Friday, June 13, 2008

Salsa Bandera

This goes by many names, Salsa Cruda, on account of the ingredients are not cooked, or Pico De Gallo, but that's more of a Sinaloa/Chihuahua thing. Us Norteños call it Salsa Bandera because it contains the colors of the Mexican Flag.

Viva Los Norteños sez I.

You'll need

2 tomatoes
1 brown onion
2 jalepeños
1 lime
cilantro (that's dried cilantro in the plastic thing, the heat has killed all our leafies)

Take the top of the core out of the tomato, then cut a thin slice off of one side.

Dice that reasonably fine (I like about 1/4" cubes, but I likes it chunky if your own taste runs to less by all means, chop the fuck out of it)

Keep chopping until you have both tomatoes done and in your bowl. It's important to have a crockery, enamel, or otherwise non-reactive bowl lest the acids in the fruits and veggies turn stuff on you. (essentially that means no aluminum)

Peel the onion.

Chop the shit outta it.

Put it in the bowl with the chopped tomatoes.

Put on some rubber gloves now. Really. When you're handling chiles it's the best way to go. The alternative is to totally scrub your hands (which should be clean anyway) but I mean scrub with scouring powder and a rough cloth, to get the volatile oils from the chiles off your skin. It's easier and safer to use gloves.

Top and halve the chiles. Now, comes the question, to seed or not to seed? Taking the seeds and the pith from out of the chile will lessen the heat. I usually seed. Follow your own taste though. Since these add nothing but pure heat, and I like the flavor of the chiles I usually seed and use more chile.

A grapefruit spoon, with a serrated tip, works perfectly for that.

Mince the chiles, grate the lime zest into the bowl and squeeze the limes.

Mix, and dig in mis amigos.

This salsa rocks out loud for dipping, for tacos, for chilaquiles or huevos rancheros.

It's easy, and much, much better than anything you can buy.


Friday Random Ten

Here's the soundtrack for the morning. The day's plans involve taking my nephew to see Kung Fu Panda and very little else.

Go Celtics! (I'm not a big Boston fan, but I'd rather see Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen get their first rings than see Kobe get his fourth)

On to the music:

If That Ain't Country - - - David Allen Coe (live bootleg from the Belly Up in Solana Beach, Steve Goodman and I are sitting in)
La Cenerentolla - - - Rossini
Macbeth - - - Verdi
Winey, Winey - - - The Kingstonians
400 Years - - - Bob Marley
The Liberty Bell March - - - John Phillip Sousa (performed by the Marine Band)
Baba O'Reilly - - - The Who
Think! - - - Aretha Franklin
The Pill - - - Loretta Lynn
Lady Midnight - - - Leonard Cohen

Bonus Track:

Grandma's Hands - - - Bill Withers

I expect to have the Salsa Bandera recipe up sometime later today. My nephew ate me out of fresh chips and salsa yesterday. He wants more. We'll make more.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tortilla Chips and French Fries

My nephew (12) is spending the day with me. He's a normal kid. He loves stuff that crunches and crisps. He is also a walking appetite. I found him rummaging through my pantry and asked if he was looking for anything in particular. He said he wanted to find some chips to clean up the last of the Salsa Bandera I made for breakfast. I told him I didn't have any chips in the house but that it was an easy thing to do. I asked if he liked french fries, and of course, being a twelve year old boy, he said yes. I then asked if he was ready to go to work.

We got our stuff out.

The first thing is to get the oil ready. Use plenty of oil. I am in the process of rotating some of the things in my pantry and one of the items was a tub of Crisco Buttery Flavor Shortening. That stuff is great for pie crusts, but, there was an unopened tub behind this one, and I wasn't sure how long it had been there, so I figured "Perfect use."

If using a solid type of fat, I recommend doubling the melted volume of the shortening, or prepared french fryer goop with something lighter and able to withstand higher temperatures like peanut oil. You want to bring it to 375°.

While the oil is coming up to temp cut your tortillas into wedges of eight to a disc.

