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!

Green Chile Corn Chowder

It’s farm stand season. Time for the annual pilgrimmage down to Willcox for fresh corn, squash, and chile. I have been waiting for chiles for what seems like forever. Southwesterner problems, I know. But this is serious, dammit.

So, we get down there and……we are a week early for the chile roasting. DAMMIT. But, I got half of bushel of the most amaaaaazing sweet corn.

On the drive back I couldn’t decide: galette with squash, corn, green chile and chevre, or a corn chowder. After cobbing 30 ears, a pie sounded too rich and heavy – so chowdah it is.

This is easy, fast and delicious. But ya gotta make it with fresh sweet corn. Anything else will be sad. (Or fresh sweet corn that you froze yourself, anyway.)

This is SOOOOO Good. And since we are a cream-free house, it is not as heavy as a normal chowder so you can, um, chow down.

GREEN CHILE CORN CHOWDER
Servings: 4-6, depending on the size of your chowder bowls

1/4 c. unsalted butter
1/2 large white onion in 1/2″ dice (about 1/2 c.)
1 Tbsp. Mexican oregano, crushed in your palm
1 large baking potato, peeled and in 1″ cubes (about 1 1/2 c.)
4 stalks celery, in 1/2″ dice (about 3/4 c.)
2 large zucchini or 4 large pattypan squash, in 1/2″ dice
3-4 cups fresh corn kernals and their juice
1/2 to 3/4 c. FRESH roasted green chile (we like medium, but mild is fine. Hot is recommended for professional native New Mexicans only), in 1/2″ dice
Water to cover
2 Tbsp. chicken base (ie Better than Bouillon)

DIRECTIONS

In a large stock pot, melt the butter. Add the onion, potato, celery and oregano and let saute with occasional stirring for about 5 minutes. Ad the corn and squash. Put just enough water to cover, stir in the chicken base and let simmer on medium for about 25-30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

Take about 1/4 of the chowder and put it in a heatproof bowl and puree that with your stick blender (or your food processor), then stir that back in . This will thicken and give that creaminess that makes you think “chowder”.

Ladle in to big chowder bowls, top each serving with a big pat of sweet butter and go to town. Obvs, if you are not cheese-impaired as we are, smother that shit in grated cheddar cheese. I’ll just look on longingly, don’t mind me.


Icy Pops for Grownups

This all started because I wanted a Cel-Ray and they are now impossible to find in this town. (Feig’s Deli, I miss you so!) Of course, next I asked our Google Overlords about making it at home and that rabbit hole led to the most amazing discovery: celery popsicles.

Now, hold it right there. I know you just went “eeewww” in your head. I get it – but you have to try these. Everyone who has is now a convert.

It’s summer and I’m on a not-too-sweet icy pop obsession. It started with the salty-sweet celery basil and has grown. As in, I have a Pinterest Board for them. Here are four I tried this weekend, still haven’t decided which I like the best.
I have two popsicle molds, but honestly I prefer the fill-it-yourself otter-pop style zippie bags. Mainly because they are neater to eat, you don’t have to unmold them, and you don’t have to wash the mold. I got a set of 125 at Amazon, including a little funnel (be sure to get that – makes a HUGE difference). Each baggie holds 1/2 cup.

So, these recipes make 6-8 pops each, depending on how full you make the pops. Give ’em a try, love. They’re tastee!

Biggie Pops – Four Ways

Salty-Sweet Celery Basil
(slightly tweeked version of the Jerry James recipe linked above.)
2 c. celery juice (about one hefty stalk [12-ish ribs] of celery)
1 c. simple syrup
20 basil leaves
1 tsp. Kosher salt
Make the syrup first. In a saucepan, put ¾ each water and sugar. Put on a medium heat stirring occasionally until it is clear. Remove from the heat, throw in the basil leaves, stir and then leave it to cool.
Wash and trim the celery, cut in to 2”-3” lengths and puree in the food processor. Strain. If you are a little shy of two cups, add a little water. If you are off by more than half a cup, puree more celery.
When the syrup is room temp, mix it with the celery puree and the salt. Pour in to the pop mold of your choice and freeze for four-plus hours.

