Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tequila Grilling Sauce for Mahi Mahi

Tequila Grilling Sauce for Mahi Mahi

Enough for 4 6-8 OZ Mahi Mahi fillets

3 TBL White Tequila
3 TBL Pineapple juice
2 TBL Chopped cilantro
2 TBL Fresh lime juice
2 TBL Olive oil
2 CLOVES Garlic, minced
1 Habanero, minced
2 TSP Kosher salt
1/2 TSP Dark brown sugar
PINCH Fresh black pepper

1. Whisk Tequila Sauce together.  Drizzle over Mahi Mahi while grilling.

Desayuno Mexicano... Mexican Breakfast!

Desayuno Mexicano
Mexican Breakfast, from my book A Gringo's Guide to Authentic Mexican Cooking.
The average breakfast in the States often goes something like this: You get up, walk half-asleep into the kitchen, press the button on the coffee maker, and go take a quick shower. Then it’s back to the kitchen to make those little toaster breakfast pastries: “Mmmm, I think I’ll have the Queso Mexicali.” Then you kiss your dog, pat the kids on the head, and run to the car with a cup of coffee in one hand and that delicious prefabricated stale breakfast thing in the other. That is, of course, when you have the extra time to make breakfast. On the days you don’t, it’s good old “Eggs McDrive-Thru.” Both breakfasts seem to get choked down while fighting traffic and planning your day. The average household in Mexico, while it doesn’t have five hundred channels on the tube, does have the time to sit down and eat a decent breakfast at a relaxed pace before taking on the burdens of the workday.
In this chapter you’ll discover new ways to use corn tortillas and dried chiles with some traditional Mexican favorites you may not have tried, but will absolutely love, like chilequiles and migas. In no time at all you’ll be making huevos rancheros, posole, and menudo just like they serve in good Mexican-food restaurants every Sunday morning here in the states.
Then, after you’ve made your first authentic Mexican breakfast, I want you to do one more thing. Relax, slow down, talk a little with your spouse and kids while enjoying your own cooking, and have a slow, second cup of coffee. As they say in Mexico, “The work will still be there.”


This is a delicious way to use up day-old tortillas. It’s my wife’s favorite.

4 tablespoons corn oil
4 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips
Salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped, plum tomato
1/4 cup chopped, white onion
2 serrano chiles, seeded and chopped
4 eggs

Heat 3 1/2 tablespoons of the corn oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Fry the tortilla strips until they start to crisp. Remove from oil, salt, and drain on paper towels. Heat remaining oil in a clean skillet and stir-fry the chopped tomato, onion, and chiles for 30 seconds. Add tortilla strips.
Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt. Pour eggs over the vegetables in the skillet and cook, stirring often, until fully cooked. Serve with salsa and homemade refried beans or rice.
Serves 4

Chilaquiles Colorado
Chilaquiles are served throughout the southwest and Mexico.  I love them for breakfast with a little Carne Asada.

Sauce Ingredients:
8 dried New Mexico Mild Red chiles
2 cups chicken broth
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cumin

10 corn tortillas. cut into wedges
corn oil for frying
1/4 white onion, julienne
1/4 cup Queso Cotija or Monterey jack cheese

Roast the chiles on a hot frying pan until soft and pliable.  Remove chiles
from the pan and allow to cool down a little.  Remove stems and seeds.
Place the chiles and all other sauce ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer for 15 minutes.
Pour in a blender, 3/4 of a cup at a time, and puree (Be careful hot
liquids expand in a blender and can spill out the top and burn you).  Work
the sauce through a wire sieve into a bowl, mashing with the back of a rubber spatula,
until chile solids are left.  Discard chile solids. Set the sauce aside.
In a large heavy frying pan, heat up about 1/3 of an inch of oil.  Fry the
Tortilla wedges, a handful at a time, until just crisp.  Remove them from
the oil and while the next batch is frying drain them on a paper towel.
After all the tortillas are fried and drained.  Pour half the sauce into a
baking dish, arrange the tortilla wedges so they are flat and then pour in
remaining sauce. Bake in a 350º oven for 15 minutes.  Garnish with white
onion and crumbled queso cotija.
Serves 8-10

West Texas, Mesquite Smoked Brisket of Beef

Notice the pink smoke ring, this comes with time, for both the brisket and the cook!  It the sign of a true "Pit Master."  You'll get there… trust me, you'll get there!

