Category Archives: Sides

Fire Roasted Habanero Salsa

I was asked some time ago what was my favorite chile pepper to use when cooking. At first I was thinking it was the jalapeno as it is more on the mild side and can be tolerated by many, however as I continued to think about it, I thought it was the serrano, or heck even the habanero. There are so many that I do love, including the smoked jalapenos, and as importantly the Thai bird chile pepper. But the habanero is one of those awesome chile peppers that is just loaded with awesome flavor, and heat for that matter. In the past I have only used the habanero in making Jamaican jerk rubs, and even a habanero hot sauce that was completely addicting (and hot). With that in mind, I decided to take that idea of using the habanero and turn it into a fire roasted habanero salsa, plus I wanted to use a handful of tomatoes from my garden. Trust me, this salsa rocks.

Fire Roasted Habanero Salsa

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 whole habanero chilies
  • 1 cup of cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup of water

The cool thing about making this salsa is that you cook the vegetables and chilies directly on the coals. The Mexicans have been doing this forever, and it is typically referred to as cooking al carbon. The cooking method instills this awesome flavor that you typically will not get by cooking on your stove top or broiler. Trust me, try this. Folks have even been known to cook meat directly on the hot ashes as well!

Heat your coals until they are all nice and gray. Lay the onion, tomatoes, and habaneros directly onto the coals. Note that the onion will take longer to cook than that of the tomatoes and habaneros. Cook everything until they are completely black and super charred. Once fully charred place them in a bowl and let them cool to the touch.

How to make Fire Roasted Habanero Salsa

Once they are cooled, use the back of your pairing knife and remove the outer skin from each of the items. Don’t worry if you get a bit of ash or char along with the items. You can decide if you want to keep the seeds in tact on the habaneros. I kept two whole, and removed the seeds from the third.

Once the charred skin is removed, add the tomatoes, habaneros, and onion to a food processor. Toss in the garlic, cilantro, salt, and lime juice. Pulse until you have a nice consistency, then start slowly pouring in the water until you have your desired thickness. Taste and adjust with any salt.

The result is just the perfect amount of heat. It does have a kick to it, but the flavor is just out of this world. This stuff is great on just about anything. I was adding it to my omelettes in the morning, using it as a standard chip dip after work, and drizzled on chimichangas. I hope you enjoy and let me know what you think when you decide to cook al carbon!

Renaissance Faire Style Mushrooms

Not too far from Milwaukee, there is a annual summer-time event called the Bristol Renaissance Faire. It’s a good time to be had by all. It’s been years since I have last went, but I recall it rather clearly. I remember the people dressed in costume, the shops, the activities, and their food. So my coworkers and I got to talking as the faire recently ended, and one coworker kept describing their mushrooms and how awesome they were. I was set out to make those, as I knew I would be putting them on pretty much anything, and that was the truth. These mushrooms are perfect in texture, and have a great garlic and onion flavor.

Renaissance Faire Style Mushrooms

Let’s get started.

  • 32 ounces of button and cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 whole onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 sprigs thyme

This is really super simple, and one that goes pretty much the majority of the day.

Add the mushrooms to a large pot. Cover with water and the beef stock. Add a plate to the top, one that will fit, to make sure the mushrooms get a nice soaking until you are ready to add the remaining ingredients.

Next, heat a large skillet on medium heat.  Add the butter, and let it melt. Toss in the onions, garlic, and cracked black pepper. Give it a nice toss. Let this cook on medium heat, stirring along the way, just until the onions begin to soften, about 5-7 minutes.

Remove the plate from the mushrooms, and add the onion mixture to the pot. Add in the salt, and white wine.  Stir. Cover, and bring to a simmer, and cook for about 8 hours. Yes, 8 hours. About 6 hours in, remove the cover, bring the heat to medium, and add the sprigs of thyme.

How to make Renaissance Faire Style Mushrooms

The broth will reduce a bit, and that’s what you want, but you will still have plenty of broth. It’s yummy. I could just eat that by itself.

When you are ready to serve, ladle these in a bowl, or serve them as I did on top of mashed potatoes. Did I say that might be my favorite new combination? Mushrooms and mashed potatoes?

These mushrooms are addicting. They are super tender and just have an awesome taste. I mean you can’t go wrong with garlic, onion, butter, and wine.  It makes quiet a bit, so reduce how many ounces of mushrooms you want to make.

When I was cooking these, I thought that you could probably get away with these by making them in a slow cooker.  I hope you enjoy!