Roasted Nectarine with Brown Sugar and Bourbon
5 ripe nectarines, halved and roasted in 400* until brown and bubbly (about 20m)
1/3 c. dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. bourbon

Roast the fruit, mix the rest of the ingredients in a metal bowl. When the nectarines come out of the oven, toss them hot into the bowl, give it a couple stirs and leave it to cool. When it’s room temperature, puree the fruit (reserve the liquid) and then add the liquid in until it is to your taste.

Pour in to the pop mold of your choice and freeze for eight-plus hours.

Cucumber Lemon
3 c. strained cucumber puree (4 large cucumbers, seeded and peeled made in to liquid in the food processor)
Juice & Zest of 1 lemon
1 c. simple syrup

Stir everything together, pour in to the pop mold of your choice and freeze for four-plus hours.

Mango Lime Chamoy
3 c. mango puree (four mangoes, peeled and pureed in the food processor)
Juice of three limes
¾ to 1 c. simple syrup
8 Tbps. chamoy

Mix the mango puree, lime and simple syrup. Drizzle a little chamoy down the sides of the pop mold of your choice, and then fill with the mixture. Freeze for eight-plus hours.

The pops made with pureed fruit, the more dense ones, took much longer to freeze than those that were mostly juice.

Interestingly enough, it was the cucumber lemon that was the most popular at my office, seconded by the mango chamoy.

Crispy Spicy Jicama Slaw

This is an easy, pretty, and super-fresh side for the summer – especially when you’re grilling or having tacos, but rice and beans on the side just seem way too heavy.

I was making mexi-pizza* last night, and I wanted something a little more than the usual cabbage and onion on top. And rice and beans, and even calbacitas, just sounded too heavy. So I made a batch of jicama slaw and it hit the spot.  It is so fresh, with a little zing from the vinegar and a little heat from the jalapeno.

*Mexi-pizza – When you spread refrieds between two small flour tortillas and then bake them until brown and crunchy. Like a flat chimichanga. Mmmmm….

Jicama Slaw

2 Tbsp sugar (or agave sweetener, or honey, or…you get the idea)
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

½ small yellow or white onion, cut in ⅛” crescents
½ to 1 fresh jalapeno**, de-seeded and de-veined, sliced in ⅛” crescents
½ c. chopped cilantro
2 c. jicama, in 1” long matchsticks

Whisk together the sugar and vinegar until the sugar is dissolved. Then whisk in the oil.  Add the sliced veg, stir and eat. The amount of jalapeno is going to vary depending on the heat of the pepper (because we’ve all been surprised by that one that burns your lips off) and how hot your fam likes their food.

Try this – it’s fast and delicious, and oh so easy and fresh.

**Can you leave out the jalapeno? Of course – this will still be delicious.

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 !

Freaking Amazing Cornbread

Woke up craving those green chili corn pancakes today. Made up the batter (with jalpeno), added a little corn meal this time and then I found myself dreading standing in front of the stove cooking pancakes. I started to wonder if I could just bake the batter like a cake or something – I mean, hell, the ingredients are practically the same as for cornbread. And, well, the answer is yes you can. It was deeeelicious. And seriously the most moist and tender corn bread I’ve ever had.

I wanted to call it jalapeno corn breakfast cake, and himself was all, “Pffft. Please. It’s cornbread.” Yeah, fine. FINE. But it is fucking delicious cornbread, dammit. The onion/jalapeno is subtle in this – feel free to double their amounts if you’d like them a little more flavor forward. Also, shredded pepper jack on top would be seriously nerms.

