Posts Tagged jalepeno
Tomorrow is Earth Day; and just like last year, I thought I’d share a dish that’s as local as I’m prepared to eat while living in the subarctic. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t love to eat locally, or that I dislike any of the food that we can get around here. But, as I pointed out before, this land is fairly barren 8 months of the year, with the exception of fresh-water fish and wild animals that roam the north. There’s no access to fruit and vegetables that were grown within a 100-mile radius of our home. So we combine produce from the southern States, Mexico, and South America with meat from Alberta and sometimes local fish and game.
So here is my closest approximation of a “Local Taco” – using only 1 local ingredient: Bison. And I’m okay with that. Bison is a delicious wild meat, that doesn’t have much of a gamey taste to it. Plus it’s fairly lean, making it a healthy alternative to beef from time-to-time. However, there is absolutely nothing else included in this taco that was grown or produced anywhere near where I live. I’ll take the compromise and walk to work as much as possible. Plus, we live in the Land of the Midnight Sun – which means for quite some time around the summer months, we have no need to turn on our lights. You’re welcome Mother Earth.
Bison Steak Tacos
This marinade would work well with various proteins. So if Bison isn’t a local meat near you, you could substitute beef, pork, chicken, shellfish, or any fresh or salt-water fish – hell, I won’t even judge if firm tofu is a local ingredient for you. Just reduce the marinade time to 1 hour if you’re using seafood, as the lime juice will end up cooking it eventually if left too long.
1 lb bison steak
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp lime juice – about 1 lime
2 Tbsp tequila
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp chili flakes
Pico de Gallo
2-3 roma tomatoes
1/2 white onion
juice from half lime
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
6-8 corn tortillas
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
Slice the bison steak into thin strips, against the grain. Combine the steak and remaining marinade ingredients (garlic through chili flakes) in a zip-top bag. Marinade in the fridge for 2-4 hours.
About a half hour before you’re ready to cook the steak, prepare the Pico de Gallo. Dice the tomatoes, mince the jalepeno (remove the seeds and insides of the jalepeno if you want it less spicy), and dice the onion. Combine the vegetables along with the lime juice, salt & pepper together in a bowl and set aside.
Preheat a grill pan or heavy-bottom skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the half the bison on both sides for approximately 3 minutes a side (or less if you prefer the bison more rare) – remove the cooked bison to a plate and keep warm. Continue with remaining bison. Meanwhile cook tortillas according to directions.
When everything is cooked, serve the bison steak on corn tortillas with sour cream, pico de gallo, sliced avocado and shredded Monterey jack cheese.
Makes 6-8 tacos.
It never fails. When August arrives people around here start talking about summer being over. OVER! I admit, I’ve been guilty of this terrible behaviour as well. Letting the dread of blistery wintery days cloud my mind instead of enjoying the hot sun. But we still have so much time left – summer doesn’t officially end until September – what are we worrying about? Granted, our little capital city has had many an August where the days are filled with rain and we’re lucky if we get to temperatures even close to 20°C. But this year, I believe mother nature has finally given this city a break from August gloom and showers.
So to make the most of our remaining weeks of summer, let’s go forth and barbecue as often as we can. Summer is a time to indulge in wonderfully vinegary coleslaws, sunny conversations with friends, sweet corn on the cob, sandy beaches, and grilled meat dripping with sticky BBQ sauce. Not a time to dread the impending chill of winter. There will be no more mention of summer’s end until I see the leaves falling from the trees.
I’ve given you a recipe for a barbecue sauce before: sticky and thick with balsamic vinegar and a usual BBQ sauce addition, ketchup. But this one may be different from those you’re used to. It’s base is made up mostly of mustard and fruit. Mustard-based BBQ sauce may sound unusual, but it’s the staple slather for meat in South Carolina. If you’ve grown to adore the smoky molasses and ketchup-based BBQ sauces, you may shy away from such a tangy sauce, but don’t knock mustard-based ones until you’ve tried them. Typically these types of BBQ sauces taste best basted on pork dishes (tenderloin, shoulder, chops…bacon…so on) and grilled chicken. You could really try this anywhere you’d use your regular BBQ sauce though – perhaps on top of your burger or basted on a juicy steak.
This sauce was developed on a day I had originally planned on making a peach-based BBQ sauce. But as per usual, the plan was quickly changed when I discovered all the peaches were unappetizingly not ripe. Lucky me the apricots right next to them were calling my name. I picked up as many as I could hold. Some to snack on, some for salads, and some I was going to reduce into a thick accompaniment to my grilled meats.
Apricot Mustard BBQ Sauce
1/2 lb apricots, about 4
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 Tbsp jalepeno, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp brandy
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup whole grain dijon mustard
1/4 cup molasses
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp each kosher salt & pepper
The first step here is to peel the apricots. No one wants to gnaw on fruit skin while trying to enjoy grilled meats. To do this, get a pot of water on to boil. Cut a small “X” in the bottom of each apricot. When the water is boiling, put the apricots in for about 20 seconds. With a slotted spoon, remove the apricots and dump them into a bowl of ice water. Once the apricots have had a moment to cool, you can remove them from the water and easily peel the skins off. Now dice the apricots.
