ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Jalapeño Cocktail Hour

IMG_1913.jpg

Yesterday, I posted photos of an epic grocery trip here in Los Angeles where my friend Malibu Judie and I procured thirty-three pounds of fresh produce and two pounds of shrimp to be cooked over the course of the weekend. Well, on Saturday of this past weekend, we put many of those purchases to use as the two of us, as well as B-Side Blog regulars jash and Sly, convened in my kitchen to create Jalapeño Cocktail Hour. Over the course of a few hours, we managed to churn out several delicious items: jalapeño cornbread, jalapeño poppers, a shrimp and jalapeño salad, jalapeño-cucumber margaritas (with a candied jalapeño garnish), and a shrimp and jalapeño ceviche, adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless. Needless to say, we had our work cut out for ourselves. This would be apartment cooking at its best.
A lengthy culinary journey after the jump…

DSC07509.jpg
Saturday morning, I head over to jash’s apartment to start the juicing process. Note the presence of breakfast libations.

DSC07514.jpg
We peel the limes down to glistening orbs of green citrus. The juicer, it turns out, does not like rinds.

DSC07520.jpg
With forty limes ready to go, jash prepares for mass pulverizing.

DSC07522.jpg
If I could, I would score this moment with the seminal triumphant anthem, “Let The River Run” by Carly Simon.

DSC07526.jpg
Lime juice gushes into the container like the river wild.

DSC07528.jpg
Within seconds, we have nearly four cups of lime juice.

DSC07529.jpg
Make that eight cups.

DSC07531.jpg
I cannot resist the urge to pose with our citrus bounty.

DSC07536.jpg
Oodles of leftover pulp.

DSC07538.jpg
Back at my kitchen, it’s time to kick it into high gear. There’s a pan for cornbread, a sheet for roasting shrimp, and a pot for boiling even more shrimp.

DSC07539.jpg
Things get off to an inauspicious start when Malibu Judie manages to send a large number of condiments to the ground in a frenzy of bumbling and gravity. It would become a theme for the weekend.

DSC07540.jpg
Malibu Judie then fecklessly plops the shrimp down into the sink, sanitary standards be damned.

DSC07542.jpg
I then don an apron (temporarily leant to me, courtesy of jash). Time to get down to business.

DSC07543.jpg
Malibu Judie starts chopping up many, many jalapeños. Her fingers would later burn from the oils. Serves her right.

DSC07544.jpg
I assemble the dry ingredients for the cornbread into this bowl. It’s usual stuff: cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder. I mean, what sort of IDIOT could mess that up?

DSC07545.jpg
In an effort to up the tastiness of the cornbread, we shave off kernels from farmer’s market corn. And then, of course, there are the jalapeños, diced and ready for action.

DSC07546.jpg
Mixed with some eggs and milk, the ingredients all come together as a happy family of batter.

DSC07548.jpg
Into the oven it goes. Dish #1 is well on its way. (Also note the sheet pan below. It’s covered in half of the shrimp, which are roasting away in salt, pepper, and olive oil)

DSC07550.jpg
The other half of the shrimp, meanwhile, is about to get the Rick Bayless treatment.

DSC07551.jpg
Into the cauldron of boiling water they go. For the record, my lil’ kitchen now has three dishes simultaneously cooking away. Malibu Judie and I toast to our Toyota-like efficiency.

DSC07553.jpg
The many joys of shrimp turning orange.

DSC07556.jpg
Malibu Judie then attempts to take on the jicama (a ceviche ingredient). It’s one of the scariest endeavors I’ve ever seen, and quite frankly, it’s a miracle she didn’t lose a digit or two in the process. Needless to say, I have to intercede.

DSC07558.jpg
My sure hands are able to slice away a sizable chunk for imminent dicing. I surprise myself sometimes with my sheer talent.

IMG_1770.jpg
I then show off my knife skillz by performing a quick dice. Moments later, however, we decide that the dice is entirely too large. I FLEW TOO CLOSE TO THE SUN!

IMG_1771.jpg
I take a breather from the jicama olympics to tend to the shrimp, which have been poached and then steamed in a pot.

IMG_1772.jpg
Macro shot!

IMG_1775.jpg
Malibu Judie, meanwhile, goes straight for the boxed wine.

