Appetizer

Sopes de Pollo – Chicken Sopes

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Antojitos Mexicanos…These are the “small bites” in Mexican street food. Go to the fair or the Tianguis (street market) and they are the perfect food for an impromptu craving. Sopes de Pollo – Chicken Sopes is one of them. Take corn masa dough and create a small fried or grilled pattie and you have the foundation to add any kind of toppings you like; shredded chicken, beef, pork, picadillo, chorizo, requeson~Mexican Ricotta, refried beans, mashed potatoes, calabazitas, poblano rajas, mushrooms, infinite filling possibilities. Top them off with a simple tomato salsa, shredded lettuce or cabbage, onions, radishes, crema and queso fresco or cotija cheese, and these little sopes, will be a highly crave-able meal.

In Guadalajara, Jalisco, where I’m from, these fresh corn masa patties are called Sopes de Masa, or pellizcadas which translates into “pinched”. Why? Once these masa patties are cooked, on the comal or fried, the edges of these round patties are pinched all around to create a border-leap that will hold the fillings and topping goodness.

This masa pinching is done by an experienced cook, a grandma or an aunt, cooks that have developed Moctezuma fingers, with digital prints deleted by the generational hard work in the kitchen. Since these patties are piping hot, you need this kind of strong digital numbness to achieve the results. Lucky you, this is not the only way to make sopes, I will provide you with an easy solution using two spoons. You get to keep your fingerprints.

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Tempura Tex-m-pura Baby Eggplants

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This might be the ultimate way to eat baby eggplants.
Besides the great classic recipes used for bigger eggplants, like ratatouille, caponata, Baba ghanoush, grilling, stuffing or roasting them( which I love) I feel these dainty two-three inches nightshade gems deserve a more delicate approach. I’m always looking for a contrast in texture when eating something so custardy and creamy like the way the eggplants become when they are cooked. The solution for my craving for these tender and sweet eggplants: tempura batter.
I know you have seen eggplant tempura at your favorite Japanese restaurant. They mostly use the large eggplants, which are delicious but not near as delicate in  flavor as these babies. Wait until you try this dainty two bite goodness.
These Tempura baby Eggplants are an exhilarating bite. Imagine a bite that combines a light and crispy fried tempura coat with a warm custardy buttery eggplant interior. A beautiful object to be dipped on a tangy, salty, spicy, sweet sauce. Yes, all in one bite.
Are you with me? Or did you lose it at tempura coat?…

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Ceviche Verde

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To hot to cook fish? Let the Limes do it. This Ceviche Verde, is refreshing, light, green, tangy, zesty, crisp and crunchy vegetables, tender tuna marinated in lime juice, surrounded by creamy avocados… are you with me?…Yes!

Ceviche is an original dish from Peru. Peruvians are the kings of making the best out of fresh fish. To corroborate this statement you need to know about Peruvian Chef Gastón Acurio.  Chef Gastón has placed Peru, their culture, and Ceviche at another level in his country and internationally, all through a labor of love that started in the kitchen, that for me, no other chef has achieved with his cooking.

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Mexican Beans Manifesto

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Cooked, de la Olla, or Refried… I want to share with you my love for beans and how I bean.

I’m from Mexico. Along with corn, this simple food is a staple in our national diet. There are many great foods from my homeland but homemade beans have a way to my heart. The warm earthiness, texture, and flavor of a well-prepared pot of beans, this is my comfort food. In fact “frijoles de la olla” boil-cooked beans are my “last supper” meal. With this said, you can imagine I’m very particular and appreciative about identifying truly great beans.

My love affair with beans’ simplicity that made me realize how many versions of “how to cook beans” are out there. They utilize many ingredients, cooking methods, pots, herbs, you name it, and yet most miss the mark for me when it comes to authentic style Mexican beans. I can not understand how something so simple to make has been so misunderstood. I feel the deep responsibility to clear this confusion and define Mexican style beans. After this, you will discover an untroubled path in preparing this Mexican caviar.