West Texas, Mesquite Smoked Brisket of Beef

1 whole Brisket
1 batch of West Texas Barbecue Rub;
This is called a rub for a reason.  You need to rub it into the meat.  I like it best rubbed in and then wrapped in plastic film and rested over night. This rule doesn’t apply to fish.  Heck you can just sprinkle it on fish.
6 Tbl. Ancho chile powder or mild New Mexico chile powder
3 Tbl.  brown sugar
3 Tbl. kosher salt
2 Tbl. fresh ground coarse black pepper
1 Tbl. ground cumin
1 Tbl. cayenne pepper
1 Tbl. sugar

Mix and store in a covered container.
Makes about 1 cup

1 batch of West Texas Flaming Mop Sauce;
For those of you that are just learning about barbecue, this is an important day in your life.  Barbecue sauce is used to cover up the flavor of inferior cuts of meat, or to enhance great barbecue by sitting on the side as an accent.  Mopping sauce is a completely different animal.  Its purpose is to tenderize while flavorizing.  The rule of thumb for brisket and ribs is slow and low.  While Smoking the meat give it a little mop every 20 minutes or so.  You’ll see and taste the difference the first time you try it!
1-3/4 Cups White vinegar
3 Tbl. Louisiana Hot sauce
1 TBL Dark Brown sugar
1 tsp. Cayenne pepper
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. Fresh-ground black pepper
1 tsp. Sugar

Mix in a non-reactive bowl and cover.  Mop onto ribs, pork shoulder or brisket while slow smoking.
Makes about 2 cups

Rub the Brisket thoroughly with the rub and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.  Place the brisket in the smoker fat side up and close the lid.   Light a few chunks of charcoal and keep your eye on the thermometer.  You’re looking for a temperature in the smoker of somewhere between 190° and 220° and you’ll smoke the brisket for a minimum of 8 and as many as 10 hours, turning every 2 to 3 hours. With brisket it’s a waiting game where patience is truly a virtue.  I find myself most virtuous (or is that patient) when drinking beer.  Perhaps you may want to try this age-old technique!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Red Rooster

Red Rooster
This is for those Sunday mornings when you wake up a little fuzzy.  As they say “The hair of the dog that bit you!”

1/3 cup Bloody Mary Mix
1 Ice cold bottle of Lone Star beer
1 pickled Jalapeno pepper, with a few slits cut in the side
1 pair of dark sunglasses
Pour the bloody Mary mix in a chilled beer mug and slowly top it off with the beer.  Garnish with the jalapeno.  Put on the sunglasses and sip slowly.

Deep Fried Shrimp Tacos

Deep Fried Shrimp Tacos

12  Corn Tortillas, warmed up on a comal or frying pan
1 LB Frozen Breaded Shrimp, deep fried, tails removed
1/4  Head Green Cabbage Shredded
1/2  White Onion, minced or red onion sliced and rinsed
1/2 Bunch Cilantro, chopped fine
2 Hass avocados, pitted and sliced thin
6  Wedges of Key Lime
6  Chile Tepins

Salsa por Mariscos 

1. Place two tortillas, on top of each other, on each plate.

2. Place 2 of the shrimp in the center of the tortilla.

3. Top with cabbage, onion, ciltantro and avocado slices and set 1 lime wedge and 1 chile tepin on the side and serve with Salsa por Mariscos.

   Serves 6
Salsa por Mariscos
Salsa for Seafood

The little fish taco stands along the Sea of Cortez in Mexico use this salsa to give their tacos that special taste. The secret is the cucumber. It goes well with any fish.

4 to 6 large, ripe tomatoes, diced
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, and chopped
2 jalapeno` peppers, stems removed, and chopped
1 large white onion, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, cleaned and chopped
At least 2 teaspoons salt (I know it looks like a lot, but for the right flavor, it takes more than you would think.)

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and cool for about 1/2 hour before serving.
Makes 4 cups

How do I know when it's Done?

How do I get from this…
to this?

