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Cucumber Avocado Pico de Gallo Salsa

Cucumber-avocado-Pico-de-Gallo-and-Salsa-tips-Yes,-more-please!

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, Peaches, 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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Make your Salsa dance…

Music Pairing: Salsa – Tito Puente

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Creamy Basil-Zucchini Noodle Soup

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Welcome Spring! and its amazing crazy weather, hehehe… here in Austin, Tx it’s rainy, cloudy and around 60 degrees that feels like 50 degrees. So I think a vegetable noodle soup, with a bright green hue, light, creamy and bright will lift up any cloudy weather… If you live in a part of the world where the weather feels accordingly with the Spring season, hey! this Creamy Basil-Zucchini Noodle Soup it’s also for you since it can be served warm or cold.

Describing this soup is a dreamy pleasure, it is creamy, fragrant, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, green, calorie friendly and easy to make. The basil, ginger,  and coconut give this soup an aromatic spring flare. The raw zucchini noodles add bite and texture to the soup. For me, it always has been interesting to enhance one flavor by combining different cooking variations of it. Raw, steamed, roasted, sautéed, two or three variations in one dish with the same ingredient. I believe that by maximizing one subtle ingredient like zucchini you can achieve maximum dept of flavor, textures, temperatures and add lots of character to the dish by focusing on “the” one ingredient.

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Six ingredients joining one pot, and the fun task of making zucchini noodles. By the way, have you made Zucchini noodles before? It is awesome. This little apparatus called the vegetable spiralizer it is the bomb!. As you know, I’m not very fond of unitaskers in the kitchen, the only uni-tasker gadget I owned and loved was the Julienne peeler, until now. (which by the way you can use if you do not own a spiralizer) This vegetable spiralizer belongs into the FUN category, it transforms any meaty root vegetable or fruit into the most beautiful curly noodles. I’ve used, zucchini, carrots, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cucumbers, rutabagas, green papaya, apples, pears, uff! you name it. It’s really easy to use and clean up. If you have heard of it, yes it is awesome! (No, I’m not getting paid to say this, what you are reading it is my honest opinion, in fact, I did not even buy this beautiful red spiralizer ha! It was a Christmas present from my friend Andrea…Thank you, Drea! I love it! Hehehe.)

So, dear friends, whether you are experiencing a warm or cold Spring; Begin by making this delicious soup and enjoy the Spring ride!

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Let’s cook! for the recipe, you will need…

Creamy Basil-Zucchini Noodle Soup

Serves 4

2 lbs. zucchini.  I combined half dark green zucchini, half Mexican calabazita aka zucchini. Use what is best available.
1 -16 oz. can organic coconut cream unsweetened
1/2 small onion
2 garlic clove
6 large, fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon Lemon Zest
1  teaspoon kosher salt
4-6 Cranks of fresh ground Black Pepper

Preparation:

1. Reserve ½ of a large green zucchini for the raw zucchini noodles. Cut the rest of the zucchini into cubes.
2. Make the zucchini curls following the directions of your spiralizer, or use a Julienne peeler. Set the curls aside.
3. In a medium-size pot, add the zucchini cubes and the rest of the ingredients. Cover and bring to a slow simmer, cook for 20 minutes until the zucchini is fork tender but not mushy.
4. With an immersion blender, a blender or food processor, puree until smooth. At this point add a bit of water, or vegetable stock to adjust the soup to your desired thickness. Keep soup warm, and serve a couple of ladles into each bowl, add a handful of the raw zucchini noodles on top. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and fresh black pepper. Enjoy!

Note: You can add little tofu squares, corn kernels, queso panela or mozzarella little squares if you want to make it into a complete lunch or dinner… This soup makes for a fabulous beginning of a meal, for lunch or if you dare for brunch…put an egg on it!

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Enjoy!

Music pairing:https://youtu.be/C-1mYXVP1Ok

Creamy Basil-Zucchini Noodle Soup

Serves 4
Course Soup
Cuisine FUSION
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. zucchini. I combined half dark green zucchini half Mexican calabazita. Use what is best seasonal available.
  • 1 -16 oz. Can Organic unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves
  • ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Zest
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
  • 4-6 Cranks of fresh ground Black Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preparation:
  2. Reserve ½ of a large green zucchini for the raw zucchini noodles. Cut the rest of the zucchini into cubes.
  3. Make the zucchini curls following the directions of your spiralizer, or use a Julienne peeler. Set the curls a side.
  4. In a medium-size pot, add the zucchini cubes and the rest of the ingredients. Cover and bring to a slow simmer, cook for 20 minutes until the zucchini is fork tender but not mushy.
  5. With an immersion blender, a blender or food processor, pure until smooth. At this point you can add a bit of water, or vegetable stock to adjust the soup to your desired thickness. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust to your taste if necessary. 

