Thursday, April 17, 2014

Green Salsa Verde

Green Salsa Verde
(2½ cups)


Ingredients:

1¼ lb. Fresh Tomatillos, husked, rinsed & quartered
1 cup (lightly packed) Fresh Cilantro
1 medium Fresh Serrano Chili, seeded & quartered
1 small Fresh White Onion, chopped
2 cloves Fresh Garlic, smashed
1 tbsp. Canola Oil
as needed Salt & Black Pepper

Directions:

Place the tomatillos, cilantro, serrano chili, onion and garlic in a blender and puree until smooth. In a medium sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Transfer tomatillo mixture to pan and season with salt and pepper as needed. Bring the salsa to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 10 minutes or until reduced to about 2½ cups. Cool in refrigerator before serving. The salsa should keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Note: You can control the heat (spiciness) of the salsa by leaving the seeds in or using a jalapeno or some other chili pepper. Leave the chili out if you don't like having some heat in your food.

Ideas for Future Efforts







Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pico de Gallo (Chef Saul)

Pico de Gallo (Chef Saul)
(2½ cups)


Ingredients:

1 small Fresh White Onion, small dice
4 large Fresh Tomatoes, seeded & small dice
1 medium Fresh Serrano Chili, seeded & fine dice
2 tbsp. Fresh Cilantro Leaves, chopped
1 clove Fresh Garlic, minced
2 tbsp. Fresh Lime Juice
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
to taste Salt & Black Pepper

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss together well. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for at least an hour before serving. Can also be refrigerated and served cold. Refrigerate after use and it should keep a day or two in good form.

Note: Again if heat in your food is a factor, you could use a jalapeno instead. Even a poblano chili to lessen the heat works.

Note: For a little change in taste, try adding some small diced fresh pineapple to the mix.

Ideas for Future Efforts







Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Part 3 of Mexican Cuisine (Salsa, Dips & Chips)

Anyone who has gone into a Mexican restaurant, at least in the USA, knows you automatically receive chips & salsa when the waitperson comes to the table.  For us it's a staple of Mexican cuisine.  Now these restaurants don't serve the same chips & salsa as everyone else.  Most try to do their spin on the dish.

Some places just serve bought corn tortilla chips.  While others fry their corn tortilla chips up fresh each day. Still others offer fry up flour tortillas to serve with their salsa.  A few offer the options of corn or flour too. Healthier establishments might even serve baked chips in place of the traditional fried ones.  Thankfully for you it's easy enough to either (fried or baked) at home.

I'll eat both but prefer the fried flour tortilla chips when I can get them.  Of course there are so many different types and styles that you can buy in grocery stores.  If I go that route, my preference is for a grocery chain in the Midwest called Hy-Vee.  They sell under their own brand, a multi-grain tortilla chip.  In my option, it's the best on the market.  At least of the ones I've been able to try.  But everyone has their favorite, so for them.

All those chips mentioned above are great by themselves but go to a whole new level when you add a salsa and/or dip.  I'll mention just a couple of dips before going to salsas.  Guacamole is classified under a dip or a salsa.  It just depends on who you ask.  I'll call it a dip for today  Another popular dip is the Rotel tomato, Velveeta and meat one.  This is considered Southwest or Texas style spicy food.  Not really Mexican.

Mexican salsa (Southwest & Tex-Mex too) is really varied in spice, taste, texture and ingredients.  First off you can have fresh or cooked salsas.  Tomatoes and Tomatillos seem to comprise the majority, but there some without either ingredient.  White onion is another stable in most salsas.  As is some kind of a chili pepper.

You can find bean salsas using mostly the pinto or black bean as they seem to be the most popular beans in Mexico.  Mango, Jicama, sweet potato, cactus, pumpkin seed and Chayote (vegetable pear) can also be found as main ingredients in a salsa.

Tomorrow's recipe is for what in Mexico is usually referred to as Classic Tomato Salsa.  It's also known as Salsa Ranchera or Salsa Mexicna but most people in the states know it as "Pico de Gallo."  It's the king of fresh salsa and has numerous variations to the recipe.  This recipe is from my friend, Chef Saul, in Cabo, Mexico.