I get this question, every time I speak on cooking.  Usually people are looking for a time in the grill or oven.  With the exception of fish, the way to think about this issue is not time, but internal temperature.  I suggest a digital meat thermometer.  They're cheap, fast and accurate.  Professionals often use the standard stem thermometer which can be quickly calibrated in a glass of ice water.  And I don't suggest gadgets that have a rare, medium and done setting,  just take the extra five minutes to remember this guide and you're on your way to knowing the nature of raosted grill meats.  Soon you'll just get a feel for where your foods are in the cooking cycle.
Use this guide as a starting place then adjust to your preferred doneness!  (Warning,The FDA suggests much higher target temperatures to avoid bacterial contamination.)   

Mad Coyote Joe's Grilled Meats, Fish and Foul, Target Temperature Guide.

            Grill indirectly high heat, target temperature 165°f at the thickest part of the breast and thigh

            Grill indirectly, high heat, target temperature rare145°f, well done 165°f at the thickest part of the thigh breast.  If smoking or roasting suspend over a water bath.

            Chops; grill directly, medium high heat, target temperature 145°f center of the chop
            Leg; grill indirectly, medium high heat, target temperature 145°f rare, 165°f well done, test at center of the leg

            Tenderloin and chops, medium high heat, target temperature, rare 145°f , well 165°f at center
            Roasts,  the old guys say, "low and slow", roast or smoke at 250°f to 325°f-target temperature done at 165°f but fall apart tender 192°f

            Tender cuts (non-locomotive); Steaks, tenderloins, fillets and tender roasts like tri tip, quick sear, high heat indirect finish, target temperature rare 124°f, medium rare 128°f, medium 132°f, medium well 136°f, well 140°f

            Tough cuts; brisket, chuck roasts, pot roasts, long slow cooking, sear then braise, moist environment, target temperature, 192°f

            Direct grilling medium high heat, 10 minutes of grilling for every inch of thickness.

Allow all grilled meat and poultry to rest for at least 10 minutes after removing from heat.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Arizona Blues Project

I stopped by Harold's tonight to see The Arizona Blues Project with Chuck Hall, Gary Bruzzese, Al Ortiz, Paul Reed. Wow are these guys tight. Amazing don't miss them!

Tequila Piña…Mmmmmmexico!

Tequila Piña
10 ounces tequila reposado
12 ounces fresh pineapple juice
12 ounces lemon-lime soda
Crushed ice
1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Combine tequila, pineapple juice, soda, pineapple and mint in a pitcher.
Serve over crushed ice and garnish with fresh mint leaves. 

The Gold Rush of the Twenty First Century

We are standing at the doorway to the largest transfer of information in the history of mankind.  Our access to the web provides an audience of several billion people.  Who or what ever we decide to share, we can now share with the entire world.  And more importantly the only filter is our willingness to deliver.  Gone are the days of some executive deciding what is good or current or marketable.  In true democratic fashion the audience it’s self will decide to share or forward.  And unlike TV the work is on 24-7, not just this weeks episode, all of the work.  For many years I wanted to be a part of the national discussion of cooking in the Southwest in the world of Television food.  For me that has all changed, I’m now convinced that I need to focus on all the things that make up our life here in this beautiful Sonoran Desert, the food, the cactus, the tequila, mesquite grilling, our music, the town of Cave Creek, green building, wood fired ovens, adobe building, our cooking school, the list goes on and on!   
 A friend recently said to me, “I feel like we are living at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and own a mechanic’s shop!”   So start a blog, or start doing Youtube videos, twitter, face book, my space, become someone or something that you’ve always wanted to be.  Write a book or poetry or music and launch it.   Trust me, sooner or later, someone will figure a way to be the gate keeper to this amazing internet, but for the next few years the doors are wide open… now is the time and this your chance.  Don’t miss this centuries gold rush!

Doves Wyatt Earp and Bob Boze Bell

I stopped by True West Magazine yesterday to deliver bread.  My friend and mentor Bob Boze Bell was at his desk, as usual, and we were chatting about the snow storm.  Bob and I walked out on the big patio, in front and I took this picture of him.  I thought I'd throw in a historic recipe from the old west in honor of Bob.  
Doves Wyatt Earp
This said to be the original recipe that Wyatt Earp like to make and serve at the famous “Oreantal” saloon.  Before any of you western historians write me a snippy letter about it’s authenticity, I’ll give you another famous saying from the old west.  Don’t shoot me I’m only the cook.  Besides it’s very good!

