Archive for the ‘Dips & Sauces’ Category

Roasted Chicken with Tuscan Sauce, Fried Polenta and Balsamic Peppers

October 14, 2011

Roasted Chicken from a roadside vendor is one of the true delights of living in Puerto Rico.  There is so much love put in these tender, juicy birds roasted on the spit.  The local rub used is made with Sazon (available in spice isles of better supermarkets or Latin markets), a close relative of adobo.  You literally can smell these delicious birds roasting from a block down the road and start salivating while pulling over to the truck.  I couldn’t buy and roast a bird as cheaply as I can buy one of these roadside babies.

Remove the skin of the chicken if you must and top it with a quick Tuscan sauce and shaved Parmesan.  Polenta triangles sauteed  in butter and garlic provide the starch and sauteed aje dulces chiles (or bell peppers) with a drizzle of Balsamic vinegar lend a bit of crunch.  The polenta and Tuscan sauce may be prepared up to 2 days ahead.  This is light fare for a week-night dinner you and your family will love.  read more

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Avocado and Olive Dip

August 28, 2011

Hurrican Irene certainly has not affected the avocado harvest this year.  For the last 3 weeks we’ve had an abundance of big beautiful avocados for guacamole, salads, burgers, sandwiches, potato causas, fried avocado wedges and just eating right out of the shell with a little lime juice, salt and pepper.

I’ve also been pickling pequin chillies and jalapeño peppers which go in my salsas…some with Puerto Rican sofrito.  Last winter when the limes were in season I preserved some in salt using an old Fiji Indian recipe and they are really coming in handy for seasoning the avocados.
My card partner and I feasted on nachos with this dip on Thursday.   I gave some to my neighbors who called it “rico” en español, meaning delish in any language.  Its super easy to throw together, then stuff it back into an avocado shell for a simple presentation.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
  • 1 ripe avocado, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp jalapeño peppers, chopped
  • 1 scallion, sliced thinly
  • 8 black olives, chopped
  • 1 heaping Tbsp picante salsa
  • 1/4 salt-pickled lime (2 tsp lime juice plus salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together just until combined.  Try to leave some chunky texture.

Pequin Chile Sauce

August 24, 2011

According to the Scoville Heat Scale pequin (also spelled piquin) chile peppers are right up there with Tabasco and Cayenne pepper…30,000 SHU to 60,000 SHU.  Not as hot as a Scotch Bonnet or habañero pepper but plenty spicy and fruity for my tastes.  Pequin chiles grow wild here in Puerto Rico and I have also picked them in the wild bush of Tonga in the South Pacific.

One of the advantages to this recipe is its replenishable without having to add more chilies or start from scratch again…at least a couple times…all that is needed to fill up the bottle again is more brine and time.

Any size glass bottle or jar will work depending upon how many chilies you have.  If a gallon jar is used, strain the sauce through a fine-mesh and fill smaller bottles for table use.  If you can’t find fresh pequin chilies in local markets, there are dried pequin chilies available in most Latin markets or check out chilepequin.com for seeds and all the instructions to grow your own pequins.  They also have several good salsa recipes.

Use this sauce like Tabasco.  It adds a little sparkle to just about any savory dish.

go to recipe

Homemade V-8 Juice and Canned Tomato Variations

June 5, 2009

V-8 juicecanned tomatoesTomatoes are abundant now and inexpensive especially if purchased in quantity.  Unlike hot-house tomatoes that the supermarkets carry in the winter,  fresh summer tomatoes are full of flavor that you can smell.   They’re a good source of vitamins A and C, and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.   Cooked tomatoes actually have more antioxidants than fresh tomatoes, the exact opposite of other antioxidant rich foods which lose their potency when cooked.  Researchers believe a person who drinks one glass of tomato juice everyday will live a very long healthy life.  

Tomato pulp with milk powder makes a wonderful facial mask that will actually help heal acne and defoliate skin.  Idea of Beauty claims vitamin C and potassium found in tomatoes help heal the skin.  We know the vitamins and minerals in tomatoes are internally good for our bodies so if you’d rather absorb  those nutrients in a pampered facial mask, than eat them, so be it.  Certainly anything good to eat will not harm your skin unless you’re allergic to it.

