Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Rosti with a Green Salad on Top

I’m all for encouraging more people to cook their own meals at home. So, I was delighted to see the newest book from the Canal House team: Cook Something: Recipes to Rely On of which I received a review copy. This book is full of simple, classic dishes that home cooks can learn from and use to build confidence in their cooking skills. Hirsheimer and Hamilton of Canal House describe themselves as “salt and pepper cooks.” They like to stick to the basics of great flavor pairings and highlighting the deliciousness of the season. While there is simplicity to their approach, the results of their recipes are always stellar. Over the years, I’ve accumulated several favorite recipes from Canal House books. I recall in the early days of reading their work, I noticed the frequent use of preserved lemon which I loved. A salmon salad and a lentil dish, both with preserved lemon, come to mind. I remember a lemon-butter sauce that was perfect for sockeye salmon. It was their recipe and technique for making a quick puff pastry that finally sold me on the concept. It’s the only way I make it now. I’m also a devoted fan of their quick cioppino, and it was their lasagne with fresh-made spinach pasta sheets that was one of our favorite Christmas Eve meals of all time. This new book sticks to their tried-and-true cooking point of view with recipes for all sorts of meals, sides, starters, and desserts and even a Grilling chapter that made me want to stock up on hardwood charcoal. Right away, you see their knack for flavor pairings with all the suggested toppings for deviled eggs like asparagus tips and preserved lemon(!); smoked salmon, black pepper, and fresh dill; and sliced cherry tomato, olive oil, pepper, and fresh basil. Likewise, there’s also a delectable list of toppings for small toasts or crackers to serve as appetizers such as roasted red peppers, capers, and currants; blue cheese and watercress mash; and lima bean and lemon mash. I should mention the photos show how deliciously lovely each of these looks. The soups chapter distracted me since we’ve had some chilly weather. I was pulled in by the description of a simple dinner involving the Hearty Squash and Bean Minestrone with a Green Sauce made from arugula served with warm bread and had to recreate it for a Sunday dinner at home. And, it was the photo of the Caramelized Apple Galette that made me try that recipe too. But, it’s the Salads chapter I want to tell you more about today. The Rosti with a Green Salad on Top was an ideal combination of flavors and textures with a lemony-anchovy dressing and a generous garnish of smoked salmon. 

If you just saw the photos of the salads in the book, you would think “those look so great with beautiful ingredients that have been simply plated.” But, when you read about how the salads are made and then look at the photos, the whole story becomes apparent. That straightforward tomato and fennel salad is actually a warm salad with peeled, fresh tomatoes that were briefly sauteed in olive oil just to warm them. The fennel was sauteed longer until tender and topped with lemon-anchovy vinaigrette, and the two were plated with a nice slab of feta. Little details of putting each salad together make each one special. For this salad on rosti, I had some local potatoes that I grated and mixed with chopped green onion and salt and pepper. The grated potato mixture was cooked in melted butter and pressed into flat cakes. Each cake cooked for a few minutes per side. I made the salad with arugula and opted for the Lemon-Anchovy Vinaigrette that’s made with supremed lemon segments. The lemon juice was caught in a bowl while cutting the segments. Chopped anchovies, olive oil, and crushed red pepper flakes were added, and the lemon pieces were broken up while stirring the vinaigrette. The option of adding a “flourish of silky smoked salmon” made this a meal. 

Like every Canal House recipe I’ve ever made, this one was a winner. I get excited to cook as I flip the pages, see the photos, and read the great ideas. I’m not surprised that the variations on Loose Ravioli have inspired me, but I didn’t expect to want to attempt Duck a L’Orange. There’s something for everyone and for every occasion here.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Apple-Peel Slaw