    Keep soup warm, serve a couple of ladles into each bowl, add a handful of the raw zucchini noodles on top. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Note: You can add little tofu squares, corn kernels, queso panela or mozzarella little squares if you want to make it into a complete lunch or dinner… This soup makes for a fabulous beginning of a meal, for lunch or if you dare for brunch…put an egg on it!

 

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Matcha Date and Almond Smoothie

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Loong time no see my friends! We apologize for the post delay, we have been dealing with some household chaos. I’ve been out of order for about 10 days, rough times I’ll tell you Back issues can be really painful I heart for people who have chronic pain. Thanks to Ian and his caring I’m feeling much better these days. In the meantime I hope you had time to make all the soup and all those recipes that you wanted to make last year , but you didn’t, because you can’t, but you want to, and you will and today is a good day to start. I hear you…. all this time in bed and I wanted to cook so bad, and I couldn’t. I made an awesome 3 1/2 minute soup that tasted just like it 3 1/2 minutes of big effort and glory! For me it tasted like if it had been simmering for hours. I guess when you are sick you just want some warm comfort. Any way this smoothie made my morning one of these sicky days it just put a smile on my face it felt like I was having a healthy dessert in a glass.

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Let me tell you all about this green creamy smoothie. The matcha and dates are a combination made in heaven; the sweet caramel dates play so well with the bright intense green tea flavor. The supporting cast: the almond milk, a couple of tablespoons of almonds and of course for texture and body a frozen banana. A small squeeze of lemon to brighten all those flavors, all goes to the blender….bleeeehhtzzz, blitzzzz, a little more blitzzz blitzzz …then pour it in a chilled glass and add a straw or two if you are willing to share… Enjoy!

Matcha-Date-and-Almond-Smoothie_ingredients

 

Matcha Date and Almond Smoothie

Makes 1 large non-sharable smoothie or two skinny glasses for a little afternoon snack.

1 cup almond milk
1 medium frozen banana peeled.
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
1 1/2 teaspoon matcha green tea powder cooking grade
2-3 medjool dates / remove the pits. Start with 2 dates and from there decide if you want it more sweet, add another date.
1 small squeeze of lemon
4-5 ice cubes

Directions:

Place all ingredients on a blender, bleeeeeeeeehhtzzz.
Pause then pulse Blitzzzz, blitzzzz just to make sure the dates are completely blend in.

Serve on chilled glasses with a straw.

Enjoy!

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Cauliflower Chowder

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After enjoying these days of caloric ecstasy and extravagances, it’s hard to immediately switch to the light and healthier road. It feels like you are giving a kid a candy and 5 minutes later you change that to a cucumber… it is just plain hard. All my taste buds are still in frantic mode and my serotonin levels are a roll a coaster. But Nature is wise, and perhaps knows these facts by sprouting a great Winter abundance of greens, root vegetables, cabbages and cauliflowers among other vegetables.

These are my saviors for this caloric transitional period. I need soup to warm me up and fill up my belly with out the extra filling out of my pants.. ahem.

Last weekend at my farmers market I ran into these beauties, a warm yellow and a purple cauliflower, rainbow carrots, sweet potatoes and fresh dill. How can you not be inspired when you see all this colors? Soup it is, I was craving the creamy textures and luxurious caloric meals, but with no guilt. So I decided to make an all vegetable chowder using all these winter bounty.

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Cauliflower has a delicate flavor. When it is cooked and pureed it resembles potatoes. You would be surprised how close you can prepare it to mimic the potato. I’m sure you’ve heard of cauliflower mashed, cauliflower rice or cauliflower mac & cheese in which this humble Brassica acts like a carb-chameleon. With this premise I started my vegetable chowder by cooking and pureeing part of the cauliflower as the soup base to give that rich starchy like consistency that characterizes a chowder. I reserved some of the cauliflower into little florets which are added latter to the soup to add texture and enhance the cauliflower flavor. The extra creamy chowderiness comes from unsweetened coconut milk which gives this soup the luxurious velvety chowder texture and it adds lots of good healthy fats that are well needed at this point of the healthy road transition. Do not fear about the coconut over taking the flavor on the soup, you barely can tell is here. Carrots, sweet potatoes and onions add sweetness, texture and light flavor. Fresh dill adds a great herbal aroma to the soup and complements the cauliflower flavor in a very delicate way.

