Spicy Tomatillo & Mango Salsa

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Not much to say about this stuff except that it is easy & delicious.  It is the result of my local produce delivery sending me tomatillos & an impulse purchase of a random mango.  I brought this to a BBQ & it went over pretty well.  It would also be good on fish or meat – like a chimichurri.  It would be great anywhere you use salsa – on tacos or burritos, etc.

If you own a blender or food processor – you are good to go, otherwise, there will be lots & lots of chopping.

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Spicy Tomatillo & Mango Salsa

Makes 2-3 cups

INGREDIENTS

12 tomatillos – quartered

1 mango – peeled & cubed (see ways to make that easy HERE)

1 small red onion – peeled & quartered

1 large handful of cilantro

1-4 jalapenos – seeded & chopped

juice of one lime

2 garlic cloves

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Pulse all ingredients (except the chopped mango) in a blender or food processor until it is to your desired consistency.  Season with S&P – adding more lime or cilantro if you want.  Add the mango and maybe pulse once or twice but let the bulk of the mango stay in small chunks.

Serve!

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Tortilla Pizza with Whipped Feta, Cilantro Pesto & Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Today is the first anniversary of my blog!!!!!!  AND – the 4th birthday of my gorgeous daughter, Moxie!!!  Here is how she woke up this morning.  As you can see – my dogs have it pretty rough.

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At any rate – a year!  Today!  I can hardly believe it.  And I wonder if I can come up with another year’s worth of entries.  It is already a challenge for me to come up with new things – so you might want to brace yourself for some kooky ideas!

Thanks for reading.  Please – tell your friends.  And if you are not already receiving emails about my posts – just click the “follow this blog” link under my photo there on the right.  Cheers!

So!

Pizza on flour tortillas!  Easy & fast.  And maybe a little lighter in the carbohydrate area, too.  The salsa recipe here is quite spicy but really tasty.  You might opt to cut the amount of jalapeno or lose the chipotle pepper – if spices bother you.  The feta & cilantro & salsa really do create a wonderful combination of flavors, though, so the salsa is worth the effort.

I went rather light with the toppings so that they did not get the tortilla too soggy so keep that in mind when you assemble yours.  The layer of whipped feta seemed to create a decent barrier between the tortilla & the wetter ingredients.

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Tortilla Pizza with Whipped Feta, Cilantro Pesto & Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

INGREDIENTS

Flour tortillas

Cherry (or other) tomatoes – diced

Fresh mozzarella – sliced

Whipped feta (It is made by simply blending 8 oz of feta with 3 oz cream cheese & just enough water to get them to blend in your food processor (or other tool you use to whip things).

Chopped cilantro for garnish

For the cilantro pesto

1 bunch cilantro – stems & all

1/4 cup walnuts

2 TBS Parmesan – grated

2 garlic cloves

juice of 1/2 lime

1/4 cup (or so) olive oil

S&P

For the roasted tomatillo salsa

10 tomatillos

1 Roma (or other) tomato – quartered

2 jalapeno peppers

6 cloves garlic still in their peels

1/2 onion

1/3 cup cilantro

1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce

1 TBS lime juice

olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

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DIRECTIONS

For the cilantro pesto

Toast the walnuts in a dry pan for about 3 minutes or until fragrant – being careful not to burn them.  Put them in your food processor with the remaining ingredients & pulse into a pesto.  You might need more or less olive oil so you can reach your desired consistency.  A little water can be added to thin it, too.

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For the roasted tomatillo salsa

Heat the oven to 375.  Peel the papery skins off of the tomatillos & wash them.  Take half of them & put onto a baking sheet with the UNPEELED garlic (ignore that mine pictured here are peeled) and the jalapenos & toss in a little olive oil.

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Roast for about 30 minutes or until they begin to char.  Place in a sealed container for about 15 minutes to sweat them.  Squeeze the garlic out of the skins into your clean food processor.  Then – under cool water, peel & seed the jalapenos & the tomatillos.  The tomatillos are likely to have roasted away to almost nothing.  Place the peeled (don’t worry if you cannot get all the skin off) tomatillos & jalapenos into the food processor.

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Cut the stemmed tops off the remaining, uncooked tomatillos.  Quarter them & put them in the food processor with all the remaining ingredients.  Pulse into a puree.Image

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Lower the oven temperature to 350.

Assemble your tortilla pizza with some whipped feta, a layer of cilantro pesto & the fresh tomatoes & mozzarella.  Bake on a cooking sheet for maybe ten minutes or until the cheese melts.  Check it while it cooks to be sure you do not burn it.

