Monday, March 21, 2011

Mexican Pickled Onions-Cebollas Curtidas, Perfect Side for Tacos

Simple Onion becomes Brilliant in Cebollas Curtidas
The ways in which simple foods take on a magic every day in Mexico are truly endless. I first tried Cebollas Curtidas at a street taco stand in Torreon Coahuila & was so overwhelmed by the street tacos that I just knew every single part of that experience was grand.  It was later when I saw the colorful onions again & knew I had never tasted onions quite like the Mexican Pickled Onions. They were sweet, spicy & altogether unexpected. In the Yucatan they use oregano &  chilis habanero in these onions. I suspect that the jalapeno addition may be more of a Northern Mexico style but the citrus juice makes these onions a side dish to be remembered. I have also heard these are a menu item all through Latin America from Guatemala to Ecuador. 

Cebollas Curtidas, Mexican Pickled Onions
2 medium red onions, thinly sliced (approx. 4-5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 med. limes)
2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice (5 med. oranges or 2 med. grapefruit)
Don't forget to use non metal containers
1/3 cup of white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled & halved
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed & very thinly sliced into rings

1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add onions and blanch for about 15 seconds. Drain well and set aside.
2. Combine lime juice, orange juice, sugar, and salt in a large nonreactive bowl, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add blanched onion slices and jalapeño, and stir to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. **the brine can also be seasoned with peppercorns & bay leaves.
Cebollas Curtidas are perfect for Shrimp or Veggie Tacos

 We enjoyed the Mexican Pickled Onions with Shrimp Tacos this weekend but the onions are delicious over any taco which has fresh roasted meats or veggies.  I first tried them on Potato Tacos.

Shrimp Tacos

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon minced green onion
1 liberal dash of cholula hot sauce or favorite sauce
1 each red bell pepper, green bell pepper chopped
8 corn tortillas, warmed

Saute garlic, bell pepper 2 min over medium heat, add shrimp, season with salt, pepper & hot sauce. Serve immediately with Pineapple, Cebollas, Curtidas, Avocado, shredded Radish & Cilantro (also

cheese if you please). Enjoy & Buen Provecho!
*Blanch the Onions for 15 seconds to keep the color & crisp quality.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Gumbo Shooters, powerful sip of Soup.

Did the last time you had something in a shot glass make you feel less than virtuous? 

Try serving up your favorite soup in a shot glass. No virtue promised here but no roaring headache the next day either! I hosted Bunco night here recently & served Gumbo one last time. I wanted to serve Gumbo since our cool nights are long gone here in Texas & won't return for several  months.  I had a New Orleans theme going for my friends & fellow Bunco players.  Normally I serve rice with Gumbo however with tiny servings I didn't think rice was necessary & not one person noticed the absence of said starch.  I prepared the Gumbo ahead of time & kept it warmed in a crock pot during the festivities.  I recommend the 2 oz wide mouth Duralex shot glasses.  They are reasonably priced & have enough space for a good sipping Gumbo!  Les c'est le bon temp rouler!
Duralex 2 oz shot (wide mouth) glasses hold a nice sip of gumbo 

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo Shooters
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. veg. oil
1 c. flour
Make a roux from the butter, veg. oil & flour in deep dutch oven or gumbo pot. Once your roux is deep brown or copper penny color then add & saute:
1 sm. onion, diced
1 med. bell pepper, diced
2 lg. stalks celery, chopped
Once the vegs are cooked add 1 quart chicken stock or warm H2O. 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. salt, *Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning to taste. Add 4 lg. skinless chicken breasts. 1 pkg. (1 link) smoked beef or pork sausage. Simmer till the meat is cooked well. Remove this from, the gumbo & chop up chicken and dice up sausage. Add this back into the gumbo, keep simmering. Add 1 frozen pkg. okra. Add one small bunch of green onion tops, chopped. Once this comes to a low simmer turn it off & serve in small shot glasses.  Use  a small size ladle to make the Gumbo transfer neat & tidy. 
*Tony Chachere's is a popular season salt from Louisiana, even when living in Mexico I could find this spicy seasoning. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's Officially National Pi Day!

Four & Twenty Blackbirds

3/14, 3.14: The Celebration of ratio of the circumference of a circle or Hold that Pie Chart....what better reason to celebrate the Glorious Pie? Really, do we need a reason?? Apparently the House of Representatives made it officially Pi Day & they never make mistakes do they? Check out the Wikipedia Pi Day link! Why did the photo of the Pi guy make me smile?