Keep it simple. Slow down. When it comes to beans, It is about respecting the ingredient. Slowly and patiently cooking a pot of beans will yield the best pot of beans you ever had. Why cook them from scratch? they taste far better than from the can, period. So let’s start.

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Summer Rolls with Mango Ginger dipping sauce

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The noodles in my head are fried. August in Texas is no joke. Our Thermostat is on a bi-polar rampage. We are trying to deny the existence of such a thing called “electric bill”. We better stay still and attempt to use the stove much less on these days. Its sad but true, I’m not even craving BBQ or to go out for lunch or dinner when the temperature outside reads 90 F degrees even at 9:00pm. I’m Summernating!

So whats for lunch and dinner these days? The freshest crunchy vegetables, cucumbers, carrots, jicama, crispy lettuce, and thin rice noodles cooked in less than 4 minutes. Summer rolls or Gỏi cuốn which translate in “rice paper rolls, are found all over in East Asia and Southeast Asia cuisine. A fine sticky rice paper is the wrapper which holds vermicelli rice noodles and vegetables. Usually these Summer Rolls are served as a popular appetizer. Odds are you have had them if you eat in Vietnamese or Thai restaurants here in the U.S. But why not make them for dinner as the meal itself?

So what are you going to need? You can find the round rice paper at almost any supermarket with an ethnic foods aisle. Or of course you can shop for them in Asian markets or Wholefoods. They are very inexpensive. If you can’t find them, well you can easily order them online if you are Summernating like me.

These rolls are filled with julianne fresh vegetables, vermicelli noodles and a lean protein, usually shrimp or pork. I used in-season ingredients like fresh cucumbers which I spiralize to create noodles. If you don’t have that handy apparatus you can use a Juliane peeler or your handy-dandy knife skills to make fine vegetable strips of your carrots and lettuce. In this version I added avocado and shrimp.
In addition of the traditional peanut sauce, I prepared a dipping Mango-ginger sauce to make them fresher and add a bit more sweetness. These Summer Rolls are what I’m craving these days.

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Preparation of these rolls is a sticky affair but I have a nice trick which helps. If this is the first time making Summer Rolls my best advice: “Do Not” follow the instructions on the package, Heheehe. Everything will be easy after that…

Most of the packages and cookbook instructions out there which (for this roll-up process I call them “des-tructions”) call to dip the rice paper in water, to soften and rehydrate. Then to carefully transfer this world’s stickiest, see-thru, delicate, rice paper film into a wood surface or a plate… Let me tell you, this is sticky fingers, crinkled edges, tear apart of a nightmare.

To avoid this situation, I will share with you my secret weapon to make these Summer Rolls, roll easily. I use a spray bottle.

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Sweet Corn Crab Cakes with Saffron Aioli

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This recipe has a long name but short preparation. Crab was never on Ian’s or my menu when growing up, but we really enjoy seafood: Mussels, Oysters, Razor Clams, Lobstah’, shrimp, fish… we love seafood the same way we love all food we sea.

So I decided to give it a shot, and make some crab cakes. I always liked how Seafood is prepared in Spain, simple, fresh but there is always an element of kick. Either from the freshest olive oil, a pinch of paprika, garlic, or a simple side of pimientos del padron. There’s always that good unexpected accent.

With this in mind I create today’s recipe  which combines sweet corn, orange zest, green onion action and sweet Louisiana crab with a delicious creamy saffron aioli with a garlic kick.

The first time I made these crab cakes we just fell in love with their flavor. These subtle flavors are a match made in heaven with the sweet crab. I could go on and on about them, but I think the photos will do the talking…Shhh, They taste even better than they look…
Crispy panko bread crumbs surround the outside of this cakes and a tender flaky and moist inside the crab just sings. The sweet corn kernels add great texture and sweetness. They are serve warm with a squeeze of lemon and the bright creamy saffron-garlic aioli on the side…mmmm, seriously good.

