Monthly Archives: November 2011

Chile (Mexican Salsa)

Don’t buy pre-packaged salsas! Make your own at home!

My family has been making this every week ever since I can remember. We call it Chile, not salsa, because “salsa” just means “sauce” in Spanish….Bechamel sauce? “Salsa de bechamel.” Tomato Sauce? “Salsa de tomate.” Chocolate Sauce? “Salsa de Chocolate”….you get the picture. If we don’t have chile in the fridge, its pure panic. We immediately run off to the store (or to our garden in the summer) and stock up on serrano chiles, anaheim chiles, tomatoes, and garlic. It’s great with tortilla chips, tacos (Thanksgiving leftovers? Make TURKEY TACOS!), tostadas, burritos, grilled chicken, spanish rice, eggs, ….anything really. Plus it’s SO easy and lasts about a week in the refrigerator (though I doubt that they’ll be any left by then). My college roommates used to plow through a batch within 24 hours. Oh yeah, it’s that good.

Chile (Mexican Salsa) 

2 large tomatoes

3 or 4 garlic cloves

3-7 serrano chile peppers (depending on your spicy preferences and the heat of the chiles…some are hotter than others)

1 anaheim chile

1-2 jalapeño chiles

a large pinch of salt

a large handful of fresh cilantro

Directions:

Heat up a cast iron comal on high heat (if you don’t have a comal, use a large cast iron pan or a griddle). Cut off the stems of all the chile peppers and remove the husk off of the garlic cloves. Place all ingredients on the comal, turning all ingredients every few minutes until blistered and charred. Remove from comal,and place in a blender. Add cliantro and blend until thick and slightly chunky/almost smooth.

Remember, you can swap out these chiles for other ones. I recently discovered that Sante Fe Chile Peppers are absolutely delicious in salsas, but this recipe is just my family’s go-to. And we literally make a new batch every 5-7 days. (The chile/salsa is good for up to a week!)
You can find comals at Mexican specialty stores for less than $5.00. What’s a comal? It’s a tortilla warmer. You place your tortillas on it, they warm up and get lovely brown spots that give the tortillas some texture. It’s definitely worth investing. Because microwaved tortillas are gross. And its how you get tortillas the way they’re meant to be…and make chile.

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Keri’s Pumpkin Bread

Last year when I was studying in Santiago, Chile, I experienced fall and winter during April-July for the first time. It’s a lot of fun being in the Southern Hemisphere when you’re used to the seasons of the Northern Hemisphere. So my friend Keri and I found ourselves craving fall flavors, like pumpkin, and ended up whipping up Keri’s mom’s recipe for pumpkin bread. It more than satisfied the craving. No other pumpkin bread recipe will compare. It’s delicious.

Make it. Share it. Eat it.

Keri’s Pumpkin Bread  (makes 2 loaves)

2 c white sugar (if you want to cut down a little on the sweetness remove 1/2 c. It’s still yummy)

1/2 c brown sugar

1 c vegetable oil

3 c flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cloves

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 c fresh pumpkin purée

4 eggs, beaten separately

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix dry ingredients together, then add wet ingredients.

Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Eat  Devour.

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Chicken Tostadas

I love chicken tostadas. Love them. Love them so much I have them once a week. They’re delicious and beyond easy to make.

I remember in college when the dining commons had chicken tostadas and none of my friends understood what they were or how to eat them. I bet you think you know what they are, right? Wrong. Those things that you buy in gringafied Mexican restaurants are an exaggerated form of real Mexican tostadas. I hate them. They suck. I’m an admitted Mexican food snob. Sorry. But hey, that’s what I’m here for – to enlighten you all and share delicious and simple food with you.

These are real tostadas:

Yummy.

