Sunday, October 3, 2010

Don't mess with Texas (caviar)

The saying goes “everything is bigger in Texas,” including, it appears, the "caviar" created from the humble black-eyed pea in the vinaigrette-soaked relish known as “Texas caviar.” This dish was made popular in Texas by a chef and cookbook author named Helen Corbitt, who built Neiman-Marcus into a shopping mecca known as much for its food as its over-the-top gifts. I accent this snack with home-baked lime tortilla chips.

Texas Caviar

4 cups cooked black-eyed peas

1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped

1 small onion, cut into small dice

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced

Cilantro, handful, chopped, optional

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 tablespoons red wine vinegar

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1. In a medium size bowl, mix together peas, tomato, onion, bell pepper and cilantro, if using. In a separate bowl, stir together vinaigrette ingredients. Pour dressing over peas. Serve with tortilla chips.

 Baked Lime & Salt Tortilla Chips

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 teaspoon water

1 teaspoon kosher salt

10 fresh corn tortillas

1. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, water and salt. Brush both sides of the tortillas with mixture. Cut each tortilla into six pieces and spread in a single layer on two baking sheets.

2. Preheat oven to 350. Bake chips in oven for 10 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheets to ensure even crisping. Serve warm from the oven, with extra salt sprinkled just before serving.

  A primer on cooking dried black eyed peas:

1.      1.  Take one pound of dried black eyed peas and pour out on a baking sheet. Sort out any rocks and gnarly-looking peas, discarding the losers.

2.      2.  Pour the peas into a large bowl and cover with water. Let soak for up to an hour or overnight, changing the water several times.

3.      3.  Drain the peas and pour into a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes, or until peas are tender. The peas will foam up and to keep the peas pretty, you may want to skim the foam with a fine mesh skimmer that can be rinsed in a bowl of cold water. Salt the peas after they are tender, never before. 

M Mmmm, you're thinking, salty and savory, I sure could use a drink to go with this, well, here you go, a Fizzy Limonade that my girls invented this afternoon.

Fizzy Limonade

3 cups water

1 cup sugar

Grated zest of one lime

1 cup lime juice (about 6 Persian limes - not Key limes)

Club soda

Lime slices for garnish

1. In a small saucepan, make a simple syrup by combining sugar, water and lime zest. Bring just to a boil, stir to dissolve sugar, then remove from heat.

2. Set up a fine mesh strainer over a bowl filled with 2 cups of ice. Slowly pour lime-flavored syrup through the strainer. Discard the grated lime zest.

3. Stir the lime juice into the simple syrup mixture.

4. For individual servings, fill glasses 1/3 full with club soda, then to the top with limonade. Garnish with a thin slice of lime.

Text and images copyright 2010, Lucy Mercer.

1 comment:

Our Family Eats said...

I love Texas caviar - healthy and delicious! Wish my kids would eat it! The fizzy limonade looks wonderful too. Sounds like a match made in heaven!