Tag Archives: citrus

The G20 Series: Mexico

13 Jun

by Stephanie Dickison

Funny, I was just thinking along the same lines as Chris – how the hell do you sum up an entire country’s food in a mere 3-4 paragraphs?!

You can’t.  I can’t, anyway, so I thought long and hard about what sets Mexican food apart for me from the rest of the crowd (I had to fight getting up in the middle of the night to make tacos).

Here’s what I came up with:

Mexican food is perhaps one of the most fun, messy foods to eat.

Tacos and tacitos drip hot sauce and juices from pork and chicken,  enchilada sauce bursts forth from your entree, and ceviches blot your napkin with lemon or lime juice.

Salsas are perhaps one of the messiest condiments, with the water from the tomato or tomatillo and citrus juices making it sometimes difficult to get on your tortilla chip or breadstick.  And when your  fajitas, quesadillas and tacos have salsa on them, just  know that it might take a few tries to get the hang of it and not have it end up on your shirt front.

The good thing about salsa is it is simple to make an outstanding one as long as you have fresh ingredients on hand, and because you don’t have to cook it, it can be made quickly.  The base ingredients include tomatoes or tomatillos, cilantro, onion, garlic, citrus juice and hot peppers.  Some pros say salt and pepper too, but I’ve never done that.  (Hmm, I’m going to try that next time….) I like to chop and mix it all by hand, but many people use their food processor.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is the making it fresh always trumps a store-bought one. And this way, you can make it as hot or mild as you like.  The best way to add heat to your salsa is to remember that:

1.  the smaller the chili, the hotter it is

2. add a little at a time and taste as you go

The other thing I’ve learned is, salsas vary in Mexico, depending on the region.   Northern Mexico is known for its hearty grilled beef dishes, so you want something vibrant to stand up against the heaviness.

In The Cuisine of Puebla by Karen Hursh Graber, Northern Mexican “Drunken” Salsa is the perfect accompaniment.  And she says if you don’t have tequila, an extra 1/4 cup of beer will do just fine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 mulato chile, seeded and deveined, soaked in hot water until soft, drained
  • 3 pasilla chiles, seeded and deveined, soaked in hot water until soft, drained
  • 3 large garlic cloves, roasted on a comal or griddle, then peeled
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 3 tomatoes, roasted on a comal or griddle
  • ½ cup beer
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • 1/3 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar or piloncillo
  • salt to taste

Preparation:

Grind the chiles, garlic, onion and tomato in a molcajete or blender. Add the beer, tequila, pineapple juice and sugar and blend to combine ingredients. Add salt to taste.

Made a few hours ahead of serving, this salsa develops a deeper flavor. Makes 2 cups

If you want to make something from the South, use a smoked jalapeño called Chipotle.  The Aztecs who lived in central and southern Mexico from the 14th to 16th Centuries, came up with the idea.

The only other thing I would suggest is a lot of napkins.

You’re going to need ’em.

Review: Fresh From the Farmer’s Market

27 Oct

Fresh from the farmer's market book cover

Fresh From the Farmer’s Market

By Janet Fletcher

Reviewed by Chris Garbutt

It’s been a slow year for farmer’s markets for me, which is sad, because I’m as crazy about farmer’s markets as any downtown foodie. (Hey, I grew up in rural Southern Ontario, a town which had its own stockyards and vegetable stands  every Saturday, so I come by this love of markets honestly.) But for some reason, I just didn’t incorporate the markets into my routine.

Maybe it was the fact that the one on my way home was located next to an outdoor rink that doubled as a garbage dump during the municipal strike. Still, I was pretty loyal to my favourite grocery store, called Fresh From the Farm, which is just as good.

Janet Fletcher’s Fresh From the Farmer’s Market is all about how to make those markets a regular part of your life. It’s divided seasonally, with recipes based on the ingredients of the moment. Of course, since it’s an American book, you can’t always translate those seasons up here: the winter farmer’s market in most of Canada won’t have much fresh that didn’t grow in a barn or a greenhouse. Citrus and cabbage in winter? Yeah, that’s gonna be coming from south of the border.

It being autumn and all, we tried a seasonal dish – butternut squash risotto with white truffle oil. The squash came from Fresh from the Farm, but I got the arborio rice from Organic Abundance around the corner and the truffle oil* at a nearby Italian shop that sells olive oil, balsamic vinegar and premade pasta dishes. Not exactly a farmer’s market extravaganza, but still a seasonal delight.

And a delight it was. Though I overcooked the squash a little, and the constant stirring gave me cramps in my upper arm, the  final product was worth it. Next stop: winter. Something with citrus and cabbage, I’m sure.

* The first place I went to offered a truffle oil bottle for $51. A little out of my price range. The bottle I settled on was a mere $18.

 

 

UPDATE: Here’s a similar recipe with less stirring and actual truffles!