Thursday's recipe is "Green Salsa Verde" which is green most of the time.  However, it is also made with tomatoes instead of tomatillos and then it is red.  It's good as a dip but is used more as a sauce with many dishes.  That is one other use for all salsas really.  They can be used for dipping chips, as a sauce over a burrito or as a condiment or relish to be served along side an item.

Don't forget that besides these two recipes, I have several already on this blog or in my cookbook.  In fact, the recipe for canned salsa in my cookbook has even passed the test of Hispanic individuals.  Several have commented that it is better than what their families make.  They also won't admit that to their families.  Not bad for a Gringo, I say.  Well "Happy Cooking" until next week and please share this with friends.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Grilled Chicken Burgers & Peach BBQ Sauce

Grilled Chicken Burgers & Peach BBQ Sauce
(4-6 servings)


Ingredients:

1 tbsp. Canola Oil
¼ cup Yellow Onion, minced
½ tsp. Salt, divided
4 large Fresh Peaches, peeled,seeded & chopped (see note)
2 tbsp. Brown Sugar
2 small Fresh Tomatoes, seeded & diced
1 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp. Minced Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
2 tbsp. Fresh Cilantro, minced
2 tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 ½ lb. Fresh Ground Chicken Breast
4-6 Hamburger Buns (your favorite)

Directions:

In a large saute pan over medium heat, add oil. When oil is hot add the onions and half of salt to pan. Cook until onions soften (about 5 minutes). Next add the peaches, tomatoes and continue cooking another 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, brown sugar and Chipotle peppers and cook 5 minutes more. Remove pan from heat and add in cilantro, lemon juice and remaining salt and let cool. Using a blender or food processor, process to consistency you desire. Return mixture to the pan and simmer on low for 15 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken and ½ cup of sauce. Using a fork or your hands, gently combine and form into 4 or 6 loose balls. Press the balls into patties and grill over medium-high heat until you have an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove to a serving platter and grill buns while letting burgers rest. Serve with remaining Peach BBQ Sauce and other desired condiments.

Note: You can use frozen peaches for this recipe. Thaw 2 cups chopped and reserve the juice. Just add where directions mentions fresh peaches. Include juice with the peaches.

Note: If you want to get fancy with the ground chicken try grinding it yourself. Use a food processor for grinding. Cut breast meat into small cubes, put single layer on a sheet pan and place in freezer for about 30 minutes. In small batches, pulse about 30 to 40 times. Repeat as needed with the remaining batches. Check the ground chicken for any large pieces. Remove these and pulse them a few more times. Then just follow directions above.

Ideas for Future Efforts







Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Grilled Butter Burgers

Grilled Butter Burger
(4-6 servings)


Ingredients:

1 ½ lb. Fresh Lean Ground Beef
3 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted and slightly cooled
as needed Lawry's Seasoned Salt
as needed Onion Powder
as needed Garlic Powder
as needed Black Pepper
4-6 Hamburger Buns (your favorite)
4-6 slices Cheese (your favorite) (optional)

Directions:

Place ground beef on a large mixing bowl. Pour the cooled melted butter over the ground beef and gently mix with a fork or by hand. Form into 4 – 6 oz. patties or 6 – 4 oz. patties and place on a sheet pan. Refrigerate for an hour or up to one day before grilling. Liberally season each side of the parties with the 4 seasonings listed in the ingredients. Have your grill ready on high-heat, oil grates and place patties on them. Grill on each side for 4 to 5 minutes depending on the degree of doneness you desire. Top with cheese slices (if using) and close lid to help cheese melt. This takes a minute or so depending on type of cheese. After cheese has melted, remove burgers to a serving tray and grill buns to desired brownness. Serve with your favorite condiments.

Note: If you want to get fancy with the ground beef, try grinding it yourself. Use a food processor for grinding. Cut selected steak meat into small cubes, put single layer on a sheet pan and place in freezer for about 30 minutes. In small batches, pulse about 30 to 40 times. Repeat as needed with the remaining batches. Check the meat for any large pieces or stringy gristle. Remove these and pulse this meat a few more times. Then just follow directions above.

