Salsa

Salsa with roasted goodiesLet me start by saying I have never seen my wife eat that much salsa before, at a restaurant, or out of a jar. I watched her eat this salsa, loving every bite. When I see that, I know I am doing something right. The spice, the flavors, the aromatics. Salsa is something that I have been experimenting with for some time now, as it is so versatile. This “first” batch is worth trying and making your own. Trust me, it’s all good.

Ingredients:

(50 minutes)

  • 2 large roma tomatoes, crisscross sliced near the top
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 2 fresh jalapenos
  • 1 Guajillo pepper, dry
  • 1 Ancho Pepper, dry
  • 1 large onion, peeled
  • Olive oil
  • Cilantro
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Salsa in a food processorThis might sound complicated, but only takes about 50 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375. In a small bowl, add the onion, jalapenos, and garlic, and coat with approximately 4 tbs of olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for nearly 35 minutes.

In the meantime, in a small pot filled with water, add the tomatoes, ancho, and guajillo peppers, and bring to a boil for roughly 10 minutes. The goal with the tomatoes is to get the skin soft enough to peel away. Once the veggies have cooked in the oven, as well as the tomatoes, let them all cool. Once cooled, peel the skin off the tomatoes and toss the skin away, squeeze out the garlic into a bowl, slice and get rid of ‘some’ of the seeds of the jalapenos, and get ready to rumble. Now do not remove the water from the pepper/tomato pan, keep this to add liquid to the salsa for texture.

For the peppers, including the jalapenos, slice them down the middle, get rid of the stem element, and remove some of the seeds, depending on how hot you want your salsa. Now I removed about 90 percent of the seeds for my wife’s sake.

OK. Toss all of this into a food processor, or blender, everything. Toss in a tbs of salt. Add your black pepper, cilantro, and let it blend. Blend to your texture, and add more of the tomato/pepper water to build this texture. You know how you like your salsa.

Now let it cool for a couple of hours, one hour in room temperature, one hour in the refrigerator, and let it go. Eat it with your carnitas, burritos, tacos, nachos, or an omelet. The fun thing is that you can make this your own. Go with it until you find it.

Bagna Calda

Bagna CaldaBagna calda you ask? I thought the same thing when my sister-n-law mentioned how good this was, and was also heavily supported by my brother-n-law. This recipe is made once a year by the Gaughn family, and we all know that if you are going to make a dish once a year, it has got to be good. Well, I finally got around to making bagna calda. I consider this dish a warm bath filled with love. Not only that, but one that is way too simple to make.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 6 anchovie filets
  • 8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Dash of pepper
  • French bread, cut in large cubes
  • Fresh vegetables, I used the following
    • Brocoli
    • Cauliflower
    • Red Bell Pepper
    • Zucchini

Start by cleaning and preparing your vegetables. Trim the cauliflower and broccoli into florets for easy dipping. Take the other and cut them into large quarter slices. Keep in mind that you and your guests will use skewers or toothpicks to dip into the bagna calda.
Bagna Calda with anchovies Once prepared, heat the butter, oil, garlic, and anchovie filets on medium to low heat. Occasionally stir the to melt away the anchovies. Keep the heat on low, and if possible transfer to a fondue plate or some type of warming dish. When you are ready, dip your vegetables, and bread into the bagna calda, and enjoy with a glass of your favorite wine. After having this as an appetizer, I thought that it would also be good drizzled over steamed vegetables later in the week. Remember, it’s all good.

Barbecue (BBQ) Sauce

BBQ SauceLately, I have been watching shows on barbecue. These shows covers areas of our country where, let’s face it, bbq is king. These states include North Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee. When I see shows like this, it makes me want to do two things; slow cook some pork, and eat it with some really great sauce.

Now sure, I can pick from one of my nine sauces I have either in the refrigerator or my food cabinet, however this time around, I wanted to make my own. Some of my favorite sauces come from Famous Dave’s, Speed Queen’s, and many more. I wanted to make a sauce that my family would love, however something that would have a kick to it as well. I believe I got it. Enjoy this sauce with pork, beef, fries, or whatever you like to put sauce on.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of regular white vinegar
  • 7 tb of white sugar
  • 3 tb of cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup of ketchup
  • 1 tb of soy sauce
  • 3 tsp of onion powder
  • 2 tsp of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp of dry mustard
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 2 tb of chipotle adobo sauce

Combine all of your ingredients, and cook over medium to low heat until sauce begins to clear and thicken. Let cool and store in a large ketchup bottle. Trust me, it’s all good.

Mac-n-Cheese

Mac-n-CheeseA colleague and I had a recent discussion on velveeta cheese. Let’s face it, a block of velveeta is funky, but overall, truly tasteful in dishes like queso or macaroni and cheese. Now I have made several batches of mac-n-cheese over the course of my lifetime, however I would say that I took a different approach to this last batch. My first thought was how can I make the mac-n-cheese not only a bit different, but also something my kids would attempt to eat.

Ingredients:

  • 3 small onions, or 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 4 TB of butter
  • Roughly 1/8 cup of all purpose flour
  • One box of medium sized macaroni shells, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups of milk
  • Cheese, lots of it, approximately 2-3 cups (I used smoked gouda, medium cheddar, and mozzarella)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Mac-n-CheeseIn a skillet, add your butter and chopped onion. Cook this down for roughly five minutes on medium heat. You do not want to caramelize the onions, but let them sweat. Add the flour and mix through. Let this cook for a couple of minutes, then begin to add the milk, and gently whisk until it gets thick and bubbly. You can begin to determine the thickness at this point in time. Add salt and pepper, then add all of your cheese. Let this melt down. In a large casserole dish, add the cooked noodles, then pour of the cheese mixture. I put in the oven for even more golden brownness for roughly seven minutes. Dish out into bowls and enjoy.

I did have these for leftovers the next day and added a bit of chipotle in adobo sauce, it was rocking. I have also mixed in a crushed garlic and pepper paste that also added a great kick to it, if you are into it.