To prepare the BBQ sauce, begin by heating the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onions in the oil for about 5 minutes or until starting to soften, stirring frequently. Add the jalepeno and garlic and saute for another minute. Add the brandy and let cook for about 30 seconds, then add the diced apricots, and remaining ingredients.
Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes. If you have a hand blender, remove the pan from the heat and blend the sauce until smooth. Or you can use a regular blender by slowly pouring the sauce into it and blending until smooth. Note: If you are using a blender, remember to not put the little cap on the lid!! If you do, the heat from the sauce may cause the contents to explode all over you and your kitchen, potentially causing burn injuries. To prevent the sauce from coming out of the blender when you turn it on, lightly cover the top of the blender with a tea towel.
Makes about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of sauce. Sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
* Very sad: my camera died on me while I was making the sauce. I took a few pics with my iphone, but they are terrible and grainy, so I only included one here.
I swear this isn’t a travel blog. It’s a website to share recipes. I feel that each recipe has a story, and that’s why recent posts (plus this one now) have focused on tours to other destinations. I don’t think this site would be as entertaining to read (it is entertaining isn’t it?) if I simply posted a recipe and left you to it. Where’s the history? Where’s the inspiration?? Where’s the point? And lately I’ve been motivated to share recipes pertaining to recent trips.
So yet again, another post dedicated to a voyage away from my hometown. Last weekend I went to Edmonton (yes – exotic local, I know) to attend Wicked with my sister-in-law who lives in St. Albert. I have been looking forward to this since February, when I found out the Wicked Tour would be making a 19-day pit stop in Edmonton. I read the book a few years ago, and have been enchanted by Elphaba and her story ever since. There will be no spoilers here, suffice to say I am endeared to Elphaba’s veiled empathy and beauty. The show was very different from the book. However, it was enjoyable, and great to see another perspective on this amazing story of the Wicked Witch of the West.
When I got home, I was inspired to pay homage to Elphaba. It’s not easy being green – for a human, or a meal. First of all, green dishes tend to be unappealing to most children. Broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts…the list goes on with green things kids just won’t eat. Actually, come to think of it, I know a lot of adults who won’t eat these things. (Note: I loved nearly all veggies growing up. I was some sort of childhood anomaly – choosing broccoli and dip over a slice of pumpkin pie) On top of being unappetizing to people, some green food is sometimes just awful on the eyes. Take pea soup as an example. One of my favourites (again…anomaly) – it has tons of salty taste from leftover ham, but it looks like a bowl of baby poo. (Yup, I said it right here folks)
I had to make something that was wonderful and beautiful – just like Elphaba. The only problem was that it’s been a bit too hot in the ‘ol apartment to do any sort of cooking. So, what’s my go-to summer meal when it’s burning up inside my home? Gazpacho! This stuff is great – you can whip up a huge batch and store it in the fridge to be eaten throughout the week for lunch, dinner, snacks, whenever the desire to fuel up and cool down hits you. I learned about gazpacho when I was very young, while visiting an auntie who lives in Sherwood Park, AB. Every summer she would make batches of the cold veggie soup for everyone to enjoy on hot prairie days. Her recipe is still my favourite gazpacho come July and August. Gazpacho may not be everyone’s cup of soup, but it’s one I’ve grown up loving.
Now to make it green.
Alright. So this isn’t what typical gazpacho would be. It’s lacking the tomatoes – the usual base for a gazpacho. So I suppose one could just call this “Green Cold Blended Veggies” but does that really sound that appetizing? I looked for green tomatoes, but alas, those are lacking in our produce section. So this “gazpacho” has a cucumber base, making it extremely refreshing on a hot summer’s day. Add as much or as little of the jalepeno pepper as you like. I enjoy my cold soups “hot” with peppers.
2 cups English cucumber, peeled, seeded & roughly chopped (about 1 large)
2 celery heart ribs, roughly chopped
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, roughly chopped (+ more for garnish)
1/2 cup green pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 cup green onion (scallion), roughly chopped
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp chives, chopped (+ more for garnish)
1 – 2 Tbsp jalepeno, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp lime zest
2 Tbsp lime juice (about 1-2 limes)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup water
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until nearly smooth. Add more water if you prefer a thinner consistency. Taste the soup and add more salt, pepper, vinegar if desired. Chill until ready to serve.
To serve: ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped avocado and chives, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. You can actually garnish this with any vegetables you would like – we just happen to prefer avocados.
Note: if you want a silky smooth consistency, strain the soup with a fine mesh strainer (and maybe even a cheesecloth). I don’t mind mine having a bit of texture to it, so I leave it as is.