I have a new approach to cooking to tell you about today. What if instead of shopping for a list of ingredients for one recipe you shopped for ingredients you really like that you’ll prep and use in multiple dishes? That’s the idea in The Nimble Cook: New Strategies for Great Meals That Make the Most of Your Ingredients by Ronna Welsh of which I received a review copy. Each chapter introduces a type of ingredient such as Aromatics, Leaves, Summer Fruits and Vegetables, Fish and Shellfish, etc. Then, each ingredient has a “starting point” or way to prepare it, and that creates several servings of the base ingredient. Next, each starting point is used in various “explorations” that offer ideas for that prepped ingredient to become a component of a different dish. The goal is for you to have lots of starting points on hand and then be able to create meals from those leftovers. Welsh also includes lots of ways to use parts of ingredients that might ordinarily go to waste. For instance, I was right away inspired by the idea to blanch chopped leek greens and then use them in a pesto with dill. When I bring home locally-grown leeks, they tend to have long, lovely leaves that I never had a use for in the past. Another starting point I appreciated was the roasted radicchio that could be stored in the refrigerator until needed; served with a vinaigrette as a warm salad; and any leftovers could be added to a sandwich with roasted eggplant. That makes me want to have a supply of roasted eggplant just waiting for me in the refrigerator. The recipes all reference various “starting points” with page numbers so you can easily flip to the instructions. It wasn’t until I got to the page about Confit Duck, which came right after the page about searing duck breast and the suggestion to stockpile fat from cooking breasts to use for confit, that I got excited about the roasted peppers from way back on page 137. When I read page 137 the first time, I was focused on the bell peppers being roasted and didn’t think too much about the Roasted-Pepper Breakfast Sandwich that was an optional “exploration” for the peppers. But, when I saw the suggestion for using leftover duck confit in that breakfast sandwich, I became a lot more interested in the peppers. And, that’s kind of the idea of the book. The ideas are there to get you inspired to cook what you like and have multiple directions to take what you’ve cooked. I want a supply of Wine-Pickled Garlic Cloves for relishes and for topping shellfish, and Cheese Stock made with leftover rinds to use in risotto or soup, and Roasted Lemons for dressings or to mix with seared kale. And, I want to flip back through this book when I need ideas for ingredient parts that tend to become scraps. Using all of the parts is what attracted me to the Apple-Peel Slaw. And, I thought it would be a great fall dish with grilled vegan bratwurst. 

In the book, the Apple-Peel Slaw is presented with two options. There’s a sharp slaw and a creamy slaw. I went the sharp route. I used the peels from mostly red and one green apple. The apples themselves went into a crisp that became breakfast for a few days. I left the peels in water with lemon juice as I worked. The peels were then cut into very thin strips. Rather than slicing red onion, I minced it as I do. The dressing was a mix of red wine vinegar, capers, Dijon mustard, salt, and olive oil. The apple peels and onion were placed in a bowl, and whisked dressing was poured over top and tossed to form the slaw. 

The mustardy-red wine vinaigrette with pops of flavor from the capers was a great match for the sweet apple peels. Sweet, savory, and salty flavors were all there. This is a great, light side dish for grilled sausages of any kind. I’m actually looking forward to having leftovers of everything now. There are so many possibilities for using every ingredient. 

Apple-Peel Slaw
Apple-Peel Slaw, Two Kinds is excerpted from The Nimble Cook: New Strategies for Great Meals That Make the Most of Your Ingredients © 2019 by Ronna Welsh. Illustrations © 2019 by Diana Vassar. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. 

Any apple peel can work for these, but the skin from a crisp and tart apple, like a Gala, holds up best. These slaw recipes are interchangeable; both are delicious on toast with good cheddar cheese, alongside chicken salad, in a sandwich with grilled sausage, or any place you might serve a more typical cabbage slaw. 

Peels from 3 pounds apples  
Sharp Slaw: 
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and minced 
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 
Coarse kosher salt 
1/4 cup excellent olive oil 
1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion 

Creamy Slaw: 
1 large egg yolk 
2 1/2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and minced 
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar 
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard Coarse kosher salt 
1/4 cup excellent olive oil 
1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion 

Cut the peels into very thin strips. 

To make the sharp slaw: Whisk the vinegar, capers, mustard, and a pinch of salt together in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsified dressing. Put the peels and onion in a large bowl and drizzle in the dressing bit by bit. Toss to coat, keeping the slaw light. You may have dressing left over. Taste for salt. 

To make the creamy slaw: Whisk the yolk, capers, vinegar, mustard, and a pinch of salt together in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil, a drop at a time, to make a creamy dressing. Put the peels and onion in a large bowl and drizzle in the dressing bit by bit. Toss to coat, keeping the slaw light. You may have dressing left over. Taste for salt. 

