Enter the Chicago Tribune’s latest cookbook: “Summer Cooking: Kitchen-Tested Recipes for Picnics, Patios, Grilling and More.” The compilation of more than 100 recipes was collected from the Chicago Tribune’s archives. All tested in the Tribune’s test kitchen, the recipes include everything for summer entertaining: cocktails, appetizers, quick salads, grilled entrees, plenty of sides and desserts. The hardcover book, published by Evanston-based Agate Surrey, is $24.95, wherever cookbooks are sold and also at http://store.chicagotribune.com.
To celebrate the waning days of summer, try Baja fish tacos from Chicago freelance food writer Lisa Futterman. Her recipe combines everything that’s great about a fish taco: crisply fried fish, tangy fresh salsa and crunchy slaw, all packed into warm corn tortillas. Prefer not to deep-fry? You can just as easily grill or pan-fry the fish.
BAJA FISH TACOS
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup beer (Mexican lager is most authentic)
Oil for frying
1 pound firm-fleshed fish fillets like cod or halibut, cut into thick strips or cubes
Salsa fresca, see recipe
Creamy slaw, see recipe
1 dozen corn tortillas, warmed
4 limes, cut into wedges
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1. Combine flour, cornmeal, salt and cayenne in a large mixing bowl. Stir in beer until smooth.
2. Heat 2-3 inches of oil in a cast-iron skillet to 375 degrees. Dip each piece of fish in beer batter; add to oil, being careful to avoid crowding. Fry until golden, turning if necessary. Remove from oil; transfer to a tray lined with paper towels. Season lightly with salt; serve at once with salsa, slaw, warm tortillas and lime.
Makes 4 servings, each with 454 calories, 17 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 43 mg cholesterol, 51 g carbohydrates, 24 g protein, 530 mg sodium, 5 g fiber.
Salsa fresca: Choose a traditional pico de gallo by using fresh tomatoes, or go loco by adding fresh fruit or vegetables.
Combine 2 cups chopped ripe tomatoes or 2 cups any combination of chopped tomatillos, pineapple, mango, jicama, melon, berries, corn and/or cucumber in a bowl with 1/2 small red onion, chopped; 1 jalapeno, minced; 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice; 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Allow to sit 30-60 minutes refrigerated before serving.
Creamy cabbage slaw: By adding the traditional creamy dressing directly to the slaw, you make taco assembly less messy.
Combine in a large bowl 1 head green or red cabbage, shredded; 1/4 cup green onions, sliced; 1/4 cup cider vinegar; 1 teaspoon salt; 1 cup mayonnaise; 1 cup sour cream, yogurt or creme fraiche; 1 tablespoon chopped chipotles in adobo, optional.
The slaw is best when allowed to sit overnight in the fridge to soften the cabbage, but it can be served right away.