Chicken Tostadas (serves 3-5 people)

10 corn tortillas

1/3 c canola oil

1 – 2  cans refried beans

1.5 lbs chicken, diced

2 tbs canola oil

salt and pepper, to taste

1 boiled potato, with skin, sliced

1 -2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced or diced

1 – 2 tomatoes, diced

cheddar cheese, to taste

freshly made salsa

Directions:

Heat 2 tbs canola oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat, add diced chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown. While you are cooking the chicken, heat 1/3 c canola oil in a small pan on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, gently place the tortilla in the oil. When the tortilla puffs up a little, flip it over and cook the other side until golden brown. Using tongs, remove the tortilla and place on a paper towel on a plate.

Continue until all the tortillas are golden brown and crispy. By now, your chicken should be done. Heat up the refried beans in a pan – be sure to add a tablespoon of water to help them stay moist!

Now you can begin assembling your tostadas.

The first layer is beans. Then add chicken, cheese, boiled potato slices (sounds weird but it’s delicious!), tomatoes, avocado, and top it all off with a little fresh salsa.

Om nom nom.

**This is also a great way to use Thanksgiving turkey leftovers! Just switch out the chicken with turkey meat. It’ll blow your mind, I promise.

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Fresh Pumpkin Purée

So I know that buying pumpkin purée in a can at the store is convenient and all, but I truly believe that you can taste the difference between canned, store bought and fresh, homemade pumpkin pureé. And who doesn’t like knowing exactly what’s going into their food? Ok, 80% of America doesn’t…but I know I do. And you should too.

There is something magical about taking an entire pumpkin and turning it into a deliciously smooth pureé over a couple of hours. Use it to make pumpkin bread, pumpkin biscotti, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin pie, or to spice up your oatmeal. If you can’t use all of it at once, freeze it in 2 c portions for use later. Once you make fresh pumpkin purée you’ll never go back to canned.

Fresh Pumpkin Purée

1 pumpkin (sugar, crooked neck,…really any kind of pumpkin)

1 tbs canola oil

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Cut up your pumpkin into chunks. Mine are always different sizes but if you are talented enough, then try to get the pieces similar in size. Remove all of the seeds and stringy bits (set aside the seeds to make roasted pumpkin seeds!). Drizzle oil on a cookie sheet, put the pumpkin pieces on the sheet, and flip them so that they are lightly covered in oil. Cover with a sheet of foil and place in the heated oven. Roast for about 1.5 – 2 hours, depending on the size of your pieces. The pumpkin is done when it is fork/knife tender. Remove from oven, allow to cool for about 5 minutes with the foil off then remove the skin from the meat. Using a potato masher or food processor, mash/blend the pumpkin until smooth.

Now, it’s ready to use in all kinds of delicious fall/winter dishes. Enjoy!

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Okra with Bacon, Tomato, and Onions

I just joined a local CSA. Well, it’s really the only one around here, which really annoys me because Bakersfield is supposedly an agricultural powerhouse. But I guess they’ve really been phasing that out.

As a kid I had to drive several miles through corn and cotton fields to get to my elementary school. And if they were rotating a crop field that season they’d have sheep occupying the empty land. Now there are tons of track homes wearer those crops were and it honestly is really upsetting for me to drive through it. I want the rural landscape of my childhood. I wish people valued and understood the importance of local farming for both the community and the environment.

I could go on and on, but this is a food blog so back to lighter things-food. I went to our tiny (but wonderful) farmers market to pick up my CSA box chock full of fresh, organic veggies and what do I get? Okra. I’ve never had okra and I’m not going to lie…I was terrified of it! I heard all those stories about the sliminess of okra plus it looks like a chile but isn’t spicy and that’s just bizarre to me! Well I couldn’t let it go to waste, so make it I did. And it was delicious. And not the least bit slimy.

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Okra with Bacon, Tomatoes, and Onions

5 slices thick cut, applewood bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 medium red onion
1.5 lbs okra
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt & pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

 

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Here’s how you do it: 

Heat a large heavy skillet to medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until brown. Remove bacon but leave the grease in the pan. (We want all that goodness to cook our onions and okra). Reduce heat to medium and throw in the onions and salt. Cook until soft and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add okra and cook for about 6. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Voila!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chile Rellenos

Every time I see my grandma she always asks me what I want to eat. It doesn’t matter whether I’ve already eaten or not, she makes me food. And I eat it. So I’ve learned to just work up my appetite when I know I’m going to see her. You know….it’s easier that way.

