Saturday, September 17, 2011

Spice Up Your Life: Quick and Easy Roasted Tomato Salsa

Hey all, I am finally back to blogging after what seems like forever!!  I was super busy interning at a restaurant over the summer and I had no time at all to blog.  I did however get to know tons of amazing people at work and they taught me how to cook lots of tasty bites to share with you.  This is one of them.

I was one of the few non-Mexican workers in the kitchen at my internship.  I was referred to as the "gringa" every day.  My co-workers would bring in Mexican dishes all the time and it really whetted my appetite to learn the culture through their food.  Finally after eating my fair share of carnitas, molletes, and chilequiles over the course of a month or so, I  got up the courage to ask for a recipe.  This being my second summer interning at the Mecca, I knew most of the staff already so I went to my friend Julia and I started to ask her about chile peppers and what the differences were.  I then segwayed into telling her how delicious the salsa verde that she brought in the day before was.  I figured if I could shower her with flattery, then maybe she would let me in on her secrets.  I was right!  I quickly grabbed a pen and some paper and the salsa recipes started flowing out of her mouth almost faster than I could write them down.  I began to ask questions about steps and making notes of what to look for when shopping and how things should smell and taste when made correctly.  I left work that day eager to stop at the grocery on the way home to grab all the ingredients, whip up a batch of salsa, and bring it in to work tomorrow so it could be taste tested by the pros.

The next day, I brought in a batch of this roasted tomato salsa and my coworkers bestowed upon me the status of "Honorary Mexican".  I haven't been referred to as "gringa" at work since!  Now that I'm on the "inside", I've gotten a lot more recipes that I am eager to share with you and have become more and more comfortable using popular Mexican ingredients when cooking.  How I lived without dried chili peppers and tomatillos before now I will never know.

This salsa is super easy and can be made to taste so feel free to play around with it to fit your own spice level (you can always add spice but it's hard to take away!).  I made this batch with my roommate Ben who we can all thank for the improvement to my blog layout and the new photos of food that will be gracing its pages. Alright, enough talking Liz.  Let's make some salsa! 

Julia's Roasted Tomato Salsa

Equipment you will need:
  • An oven
  • A blender
8 Plum Tomatoes
3-4 Tomatillos
2-4 Jalepenos (depending on how spicy you like it)
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Medium Onion (less if needed)
1 Dried Guajillo Chili (found at most international grocers)
1 Dried Puya Chili (found at most international grocers)
1/4 Bunch of Cilantro
Salt (to taste)
1-3 Cups Hot (really hot) Water
  1. Turn your oven to broil.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Core the tomatoes and tomatillos and place on the lined baking sheet along with the jalepeno peppers and peeled onion (cut the ends off too.).
  2. Broil, turning a few times during cooking (everything will blacken, deal with it), until the tomatoes are bursting and the tomatillos are soft.  The jalepeno skin will be bubbly.
  3. While everything is broiling, take a small pan and place it over a medium heat. Peel the garlic and toast in the pan until just heated through.  Remove the stem and seeds from the Guajillo and the Puya Chilis and toast in the pan until fragrant and warm.
  4. Once the tomatoes, tomatillos, onion and jalepenos come out of the oven, place all but the jalepenos in the blender.  Take the jalepenos and seed, de-stem and de-vein them according to how much spice you want.  The more seeds and vein you add, the spicier your salsa.  Add it to the blender.  Also add the Guajillo and Puya chilis as well as the garlic, cilantro and salt to taste.  Add about a half cup of the hot water to the blender.
  5. Put the top on your blender and put a towel over the top.  With one hand FIRMLY holding the blender top on, pulse the salsa until it is the desired thickness adding more hot water as necessary.  I like my salsa thinner and not chunky so I blend the heck out of it.
  6.  Let the salsa cool to room temperature and enjoy it on everything!
 All of my ingredients assembled
Removing the seeds from the dried Guajillo Chili Pepper
 Yummy Charred Tomatillos
 This is what the tomatoes and jalapenos will look like when they come out of the oven
 Some delicious chicken tacos that Ben made with our salsa!
 Looks delicious!
     This salsa is super delicious and inexpensive to make.  My favorite thing to do with it (besides sit and eat it with a spoon) is to saute cooked sliced chicken with a bit of olive oil, diced tomato, and onion in a pan.  I add some salsa and cook until bubbling.  I pour it into a bowl and top it with raw diced onion, chopped cilantro, and lots of fresh lime juice!  I call it Chicken Taco Soup and would eat it for every meal if I could!

    Enjoy this recipe and come back soon to see what I'm cooking in my kitchen!  Until then, keep experimenting in the kitchen, and remember, food is love (so share it!).

