Sweet Hot Jammy Jams

Remember to wear gloves!

This all started with goat cheese. We’d gone down to Willcox for our annual corn/squash/green chile splurge, and on the drive back I was mentally planning what to cook. I decided on a green chile/sqash/chèvre enchilada with verde sauce. So of course, we had to stop for the goat cheese on the way home and I got the big package.

Thing is, I made the dish (and it was delicious and took a bajillion cheese pills to eat some), but now I have 3/4 of this big log of chèvre frais in the fridge. So, I’ll take it to work. Only, you can just take nekkid cheese to work – that would be sad. I got out some onions and balsamic to make some quick jam to go with when I remembered I had a lot of jalapenos in the fridge. And I thought, mmmmm jalapeno jam on that smooth creamy cheese would be forking delicious. Time to consult the Google Overlords.

So, turns out this is a huge thing. It even has a special name – Cowboy Candy. I went through a bunch of the recipes, got a feel for the commonalities, and adjusted from there. I had to go small batch – I only had about seven peppers. But this made exactly one 8-oz jar. Perfect to take to work with the cheese. Hell, I might get ambitious today and make some crackers, too. Woo – goin’ crazy!


I love savoury-sweet with a little tang. Yum!

Well, here ’tis. Give it a whirl. Apparently pouring this over a block of cream cheese is quite a thing.

Cowboy Candy
1 1/2c. sliced jalapenos (about 7 medium)
1/3 c. cider vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. celery seed
1/8 tsp. tumeric
Sprinkle Cayenne
In a small pan, bring everything but the jalapenos to a quick boil, turn the heat down to simmer and add the jalapenos. Simmer about 20ish minutes, until it is reduced to jammy thickness*. Take it off the heat and stir in one tsp. more of cider vinegar. Pour in to a clean hot jar (I always rinse mine with boiling water right before filling. Use common sense if your glass is cold. )

That’s it – I imagine this would be super scrumptious on a grilled chicken breast or shrimp kebab, as well as the aforementioned cheese.

Give this a whirl – hope you like it!

* To test the thickness, dip spoon in the jam then let that cool. Run your finger through it – is it thick like jam and your finger streak remains? Then it’s done. If not, reduce some more



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Salsa Verde

Hello, my lovelies.  I’ve finally come across something new and worthy enough to share.  I’ve been spending a lot of time working on my Spanish listening skills and learning how to make traditional Mexican recipes.  I had nothing new of my own worth sharing for a bit. It didn’t make sense to post what I’d been cooking when there was a recipe/video already out there, and I hadn’t developed the recipe myself.  Add to that a forceful internal debate going about entitlement and cultural appropriation, and it just wasn’t the right time. Yet. But then I did some tweaking on a couple recipes I’ve been trying and was ecstatic with the results.  The gals at the office loved it.  One tried the recipe at home and her husband loved it.  Actually, she was really kind – she said he loved it so much it inspired them to do a big asada for dinner.  (S! You made my day!) So, time to share.

Salsa verde had never been my favorite -there is something off-putting to me about the cooked tomatillos. They’re not exactly slimy, but they have this certain viscousy mucus quality (especially the jarred kind) and that olive green color that just are not appetizing to me. I want something more vibrant and fresh. 
In my journeys with my new YouTube friends and The Google, I discovered that tomatillo salsas fall into three main categories where the ingredients are either cruda/raw, charred, or boiled.

Not exactly attractive as it cools off. But just wait!

I was ecstatic when I found the first raw recipe – finally! Yes! But……..no. it was way too acidic.  Then I started to think – why do I have to follow the rules? Who says I can’t blend a couple techniques?  I prefer the tomatillos cooked, but the garlic and cilantro raw in terms of flavor – what if I just barely poached the tomatillos, and some of the other ingredients were raw? Would that fix what I didn’t like? The answer was a resounding yes.  This is spicy. And garlicky. And truly outstanding on carne asada, fish and chicken – hell, even eggs with avocado.  It’s really good – and I hope you make it and love it, too.

Ready for the boat motor – my Mueller stick blender that is so powerful I can use it to make cashew cream.
Oh, yeah! Power tools!
Oh, my inner obsessive was so pleased – exactly 16 ounces. One perfect jar to take to the office Monday! And then Himself says, “Why the office? None for here? I like this salsa!” And this, my betches, is why I love him.

