Shark’s Tooth Salad AND 2-Headed Soup

March 22, 2012

The other day, I shared my recipe for watermelon gazpacho, which I renamed “chum” because I made a big vat of it for an event themed around a wonderfully terrible shark movie called “2-Headed Shark Attack.” Click here for that recipe. I made two other dishes for the same event, and I thought I’d share them in this post.

Dish #1: Shark’s Tooth Salad. I never ever thought I’d be saying this, but this recipe is actually based on a recipe by Paula Deen! And it doesn’t even start with two sticks of butter! Paula Deen doesn’t get a free pass, though – like every recipe I use, I modified it. I kept the core ingredients: spinach, sliced strawberries, a few walnuts that I toasted in a pan before adding. Instead of simply draining and chopping the hearts of palm, I sorted out the bigger pieces, and carefully cut them into triangles, creating the shark’s teeth in the recipe’s title:

One big round piece yielded two shark teeth, and the bits and pieces that were cut away I saved for another occasion – only the teeth went in the salad. Is it lame to cut hearts of palm into shapes? Probably. But I don’t care.

I also upped the tropical nature of the salad by adding a couple of mangoes that I chopped up.

Paula’s dressing was made on the stove, and I didn’t have time for such nonsense, so I used the same basic ingredients and completely made up everything else.

I started with the juice of three lemons, and added a few tablespoons of basil-infused olive oil, a few tablespoons of honey to balance out the sour, and pinches of poppy seeds, dry mustard, and paprika.

The dressing wasn’t great. Too much lemon. It wasn’t inedible, but I suggest you do what I didn’t do, and actually follow a recipe or just use dressing from a bottle. But the salad, as a whole, was fantastic. And beautiful – check this out!

Dish #2: 2-Headed Soup. I suppose the full title of this recipe would be called “2-Headed Roasted Broccoli and Orange Cauliflower Soup” but that seems a little unwieldy, so the shortened version will have to do.

My original intention was to make this recipe in the crockpot, but I didn’t get moving that day until a little later than expected, and the crockpot wouldn’t have had all the time it needed to work its magic. Plus, I thought that roasting the vegetables would create a bigger depth of flavor, and you know what? I was right.

Even though I didn’t use a crockpot, I did base my recipe off this crockpot recipe, which I liked because it was pretty healthy for a cream-based soup. I ended up doubling the recipe. The first thing I did was roast the veggies. On a big sheet pan, I laid out 2 (small) heads of broccoli and one big orange cauliflower, cut into florets:

If you haven’t put two and two together, I did 2 small heads of broccoli in honor of “2-Headed Shark Attack.” Not familiar with orange cauliflower? It’s beautiful (read more about it here):

And, since I was in a roasting mood, I also roasted two whole heads of garlic – this soup seemed like something that would taste better with garlic. I cut the tops of the garlic heads, and put them in a small dish:

After about a half hour at 425 degrees, they look like this:

Once they cool a little bit, you can just sorta squeeze the cooked cloves out of the paper skins. The broccoli and cauliflower don’t take nearly as long – only 10-12 minutes until they were tender and starting to turn brown, at the same time as the garlic. I forgot to take a picture when they came out.

While the veggies were roasting away, I diced two white onions, and started them sweating in my Dutch oven, with two tablespoons of butter (Earth Balance, actually).

After about 8 or 10 minutes, I added 10 tablespoons of flour and 1/2 a cup of half and half, and shortly thereafter, 6 cups of skim milk. I got that up to a simmer, and, once they came out of the oven, I added all the broccoli, cauliflower, and garlic. I let it sit for about 30 minutes, letting all the flavors marry, as they say, and then went to town with an immersion blender until it was all pureed and creamy. I ended up adding one more cup of skim milk to thin it out a little bit (the recipe calls for adding water, but that seems so boring).

The soup was served with garlic toasts (store-bought, not home-made), and It. Was. Delicious!

Keep it up, David!


March 20, 2012

I did a lot of cooking over the weekend for an event on Sunday night. The event was built around watching a wonderfully terrible straight-to-DVD film called “2-Headed Shark Attack,” which is very appropriately named, because it’s about a 2-headed shark that attacks. Luckily for the shark, there just happens to be a boat full of muscular, big-tittied, dumb college kids that end up becoming a delicious 15-course meal. The movie stars Carmen Electra as some sort of doctor with a fondness for posing while tanning (I may have missed what kind of doctor she is, but other people call her ‘Doctor’ and at one point she’s holding a first aid kit), Brooke Hogan as a plucky student who is adept at engine repair and underwater welding, and Charlie O’Connell as the boat captain and professor of the semester-at-sea program the kids are all enrolled in.

