Cucumber Avocado Pico de Gallo Salsa

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Hello friends, a quick recipe for your weekend. This is a great fresh salsa-guac! It is not a guacamole, it is not your usual Pico de Gallo, its both! The cucumber adds crunch and extra freshness and the avocado adds a bit of creamy goodness. What else could you ask for?… It is a quicky to make just what you need on a long weekend, something fresh to snack on along with some refreshing drinks, perhaps like this fabulous Texas Caipirinha… ehehm…

Besides the recipe which is so easy to make, I would love to share with you a few of my tips when making Fresh chopped Salsa fresca, mostly known here in USA as “Pico de Gallo”. Enjoy!

Sharp knife:
Everything has to begin with a sharp knife. Nothing ruins good salsa more than a dull knife. Mushy cuts do not make a salsa very appealing and ruins the texture. So, sharpen those blades, baby!
Tomatoes:
Mix them up! Juliet, Cherry tomatoes, Sun golds, Lemon Boy, Roma, Heirloom, right now is the right season were there is plenty tomato goodness to choose from. 
My favorite Tomatoes in Austin, TX are the ones that Boggy Creek Farms produce. Click here to visit this beutiful Austin Urban Farm is one of the best.
Cucumbers:
English cucumber, or Jade are my favorite since they don’t have to many seeds, thin skin, they keep their crispy texture when marinated.
Red Onions:
Red onions  are  sharp in flavor. My advice is after dicing the onions give them a quick rinse, drain them and add them to your salsa. Rinsing them will make them milder by washing away that milky pungent liquid. You, your loved ones and your guests will appreciate the little extra care!
Avocado Hass:
This kind is the creamiest of all avocados. They have a fleshier inside and small oval pit. Choose the ones that are firmer to the touch it should feel like well done steak. These level of ripeness will hold better in this kind of salsa-guac, creamy, not mushy.
Dicing Jalapeños:
Rub a bit of cooking oil in your hands before cutting a jalapeño, this will protect your hands from the spicy burn.
Remove seeds and vein or leave them up to how spicy you want it!
 A good way to know when a pepper is spicy, is to smell the pepper. Cut the pepper length wise. Smell it. If it smells like fresh-cut grass it will be very mild. But, if it smells like fresh cracked black pepper you hit the jack pot is a spicy one. Watch out! maybe you just one one jalapeño in your salsa…
Limes:
Use limes, instead of lemons. They have a sharper acidity that balances great with the sweetness from the tomatoes.
Sea salt:
Why Sea salt instead of Kosher? It tastes fresher and the salt crystals brighten up the salsa flavor.
Fruit:
You can add other fresh fruit if you feel adventurous like Mangos, Strawberries, Green papaya, Pinneapple, Jicama,  the world is your canvas!

I hope these simple tips help you to get inspired and give a refresh spin to your salsa. Do you have any tips when making salsa? I will love to read about them.
Share them here and shoot us a comment!

Relax and have a great weekend!

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Cucumber Avocado Pico de Gallo Salsa

Makes 1, 2, 3 or 4 people dance!

2 cups diced fresh tomatoes of your choice, check out my tips above.
2 cups finely chopped cucumbers
½ cup finely dice white onion
1 medium size avocado Hass chopped in small cubes
1-2  jalapeños small diced one with seeds one with out.
1 small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
2 large juicy limes
2 good pinches of dry mexican oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt

Corn Chips… lots of them!

Preparation:

In a large bowl combine all the chopped ingredients, season with salt and add the oregano by rubbing between your fingers like if you where to snap the oregano at it. This warms up the herb and makes it into smaller pieces which flavors the salsa better. Add the lime juice 
toss and serve with corn chips and your fabulous Texas Caipirinha like this on the side…Enjoy!

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Red Plum-Ginger-Jalapeño Chutney

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My mouth waters with this recipe…Juicy and sweet red plums chunks, a hint of spice from the jalapeño, aromatic cinnamon, clove and fresh ginger to brighten up the flavor. The kitchen smelled like a sinful geisha wardrobe. This Chutney is very versatile. It pairs great with some grilled pork chops, purée a couple of tablespoons and use as glaze for baby pork ribs, serve along grilled or roasted chicken, Pan seared Mahi-mahi or any white flesh fish. Toss one or two spoon fools into a steamed bowl of quinoa, add a couple of pinches of salt and you will have a great side. As an appetizer will go wonderful with some triple cream brie, baked brie or goat cheese, some crackers or crostinis… sigh*

Of course on a simple toast with a little butter, to wake up with a kick in the morning a cup to tea or the ultimate pairing: On a melted ham and cheese sandwich…Oh! yes my friends, a sinful combination. Before your eyes something so simple can become so ridiculously good…

Have a great Memorial weekend, and enjoy the simple pleasures! Make this Red Plum-Ginger-Jalapeño Chutney, put it on your pocket, take a road trip, place it on your basket of goodies along with cheese and crackers, snack, rest, repeat…Enjoy!

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Red Plum-Ginger-Jalapeño Chutney

Makes 2 cups

8-12 ripe Red plums pitted and cut in quarters and eights.
¼ cup turbinado sugar
6 tablespoons of honey (Adjust honey amount depending on the plum sweetness)
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1-2 small diced jalapeno
1-2 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 stick of mexican cinnamon
A dash of ground clove.