Serve either slaw right away, or refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 days. If necessary, retoss with a little of the reserved extra dressing.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

BBQ Chickpea-Quinoa Bowls

When someone declares that cookie recipes are her pride and joy, I’m going to pay attention. I didn’t realize the food blog Two Peas and Their Pod has 200 recipes for cookies on it. But, I did know the blog author Maria Lichty also has a new cookbook, and I received a review copy. Of course, there is a chapter just for cookies. There’s a lot of other great food too, and I got distracted with the mix of vegetarian and omnivore dishes on my way to the cookies. The book and the blog are about a couple that loves to cook for their little boys, extended family, neighbors, and friends. The recipes they share are tested, family favorites. And, they really do love cooking and bringing people together around good food. Right away, I found some of my favorite flavors in the book. The Sweet Potato and Kale Hash, Raspberry-Lemon Scones, and Green “Hulk” Smoothies stood out in the Breakfast chapter. The hearty soups like Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Chowder and Mushroom-Farro Soup had me looking forward to cooler days. I’m marking the page for the Kale and Wild Rice Salad with Maple Mustard Vinaigrette for a Thanksgiving menu contender, and I can’t wait to try the Sweet and Spicy Tofu with Zucchini Noodles right away. Now, about that cookie chapter: there are Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mega Monster Cookies, Lemon-Almond Cookies with Lemon Glaze and more. The one that called out to me, though, was the Toasted Coconut White Chocolate and Macadamia Cookies. I’ve never added coconut to white chocolate-macadamia cookies or thought to toast it first. That’s a must-try. Before I could pre-heat the oven for those, I first set about making the BBQ Chickpea-Quinoa Bowls. 

I had local corn and tomatoes from my CSA, and the timing was right for this dish. To begin, the canned chickpeas were rinsed and drained before being mixed with olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. The seasoned chickpeas were baked for about 30 minutes until crispy. After roasting, they were tossed with some barbecue sauce. Meanwhile, I charred the corn a bit on a grill pan and chopped the tomatoes, cabbage, avocado, and lettuce. The dressing for the bowls was a spicy ranch that I took in a vegan direction by using cashew yogurt. The yogurt was mixed with lemon juice, minced jalapeno, minced garlic, chopped garlic chives, and salt and pepper. Cooked quinoa was placed in bowls and topped with the fresh vegetables, the barbecued chickpeas, and drizzled with the dressing. 

I love crispy, roasted chickpeas almost as much as I love popcorn, and the addition of barbecue sauce was a delicious idea. The flavors were a great match for the corn, tomatoes, and avocado. This could become a weekly lunch meal for me. But, now I’m thinking I haven’t been baking enough cookies lately.

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Monday, September 30, 2019

Coconut Turmeric Flatbreads with Basil Cashew Spread and Grilled Squash

It’s possible that I’ve never met a flatbread recipe I didn’t want to make. They’re too fun to ignore. Whether it’s tortillas, roti, yeasted flatbread or not, forming the breads and cooking them on a hot griddle never fails to make me happy. Today’s flatbread is from Rachel Ama's Vegan Eats: Tasty Plant-Based Recipes for Every Day of which I received a review copy. Made with coconut yogurt and turmeric, I couldn’t resist this one. At first, it reminded me of the Zanzibari Sesame Bread I made from The Food of Oman book. That flatbread was made with coconut milk, but it was yeasted. Here, it’s a quicker dough leavened with baking powder. But, before I tell you more about it, there’s a lot of other stuff in this new book I want to mention too. Right away, I tried the Spiced Chickpea Waffles. I had seen a version of falafel waffles in The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook last year and now had to try them. The version in this book is vegan and a bit lighter, and I liked the idea of topping them with olives and tomatoes. I served them first with a cucumber, olive, and tomato salad on top. Then, with extras that were stored in the freezer, I served them with sauteed sweet potato greens, slow-roasted tomatoes, fried eggs, and a pesto-yogurt sauce. I also tried the Miso-Glazed Aubergines which resulted in tender, sticky, spicy, delicious eggplant pieces. The book is full of flavorful, plant-based dishes with some English, Caribbean, and African influences. There are dishes for every meal and desserts and drinks as well. The Caribbean Jackfruit Fritters bring ocean flavor with nori flakes rather than fish. And, the Crispy Jerk Barbecue Tacos are made with oyster mushrooms. There are also pastas, curries, stews, and sweet treats like the Griddled Cinnamon Pineapples with Salted Caramel. For the dish shown here today, I mixed and matched. I took some of the elements of the Griddled Courgette and Pepper Salad with Rocket and Pine Nuts and put them on the Coconut Turmeric Flatbreads with Basil Cashew Spread. 