Scrub your potatoes, and cut them lengthwise into strips. I'm not fanatical about even sizings here, as a matter of fact, I enjoy the contrasts provided in texture and crunch by mixing up thickness and length.

When the oil is hot enough, we went for the chips first.

Get them into the oil, without splashing yourself. Notice that I'm using a pot that is nearly twice as big as the volume of oil. This makes things a bit safer, and when mixing things like boiling oil and twelve year olds, safer is always the way to go. They will float up and start to brown, when they are a uniform, light golden brown transfer to a paper towel lined bowl, salt lightly with kosher salt and go to town. These are much less greasy, far more crisp than commercially made chips. These are food, they taste like food. (note: I just did a quick search of my archives for a salsa bandera recipe and couldn't find one, I promise to post that very soon.)

Now it's time for the potatoes. This is a two step process. The first dunking in oil is done until the outside faces of the fries begin to skin up, and the edges are turning lightly brown. Remove from the oil and drain throroughly.

Then, after they have drained and cooled put them back into the fry to crisp and brown. This is the secret to making your own french fries. The first frying will cook them through completely, the second frying will bring them to that crispy outside texture which contains the wonderful potato stuff inside.

Again, dust lightly with kosher salt and enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce. (Being a traditional kid, the nephew went for ketchup, while I went with a 1/2 and 1/2 mixture of ketchup and tapatio). If you want the classic Pommes Frite Parisien you can toss them with sea salt, parsley flakes and crumbled bleu cheese.

Summer's here folks! It's a wonderful time to be in the kitchen with kids.


I Win a Quick Hundred Bucks at Breakfast

My filthy rich republican uncle and my aunt stopped by for coffee and cinnamon buns on their way up to Idaho for the summer. My sister, who is a high school teacher, was here too. She has been studying the No Child Left Behind legislation. She is very concerned with the ramifications for local schools. Essentially she believes that the standards set are impossible to meet. Judging special education kids, recent arrivals who haven't been able to meet language standards, and the fact that there are simply some kids who hate school and won't be able to pass the test, which, by the way, requires 100% pass rates.

If a school fails to meet these impossible standards they are subject to "management companies" coming in to take over the entire school system. Things like academic tenure, length of service, in short, all the protections of a union workplace would cease to exist.

She says the language of the bill is confusing, hard to parse, often done with pretty slovenly grammar.

As she was explaining the way things are set up I started thinking. Then it struck me.

I asked "So, the standards set are impossible to meet?"

She said "Yes."

I asked, "Who would be the ones to benefit by these impossible standards?"

She said "The school management companies."

I said, "Then find out who owns the school management companies and you'll have a very clear picture of who the bill was written for."

On a whim, I said "I bet Neil Bush heads one of those companies."

My uncle, who is a very successful, gifted attorney, who loves the law, and is a decent, honorable man, said "I can't buy that."

I said "Bet me."

One quick Google got me to Ignite! which is owned by, you guessed it, Neil Bush.

My uncle, who has been taking emotional hits for the last several years as republican, after republican is driven from office, indicted on tawdry scandals, sorrowfully sagged his shoulders and peeled me off a $100.00 bill.

I told him that it gave me no real pleasure to be that easily right in assuming that our government is hopelessly corrupt.

Then I offered him another cinnamon roll. That helped.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Way To Go Dennis!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Obama's Vice President Search

Here are some great leads on the search.

Hannibal Lecter - should be able to steal a segment of the homicidal maniac voting block from the republicans.

Lester Maddox - you could dig his dead ass up and court the southern cracker vote.

Richard Nixon - now that's fucking bi-partisan bitchez.

Newt Gingrich - isn't dead or a fictional character but he might as well be.

Evangeline Lily - for no other reason than I would fucking watch CSpan every time she had the Senate gavel.

Emmylou Harris - because I adore her.

There you go. That list makes about as much sense as all the bullshit speculation and wishful thinking I've heard on what passes for news these days. Obama has said he won't expose this process to the the press and media. If you don't hear it from him, it's not fucking true.

Still, Emmylou would be a great choice. She could flat run stuff, and run it nicely too.