How time flies! The weekend before last, our friend Alisa hosted another Paris Pot Luck Dinner for the anglophone foodies here in Paris. This time, we had a theme to work around: Mexican food. There were a lot of messages zipping over the Internet about places to find authentic Mexican ingredients and all the enthusiasm and research led to a fantastic meal.
That was over a week ago. Clotilde, of Chocolate & Zucchini has already posted the recipe for her dish: sinfully delicious Chocolate Chili Bites. And Pascale of C'est moi qui l'ai fait fame has also posted her recipe, for a refreshing Tarte au Citron Vert. Of the bloggers who attended this great event, there remains only yours truly who has not shared her recipe(s) with the Great Blogging World. And so, I humbly present you with a delicious vegetable side dish from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless, owner of the Frontera Grill in Chicago.
I was grateful to Alisa for indicating that no one else was bringing a vegetable dish, because it narrowed down the choices from Rick Bayless' book. For several weeks I would pick up the book, flick through it, and decided that everything looked good enough to try...and decide to decide later what to bring. The section on vegetable side dishes in the cookbook was blessedly short. (Mr. Bayless explains that traditional Mexican food doesn't divide meals into meat and vegetable courses the way that European ones do, and that vegetables are more commonly just included as an integral part of the main dish.) This recipe appealed to me not only on the mix of ingredients I love, but also in the fact that it didn't require any special trips to the Mexican food store.
As it turned out, I don't think I could have chosen better: the cream and zucchini combination gave the dish a silky texture that was delightful, the sweet corn and cream gave a sweet overtone and the slivers of hot pepper added an extra spicy note that finished the dish perfectly. I will be keeping this recipe as a regular for our meals as I love zucchini and rarely come across a new and interesting way to prepare it!
Calabacitas con Crema
(Zucchini with Cream)
by Rick and Deann Bayless
1 lb (about four small) zucchini
kernals from one ear of corn (about a cup)
1/2 an onion, thinly sliced
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 poblano pepper, roasted, seeded, peeled and cut in thin strips
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs vegetable oil (I used olive)
Rick recommends chopping the zucchini in one inch (2.5 cm) cubes and salting it, leaving it to drain for half an hour before proceeding. Rinse and pat dry the zucchini and quickly fry it in the butter and oil until tender. I doubled this recipe for the dinner and had to fry the zucchini in at least four batches - this will of course depend on the size of your frying pan. Remove the zucchini from the pan with a slotted spoon, allowing it to drain well. In the remaining oil and butter, fry the onion slices until soft and sweet, then add the corn and pepper slices. Add the zucchini and cream and cook until nice and hot. (Since my recipe was doubled and was being transported across Paris, I mixed everything in a large bown and reheated at Alisa's.) Taste for salt and pepper and serve.
It's that simple. The mixture of cream and sweet and hot worked extremely well, each bite giving you several tastes in succession. Not only that, but it's the kind of dish that only gets better over time, as the flavours have time to mingle and compliment one another. A perfect dish for a pot luck!
One last note: I'd like to give a great big thanks to Alisa for hosting this pot luck and giving me the chance to try out my Bayless book...and all the others who attended and brought such delicious food. We also sampled two fantastic varieties of enchiladas made by Alisa, a wonderul molé dish by Christoph and of course salsa, home-made tortilla chips (you have no idea how exotic and delightful it is to find those here!!)...it was an evening to remember.
One more last note: I also made another fantastic recipe from the Bayless repertoire, for caramel crêpes. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a photo of them so I've decided to wait to next time to write it up. There will most certainly be a next time, as they were the best crêpes I have ever made. MMMMMMmmmmmm.....