so you have enough time have a practice run with your roomies first.
This meal has a classic wedge salad with bacon for an appetizer, and two entrée options. The first is fish tacos, a great way to try something new at home and everyone can customize their own.
If you want to go for a more seasonal dinner, try a whole roasted chicken. It will cook much faster than a huge turkey, but it will prove more impressive to your family that thinks you live off of instant mac and cheese. For dessert, everyone loves a good chocolate chip cookie. Try this recipe for "big fat" cookies to win them over.
City State Diner's Wedge Salad (serves 2)
For the croutons:
2 to 3 slices thick bread (preferably challah or other egg bread) 3 tbsp olive oil 1/2 tsp dried thyme 1/2 tsp white pepper 1/2 tsp kosher salt 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
Heat the oven to 400°F. Cut the bread in medium to large cubes. Place them in a large bowl. Drizzle the oil evenly over the bread, tossing as you go. Make sure not to soak any one piece, as that will make for a soggy crouton or two and will keep the seasoning from sticking to the rest of them. (If you have an olive oil sprayer, that is ideal to get light oil coverage on all the bread.)
Mix the thyme, white pepper, salt, and garlic together. Add this dry mix to the bread and toss to coat evenly. Spread the bread cubes in one layer on on a baking pan and bake in 5-minute intervals until they are nicely browned. (Total baking time will vary depending on your oven and the type of bread you use.) Make sure to check frequently so the croutons don't burn.
Remove the croutons from the oven and let cool.
For the blue cheese dressing: 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese, softened 1/4 cup mayonnaise 1/4 cup sour cream 1 tbsp lemon juice 3 tsbsp buttermilk 1/4 cup chopped chives 1/2 tsp kosher salt 1 1/2 tsp black pepper
Whisk all ingredients together until mixture is smooth and well-combined.
For the bacon: 3 to 4 strips thick cut pepper bacon 1/4 cup brown sugar
Spread the bacon strips on a baking sheet. Bake the bacon in the oven at 400°F for roughly 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the brown sugar liberally over the hot bacon and place back in the oven for 3 to 5 more minutes or until the sugar has visibly “candied” the meat. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
For the fried tofu (as a vegetarian replacement for the bacon):
2 to 3 oz. extra firm tofu Cornstarch Olive oil
Heat a saucepan with about a half inch of oil on medium high heat until a drop of water “pops” when added (or to about 350 degrees). If you have a home fryer, use that instead.
Drain the tofu and cut into 1/2-inch x 1/2-inch cubes. Place enough cornstarch in a bowl to toss the tofu in. Toss the tofu in the cornstarch until nicely coated but not clumpy. Add tofu to the hot oil and fry until golden.
(Note: this cornstarch method is by far superior to any other way I have tried to fry tofu.)
To build the salad: 1/2 head iceberg lettuce 1 large tomato 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese 1/2 cup slivered red onion Croutons Blue cheese dressing Chopped bacon or fried tofu 2 tablespoons chives, or chopped fresh parsley to garnish.
Cut the lettuce into two equal wedges and place on two plates. Pour enough dressing over the lettuce to get good coverage. Cut the tomato into wedges and distribute evenly between the two plates. Sprinkle the blue cheese over this and add the slivered onion, bacon or tofu, and croutons. Garnish with chives or parsley and enjoy immediately.
Tex-wasabi Koi Fish Tacos
Ingredients: 1 lime, juiced 1 tbsp tequila 1 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp salt 1 tsp black pepper 12 ounces cod or firm white fish, cut in 1-inch pieces 16 (8-inch) corn tortillas Canola oil 4 oz tempura flour 8 oz prepared tempura batter made with cold water 6 oz panko bread crumbs 1 cup shredded white cabbage 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage 3 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves 1/4 cup very thinly sliced red onion
In medium bowl, combine lime juice, tequila, cumin, salt, and pepper; mix thoroughly. Add the fish and toss to coat. Marinate for 10 minutes.
Warm tortillas on grill or pan. Cover with a towel to keep warm.
In a medium Dutch oven, heat the canola oil to 350 degrees F.
Remove fish from marinade, shake off excess, dredge in tempura flour, and dunk in cold tempura mixed batter. Roll in panko bread crumbs, pressing panko onto fish. One by one add fish to oil, making sure to keep the fish pieces separated. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Mix cabbage, cilantro and onion. Stack 2 tortillas; place 1/8th of fish on top of each, and top with cabbage mixture, Pico de Gallo, and Tequila Lime Aioli. Serve immediately.
Pico de Gallo
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 red onion, minced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 lime, juiced
Salt and pepper
In a bowl, mix all ingredients, season with salt and pepper and refrigerate for 1 hour for flavors to meld.
Tequila Lime Aioli
3 tbsp premium tequila
1 lime, juiced
8 oz sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp minced cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper
In small bowl, combine all ingredients and chill for 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 (8-ounce) block dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
Place the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer; cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla and eggs. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and continue to mix until a smooth batter forms. Turn off the mixer and fold in the chocolate chunks using the spatula.
To form the cookies, scoop about 1/4 cup of cookie dough into your hands and roll it around into a ball; place them about 3-inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets; you should get about 4 cookies on each pan. Press down the tops of the dough slightly and bake until the cookies are light brown, 12 minutes for chewy cookies, or about 15 minutes for crispy cookies.
Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.