Tag Archives: Savory

Creamy Avocado Salsa

Creamy Avocado SalsaI posted three salsa recipes in this blog’s first year and haven’t published one since. It’s not that I have stopped making salsa or fallen out of love with it. Ohhh no. I want to make it clear that I love salsa more now than ever. Men and friendships have come and gone, but salsa and me? We’re in it for the long haul.Creamy Avocado SalsaCreamy Avocado Salsa is a relatively new addition to my repertoire. I began tinkering with it a couple of years ago in an effort to match one of the offerings at a local taqueria, and it’s been a favorite ever since. Creamy Avocado Salsa is creamy, refreshing and delicious–we’re talking all the flavors of guacamole with a smooth, dippable consistency. Yum! If you’re going to try one new salsa recipe this summer, let this be the one.Creamy Avocado SalsaThis recipe is a snap to make. Simply pile an avocado, a tiny bit of onion, some garlic, half a jalapeño, fresh cilantro and lime juice into a blender with some salt and cold water, and let it rip. After about a minute, you’ll have a super smooth, bright green salsa. It’s pairs well with tortilla chips, of course, but may I also recommend trying it with cheesy scrambled eggs or sautéed shrimp or with zucchini noodles? Because it’s good with all those things.Creamy Avocado Salsa As with all my salsas, guacamole and other dips, this one is made with my own flavor preferences in mind. I love it the way it is, but I recommend that you taste and adjust as you go, adding more salt, jalapeño or lime until it’s exactly how you like it. You’ll notice that there’s a lot of wiggle room in the amount of water you can use in the recipe. The pictured batch was made with a large avocado and seven tablespoons of water to achieve the texture of a thick, creamy dressing, but you may like yours thinner or thicker. Start with a little water and adjust as needed until it’s to your preference.Creamy Avocado SalsaCreamy Avocado Salsa keeps shockingly well considering the usual trajectory of avocado-based treats. It’ll stay good in the fridge for a couple of days, but if you’re anything like me, it won’t last that long.Creamy Avocado Salsa

Creamy Avocado Salsa
makes about 1 1/4 cups

1 medium-large ripe avocado
2 tablespoons finely diced onion
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 jalapeño (with or without ribs and seeds)
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, loosely packed
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 medium lime)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
4-8 tablespoons cold tap water

For serving:
tortilla chips
cheesy scrambled eggs
sautéed or grilled shrimp
zucchini noodles
literally whatever you can imagine

Combine avocado, onion, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 4 tablespoons of cold tap water in a high-powered blender. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Continue to blend in more water by the tablespoon, until the texture is like a thick, creamy dressing (or to your specific liking). Taste for salt, acid (lime) and heat (jalapeño) and adjust as desired.

Serve with tortilla chips or whatever you like. Creamy Avocado Salsa will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Stir before serving.Creamy Avocado SalsaCreamy Avocado SalsaCreamy Avocado Salsa

Butternut Squash Chili

Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}I am psyched for today’s recipe, y’all! This vegan Butternut Squash Chili is so good and good for you—perfect for the Super Bowl this weekend or any wintry night.Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}It’s made with loads of good stuff. We’re talking the standard onion, garlic and red bell pepper, of course, but also a whole butternut squash (duh), meaty mushrooms, and pinto beans. YUM!Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}I know that being Texan means I “shouldn’t” like beans in chili, but here I am, putting them in there. No regrets. I almost always go for pinto beans in chili because that’s what I like, but if black beans or red kidney beans are more your style, by all means, switch it up!Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}Small amounts of cinnamon and cocoa powder set this chili apart from the rest. They add a little nuance to the standard seasoning combination of chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, and cayenne. Minced chipotles in adobo are stirred in before serving for a touch of smoky heat.Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}Butternut Squash Chili requires a couple of long browning steps—you want maximum flavor from those onions and mushrooms—and a simmer, but comes together surprisingly quickly overall. The batch pictured clocked in at just under two hours, which gives you just enough time to whip up some Cornmeal Biscuits to go alongside!Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}As with most soupy, stewy things, this is a meal that will get better with time. It’s delicious the day it’s made, but is particularly spectacular after a day or two in the refrigerator. Basically, if you want to eat this while you watch the Super Bowl, make if Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Love a make-ahead main!

As stated many times over the years, I’m not a fan of football, but this chili? That’s a “super bowl” I can get behind.Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}

Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}
makes about 6 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, diced small
2 red bell peppers, diced small
1-1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
5-7 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces white button mushrooms, 1/2-inch diced
1 3 lb. butternut squash, 1/2-inch pieces (8-ish cups)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
4 cups vegetable stock (I use seasoned vegetable Better than Bouillon)
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained & rinsed
2 chipotles in adobo, minced

Garnish:
avocado
chopped cilantro
sliced scallions
grated cheese (vegan or dairy)
crispy tortilla strips
crushed tortilla chips

Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and swirl to coat. Add onion, red bell pepper and a pinch of salt, and sauté until very soft and gaining color (about 15-20 minutes). Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Remove from pot and set aside.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add mushrooms and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned (about 15-20 minutes). Don’t rush it!

