Roasted Tomato Jalapeno Salsa

roasted tomato salsa
I’m sorry for my infrequent posts these past few months – but I have a good excuse.

Our family is growing! And while I have been feeling pretty good, all things considered, blogging has taken a back seat lately. In the past few months, I haven’t felt much like experimenting in the kitchen. Slightly nauseated and continually tired, my cooking pursuits have been limited to grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, whole wheat blueberry muffins, and mushroom cheddar omelets.

But all of that has suddenly changed. You see, I think I’ve reached that nesting phase. For most women, I guess nesting means washing baby clothes and hanging mobiles. But not for me. No, in our house Jeff is in charge of decorating the nursery while I obsessively stock our freezer with meals and ingredients to enjoy when we’re too bleary eyed and exhausted to even beat eggs.

Thankfully, our farm share’s bounty is well timed. The tomatoes have started to pour in, along with piles of fresh herbs and loads of garlic. This week, I threw it all in the oven, along with some green jalapeno peppers, and made a big batch of this spicy, smokey salsa. After I was done eating my fill of chips and salsa, I froze the rest. As it happens, cooked salsas actually freeze pretty well and retain their flavor for a few months in the freezer. The texture of the salsa might change when defrosted, but if you stir it well and heat it up again, it is just fine.

This salsa is really easy to make, and works well in all kinds of recipes. I froze most of my batch, and when I defrost it, I’ll probably use it to marinate steak for grilled steak fajitas. Or possibly I’ll toss it with some black beans, whole wheat pasta, and cheddar for a southwest pasta bake. I might even just spoon it into a tortilla with some scrambled eggs for a quick breakfast burrito.

Roasted Tomato Jalapeno Salsa
Makes about 4 cups

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
4 medium tomatoes, halved
3 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded
1/2 small onion, thickly sliced
4 peeled garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons minced scallion
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with half of the oil. Arrange the tomato halves, jalapeno halves, onion, and garlic cloves on the baking sheet and brush with the remaining oil. Roast the vegetables until the onion begin to brown and the peppers are blistered. Cool slightly. Working in batches, pulse the vegetables in a food processor and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the cilantro, scallions and vinegar. Add salt to taste. Serve right away, refrigerate for a few days, or freeze to use within a few months.

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Published in: on July 28, 2013 at 6:32 pm  Comments (2)  
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Breakfast Tostada

breakfast taco

What do you eat when you’re dining alone?

For me, it’s eggs.  It’s always eggs. 

Maybe it’s simply because Jeff hates eggs. I know – who doesn’t like eggs?  My husband, that’s who.  Omelets, scrambles, benedicts, quiches… all out of the question. So we don’t eat eggs together.  But when he’s working late, out of town, or just not hungry, I never think twice. It’s always eggs.

Or maybe it’s because there are a million ways to cook eggs, almost all of them quick, easy, healthy and perfect for solo meals. When I’m cooking for myself, I don’t usually like to fuss too much in the kitchen.  But that doesn’t mean I always want to order pizza or eat a bowl of Cheerios.  Although, sometimes nothing beats a bowl of Cheerios…

This breakfast tostada is great in the morning as a quick, healthy weekday treat for yourself.  But the recipe doubles, triples, or quadruples really easily, too, and makes a nice brunch with friends.  I like to use corn tortillas, since they toast up with the best texture.  I’m a big fan of chipotle salsa here, but use whatever you like most.  I think a good tomatillo salsa would be yummy.  But if you have some homemade salsa in the fridge, by all means, use it!  This recipe is really more of a suggestion, so play around with toppings.  You could add some refried beans or black beans.  Or maybe sprinkle on a few corn kernels or a squeeze of lime.  Perhaps go for some shredded cabbage instead of lettuce, for extra crunch. You could sub in turkey sausage or even vegan sausage for the chorizo, or use up some leftover shredded chicken breast.  You get the idea.

egg tostada

Breakfast Tostada

Makes 1 tostada

1 corn tortilla

1 teaspoon butter

1 egg

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons salsa

2 tablespoons cooked crumbled chorizo

2 tablespoons shredded lettuce

1 tablespoon sour cream

1 radish, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro

Toast the corn tortilla in the oven or toaster oven until mostly crisp, but not too browned.  Meanwhile, heat the butter in a skillet and fry the egg to your desired doneness.  I like over-medium, but cook to your preference.  Sprinkle the egg with salt and remove from the heat. Spread the salsa on the tortilla.  Top with the egg, the chorizo, the lettuce, the sour cream, the radish, and the cilantro.  Enjoy with a couple of napkins!

Published in: on February 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm  Comments (8)  
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Mexican Brunch: Chilaquiles

chilaquiles

A decade ago (yes, a decade!  feeling old!) my friends and I spent spring break in Playa Blanca.  Sitting on the beach, drinking Long Island Iced Tea and napping in a big hammock, we may as well have been in Daytona.  The only part of Mexico we actually explored on that trip was the bathroom at the gas station on the road from the airport to the hotel.

corn tortilla chipsNeedless to say, I’ve learned a thing or two since then about how I prefer to travel.  Sadly, I have yet to return to Mexico.  But I will. And when I do, I will explore as my younger self didn’t know I always wanted.  Of course, with limited vacation time, and lots of family to visit right here in the U.S., I know that trip might not happen for a few years.

