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Red Charred Salsa

Salsa-Roja-Asada_Ingredients

It seems like magic to me how with just a few ingredients you can achieve a whole lot of attitude, an incredible amount of deep of flavor, and spice. I’ve seen lots of recipes calling for way more trouble and ingredients than this one and they do not end up tasting half as good. This recipe has only four ingredients.

What makes this salsa dance?…It’s all about the cooking method. Slow charred tomatoes, toasted dry chiles and a lot of arm work make this salsa like no other you’ve ever had.

If you have the time to disconnect for a bit and make this recipe the old fashioned way, you will find the salsa bright center of the universe. What is the difference between blenders, food processors and immersion blenders versus mortars or pestles? Well its in the name. All a blender does well is as its name describes; it blends, which leaves more whole seeds in the salsa than you might wish for. Now, let’s talk about mortars-molcajetes. For me, there is a tremendous amount of nostalgia in using a mortar/molcajete because the act of using a stone vessel is a whole different experience in the kitchen. It relaxes me and makes me conscience of the transformation of the ingredients and therefore I savor the whole process. Besides the romantic aspect, the difference I see between blenders and Mortars is that mortars pulverize the seeds, as you smash them against the stone adding extra flavor to the salsa. The stone adds flavor to the sauce and you are able to enjoy the earthy aromas when smashing the garlic and the sea salt, the toasted chiles, the smell of the fruity tomatoes as the consistency of the salsa changes. I would recommend you try to make the salsa this way for the simple pleasure of it.

Salsa-Roja-Asada_Molcajetes&modern-blenders

I know nowadays we all are creatures of convenience; if you are not as romantic as me about the whole traditional process~ Hey! Food processor or immersion blender are my weapons of choice. They get the job done in a fraction of a second and get you ready to enjoy the salsa in less that 5 pulses. Best of all is that with this recipe you can still achieve a great deal of flavor by using them.

Flavor wise this salsa has a smokey background and medium moderate spiciness. Please don’t be scared about the amount of chiles. Dry chiles when toasted, become smokey and very pleasantly pungent. Combining these kinds of chiles balances the act. Chile de arbol brings the spicy note and chile cascabel adds deep, color and character. The charred tomatoes and the garlic make this salsa extra savory. Fresh onion and chopped cilantro add a bit of fresh texture that makes the salsa irresistible to eat with chips.

Despite your method of choice, I assure you this red charred salsa will make you dance. It is a staple at our house I make a batch every other week. It keeps really well in the refrigerator for up to ten days.
It is quite a versatile salsa. I use it to top ranchero eggs, breakfast tacos, pork loin, carne asada, beans, bean soup, shrimp, whole fish (like red snapper), and if you add more tomatoes it is a great salsa to use in chilaquiles rojos. And of course its great with chips and salsa a good pilsner beer for spicy little snack. Enjoy!

Salsa-Roja-Asada_Yes,-more-please!

 

Red Charred Salsa

Makes 4 cups

3 medium large tomatoes about 4”round is what I used.
(like Better boy, Big Beef, Bush big boy. Any juicy, meaty tomato with high acidity content work best)
8-10 dry chiles de arbol
3-4 dry chile cascabel
2 medium garlic cloves peeled
1-1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
water

Garnish with:

½ medium size red onion and small bunch of cilantro

Preparation:

Blender Method:

1. In a cast iron pan or “comal” toast the chiles at medium heat, turning them constantly using a wood paddle. Once they look evenly toasted and showing an intense dark red almost blackened remove the pan from fire and let them cool a bit until easy to handle. Remove the stems and as to your preference, you can remove some of the seeds or leave them. Upon how spicy you want your salsa.
2. Place garlic, sea salt, and toasted chiles in blender or food processor and blend until pasty. Add a little water if needed.
3. Using the same cast iron pan, place the tomatoes upside down over medium low heat, cover them with a lid to apply some pressure on them so heat will cook them more evenly. Turn them upside up and keep rotating them until well blistered, the skins are charred and they are cook through. About 8-10 minutes. (See picture below for reference.)
4. Once the tomatoes are charred and cooked set them aside and let them cool for a bit until easy enough to handle. Remove skin, and with a paring knife remove the core of the tomatoes.
5. Add the tomatoes to the food processor pulse 4-5 times
6. Add a bit of water to desired consistency.
7. Adjust salt. Serve.

Mortar/Molcajete Method:

1. In a cast iron pan or “comal” toast the chiles at medium heat, turning them constantly using a wood paddle. Once they look evenly toasted and showing an intense dark red almost blackened remove the pan from fire and let them cool a bit until easy to handle. Remove the stems and as to your preference, you can remove some of the seeds or leave them. Upon how spicy you wnt the salsa.
2. Place the garlic in the mortar along with a bit of sea salt. Smash until pureed.