    Monday, March 7, 2011


    Hello all,

    So after a hiatus of quite a few months I am back on the blogging scene!   Being the president of the culinary club I have been thrust into the wonderful world of catering.  I have my first catering event tomorrow for our Hospitality and Tourism and I will put up pictures

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Farm To Table Dinner: A Feat of Madness (and Delicious-ness)

    Hey everybody!  I feel really bad that I put my blog on a mini hiatus during September but I had to!! First off, I turned my camera on on one day just to find the screen cracked and no explanation in the world as to how this happened!  Second off, I had my independent study which was helping plan and run a farm to table dinner.  It was wild, it was crazy, it was so much fun, and it was yummy!!  So now I shall tell you all about the farm to table dinner and all the food that was prepared for it.

    So our farm to table dinner would not be possible without my school's wonderful relationship with Kendall College in Chicago.  The way it works is that the Kendall students come down to Southern and take a ton (and i mean A TON) of farm tours.  They learn all about our local produce and farming as well as about wine, aqua culture, and tons of other cool stuff too!! As you can tell, I am extremely jealous that my busy school schedule prohibited me from attending the tours.   Local Farmers donate all of the food that we use for the dinner. While they are here they prep (with the help of our students) the farm to table dinner one night.  The night after is the dinner where we served a party of 70 local farmers and prominent community members, as well as many school officials.  It was very stressful and exciting! My job was head of the back of the house.  I had to make sure that all the prep was done and everything was packed to go to the venue.  The day of the dinner my job was to make sure that the food got out of the kitchen without a hitch and that everyone in the kitchen was happy and had everything that they needed.  We held the dinner at Starview Winery which is my favorite winery in Southern Illinois.  Their Venus wine is the bomb!!  The owners are the nicest people and did so much to help this dinner go off without a hitch.  It was a huge success....and now I shall share with you all (my favorite part) : The Menu!!!!

    Course 1: Sweet Pepper-Ricotta Frittata with Tomato Herb Salad
    Course 2: Grilled Hybrid Striped Bass with Braised Farmers Market Greens, Local Sausage, and     New Potatoes
    Course 3: Watermelon Granita in Jonathan Apples (recipe below)
    Course 4: Wood-Roasted Lamb with Veal Demi Glace, Candied Apples, Blue Roasted Pumpkin and Organic Garlic Butter
    Course 5: Grape and Herb Clafouti

    Now for the yummy pictures!!

    The only thing I don't have a picture of is the Watermelon Granita and that is the only thing that I have the recipe for, though I may email the chef that came down from Kendall for the Clafouti recipe because it was so good ( so good that I ate like 4 slices!).

    Watermelon Granita
    6 c  seedless watermelon flesh 
    1 1/2 T grated fresh ginger
    Sugar TT (at least 1c)

    1. Crush the watermelon flesh until it is a smooth puree. Use a wooden spoon and some elbow grease to do this.
    2.  Add the sugar and grated ginger and mix well.
    3. Place in a bowl in the freezer overnight or until frozen.
    4. mix it around the bowl before serving.  If it melts at all, just refreeze it!

    This is just so refreshing that I can't even tell you!!  I always mix mine with lemonade and make a slushie!

    I'm hoping to have another post up this week (fingers crossed) so check back soon!
    Until then remember, food is love

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    My Apologies

    I'm sorry I haven't updated, my camera is on the fritz.....I'm going to start stealing my roommate's camera tomorrow and hopefully have a new post up in a few days! -Liz

    Sunday, August 29, 2010

    Hey Y'all: Paula Deen's Peach Cobbler

    So I went on vacation this summer with my friend Brett and his family.  Our trip included a stop in beautiful Savannah, Georgia and we were lucky enough to eat at Paula Deen's restaurant The Lady and Sons.  It was absolutely delicious (of course)!  While there I had the buffet of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, roast turkey, pork stew, stuffing, cabbage, mac and cheese, and many more delicious dishes.  After eating at least one of everything in sight the waiter told us that dessert was included!! I had the peach cobbler which was warm from the oven and absolutely delightful!  Literally I could have eating an entire 9x13 pan of this cobbler, I may or may not have even licked the bowl it came in (Don't judge me!!).  After dessert I marched myself right down to the gift store in search of that recipe!  Much to my convenience, they have postcards at the Paula Deen store with recipes printed on the front one of which being the peach cobbler recipe of my dreams!    This might not be peach cobbler the way many people make it.  There is no crumble topping, it's cake-y, not crunchy.  The dough rises around the peaches and the result is fruity pillow-y like deliciousness! I made this the first time for my last day of work for the summer and it turned out great (it only lasted on the table about 15 minutes)  but there weren't enough peaches for my liking so this time when I made it I increased the amount of sliced peaches from 4 to 6 cups and it turned out great!

    Paula Deen's Peach Cobbler

    4 c. of peeled, sliced peaches ( I used 6c.)
    2 c. sugar, divided
    1/2 c. water
    1 stick of butter
    1 1/2 cups self rising flour (recipe below)
    1 1/2 c. milk

    self-rising flour (1 c.): 1 c. flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder.