 

Jalapeno Popper Egg Rolls

Do you ever get that craving for something but don’t have the urge to make them, or heck even purchase any store bought brands? I recently had that craving, and it was for jalapeño poppers. I have never found a frozen, store bought jalapeño popper that I even came close to liking, and that is why I have made my own in the past.  But I will admit, they take a bit of time to make and that’s when I decided to take a different approach and come up with a new idea around the whole thought of jalapeño poppers.  I decided to take all that I loved in that appetizer, and turn it into an egg roll style. Man were these ever awesome.

Jalapeno Popper Egg Rolls

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large jalapeno peppers, stems and seeds removed
  • Egg Roll wrappers
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp canola oil
  • 3 cups Canola oil
  • 1 egg, beaten

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees.

Take each jalapeno pepper, and slice it in half, lengthwise. Remove the seeds and ribs, and place it on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining jalapeno peppers.

Drizzle a bit of canola oil over the peppers, and season with a bit of salt. Place in the oven, and roast the peppers for about 10 minutes. You will want a bit of texture to the peppers.

Remove from the oven, and let them cool. During this time, heat a pot on the stove over medium heat. Add in the remaining canola oil and bring it to 350 degrees.

How to make Jalapeno Popper Egg Rolls

Fill each jalapeno with a generous amount of cream cheese.

Take an egg roll wrapper, and lay on a plate with the points facing you, and away from you as pictured above. Add the stuffed jalapeno to the center, then fold over the bottom, gently pulling in towards you to tighten the fold.

Roll about a 1/2 inch, then fold over each side. Brush the exposed, top part of the egg roll wrapper with the beaten egg, and continue to fold to seal the egg roll. Repeat.

Once your oil is heated and the egg rolls are rolled, carefully drop about 3-4 into the pot, or as many that can comfortably fit, and cook for about 5 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove with some tongs and place onto a paper lined sheet to let any excess oil drain.  Repeat.

When you are ready to serve, just dig in and take a bite. It’s everything you love about a jalapeno popper, but in my opinion a heck of a lot better. I think the egg roll wrapper is actually a much better vehicle instead of the cornmeal exterior.

If you are looking for a great appetizer, or some great game day grub, give these shot. Hope you enjoy!

Bruschetta

We are up to our ears with fresh tomatoes, and that is never a bad thing. What I love about planting tomatoes, is really the excitement I see when I bring a large bowl into the kitchen and watching my wife’s expression. See, she is really the one who loves tomatoes. I stepped in my grandfather’s shoes where I’m not the biggest fan, but I do eat them. It took me years to actually love eating tomatoes, and when I say that, I mean in my late twenties when my wife and I were together. She is the one who gave me the nudge, and I probably started to really enjoy them when she turned me on to serving sliced tomatoes with a bit of soy sauce, and cracked black pepper, along with rice. With that said, we are sitting on a load of tomatoes, and it has been my goal to create recipes with them. That’s where bruschetta comes into play.

Bruschetta Recipe

I know people who simply love bruschetta, pronounced as Brusketta, and it is some of the simplest and pure things to make. Perfect for this time of year when you have an abundance of tomatoes. You can go as far as you want when making bruschetta, but to me, it’s the simple route. Tomatoes, a bit of basil, garlic, salt, and pepper, all topped on a crostini.

I am not adding amounts here as you basically want to have a substantial amount of tomatoes on each crostini. You could make 3 or you can make 20 if you know what I am saying. I fed a party of 8 adults and used about 12 small tomatoes, and 5 leaves of fresh garden basil.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Italian loaf of bread, sliced into 1 1/2 inch rounds
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 12 whole medium sized tomatoes, diced, seeds removed
  • 5 leaves of fresh basil, torn
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, optional

Start by heating a skillet on low heat. Add the butter, olive oil, and garlic. Melt and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. The goal is to infuse the butter and oil with great garlic flavor. Now you can skip this step if you want, and simply rub some of the toasted bread with fresh garlic, but I really enjoy the butter and oil combination, with just a hint of great garlic.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

To a parchment lined baking sheet, add the sliced bread. Brush both sides with the garlic butter and oil mixture. Sprinkle with some parmesan cheese. Place in the oven and toast for about 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden.

How to make bruschetta

During this time, quarter the tomatoes, and then chop into a small dice. Add the tomatoes to a bowl, and add in the torn basil, not chopped basil. Season with a pinch or two of salt and pepper, and stir. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about one hour.

You will notice juices extract from the tomatoes. That’s fine. Reserve that if you want and use it in some sauce, or bloody mary’s. Your call.

Take a crostini, and using a slotted spoon, add the tomato and basil mixture on the top of each crostini.

Plate and serve.

The result is nothing more that pure greatness. It’s simple. It’s fresh, and delicious, and you get everything you could ever want in fresh garden ingredients. Are you a fan of brushcetta? Do you ever change it up from the basics? Hope you enjoy!