Pico de Gallo

I am tired today – even Tech Guy here at the office mentioned how tired I look.  He’s a sweetheart, and as a Type II diabetic who struggles with his diet was quite sympathetic when I told him that although I’d tried very hard to eat right this weekend, we ate out so much that it knocked me all out of whack – Bob Evans and Cheesecake Factory don’t exactly do local and sustainable.  I further botched things up last night; we stopped on a whim at our absolute favorite restaurant in Ohio.  They do serve locally obtained, unprocessed food, but if you throw alcohol and dessert into the mix, well…

Cut me some slack – I’m paying for it this morning.  (It sure was tasty, though.)

At any rate, I’m back on track today and will remain there until I’m seduced once again by the siren song of a four-star restaurant.  Which doesn’t happen with any regularity, thank goodness.

So – pico de gallo.  There’s some debate about the origins of the name, but it’s basically a fresh, uncooked salsa often served with Mexican dishes.  It’s easy and delicious and has the added bonus of being extremely good for you, too.  I don’t care much for cooked tomatoes, but I love them raw and this is one of my two favorite ways to eat them (I’ll get to the other way later in the summer when my own tomatoes ripen).

Note: Seed the jalapeños unless you like it really spicy.

Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo

makes 3 – 4 cups

2-3 medium sized fresh tomatoes, finely diced

1/2 red onion, finely diced

2 jalapeño peppers, finely diced

Juice of one lime

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients except the salt and pepper in a medium sized bowl; taste and season.  Let it sit, covered, for an hour or so at room temperature, to allow the flavors to combine.

Can be served as a condiment, side dish or as a dip with good quality tortilla chips.

Printable version (requires Adobe Reader)

Pico De Gallo (Salsa Fresca) on Foodista

Guacamole

GuacamoleWell.

I was going to do something rather fun (if necessary) today, but that work-related crisis I told you about yesterday?

Yeah, it’s still here.

I’d do my Charleton Heston impression and fall to my knees while wailing, “Damn them!  Damn them all to Hell!” but it just wouldn’t have the same effect, since I lack a ruin of the Statue of Liberty, to say nothing of a beach.

So.

It occurred to me today in my desperate attempt to find something to blog about that would distract me from the work-related crisis that Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner.  Then it occurred to me that I have a lot of Mexican inspired recipes, because I’m from Texas and am required to love Mexican food.  So, between now and Cinco de Mayo I will post nothing but Mexican and Tex-Mex recipes.  Well, when I post recipes…I won’t post them every day.

You get my drift.  Right?

And we’ll start off with Guacamole.  The recipe I’m giving you is based on the recipe from Diana Kennedy‘s The Cuisines of Mexico, and it is simply delicious – the best guacamole you will ever eat.  If you do not have a molcajete (I do and I love it), blend the base ingredients well in a blender or food processor and mash the avocados roughly into it.  Always serve guacamole immediately once it is made, as Mrs. Kennedy instructs:

“This is such a beautful concoction, pale green flecked with the red of the tomato pieces and the darker green of the [cilantro]…It is so delicate that it is best eaten the moment it is made.  There are many suggestions about keeping it – leaving the pit in, adding  a little lime juice, not adding the salt until last, putting it in an airtight contianer.  They all help a little, but in no time at all that delicate green has aged.”

Guacamole

serves very few in my house

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion

2 or 3 Serrano chilies, finely chopped (seed beforehand if you don’t like it too spicy)

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

2 large ripe Haas avocados

1/2 cup finely chopped, unskinned ripe tomatoes

Garnish

Scant 1/4 cup chopped tomato

2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion

1 1/2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro

In a molcajete (or mortar and pestle), crush the cilantro, onion, chilies and salt together and grind to a paste.

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.  Mash the flesh roughly into the base mixture.  Stir in the chopped tomato.

Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup tomato, onion and cilantro and serve immediately.

Heroin Wings

Chicken WingsI believe I’ve mentioned a time or fifty that I’ve been on just about every diet known to mankind.  I’ve lost quite a bit of weight on quite a few of them, too.  However, I find the older I get, the less effective low-fat diets are.  I have discovered, when I can find it in myself to stick to it, that a reduced carbohydrate diets works really well for me.

My problem seems to be, though, that I love to bake too much.  And I get really sick of the sight of cauliflower after awhile.

The funny thing about it, though, is that when I go on a diet, the kids seem to like what I cook when I’m doing the low-carb thing the best.  That cauliflower I get so sick of?  Jolly and Miss Jacki ask me to make it every time they see me.

Heroin Wings are another favorite, especially of The Young One and Darling Daughter.  I have to say, they are tasty, tasty things…but if you’re a low-fat dieter, you’ll be able to hear your arteries harden just reading the recipe.  Bearing that in mind, they’re perfectly okay once in awhile – even if were to do Atkins (which I wouldn’t – Protein Power is my low-carb diet of choice; I like the science behind it), I wouldn’t eat them on a regular basis.

The Young One has been begging me for some for quite some time, so I made them last night.  Give them a whirl, if you’re so inclined – I usually serve them with just raw vegetables and a little veggie dip.

Oh – the reason they’re called Heroin Wings?  They’re addictive.  They make a great party food or appetizer, too.

Heroin Wings

3 lbs. chicken wings, sectioned

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (yes, the stuff in the green can)

2 tablespoons dried parsley

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350° F.   Line a baking pan/cookie sheet with foil or Silpat mat, if you have them (the Silpat are great for this).

Combine the cheese and seasonings in a wide, shallow bowl.  Dip each chicken wing section in the melted butter, roll in the seasoned cheese and place on the baking sheets.

Bake for 1 hour.  Baste with barbecue sauce or buffalo wing sauce the last 15 minutes, if desired.

Printable version (requires Adobe Reader)

Bacon Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Stuffed TomatoesFirst off, our very dear friend Twenty Four at Heart has had some rather distressing news.  Please go pay her a visit and lend her your support.

Second, you know you have too much to do at the holidays when you realize that not only is one of your local clients an independent gift and card shop and you didn’t buy your holiday cards from her, but you sent her one purchased at a Hallmark store.

Oops.

Well, I am finally getting into the mood for all of this and will probably go do the last of our Christmas shopping this afternoon, and actually wrap gifts this evening.  And take pictures of our decorations and post them.  And start my (very belated) cookie and candy making.

Or maybe not.  Who knows?

So, here’s another recipe I’m making for the party this Saturday.  It is quite tasty and if you buy some of that pre-cooked bacon, very simple.  I also used strawberry tomatoes in place of the cherry tomatoes and made half without bacon (subbed chopped green onion) and they were devoured.

Bacon Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

2 pints cherry tomatoes

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (not the stuff in the can)

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

16 ounces bacon, crisply cooked, drained and crumbled

Cut the top off each cherry tomato, and using a melon baller or a sharp knife, carefully scoop out the seeds and pulp. Place each tomato upside down on paper towel to drain.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl. Stuff each cherry tomato with the bacon mixture. Chill in fridge for at least 2 hours to blend flavors.