Suzi’s Blog

Avocado Corn Relish or Salsa

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Yesterday’s post was about roasting corn using your gas grill. Hopefully you will have some leftover corn. Or you can easily roast more. And, while the corn is on the grill, do a few poblano peppers. You are going to need them.

You’ll find recipes for this relish/salsa on the web and in many cookbooks. The principal ingredients are listed below in the recipe. The list is commonly 5 ears of corn, 4 scallions, 4 poblanos, 1 red bell pepper and 2 avocados. I think those relative numbers give you strong visual appeal. But there is nothing sacred about these proportions.

And nothing sacred about the ingredients themselves. Instead of the scallions, you can use diced red onion. Some yellow or green bell pepper can be employed. And I’ve seen versions of this recipe calling for garlic and cumin [1 full tablespoon!] and red pepper flakes [only 1 teaspoon], some cilantro, and lime juice. Feel free to amend and extend the basic recipe below.

Often the call is for this dish to be served at room temperature. I’ve done that and offered chilled as well. It can be a side dish to accompany some protein main entry, or you can offer it up with chips for an appetizer. This is a dish with multiple purposes. It has, particularly when just made, a sharp, zippy flavor. That brightness will elevate any main course you select to pair it with.

While the recipe talks about ¼-inch you should not obsess. Having different sized pieces does, I think, just add to the zig zag visual appeal.

Avocado Corn Relish/Salsa

Yield: ~ cups or about 8 modest servings

Ingredients:

4-6 ears corn

4 scallions

4 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, diced into ¼-inch pieces

1 large red bell pepper, with the seeds removed, the membrane cut away and diced into ¼‑inch pieces

2 avocados, skinned, pits removed and diced into ¼‑inch pieces

¼ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

Salt freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Cook the corn as your prefer. I suggest grilling it because you need the grill to roast those poblanos.

After the corn has cooled, after the poblanos have been cut in diced portions, remove the corn kernels and mix the corn and chiles in a glass bowl.

Slice the scallions and add to the bowl along with the avocados and red bell pepper.

Add some, but not all, of the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Stir to mix, season with salt and pepper and taste test. Add more oil or vinegar and more salt and pepper to suit your taste.

Enjoy this first when it is just completed, freshly prepared with the flavors radiant. Refrigerate any leftovers and enjoy again the next day, either warmed or cold.

Source: Brian O’Rourke with inputs from many websites; I believe the genesis of this recipe does belong to The Border Grill in Los Angeles

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/4 for1/30th second at ISO‑400

 

 

 

Cookbook Review: Dos Caminos Tacos by Ivy Stark

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In Spanish the verb “taquear” has the core meaning “to fill up.” In contemporary Mexico, it means “make a taco of it.” Dos Caminos Tacos lets you make tacos literally from everything: meats and veggies, classical and contemporary, familiar and very surprising.

Executive Chef Ivy Stark is responsible for the special sparkle at the Dos Caminos restaurant group. There are several in New York City, plus more in New Jersey, Florida, Las Vegas and, yes, glorious Pittsburg. Suzen and I love to pop in, start with margaritas, savor some salsa, and move on to entrees.

It’s very hard to be at Dos Caminos and skip Ivy’s gorgeous, flavor-stuffed tacos. In this book, along with accomplished co-author Joanna Pruess, Ivy presents a taco encyclopedia.

After some early chapters on techniques, tortillas, salsas and condiments, Ivy tours the taco world with chapters organized by primary ingredient. Some of these ideas are true culinary gems from Mexico. Some come from Ivy’s imagination, triggered by the markets and streets of New York and especially her home borough of Brooklyn. Here’s the taco tour and some sample recipes.

No, tacos do not have to have ground beef or chicken. In Vegetarian, there ideas here that may surprise and surely will satisfy:

Grilled Asparagus and Avocado

Blue Cheese, Walnut and Cabbage

Butternut Squash

Grilled Sweet Potato Tacos with Ancho Glaze and Spicy Black Beans

For some reason, north of the border our protein tacos really are oriented around ground meat and poultry. Much of Mexico’s population live on or near ocean coastlines that make Fish and Seafood established ingredients for native tacos:

Salt-Crusted Roasted Salmon with Black Bean, Corn and Mango Salsa

Baja-Style Cod with Roasted Tomato Remoulade

Grilled Red Snapper Yucatan Style

Tuna Tacos with Lime Aioli and Honeydew Jicama Slaw

Grilled Soft-Shell Crab with Heirloom Tomato Pico de Gallo

Beef or chicken? If I’m asked I often favor Poultry tacos. Here Ivy appeals to my personal preference with offerings like:

Wood-Charcoal-Grilled Chicken

Chicken Chorizo and Potato

Chicken Carnitas

Smoked Chicken Thighs with Watermelon Pico de Gallo

Chopped Chicken Liver [I told you, Ivy lives in Brooklyn]

Duck Carnitas

And after the chicken, there are Beef, Pork and Game variations for tacos, rich and hearty tacos:

Chile and Beer Braised Brisket

Tamarind Braised Short Ribs

Cascabel Chile Marinated Carne Asada with Caramelized Onion, Pico de Gallo and Catija Cheese

Beef Carnitas with Serrano Chile Sauce

The book closes with chapter for Side Dishes [Mexican Street Corn], Desserts [Dark Chocolate Tacos with Sour Cherries], and Beverages [Summer Peach Margarita]. You can construct a complete meal from Dos Caminos Tacos, a meal that will be strikingly spicy.

There is a major, major reason you want this book: the carnitas recipes. Ivy does venture south of Brooklyn and in her journeys to Mexico she’s discovered the “standard Mexican-home” technique for making carnitas, be it duck or pork or beef or whatever you want to try. Ready? You cook the meat in a mixture of Coca-Cola, sweetened condensed milk and orange juice. Seriously. Really.

Suzen and I have one of our grandsons up for the 4th of July. There will be fireworks inside the kitchen, too. We are doing carnitas. With Coke and OJ and, yes, sweetened condensed milk. I can’t wait. Photos to come.

 

Grilling Corn with a Gas Grill

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In an earlier post, I’ve suggested that the microwave is a quick, very quick way to cook fresh corn. You can leave the corn with the shucks still on and simply “cook” for 4 minutes for one or 6 minutes for two ears at a time. Microwave cooking gives you an ear that is certainly “done” in the sense that the kernels are hot and edible.

But, if you desire the flavor from traditional heat and flame, that early edging toward caramelization, then your gas grill is the avenue to superior corn. It is, though, a slower avenue, one that takes about 20 minutes for one ear or ten.

To cook corn on your grill, first fire up the grill. As the temperature is rising, prepare the corn. Loosen the corn shucks but do not remove. You want to gain access to that silk at the top of each ear. Remove the silk and fold the shuck back up over the corn. If you left the silk on, you’d get burning and some unpleasant tones for the kernels in contact with the silk.

Please the corn on the grill and close the cover. After 5 minutes, turn the corn 180°. Wait another 5 minutes and turn a mere 90°. Another 5 minutes and a full 180°.

Using tongs — because that corn is now very hot — remove the ears of corn to a metal bowl. Wait a few moments then shuck the corn. Eat immediately with the adornments of your choice. Butter, butter with paprika, butter with chile powder, …

Allow two ears per persons. It is so good, that many people will not want, or be able, to stop with just one ear. And, if you should happened to have leftovers, then you’ll see a recipe tomorrow to absorb those leftover ears!

 

Source: Brian O’Rourke

Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for1/25th second at ISO‑3200