Cooked Salsa

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This salsa recipe is the one that I make in abundance during the summer months for canning purposes. That way, in theory, we have lots of salsa to open during the winter months.

Last year’s salsa only made it to October. So either we eat a lot of salsa, which we do, or I really need to make a lot more. I’m determined to do that this month.

I refer to it as a cooked salsa, as opposed to my go-to fresh salsa, shown below, which requires summer ripe tomatoes.

The great thing about making your own salsa is that you can make it to your own specifications. My husband doesn’t like salsa that’s too vinegarry and I don’t like them sweet, which many purchased salsas are.

I will give you an approximation of my cooked salsa recipe, but I encourage you to create your own recipe that fits you. I don’t like my salsa to be burning hot, but I do like heat and lots of flavor flavor. This salsa recipe contains all of the important basic ingredients that guarantee a wonderful, flavorful salsa. But tweak it as you like.

Cooked Salsa

Lots of tomatoes, about 5 pounds, of any variety but all red
4 tablespoons oil of choice, I use olive oil
3 white onions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
6 green chile peppers like Anaheim or Hatch chiles, finely chopped
6 jalapeno peppers, diced
1 head of garlic, peeled, minced
2 – 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes, or equivalent product
2 bunches of fresh cilantro, mostly leaves, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
A few pinches of cayenne pepper, optional
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon

To begin, peel and seed the tomatoes. To peel tomatoes, get a pot of water boiling on the stove, and have a bowl of icy cold water set to the side. Cut a shallow X opposite the stem end of each tomato, and place a few at a time in the boiling water for about 45 seconds. Remove them to the icy water and repeat with the remaining tomatoes. Let rest on towels once they’re out of the cold water for about one minute. With a paring knife, the peel with come off easily. Then core each one, and remove the seeds.

Chop and place in a bowl; set aside.

Next, chop the onions, finely chop the red bell pepper, stem, de-seed and chop the chile peppers, and dice the garlic. I used a gadget for much of this chopping.

In a large pot, pour in the oil and heat it over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté them for about 5 minutes. Then add the bell pepper, chile pepper, and garlic dice to the onion mixture and cook gently for about a minute.

Add the fresh and canned tomatoes. Notice I’m using New Jersey crushed tomatoes. It’s a great product!

Cook the mixture, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes. It should not be watery. If it is, cook a little longer. Then add the cilantro and seasonings. Taste.

Stir in the vinegar and cook for about one minute, then stir in the lemon juice. The theory is that the zing is needed from the vinegar, but the lemon juice removes the odor from it. Turn off the stove and let the salsa cool before adding to sterilized jars, if you’re canning..

This post is not a primer on canning but I recommend doing it. We’ve all worried that food will explode, but it won’t! Get yourself a few products, plus a good book. There are safety concerns, but canning is not a big deal.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe. If you want to make salsa during winter months, you can simply use all canned tomatoes, perhaps a mixture of diced and crushed, depending how chunky you want your salsa.

One can certainly get more creative as well, using roasted chile peppers, including chile pepper powders, adding other ingredients like beans, corn, and peaches. It will all work!

Roasted Jalapeño Salsa

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The recipe comes from the blog Living the Gourmet. The founder of this blog is Catherine Cappiello Pappas, but two other contributors include her son and daughter.

I’ve made the salsa once before, and wanted to make it for the blog so I can share the recipe. I was a bit skeptical at first because it’s not traditional, but it’s wonderful.

I served it with some chicken fajitas, but it would be fabulous with fish!

Roasted Jalapeño Salsa

12 large jalapeños
2 Roma tomatoes
2 heads garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 generous bunch cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons honey
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, or your preferred roasting setting.

Start by preparing the jalapeños. Remove the stems, then slice them vertically around the core of seeds. Discard the seeds and stems. Roughly chop the jalapeño slices and place them in a medium-sized bowl.

Chop the tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds, then place them in with the jalapeños.

Slice the garlic heads crosswise and bang on them to release the cloves. The intact peels are fine, you just want to remove the root. Add the cloves to the jalapeños mixture. Toss the mixture with the oil and salt, then place it in a baking/roasting dish. Roast until vegetables are caramelized, about 30 minutes.

Let cool, then pinch the peels off the garlic cloves and place the garlic in a food processor; discard the peels. When you’re done, add the roasted jalapeños and tomatoes to the food processor. (If you are able to, pinch off the tomato peels and discard them as well.)