One of my favorite dishes that she makes is Chiles Rellenos. It’s such a treat! They’re pretty labor intensive, but its so worth it. This time around she taught me how to make them, I photographed and took notes, and now I’m passing it on to you.

Look who joined us in the kitchen!

Grandma and I were in the kitchen for a while so Moby took a nap.

Chile Relleno con tortitas de papa (Stuffed Chiles with mini potato patties)

10 chile pasillas

2 large eggs

3 large egg whites

1 cup flour (you won’t use all of it)

3-4 small potatoes, boiled and mashed

2 c cheddar cheese

1/3 c canola oil

Ok let’s get started. First, wash and dry the chiles pasillas. Save that grocers/produce bag that you bought them in! You’ll need it soon. Place on stove burners on high heat to char the skin.

Remove from stove when they are almost completely black and look like this:

Immediate place all charred chiles in the bag that we bought them in and tie the top of the bag in a knot. We leave the hot chiles in the bag to sweat so that the charred skin is easy to remove later. How long? Well we made an emergency bean run while the chiles were sweating it out…so I’d say we were gone for about 30 minutes. While the chiles are busy sweating it out, peel and boil the potatoes.

After about 30 minutes of sweating it out, remove the chiles from the bag and peel off the black skin off of the chiles pasillas with your hands. They should come off pretty easily at this point. Once you’ve removed the blackened skins, the chiles should look soft. Make a single slit in each chile and remove the seeds. When you’re done they should look like this:

By now, the potatoes should be fork tender. Drain all the water and mash with a potato masher until almost smooth. Stuff each chile with about 3-4 tablespoons of potato then with 2 heaping tablespoons of cheese. 

Set aside a shallow dish with flour. Separate 3 egg whites from yolks and add to a bowl. Then crack 2 large eggs (yolks and all) into the bowl. Using a hand mixer beat eggs until fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Coat each stuffed chile into the flour, then the eggs.

Heat up a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron, but hey, use what you have) with canola oil. Once the skillet and oil are hot, gently place the chiles in the skillet. DON’T MOVE THEM AROUND THE PAN! Let them get a nice golden brown color on one side before moving or flipping them. They’re done when both sides are golden brown.

Remove from skillet to a large plate. 

Ok, Chile Rellenos done!

Now onto the delicious little potato patties that we serve with them.

Tortitas de papa

Using the remainder of the potatoes and cheese from the chile rellenos plus one egg, combine all ingredients and create a small palm-sized patty. Place into the skillet you used for the chile rellenos. Add oil if necessary. Cook on medium-high heat until golden brown on each side.

Serve Chile Rellenos with the tortitas de papa, spanish rice, and canary beans (frijoles peruanos). It’s a delicious and filling vegetarian, Mexican meal. One of my all time favorite meals. Period.

Buen provecho!

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Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza

I love ordering prosciutto arugula pizza from Italian restaurants. My first experience was in a popular pizza joint in Buenos Aires that served wine in pint sized ceramic penguins. I’ve ordered it a few times at different restaurants back in the States, but my best experience was in Las Vegas restaurant in Palazzo on the Strip. I go back almost every time I’m in Vegas. I love this kind of pizza!

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I was craving it so I decided to take it upon myself and make it for dinner the other night. Delish.

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Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza

Pre-made pizza dough
2-4 tbs extra virgin olive oil (or white truffle oil if you want it to be outrageously delicious)
10-12 slices of prosciutto
4 c organic arugula
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan

Here’s how you make it:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
Set out your dough so it reaches room temp. Flour the surface that you’ll be using and the dough then roll out until desired thickness. I like my pizzas very thin. Drizzle olive oil on the dough and spread to cover surface. Remember to pierce the dough with a fork all over.

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Pop it in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove when it’s a golden brown color and immediately place slices of prosciutto on it. Then layer with arugula and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle freshly cracked black pepper on top. Cut into slices and enjoy this simply delicious pizza!!

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