Saturday, September 3, 2011

Pico de Gallo aka Salsa Fresca

This is also from Pioneer Woman's website. I can't help myself, but this is just 'it'. I've tried to make pico and fresh salsa for years, and it was never quite right. This recipe finally gets the ratio of tomatoes to jalapeno to onion jussssst right, in my opinion. When I make this I have to quadruple the recipe, at the very least. I'm not kidding. It turns people into pigs. Pico-eating pigs. I hope you have enough chips. I have even made this and used it to marinate leftover grilled flank steak overnight. Then the next day, I sear the leftover marinated steak in a cast iron skillet, just long enough to heat it up, and make steak fajitas with portabello mushrooms, mushrooms, onions and red/yellow/orange bell peppers, sauteeing the vegetables in olive oil and Sal con Chile y Limon before heating the steak. YUM!

Pico De Gallo

5 Roma tomatoes (firm, not soft)
1/2 large or 1 small onion
3 jalapeno peppers
1 bunch cilantro
2-3 limes
Kosher Salt
*These quantities are approximate

Dice tomatoes, onion, and jalapenos. (I quarter my tomatoes lengthwise, then scrape the seeds and tomato goo out with a paring knife. I also remove the seeds and white membrane from inside the jalapenos.) Mince cilantro. Toss together in a bowl. Squeeze lime juice over chopped vegetables, add cilantro, toss again. Add salt to taste. Toss again.
***To make wonderful guacamole, just add some of this pico to mashed avocado.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lemon-and-Bay-Leaf Pickled Green Beans

During one of my 57 visits to Lowe's in the last few months, I made an impulse purchase (okay, there were probably a few impulse purchases, but this one has proven the most fun).  It was a copy of Better Homes and Gardens Canning.  I'm working my way through this cookbook/magazine and have made a few recipes, and adapted a couple others.  I'm really enjoying it, and recommend it to anyone interested in canning as a food preservation method. 

Lemon-and-Bay-Leaf Pickled Green Beans
recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Canning special interest publication, 2011 edition

makes 4 pints

2 3/4 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon pickling salt
2 1/4 pounds (11 cups) fresh green and yellow beans, ends trimmed
8 bay leaves
4 teaspoons whole peppercorns (I used a mix of red, green and black)
8 strips lemon peel (use a vegetable peeler to make these, then squeeze the lemons for the juice called for in this recipe)

1.  In an 8-quart stainless-steel, enamel or nonstick heavy pot, combine the water, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice and pickling salt.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar and salt dissolve.

2.  Add beans to liquid and return to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute.  Drain beans; reserve the liquid.  Set beans aside and return pickling liquid to a simmer and cover.

3.  Place 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon of peppercorns and 2 strips of lemon peel to each of the 4 hot, sterilized pint jars.  Pack the hot beans into them, lengthwise.

4.  Pour boiling pickling liquid over beans in jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.  Remove any air bubbles in filled jars.  Secure lids and rings.

5.  Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (start timing when the water returns to boiling after adding the jars).  Remove jars from canner and cool on wire racks.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Southwest Chicken Sliders

These are very easy to make--in fact they were a sort of accidental creation, but now I crave them often.  I serve them topped with sour cream and the pickled red onions that I posted about previously (Red Chile Short Rib Tacos aka Taco Toppings).  The burger is a simple mix of ground chicken,  olive oil, salt, hot sauce (I use Tapatio) and southwest seasoning (Penzey's Southwest Seasoning or Pampered Chef Southwestern Seasoning Mix).  If I had it, I'd add sliced avocado or some guacamole to the list of toppings!  Don't forget the tomato!  The one pictured is straight from my garden.  Yum!  I recommend cooking these in a skillet so they don't dry out--I personally don't grill ground chicken due to this, but it's certainly a matter of personal preference.  Please note the variances in seasonings in the recipe guidelines below--I posted these varied amounts keeping in mind that everyone has difference comfort levels when it comes to salt and other seasonings. 

Southwest Chicken Sliders 
serves 4

1 pound ground chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil
several dashes of hot sauce
1/2-1 teaspoon of salt
1-2 teaspoons of southwest seasoning

Mix all ingredients and form into patties (I make 8 sliders from a pound of ground meat but these would make great regular sized burgers, too!).  

Cook in a skillet on medium-high heat for approximately 5 minutes per side or until chicken is fully cooked.  

Place cooked sliders on buns and top with your choice of toppings.

3/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt (I lowered this amount)
1 thinly sliced red onion

Combine ingredients 1-4 and bring to a boil.  Allow mixture to cool for at least 5 minutes.  Toss with onion and refrigerate at least overnight.

I usually make a double batch as these keep very well in the refrigerator--I love these and always have some in my fridge!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Scallops with Creamy Pesto

I can't believe I'm saying this, but it's actually been too hot to stand outside and grill, so I've been dredging up recipes that get me in and out of the kitchen quickly.  More accurately, this is a recipe that only requires your stove to be on for about 5 minutes.  Minimal ingredients, fast and really tasty.  Serve with veggies or pasta (which may require the stove to be on a little longer ;-P--make sure it's done before the scallops so they don't have to sit as they are best served immediately).

