Saturday, March 04, 2006

Of Colanders and Cans (or The Way We Cook Now)

Well. The few people who might notice this sort of thing will likely have noticed a paucity of posts of late, and if you're a sufficiently regular reader to recogize post paucity, then you probably know why the frequency is down, and the less I say about that the better.

Yesterday evening, which you will note was a Friday evening, I decided to be a full-on slacker and leave the office at 6:45. I know! And I hadn't even gotten into the office that morning until 7:30! I am pretty sure that I heard audible gasps when the cubicle dwellers saw me leave my office, though, of course, that could have been the reaction of a staff person looking through a client's materials and marveling at the audacity of someone who wants to take his goldfish Herbert as a dependent and wrote "applied for" as Herbert's social security number. Oh no you didn't! (For future reference, if you can get the SSA to issue Herbie a number, I still won't let you take him as a dependent, but I can refer you to someone who will.)

Anyway, when I got out of the office last night, I went directly to the grocery store to pick up supplies to cook something. By that time, I would have been happy to cook almost anything, but as it happened I had something relatively specific in mind. Two things, in fact, both of which are Redfox-inspired recipes. They are not Redfox recipes per se insofar as I can be bothered neither to follow a specific recipe nor to actually look one up on her site, except maybe for the preserved lemon recipe, and I've already made that and have a few pints in the pantry. But when I read a recipe on her blog (or, for that matter, on the blog of any of her ancestors or descendants; we accountants call that "constructive ownership"), I get a sense of the ideal that underlies the recipe, and then I interpret that same ideal in my own way. If I were a student of philosophy, I would now probably digress into Plato, but I'm not, and in any case, if we're all just eating shadows projected on a cave, they're certainly tasty shadows. (Yes, I know it's a terribly awkward metaphor, but you try to do better. While you're at it, try to come up with the culinary equivalent for "through a glass darkly." "For now, we eat through a sieve darkly, but then ...." Not so easy, is it?)

Anyway, the first of the recipes that I wanted to try was one that, if memory serves, Redfox adapted from Rachel Ray. I couldn't remember much more than that it was a salad that included beans and corn and that Redfox thought that while she had cooked her own beans and used Trader Joe's frozen roasted corn, she thought that you could certainly get away with canned beans and ordinary frozen corn. As it happened, I knew that there was a bag of TJ's roasted corn in my freezer, so I just needed some canned beans. And whatever else I was going to throw into the salad.

For reasons that I cannot begin to understand, I decided that I'd dress the salad with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette. It then occurred to me that I could find numerous other uses for the same vinaigrette, so I got four limes, thinking that they would give me close to a cup of juice. Alas, the limes were hard and cranky, and the four of them together gave me barely half a cup of juice, even with a lot of the pulp left in and even after ten seconds in the microwave and even with my very efficient citrus reamer. So I had to augment with vinegar, which was probably a good thing in that it keeps me from yet another embarrassingly long digression about vinegar-free vinaigrettes.

I made just about a quart of the vinaigrette, on the theory that I'll have many other uses for it. You can pretty easily halve or quarter the recipe, however. If you make the full quart, you will feel like you are adding an awful lot of olive oil. And you are, but it will be entirely too tangy if you don't and very, very good if you do.

Embrace the greenness.Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 t. dijon mustard
fresh cilantro
3 cups olive oil

Put the first four ingredients in the blender. Blend. Put in half a cup or so of cilantro and a generous pinch of salt followed by a generous grind of pepper. Blend again. With the blender running, add most of the oil in a thin stream. Taste. Remark at how tangy it is. With the blender running, add the rest of the oil. Taste again. Add more salt, pepper, cilantro, and oil as needed.

If you're unsure about the garlic, you can start with one or two cloves before accepting that more garlic is better. Unless you really don't like garlic at all, in which case, this is not the recipe for you. Please accept my condolences.

I wanted a bean salad that was almost embarrassingly easy to make, and that's what I got. You could easily omit the chopped tomato from this salad if you wanted to take laziness to the next level. I bought both some plum tomatoes and some red bell peppers at the market, and at the last minute I decided to go with the tomatoes, but you could just as easily go with diced red peppers. Or diced green peppers, which you can also buy frozen. You could also add all sorts of other ingredients to this salad, but that would sort of be missing the point.

Three little cans of beans are we.You will want to choose beans that you like, of course, and if you can get a variety of sizes and colors, so much the better. If I go to the right supermarket, I have a lot of choices, and it was a close call, but this line-up seemed like a good idea at the time. I feel that I have given this dish the appropriate name, but if you want something a little more marketable, you can certainly be a rebel and call it "Three Bean Salad," which will (amusingly or sadly, depending on your point of view) bring people nearly to the point of apoplexy as they stammer "Where the hell are my yellow wax beans? Where the hell is my sweet vinegar dressing?" To which you may respond, with equal volume, either "Where the hell are my K-1s?" (if you're a harassed tax accountant) or "Where the hell is my chiffon?" (if you're an overly expressive Project Runway contestant; yeah, yeah, I know: gay man who watches Project Runway, oh how stereotypical. Cut me some slack here, people; I have never once watched more than a few minutes of American Idol or even a second of America's Next Overpriced Model; I'm entitled to my guilty pleasures. Go Chloe!)

Canned Salad

3 cans beans
Frozen corn
Cilantro lime vinaigrette
2 plum tomatoes, diced.

Open the cans. Dump them into a colander. Rinse the beans well. Drain them well. Take one of the cans and fill it with frozen corn. Put the drained beans and the frozen corn in a bowl. Add as much vinaigrette as you like. Toss. Add the tomatoes. Toss again.

No, seriously. That's all there is to it. And it's delicious. Take it to your next potluck. Pretend there are secret ingredients that you're not at liberty to discuss. Laugh to yourself as people marvel over your ingenuity. Be kind to your accountant.


Anonymous lindy said...

Glad to see you coming up for a little air.

Cilantro and lime is (are?) one of those magical combos that just sing. That vinagrette would be awfully good on some shrimps, no?

Salad sounds great. How about some chopped red onion or scallion in there too?

I'm not sure, but I think my cats list me as their dependent-I've told them they are on thin ice, but they don't seem worried.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Sangroncito said...

I've tried so hard but I still associate the taste of cilantro with perfumed soap.....

1:20 PM  

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