IMG_1776.jpg
Our two sets of shrimp. Top are poached/steamed. Bottom are roasted. The roasted ones had this amazingly rich, orange color. It was all we could do to not reach into the bowl and start eating.

IMG_1778.jpg
Vibrant frutti de mare!

IMG_1781.jpg
Now that the shrimp are done, it’s time to start working on (or rather, continue working on) the various veggies that will go into the salad and the ceviche. Malibu Judie attacks the cucumbers.

IMG_1799.jpg
Lovely dices all around.

IMG_1785.jpg
I fiddle with the kitchen timer. All seems to be moving along quite well. Again, Toyota efficiency.

IMG_1788.jpg
Nothing could possibly go wrong…

DSC07561.jpg
DISASTER!!!

IMG_1801.jpg
While I was assembling the shrimp salad, I suddenly heard a loud bang, followed by a thud, and then gasps. I looked down to see that Malibu Judie had managed to DROP a bowl, which subsequently had shattered on my hard, faux-tiled floor.

IMG_1803.jpg
Consider our Toyota efficiency shattered, much like this bowl.

IMG_1806.jpg
Malibu Judie reaches for help, but like anyone’s gonna touch HER after all the bad luck she’s brought about so far.

IMG_1809.jpg
We then pause operations so I can go in and clean up with my suction-free vacuum. Dyson it is not.

IMG_1815.jpg
Once the kitchen has been deemed safe for human foot traffic, we return to our posts and get back to work. I pull the cornbread out of the oven, and it looks marvelous, if I do say so myself. We were sure to place a solitary jalapeño slice in the center in honor of IndianJones.

IMG_1816.jpg
In turn, we grew somewhat obsessed with the slice of jalapeño. It was like IndianJones was RIGHT THERE with us.

DSC07564.jpg
Further calamities! While we were still reeling from the great Bowl Mishap of 2009, Malibu Judie then managed to drop half an ONION onto the floor below. She tried to blame part of the incident on jash, but her prior record as a serial DROPPER would seem to indicate otherwise.

DSC07567.jpg
Now that the shrimp have cooled down, it’s time to peel and devein. I, of course, can’t help but play with the seafood for a moment.

DSC07574.jpg
An interspecies romantic moment.

DSC07580.jpg
Mwahahaha — I shall now decapitate my crustacean lovah!

DSC07581.jpg
In an effort to recreate the French Revolution, I intend to drop the knife like a guillotine on this shrimp, who I shall now call Marie Shrimptoinette.

DSC07582.jpg
But then I take pity on the shrimp and opt to merely yank its head off with my bare fingers instead.

DSC07583.jpg
The experience is halted momentarily after the first few tugs reveal a green, mushy substance that leaks out from the shrimp’s head.

DSC07584.jpg
Ultimately though, I prevail.

DSC07585.jpg
And in walks Sly.

IMG_1828.jpg
While Sly sits in the corner and chomps on leftover jicama, I dice up the peeled and deveined shrimp, tossing it into the salad mixture (which is basically mayo, cilantro, red onion, cucumber, mango, lime juice, and, of course, jalapeños).

IMG_1845.jpg
While I tend to the salad, jash continues peeling and deveining the shrimp for the ceviche.

IMG_1849.jpg
It’s a full kitchen. Disregard the creepy blur patterns on jash and Malibu Judie’s faces.

IMG_1853.jpg
Here we all are smiling. Although, you’ll have to take my word for it.

IMG_1864.jpg
Prep for the ceviche.

IMG_1859.jpg
Eventually, we realized we had a ton of shrimp heads and shells leftover. What to do?

DSC07587.jpg
Shrimp stock! We tossed all the shells, some celery, some bay leaves, some water, some peppercorns, and some thyme into a pot and let it simmer for hours. And where did we find the thyme?

IMG_1869.jpg
Why, it was in my balcony herb garden!

IMG_1872.jpg
Three cheers for sustainability! (And me not killing my herbs!)

IMG_1867.jpg
Sly, meanwhile, goes traipsing around my apartment in search of knickknacks to artistically photograph. Here’s one of them.