    1. preheat the oven to 350
    2. combine the peaches, 1c. of sugar, and the water in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from the beat.
    3. put the butter in a deep baking dish and place it in the oven to melt.
    4. mix remaining 1c. sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping.
    5. pour mixture over melted butter. DO NOT STIR.
    6. spoon the fruit over the top, gently pour on the syrup.  batter will rise to the top during baking.
    7. bake for 30-45 minutes. to serve, scoop onto a plate and serve with your choice of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

    Unlike revenge, this cobbler is a dish best served warm!  So feel free to eat it as soon as you can get it onto a fork!  I like to pour a little bit of heavy cream on top before I eat it!

    The Lady and Sons...home of the best fried chicken EVER!
    Right out of the oven...if pictures had smell, you'd be grabbing a fork already!



    Fist Pumpin': Sausage and Peppers

    First off, I want to apologize for the Jersey Shore reference in the title of this post.  But hey, it got your attention right!!  There will be no guest appearance by "The Situation" just some darn good Italian fare on the menu tonight!  Now I made this recipe up myself one day last semester when all I had in the house was a bag of sweet peppers, some Italian sausage, a can of diced tomatoes, and some garlic.  I wanted something really filling because the neighbors were coming over for dinner (which they are tonight as well) and I hadn't had time to shop that day!  I basically chopped up everything, put it in a baking dish and roasted it turning it every 15 minutes until it cooked evenly.  I've never tried it with any sausage other than Italian but I'm sure that you could and  if you mix up the veggies and add spices you could really diversify the dish!  Even though it is summer I like this dish the most when it gets cold out.  i like to pair it with either pasta or rice, tonight I'm serving it with cheese tortellini yum!

    Sausage and Peppers (my own recipe)

    1 pkg sweet Italian sausage
    1 pkg hot Italian sausage
    4 cloves of garlic sliced
    1 lrg green pepper sliced
    1 lrg red pepper sliced
    1 small yellow onion sliced
    1 lrg can diced tomatoes
    olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste

    1.  Preheat oven to 350
    2.  Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of a glass baking dish and place sausages on the bottom.  Cover in chopped veggies, tomatoes, and salt and pepper.
    3.  Roast in the oven turning every 15 minutes until sausage is cooked.  This generally takes 45 minutes to an hour.
    4.  Serve with bread and side of rice or pasta.

     Roasting in the oven!

    I forgot to take a picture before we started eating because it looked and smelled so wonderful (tasted pretty darn good as well!)

    Enjoy this recipe with a crowd it's meant to be shared!!

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Breakfast for Dinner: Sour Cream Waffles!!

    Breakfast is the most versatile and delicious meal of the day in my opinion.  Breakfast can be as simple as a bowl of cereal, a yogurt, and a LARGE cup of coffee, or as complicated as a 4 course meal with fruit, bread, eggs, meat, and some element covered in my favorite hollandaise sauce.  I love to eat breakfast at all times of the day, this also coincides with my need of cups of coffee periodically during the day (I get cranky if I don't have my caffeine!!).  I like that breakfast can be savory or sweet or both!!  This is where these sour cream waffles come into play.  The recipe is Art Smith's (all bow down!) and it has everything that I could ever want from a waffle.  It's crunchy, it's cake-y (which I happen to like in a waffle),  it has a nice tang at the end from the sour cream, and combine it on a plate with a little butter and some syrup and there you have it, the perfect tangy-sweet melt in your mouth deliciousness that I crave on the regular.  I like to make these waffles in large batches and freeze them in gallon bags.  Then I am free to throw one in the toaster as I please.  They are also wonderful the next day placed ever so delicately under a huge pile of ice cream (just a thought)!  If you like your waffles on the lighter side, may I suggest separating the yolks and whites, whipping the whites to soft peaks, and folding in after everything else is combined.

    Art Smith's Sour Cream Waffles

    1 3/4 c. A.P. flour
    1 T sugar
    1 T baking powder
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1 stick melted then cooled unsalted butter
    1 c. milk
    1/2 c. sour cream
    3 large eggs

    1.  Turn your waffle maker on to preheat
    2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl and make a well in the center with a spoon
    3. In a separate bowl mix all of the wet ingredients.
    4. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and mix gently with a wooden spoon until just combined. note: do NOT over mix or the waffles with be tough and don't worry about some lumps that is what it's supposed to look like.
    5.  Spoon mix into greased preheated waffle iron and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the outside is golden and the inside is cooked through.

    Note:  you can keep your already made waffles warm in a 250 degree oven on a cookie sheet while you wait to serve them.

    The batter...yes it's lumpy!

    Waiting for it to be done...I'm really impatient when separated from what will soon be on my plate!

    Delicious and WELL worth the wait!!

    See you all next time!
    and remember....Food is Love