So, let’s start with the flatbread. Unsweetened coconut milk yogurt, self-rising flour, ground turmeric, baking powder, salt, and chopped garlic chives were mixed in a bowl. The dough was then kneaded until smooth and divided into pieces. I went for smaller breads, and divided my dough into six pieces rather than four as instructed. Each piece was flattened into a round with a rolling pin and then cooked on a hot griddle until puffed and browned. The Basil Cashew Spread was made with soaked, raw cashews. The drained cashews were placed in a blender with water, garlic, lemon juice, basil leaves, and salt and pepper. The mix was pureed until smooth. I grilled some sliced yellow squash and sweet peppers. Each flatbread was topped with a schmear of basil cashew spread, some grilled vegetables, and a few arugula leaves. 

The coconut milk yogurt made the flatbreads incredibly tender. They were easy to pick up and fold around the toppings. And, the pretty yellow tint from the turmeric was nice to see. They would be delicious with all sorts of toppings or fillings. I’ve been enjoying lots of vegan eats from this book, and there’s more I still want to try.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Vegan Coconut Ice Cream and Vegan Banana and Nut Butter Ice Cream with Granola

I love eating ice cream any time of year, but during a particularly hot summer like the one we’re having, it becomes necessary as a food source. And, yes, I could enjoy a meal of just ice cream. I received a review copy of Jude's: A celebration of ice cream in 100 recipes just in time for the hottest part of summer and got to enjoy reading about frozen treats and tasting some of them. I loved learning how this ice cream company began. The current owners are brothers, and their father began the business in 2002 in their barn in Hampshire, England. The business is named after their mother. From the beginning, the focus was on achieving the best flavor by using the best ingredients including milk from a nearby farm. Soon, their ice creams were chosen by chefs for restaurant menus, and they were sold across the UK in supermarkets. There are classic and intriguing flavors, dairy-free options, and frozen desserts, toppings, and cocktails. Some flavors that caught my eye include the Honey Fig and Thyme Ice Cream, Matcha Ice Cream and Black Sesame Brittle, and the Beetroot and Ginger Ice Cream. When I first flipped through the pages, I was sure my first stop in the book would be the Summer Peach Sorbet, but then I read a suggestion about topping scoops with their granola and became fixated on that instead. For more elaborate desserts, there are two roulades. One is the Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Roulade, and the other is the Vanilla Arctic Roll with Apricot Creme Fraiche Ice Cream. You’ll also find tarts, cakes, and brownies to go with ice cream and even Mini Caramel and Guinness Floats. But, I kept thinking about that granola. It’s made with buckwheat kernals, sesame and pumpkin seeds, and coconut. I thought it would be a good, crunchy counterpoint to the Vegan Coconut Ice Cream. Then, I couldn’t resist making the Vegan Banana and Nut Butter Ice Cream too since it’s so easy. 

I started by making the granola, and the recipe is similar to my usual granola. This one is made with coconut oil and honey, and in addition to oats there are buckwheat kernals. Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and unsweetened coconut were also added along with salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. After baking until golden and crunchy and then cooling, dried cherries and raisins were to be added. I left them out to keep the mixture completely crunchy. And, I now intend to always add buckwheat kernals to any granola I make. For the Vegan Coconut Ice Cream, a little coconut milk was mixed with cornstarch to form a paste. Then, coconut milk was heated with coconut cream and maple syrup. The cornstarch paste and salt were added, and the mixture was stirred until thickened. It was then cooled and refrigerated overnight before being churned in an ice cream maker. I added a small splash of rum just before churning to prevent the ice cream from freezing too solidly. The Vegan Banana and Nut Butter Ice Cream was a quick puree of frozen bananas, peanut butter, almond milk, and confectioners’ sugar. The mixture was transferred to a container to freeze, and needs to be left at room temperature for 15 minutes or so to soften a bit before scooping. 

I served a scoop of each ice cream in a dish with dried banana chips on the banana ice cream, and granola on the coconut ice cream. Now that I’m writing about them, I’m craving them both again. I have my ice cream machine’s canister in the freezer as I type and am about to leave to gather ingredients. I can’t go much longer with no ice cream in the house. 

Vegan Coconut Ice Cream 
Recipe reprinted with publisher’s permission from Jude’s Ice Cream and Desserts. 