But I can cook my way to Mexico in the meantime.  I may be in Boston, but my apartment certainly smells like I’m a lot further south.  I can’t honestly claim authenticity, since I’ve never even eaten chilaquiles in Mexico, but I will say that this brunch was fantastic.  I did do my reasearch, reading dozens of recipes and searching for the tricks to this Mexican breakfast classic.  We’ve already covered my Rick Bayless crush, so it should come as no surprise that I took a bit of inspiration from his direction.  But in the end, turning leftover tortillas and salsa into breakfast isn’t rocket science, so I pretty much just winged it – and I learned a few things along the way.

corn trtillas and salsaFirst of all, for proper chilaquiles, frying up your own tortillas is certainly the way to go.  This simple dish is all about the tortillas and substituting chips makes for a mealy mess. Secondly, the toppings and garnishes are key, so if you can get Mexican crema and cotija cheese, do it.  And finally, while not necessarily the most traditional way of eating chilaquiles, the dish is lovely topped with a fried egg.  But if you want some more authentic protein, you might add a bit of shredded chicken breast, or some browned Mexican chorizo. I made my own salsa, but if you’re short on time, I think a good jarred version would work just fine.  I might go for a tomatillo salsa next time, but certainly play around with what you like, as the dish is extremely adaptable. 

I’ve now made it to the second challenge in the FoodBuzz Project Food Blog!  So exciting!  And this comforting Mexican classic will serve as my entry into challenge number two.  So please don’t forget to vote for me. Click here to vote.

chilaquiles

Chilaquiles

Serves 4

1/2 cup vegetable oil

15 ounces corn tortillas (about 15 small), cut in wedges

salt

3 medium tomatoes, halved

1 white onion, quartered

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 jalapeno, halved lengthwise (seeds removed if desired)

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided

1 cup cojita cheese, divided (substitute feta if you can’t get cojita)

1/2 cup crema (substitute sour cream thinned with milk if you can’t get crema)

4 lime wedges

4 eggs (optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat.  Fry the tortillas in batches; they will soften at first and then begin to brown.  Remove the tortillas to a paper-towel lined plate when they are still slightly pliable, and not too brown.  You don’t want chips! Sprinkle the cooked tortillas with salt.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Arrange the tomatoes, onion, garlic and jalapeno in a greased baking dish.  Roast until the edges of the onion and jalapeno are very brown and the tomatoes shrivel, about 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool slightly.  Puree, adding a few tablespoons of water if needed.  Add the lime juice, half of the cilantro, and salt to taste.

In a large skillet, warm the salsa with about 1/2 cup water over medium heat until bubbling.  Add the tortillas and toss to coat well.  Cook, tossing, for 3-5 minutes.  In the last minute, add half of the cheese and mix well so that the cheese begins to melt. Meanwhile, if using the eggs, heat a well-greased pan over medium.  Crack in each egg and cook until bottoms are set.  Flip once and cook for just a few moments more for over-easy.

To serve, mound the chilaquiles on 4 plates.  Top with the remaining cheese and cilantro, drizzle with the crema and top with an egg, if desired.  Serve hot with a lime wedge.

Published in: on September 25, 2010 at 1:45 pm  Comments (51)  
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Salsa, Salsa, Salsa

Mexican steak

I’ve never really understood celebrity crushes.  Sure, I had a poster of Chris O’Donnell tacked to my wall when I was thirteen, but I just really liked Batman.  In any case, it never made much sense to me to get all mushy about a made-up character.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done my share of unrequited pining.  Perhaps most memorable was my highschool philosophy teacher, who had a sort of Hugh Grant-meets-Dartmouth thing going. I’m a sucker for fleece. And brooding.  With all of that Descartes and Sartre and Camus, it certainly wasn’t little old Madame Sbarge who inspired me to major in French in college. And years later there was the do-gooding surfer.  I had clearly moved on from fleece to flowing locks and from existentialism to fighting malaria.

rick bayless salsaBut lately, my crushes have moved in a culinary direction.  Technically, I suppose that Rick Bayless is a celebrity, and that I have a celebrity crush.  But when I flip open one of his books (two of which my wonderful husband gave me for my birthday) and make salsa, I actually feel a bit like he’s in my kitchen.  OK, not really, but that doesn’t stop me from talking to him.  “Rick, is this enough cilantro?” “Are these cascabels toasted enough?” I’m not sure that he would totally approve of my results but he certainly could not fault my efforts.  Salsa-making has become my new obsession.  Poor Jeff has endured everything from an overly smoky chipotle version to a too-salty tomatillo salsa. But I’ve finally got the hang of it. I’m loving roasted tomato salsa and chipotle-roasted tomatillo salsa.  You can find a few great recipes here on Rick Bayless’ website.  And with so much salsa hanging around the house, I’ve discovered that it’s awesome as a marinade, great on roasts, tasty in corn chowder, terrific in mac and cheese, and it even makes a spectacular salad dressing.

But most often I’ve actually just been making these quick, easy, and healthy tostadas. With the weather finally warmer (please don’t let this be a tease) I love grilling the steak here, although you can just as easily use a grill pan on the stove top.  These are a little messy, but that is part of the fun. 

Mexican steak tostada

Steak Tostadas

Serves 4

1 lb flank steak

1 cup roasted tomato salsa (if you choose store-bought salsa, Fronterra brand is my favorite!)

3 tbsp cider vinegar

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 poblano pepper, chopped

1/4 cup chopped red onion

salt and pepper

8 corn tortillas

6 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup thinly sliced cabbage

1/4 cup sour cream

Marinate the steak in a mixture of 1/2 cup salsa and the cider vinegar for 30 minutes.  Season the steak with salt and pepper.  Preheat the grill or a grill-pan.  Grill the steak until desired doneness.  Allow to rest for a minute or two and then slice thinly.  Meanwhile, heat the oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat and saute the poblano and onion until soft, about 5 minutes, season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toast corn tortillas until crisp.  Arrange two tortillas on each of four plates.  Top with cheese, steak, pepper mixture, and finally cabbage.  Serve with remaining salsa and sour cream.  And lots of napkins!