If you have not been to Santa Fe, New Mexico, then you need to find a way. Anytime of year there is wonderful. It’s postcard perfect. There is a spectacular famers’ market, charming streets for window shopping and restaurants that are unbelievable.
Summer nights are hot but humid free with sunsets that just make you want to sit back drink more. A winter night is cold, but the smell of burning pinon pine fills the air. There are no bad days or nights in Santa Fe.
Remember the movie Ben Hur? The novel was written by the American general governing the New Mexico Territory while he lived in Santa Fe. Whether it is stories or art or food, Santa Fe inspires. It’s foremost a place to walk, to let your eyes lead you down unplanned pathways. If can’t unwind in Santa Fe, you need deep pharmaceutical intervention.
Brian and I have a favorite restaurant, around the corner and down the hill from the town square. Café Pasqual is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It serves New Mexican cuisine. It’s not Mexican, not Tex-Mex, and not Southwestern. It’s New Mexican. If you want to learn about chiles, go to Santa Fe. If you want the best place in Santa Fe, go to Pasqual’s.
Every meal has to have salsa. Even breakfast calls for salsa with those fresh eggs. Here is their superior idea for tomatillo salsa.
Pasqual’s Tomatillo Salsa
Yield: serves 4
10 large tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1-2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed and halved
¼ white onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic
20 sprigs cilantro, including stems
1-2 chiles de arbol, stemmed
2 cups lightly packed spinach leaves
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
Put all the ingredients into a blender. Whirl until liquefied. Taste for heat and add more chiles if desired. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Source: Cooking with Café Pasqual’s
At Cooking by the Book in New York City, we do culinary outward bound events. Firms come to our kitchen and prepare a meal together, often with kitchen challenges. Their night’s menu has been set in advance, from a quarterly menu featuring fresh seasonal ideas. We are always amazed when so many firms pick the same menu items. We can offer five appetizers, but 90% of the time firms will independently select the one same recipe.
This shrimp cocktail is an example. People are just intrigued by the idea of shrimp and tomatillo, they select it for their teambuilding gig here, and they are never disappointed.
There is something “special” about a shrimp cocktail. It always seems to be a treat. Now, with this recipe, you add some new flavor muscle. Once you’ve tried this recipe, it may just become your standard.
The sauce here is probably one you never had with shrimp before. Spinach? Honey? Rice vinegar? Amazingly good.
Shrimp Tomatillo Cocktail
Yield: serves 6 to 8
For the shrimp:
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 lemons, quartered
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
For the sauce:
12 tomatillos, cost and rinsed
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 jalapeno peppers
3 tablespoons canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups fresh spinach
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup horseradish, drained
Prepare the shrimp. Combine 8 cups water, 2 tablespoons salt, the coriander and peppercorns in a large saucepan. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the wedges. Boil 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Add the shrimp, cover and set aside, about 15 minutes. Strain and transfer the shrimp to a bowl. Cover and chill at least one hour.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos in a roasting pan and toss with the canola oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until soft, tossing occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes.
Cook the spinach in a saucepan of boiling water, about one minute. Drain, squeeze dry and transfer to a food processor. Add the tomatillo mixture, vinegar, horseradish, cilantro and honey and pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill at least one hour. Bring to room temperature 15 minutes before serving. Serve the sauce and shrimp in shot glasses, if desired.
Source: Food Network Magazine