Return onion mixture to the pan, along with butternut squash. Stir in chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, cayenne, cocoa and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes, just until it begins to caramelize (it will ever-so-slightly darken).

Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook 20-25 minutes, or until squash is cooked through and tender. Add pinto beans and minced chipotles in adobo and let simmer another 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Taste for salt and adjust to your preferences.

Divide chili among bowls and serve with desired garnishes.

Leftovers will keep very well for up to 4 days. Flavors will intensify over time.Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}Butternut Squash Chili {Vegan}

Cheddar Scallion Cornmeal Waffles

Cheddar Scallion Cornmeal Waffles {Gluten-Free}When I posted that Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread a couple weeks ago, I had a thought that I could give a similar treatment to my Cornmeal Waffles. That’s to say I didn’t plan on posting two cornmeal-based recipes so close together, but I couldn’t get that idea out of my head…and so, here we are.

With minimal changes to the source recipe (swapping all the vegan ingredients for eggs and dairy), a bit more liquid, a brick’s-worth of grated cheddar and some sliced scallions, I was able to take those sweet-leaning waffles in a decidedly savory direction.Cheddar Scallion Cornmeal Waffles {Gluten-Free}Cheddar Scallion Cornmeal Waffles {Gluten-Free}Cheddar Scallion Cornmeal Waffles {Gluten-Free}You know, one that involves stacking smoked salmon and avocado and sriracha and lacy fried eggs on top of Cheddar Scallion Cornmeal Waffles and calling it breakfast or lunch or brunch or whatever.Cheddar Scallion Cornmeal Waffles {Gluten-Free}Aren’t these pretty? I’ve found my other waffles a bit difficult to photograph, but these are so dynamic and colorful! Love those golden, cheesy wells and all the fun toppings.Cheddar Scallion Cornmeal Waffles {Gluten-Free}I am huge fan of all things onion, so scallions were a natural choice as a mix-in. Feel free to leave them out if they’re not your thing, or swap ‘em for chopped herbs or minced jalapeños or anything else your heart desires.

Like my other cornmeal-based recipes, Cheddar Scallion Cornmeal Waffles are naturally gluten-free. Also, they freeze & reheat like a dream, so you can stash them and then throw together a meal at the drop of a hat. Or eat them with your hands like a wild animal while writing a blog post. Not that I’d know anything about that.Cheddar Scallion Cornmeal Waffles {Gluten-Free}

Cheddar Scallion Cornmeal Waffles {Gluten-Free}
makes 16-17 4-inch waffles

2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup thinly-sliced scallions (about 3 small scallions)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted & cooled slightly

For the waffle iron:
cooking spray

For serving:
smoked salmon
avocado
sriracha
soft-boiled, poached or fried eggs
thinly-sliced scallions

Preheat oven to 200F. Place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet.

Heat waffle iron according to package directions.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs until pale. Add dijon, followed by buttermilk. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, cornstarch, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Use a silicone spatula to fold in grated cheddar and scallions. Stir in melted butter, followed by egg/buttermilk mixture.

Grease waffle iron with cooking spray. Pour a 1/4 cup of the waffle batter into each well of the iron and close the top. Let cook until steam dissipates and the wells are turning golden, about 6-8 minutes.

Transfer cooked waffles to the prepared rack-over-pan and place in the oven to keep warm. Re-grease the waffle iron and cook remaining batter.

Serve waffles with lox, sour cream, eggs and/or scallions, if desired. Enjoy immediately.

Leftovers may be layered with parchment, placed in a freezer bag, and frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat in the toaster.Cheddar Scallion Cornmeal Waffles {Gluten-Free}Cheddar Scallion Cornmeal Waffles {Gluten-Free}Cheddar Scallion Cornmeal Waffles {Gluten-Free}