What about that blackbird pie poem from childhood?  Pie has been national past time for literally centuries, there are volumes written, childhood poems glorifying them but the end result is still the same. One of my daughters likes to call the fruit pies: "hot mushy fruit". Whether you enjoy a creamy custard or hearty apple pie it can be a satisfying experience paired with a cup of coffee & lingering conversation.  It may not sound exciting but no dessert brings back memories for me like a family pie recipe. Having said that I thought I'd share a quick Fresh Blueberry Pie which had even the least likely of pie fans at our home eating this pie & wanting seconds.Our blueberries have been so delicious here. I've been buying those pints of berries & eating them over yogurt & cereal more often than not however they are perfect for sauces & desserts. Hope you enjoyed your Pi Day!

Fresh Texas Blueberries
Fresh Blueberry Pie
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup water
4 cups fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Con Olio Lemon Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon melted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons equal parts sugar & cinnamon
17.3 oz box of Puff Pastry, thawed, 2 sheets
In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch, stir in water. Bring to a boil; stirring constantly, boil for 1 minute. Add blueberries, lemon juice & vinegar. Line a lightly buttered deep dish (9 inch) pie pan with 1 puff pastry sheet. Pour blueberry mixture into the crust then layer the top of the fruit with the second layer of puff pastry, loosely fold both crust at the edge to loosely seal the edges. Lightly crimp drizzle melted butter & sprinkle with sugar & cinnamon. Bake at 425° for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Enjoy!

Need more diversity in your pie?

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Oh wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?
The king was in his counting house counting out his money,
The queen was in the parlor eating bread and honey
The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose!

(**eeks! Not certain why this poem make it into the bedtime repertoire of so many children.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Buzzing about Kale


I'm not exactly sure why it took so long for this veggie to regain popularity.  Kind of like the tall girl in the back of the dance class, kale hardly had a second glance for a very long time.  In the past 18 months I've heard a great deal of buzz about kale. Not to detract but this modest member of the vegetable kingdom needs more than a second glance almost as much as .....Bacon! (don't hate about the bacon note but seriously can we shift gears for a moment here? Enough foodie talk about bacon...besides what hasn't been written about bacon recently? ) 

I've always been a proponent of greens in all textures & varieties. At times I am certain my family has been rather skeptical at one more dish of anything of the "green" variety.  In the past 2 years it seems like foodies everywhere are singing the praises of kale & chard. In the United Kingdom kale was widely popular during World War II because of the ease which it was grown in Victory gardens & the nutritious benefits the greens added to the wartime rationed diets.  kale has 192 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin c as well as minerals like iron, niacin, potassium and phosphorus. Not loaded with nitrates & fat, kale is low in calories & good for us too.  Many folks out there are touting the anti-cancer agents found in Kale. When I first heard about Kale Chips I couldn't imagine baking kale & having it keep any flavor.  I was impressed by the time I saw Giada de Laurentiis turn kale into a crispy side dish although it might be considered an appetizer.  Served with a side of the lemony mayonnaise & I could be in heaven in less time than it takes to toss on the olive oil & throw a serving of kale in the oven. Giada has a genius for knowing her audience & somehow tossing sea salt over the EVOO enhances kale making it perfection.  The big taste test came when the kale chips were brought to the table & my husband started raving about them.  A real hit for certain.  Recently, I've also been rather enamored with Whole Foods selection of Kale Salads.  Check here for a modest recreation or twist on my own Kale Salad which is also posted on the lunch box blog here:

Potato & Kale Chips
3 large Kale leaves
Extra Virgin Olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 (8-ounce) medium white potatoes, unpeeled
* 1 (8-ounce) medium sweet potatoes, unpeeled


* 1 cup mayonnaise
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 a large lemon)
* 1 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1/2 a large lemon)
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chips: Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the thick stem from the kale and discard. Cut the leaves into 2 to 3-inch pieces. Put them in a bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Toss well. Arrange the kale in a single layer on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until crispy and slightly dark on the edges. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Using a mandoline slicer or a sharp knife, slice the white potatoes and the sweet potatoes into 1/8-inch thick slices. Put them in a bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Toss well. Arrange in a single layer (without overlapping) on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 12 minutes. Turn the slices over and continue to bake, checking every 2 minutes until brown and crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes longer. Season the chips with salt and pepper, to taste.

Mayonnaise: In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Transfer all the chips to a large bowl and serve with the mayonnaise.

Cook's Note 1: Some potato chips will cook faster than others. Remove the chips from the baking sheets as soon as they become brown and crispy.

Savory Kale Salad
Cook's Note 2: The recipe can be doubled or tripled.