Place the remaining ingredients in the processor and pulse, until the desired texture. I like it a little chunky, not smooth.

This salsa is very good served alongside a black bean dip with chips, which I did before.

If you want to see the individual salsa ingredients more, chop them by hand instead of using the food processor. But the flavor is so good, I don’t mind the slightly mushier texture.

Ms. Pappas also recommends it as a crostini topping, or omelet filling. (Both with feta or goat cheese!)

I see endless possibilities with this salsa!

Spicy Pork

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I’ve never routinely watched cooking shows, and never thought I would. Well, never say never! During the pandemic, I happily discovered a few entertaining shows that I enjoyed bingeing. One is Amy Schumer Learns to Cook, and another is Somebody Feed Phil. Both are fun and funny as well as educational. Then, I discovered The Chef Show on Netflix, and once more I was hooked. It’s hosted by Chef Roy Choi and Jon Favreau.

I’ve mentioned Roy Choi on my blog before when I made a spectacular sauce from his cookbook, L.A. Son, which is a great read. It tells the story of Chef’s rise to fame from a Korean-American kid in Los Angeles to highly regarded chef status. Along the way he attended the C.I.A. and lucked into an externship with none other than Eric Ripert!

What I didn’t know when I watched the movie Chef back in 2014, is that the main actor, Jon Favreau, who plays a disgruntled chef who starts his own food truck, actually trained for his role with Chef Roy Choi!

Chef Choi, well known for his famous food truck Kogi in Los Angeles, was a perfect fit for Favreau. Choi sent Favreau to a week of intensive French culinary schooling. His knife skills are super impressive.

The pair got along so well that well after the movie they decided to visit chefs and celebrities and cook with them, and called it The Chef Show. In one episode, Gwyneth Paltrow asks the two what the point of the show is, and they both start laughing, cause there really wasn’t, as it turns out. They just have fun cooking together, cooking with others, mentoring, and eating.

So far, I’ve watched the pair cook with Wolfgang Puck, David Chang, Wes Avila, the duo of Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, some foodies and non-chefs as well. The chefs are my favorite cause you get to watch them at work, and they put both Jon and Roy to work as well. It’s all fascinating.

When Chef Roy cooks on the show, it’s like watching a magician. His sweet and spicy sauce that I made had about 800 ingredients in it, and many measurements like 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon. Seriously, that seemed crazy to me, that adding 2 or 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds would make a difference. But when you watch him, you get it. It looks random, but it’s madman precision.

In every episode, I’m scribbling like crazy to write down the recipes, pausing occasionally to write, sometimes pausing to google. Chile de valle? Couldn’t find it.

But then, I found the darn recipes online. And one that I really enjoyed is called BBQ spicy pork. It’s a menu item at Chef Choy’s Best Friend restaurant in Las Vegas at the Park MGM, which reopened in March of 2021 after closing during the pandemic.

To make the spicy pork, you first make a marinade called Galbi, the name of a Korean rib barbecue sauce, then you use some of it to make the spicy pork marinade.

BBQ Spicy Pork

Galbi Marinade:
2 cups soy sauce
1 cup maple syrup
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 medium onion, quartered
1 scallion
1/3 cup whole garlic cloves
1/2 kiwi, peeled
1/2 Asian pear

Purée these ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Spicy Pork Marinade:
1 cup Galbi marinade
1 cup gochujang
1/4 cup gochujaru
2 jalapenos
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup whole garlic cloves

Purée these ingredients until smooth.

1 1/2 pounds pork butt, sliced 1/2″ thick
1 1/2 pounds pork belly, sliced 1/2″ thick
Salt
1 large onion, sliced into thin wedges
1 cup spicy pork marinade
Cooked white rice
Sliced green onions
Sesame seeds

Place the meats in a large bowl and coat with the spicy pork marinade evenly and heavily. Allow to sit at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours in marinade.

Remove the pork from the marinade. Season lightly with salt. Grill on a flat griddle.

Add the onion slices and cup of marinade, and continue cooking until meat is nicely charred and cooked through, slightly chopping the meat as it cooks.

Serve over white rice.

Sprinkle generously with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.

And the remaining Galbi marinade? I poured it over abou5 2.5 pounds of cut up pork shoulder, marinated it for 24 hours, then cooked it in a slow cooker. Wow! What fabulous flavors.

Schug

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I’m so excited! I’ve discovered a new condiment called Schug, and my husband even loves it!

