Archive for the ‘salsa’ Category

pork and mango

One of the things I’m enjoying about living in North America, and I’m speaking from a culinary perspective here, is the availability of Mexican and Tex-Mex style food. There isn’t exactly a huge following of this cuisine back home, unless you can spell Old Elpaso. I love how easy the food seems, how fresh and how there seems to be a real culture of love for the making of the food. If you need a little inspiration, just follow, for a few moments, in the Homesick Texan’s footsteps and be motivated. Nowadays we often have a fabulous, if somewhat messy, dinner of Taco’s or Tortilla’s and it’s such simple, fun food that you can’t help but enjoy it in a child-like, lick the fingers kind of way. I always seem to end up with such an overstuffed Taco that as I take my first bite the whole thing invariably comes apart in my hands in a sticky mass of chicken and salsa and guacamole. I usually giggle the whole way through. Anyway, as one of our favourite restaurants here in TO, a Latin Fusion place, if you will, they serve a dish hysterically named “Pork and Roll” (which always makes me think of those Elvis Presley wall clocks with the swinging legs counting the seconds down) combining a spicy, hot hot mix of pork and pineapple on flour tortilla’s. Super yum, even though I’m not usually a fan of fruit on my meat. I figured a mango could taste just as good and Voila!

pork and mango tortillas

Pork and Mango Tortillas
(with Salsa verde, naturallement)

2 fillets of pork (about 400 – 500g total) – finely chopped, about 5mm pieces
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp grape seed oil (or canola)mango
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 medium tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp Lime juice

1 small or ½ large mango, peeled, pitted and cubed
¼ cup chopped Cilantro

grated Cheddar cheese
Salsa Verde
flour tortillas

– mix the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add pork, coating well with spices, and let stand for 10 mins or so.

– heat the oil in a large skillet, add meat and brown.

– Remove meat from skillet, add garlic, onion and green pepper. Saute for 2 mins. Add tomato paste and tomatoes.

– Add vinegar, sugar and lime juice and cook until tender, about 10 mins. Replace pork and simmer until pork is cooked through.

– Stir in mango and cilantro and remove from heat.

– serve in tortillas with lettuce, salsa and cheese.

pork and mango prep


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Are they tomatoes? I don’t know. They look like tomatoes, but they also look kinda like a Cape Gooseberry. Well, I’ll tell you one thing: they make a great salsa, and since we’re hanging on to the last shreds of Summer by our fingernails here, I’m going to be making Summer Salsa’s until they become … uh … Seasonically Illegal. Or something.

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

8 or so green Tomatillo’s
2 small peach delicious tomatoes (or other yellow tomatoes)
1 small jalepeno
1 clove garlic
salt to taste
1 ripe avocado
2 Tbsp chopped Cilantro

– put the tomatillo’s, tomatoes, jalepeno and garlic in a blender and pulse a few times until it’s all finely chopped, but not liquid

– bring mixture to a boil and simmer for about 10 mins

– allow the mixture to cool a bit, then put back in the food processor with the avocado and cilantro and salt to taste and blend until fairly smooth.

Salsa Verde 2

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Quinoa Crepes with Beetroot and blue cheese sauce

I grew up on the Highveld, where the Summer Thunderstorm reigns supreme over all weather. They are mighty and godly storms which seem to make the earth tremble at their power and lash gallons of watery bullets at us mere mortals. They don’t last longer, usually, than an hour or so, but their intensity leaves the earth looking and smelling freshly scrubbed and sparkling clean. They arrive from November onwards, two or three times a week, late in the afternoon, when the days heat as built up a lethargic haze around everything and mirages shimmer down the end of the street. Their first big, plopping drops turn to steam on the tarmac and create a low, foggy haze for a few minutes before the real water arrives. I loved where I lived because you could always see the approach of the storm long before it arrived, the enormous, billowing clouds almost black with vengeance and the tell tale white anvil pointing the way high above the drama. A few minutes before the rain arrived to interrupt a Summer swim or drench you on your walk home from school, ruining your squelching school shoes (much to Mum’s horror), there was the squall. The strong, warm wind smelling of earth and wet and Summer. I loved it. I would stop my intrepid walk, turn my face to the wind and breath in Africa. I miss that now. I live on the 10th floor with a view towards the weather and I see the threatening clouds of rain sweeping in from the west, but somehow nothing lives up to the power of an South African Highveld Thunderstorm.

