Appetizers and Snacks · Sides

Salsa Criolla

Specifically, this recipe goes with Pamploma de Puerco which will be published on Thursday, but it works as an appetizer with tortilla chips just as well.  Looking for a new topping for taco night?  Or maybe something different to go with your chimichangas? This will work for that too.

This is from chef Jose Garces via Tasting Table.

 

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Salsa Criolla

Salsa Criolla

2 Tablespoons finely diced white onion

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

salt, to taste

1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup tomatoes, seeds removed and finely diced

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

In medium bowl, combine onion, vinegar and salt.  Let sit for about half an hour to soften the onion a bit.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Serve with grilled pork, chicken or beef, or just on its own with tortilla chips

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Appetizers and Snacks · Sides

Chimichurri Sauce

This a lively green sauce that goes well with nearly any beef, pork or even just drizzled on bread as an appetizer.   It is also a “must have” for the Tri-tip and Pamplona de Puerco,

This recipe is a compilation of about 20 different ones we have tried.  It makes just over a cup, which should be enough for 2 -4 people.

 

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Chimichurri Sauce

3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)

2 cups parsley, finely chopped

1 cup cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Serve.

Salads · Sides

Broccoli Salad

This will be my last post until after the holidays so I will share with you one of my favourite holiday salads.   Introduced to our holiday table many years ago by my sister in law, this became an instant tradition with every Christmas dinner.

For the of us who have people in our lives who resist eating broccoli in any way, shape or form, sprinkle the bacon on top of the salad instead of mixing it in and call it a bacon salad.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!!

This will serve 6 – 8 as a side dish.

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Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups chopped broccoli, from about 1 medium head

1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup dried cranberries

4 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

Mix mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and salt together in medium mixing bowl.  Add broccoli and stir to combine well.

Stir in dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and crumbled bacon.   Transfer to serving bowl and serve.

DO AHEAD – Salad can be made 6 hours in advance, without sunflower seeds and bacon. Toss those in just before serving.

Appetizers and Snacks · How To... · Sides

How to Make Sauerkraut or Kimchi

Over the past few years, I have developed an interest in fermented foods and their health benefits.

I could launch into a diatribe so much longer than you care to read and still only scratch the surface as to why we need more of these foods in our diets, but this is a cooking blog.  So, for more information on the benefits click on the highlighted areas.  People much smarter than me will give you more well researched information than I can begin to provide.  Aside from so many healthy reasons to eat fermented foods, the real reason our household eats them is simply because they taste good.

Sauerkraut is #3 on the list of good things to eat for your gut health.

It can be put together in about half an hour and demands very little attention once you have mixed it up.  Just a simple glance daily to confirm the process of fermentation is on track.  It does not require a starter, and if you choose to take a break from making it, you can do so without having to worry about taking care of the starter or mother during your break.    Making it fits in very easily with todays fast paced lifestyles.

Of all the websites I have visited, (and there have been several!) Holly Howe has the best instructional site to learn how to make this wonder food.

Her instructions are clear, easy to understand and, perhaps most importantly, very well photographed.  She offers trouble shooting advice if you are unsure of any part of the process and her resources page offers excellent advice on which are the best products available.  Her passion for sauerkraut and its myriad of variations is clear.

Here is the link to Holly Howes’ sauerkraut recipes, including Kimchi.

Enjoy!!

https://www.makesauerkraut.com/make-sauerkraut-101/

Appetizers and Snacks · Desserts · Sides

Tostones

Plantains…we have all seen them in the stores, sometimes green, but more often yellow with black spots so large I used to think they were past their life expectancy.  The truth is, have paid little attention to them, mostly because their appearance put me off.

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But then, one evening, watching The Amazing Race, the contestants were in Ecuador, which piqued my attention because we have friend from that country.  Wouldn’t you know it, one of the challenges was to cook plantains!!  They were making twice-fried  plantains, called Tostones.  Finally, a clue, and basically, a how to video right there, on prime time television!

I was very happy to surprise our Ecuadorian friends with a batch of these the next time they came over.

The technique is the same regardless of the colour of the plantain.  Greener ones will be savoury and can be served as part of a meal.  Salt them and dip them in ketchup, like French fries.  The yellow and black ones are riper, and therefore sweeter.  They are great for breakfast or dessert.   I like these sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.

Unfortunately there are no photos of my finished product because I was lame and forgot, but if you google Tostones, you will find many examples.

This makes 4 servings, about 120 calories per serving (without toppings, of course).

 

Tostones

2 plantains

oil for frying

Heat oil in large skillet.  You can either deep fry or just pan fry in a bit of oil.  (I chose to deep-fry mine)

Peel plantains and cut into 2″ pieces.

Add plantain pieces to hot oil and fry until they soften and are golden on both sides.  About 5 minutes.

