Mrs. Geek and I had our first dinner party as a married couple on Sunday. We had her colleague M. and her boyfriend S. over for dinner. I had originally suggested fajitas (since I make a pretty good chicken fajita,) Mrs. Geek added on the option of chicken or fish. Because M. and S. lean toward being vegetarians, they opted for fish… and fish fajitas it was.
So, the question was, how does one make fish fajitas? Well, I looked around for some recipes for fish tacos online and that gave me a few ideas. What I ultimately did, however, was something more along the lines of a “blackened snapper fajita”. I modified a recipe I used in the past for cajun-style blackened snapper by adding some spices more endemic to Mexican cooking to the rub for the fish. I then cooked the fish over lower heat than I would for the cajun fish, in part to avoid having the noxious vapors from the spices render the apartment uninhabitable. I combined this with a little tequila to make a sauce, and some sauteed onions and red and green bell pepper. Throw that with a little cheese, salsa, and shredded cabbage on a warm tortilla, and voila! Blackened snapper fajitas.
I also had a lot of fun with the Cuisinart food processor we got a while back. We got some spice packets at an art and wine festival a few weeks ago that make some oh-so-tasty dip after being mixed with mayonnaise and sour cream. Not being a huge fan of mayonnaise, I thought I might have a better shot with the dip if I made the mayo myself.
This turns out to be surprisingly easy with a food processor. Cuisinart used to include a mayo recipe in the cookbook they sent with the unit when my parents got one in the 80’s, but no more. We live in the health conscious age of Y2K, and I guess that the Atkins people haven’t gotten around to pressuring Cuisinart into re-introducing it yet. No matter, the Web came to the rescue… and I made my own mayo.
I also got a chance to make my own salsa for the fajitas. I used a combination of recipes, mostly relying on the one from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse(a book I highly recommend) which used roasted chiles and roasted roma tomatoes. The Dinosaur recipe called for jalapeno peppers, but alas, my favorite local supermarket was out of them… so I substituted some roasted anaheims and roasted habaneros instead. I foolishly skinned these roasted peppers without benefit of latex gloves and somehow managed to live to tell the tale… (oh to tug on the dragon’s tail.) I combined these with the roasted tomatos, fresh garlic, red onion, green onions, lime and salt and somehow came up with a pretty tasty concoction. I will have to experiment more with this…. my friend H. used to make AWESOME salsa. I need to reproduce that, or come close.
In any case, M. and S. loved pretty much everything and plates were cleared and almost licked clean. Our first dinner party was a success! I’m really liking the ability to experiment more in the kitchen again.
Does anyone know any good Mexican-style cookbooks? Friends are big fans of Rick Bayless… and Amazon is pretty big on Dianna Kennedy too. Are there any other “must have” guides to Mexican cuisine out there?