I recommend organically grown vegetables if possible. I know that’s not easy, but increasingly supermarkets are adding those options if you don’t have access to a farmer’s market. In my opinion the flavor is better and I think with a lightly seasoned dish like this one, those flavors are going to shine through.

This Cauliflower chowder will warm you up, fulfill your starchy desires, and settle down your taste buds. I would say this soup is the ticket to redemption road.  Time to tame the growling carb lions…

You also might like this recipes:

 Grilled Cauliflower with Garlic and Cumin rub or My favorite Cauliflower Ceviche …check them out!

If you want to know more about the wonderful benefits of Cauliflower, please check out this unique and complete article, written by Helen Nichols, 28 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Cauliflower  Enjoy!

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Cauliflower Chowder

Serves 4 or 2 hungry Vegans.

2 small or 1 medium Cauliflower heads. Any color is great about 6-7 cups of small cauliflower florets total, use organic if possible they have the best flavor.
6-7 small carrots, diced or sliced into rounds.
I used red, yellow, and orange, use what ever is freshest available at your market.
1 medium sweet potato peeled and diced.
1/2 large sweet onion
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups vegetable stock
1 – 14oz can unsweetened coconut milk/cream
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 sprig fresh dill, or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon if using dry and upon your taste.
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika or 2 sundry tomatoes**
6-8 good cranks of fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon Sea salt

Garnish with:

Fresh dill/not fan of dill?… Basil, Thyme, Chives, Tarragon are great substitutions.
smoked paprika
(Crostini or toast drizzled with olive oil and Parmesan cheese optional)

*I used water instead of vegetable stock, because I wanted the cauliflower flavor to come through. The first time I made this soup I used vegetable stock and I felt it masked the cauliflower flavor to much. Feel free to use whatever you prefer.
** Recently I made this soup adding 2 sundry tomatoes. It was a delicious variation, it gave the chowder a slight tint of color and deep of flavor.If using sundry tomatoes add them on step four so they can soften up before pureeing the chowder.

Preparation method:

1. Chop and diced your vegetables. With a small paring knife cut the cauliflower into small florets. Reserve about 2 cups of the little florets to add to the soup at last. For this soup I used the yellow cauliflower for the soup base and the purple florets to add whole to the soup, it adds eye appeal.

Cauliflower-Chowder_Carrots-and-sweetpotatoes_cooked
2. In a small pot, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Pre-cook the diced carrots and sweet potatoes for 4-5 minutes, until al-dente, rinse with cold water. Set aside.
3. Over medium-low heat in a medium size pot, add the extra virgin olive oil, and sauté the chopped onions and garlic until translucent, season with salt and pepper.
4. Once the onions are translucent, add ¾ of the cauliflower florets. Toss and add 2 cups of vegetable stock or just enough to cover the florets. Add bay leaf, thyme, fresh sprig of dill/or dry,  salt, and pepper, cover with a lid and let them cook for 7-8 minutes or until very soft and tender. Once cooked, purée them in a food processor, blender, or use an immersion blender until smooth.
5. Place this cauliflower purée back into the pot, add the coconut milk and stir well until blended. Season with celery salt, salt, paprika and black pepper. Add a bit more vegetable stock if the consistency is too thick.
6. Add the reserved mini cauliflower florets, and the pre-cooked carrots and sweet potatoes. Cover with a lid and bring to a slow simmer cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary. Check for doneness on the vegetables; I like my vegetables on the al-dente side, not hard but not mushy. Taste them and decide if you like them softer keep cooking them for another 2-3 minutes.

Serve immediately into warm bowls, sprinkle fresh dill, a little drizzle of olive oil, salt, and fresh cracked pepper.  One or two whole wheat crostinis won’t hurt right?… Enjoy!