Place fried plantains on paper towel covered work surface and gently press with bottom of a heavy glass or aa frying pan , squishing them until they are about 1/2″ thick.

Return flattened pieces to hot oil and fry until crispy.  About 3 minutes per side.

Drain on paper towels, season with salt and pepper.  Serve.

 

Appetizers and Snacks · Sides

Ratatouille

Basically,  vegetables cooked in olive oil, but !Ratatouille! is so much more fun to say.

There are as many versions of Ratatouille as there are cookbooks, it seems.

This version is much quicker than some, but the flavours are great and you wont have to spend 3 hours in the kitchen.

Because the ingredients are added to the pot in the order they need to cook, there is also less clean up at the end.

Seasoning is key, be sure to salt (and taste!) as you add each veggie to the mix, or you will end up with a tasteless bowl of sad veggies.

Serve at room temperature, or just slightly warmed.    A bowl of this with a sliced  baguette, maybe a little cheese… makes a great appetizer or even a light lunch.  You can also serve it as a side to your favourite grilled meat or toss it with some cooked pasta for a quick weeknight meal.

This makes about 4 servings.  Can be made a day in advance, and best if eaten within 3 days.

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Ratatouille

1 eggplant, about 1/2 – 3/4 lb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 large white or yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 red bell pepper, chopped into bite size pieces

1 small zucchini, scrubbed, quartered lengthwise, and cut into thin slices

3/4 pound ripe tomatoes, chopped coarse (about 1 1/4 cups)

1 sprig fresh rosemary (optional)

2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled

salt & pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Toss eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large colander and let stand in sink 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop and prep all your other veggies.

In a large skillet cook the onion and the garlic in 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened.

Pat eggplant dry with paper towels.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil increase heat to  moderately high and when oil is hot but not smoking, add the eggplant.   Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened.  If mixture looks dry, add a bit more olive oil.

Stir in the zucchini,  bell pepper, thyme and rosemary sprigs.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until all the vegetables are very tender and tomatoes are soft and have released their juices.

Taste for seasoning, add salt, and pepper to taste if needed.  Remove the thyme and rosemary sprigs.  Cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute.  Remove from heat, stir in the parsley and combine the mixture well.

Let cool to room temperature.  Spoon onto crusty bread or crostini and enjoy.

The ratatouille may be made 1 day in advance, kept covered and chilled.  Bring to room temperature or reheat  before serving.

 

Pasta · Sides

Linguine with Zucchini & Walnuts

A nice way to enjoy those zucchinis you worked so hard this summer to grow.

This takes minimum effort which makes it a great weeknight meal choice.  There is protein in the walnuts, which makes this perfect for Meatless Mondays.

Use a vegetable peeler (or mandolin) to slice the zucchini lengthwise into long thin ribbons. If you don’t feel you have the time or patience to do this, just cut it in half lengthwise and slice thinly into half moons.

Don’t skip the part where you salt the zucchini.  Use that 30 minutes to get the water ready for the pasta, toast the walnuts and mash the garlic and anchovies into submission.  You can have this on the table in 45 minutes.

Serves 4 as a main, 6 – 8 as an appetizer or side.

 

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Linguine with Zucchini & Walnuts

2 1/2 lbs small zucchini, trimmed

1 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic minced

2 anchovy fillets, chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 lb linguine (450 grams)

1/3 cup olive oil (plus more for drizzling)

3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1 cup grated parmesean

1/2 cup fresh basil or mint leaves, thinly sliced

Use a vegetable peeler to shave the zucchini into long ribbons, or simply slice the zucchini lengthwise, then cut crosswise into half moons.  Discard any scraps.

Place the zucchini ribbons into a colander, over a large bowl and sprinkle with salt.  Let stand 30 minutes, tossing a couple of times.

Rinse under cold running water and drain well.   Spread over 2 lint-free kitchen towels, roll up gently to absorb any excess water and set aside.

Meanwhile, toast walnuts in a small dry pan, tossing frequently, over medium heat until fragrant.  Transfer to small dish immediately so they don’t burn.  Set aside.

On your cutting board, using the side of your knife, mash garlic, anchovies, crushed pepper flakes with a pinch of salt to form a paste.  Transfer the paste to a large serving bowl.

Meanwhile, cook, pasta according to package directions until tender, but still firm to the bite.  Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta.

Transfer pasta to the bowl with the anchovy garlic paste add a splash of pasta water and the olive oil.  Toss well to combine.

Add zucchini, walnuts, half of the cheese and continue tossing until well combined.  Season with salt and pepper, toss again, adding additional pasta water if mix seems dry.

Drizzle with additional olive oil, sprinkle with remaining cheese and the chopped basil.  Serve.

Incase you are interested, the original version can be found here.