10 Mexican White wing Doves or 2 Cornish game hens
1 medium Green cabbage chopped
1 cup cooked Lima beans
6 sliced carrots
1 large diced white onion
1 cup macaroni
6 medium potatoes
3 Tbl. butter
1 tsp. sage leaves
3 tablespoons soy sauce

Remove head, feet and entrails, then  pluck all feathers and singe off all hair feathers from ten Mexican white wing doves.  Cut the leg and back section apart from breast.  Brown the legs and breast in the butter in a large iron skillet.  Place the vegetables and doves with drippings and soy sauce in a large stock pot and add enough water to cover by two inches.  Bring to a low boil for about an hour and a half.  Remove doves and all vegetables from stockpot and place in a covered bowl to keep warm.  Add macaroni to remaining stock boil for ten minutes and serve as soup.  Serve the doves and vegetables as main dish with fresh baked bread and butter.
Serves 6-8           

Cajun Oyster and Scallop Stew

Cajun Oyster and Scallop Stew
Just another day, down on the “Big Easy”

12 Scallions, chopped fine   
1 Celery stick, chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
½ stick Sweet butter
2 Tbl. All purpose flour
1 Qt cream or Half & half
36 Medium oysters, shucked (2 pints)
24 Bay Scallops (1 pint)
1 cup Water, (HOT)
2 sprigs fresh Parsley, chopped
2 tsp. crushed red chile
1 tsp. White pepper
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. dried Basil
½ tsp. dried Thyme
½ tsp. dried Oregano
½ tsp Fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup Dry cooking sherry
1 cup Plain croutons

Sauté the scallions, celery and garlic in the butter until soft.  Add the flour, stir well, and fry until lightly browned. Remove from the heat and set aside. Over medium heat warm the cream (do not boil).  Once hot, add the onion, garlic, celery mixture and all other ingredients except the sherry and croutons. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add the sherry and continue to simmer until the stew thickens. Add the croutons and serve!
Serves 8

Texas Style Chicken Bog

Crusty the wonder dog!

This is from an article I wrote for my food column in our local newspaper about 10 years ago, but it applies and the recipe is great.

A Dog’s Life.
A dog’s life refers to hard or bad times… I’ve never understood this.  My dogs wake up at two in the morning, and then they wake me up so I can let them out for a quick pee.  They then come back in and rest up for breakfast.  After which they nap, on and off, all day, with the exception of getting their ears scratched, or my wife and I taking them for a walk.  All of this is centered on eating, barking or more napping.  Then some time around 8:00pm they drift off to sleep and the whole cycle starts over again.
Oddly one of the more frequently asked questions, in reference to my television cooking show, is “how are your dogs doing”. 
This started in our second season when one of our family dogs, a Chinese Chow Chow, named Weizer, wandered into the background during a shoot.  I was busy cooking and the director was so preoccupied with the food shots that no-one notice the dog.  Well the editor left in the footage, and the next week Weizer was a star.  We got so much fan mail about Weizer, that the director would let both of my dogs wander into the set every now and then.  It was funny and made for good TV.
I’m sad to say that both the show and the dogs are no longer with us.
The great American Will Rogers once said “To a dog every day is Christmas!” So for our dogs with all the cooking we do, every day is like a Christmas feast.
What brought all of this to mind was my wife, Chef Kathy’s, shoes.  I was looking at them the other day and noticed they were unusually clean for cooks’ shoes.  Preparing food is messy business and your shoes end up covered with everything from kitchen scraps to the soup of the day. 
Kathy’s shoes were spotless and I asked her when she had the time to clean them.  She said, “That’s odd I haven’t wiped them down for a long time… I sort of forgot about cleaning them”.  Our son Joey heard this and told us that our new dog Sam (half bloodhound and half black lab) was cleaning Kathy’s shoes for her. 
A few days later Joey called us into the living room and sure enough, Sam had both of Kathy’s shoes tucked between his paws, protecting his prize from our other dog Rusty (white lab).  Sam took his time with each shoe savoring the day’s fare. He started on the top working down the sides and spent extra time on the soles, licking every morsel off the shoes.  When he finished with one, he pushed it out where the other dog could see it and went to work on the other one.  Sam was in heaven; no dog bone will ever come close to the bounty of flavors Chef Kathy brings home every night.  Not to mention the shear joy of not sharing with the other Dog.  Besides Kathy’s shoes look really good!
I thought, in honor of dogs everywhere, I should do a recipe that they will love the table scraps and leftovers from.  While the weather is still a little chilly give this one a try.  You too can enjoy a dog’s life… spend the whole day eating and napping.
Texas Style Chicken Bog
This recipe can be found throughout the south.  It’s a great example of down home Texas comfort food.  I make it on a rainy day when a big crowd is dropping by.