This blog isn’t about movie reviews, but I will say that “2-Headed Shark Attack” is silly, stupid fun. I definitely had a good time watching it, and it was definitely worth the $1.31 that was spent renting it at Redbox. Don’t expect any Oscar nominations – instead, expect plenty of unintentional laughs because the writing is atrocious, the acting is hysterical, and the movie is full of mistakes (including severed limbs that reappear, a shark that conveniently changes size depending on where it’s attacking, and my personal favorite: fake shark teeth that are clearly made of foam, because they bend).

Back to the food. I did the cooking for the evening’s festivities, and I decided I would theme all the food around the aforementioned cinematic masterpiece. I made three dishes, the first of which I’ll share today (I’ll share the other two later in the week). I decided on a relatively simple, healthy menu: soup and salad. I actually made two soups, one hot and one cold. For the cold soup, I made a gazpacho, and, in honor of “2-Headed Shark Attack,” I renamed it chum.

I based my gazpacho on this watermelon gazpacho recipe by Food Network hottie Tyler Florence, but I modified it, like I always do. The first modification was to quadruple the recipe. First ingredient: 8 cups of watermelon.

After disassembling a mini seedless watermelon, I discovered that the entire watermelon yielded slightly more than 8 cups – it was around 9 and a half – so I just used it all. What the hell.

Before I go further, I should say that everything ends up getting pureed in a blender, but since I quadrupled the recipe, I had to blend it in batches, and then mix it together in a big pot. And since I wanted the chum to have some texture, I reserved about a cup of each of the main ingredients (watermelon, tomato, cucumber, and a little red onion), chopped them finely, and added them to the pot without blending them.

So, after cubing a watermelon, I rough chopped 4 large tomatoes, and then got out two serrano peppers.

Serranos have a good amount of heat, but like most hot peppers, most of it is in the ribs and seeds, so I removed those. I also minced the serranos pretty finely – I trust my blender and all, but I wanted to be certain that no one got a big hunk of serrano in their soup.

Next up was de-seeding and chopping two cucumbers (you de-seed them by chopping them in half the long way and using a spoon to scrape the seeds out of the centers), and chopping 1/2 a red onion.

Then I started blending. My blender works best when there’s some liquid in there, so I added the wet ingredients to the first batch. Quadrupling Tyler’s recipe means you’re supposed to add a full cup of olive oil… NOPE. I’m not adding a full cup of oil to anything if I can help it! I ended up adding a little less than 1/4 of a cup, and compensated by adding more red wine vinegar (5 tablespoons instead of 4 teaspoons).

Once I had the first batch blended into a liquid, I transferred it to the pot, but I left about a cup of the liquid in the blender, to help get the next batch started. I did this until everything was blended (which required 4 or 5 batches). I also added, in one of the latter batches, a few handfuls of fresh dill.

After it was all blended and in the pot, I added the finely chopped ingredients I had reserved earlier, and stirred it all up. Looks very chummy!

I served it with two garnishes: crumbled cheese (Tyler suggests feta, but I used a crumbled goat cheese), and some ceviche-style crab (I finely minced up a package of imitation crab – homeboy can’t afford the real stuff – and marinated it in fresh lime juice). I wanted to mix the crab into the gazpacho, but I knew there’d be some vegetarians and vegans at this event, so I left it as a add-in garnish. The chum, by the way, is vegan if eaten garnish-free. The end result:

The chum was delicious. The watermelon added some sweetness but it wasn’t overwhelming, and the sweetness was balanced out by the heat of the serranos. It was rich and packed with flavor, and, best of all, it was pretty easy to put together – unless you don’t like chopping.

Coming later this week: my Shark’s Tooth Salad and my 2-Headed Roasted Broccoli Soup!

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: I’m now less than two weeks away from the Fight for Air Climb 2012! After upping my fundraising goal multiple times (from $100 to $200 to $500 to $600), I recently upped it one final time – to $630, which is $10 for every floor in the 63-story Aon Center. CLICK HERE to learn more about my skyscraper climb, including the link for donating – Thanks to a bunch of generous readers and friends, I’m now only $30 from reaching my goal!