Pared-Down Porchetta

Pared-Down PorchettaWhen I was allowed to take the reins on planning Christmas dinner last month, I knew immediately what I wanted to make: Porchetta. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Porchetta is a slow-roasted Italian herbed pork dish that is traditionally made with whole pigs, but most home cooks use a center-cut pork loin wrapped in a sheet of pork belly.Pared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaI spent weeks planning this meal, going so far as to make a 1/4-sized tester in the days before Christmas. After that, I called Central Market (think Texas-specific Whole Foods…but way better than Whole Foods) and ordered all the meat. I packed my favorite knife, a sharpener, my largest meat cutting board, trussing string and an apron in my checked luggage and hightailed it to Fort Worth.Pared-Down PorchettaOver the next several days, my mom, sister and I obtained the special-ordered pork and made a great fuss over preparing it…except that it wasn’t actually that much fuss. Once the herb mix was prepared, I butterflied the center-cut pork loin and scattered it over the top. Then I rolled it up jelly-roll-style, rolled that in the sheet of pork belly and tied it all up with trussing string. Afterward, I let it sit uncovered in the refrigerator (“dry brining”) until Christmas Day, on which it was brought to room temperature and then roasted until golden and crisp and pretty irresistible.Pared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaI was (am) very proud of myself and posted it to all my social media outlets, where I was promptly asked when I’d be posting a recipe. This was something I hadn’t even considered because while the Porchetta I made for Christmas is not particularly difficult to put together, but it *is* pricey.Pared-Down PorchettaThe meat had to be special-ordered for quantity and quality—a 5 pound sheet of skin-on pork belly is not an easy find—and came out to about $60. That’s $60 in Texas, so I’d guess it’s more like $80-$100 in New York, and that’s before the herbs. I love y’all, but not quite enough to spend hundreds testing one lone recipe.Pared-Down PorchettaBut. But! I had it in my head that I could give my beloved Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork recipe the Porchetta treatment, and Porchetta Queen Sara Jenkins (formerly of the Lower East Side, now of Maine) agrees. And so, with those recipes and the herb mixture I used at Christmas as guides, I set to work making this: the Pared-Down Porchetta. It’s got all the fatty, herby, meaty, crispy magic you love in traditional Porchetta, but it’s a little rough and tumble.Pared-Down PorchettaYes, it still has to sit in your fridge for a day or two, but it is made from just one piece of meat (a boneless pork butt AKA pork shoulder), is mostly hands-off, and won’t cost you an obscene-ish amount of money.Pared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaLet’s start with the meat. This pork butt? It weighed in at 4.5 pounds and cost a cool $14–pretty reasonable compared to $60+! You’ll want it to have a layer of skin or a good, thick fat cap (pictured here) for both flavor and texture. If you can’t find a pork butt that fits either of those descriptions, you can purchase a piece of pork belly or pork skin and tie it onto the butt with trussing string. You want that fatty lid so it can keep the meat moist during roasting and then get crispy at the end. Cracklings are life, am I right?!Pared-Down PorchettaYour pork butt is unlikely to be in one seamless piece due to its heavy marbling and having had a bone cut out of it. This spot (or cavity or whatever you want to call it)? This is where the herb mixture will go. I used my knife to extend that opening down the length of the roast, while making sure to keep one edge intact.Pared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaAnother thing you want? Kosher salt—about 1/2 teaspoon per pound. Don’t be tempted to skimp, or all the days of dry brining and the herbs and the money you spent will be for nothing. Salt is critical for both flavor and texture (it draws out moisture), and if used in proper amounts, will not leave your meat particularly salty, just flavorful. You’ll blitz most of it with toasted fennel seeds, sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic, lemon zest and crushed red pepper flakes to make the herb mixture. The rest will be rubbed into the crosshatched skin/fat cap.Pared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaYou will have to truss your pork butt, which is really no trouble. Just tie it at short intervals and then anywhere else it isn’t holding together as one cohesive unit. You want all those good herbs to stay put! Then stick the whole thing in a dish and put in the refrigerator and forget about it for 24-48 hours until it’s dry to the touch and the color has changed.Pared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaAnd then roast it looooow and slooooow before crisping up that fat cap, and slicing and serving it on rolls or crusty bread that you’ve given the slightest dip in the rendered fat. You can also serve it alongside garlicky greens or roasted vegetables. Really, you can’t go wrong.Pared-Down PorchettaI feel like this Pared-Down Porchetta would be a wonderful main for Super Bowl Sunday, Oscar Night, Easter, or any old night. I mean, you could certainly hold onto this recipe until next Christmas, but that seems like an awfully long time from now, don’t you think?Pared-Down Porchetta

Pared-Down Porchetta
makes 8 (or so) servings

1 4-4.5 lb. boneless pork butt with skin or a thick fat cap*
3 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest (about 1 medium-large lemon)
1-1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2-2 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided

Special Equipment:
trussing string
a dutch oven or roasting dish

For serving:
rolls (I used Trader Joe’s Ciabatta Rolls)
crusty bread

Read this recipe carefully before proceeding. While the majority of it is hands-off, it will take a minimum of two days to prepare.

If your pork butt was trussed when you purchased it, cut off the trussing string and discard. Blot pork butt to remove excess moisture. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife (or razor blade) to crosshatch the skin.

Toast fennel seeds in a dry pan over low heat until fragrant. Remove to a bowl to cool.