1 (3-pound) chicken, quartered
1 pound smoked hot-links
1 cup white onion, chopped
1 stick of unsalted butter
2 teaspoons Lawry’s Seasoned Salt 
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2  teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tsp. Granulated garlic
2 dashes of your favorite hot sauce
3 bay leaves
8 cups water
3 cups un-cooked white rice

Cut the hot-links into 1/2-inch pieces. In a Dutch-oven, combine the chicken, hot-links, onion, butter, seasonings and bay leaves. Add the water, cover, and bring to a low boil for 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. Add the rice to the pot and continue the low boil, stirring well. Boil for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes more, or until the rice is soft and fluffy. Remove the bay leaves, and return the chicken to the pot.  Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve in big soup bowls with fresh biscuits. I like the chicken pieces whole.  Some recipes remove the chicken from the bone before returning to the pot.
Serves 8-10

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Unholy Weather and Taco Bart's!

We woke up to snow falling on our beloved Sonoran desert.  For those of us that like the heat, especially over 115f, this is a curse directly from the bowels of hell.

I did my rounds expecting caribou or Polar Bear to show up at any moment.  After a while I calmed down and decided there was only one course of action.

Go to see Bart.  He's the proprietor of the Indian Village, here in Cave Creek.  Bart is one of the reasons to move to Cave Creek, well Bart and his Tacos.  They can cure depression and for only a few bucks.
I took this picture while sitting in my chair at home.  I'm pretty well known for understanding food; and especially Mexican food.  No paper mache flowers, no blue margaritas, no annoying tourists, just the best tacos in this part of the country.  If you live here you don't say "The Indian Village"  you say, let's go to Taco Bart's.
Thanks Bart!

Grill-baked Paella

Grill-baked Paella

1/2 Fryer chicken, cut up
1/2 LB Italian rope sausage, spicy
1-1/2 C Italian Arborio rice
3 C Boiling water
2 TBL Butter
1 TBL Lobster base
1 TSP Saffron
1-1/2 C Frozen baby peas, thawed
1/4 C Italian parsley, chopped
1 Red bell pepper, diced
2-3 Medium Italian brown mushrooms, sliced
4 CLOVES Garlic, minced
2 DASHES Louisiana hot sauce
2 TSP Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1/2-3/4 LB Assortment of shellfish like clams, mussels, cockles, crab claws, whatever is fresh -- I would not use oysters.
1/2 LB Medium shrimp, peeled
1 Lemon, cut in half

1. Place pizza stone on grill, light burners and turn to low.  Allow grill to slowly heat up to about 400∫ and adjust heat to maintain 400∫.
2. Place the chicken and sausage on the grill directly over direct heat and roast.  Remove from grill, set aside.
3. Place the rice, butter, and lobster base in a large, heavy, baking dish with a heavy lid. Pour the boiling water in and stir. Add saffron, peas, parsley, bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic, Louisiana hot sauce, salt, and pepper, stir well. Grill bake indirectly, for 15 minutes; remove lid. Place shell fish on top of mixture. Slice sausage, arrange roasted chicken and sausage in with rice and seafood, cover.
4. Place  baking dish on pizza stone and grill bake for 15 minutes or until shellfish and rice are completely done.  Remove lid and squeeze 1 whole lemon over dish.  Serve with a good cream sherry.

Crunchy Chicken Flautas with Avocado Tomatillo salsa

Crunchy Chicken Flautas
If your idea of flautas is those little, frozen, pre-made, rock hard rolled up, taquitos they sell at the “Shopper’s Club”… then you’re in for a real treat.  A fresh homemade flauta is crunchy, juicy and sooo delicious.  This is where I use left over chicken or turkey.