It originates from Yemenite cuisine, but has spread in popularity throughout the Middle East, from what I’ve read. It’s typically used over falafel or shawarma, but it can be used on fish, eggs, and just about any meat.

So what is schug? It’s a really bright green mixture of jalapeño peppers, cilantro, parsley, and olive oil. I’ve seen recipes with cumin; some also list cardamom, and some list coriander. I’m using both. If you want to read more about schug this is a good article here.

Schug

8-10 jalapeño peppers
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
10 small cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of ground white pepper
1/4 olive oil

First remove the stems of the jalapeños. Holding them vertically with a latex-gloved hand, slice the flesh of the jalapeños downward, avoiding the inner seeds. This technique works well with all kinds of peppers if you want to avoid seeds as well as the membrane.

Place the jalapeño slices, the cilantro, parsley, garlic, and all of the spices in a food processor.

Add the olive oil and process with the pulse button. Add a little more olive oil if necessary. Leave some texture in the sauce.

Place the mixture in jars; it can be frozen.

When you’re about to use it, it can be thinned with a little more olive oil first.

What I’m doing with the schug today is drizzling it on a salad of tomatoes, beets, and fresh mozzarella.

Tomato, Beet and Mozzarella Salad with Schug
Serves 2-4

3 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced
Equal number of beet slices, from a jar, drained well
Equal number of fresh mozzarella slices
Schug, thinned with some olive oil

Layer the tomato, beet, and mozzarella slices on a serving plate.

Generously drizzle the salad with schug.

Sprinkle the salad generously with flaked salt.

I can also see the sauce mixed with mayo or sour cream, or even a bechamel to create creamy schug!

Singapore Noodles

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My daughters recently met in Austin, Texas for a fun-filled extended weekend. They stayed an an adorable motel, and worked their way to bars and eateries in Austin for serious sister bonding.

For what was “probably one of the best meals ever,” was lunch at Elizabeth Street Cafe, which opened in South Austin in 2011. It’s a “little restaurant boasts sunny dining rooms and a shady garden patio and serves fresh breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as takeout.”

What’s interesting is that it’s a Vietnamese cafe and French bakery/boulangerie, so while you enjoy your ba´hn mi, you can order baguettes and macarons.

In anticipation of their mama’s upcoming birthday, my girls purchased the Elizabeth Street Cafe cookbook, and boy did I have trouble picking the first dish I’d make out of it. Except the macarons; I always leave those to the experts.

Finally I chose Singapore Noodles with shrimp and roasted pork, and it turns out that it was the first dish on the Elizabeth Street Cafe menu. It remains a best seller. The same noodles show up on their breakfast menu without the shrimp, but with sunny-side-up eggs on top.

I happened to have rice vermicelli noodles in my pantry. And they’re from Singapore!

Singapore Noodles with Gulf Shrimp and Roasted Pork

For the pork:
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons annatto seeds
1 pound pork shoulder or butt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

For the curry slurry:
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon sriracha
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

For the noodles:
1/2 pound rice vermicelli
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 large white onion
1 jalapeño, stemmed, thinly sliced
1 Fresno or other red chile, stemmed, thinly sliced
12 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
2 eggs
2 large handfuls cilantro
6 scallions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
1 large handful watercress
1 lime, cut into wedges
Sriracha, for serving

In a small pot set over low heat, warm the oil, add the annatto seeds, and cook, stirring twice, until the seeds are fragrant and sizzling and the oil is brick red, about 5 minutes. Strain the oil through a sieve into a small bowl and discard the seeds. Cool the oil to room temperature.

Season the pork all over with the sugar and salt. Put the pork in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in the annatto oil. Squeeze all the air out of the bag so the oil completely covers the pork. Refrigerate and let marinate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Set a roasting rack over a sheet pan. Put the pork on the rack and drizzle whatever oil remains in the bag over the pork.

Roast until the pork is browned and tender, about 2 1/2 hours, turning it halfway through roasting. Remove the pork from the oven and let cool to room temperature; then cut into large bite-size pieces – discarding any large pieces of fat – and reserve. Reserve the bright red fat in the sheet pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the curry powder, turmeric, fish sauce, sriracha, and ginger with 1/4 cup water. Let sit for 1 hour at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Line a plate with a clean cotton dish towel. Put the noodles in a large bowl of hot tap water and soak until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain the noodles and transfer to the lined plate. Place a second clean cotton dish towel on top of the noodles, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

In a large wok set over high heat warm the oil until smoking. Then add the reserved pork and cook until the meat is crisp on one side, about 3 minutes.

