Food & Drink | February 2020

By Abby & Kevin Tankersley

Dinner for Two

The first Food & Drink column we wrote for the Wacoan was in the February 2015 issue, so it appears that we’ve been doing this for five years now. Here’s how the process works. We decide on a theme for the column — something based around a holiday or a local food event that’s going to take place within the next few weeks, or something that has happened recently — and then figure out a story to go along with that. We then create some recipes to accompany the story, prepare those dishes and do a photo shoot on a table on our front porch. For our first column, we wrote about chocolate and shared a recipe for a dessert called Love Mousse that I made for Abby the night we got engaged.

Though we’ve been writing the food column for five years, our history with the magazine goes back a bit further. My first story for the Wacoan appeared in the April 2007 issue. It was about the 10th anniversary edition of “InterCourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook,” written by Baylor graduates Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge. I believe when a Wacoan editor contacted Hopkins about the story, she suggested that I write it. I had met Lockridge and Hopkins when I wrote a story when “InterCourses” was initially published, in 1997. I was working for another publication, and I met the authors at Barry’s Coffee Co., one of the early independent coffee shops in Waco. It was at 414 Franklin Avenue, a building which now houses Truelove Bar. (An aside: When I was in college, an artist friend of mine lived on the second floor of that building. He rented about 5,000 square feet for $125 a month.)

I wrote that initial story about “InterCourses” and occasionally used recipes from it for the food column I was writing then and stayed in contact with Martha over the years.

“InterCourses” is not the only aphrodisiac cookbook out there. A search of an online bookseller reveals dozens of others, including the titles “Intimacy on the Plate,” by Olga Petrenko; “The Kama Sutra Kitchen,” by Ashley Apple; “Lust Have Recipes,” by C. Nzingha Smith; and “Seductive Cooking with Astrology,” by Beatrice E. Arquette.

The effectiveness of aphrodisiacs lies within the power of suggestion, research has shown. Science recognizes “the psychological lure of aphrodisiacs,” Greg and Beverly Frazier wrote in “Aphrodisiac Cookery Ancient & Modern,” which is from our cookbook library.

“Many psychologists maintain that aphrodisiacs will work if one believes they will work.”

And so while the foods themselves might lack any magic power, there’s still a link between what we eat and an intimate encounter with a partner.

From “The New InterCourses:” “Anyone who has ever fed a lover grapes knows that aphrodisiacs do exist. Anyone who has served an elaborate candlelit meal, painstakingly prepared with love, knows the potential power of food. We don’t need scientific proof to know that aphrodisiacs exist; we need only experience them for ourselves to know that they are, in fact, a very potent force at our disposal.”

The main dish recipe this month is Fish Tacos with Avocado Crema and Jicama Slaw. Seafood has been thought to contain aphrodisiacal properties since Aphrodite, the goddess of love, “rose from the sea on a scalloped shell,” according to “InterCourses.” The original recipe calls for cod or catfish; we used tilapia, which worked fine as well.

There are also recipes for an appetizer, dessert and cocktail. As a bonus, there’s a recipe for massage oil, a sort of “dessert after dessert” offering, if you will. It uses ingredients that aren’t usually associated with activities outside the kitchen: cinnamon sticks and crushed red pepper. Not only does this oil leave the skin nicely moisturized, it also gives off a bit of heat — or so we’ve heard.

The salsa, taco and torte recipes are reprinted, with permission, from “The New InterCourses.”

The Recipes

Salsa Oaxaqueño

  • 2 tomatoes, finely diced (or 1 can diced tomatoes)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato juice
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 small chipotle pepper in adobo, seeded and diced

Combine the tomatoes, onion, tomato juice, garlic, cilantro and lime juice in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in half the chipotle pepper. Taste, and add more pepper if desired. Chill, covered, for up to two days. Serve with tortilla chips or fresh corn tortillas.

Makes about 2 cups.
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Fish Tacos with Avocado Crema and Jicama Slaw

For the slaw:

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup shredded jicama
  • 3/4 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 tablespoons shredded red onion

For the crema:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Zest and juice of half a lime
  • Tabasco, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

For the tacos:

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 10 corn or corn-flour blend tortillas
  • 1 pound fresh fish, such as tilapia, cod or catfish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 drops Tabasco, or more to taste

To make the slaw, combine the mustard and lime juice in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified. Add the jicama, cabbage, carrot and onion. Toss to coat thoroughly and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the crema, combine all the ingredients in a tall bowl or glass and puree with an immersion blender. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the fish, set a large saucepan over medium-high heat and fill with enough oil to come halfway up the sides. Heat to 350 F.

Heat the oven to 200 F and place the tortillas in the oven to warm.

Cut the fish into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the beer, egg, flour and Tabasco to form a batter. Add the fish to the batter and coat well. Place the fish in the hot oil, one piece at a time, and fry for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown on all sides. Remove from the oil and place on paper towels to drain. Keep warm in the oven on a wire rack set on a baking sheet.

To assemble the tacos, place 2 or 3 pieces of fish on each tortilla and top with the slaw. Drizzle with the crema. Serve immediately.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.
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Chocolate Torte Dressed in Berries

  • 1 cup toasted almonds or pecans, finely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries or raspberries
  • 1/2 cup strawberry or raspberry preserves or jam
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped

Heat the oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, combine the almonds or pecans and cocoa powder. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Fold in the cocoa mixture and then the strawberries.

Thoroughly grease the bottom and sides of an 8- or 9-inch springform pan. Spoon the batter into the pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake completely. Remove from the pan and place on a serving plate. The cake is moist and fragile, so you might want to leave it on the base of the springform pan. Spread the preserves over the top of the cake.

In a small saucepan set over medium heat, bring the cream just to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Pour the chocolate over the top of the cake and let drizzle down the sides. Add a scoop of whipped cream and a whole or sliced strawberry, if desired.

Makes about 6 to 8 servings.
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Pomegranate Martini

  • 2 ounces vodka or gin
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 6 ounces pomegranate juice
  • Pomegranate seeds, for garnish (optional)
  • Thin slice of orange peel, for garnish (optional)

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the vodka or gin, Cointreau and pomegranate juice. Shake until thoroughly mixed. Strain into two martini glasses. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and orange peel, if desired.

Makes 2 drinks.
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Warming Massage Oil

  • 1/2 cup liquid coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, quartered
  • 4 drops ylang ylang essential oil

In a small saucepan set over low heat, combine coconut oil, red pepper, cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean. Heat until the oil becomes very hot, but do not let it boil.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the oil to cool for several hours. Using cheesecloth and a funnel, strain and pour the oil into a glass container.
Add the ylang ylang and shake gently to mix. Avoid using the massage oil on sensitive areas.

Makes about 1/2 cup oil.­­
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