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5 from 1 vote
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Cauliflower Chowder

Course Soup
Cuisine wholesome
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 small Cauliflower heads, Any color is great about 6-7 cups of small cauliflower florets total, use organic if possible they have the best flavor.
  • 6-7 small Carrots, diced or sliced into rounds.
  • 1 medium Sweet potato, peeled and diced.
  • 1/2 large Sweet onion diced
  • 2 medium Garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups Vegetable stock*
  • 1 14-0z can Unsweetened coconut milk/cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme, dry or fresh
  • 1 sprig fresh dill, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon if using dry upon your taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika or 2 sundry tomatoes
  • 6-8 cranks Fresh Black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt, or more upon your taste

Instructions

  1. 1. Chop and diced your vegetables. With a small pairing knife cut the cauliflower into small florets. Reserve about 2 cups of the little florets to add to the soup at last. For this soup I used the yellow cauliflower for the soup base and the purple florets to add whole to the soup, it adds eye appeal.

    2. In a small pot, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Pre-cook the diced carrots and sweet potatoes for 4-5 minutes, until al-dente, rinse with cold water. Set aside.

    3. Over medium low heat in a medium size pot, add the extra virgin olive oil, and sauté the chopped onions and garlic until translucent, season with salt and pepper.  

    4. Once the onions are translucent, add ¾ of the cauliflower florets. Toss and add 2 cups of vegetable stock or just enough to cover the florets. Add bay leaf, thyme, fresh sprig of dill or dry, salt and pepper, cover with a lid and let them cook for 7-8 minutes or until very soft and tender. Once cooked, purée them in a food processor, blender, or use an immersion blender until smooth.

    5. Place this cauliflower purée back into the pot, add the coconut milk and stir well until blended. Season with celery salt, salt, paprika and black pepper. Add a bit more vegetable stock if the consistency is to thick.

    6. Add the reserved mini cauliflower florets, and the pre cooked carrots and sweet potatoes. Cover with a lid and bring to a slow simmer cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary. Check for doneness on the vegetables; I like my vegetables on the al-dente side, not hard but not mushy. Taste them and decide if you like them softer keep cooking them for another 2-3 minutes.

    *If using sundry tomatoes add them on step 4 so they can soften before pureeing the chowder.

Music Pairing:Paris Combo- Je te vois partout”

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Mariana’s Mexican Mushroom Soup – a.k.a. M-mmm Soup!

Mexican-Mushroom-Soup_Yes,-more-please!

Cold weather, soups and blankets. The time has come and I’m setting you up with the most delicious Mexican mushroom soup. I was planning to make cream of mushrooms since one of my friends asked me for a recipe I made many years ago when I was a student in Guadalajara. (Rosi, if you are reading this please make this soup I think you’re gonna love it more than the cream of mushroom…although the cream of mushroom recipe is in your e-mail by now.)

As usual my brain went in multiple directions when I was at the market. I saw the epazote, smelled it and immediately thought of the Pasilla peppers I had at home. Suddenly it evoked the smells and flavors the recipe which were in my head and I could almost taste this delicious mushroom soup.

As you can see it has nothing to do with the cream of mushrooms I had plan to made, but I have to say that when I trust my instincts and let go, a wonderful recipe arises. I think when the soup was ready, it knock me down it tasted so good and it is so easy to make.

Warm and earthy yet light at the same time, this mushroom soup has the distinct flavor of the Pasilla peppers which tint the broth with a mahogany color and a faint spice. The Cremini mushrooms’ heartiness shine through along with the epazote licorice-minty flavor. The corn masa rue gives the broth a nutty corn flavor and great consistency.
To top it off, I recommend a bit of fresh crema or a dollop of plain greek yogurt which can be added along with some queso panela or queso fresco. For a Vegan version, you can add tofu squares, and a bit of unsweetened coconut cream. If you are looking for a soup that will warm you up with a friendly calorie count this Mariana’s Mexican Mushroom Soup might be just what you where waiting for… Mmm!!!

Mexican-Mushroom-Soup_ingredients

Mariana’s Mexican Mushroom Soup – a.k.a. M-mmm Soup!

Serves 4 or 2 hungry Mexican Yetis.

1 lb cremini mushrooms, clean and medium thin sliced.
1 large or 2 small dried pasilla chile seedless and cut with scissors
1 tablespoon corn masa-harina “Maseca”
½ medium white onion small diced
1 medium garlic clove finely diced
4 roma tomatoes
4 cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock
1 glug corn oil or extra virgin olive oil (what ever flavor you prefer)
2 sprigs of epazote (if you are using Mexican epazote, use just one)
Sea salt to taste.
2-3 cranks of Fresh Black Pepper

Garnish with:

Fresh Mexican crema, crème fraîche or plain greek yogurt
Queso Panela or queso fresco
Fresh epazote

Vegan substitutions:

Vegetable stock
Garnish with: unsweetened coconut milk, and firm tofu squares.