Salsa-Roja-Asada_Toasting-chilesSalsa-Roja-Asada_grinding-chiles
3. At this point using the same cast iron pan, place the tomatoes upside down over medium low heat, cover them with a lid to apply some pressure on them so heat will cook them more evenly.
4. While the tomatoes cook add your toasted chiles to your garlic mash in 2-3 stages. Adding a pinch of sea salt with each addition. Smash the chiles really well. If using the seeds make sure almost all the seeds get pulverized, and the skin of the chiles starts to turn into a paste. Add a few drops of water with each addition of ingredients to help grind the chiles.
5. Stop once the chiles, garlic and sea salt resemble a paste (see photo below)

Salsa-Roja-Asada_Grounding_chilesSalsa-Roja-Asada_chilie-pasteSalsa-Roja-Asada_detail-smashed-seeds
6. Proceed to check on your Tomatoes turn them upside down and keep rotating them until well blistered, the skins are charred and they look cook. About 7-10 minutes. (See picture below for reference.)
7. Once the tomatoes are charred and cooked set them aside and let them cool for a bit until easy enough to handle. Remove skin, and with a paring knife remove the core of the tomatoes.

Salsa-Roja-Asada_Chard-tomatoes
8. Add one tomato at the time into the Mortar until well smashed and combined. Repeat until you add all 3 tomatoes.
9. At this point taste and adjust for salt and salsa consistency. This is entirely up to you. Add a bit of water at a time, until you feel is right for you.

Salsa-Roja-Asada_grinding-the-tomatoes
10. Top with fine diced onion and cilantro
11. Serve at room temperature, along with chips and a nice cold beer. Eat with abandon!

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Red Charred Salsa

 

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Heirloom Tomato Crostata

Heirloom-Tomatoe-Crostata-Yes,-more-please!

This is one of the recipes I being waiting to make with the gorgeous tomatoes from the market, Heirloom tomato Crostata!…Last time I went to Boggy Creek Farm,( my favorite urban farm here in Austin, TX.)  I bought about 5 different Kinds I could not resist!( honestly If you have 3-2 or even just one kind it will be good too) Looking at all this colors and shapes made me turn my sweet crostata dough into a savory one. I read about this tomato pie with Corn Meal, and honestly I’m not very fond of Pies, I love crostata because of the dough-filling ratio. In a pie usually you have thin crusted and lots of filling versus a crostata in which you have little more crust-less filling (which makes it lighter and balanced to eat. The exposed fruit or vegetables or in this case the tomatoes can get a little roasted and it adds lots of character to it.  I hope you like it. Enjoy!Heirloom-Tomatoes-Variety_Corn-Meal-Crostata_Yes,-more-please!

Tomatoe-Crostata_heirloom-tomatoes,-thyme,-great-fresh-seasonal-ingredients

Heirloom Tomato Crostata

Serves 6-8

For the Dough:

2 Cups of Unbleached All-purpose flour
¾ Cup Corn Meal (I used Larry’s Corn Meal from Boggy Creek Farm, I highly recommend to look for a good quality Organic no GMO coarse ground corn meal it really makes the difference!)
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes.
1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt
¼ to ½ cup iced water

How to make the crust:

Measure all your ingredients, and place all the dry ingredients on a bowl and mix. Place bowl in the freezer. Meantime cut your cold butter, and Iced water ready to measure. Remove the bowl of dry ingredients from freezer and add the butter. With a pastry Blender incorporate the butter and flour until the mixture resembles to a coarse meal, and the butter pieces are small like the size of a pea. Slowly add the cold water and carefully with your hands form a dough that just holds together. Do not work the dough.
Once that the dough barely holds together cut a piece of plastic wrap and place your dough. Wrap it and shape it into a disk.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, 4-6 is best.(see pictures )

Tomatoe-Crostata-how-to-make-the-dough-step-by-step!

How-Dough-Texture-should-look-like-for-a-Crostata,-galette-or-free-form-pie

When the dough is ready Preheat Oven at 400.
In clean work surface, dusted with flour unwrap the dough let sit for a couple of minutes and roll the dough into a 20-22” round and about 1/8 “ thick. Once is rolled place it into a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Tomatoe-Crostata_Rolling-the-dough

For the Filling:

4 medium size heirloom tomatoes cut into ¼ inch tomato slices, from at least 2 kinds of heirloom tomatoes. I used green zebra, yellow oaxacan, prudence and cherokee. Use what ever is best fresh available at your farmers market.
1/2 cup cherry gold or cherry tomatoes

I used:
1/3 cup of goat cheese.
3 fresh sprigs of thyme.
Sea Salt, freshly ground pepper.
Small drizzle of Extra virgin Olive Oil.

Directions:

Spread ½ of the Goat cheese into the rolled dough, place the tomato slices, thyme, rest of the cheese, salt pepper and drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Fold the edges in creating a 2” border. You can brush the edges with and egg wash and sprinkle sea salt to add crispness to the edge. Bake at 400 F/ 200C for 35-45 minutes. Serve warm.