Corn oil for frying
2 dozen 6-inch corn tortillas
1 pound cooked chicken, shredded
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 cup shredded potatoes (I use frozen hash-brown potatoes, thawed)

Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet to 375 degrees. Dip each tortilla in the oil for a few seconds, but not until crisp. Set the tortillas on a plate covered with a dish towel.
Mix the meat, onion, cilantro, and potato together. (The potato causes the mixture to bind.) Place about 3 tablespoons of the mixture in the center of each tortilla and roll up. Use a toothpick to hold the flauta closed. Deep-fry the flautas, 2 or 3 at a time, until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Salt and top with Mexican crema, Queso, lettuce and Salsa de Tomatillo y Aguacate or what ever you like.
Serves 10
Salsa de Tomatillo y Aguacate
Avocado Tomatillo salsa
This easy salsa is a must for flautas.  It’s also fantastic with chips or Mexican breakfast.

6 tomatillos, husked and rinsed well
1/2 white onion, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 serrano chile, stem removed
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt
1 ripe Haas avocado, peeled and cubed

Place tomatillos, onion, cilantro, garlic, chile, water, and salt in a blender; purée until smooth. Add avocado and purée until smooth. Add more water if needed.  salsa should be a little thicker than tomato sauce.
Makes 3 cups

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Thai Shrimp and Roasted Cashew Salad

Thai Shrimp and Roasted Cashew Salad
Fresh, light and delicious!

If you have a mandolin, try running the cucumber through the julienne blade, cutting the cucumber the long way.  This will produce cucumber that looks like spaghetti or fettuccini.  Use the cucumber strands as a bed for the shrimp and veggies. If you like it spicy add a few Chile Tepins, a chopped serrano chile or a tsp. of crushed red chile!

1 1/2 LB Shrimp, cooked, peeled and de-veined
2 C English cucumber,
1 C Pineapple Chunks
3/4 C Julienne red onion, rinsed under cold water
1/2 C Chopped Red Bell Pepper
1/2 C Diced Jicama
1/2  Poblano Chile, julienne, without seeds and veins

3 TBL Soy Sauce
3 TBL Sherry Vinegar
3 TBL Un-sweetened pineapple juice
1 TBL Sugar
1 TBL Peanut Oil
2 CLOVES Garlic, minced very fine
2 TSP Fresh Grated Ginger

3 TBL Fresh Mint Leaves, torn
3 TBL Fresh Cilantro leaves, torn
3 TBL Dry Roasted Cashews, chopped

1. Toss together the shrimp, cucumber, pineapple, onion, bell pepper, jicama and poblano chile.

2. In a small saucepan, heat the soy sauce, vinegar, pineapple juice and sugar, just until the sugar dissolves.

3. Allow to cool and then whisk in the oil, garlic and ginger.

4. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss well.

5. Gently toss in the mint and cilantro.

6. Garnish with chopped cashews.

   Serves 6

Monday, February 18, 2013

Guadalajaran Salsa en Molcajete

I know the Gringo in you is saying, "Hey that's made with some sort of a rock thingy!"  Yes it is, but think of it as a centuries old food processor.  
The big companies, in the good old US of A that make the national brands of salsa know as much about good salsa (and Mexican food in general) as a cow knows about dancing. Comparing bottled salsa with fresh homemade, is like comparing prime rib with those little canned cocktail sausages. This is because they keep it fresh with chemical preservatives, and the result is sort of a jalapeno-flavored tomato sauce. If the salsa had any subtle flavors to begin with, after being on the shelf a short while, they have vanished.
On the other hand, salsa in Mexico is a centuries-old culinary art form with a hundred (or more) different flavors and uses. As with any great cuisine, these sauces are the heart of the meal. Authentic Mexican salsa is sometimes very hot, but not always. Unlike their counterparts from the U.S., they are so much more than just a way to add heat. The flavors are complex and full-bodied, well-balanced, and, like a fine wine, they complement a meal rather than overpower it.
Making your own salsa, like Grandma’s apple pie, is a labor of love. You need to smell the chiles roasting and taste the spices as you go. Start out making my personal favorite, Guadalajaran Salsa en Molcajete, and you’ll never go back to the bottled stuff. And salsas aren’t just for chips and nachos. Take an ordinary grilled chicken and serve it with tangy, spicy Tomatillo Salsa Verde or Salsa de Pipián con Chile Güero, with its unexpected fiery flavor, and suddenly you’re serving a real Mexican treat. Add a few extras like Mexican rice, warm corn tortillas, and an ice-cold Mexican beer and you’ll have a full-blown fiesta on your hands.