Freaking Amazing Cornbread

INGREDIENTS
THE DRY
1 c. masa harina
¼ c ap flour
¼ c corn meal
3 Tbsp corn starch
2 ½ tsp bkg pwdr
1 tsp salt

THE WET
1 ½ c. buttermilk
2 eggs
¼ c veg oil
½ sm. white onion, grated (about ¼ c.)
½ jalapeno, deveined/deseeded and minced (about 2 Tbsp.)
¾ c. corn kernals, fresh or frozen
½ Mexican grey squash/zucchini, sliced in ¼” discs then quartered (reserve a few slices for the top, if you feel like it.)

Sprinkle of parmesan or cotijo for the top

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 375*. Grease an 8” square or round pan.
Get two mid-sized bowls. In one, whisk together the dry ingredients. In the other, the wet.
Pour the wet in to the dry and gently mix together until you have a super-thick batter. Pour it into the pan, level it out. Give the pan a good whack (to pop any oversized bubbles), then top with the optional reserved squash and the cheese.
Bake 25 minutes -ish, until it is golden and a tester comes out clean.

This is begging for a bowl of soup – so guess what’s for lunch???
Try this – it is so tender, you are gonna wanna call it cake, too. Dammit.

Oh! The nutrition information! I almost forgot. If you slice this bad boy in to nine squares, each square has (according to the analyzer at verywellfit.com):
173 cal
8.1g fat
321mg sodium
21.9g carbs (2g fiber, 2.9g sugars)
4.8g protein
Plus, 10% each of your daily calcium and iron, and 17% of your vitamin D. See the site for how they arrived at those percentages.

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

We wish you a table bountiful in love and delightful in tastes.
See you in a week-ish.

P.S. You see a face in that pumpkin, right? Himself says no, but it is totally there you guys.

Shaved Squash Salad with Lemon Shallot Vinagrette

ShavedSquash3
I’m ready for something light. The comfort foods of cooler weather just seem heavy and unappetizing now that the days are longer and the sun is shining. Well, that plus the candy fest that seems to run from St. Valentine’s day through Easter. Ugh. No more sugar. Please.
ShavedSquash1
Shaved squash is all the foodie rage of late, and at first I thought, “uh – no.” But then I tried it. I must confess, it’s tasty. It is actually tender-crisp, mild, and ever so slightly sweet. And with some lemon? YUM! So today’s salad is a super light, marvelously crunchy concoction – it would be great as a big lunch salad, or as a side to some grilled chicken, fish, or tofu.
ShavedSquash5
There is so much crunchiness going on – the tender crisp of the squash, the moist snap of the celery, the toasted earthy crunch of the toasted walnuts. Combined with the freshness of parsley and lemon, and the tangy creaminess of some fresh goat cheese and you are going to be so happy you made this!
ShavedSquash3

Shaved Squash Salad with Lemon Shallot Vinagrette
Serves 2 as a side, or one for lunch
Ingredients:
1 c. walnuts, toasted
1 thin zucchini, shaved in to strips.
2 stalks celery, sliced thin at an angle
½ shallot, minced
2 oz. chèvre
¼ c parsley, minced
Zest & juice of half lemon (about 2 Tbsp. juice)
¼ c. (or so) good olive oil
salt & pepper
For the walnuts:
These must be toasted. Heat the oven to 400*. Put the walnut halves on a baking sheet. Put it in the hot oven, and turn the heat off. Remove from the oven after 5 minutes (you should smell toasty nuts.) If they don’t smell toasty, leave them a few minutes more. Let them cool.
For the dressing:
Combine lemon juice, zest, mustard and shallot in a bowl. Whisk these with some salt & pepper until homogenous. Then, whisk in the olive oil just until it emulsifies.
For the salad:
Plate this just before eating it. Arrange the celery, then the squash, parsley,nuts and use a spoon to make little dollops of goat cheese. This might look pretty done Cobb-style with each ingredient in its own row, but I haven’t tried that. Drizzle with the dressing and enjoy!