Thursday, August 28, 2008

Damn Good Case of the Mexicali Blues

Yesterday, I decided that I was going to have quesadillas for dinner, but realized I was completely out of salsa. I thought about running to the store, but didn't really want to go just for one item. Then I figured if I was getting salsa, I may as well get tortilla chips too. As I was sitting at work mentally running through the inventory in my kitchen, it dawned on me: why not make my own chips and salsa?! Recently I have been overrun with tomatoes, peppers, and onions; this plan was perfect! Just one minor exactly do I make salsa?

Tortilla chips were the easy part, and I had made these in the past. All you need are corn tortillas, oil (I prefer the aerosol olive oil), and kosher salt. Preheat the oven to around 350°F. Next, place tortillas on a baking sheet lined with foil, spray or drizzle the oil on the tortillas, and then sprinkle with salt. When the oven is hot, place the baking sheet in the oven for about 15-20 min. Just be sure to watch them so they don't burn! Once you take them out, let them cool and
then break into bits. That's it!

Moving on to the salsa. Not only did I not really know what I was doing, but it meant I had to get back to the cutting board and face the peppers. This time it was not just bell peppers either; it was time to battle a jalapeno and a serrano chile as well. I was extra cautious and wrapped my one hand in a plastic bag while handling the peppers. I am happy to report that I managed to dodge the capsaicin! Below is roughly the recipe I came up with for the salsa, but some of the things I just eye-balled; taste often to adapt the recipe to fit your palette.
2 large tomatoes (chunked)*
1/3 medium white onion (chunked)
1 small/medium bell pepper (chunked)
1 jalapeno (chunked)
1 serrano chile (chunked)
1 tbsp minced garlic plus some juice from jar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp lime juice
kosher salt to taste

*Prior to cutting up the tomatoes next time, I will slice them and place them between paper towels to drain some of the water from them.
  • Place the peppers and onion in a blender and pulse on "chop" several times until chopped into relatively small pieces. When desired size, empty into a bowl and set aside.
  • Place the tomatoes in the blender and proceed as you did with the peppers and onions, but leave the tomatoes in the blender.
  • Mix the peppers and onions in with the tomatoes and add the garlic, lime juice, and olive oil. Blend until desired consistency.
  • Finally empty into bowl and stir in the salt to suit your taste.
  • This can be served immediately, but tastes better if you place in the refrigerator for a bit.
Chips, salsa, and quesadillas in under an hour; Rachel Ray and her pre-packaged goods can see me in hell!

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