This vegan ice cream is so easy to create at home. It’s unexpectedly creamy, with a fresh coconut flavour that makes your mind instantly wander to tropical islands. We’ve used cornflour for extra smoothness and love serving it with toasted coconut flakes, which give nutty taste and texture, but if that’s not your thing, simply serve it straight up. 


1 x 400g (14oz) can coconut milk 
1 tablespoon cornflour 
300ml (1/2 pint) coconut cream 
175g (6oz) agave syrup (or honey, for a non-vegan option) 
1/4 teaspoon fine salt  
Handful of coconut flakes, toasted, to serve (optional) 

Combine 1 tablespoon of the coconut milk with the cornflour to make a paste. Gradually add a further 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk, stirring constantly. Pour the remaining coconut milk into a saucepan over a low heat with the coconut cream and agave syrup. Bring slowly to a simmer, then stir in the cornflour paste and salt. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly until slightly thickened, then remove from the heat. Cover the pan, cool and chill in the refrigerator overnight, or if you don’t have time, for at least 2 hours. 

Pour into an ice-cream machine and churn to a soft set following the manufacturer’s instructions, or until the blade stops. Spoon the soft ice cream into an airtight, freezer-proof container and put in the freezer for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight, until firm. Remove from the freezer and allow the ice cream to soften for 5–10 minutes before scooping. Serve with toasted coconut flakes, if using.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019


As a long-time fan of Martha Stewart, when she raves about a cookbook I pay attention. I noticed on Instagram that she had mentioned Baking at République: Masterful Techniques and Recipes by Margarita Manzke a couple of times. Specifically, she mentioned baking the brioche from this book and how delicious it is. Naturally, upon receiving a review copy of the book, I had to try the brioche. There are chapters devoted to some of the basic recipes that are used for several types of baked goods. Brioche is the first, and after the master recipe for brioche dough, there are several examples of how to use it including Brioche Fruit Tarts, Brioche Bread Pudding, Cardamom Sticky Buns, and more. Other chapters offer master recipes for Pain au Lait, Croissants, Kouign Amanns, Pate Sucree, Pate Brisee, and Pate a Choux. And, there are delightfully decadent recipes for using all of those types of dough. Following those chapters are ones for Muffins and Scones, Cookies and Bars, Cakes, Custards Puddings and Cream, and Basic Components. The Chocolate-Hazelnut Paris-Brest, Creme Brulee Cheesecake Tarts, and Mini-Chocolate Bundt Cakes all nearly distracted me from my intent to make the brioche first. But, I stayed on track. Now, in the days prior to tackling the brioche recipe, my trusty stand mixer of about 18 years had started acting a little funny. It didn’t seem to like operating at the lowest speed, but it was working at all the higher speeds. I was sure I could get through the dough making for this recipe by avoiding the lowest speed and working with the weirdness. Onward I went with letting a pound of butter warm a bit out of the refrigerator, cracking nine eggs, and getting the milk and locally-milled flour ready to go. And, the mixing got off to an ok start, but as soon as the dough became a bit heavy with the flour my mixer just stopped working at any speed. I was completely offended. How could it do this to me after all these years? How did it know I had all these ingredients ready to be used for a big batch of sticky, messy dough that really, really would be best made with a mixer? I didn’t seriously consider throwing out all the butter and eggs for even a moment. Instead, I started devising a plan for mixing all that butter in by hand without getting the butter too warm from my hands. Did I mention this was a big batch of sticky, messy dough? My kneading method involved using a bench scraper in one hand while turning and kneading with the other hand. After a few turns, I scooped it all into a bowl and refrigerated it for a bit before repeating. I wasn’t at all sure that this would turn into any kind of edible bread, but I was going to bake whatever became of it. 

It wasn’t particularly helpful to be reminded by others that we didn’t always have mixers. There must have been a time when this dough was made by hand. After everything was mixed, more or less, the dough was left to rise for 30 minutes before being turned and left for another 30 minutes. After the second rise, it was refrigerated overnight. I really believe the slow, cold rise overnight saved the dough. It was a smoother, lovelier dough the next day. To make the loaves, the dough was divided into four pieces, two dough balls were placed in each of two loaf pans, and they were left to rise again for about an hour and a half. After being brushed with an egg wash, the loaves were baked until deeply browned. 