Ideas for Future Efforts







Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Grilling Season Should Be Starting

Even though we just had more snow last Thursday & Friday (April 3-4), grilling season is here.  In fact I grilled some burgers on Sunday.  They were great.  There's just something about the taste of food coming off a grill outdoors.

I've talked about grilling several times before in this blog.  So I'm not going to go back over all the previous mentioned text.  I do, though, want to remind of a few items as you get started this year on your grill.

Clean it up before using it after a long winter.  It should have been clean from your last use.  So it won't take the much time or effort.  Remember to be patient when using your grill.  You need to wait for the grill to get to temperature before you start your food.  Rushing it will only give you a poor quality product to serve. Also remember to oil the grates before placing any food on them.  This really helps keeping items from sticking to those grates.  Give your food time to cook before trying to move or turn it.  Your meat will release from the grill grates easier.  Doing the oiling, correct heat before you start and letting items cook long enough will keep your food from sticking.  It will also give you those classic grill marks your looking to achieve.

A few reminders on handling your different meats.  Always be sure to pat all your meats dry before placing on the grates.  This gives you that beautiful seared outside.  Any marinade that you have used before putting the food on the grill has done it's job.  It helps (not hurts) your finished product by patting it dry before starting the cooking process.

Ground meat burgers (beef, chicken, pork, lamb etc.) need to be handled gently.  Overworking the meat makes it tough.  So handle your meat as little as possible when combining ingredients and/or forming patties. Also remember to indent the center of the patty.  This keeps it from expanding up to much and making it into more of a meatball instead of a patty for your bun.

Don't forget that besides steaks, chicken and burgers of all kinds, the grill is great for vegetables too.  Even pizzas work well.  Be creative with grill and the different types and styles of food you can serve family and friends this year.

I'm starting your grilling season out with a couple of burger recipes I have found and like.  I've adapted them a little for my taste.  The first is using beef and adding a little butter to help the flavor.  It's called "Grilled Butter Burger" and shouldn't be confused with Culver's (a great fast-food chain out of Wisconsin) Butter Burger.   They call their's a butter burger because they butter the buns before they grill them.  This recipe has the butter right in the burger.  The Thursday recipe is for a "Grilled Chicken Burger & Peach BBQ Sauce."  It uses grill chicken and has the sauce in it and over it.

I hope you have a tasty and memorable grilling season this year.  Remember to try some new dishes as well as all your old favorites too.  Until next week "Happy Cooking."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bacon Biscuits

Bacon Biscuits
(12-16 each)


Ingredients:

1/3 lb. Thin Sliced Smoked Bacon (your choice)
3 cups All-Purpose Flour
1½ tsp. Kosher Salt
1½ tsp. Baking Powder
¾ tsp. Baking Soda
5 tbsp. Cold Bacon Fat
1 ½ cups Heavy Cream

Directions:

Cook bacon (see note) until crisp and drain on paper towels. Once cooled, chop bacon into very small pieces and set aside. You may refrigerate overnight. Take the bacon fat from cooking bacon and pour into a small bowl. Refrigerate until cold and solid. Again, you could leave overnight. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Now add the cold bacon fat and gently blend into the flour mixture with your hands. Do this until mixture looks like coarse meal. Next combine this mixture with the cream until loose dough forms. Scrape dough from bowl on to a flour surface and knead gently until smooth. Roll the finished dough into a 10x12 rectangle a half inch thick. Straighten up the sides and cut into 12 squares (3x4 cut) or into 8 rectangles (2x4 cut). If cutting the rectangles, you can then slice each corner to opposite corner to make a 16 triangles. You could also use a biscuit cutter if you desire. Once you have cut the biscuits, place on an ungreased baking sheet about an inch apart. Place the baking sheet in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for about 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool biscuits on a wire rack. Best if served while still warm but able to handle.

Note: You can cook the bacon on top of the stove or in the oven. Your choice on how you want to do it. Just be sure to save the bacon fat as you need it for this recipe.

Note: I love bacon so I tend to error on the side of more bacon than less when trying to get a third of a pound.

Ideas for Future Efforts