IMG_1876.jpg
Speaking of artistry, jash bought a ($12!!!) box of jalapeño poppers, also in honor of IndianJones (it’s his taste level). It sort of went against the whole “fresh ingredients” concept of the day, but, well, that’s just what happens sometimes.

IMG_1878.jpg
With the ceviche marinating and the salad chilling, we get a little goofy with the cornbread.

IMG_1879.jpg
Once again, the IndianJones pepper is the subject of much attention and adoration.

IMG_1880.jpg
An action shot of me expanding my glorious Ikea table. Food, it would seem, is en route.

IMG_1886.jpg
Sly once again indulges her passion for foot-themed photos.

IMG_1888.jpg
So far, everything in the kitchen seems to be doing well. The fish stock smells absolutely amazing, I should note.

IMG_1890.jpg
And yet another shot of the IndianJones pepper.

IMG_1892.jpg
Jash checks on the poppers. They are cooking up shockingly well.

IMG_1895.jpg
With everything more or less done, it’s time to get cracking on the most important part of the day: THE DRINKS. Here I am slicing jalapeños (too thickly) for a garnish.

IMG_1901.jpg
But these aren’t just any jalapeños. These are to be candied jalapeños — recipe courtesy of Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger (a.k.a. the Two Hot Tamales)

IMG_1903.jpg
Basically, I just boiled the slices in a cup of water and half a cup of sugar for five or seven minutes.

DSC07590.jpg
While the jalapeños rest, Sly gets to work making the margaritas. Specifically, these are jalapeño-cucumber margaritas, courtesy of La Dolce Vita

IMG_1904.jpg
Sly muddles with vim and vigor.

IMG_1909.jpg
Poppers are ready. It’s almost showtime.

DSC07592.jpg
Ceviche is a go!

DSC07600.jpg
And voila! Cocktail hour begins!

DSC07599.jpg
Of course, nothing happens until the obligatory swarm of food paparazzi have finished attacking the table.

IMG_1914.jpg
Our tasty libations lie in wait.

IMG_1917.jpg
The shrimp salad proved to be dynamite. We were only sad that it yielded so little.

IMG_1921.jpg
And don’t get me started on Rick Bayless’s ceviche, which proved to be truly out of this world.

IMG_1925.jpg
Cheers to a job well done.

DSC07604.jpg
Did I mention how spicy everything was?

DSC07605.jpg
In a stunning show of bravado, absolutely none of the jalapeños were seeded for Jalapeño Cocktail Hour, thus creating quite the visceral reaction for all assembled.

DSC07607.jpg
And yes, that is a sheen of sweat developing all over my face.

DSC07606.jpg
The worst part of all this was that we kept reaching for our margaritas to cool us down, but those turned out to be the spiciest of all (what with all those dangerous oils muddled so generously by Sly).

DSC07611.jpg
Midway through the cocktail hour (which extended way longer than just a mere hour), shrieks and screams were heard as jash callously stabbed the IndianJones pepper RIGHT THROUGH ITS METAPHORICAL HEART!

DSC07613.jpg
Awkward silence ensued. Then laughter. And then more sweating.

DSC07615.jpg
In the end, we pretty much demolished everything.

DSC07617.jpg
And you can be sure I was in no rush to do these dishes.

DSC07618.jpg
Oh yeah. The fish stock turned out well too.

DSC07619.jpg
Packed up and ready for the freezer.

IMG_1941.jpg
Here’s me wistfully reminiscing on the cocktail hour that was. Good times, America. Good times.

Overall, the cocktail hour turned out perfectly — scalded taste buds be damned. Everything tasted amazing (even the store-bought poppers), but the real star was the ceviche. Can’t recommend it highly enough. For those who want the recipes, here are links:
Cornbread by Mark Bittman
Jalapeño-Cucumber Margaritas by La Dolce Vita
Candied Jalapeños by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger
Shrimp Salad (adapted from Lobster Salad Canapes) at Epicurious
Ceviche de Camaron: Shrimp Ceviche “Cocktail” by Rick Bayless

Share on TumblrEmail This Post Share

4 thoughts on “ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Jalapeño Cocktail Hour

  1. Nice!
    Does your shirt say Run Ronnie Run? And is it in reference to the Weasel/Rat Ronnie?
    If so: Nicer!!

Comments are closed.