January 2, 2012

Tomatillo Salsa!

Phones.  I have a smart phone.  My son is not yet three and can unlock it (no password) and start the "Mommy Game" and play puzzle after puzzle for nearly 20 minutes.  Scary!

What's sad, to me, is that he will probably never know the satisfaction of slamming the phone down.  You know, really hanging up on someone.  Seems the click on the other end was louder and the caller knew you meant business.  Now, you have to tap the "End" bar.  Lame.

I started cooking at a young age.  I remember making doctored up mac and cheese for my sister and me.  The orange powder never quite dissolved properly when you sprinkled it on the noodles and stirred as directed.  Blach!  So once the noodles were ready I would get out our tiny, little saucepan and heat up the milk and butter on the lowest of low heat.  When it was bubbling I added the orange powder and stirred.

That made a lovely sauce to pour like soup on the noodles.  Eventually, I experimented and would add more cheese since it really isn't the "Cheesiest" as advertised.  That meant adding a little more milk and so on.  Was it good?  I thought so.  Maybe the Queen remembers how it tasted.  Fortunately, she's not too picky and seemed happy enough to be my guinea pig.

I loved talking on the phone.  You could say I have the gift to gab.  Big time!  Our kitchen had one of those super long cords.  At some point the cord became a tangled mess and the Dude replaced it with a average length cord.

The kitchen was/is a galley and the phone was at one end and the stove at the other.  It was not unusual for me to start the noodles and make a phone call while I waited.  If I set the phone on the floor and stretched the cord, it was just about an inch too short to make it all the way to the stove.  So I would stretch it and hold the phone half to my ear shouting, "Hang on" while I reached to stir.  Sometimes I would utter an "Uh Huh..." and stir hoping my friend wouldn't notice.  On many occasion I had to drop the phone and RUN to a boiled over pot.  Groan!

Never talk on a corded phone that is not quite long enough when making doctored up mac and cheese sauce.  Never!  The day the Dude came home with a cordless phone was a super happy day!

So, yeah, I guess I feel sorry for kids today.  Never knowing the fun of a house with one phone line with corded phones and no call-waiting, no caller ID, no voicemail (or answering machines) and certainly no "Mommy Game"!

Many moons ago the Dude and J-Mo gave me a Rick Bayless cookbook on chiles.  Rick Bayless is chef and owner of many wonderful Mexican restaurants in Chicago.  He also has Frontera salsas in nicer grocery stores. He has a cooking show on PBS and won the first season of Top Chef Masters.  Yep, he's pretty much a bad ass.

The cookbook I have is amazing in that the first chapter has 10 or so salsa recipes.  The rest of the book contains recipes that use the salsas.  A given recipe looks deceivingly easy in that the first ingredient is one of the salsas already prepared.  No way that's like two recipes in one!

Anyway, here's my take on his salsa verde.  You can make it as hot as you like by adding more or less jalapenos.  The hardest part is peeling the chiles but I think it is worth it and easier if you wait until they cool a bit.  Be warned, this stuff is addicting!

Tomatillo Salsa
adapted from Rick Bayless, list of more salsa recipes

6 - 8 Tomatillos with papery husk removed and rinsed
2 Anaheim chiles with tops removed
2 Jalapenos with tops removed (add more or less depending on your taste)
3-4 Cloves of peeled garlic (depending on your taste)
Olive oil
1/2 Small onion finely diced
1/2 tsp Cumin
Juice of small lime
Salt and Pepper
Fresh cilantro chopped would be nice if you like it (Me? I'm so-so on cilantro)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  You could use the broiler but I have the touchiest fire alarm on the planet so I avoid broiling at all cost!  Coat baking pan, all chiles, and garlic with olive oil. Put chiles and garlic in pan in single layer.

Bake to roast for 10-15 minutes.  Turn and roast another 10 or so minutes until chiles are blackened on all sides.  The tomatillos change color dramatically from bright green to olive.  Chiles and garlic mellow with roasting.  You may need to remove the garlic early.

Put all, including every bit of juices in the pan, in a large-ish bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam about 10-20 minutes.  Once cool enough to handle use your fingers or the back of a spoon to peel the skin off of the anaheims and jalapenos.  Throw away skin.

Toss chiles, garlic, and their juice in a blender and puree.  Return to bowl (or prettier bowl) and stir in onion, cumin, and lime juice.  Taste it and add salt and pepper to your liking.  Serve with tortilla chips or grilled chicken with beans, rice, and tortillas.

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