Guadalajaran Salsa en Molcajete

You’ll find this distinctive salsa made tableside at fine restaurants in Guadalajara. A molcajete is a centuries-old kitchen tool, sort of the Aztec version of the mortar and pestle.

 3 pulla chiles
4 tomatillos
3 Roma tomatoes
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 white onion, finely chopped
1/3 bunch cilantro, chopped

Toast the chiles on a hot, dry comal for 2 or 3 minutes, turning often to avoid burning. Turn heat up. Remove the cores from the tomatillos and tomatoes and then char the outsides on the comal until dark brown or lightly blackened. Coarsely chop the tomatillos and tomatoes and set aside.
Place the salt and then the garlic in the bottom of the molcajete. Work into a paste. Add the chiles and break up into small pieces. Add the tomatillos and tomatoes, working into mixture. Now add the onion and cilantro but stir in, do not grind. Serve with tortilla chips.
Makes 2 cups

Tex-Mex Tacos

Tex-Mex Tacos
This recipe calls for pre-made taco shells.  If you want, you can fry your own corn tortillas with the meat mixture inside.  Make sure and drain them on a paper towel, before filling them with the toppings.  My friend, Western author Bob “Boze” Bell, fries his tacos, holding the tortilla closed with an old pair of pliers!  I think the reason we never get poisoned from this practice has something to do with the amount of tequila we consume while cooking!

1 Tbl vegetable oil
1 small white onion, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 Lb. Ground beef
1 Lb. Ground pork
1 large bunch cilantro, rinsed and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
12 taco shells

 Shredded lettuce, finely chopped white onion, avocado slices, salsa, tomato, and cheddar cheese,
Sauté the onion, garlic, and tomatoes in a skillet until onions are soft. Then add the beef and pork and continue cooking until the meat is done. Remove from heat.  Add the cilantro and season to taste.  Assemble the tacos meat first then toppings in the order they are listed.  And add Beer… to drink… lots of beer!
Makes 12 tacos

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Open Mic at the Horny Toad... Great Day of Music!

Open Mic at the Horny Toad every Sunday 1-5.  This week we had a fantastic group of players.  Come on out and join the funQ
East Coast Al Catarino was great as usual!
Paul Meyer held down the bottom end on Bass.
Rick Strole with his smooth voice.
Hatman and the Band!
New comer Mike G., a strong vocal style
Bruce… one handsome cowboy… oh and very talented too.

Dan with his Dad, Harry.
Jim Gath laid a few down for us as usual.
Tim Brady rocked as usual. 
Mike Cullums on Drums and Pretzels!

Authentic Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

This famous salad is not Italian, but rather a true treasure of Baja.  Originally from Tijuana, Mexico, it was created by the famous chef Alex-Caesar Cardini, who first called it “Aviator’s Salad”, in honor of the pilot’s from Rockwell Field Air Base in San Diego California that frequented his restaurant.  Later it was called The “Caesar” Salad in honor of Cardini.  Many recipes call for lemon juice but I believe this original recipe which uses Key lime juice is has a much fresher taste.

10-12 Fresh romaine lettuce leaves
1-cup Garlic croutons
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Caesar dressing;
3 cloves fresh garlic
6 flat anchovy fillets, drained and minced  or 1 Tbl Anchovy paste
* Yolk of 1 fresh large egg
1 Tbl. fresh squeezed key lime juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of salt
Pinch of crushed red chile
1/4-cup extra virgin olive oil
Key or Mexican Limes are smaller but much sweeter and less acidic
Rinse lettuce well and dry in a salad spinner.  Tear into bite size pieces, (cutting with a steel knife will cause the lettuce to rust much faster) and place in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour.  Refrigerating makes the lettuce more crisp.
Rub the salad bowl with the garlic cloves and then mash it into a paste or use a garlic press.  Add the anchovies, egg yolk, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, salt and red chile.  Mash and mix well.  Then whisk in the olive oil. 
Toss together lettuce, half of the croutons and half of the cheese in the dressing.  Place salad on serving plates and sprinkle top with remaining cheese and croutons.  Offer fresh ground black pepper.

*Authors note; Eggs can contain dangerous bacteria, if the eggs in your
area have been known to have this problem, or if you are concerned at all,
Substitute eggs with pasteurized eggs or 1 Tbl. heavy cream.  The flavor change, from the cream, is minimal.

Serves 4