There are dozens of varieties of tomatoes.  Beef steak tomatoes are good for salads, sandwiches, salsas, and stuffed with chicken salad, tuna salad, herbed cottage cheese, tabbouleh or couscous. 

Roma tomatoes are more fleshy and make excellent Italian sauces, canned whole tomatoes, or dried tomatoes.  Even the sauce can be dehydrated for tomato paste. 

Cherry tomatoes and salad tomatoes on the vine are wonderful roasted and preserved with olive oil for antipasto, meze plates, and everything in between.   

There has got to be at least one new dish created everyday that uses tomatoes.  Try a few of the recipes given here.  Add your own herbs and spices, make them your own.  And while tomatoes are at their peak, preserve some for winter.

Homemade V-8 Juice:

  • 4 lb tomatoes, washed, cored, and chopped 
  • 1 stalk of celery, washed and chopped with leaves  
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small red beet, peeled and chopped  
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped 
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, washed, seeded and chopped 
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  •  2 tsp of Old Bay Spice (or 2 basil leaves and 1 sprig thyme)
  • 1 Tbsp horseradish 

Method:

  1. In a stainless steel pan, cook vegetables and seasoning about 20 minutes or until they are tender. 
  2. Puree in a food processor.
  3. Add sea salt and sugar to taste.  Chill.
  4. Follow the method for Canned Tomato Juice for larger quantities.

Here are a few ways to preserve them: 

  1. Frozen Tomatoes:  Wash and core, place in freezer bags whole and freeze.  They thaw out in a flash and are excellent in bolognese sauce and stews or soups.
  2. Canned Tomato Juice:  Wash, core, quarter and cook (without added water) over medium heat in a stainless steel pan just until tender and juicy.  Run through a food mill or press through a fine mesh sieve (chinoise) to remove skins and seeds.  Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cloves, salt to taste and 1 Tbsp lemon juice for every quart of juice.  Pour tomato juice into hot sterilized jars up to 1/2 inch from the rims, seal and process in a pressure cooker for 25 minutes. 
  3. Canned Whole or Diced Tomatoes:  Wash and core tomatoes, slice an X into bottom of each tomato, dip into boiling water for 2 minutes then remove the skins.  Pack whole tomatoes or diced tomatoes into quart sized sterilized jars with 1 tsp sea salt (0r taste) and 1/2 tsp citric acid.  Pour hot tomato juice into jar up to 1/2 inch from rim of jar, seal, and process in pressure cooker for 35 minutes.
  4. Dried Tomatoes:  Use Roma or cherry tomatoes.  Wash and slice in half.  Place on trays in an electric dehydrator and dry per manufacturer’s instructions.  Or, place on racks over cookie sheets and dry in a 250° F. oven, turning ocassionally, until tomatoes are leathery.  Place dried tomatoes in sterile jars and store in a cool, dark pantry.  Or, add basil leaves, garlic, salt, and pour in hot olive oil up to 1/2 inch from the rims.  Seal immediately and place in a cool, dark  pantry for 1 week before using.  Refrigerate, after opening, up to 6 weeks.
  5. Tomato Caper Tapenade:  3/4 cup of dried tomatoes in oil, 1/4 cup drained capers, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp lemon zest, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves.  Process all ingredients until smooth.  Spoon into an 8 oz hot-sterilized- jar, top with 1/4 cup hot olive oil, seal immediately.  Refrigerate, after opening, up to 6 weeks.

Crock-Pot Chili Cheese Dip for a Crowd

April 22, 2009

Back in the 70s I was a football widow who became an armchair quarterback.  I cooked a score of eats for our gang to munch on during Sunday football games on TV.  This recipe was one of the favorites.  Its easy and cheap to make.  Probably one of the very few “junk foods” I’ll eat and definitely one of the only dishes I make with processed foods.  Enjoy!  Everyone deserves a day of debauchery.

  • 1 large box of Velvetta cheese, chopped or cubed coarsely
  • 1 medium sized jar of  hot picante salsa
  • 1 small can of diced green chilies

In a sauce pan over medium heat, cook cheese with salsa and green chilies until cheese melts and mixture is smooth.  Transfer to crock-pot with a warm setting.  Provide a ladle, paper plates and lots of tortilla chips so guests can help themselves.