Amazingly, the result was outstanding. Tender, buttery loaves were delicious sliced and served with blueberry jam. I also made very thick-cut French toast inspired by the book. I still have the second loaf in the freezer awaiting an occasion for a savory French toast with slow-roasted tomatoes. My old mixer and I have since parted ways after learning that a repair was unlikely, and a newer model has taken its place in the kitchen. I have lots of recipes to try with it!

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Sopes con Pescado Adobado

Can we talk salsa? I practically need to count it as one of my food groups. I definitely can’t live without it, and I have several favorites. A new one just joined that list thanks to the book My Mexico City Kitchen: Recipes and Convictions: A Cookbook by Gabriela Camara of which I received a review copy. The book is about so much more than salsa or any other particular dish. The recipes and tips combine to explain Camara’s style of cooking, with the freshest and best-produced ingredients, inspired by Mexican traditional cuisine. The menus at her Mexico City and San Francisco restaurants vary due to availability of locally-grown and sustainably-produced ingredients in each location. In Mexico City, she offers a Tuna Tostada when sustainable tuna is available. But, in San Francisco, a locally-farmed trout is a better choice, and that’s what she uses there. She also explains her choice of cheeses. In Mexico, she’s able to source traditional cheeses that are made with high-quality milk from pastured cows. Those cheeses aren’t available in the US, and our Mexican-style cheeses tend to be from larger companies making compromises on the milk used. She recommends choosing similar cheeses that aren’t Mexican but are well-made rather than being strictly traditional. The recipes will mostly seem familiar, but upon closer inspection, Camara’s personal touch is revealed. The chapters include basics, breakfast, first courses, main dishes, desserts, and drinks. The simplest dishes are taken to new levels when each ingredient is carefully considered. For instance, the Tacos de Huevo are made with fresh-made corn tortillas, a soft-boiled egg, beans, rice, and a homemade salsa or two. And, the photos convey the deliciousness. Seafood figures heavily in the recipes, which I loved seeing, and its use in the soups got my full attention. There’s a spicy crab soup, a shrimp broth made with adobo sauce and whole shrimp and served with lots of garnishes, and an herb and chile inflected soup with fish meatballs. There’s even a Chiles en Nogada made with seafood as the filling rather than pork. The Mexican-style clams, mussels in chipotle sauce, and the signature red and green grilled red snapper all delighted me, but there are plenty of meat options as well. Those include chicken and pork stews; cochinita pibil; an al pastor approach that would work well for pork, chicken, or vegetables; and an actual meat meatball recipe in salsa de chile morita. Speaking of salsa, the one that got added to my favorites list is the Adobo de Chiles Rojos made with dried chiles, fresh tomatoes, onion, lots of garlic, and some citrus. It’s added to cooked fish and reduced before the mixture is spooned into masa sopes. And then I started adding it to just about everything else I cooked. 

I love playing with masa, and I’ve made lots of shapes from masa dough like tlacoyos, gorditas, and various tortillas. So, I was excited to try the sopes which were similar in shape to gorditas. Masa harina was mixed with water to form the simple dough that was divided into ping pong ball size pieces before being shaped into rounds with a cupped top. The sopes were then fried in oil and left to drain. The salsa was made by reconstituting dried ancho, guajillo, and pasilla chiles. The softened chiles along with chiles de arbol, chopped fresh tomato, onion, lots of garlic, olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, achiote seeds, cumin, oregano, and salt were pureed in the blender. There’s a surprising amount of salt in this salsa at one and a half tablespoons, but this is the correct amount. The sopes are not seasoned at all. They are simple masa vehicles for all the flavor of the filling. So, the aggressive seasoning of the salsa is balanced. For this version of sopes, a firm-fleshed fish was to be cut into small cubes and cooked in oil. I used halibut. After the fish was cooked, the salsa was added and reduced a bit. The fish and sauce mixture was spooned into the sopes and topped with a crumbly, salty cheese and purslane leaves. Queso fresco would ordinarily be used, but ricotta salata is also suggested depending on what you can get that is better quality. I used a locally-made goat feta. 

Little, crispy masa cakes will be addictive with just about any filing, but this adobo-sauced fish version was a big winner. I use a lot of purslane while I can get it at a local farm stand in the summer. So, I was thrilled to see it as a suggested topping. Cilantro or finely chopped lettuce would work well too. For the salsa, I’ll be doubling the recipe from now on and stocking my freezer with it. It was great in tacos, for dipping chips and vegetables, and especially on huevos rancheros. Next, a soup and a couple of the desserts are on my to-try list.

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