Add the onion, jalapeño, and Fresno chile and cook, stirring until the vegetables pick up some color, about 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp and cook until browned on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Add the reserved pork fat from the roasting pan and the noodles and stir rapidly to combine the ingredients in the pan. (If your pan is small, cook the noodles in 2 batches.)

Move the stir-fry to one side of the pan and crack the eggs into the pan, stirring with a wooden stpoon or chopsticks scramble the eggs and to incorporate them into the noodles.

Then stir the curry slurry and pour it over the noodles. Continue to stir and toss the noodles to evenly distribute the slurry. Stir in most of the cilantro and scallions and taste for seasoning, adding more salt if needed.

Transfer the stir-fry to a serving platter, and place some of the shrimp on top of the noodles.

Top with the remaining cilantro and scallions and the watercress.

Serve immediately with the lime wedges and sriracha.

Oh my goodness, I could eat this dish every day. Probably for all three meals. I can’t really describe how good it is, but you can tell from the ingredient list.

The one thing I did differently was to roast the pork at a higher temperature for about 30 minutes. I think this was preferable to pork “baked” at only 350 degrees. Otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing!!!

Mustardy Cauliflower Cheese

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Will Ottolenghi ever stop writing cookbooks?!! That’s rhetorical, of course. I certainly hope he continues, because I am enamored with the four I already own, before I just had to buy Simple, his most recent, published in 2018. And I’m so happy I did.

I’ve already made many recipes from Simple. It’s that good. And, it doesn’t seem like a repeat of Jerusalem, Plenty and so forth. In fact, I’m not sure I spotted pomegranate seeds in Simple’s food photos!

One extremely intriguing recipe is called mustardy cauliflower cheese. I’ve seen cauliflower cheese recipes before, meh, but when Ottolenghi has one, I pay attention!

From Ottolenghi: This is the ultimate comfort dish, looking for a roast chicken, some sausages, or a pan-fried steak.

Mustardy Cauliflower Cheese
Serves 4
Printable recipe below

1 large cauliflower, broken into florets
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 green chilies, seeded, finely diced
3/4 teaspoons black mustard seeds
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 1/4 ounces aged cheddar, coarsely grated
Salt
1/3 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Steam the cauliflower over boiling water for 5 minutes, until just softening. Remove and set aside to cool slightly.

Put the butter into a 9” round casserole pan or oven-proof dish and place over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 8 minutes, until soft and golden.

Add the cumin, curry powder, mustard powder and chiles and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the mustard seeds, cook for 1 minute, then pour in the cream.

Add 1 1/4 cups of cheddar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce slightly thickens.

Add the cauliflower, stir gently, and simmer for 1 minute before removing from the heat.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup of cheddar in a bowl and add the breadcrumbs and parsley. Mix, then sprinkle over the cauliflower.

Bake for 8 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cauliflower is hot. Turn the broiler to high and keep the pan underneath for 4 minutes, or until the top is golden and crisp.

Keep an eye on it so that it does not burn.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little – just for 5 minutes or so – before serving.

You can imagine what this cauliflower smells like, with the cumin, mustard, and curry spices!

Roast chicken would certainly be the perfect accompaniment. Or sausages.

Savory Biscotti

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The cookbook by Martha Stewart, called Martha Stewart’s Hors D’Oeuvres Handbook, was published in 1999, pretty soon after I started catering.

It’s a beautiful book, even if you’re not a Martha Stewart fan. Her ideas for hors d’oeuvres are, not surprisingly, creative and unique. Sometimes they’re on the crazy end of the spectrum – completely impractical and unreasonable.

One thing always got my attention – savory biscotti. She served them like fun crackers, but they could be used for canapés.

When I think of biscotti, I always think sweet, like my Christmas biscotti. But these are savory varieties, and include ingredients like nuts, seeds, cheese, olives, and other goodies. I imagined them to be really good served alongside cheese, with prosecco or rosé.

I decided it was time to make a variety of savory biscotti for a fun get-together, to have something unique on hand!

The following recipe is the base recipe. What I actually used in my savory biscotti is below.

Savory Biscotti
by Martha Stewart
printable recipe below

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk

Place the flour, pepper, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Combine on low speed.