Scallops with Creamy Pesto

1 ½ lbs. sea scallops, patted dry

1/3 c. prepared pesto

2 tbsp. heavy whipping cream

1 tsp. minced garlic

olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Heat 1 ½ tsp. olive oil and minced garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add scallops and cook just 4 minutes (2 minutes per side), until golden and barely opaque at the center.  Remove from skillet to plate and cover with a paper towel.  Turn off stove burner.  Add pesto and cream to still-warm skillet and stir to blend.
  2. Spoon cream sauce onto plates and top with scallops.  Add salt and pepper, to taste, though this dish really doesn't require much of either.

Serves 4

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Creamy Dill Potato Salad with Eggs

I've tried numerous potato salad recipes.  I have several favorites for more of a specialty-type potato salad, but this is more of a creamy potato-and-hard-boiled-egg salad.  I found the recipe on Allrecipes but took some liberties and made several changes.  The original recipe is titled:  My Sister's Favorite Potato Salad...Ever.

Creamy Dill Potato Salad with Eggs
12 red potatoes, cut into 1" chunks
6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard powder (or 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard)
2 tablespoons dried dill weed
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste

1.  Place cubed potatoes in a large pot with water to cover.  Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes.  Drain and allow to cool.

2.  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  For best flavor, refrigerate overnight.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Red Chile Short Rib Tacos aka Taco Toppings

A recent issue of Food Network Magazine contained a feature on tacos, with recipes presented by various popular chefs.  I decided to try Bobby Flay's Red Chile Short Rib Tacos.  I did some research and decided to substitute brisket for the short ribs I had difficulty locating at my local Kroger.  Perhaps my substitution of meat greatly affected the flavor, but I wasn't fond of this dish as a whole, though some portions of it I'll carry to other Mexican cooking recipes that I've tried and love.  The recipe consists of several parts--you make the meat, then you also make a homemade queso sauce, pickled red onions and green chile relish to top the tacos.  

I felt that the port overwhelmed the pepper flavor I expected to shine in the meat part of this dish, making the meat seem very heavy and pot-roast-flavored.  The queso sauce just wasn't what I was looking for (though the cheese lovers who tried the dish really liked the queso--personally I prefer some good Crema Mexicana on my tacos as opposed to cheese).  Now, onto the pickled red onions and green chile relish.  I loved the flavor of both these taco topping and will definitely make both again.  The only change I'll make is to reduce the canola oil to 1 teaspoon in the green chile relish.  I could taste the oil and felt the amount imparted an oily texture to the relish that I could easily eliminate.

 Preparing the brisket
 Infusing broth with red chiles
 Red chile brisket
 Red chile tacos with pickled red onions, green chile relish and fresh cilantro

Monday, June 13, 2011

Potlatch-Seasoned Salmon Grilled on a Cedar Plank

This is a recipe that bears repeating now that summer is here!

Over the years I've had several opportunities to enjoy salmon grilled atop a cedar plank. Each time I remember thinking "Oh, this is easy. I can do this at home. No sweat." If only that were ENTIRELY true. My gas grill didn't allow for the flame down to be adjusted to a point low enough to keep from catching the cedar plank on fire (bad, because you may not realize it right away since the grill lid is closed for cooking). Also, I wasn't soaking the plank properly--you need to place something heavy (such as an unopened can of soup or vegetables) on the plank to keep it fully submerged in water for several hours (I let it soak all day or even overnight). Now that I feel that I have mastered my charcoal grill, I decided to try again. Charcoal grills seem to work better for this cooking application because once the coals of charcoal burn down, there is no actual flame left to ignite the board. I use one of my all-time favorite seasonings:  Williams-Sonoma's Potlatch Seasoning. They also carry the cedar planks, but many stores carry these now (I'm able to find mine at Kroger, Target and Lowe's). Make sure the wood is UNTREATED!

Potlatch-Seasoned Grilled Salmon on a Cedar Plank

1 cedar plank (soaked)
2 lbs. fresh salmon (with the skin still on)
2 heaping TEAspoons Potlatch Seasoning
enough olive oil to make a paste of the seasoning (but no more than that...stir the olive oil and seasoning together to make a thick paste)

Prepare your charcoal grill. Let the coals burn down until there is no more flame. The temperature will be between 350-400 degrees. While the coals are burning down, prepare the fish as follows:

Place the salmon (skin down) on the soaked cedar plank. Spread the paste evenly over top of the salmon filet.  You can use a silicone basting brush or even your fingers. Press the seasoning into the flesh of the fish gently--do not rub and tear the flesh of the fish.

When the coals are ready, place the plank on the grill and close the lid. The salmon will take approximately 20 minutes to cook, but this can vary due to grill temperature and thickness of your salmon filets.