Preparation method:

1. Cut a little cross on the bottom of each tomato. In a small pot boil your tomatoes until soft. Remove the skins. Reserve one cup of the boiling water and blend them until smooth. Set aside.
2. Remove the stem of the chile pasilla and shake to remove all the seeds and core.With the help of kitchen scissors slice the chile pasilla into an 1/8” inch thin strips.

Mexican-Mushroom-Soup_how-to-cut-Pasilla
3. Have everything ready beside your stove to start the soup.
4. In a medium large soup pot, over medium high heat add the oil, wait until warms up and then add the pasilla strips. Toss with a wood spoon for 1-2 minutes until they start looking crispy and they release their flavor. After 2 minutes the color of the oil is orange. Remove the crispy rings from oil and reserve them for garnish.
5. Lower the heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon of the corn-masa harina and stir until slightly golden brown. Add the diced onions and garlic, toss for 1-2 minutes, add the tomato pure, toss and season salt and pepper, bring to a boil.
6. Add the chicken stock, and the epazote sprig. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cremini Mushrooms and crush some of the fried pasilla reserved. Bring to a slow simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and the broth has a richer consistency.

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7. Taste for salt and pepper. Turn down the heat and let the soup rest for 10 minutes.
8. Meantime prepare your garnishes. Warm up some corn tortillas, serve the soup and garnish with crema, queso panela o fresco, some of the crispy pasilla rings, fresh epazote, and Warm up!

Note: If you are the spicy soul like me, toast some chile de arbol with a little bit of oil and crush some of this spicy chile on top… mmm spicy!

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Warm up!

Note: Now that I think about it.. it will be delicious if you add some kale or swiss chard, even baby spinach…at the end  of the preparation…yum!

Music Pairing: Lila Downs – Llorona Frida Kahlo

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Spiced Poached Pears

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Stone fruits are in season, I found beautiful pears at the market, Bosc and Red Anjou.  I will describe the Red Anjou pears as aromatic, juicy, fresh and sweet: while the Bosc pears are crisp, woodsy and  have a honey-sweet light flavor.
I could not decide which ones to bring home for this recipe…so I used both and the characteristics of each pear gave a great flavor to this simple recipe. Poached pears sounds so boring right? A dessert out of the 70’s…well its not and done right and with aromatics and the right cooking method its a great fruit dessert, the perfect end to a rich dinner like Thanksgiving… Or just for a simple treat on a rainy day…

The rum and the spices add warmth and great flavor to the light syrup, which is not overly sweet. The alcohol evaporates leaving all the good woodsy rum flavors in the fruit. A little dollop of whipped mascarpone cheese and honey add the perfect creamy  balance that makes these spiced poached pears irresistible.

This is one of those recipes with plenty of freedom for adjustment, and have the certainty that its gonna come out great. I like the light flavors and the delicate pear flavor is the star of the show. One of the best parts when you are cooking this recipe is the smell that your house is infused with…*sigh*..
Enjoy!

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Spiced Poached Pears

Serves 6

3 Red Anjou Pears peeled, halved, removed the seeds and steam.
3 Bosc Pears peeled, halved, removed the seeds and steam.
4 cups water
½ to 3/4 cup spiced rum…up to you!
4 lime or lemon slices
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
½ cup honey
( you can substitute the total amount of sugar and honey for ¾ agave nectar, or nectrase)

Aromatics:

5 sticks Mexican Cinnamon
6 cloves
5 star anise
6 cardamom pods smashed
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Parchment paper

Garnish with:

Whipped mascarpone and honey
About ½ cup of mascarpone and 2 tablespoons of honey, whip them together until light and fluffy.

Toasted chopped pecans
Ground cinnamon

Directions:

1. Peel, half, remove core and stem in the pears. Keep them in a bowl with water and a few drops of lemon juice to avoid oxidation. (see picture below)

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2. In a medium size pot over medium high heat add water, turbinado sugar and honey to dissolve.