Add the butter and beat until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the eggs, and milk. Gradually pour the milk mixture into the dough and mix just until combined.

This is the base dough for savory biscotti. Before chilling the dough and proceeding with baking, add various combinations of savory items and make sure they’re well distributed.

I kneaded the dough a bit before folding in my add-ins, which are listed below, along with Martha’s suggestions.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with the remaining olive oil and set aside.

Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. (I halved the dough to make 2 logs.)

Roll each piece into a log measuring 1 1/2″ thick and about 7″ long. (I formed a log about 12″ long, then flattened it to about 1/2″ thick. (I am pretty sure MS meant 1 1/2″ wide, not thick.)

Transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Brush each log with an egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt). I didn’t do this. I did make sure there was a bit of grated cheese on the top of the biscotti, however.

Bake until the logs are light brown and feel firm to the touch, about 30-40 minutes. Reduce the oven to 250 degrees F.

Using a serrated knife, slice the logs crosswise on a long diagonal into 1/4″ thick slices that are 3-4″ long. Arrange the slices cut-side down on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and bake, turning the biscotti halfway through cooking time for even browning, until crisp, about 40 minutes.

Cool completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

These biscotti really are fabulous, and perfect on a cheese platter. Charcuterie would be a fabulous addition.

Today I simply paired them with Cambazola, but they’d be crazy good with a soft goat cheese or any spreadable herbed cheese.

You can really go crazy with all of the ingredient choices. Martha Stewart’s orange zest suggestion was really tempting but I didn’t have any oranges on this day.

Instead of all olive oil, you could use a flavored or infused oil, or even a little truffle oil.

I’ll definitely be making these again, and will enjoy switching up the ingredients.

Ingredients I used in addition to the above recipe:
Dried parsley
Garlic powder
White pepper
About 3 ounces coarsely chopped walnuts
About 3 ounces pitted Kalamata olives, sliced lengthwise
Grated Grana Padana, about 1 1/2 ounces

Martha Stewart’s savory biscotti suggestions:
Lemon zest, capers, parsley, and browned butter instead of olive oil
Orange zest, pistachios, and black olives
Parmesan, fennel seeds, and golden raisins

Cranberry Salsa

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Years ago I was visiting with my friend Dan, who is quite a foodie, and he asked me if I’d ever had cranberry salsa.

Cranberry salsa? I’ve never heard of such a thing! Where have I been? This just made me absolutely giddy. It’s always so exciting to come across something new and different.

Dan printed the recipe, and gave me a few suggestions on adaptations he’d made to it. But he promised me I’d absolutely love it with the turkey I’d be serving on Thanksgiving.

And I did. Here is that recipe. Thanks, Dan!

Cranberry Salsa

1- 12 ounce package cranberries
2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup super-fine white sugar
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

Place the cranberries in a colander. Remove any bad ones and give the rest a good rinse.

Then place the cranberries on a towel to dry.

Place the jalapenos, garlic and sugar in the food processor and pulse until you can’t see any large pieces.

Add the cranberries, cilantro, oil and lime juice and pulse all of the ingredients, without over-processing.

Pour the salsa into a bowl and fold in the sliced green onions. I’ve found that this is easier than using the food processor to chop up green onion.

Cranberry salsa is really good, and I serve it with tortilla chips or pita crisps.

You can refrigerate the salsa overnight, but serve it at room temperature.

And as a condiment, it’s spectacular with turkey.

I make turkey cutlets often, and the pairing is fabulous.

Whether served as an appetizer or as a condiment, you’ll enjoy the zing of the cranberries and jalapeño.

The original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar, but I can’t fathom adding more than the 1 cup of sugar I used. It’s perfect to me just the way it is.

Next time I might consider adding some toasted walnuts or pecans to the salsa at the last minute.

Also, ginger could be used along with the garlic. Or, crystallized ginger…

Escabeche

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My thoughtful daughters gifted me a do-it-yourself fermentation kit for Christmas, 2017. Escabeche immediately came to mind.

I’ve only made escabeche one time, many years ago. The reason I only made these crunchy, zesty vegetables once is that the vinegar smelled up the house for days, which was very upsetting to my husband. I thought perhaps using the fermentation crock will “stink” up the house less.

The recipe I used was from Diana Kennedy’s ground-breaking book on Mexican cuisine, the bible, in a way – The Art of Mexican Cooking, published in 1989.