Make the herb mixture. Combine sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic lemon zest, red pepper flakes,1 1/2-2 teaspoons* Kosher salt. and fennel seeds in a food processor and pulse to combine (alternatively, mince with a large, sharp chef’s knife).

Look at your pork butt. It is unlikely to be one stable piece, so take a look and see a natural spot to butterfly it. I chose an area that was already open, and used my knife to further the opening a bit more, leaving one edge still intact (see photos).

Fill opening with herb mixture and then fold back together. Some herb mixture will fall out—this is okay. Use trussing string/kitchen twine to truss the meat. Tie it together at 2-inch intervals and then any other directions necessary to hold it together as a cohesive unit. Rub the herb mixture that fell out of the butterflied section over the outside of the meat. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt over the crosshatched skin and lightly massage in. Place pork in a small dish (I used a 9-inch square pan) and refrigerate uncovered for 24-48 hours.

Remove pork from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for an hour. Place pork in a clean, dry oven-safe pot (I use my dutch oven).

Preheat oven to 250F. Place pork in the oven and let cook for 4.5-5.5 hours, until it registers 180F on a meat thermometer and is tender.

Remove pork from oven. Turn temperature up to 500F.

Return pork to the oven and let cook, turning the pot every 5 minutes, until the skin is golden and crispy. (Mine was done for 15 minutes, but I probably should have gone to 20.)

Let pork cool for 20 minutes before carefully, removing trussing string, slicing and serving with rolls or crusty bread.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.

Note:

1. If you cannot find a boneless pork butt with skin or a fat cap, purchase a piece of pork belly or skin to tie on with trussing string. I’ve seen pork belly for sale at Whole Foods, Whole Foods 365, Costco and some regular supermarkets.

2. You’ll need 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt per pound of meat, so 2 teaspoons for 4 lbs or 2 1/2 teaspoons for 4.5 lbs. With that knowledge, set aside 1/2 teaspoon of the salt for the skin/fat cap and add the rest to the herb mixture.Pared-Down PorchettaPared-Down PorchettaPared-Down Porchetta

Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread

Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}When I officially wore myself out baking a few weeks ago and took an extended break, I’d like to say I missed the kitchen immediately, but I didn’t. For five days, I didn’t think about baking (or cooking) at all, except when slapping together a grilled cheese or scrambling eggs so that I didn’t have to live on restaurant food for a week.Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}But then, on the sixth day (Friday), I woke up thinking about Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread. I had all the ingredients (hi, I keep a weird bag of jalapeños in my crisper) and I wanted to make it so bad—the way only someone who obsessively bakes gets about a recipe, as though my body might just go into autopilot and start whisking together ingredients without permission from my brain.

Instead, my body and my brain went to see Uncut Gems, and baking stayed on the back burner for another three days.Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Then Monday came and lo,* there was Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread, and it was good. Still is good. Like really good. It’s got crisp edges and a brown lid, but the center is tender and almost custard-like from the additions of sour cream and eggs. As it’s made with only yellow cornmeal, there’s no way to overmix and make it tough—difficult to overdevelop the gluten when there is none!

*I guess I say “lo” now.Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}As far as spice levels go, I like to live on the edge….but I used three jalapeños with seeds in the first round and sort of regretted it. This one (the second) is still almost too spicy for me, even after discarding half the seeds, but a bevy of shredded sharp cheddar and a few tablespoons of sugar offset all that intensity. If you’re sensitive to heat, maybe forgo seeds altogether, reduce the amount of jalapeño or try my Chorizo Cornbread instead. Or maybe just make 2020 the year you accidentally burned off all your tastebuds with cornbread and lived to tell the tale.

…ten days into this year and I’m already maximum weird, y’all. Oh lord.Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}

Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread
makes one 9-inch pan

1 cup milk (not skim or non-fat), room temperature
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons granulated sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2-3/4 cup minced fresh jalapeños* (2-3 medium), with or without seeds
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)

Preheat oven to 400F. Place a 9-inch cast iron or other heavyish baking dish it in the oven to heat through. (See note* if you do not have that sort of dish.)

Combine milk, sour cream, and eggs in a measuring cup or small/medium bowl. Whisk together with a fork. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add minced jalapeños and grated cheddar, and toss to coat. Pour in milk mixture and fold together. Fold in butter.

Remove hot pan from oven and add oil. Carefully swirl to coat. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving Warm.

Leftover cornbread will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.

Note:

1. Some people prefer minced pickled jalapeño here, which adds a nice acidic flavor and will have less heat.
2. If using a regular 9-inch baking pan (round or square), grease it, line with parchment, and grease again. Do not preheat the empty pan. Skip the oiling step before adding batter to the pan.Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread {Gluten-Free}