Making the chutney:

Over medium high heat in a stainless steel pan place the plums, sugar, honey and cinnamon stick. Let the plums warm trough about 4-5 minutes. Once that the sugar and honey start looking bubbly, add the grated ginger, diced jalapeno, cider vinegar, olive oil and the dash of clove. Let simmer for about 5-6 minutes, until the juices look translucent and some of the plums have started to get soft and you can smash them easily with a spoon. Turn off the heat and set aside. Keep on a glass jar, refrigerate after cooling down, it lasts for 1 week in the refrigerator… if you are lucky!

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Red Plum-Ginger-Jalapeño Chutney

I know it might be a little early for plums, but this weekend you can find them the weekend

at the Farmers Markets here in Austin, Tx!

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Chilaquiles Manifesto

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Chilaquiles are a Mexican classic. It has three of the most iconic ingredients: corn, chiles and herbs. There are a wide variety of chilaquiles styles. In fact, I think I have never tasted an identical version anywhere, even if I make them myself at home, every preparation is slightly different because the use of fresh ingredients, but the principle of how the dish works remains the same.

If you’ve never had chilaquiles before they seem deceptively simple to make, although significant details in the preparation make a very big difference to the final result. Sad to say, the truth is that Chilaquiles are commonly poorly made and misunderstood.

What is this Chilaquiles Manifesto all about?…

~Manifesto//: a written statement that describes the policies, goals, and opinions of a person or group~

~Chilaquil//: come from the word “Chilaquiltl” in Nahuatlt. It is of what Mexican historians refer as an “aztequismo” which are words that have their roots in Nahuatl and are used today in a modernized way. Chilaquilitl comes from the word “Chilli” that means “Chile”; and “atl”, used to mean water, and “quilitl” that refers to a combination of herbs, like a sauce. This term was also used to describe an old woven hat. With time this word acquired a connotation for describing a careless manner towards a texture~

This Chilaquiles Manifesto is my proclamation of texture, flavor and sauce. For me, that is what Chilaquiles are all about. I want to rescue the Chilaquiles reputation. Despite their “careless texture” in name’s origin, I believe the dish is all about the balance of texture, sauce, spice and attention to detail. I hope this manifesto will make you appreciate the difference between average and exceptional Chilaquiles.

 

The Chilaquiles Principle: Texture, Flavor, and Balance.

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For me a good plate of Chilaquiles is the one in which the crunchy tortillas preserve some of their crunchy texture and the sauce is thick enough to cover the tortillas without weighing them down. It remains saucy and there is a bit of salsa running on the side of the plate like a little emergency puddle that get mixed into the refried beans to keep them company. The sauce can be red or green usually with a good level of pleasant spiciness, unless you have a hangover, you might ask for extra hot. Chilaquiles are most commonly eaten as a breakfast or brunch. Therefore a perfect sunny side up egg ,runny and tender, is the perfect complement to this dish. Chilaquiles must be garnished with crumbs of slightly salty queso fresco, creamy clumps of Mexican Crema (similar to Creme fraishe) that mellows the warm and spicy sauce. Top this with raw or pickled onions to add acidity and a sharp pungent of flavor every other bite. There you have it. This is what dreamy Chilaquiles should be.

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A great plate of Chilaquiles should always have the following four components:

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Carne Asada Tacos on 5 de Mayo, or 6 de Mayo or any other day…

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Ok let’s make something clear, 5 de Mayo nothing to do with the Mexican Independence which actually is celebrated on September 15th at midnight.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates The Battle of Puebla-La Batalla de Puebla, May, 5th 1862 in which the Mexican Army, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, battled the French forces. The Mexican Army was outnumbered by the French army which was almost double in size and well armed. Against all odds, the Mexican army won the battle. It had been almost 50 years since the French had been defeated. After the Battle of Puebla no other Country in the Americas has been invaded by another European military force…

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There is a lot of pride in this important battle as you can imagine; maybe that is all what this Cinco de Mayo is about, “Mexican Pride”… and well I won’t blame any Mexican-American who wants to celebrate such a win, or any American who wants an excuse for buying Mexican beer, tacos and guacamole, as long we leave history aside from the matter… A little of general history to know the real origin of 5 de Mayo facts, does not hurt.

In my opinion it would be like Mexicans were trying to celebrate a decisive battle from an American war in the nineteenth century and calling it the Independence of America… and imagine that celebrated, just for the sake of it, with hamburgers and french fries, smothered in salsa verde cilantro and queso fresco, and drinking mint julep with tequila reposado… you would be wondering why Mexicans are celebrating our independence on the wrong day with the most kitschy foods?….

What I really want to believe is that this 5 de Mayo celebration in the states it’s all a big excuse to have a Mexican-flare celebration because you can’t stop thinking about tacos, chips and salsa, lime and tequila! If this is what you are thinking, I believe you are on the right track, let’s make some damn good Carne Asada Tacos!…

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SO…. lets just think about the food and good all kitschy drinks and make it happen… even if you celebrate 5 de Mayo on the 9th or 10th weekend or if you want to celebrate with your mom with a 5 de Mayo flare… hey why not? This is a non-recipe/recipe because its more about a particular style of cooking, so I will give you all the tips to make great tacos at home.

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