Rain on a school day, however, meant more than just drenched shoes and less swimming time. It meant crepes. My Gran, who lived with us, would be timeously putting the first ladle of batter onto a hot, buttered skillet as my brother and I came through the door, laden with wet jerseys and soaked books. Sugar and cinnamon, with just a dash of fresh lemon were the flavour of choice. In fact, up until early adulthood no other flavour even existed in my world-du-crepe, and it’s still a classic I love to bits. But up we grow and flavours a fancy we will find, so here’s something a little more substantial for a light dinner:

Quinoa Crepes with Beetroot and blue cheese sauce 2

Quinoa Crepes with Beetroot and Bluecheese Sauce (served with a peach, corn and pistachio salad)

for the crepes:
1 cup Quinoa flour
1 tsp dried thyme
pinch salt
2 eggs
1½ cups soy milk
2 Tbsp olive oil

for the filling:
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 medium brown onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic
grated beetroot, to make about a cup (I used 7 small Italian beets)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

for the sauce:
½ cup water
2 tsp cornflour
2 Tbsp cream
about 50g semi hard blue cheese of your choice
salt and pepper to taste

first make the crepe batter:
– mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl

– beat the egg with the soy milk

– add the egg to the dry mix and beat until smooth.

– add the olive oil and mix well. The batter should be quite thin and runny. Add more milk if needed. Let stand while you make the filling

make the filling:
– heat the oil and garlic in a saucepan. Add the onion and saute for 5 mins. Add the beetroot and maple syrup. Season and let simmer gently on a low heat with the lid on for about 10 mins while you make the sauce and crepes.

make the sauce:
– heat the water in a small saucepa.
– mix the cornflour with a little cold water to make a paste. Add to the warm water, stirring continuously until thickened. Add the cream and cheese and season to taste.

cook the crepes:
– put your oven on its lowest setting and the rack as low as it can. Put a plate in the oven to keep warm.

– heat a heavy bottomed, non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Add a couple drops of grapeseed or other high burning point oil if desired. Using a soup ladle, put one ladle of batter into the hot pan, quickly swirling the pan to spread the batter evenly.

– as soon as bubbles pop on the surface (just a few seconds) flip the pancake and cook a few seconds on the other side before removing to the plate in the oven.

– when all crepes are cooked, spread a spoon of filling over the crepe, to taste, and roll up. Cover with sauce.

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Eggplant with Sicilian Salsa

I never new much about eggplants growing up. The reason, I found out when my parents visited us here in Toronto a while ago and I was doing all the cooking, is that my Dad abhors this beautiful, delicately flavoured fruit and so we never had it in the house. Oh, the disappointment of not being able to make my Iranian Eggplant and lentil stew, flavoured with pomegranate and fresh mint for them during their time here.

It was the colour of the skin which first attracted me to the eggplant a few years ago.  That rich, almost black shade of purple, so mysterious and reminiscent of stories of Arabian Nights and Vincent’s Starry Sky. I  tried a bunch of things with the Aubergine, fumbling around for a while not knowing what to do with it.  Do you eat it raw?  Do you put it in a stir fry?  Until I got to know it a bit better, did a bit of reading and discovered a few ways of turning it’s slightly rubbery, raw flesh into the creamy, flavoursome meal it can be.  I still hold hope that one day, perhaps, I’ll be able to twist me ol’ Dad’s arm and make him change his mind about this yummy food.

Eggplant with Sicilian Salsa Sicilian salsa

1 large, firm eggplant, sliced into 1cm slices
Olive oil for frying

⅓ cup black nicoise, pitted
1½ Tbsp small capers
3 anchovy fillets
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1½ cups bottles tomato pasta sauce, heated

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

goats cheese

Polenta – made as per packet instructions and kept warm

– place slices of eggplant on paper towel and salt. Leave for half an hour to sweat. Dry with paper towel.

– place olives, capers, anchovy, shallot, garlic and thyme in a processor and blitz until finely chopped but not paste. Or chop all ingredients finely by hand and mix. Refrigerate for half and hour to allow flavour to develop.

– fry eggplant in olive oil in batches until lightly browned and tender. Add more oil as needed and drain on paper towel.

– place a serving of polenta on plate. Add a slice of eggplant, top with tomato sauce and repeatto use 3 or 4 slices of eggplant.

– top with about 1½ Tbsp goats cheese. Grill for 6 or 7 minutes under a hot grill, until cheese starts to bubble slightly.

– remove from oven and garnish well with salsa and pinenuts


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