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3. Once the water is simmering and sugar is dissolved, add rum, spices and simmer for 7 minutes.
4. Make a parchment paper square, fold it into a triangle, measure your pot radius and cut. Once you unfold the triangle you’ll have a nice circle to cover the pot.
5. Add Pears into the simmering liquid and cover with the parchment paper.Make sure the paper is touching the water to avoid the pears from any discoloration.
6. Simmer in low for about 20-25 minutes, or until the pears are tender when a knife is inserted.
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7. Turn off the heat and Let them cool for about 30 minutes. Remove pears from liquid. Heat up the liquid and reduce by half. It should have the viscosity of a light syrup. At this point you can adjust the flavors by adding more honey or more cinnamon if you desire.
8. Plate the warm pears individually or on a platter. Keep the syrup on a little serving pitcher to add the warm syrup when served. Top with a dollop of whipped mascarpone and honey, toasted pecans, sprinkle some cinnamon. Enjoy!

Note: This dessert can be made ahead. Just keep the pears inside of the syrup, and reduce the syrup until the next day. The pears will taste even better the day after is made. It’s a crowd pleaser dessert fit for Vegans, if the mascarpone is omitted, gluten-free and a light sweet bite to end a nice dinner…. Enjoy!

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ENJOY!

Music Pairing: Nat King Cole – I love you for Sentimental Reasons

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Swirly butternut squash and kale soup

Swirly-butternut-squash-and-kale-soup_Yes,-more-please!

Butternut squash is my favorite squash. Autumn has arrived and I could not wait for the cold to make this soup. This nutty winter squash has the creamiest texture and tastes like a delicate pumpkin with mild citrus aroma. In my opinion Butternut squash makes the velvetiest soup in the world!…..

Now, you know how I feel about vegetable creams or pureed soups.
I do not want my squash soup to taste of chicken therefore vegetable stock is my preference. This vegan soup enhances all the pure flavors of the kale and the butternut squash by roasting them and letting those flavors stand out. I roasted the squash and steamed the kale with coconut milk to empower their own flavors.

I love the fusion of flavors in soups, but for me there is nothing better that the awareness of the fusion. What do I mean by that? Well these two ingredients are in harmony but they do not mix until you take a spoonful in your mouth then you taste the delicious swirl and contrast in colors, textures, flavors, and even in temperature. The kale and coconut milk add an herbal note without being overwhelming. The velvety roasted butternut squash adds sweetness and evokes the Autumn season.

This swirly butternut squash and kale soup is fun to make its easy and it looks appetizingly gorgeous. Whether its lunch with you alone, your friends, or a family get-together this soup is easy to portion and delicious…and it happens to be vegan! Enjoy!

Swirly-butternut-squash-and-kale-soup_ingredients

Swirly butternut squash and kale soup

Serves 4 bears or 2 mom and pop bears..

For the Butternut squash soup:

1 medium Butternut squash cut into cubes
½ medium size yellow or white onion
1-2 glugs of mild extra virgin olive oil
4-5 cups Vegetable stock
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½-1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (start with 1/2 teaspoon taste and add more if you like… I love it with 1 whole teaspoon!)
1 pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Freshly black pepper to taste.

For the Kale swirl:

8 Curly-leaf kale leaves deveined.
¼ medium yellow or white onion
¾-1 cup coconut milk
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Toppings:

Roasted Walnuts roughly chopped
1-2 pinches Smoked paprika

Preparation Method:

Preheat oven at 450F
1. Peel and cut into small cubes the Butternut squash. Slice the onion.

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2. On a baking pan lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper, toss the Butternut squash, onions, salt pepper nutmeg and one glug of olive oil all in one layer. Roast in the oven at 425F for about 30-35 minutes, shake the pan every now and then, until the little cubes are fork tender, and toasty.
3. Remove pan from the oven, and in a medium size deep pot, add the roasted butternut squash, add the 4 cups of vegetable stock, salt, nutmeg, pepper, and puree with the help of an immersion blender, or use a regular blender.
4. Check for thickness and if needed add another cup of vegetable stock. This is up to your preference, however I like my soup with a lot of body, and therefore I usually use 4-5 cups. Feel free to add a little more if its too thick or to add some almond milk for an extra nutty flavor.
5. Let your soup warm up on a low low heat, and stir constantly.