Salsa Verde
Put the following in a saucepan, and cover with water:
Fresh tomatillos, with the cascara (husk)* removed and washed (this is about 8 small, [a little bigger than a ping pong ball.] They should fill the pan.)
1 large jalapeno, pierced (or two if you like things REALLY hot)
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
Bring just to a boil, then remove the heat and let them sit in the water and cool down til they’re just warm.
The tomatillos will go to a drab green color.

In your blender or food processor, put:
2-3 fat cloves raw garlic
1/2 a small white onion (about 1/3 c. worth)
a handful of cilantro(remove most of the stems)
1/2 tsp salt
The cooked tomatillos, garlic and jalapeno (but trim the stem first)

Puree until mostly smooth.  Add some of the cooking water from the saucepan to thin it out if needed.
You can add lime if you want, but the tomatillos are pretty acidic already.  This is garlicky and spicy – but not inedible. It’s that good kind of hot that warms your mouth and makes you want to keep eating it.
That’s it.  Munch away!

*In case you’ve never removed the husk of a tomatillo, be aware that the fruit are sticky under the husk.  You need to wash them really well with water after removing the husk to remove those sticky plant juices. 

Love that fresh color from the cilantro – much better than solid olive green!

Verduras en Escabeche

I know, I know – there’s already a carrot escabeche recipe on the blog. But the other day at the office, J. was saying that her grandpa put potatoes in his and of course I had to research that because wha-what??

And – surprise! – she was not crazy. It’s a real thing. And it sounded delicious – I love potato salad with vinegar instead of mayo, and this would be vinegary potatoes that were espicy! Sign me up!

Yesterday we were at El Super, and I got the veggies I needed to give this a whirl. But damn, jalapenos this time of year are sooooo forking hot. Ay! Just out of the pan this was delicious, and it got better the next day. We had us some yummmyyyyy crunchies this week at the office, y’all! This made a half-gallon, and my office mates and I had it essentially gone in a day and a half. But – funny story- what was left was a cup or so of those super-hot jalapenos. Not even some of my fire-tolerant co-workers took those puppies on. But man, the rest was SOOOOO good.

Verduras en Escabeche

Adapted from this recipe at TuriMexico.com.

2 large waxy potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
5 fat carrots, peeled and in ¼” diagonal coins
3 garlic cloves, sliced in half
2 Tbsp. Mexican oregano
5 fat jalapenos, in ¼” coins
1 big white onion, wedged in to 8
3 bay leaves
½ tsp. Black peppercorns
1 c. white vinegar
2 c. water
1 tsp. Soy sauce
1 tsp. Worsteshire sauce

Wash and boil the potatoes until tender. Slice in half, then wedges  – about ½”. Should be about 12 per spudnik.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, add the carrots garlic and oregano, toss and saute a minute or two, just until you start to smell the garlic and oregano.  Add the rest of the ingredients (except the potatoes), return to the heat just until you start to see a boil. Turn it off, take the pan off the heat. (Now, you can boil that mix a little longer than I do, but I like my veggies to stay as crunchy as possible.  Cook ‘em how you like ‘em.) Lay in the potato slices and allow to cool.

Keep in a couple big glass jars in the fridge. It should stay delicious for several weeks, but I cannot attest to that as I can never get escabeche to last longer than a few days in my house.

¡Buen provencho!

Salsa Gringa

Zingy. Garlicky. Spicy.  With a shit ton of Mexican oregano.  That is my favorite kind of salsa. We had some this morning to go with some scrambled eggs, papas con chorizo, and homemade flour tortillas.  
(Don’t be impressed at homemade tortillas- they are REALLY easy to make and pretty quick. Maybe we’ll post those another day.)

So we are munching away and I joke about making a post about the salsa, and himself says, “Why not? That would be great.”  (Still winning best husband ever award.) So, here we go. It’s taken me a long time to figure out “the rules” for flavor combos in fresh red tomato-based salsa making.  Some of the ones that work for me are either lime juice or vinegar, not both. And for the herbaceousness, oregano with vinegar but cilantro with lime – never cilantro and oregano together. And oregano with hot little dry red chilis like chile de arbol or chiltepin or chile pepin, but jalapeno or serrano with cilantro.  I’m sure there are a gazillion exceptions since Mexico has refined salsa pairing the way the French have with wine. But having these ground rules in my head helps me when I’m making some.