Top with a dollop of roasted tomatillo salsa & some chopped cilantro.  Mmmmmm!

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Roasted Tomatillo & Jalapeno Salsa

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

This salsa is delicious & would go great on tacos or enchiladas or anything you might add a regular salsa to.  I dry roasted the tomatillos & jalapenos on my grill but it can be achieved in a dry frying pan or in your broiler.

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Roasted Tomatillo & Jalapeno Salsa

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs tomatillos – papery skin removed

4 jalapenos (less if you are sensitive to spice)

1 small onion

4 garlic cloves

1 cup fresh cilantro

4 oregano sprigs or 1 tsp dry oregano

1 tsp cumin

salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

Char the tomatillos & jalapenos until they are black.  Put in a plastic bag & let them sweat a few minutes.  Under cool running water, slip the skins off everything, remove the stems & seed the jalapenos.

Simply blend all the ingredients to a puree.

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Shrimp & Cheesy Grits – My Way & On the Highway at Brenda’s French Soul Food in San Francisco

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

Last weekend, I went to San Francisco with my parents for a wedding.  Our first breakfast in SF was at a place I found (by Googling terms like “best breakfast in SF”) called Brenda’s French Soul Food.  It was a Friday morning, probably around 9:30am & there was a wait for a table.  Again, I loathe waiting but trying to find another spot in an unfamiliar city & then drive there & park – etc etc – would take longer -so we waited.  The interior of the room was really cool.  High ceilings, a collection of mirrors on one wall & a huge mural of a crawfish (or a lobster?) on the other.

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The wait wasn’t long and, as it happened, we were seated just beneath the mural.  We were quickly served delicious coffees and we perused the menu.  Beignets seemed to be a house specialty & they had a savory one (made of crawfish) that intrigued me.  Still – I am not much of a pastry person & I very seldom eat sweets – so – I opted for the shrimp & grits.  My stepdad got the beignets, however, and they were gloriously huge & very tempting.

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That front one is the crawfish beignet & it was, in fact, quite tasty.  Still – it could not hold a candle to the insanely delicious shrimp & grits – which I ordered sans bacon.

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These were piping hot – too hot to eat, in the beginning.  The grits were very thin, too thin to eat with a fork (which I liked) but there was more cheese involved than I thought was ideal.  The shrimp were amazing – and I am not a crazy shrimp person.  In fact – sometimes I get a bit weirded out by the texture – as it really must be very much the same as giant grubs or some other sick thing that most of us would not dare sample.  Shrimp are really just giant ocean insects, no?  Why are we cool with eating them but not, say, THESE?   Anyway – this shrimp & grits definitely ranks as one of the finest combo of breakfast flavors I have ever experienced.

Yesterday, my newest son, a rescued pug now named Memphis, had to have a little dental surgery & got two VERY stinky teeth removed.

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He is guesstimated to be three – which is quite young to have teeth in the condition his were – but a life in the sex trade as a backyard breeding dog (poor Memphis’ sad past) can take its toll.  You will be happy to know that his teeth are restored to a sparkling white & he no longer has that “what died in your mouth?” breath.  I picked him up after his surgery & brought him home.  I was supposed to head right back out & see one of my favorite musicians, Mr. William Elliott Whitmore (check out his awesomeness HERE), at the Roxy with some friends – but, as I feared, Memphis was pretty groggy & disoriented when I got him.  So – I stayed home to observe his recovery.  Look – he looks drunk even just sitting there:

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So – last night I stayed in with my kids, watched a lot of bad news for Romney on MSNBC & chatted with my Arkansas-bound boyfriend on the phone like a teenager.  And – I made my first attempt at Shrimp & Grits!  And – I am happy to report – it was a 5 star success.  Do not be intimidated by the steps required.  Each step is very easy & this comes together very quickly & elegantly – once you’ve roasted the stuff that needs roasting.  This recipe should feed 4 people fairly generously.

