Tag Archives: fresh

Chile-Brined Fresh Whole Ham

Last November when I was trying to make a decision about the turkey we’d prepare for Thanksgiving, quite by accident, I saw a news segment about a local turkey farmer In San Diego?  I immediately researched to find that yes, we really did have someone who raised turkeys in Valley Center, just north of San Diego.  Of course I jumped at the opportunity and ended up not only with an excellent organic turkey, but I was able to meet the farmer, Jack Ford of Taj Farms who delivered the bird to my kitchen.  We had a great talk about how he started raising poultry and other animals on a farm that actually began as a hobby.  But this isn’t about the turkey.

It’s about pork.

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Hold the Grease: Tacos with Potatoes and Skillet Corn and A Trip to Old Town San Diego

Late in April each year the Cinco de Mayo ruckus begins.  Ads on television air, local restaurants sport signs about Cinco de Mayo happy hours and don strings of red, green, and white flags, grocery stores advertise their specials full of bagged chips and cheese sauce in jars, and Twitter is abuzz with questions about what everyone will be making for their Cinco de Mayo parties.

“Interesting” but far from authentic variations on tacos and guacamole surface, there’s talk of new-fangled margaritas and cerveza, and for those interested in dessert, margarita cupcakes seem to be everywhere sporting that perfectly swirled, creamy top.  “You want it with or without salt?”

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Fresh Roasted Pepper and Olive Bruschetta

There are some flavor combinations I never tire of regardless of what time of the year it is.  The classic flavors of basil and tomato with a sprinkle of minced red onion, squirt of lemon, and drizzle of fruity extra virgin olive oil will always entice me. Equally delicious are chopped fresh tomatos, green onions, cilantro, and jalapenos with lime juice — a combination so perfect, I can easily skip the tortilla chips and head right for a spoon to enjoy the salty-tart-spicy flavor that would never be the same without cilantro.  I think I love cilantro even more than basil.

But another combination has come close to pushing both of the others aside as being tops in my mind — or my mouth:  roasted peppers, capers, and briny olives. Ironically, the flavors in this combination would work quite well with many of the others I’ve mentioned, but I enjoy them in a mix like this one — assertively delicious with the unexpected addition of anchovies.

Anchovies?  Those little fish in the can with the curly lid that when I’m ordering a pizza to go topped with “the works” I always politely decline?  The little salty things whose absence would leave a Caesar’s salad an unappetizing plate of flavorless lettuce, and pasta puttanesca without anything to be sassy about beyond a sprinkle of dried red pepper flakes.

Do any of us ever really say we like anchovies?  Probably not, but the key to learning to stop avoiding them is to see them as an ingredient to be mixed with others instead of sitting on top of a pizza.  If the anchovies were mixed into the tomato sauce instead, it would intensify the flavor leaving us to wonder what made it so good.

Think about it.  How many other ingredients which enhance one another when mixed together are basically unpleasant when eaten alone?  Capers.  I’ve tasted them just to see, and they’re quite bitter.  Or in most recipes which call for capers, the directions will advise rinsing them first.  For years, I did just that, and to make sure I understood why, I tasted the brine.  Not pleasant.  But when it’s mixed into many other ingredients, it’s quite fabulous.  Soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar — all are less than pleasant when tasted alone.

Freshly roasted peppers, on the other hand, are perfect alone sprinkled lightly with salt, but they’re truly delicious in this mix. It’s perfect tossed with pasta for a salad when you don’t feel like cooking, or spooned over grilled meat or fish.  It’s helps make an omelet interesting and is especially excellent spread over a piece of crusty bread slathered with goat cheese.

It’s the best party food even if you’re the only one at the party, because then you don’t have to share.

Be brave.  Don’t forget the anchovies.

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Fresh Fruit Tartlets

Apricot Raspberry Tart

Much has happened since I last posted and ironically, most of it has had nothing to do with food.

Shocking, isn’t it?

No, I haven’t stopped cooking and yes, our waistlines confirm we’ve continued to eat, but I’ve chosen not to:  1) take time to jot down notes about a recipe when I’m fiddling around with it;  2) shoot process steps and results, and  3) upload and edit photos.   Do you have any idea how completely fabulous it is to eat dinner without having to do any of that?

But I digress.  I haven’t lost interest — I’ve wanted to squeeze as much out of this last summer as possible having my youngest son at home before he ventures off to college, so have saved some time for family instead.  Even the big guys have been around more than they normally are.  It’s been great having a house full of menfolk again, if only for a few evenings, and sometimes, when no one’s looking, I’m a bit of a mess.  You know, having trouble with the stiff upper lip and all.

I’m not quite back in the thinking-about-food-all-day-every-day mode, but I’ll get there — I’m busy processing how different my life will be from this point forward.  I’m a bit drifty, a tad obsessed with organization, and taking yet another look at my diet and the amount of exercise I subject my body to.  For those of you who know me, I understand  you’re thinking, so what’s new?

Right.  Shall we talk about food?  And because I’m avoiding carbs, and anything baked in particular, let’s discuss pie.

Perfect little lingering wisp of summer fruit pies.

Yes.

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Not My Mama’s: Mexican Street Tacos

Tortilladora & Masa

Because I’ve been dreaming of the street tacos I had while in Mexico, I decided to put that bag of masa I’ve had in my cupboard since the last time we attempted making our own tortillas to good use.  It’s been a while because let’s face it — San Diego is a hop-skip-and-a-jump from the border and there are plenty of places to get authentic tacos here.  I just never order them.  I’m more of a carnitas person so can’t tell you much about how good the tacos are at our favorite “Los Dos” across from Albertson’s on Turquoise in Pacific Beach.  It’s on my agenda to find out, though.

In the meantime, I treated myself to a tortilla press to the tune of $17.  It makes me smile about this cooking “hobby” I have, because that sum could purchase quite a few packages of perfectly fresh corn tortillas if you know when the delivery guys stock the best ones at the market.  But the woman in Puerto Vallarta made it look so easy:  Make a ball, put it on the lower plastic covered plate, press, and peel.  Voila!

Yes, well, let’s just say that after watching me try a few with less than completely desirable results, my husband was gnashing at the bit to step in and finish the rest with no trouble at all.  Go figure.  Perhaps it’s a math thing.

And the taste?  Would they compare favorably with the El Cisne taco cart in Puerto Vallarta?  I say definitely.

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