Heirloom-Tomato-Crostata_How-to-make-a-Crostata,-Gallete,-Free-form-savory-pie

Heirloom-Tomatoe-Crostata_Tomato-Season-Cornmealcrust

Heirloom Tomatoe Crostata

Music Pairing: Pink Martini- Hang on Little Tomatoe

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Tomato Salad and Honey Jalapeño Corn Bread

Tomatoe-Salad-and-Honey-Jalapeño-Corn-Bread_heirloom-tomatoes

So I’ve being counting the days to tomato season, since is one of my favorite times of the year I’m in heaven. I live in Austin Texas and my mainly source of vegetables is a small urban farm call Boggy Creek, they open Wednesdays and Saturdays 8am-1pm two of the happiest days of my week. This year they have harvested: Heirlooms Cherokee Purple, Prudent Purple, Azoyscka, Oaxacan Jewel, Green Zebra, Regular Tomatoes ; Big read super fantastic, lemon boy, cherry and cherry gold tomatoes!!!…. This Farm resembles me a bit of my Mexico. The camaraderie, the beautiful freshly cut vegetables, and also and most important “seasonal produce”. Waiting for the seasons creates a momentum between the ingredient and me I crave them. I imagine new dishes and the expectation grows momentum. Cooking with ingredients at their peak of the season is just about the best you can hope for when you are creating a dish. Little preparation is required to enjoy them. I compare them to a string quartet, where everybody is supporting the first violin.This recipe is one of the many examples of this string quartet ensemble, where the Tomatoe has the solo part and its accompaniments make it shine… lets start cooking!

Tomatoe-Salad-and-Honey-Jalapeño-Corn-Bread_the-table-is-served!

Tomato Salad and Honey Jalapeño Corn Bread

Serves 4 – Prep time 10 min.

Use at least 3 different kinds of tomatoes, choose what ever look best to you at your farmer market.
For the salad I made I used:

1 Heirloom Oaxacan Jewels
1 Heirloom Cherokee purple
1 Big Red super fantastic
2 Green Zebra
10-12 Cherry tomatoes
Arugula
Fresh Goat cheese
Fresh sprig of Thyme
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to drizzle
about ½ teaspoon per plate of Rice Vinegar
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Directions:

Slice the  tomatoes a little less than ½ inch. Quarter the smaller tomatoes like the green zebras, half the cherry tomatoes. On a Large platter (or in 4 plates) place a light bed of arugula, and approximately one big slice of the heirloom, one slice of the Cherokee Purple, some quarters and halves of the little ones. Theres no rules, you can balance the plate as you like. Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil and ½ teaspoon of rice vinegar per plate, goat cheese crumbs, sea salt pepper and fresh thyme. Serve.

Tomatoe-Salad~-Yes-more-please

Honey Jalapeno Corn Bread

Adapted from : “Boggy Creek Farm recipe”

Tomatoe-Salad-and-Honey-Jalapeño-Corn-Bread_ingredients-for-baking

1 cup of Corn Meal (use the best kind you can find, organic and non-GMO is always preferable)
I used our local, Larry’s Fresh-ground Corn Meal
(Organic, non-GMO fresh Texas Dent Corn from Coyote Creek Organic Mill)
1 Tablespoon of Aluminum- free Baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 or 2 pinches of paprika
1 cup Milk (you can substitute almond, soy or rice milk)
1 egg
1 teaspoon of Honey (I used Local Texas Honey off course!)
2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.( you also can use Butter, Canola, Coconut Oil)
½ -1/3 of a cup fresh corn kernels
Thin slices of fresh Jalapeno Pepper.
– 2 extra teaspoons of Oil for Pan-

Directions:

Preheat the oven at 400* F degrees.

Measure all your Ingredients and Place a small 8” Cast Iron skillet in the oven to heat. Add the 2 teaspoon of Oil.
Combine all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients mixture into Dry mix. Stir until combined small lumps are allowed. Add fresh corn Kernels to the Mix.
Carefully using an oven mitt at all times, remove the pan from the oven and pour the batter into the hot skillet, quickly top the batter with the thin jalapeno slices,drizzle a little more honey, bake for about 20-25 minutes until a light golden top. Take the skillet to the table to serve warm with the salad.

Tomatoe-Salad-and-Honey-Jalapeño-Corn-Bread_steps for making corn bread

Tomatoe-Salad-and-Honey-Jalapeño-Corn-Bread_warm-and-delicious-corn-bread

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*Note: For the summer if you are grilling you can bake this on top of the grill just cover the pan with a lid, it will be fantastic and smokey. This meal will go so well with any light or amber beer. Take into consideration that you can substitute any herbs, I’m just in love with Tomatoes and Thyme, I think the aromatic lemony taste of the thyme goes perfect with tomatoes…. is my new fav! Enjoy.

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