Also – as an aside –  if you are an inexperienced cook & want to develop confidence – not only should you cook more often (duh) but do things like – put a measured teaspoon of salt or a measured tablespoon of sugar in your palm & try to get used to eyeballing what those quantities look like.  Pour a measured cup into a pan & see what that looks like in there.  I very seldom use measuring devices & it is the hardest part of this blog for me.  I am continually forgetting to measure accurately as I add things & taste & adjust – so reporting to you how I did it gets tricky.  Furthermore – we all have different tastes.  Some hate garlic others love extra spice – etc etc.  Most of my recipes have a lot of wiggle room for you to adjust things to your own palette.  In fact, MOST recipes out there in the world can, and often should, be adjusted.  The only time measuring becomes critical is in baking.  Baking is a precision thing.  So – anyway – practice eyeballing quantities & start weaning yourself off the two cooking crutches – the measuring spoons & the measuring cups.  You will learn to trust yourself far more quickly this way.

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Shrimp & Cheesy Grits

Preheat the oven to 400

INGREDIENTS

1 large tomato cut into big chunks.  I used half an enormous heirloom tomato

1 red tomato – diced (for garnish)

10 tomatillos, papery skin removed & halved

2 small red onions – one sliced thickly, the other sliced thin

6 garlic cloves (I used more like 15 – but this is your call)

6 oz (or more) of grated smoked cheese – cheddar or gouda work well

1 LB (or more) of the jumbo shrimp – peeled & deveined.  Any shrimp will work – but the bigger the better.

Olive oil

Smoked Paprika

S&P

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Sliced scallions for garnish (optional)

2 cups Grits

3 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock (I had leftover vegetable broth in my freezer from when I made the tortilla soup.  It was very handy in this recipe.)

3 cups half-and-half (I used fat free)

Extra grated smoked cheese as a garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS

IMPORTANT NOTE – I used the fancy polenta corn grits that I bought at Figueroa Produce yesterday!  These grits required a ratio of 1 cup grits to 3 cups liquid.  The ones you use may differ & have different cooking instructions.  THOSE instructions should replace mine here on how to cook the grits.  Also – these grits (as I outline) came out fairly thick & I added a cup of more of water at the end to thin them.  You might like yours thick – or thinner than I did.  This is a personal call so use your own judgement.  Lastly – the grits – like most starches – will get thicker as they sit hot on the stove & you don’t want to remove them from the heat or they will cool too much before you use them.  So make the grits dead last after everything else is done & ready to go.  They cook pretty fast so this doesn’t add a lot of time to the process.

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LOOK at the awesome heirloom brainy tomatoes I got a Figueroa Produce! 

Heat the oven to 400.  Line a roasting pan with parchment paper.  Or don’t.  All the parchment does is keep your pan clean & the roasted veggies won’t stick.  It is pretty useful –  but not totally necessary.  Anyway – once you have your roasting pan lined (or not) – put the large chunks of tomato (not the diced red tomato), the halved tomatillos, the THICK sliced red onion (reserving the thinly sliced one) & all but two cloves of garlic in the pan.  Drizzle with olive oil & sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Toss to coat & put in the oven for 50-75 minutes – or until the vegetables are softened & begin to char a bit on the edges.

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Blend these roasted delights in a food processor or blender and add the lemon juice and some S&P.  Set aside.

Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a pan & saute the thinly sliced onion & the two remaining garlic gloves (smash the cloves with the flat side of a large knife) until the onions are caramelized.  This takes between 5-10 minutes.  Remove them from the pan & set aside.

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Toss your cleaned shrimp with some olive oil, a pinch of the smoked paprika (very different stuff than regular paprika – so try to use the smoked variety) and some S&P.  Cook these shrimp in the onion pan a few minutes on each side until they are pink.  Try not to OVER cook the shrimp.  You can stop cooking & set them aside – even before they are cooked through thoroughly – as they will continue to cook from their own heat for several minutes.  Once you think they are nearly done – remove them from the heat & set aside.

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Heat the vegetable stock and half & half until nearly boiling.  Add the grits & bring to a boil.  Lower heat to medium-low, cover the grits & set them aside for as long as your package directs.  In fact – cook the damned grits the way your package directs – just substitute a half veggie stock & half half-n-half mix for however much liquid they suggest you add to two cups of grits.  Once the grits are done, stir in the cheese and a solid teaspoon of smoked paprika.  Here is where you decide on the thickness.  If they are still too thin – cook them over medium-low heat until they thicken to where you want them.  Conversely – if they are too thick, add water & stir in over low heat until they thin to the point you desire.

Assembly:

Spoon a good amount of grits into each bowl.  Place some of the caramelized onion-garlic mix on top of that.  Arrange the shrimp atop that, spoon some of the tomatillo puree into the center & garnish with chopped red tomato, scallions & extra grated cheese – if you are using them.  Individuals can add more S&P to taste.  Serve immediately!!!

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