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Give this a go; it is really good on eggs, chips, and tacos dorados. With some icy cold cerveza, of course.  And don’t shit at the amount of garlic and oregano until you try it.

Salsa Gringa
INGREDIENTS
1 can diced tomatoes
5 fat cloves of garlic, pressed
2 Tbsp. dried Mexican oregano, crushed between your hands
1/3 c finely chopped white onion (about a fourth of a large onion)
1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper (chiltepin, chile de arbol, etc.)
1 Tbsp. XVOO
2 Tbsp. wine vinegar
S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS
Throw everything in your blender or nutribullet or bowl with a stick blender except half the oregano, half the onion and the S&P. If you don’t like very espicy salsa, start with a smaller quantity of the hot pepper. (If you don’t like at-all-spicy salsa, try another recipe. This ain’t it.) Blend until it’s a homogenous mass. The oil helps it emulsify a little and rounds out the edges of the garlic and acid.

Stir in the remaining oregano, onion, S&P and a few more shots of the vinegar. Give it a taste and adjust as you see fit. It should start out tangy and garlicky then herbaceous, and finally finish with a nice heat that fills your mouth.

Eat this only among friends and family as you will be Dracula-proofed for a while after consuming it

¡ Buen provencho !

Mexican Spicy Carrot Pickles

Mexican Spicy Carrot Pickles
(Zanahorias en escabeche)

I love the spicy carrots on the salsa bar when we go for tacos. So much so, a couple years back I asked The Google for some recipes. I found one that was okay at the time, but haven’t made it since.
We’re having a Fiesta Friday potluck at the office this week. (Because although we appreciate the alliteration of a Taco Tuesday, none of us has the time for an office party on a Tuesday.) I made carnitas and wanted some cebollas en escabeche to go along. That got me thinking about those carrots again. YouTube is overflowing with awesome home cooks making their zanahorias. I always wondered why there was a tiny bit of oil in the pickle juice – and now I know. The veg are lightly sauteed before adding the vinegar. Dur. Makes perfect sense.

My searches also garnered the Spanish dish by the same name, and it was interesting to see the differences – thyme and pimenton, cook the carrots a little longer. No hot peppers. I’m thinking the Mexican version is a post-colonial smoosh – but, hey. I am no food anthropologist. Anywho, this was maybe twenty minutes start to finish. I bet you have the ingredients already. These stay good a couple weeks in the fridge – if they last that long. Make some today to have ready for your Taco Tuesday. You can totally eat these the same day, but they certainly get better the longer they soak in that gorgeous escabeche.

Zanahorias en escabeche
Makes about 3 cups.
1# carrots, peeled and sliced in to ¼” thick diagonal ovals.
3 jalapenos, halved
½ large white onion, sliced in ¼” thick half-moons
3 cloves garlic, slightly smooshed with the flat of your knife
½ tsp. black pepper corns
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. Mexican oregano leaves
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 ½ c. white vinegar
1 ½ c. water
(sal al gusto)

In a large non-reactive skillet on medium, heat the oil, pepppercorns, bay, oregano, and the garlic until you can smell the garlic. Then, add everything but the water and the vinegar. Stir around (you do not want this to brown) for a minute or two until you see the onions are starting to soften. Pour in the water and vinegar, and simmer until the jalapenos are done – they will change from a deep green to an olive green.
While that is simmering, prepare your container. You want something that can handle hot liquid – I used glass with those snappy silicone gasket lids. Just be sure to heat up the container with some hot water before you dump in your pickles. (Just imagine cold glass and hot liquid. Yeah.)
When the jalapenos are done, scoop all the veg in to your prepared container. Then, pour in just enough of the liquid to cover them. You will most likely have extra liquid at the end. Toss it. Or use it to make a vinaigrette.

That’s it. You’re done. Cool it. Label it & pop it in the fridge and enjoy.
PS – all the recipes I saw added salt to these puppies, but I think this is plenty flavorful without. But add some if you like!

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the red onion and the chile de arbol in the knolled pic – I made some cebollas en escabeche at the same time. But those are already a blog post…