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6. For the kale swirl: in a small pot place the leafy parts of the kale, discarding the main vein.
Add the coconut milk, roughly chopped piece of onion, garlic, salt and pepper.
7. Cover the pot over a slow simmer for about 7-10 minutes until the kale feels soft, and turns bright green. You can taste a little piece to check for doneness, you want it soft and cooked but not over cooked.
8. Remove from the stove and using an immersion blender to puree the kale mixture. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. The consistency should be creamy and light. It should look like a deep bright emerald green.

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9. Roast the walnuts, sprinkle a little smoked paprika and salt.
10. Serve 2-3 ladles of the butternut squash on each bowl and then add the kale swirl. Sprinkle some roasted walnuts, and a pinch of smoked spanish paprika for best flavor. Enjoy!

Note: Remaining soup keeps well for 3-4 days and although it diminishes in flavor, extra portions can be frozen and stored for 30 days or so; this minimizes waste if you happen to make too much or have a desire for homemade soup next time you’re too busy to cook.

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Enjoy!

Music Pairing: For this recipe our dear friend Ana Ferper plays

a beautifully classic guitar melodie by  J.S Bach Allemande Suite No.1

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Green Green Coleslaw

Green_Green-Cole-Slaw_ready-to-eat!_Yes,-more-please!

Texas summer heat is like Kryptonite. Do you remember how Superman used to get exposed to this green glowing Kryptonite and you could hear a sound like this: ~ waaayioh, waaayioh, waaayiho )) ) ) ) ) you could almost see the waves that debilitated the strongest blue and red caped man in the comic world… Well, I’m not muscled or caped like Superman, but the Summer sun is my Kryptonite.

I often can see and hear the heat waves whispering:

~ waaayioh, waaayioh, waaayiho )) ) ) )

~ Am I delirious?…

No, the truth is that I’m in much need of a little break from the high temperatures. I needed a boost of fresh glowing green in my life and I could not resist some leafy crunchy vegetable medley action. We all know what this leafy greens are brimming with fiber along with vitamins, minerals, and plant-based substances. Imagine what they can do for you.

August is a hard month to get great produce; too much heat here in Texas. I know the green leafy season is not here yet, but thanks to California’s amazing weather and hard-working farmers, I armed myself with some of my favorite green vegetables: kale, mustard greens, green cabbage, green apples, celery, onions and a little fresh corn. After a little chopp-ah-rooh, and combining all this shredded goodness with some light vinaigrette, this Green Green Coleslaw was born.

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The combination of the different greens add great flavor and texture. A tangy oil honey and apple vinegar dressing, with a good punch of dry oregano, and seasons, make this green-green coleslaw light and crunchy. It is lightly dressed. No soggy cole slaw for me, thank you. If you are the creamy cole slaw type, this will convert you into the vinaigrette version.

This Green Green Coleslaw, makes a great side dish for, salmon, any white grilled fish, chicken, pork, beef , shrimp, tofu, tempeh, rice, lentils, white beans…you name it. You can add some roasted almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds and it will be a great left over for next day lunch.

Nice and easy, this recipe is all about fresh and nutritious green power all in one bowl. A salad
with great personality and flavors, this green-green cole slaw will restore your energy and refresh you on this fiery Summer. Like a good Kryptonite, you know? hehehe Enjoy.

Green--Green-Cole-slaw_Vegetables

Green Green Coleslaw

Serves 4-6 or 1 super man.

The vegetable action:

½ half of a small green cabbage head
4-5 San Jacinto Kale leaves
1 large mustard green leaf.
2 celery stalks
1 ear of sweet yellow corn
1 medium-large green apple
½ medium onion

For the dressing:

¼ cup grape seed oil
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 heaping teaspoon dry oregano. (Not crazy about oregano?, tarragon, dry basil will go great too…)
½ teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
The zest and the juice of one lemon.

Feel free to add some nuts, for crunch and protein, toasted almonds or walnuts will taste fantastic.
Or some golden raisins will add an extra sweet note. If you are a Mayonnaise lover, substitute the oil for 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and 2 tablespoons of plain greek yogurt.

Preparation:

1. Finely chop the cabbage, the kale (remember to remove the hard steam on the kale and the mustard greens), Finely chop the onions, celery and de-kernel the sweet corn. Chop the apple like  matchsticks.

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2. In a large bowl, whisk all your dressing ingredients, add all the chopped vegetables and toss well.

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3. Set a side and let it rest for 10 to 15minutes before serving.
4. Taste, adjust for salt and pepper if necessary. Serve and Enjoy!

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