Monday, November 9, 2009

Do You Know How to Salsa???

Well, after today I believe I now can say that I know how to make salsa. Never before had I made salsa of any kind, either fresh or canned. With all the tomatoes that I had ripening down in the basement, most of which are destined to be frozen, bagged and eventually cooked into my favorite homemade V8 juice, it seemed a shame not to make a batch of canned salsa from some fresh tomatoes. Once frozen, tomatoes become little red sacks of mush and do not lend themselves to more than juice or sauce.
The recipe I decided to try is from the Ball Blue Book and is called Spicy Tomato Salsa. I know it sounds like I'm El Cheapo (which I am!) but I decided on this recipe because a lot ingredients I already had on hand and what I had to buy for it was not expensive. Here are the ingredients:

Spicy Tomato Salsa
(makes 6 pints)
  • 6 pounds of tomatoes, washed, drained, peeled, seeded and chopped to 1/4" dice
  • 3 cups diced red onions
  • 15 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, packed tightly
  • 6 jalapeno peppers seeded and diced
  • 9 dried hot red chilies, seeded
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 TBS pickling salt
  • 3/4 tps red pepper flakes
  • water
To peel the skin off the tomatoes you need to blanch them in boiling water for 1 minute and immediately plunge them into cold water. The skins will be very easy to remove.
The preparation of all the ingredients is pretty straight forward except for the 9 dried hot red chillies. Remove the seeds and place the chilies in a bowl. Add boiling water to the chilies just enough to cover them. Tightly cover over the top of the bowl with a plastic wrap such as Saran Wrap and let this steep for 15 minutes. After this, discard of approximately half of the infused water and place the remaining water, along with the chilies in a food processor and blend for a minute.
Now place all of the ingredients, along with chopped chili water mixture, in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven and heat over high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure it's not scorching near the bottom. Ladle the hot salsa into hot, sterilized pint jars and fill with 1/4" head space remaining. Seal with two-piece lids.
Place in a boiling water canner and boil gently for 15 minutes. Adjust processing time you the altitude you are at.
I was please with how they turned out. After tasting a bit of the salsa before canning it, I would say it's a medium heat. I love the amount of tomato and the cilantro flavor but I am expecting a "maturing" of flavors after sitting on the shelf for a few weeks.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Green Enchiladas Stuffed with Spicy Grilled Zucchinis, Pork Sausage and Tots

Here's an Iron Chef Bradley entry from the past that did get voted the winner.

1 1/2 pounds spicy pork sausage
2 med zucchini
10 large corn tortillas
2/3 cup chopped onion
3 TBS chopped fresh parsley
2 cups tatortots thawed and crushed
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 large can of green enchilada sauce
1 cup sour cream
Penzeys Southwest Seasoning (salt, ancho pepper, garlic, black pepper,oregano, cayenne, cumin, chipotle, cilantro)
Canola oil

Heat up the grill to hot.
Slice zucchini lengthwise 1/4" thick.
Brush both sides with oil and season generously with Southwest Seasoning
Grill about 3-4 mins on each side.
Once cool enough to handle, chop.

Still over a hot grill.
Brown sausage in a skillet, then drain
Saute in oil the tator tots and chopped onions.

To make the filling, mix together sour cream, chopped parsley and 1 3/4 cups of the shredded cheese.
Add to this the browned sausage, sauted tots and onions and chopped grilled zucchini and mix until just blended.
Soften corn tortillas in hot oil for 5 seconds on each size.
Dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce
Then generously fill with the filling
Roll and place seam side down in a roasting pan.
Once all your enchiladas are built, pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

Cook in a 350F preheated grill over indirect heat for 25 minutes or until bubbling.
Close the grill while cooking.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Chicken Thigh Pies with Sweet Onion, Pear & Ginger

At the Bradley Smoker Forum the have a contest called "The Iron Chef Bradley" competition. It's a lot of fun to be involved because it helps me think out of the box a bit more that I usually do. This was the forth competition this year and the secret ingredients were: pear, onion and chicken thighs. The requirements are that 80% of all the cooking must be done outside either in a smoker, BBQ or grill...even an open fire!

Here's my entry. When the voting finished, it ended up in second place. It was my first experience with puff pastry and I was really impressed with how easy they were to work with.
Please note that I baked them in the grill on an insulated baking pan because this was keeping with the outside cooking requirement of the contest but feel free to bake them in the oven if you do not have an insulated baking pan.

3 large chicken thighs (approx 1 pound) cut in half
1 cup apple cider
6 slices regular bacon
1 TBS oil
2 tps minced ginger (divided)
1/2 large sweet onion sliced thinly (I used a Walla Walla sweet onion)
1 large pear peeled and sliced thinly
salt, pepper, and nutmeg to your taste
1 1/2 sheets of puff pastry cut into 6 squares, at room temperature for at least 40 mins.
6 oz cream cheese at room temp
1 tsp soy sauce
1 egg
1+ TBS water
Spray oil like Pam
Marinade chicken thighs 8 hrs in apple cider. Keep in the fridge while marinading.

Dry off chicken with a paper towel. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Wrap each piece with bacon and place on a Pam-sprayed smoker rack.
Smoke in a preheated smoker at 225F with apple smoke for 2 hours.

Have your pears, onions and 1 tsp of the ginger prepped and ready to go. Add 1 TBS of oil heating very hot in a skillet on the grill and when it starts smoking add the onions and saute till tender.
Then add pears and ginger, sprinkle with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Saute for just a couple minutes and the pears are tender but not falling apart. Remove from heat.

To the cream cheese add the soy sauce and the remaining 1 tsp of minced ginger.

On a lightly-floured surface roll the puff pastry to squares of 6 inches square.
On each pastry, spread a 1/6th of the cream cheese mixture, then place a bacon-wrapped chicken piece and top with 1/6th of the sauted onions, ginger and pear mixture.

Fold over each puff pastry, moisten with a little water where the puff pastry comes in contact with itself and press down with a fork. Place on a Pam-sprayed insulated baking sheet.
Mix one egg with one TBS of water and brush on the tops of the pies. Cut slits into each pie to vent.

Place in a 400F pre-heated grill, close the grill and bake for 20 mins.
Bake until brown and bubbling.