The recipe makes about 10 crab cakes if you use a standard ice cream scoop to portion them. They can also be made with a smaller size scoop and make bite size appetizers, Small to bigger crowds will love them.

If you are in a crabby mode, please consider this recipe as one of your top contenders.
Serve them along with green bib lettuce and some fresh tomatoes, these Sweet Corn Crab Cakes with saffron aioli it is all you need for a great Summer dinner. Have fun!

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For the Recipe you will need…

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Peperoncini Shrimp Ceviche Stuffed Avocados

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After a rainy, muggy and wet Spring, Summer arrived early here in Austin.

Temperatures are on the rise and bright sunny days with blue skies are here. Vacation time is upon us. This means get out of the kitchen!!! Enjoy the outdoors, and whether you are planning a vacation to the beach a picnic or a staycation at home, there are always ways to enjoy this great weather.

This recipe is a fresh and light option, for gatherings, entertaining, or to take to a picnic or just to enjoy by the pool, patio or in the comfort of your house watching your favorite movie or reading a book. The goal is to relax and enjoy something fresh and delicious and pamper yourself.

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These stuffed avocados are a party on a plate. The Peperoncini Shrimp Ceviche is out of this world a punch of flavor, fresh, light and serving it on avocado halves makes it just irresistible. All the delicious summer flavors: cucumbers, pineapple, onions, limes, orange juice in combination with a pepper kick from the peperoncinis and the creamy avocado make this recipe a win win situation.

Healthy? Yes, indeed. Fun to make? Yes! Peperoncini Shrimp Ceviche Stuffed Avocados It is just what you are craving on your Summer vacation.
Good music, refreshing drinks, a relaxing attitude and these  are all you need to bring the heat and enjoy your Summer vacation… Let’s cook!

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Peperoncini Shrimp Ceviche Stuffed Avocados

Serves 4 to 6 with a bit of left over to refill the avocado halves.

2-3 Medium Avocados Hass is the preferable variety from Mexico (check the sticker!)
1 pound small medium shrimp peeled, deveined and cooked.
1 small tomato small diced
½ english cucumber small diced
1 small purple onion slivered
1 cup fresh pineapple small diced
8-10 pieces of Peperoncinis sliced.
¼ cup parsley finely chopped
2 glugs or 3 round drizzles of ExtraVirgin Olive Oil
1 lime juice
1 small orange, the juice and the zest
2 tablespoons of the peperoncini brine
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon celery salt
2-3 good cranks of fresh Black pepper
Pink Himalayan salt to your taste

Preparation:

1.In a medium size bowl combine all the chopped vegetables, shrimp, and the sliced peperoncinis. Add the lime juice, the orange zest and juice, 2 tablespoons of the peperoncinies brine, extra virgin olive oil, garlic powder, celery salt, Black pepper and one or two pinches of Pink Himalayan salt to taste. Toss throughly, cover, refrigerate and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.

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2.When ready to serve, cut Avocados in half length-wise, remove pit, and slice a sliver from the backside of each half to flatten the rounded side and make them stable on the plate. With a paring knife carefully cut the interior of the avocado into a grid. This will help to make it easier to eat.

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3.Drizzle some lime juice and a little pink salt, on each avocado half place them on a serving platter and stuff with the Peperoncini Shrimp Ceviche. Garnish with lime and orange wedges, plantain chips or water crackers, Enjoy!

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Welcome the Summer!

If you are on Vacation mode, weather if it is staycation, the beach, pool party or a picnic this give away is for you!

Enjoy your Summer and Bring the Heat!!!

Thank you to Mezzetta for sponsoring today’s post and inspiring us to try your delicious peppers!

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Music Pairing: Zorba The Greek `original Sound track from the 1964 Movie

https://youtu.be/66dJoVawkb8

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. The Mezzetta company sponsored it and compensated Yes, More Please! via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, Yes, more please! only recommends products or services we use and believe to be good fit for our readers. We are disclosing this post in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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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, 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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