Escabeche is the Spanish word for “pickle”. Legumbres en escabeche describes a combination of pickled vegetables. It originates from Veracruz, and is a favorite for serving with Mexican dishes.

Chiles Jalapeños en Escabeche
Pickled Jalapeños
Makes about 8 cups

1 pound jalapeños, rinsed
1 1/2 pounds carrots, trimmed and scraped
3 tablespoons sea salt
1/3 cup water
5 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
10 peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seed
4 whole cloves
16 California bay leaves
Leaves from 2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup safflower oil
1 pound white bulbous onions, boiling onions, or regular white onions
3 cups mild vinegar
1 cup strong vinegar
10 garlic cloves, peeled
6 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

Remove the stems from the fresh chiles and cut each into 4 lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and put into a large bowl. I don’t have to scrape out seeds because I cut around the seeds.

Slice the carrots diagonally about 1/8” thick and add to the chiles. I used a mandoline for even slices. Sprinkle with salt and toss well. Set aside to macerate for about 1 hour.

Put the water into a blender jar and add the chopped garlic, peppercorns, cumin seed, cloves, 10 of the bay leaves, the thyme leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon of the oregano. Blend as thoroughly as possible.

Heat the oil in a large, fairly deep pan. Add the blended spices and onions and fry until the liquid has evaporated and the onions are translucent, not brown – about 10 minutes.

Strain the chiles and carrots, reserving the juice, and add to the pan. Fry over fairly high heat, stirring and turning the vegetables over for 10 minutes.

Add the chile and carrot juice, vinegars, whole garlic cloves, 6 thyme sprigs, remaining 6 bay leaves and remaining teaspoon oregano, and the sugar.

I wish you could smell this! The depth of odor is remarkable.

Bring to a boil and continue boiling for about 8 minutes. Transfer to a glass or ceramic bowl and set aside to cool before storing in the refrigerator.

But instead, just to take these pickled vegetables a step further, I used the fermentation crock for 24 hours, after the vegetables cooled down. I could have chosen 3 days, but I didn’t want the vegetables to lose crunchiness, which is very important.

The weight, placed over the vegetables and shown in the above right photo, is used to hold down the vegetables and keep them submerged in the pickling liquid.

The first time I used these aromatic pickled vegetables was with chicken and corn enchiladas made with an ancho white sauce.

Note: To better understand the difference between pickling and fermenting, this is a great read.

And if you’re interested in this kit, it was purchased at Uncommon Goods. The packaging is very sweet, and there are directions and recipes.

Too Many Jalapeños?

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If you like to cook and garden like I do, then you probably grow a variety of chile peppers. It doesn’t take but a couple of pepper plants to keep a family stocked with fresh chiles, but I always plant too many. This is especially true with jalapeños, cause we like them.

So here’s an idea that might come in handy when you have jalapeños coming out your ears like I do. Dehydrate them!

I hold the peppers, stem-end, in my left gloved hand (disposable latex gloves are handy for this), and then cut uniform slices with a knife in my right hand. (I’m right handed.)

Place the slices on dehydrator trays, making sure they’re not overlapping.

jal11

I place the heat setting on 118 degrees Farenheit. It typically takes about 24-36 hours, depending on the fleshiness of the chile peppers and the thickness of the slices.

jal111

And take note – even though the jalapeños are dehydrated, they’re still very strong! And during the dehydration process, the air in your house will be chile pepper-potent.

After they’re completely dehydrated, let them cool completely, and store in sealable bags in the refrigerator.

jal66

You can tell that I used green and red jalapeños in the batch I just dehydrated.

jal1111

Alternatively, if you don’t own a dehydrator, place the slices on a jelly-roll pan, without overcrowding, and put the pan in the oven at about 200 degrees. It should only take about 8 hours. Lower the heat towards the end – you don’t want any browning, just dehydration.

Either way you dehydrate them, they’re handy for soups and stews, chilis, beans, stuffed bell peppers, omelets, or this stir fry.

Here they are topping a summer zucchini and corn soup.

jal2

Here they are on a chicken curry.

I hope you find dehydrated chile peppers as handy and versatile as I do! Having a dehydrator is also helpful if you have an abundance of cherry tomatoes!

Now, if you have a lot of jalapeños you can do what Debbie and David do from The Mountain Kitchen, which is to make their own chipotle peppers! If you weren’t aware, chipotles are smoked and dried jalapeños. Enjoy their beautiful photo!