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Salsa Verde (Mexican)

Where have I been? Since mid January we have had the fortune of having many guests with us here in Yucatan. Between touring, etc. there has been little time to add to the blog. As a matter of fact we just got back from 5 days in Mexico City… talk about great food!

For many years now I have been following Pati Jinich on PBS. She is originally from Mexico but now lives in Washington, D.C. Her TV program is called Pati’s Mexican Table. Her cookbook, available on Amazon, is incredible if you are interested in Mexican cooking.

Recently we were invited to a Canadian friend’s home her in Yucatan where we enjoyed some great chicken enchiladas. She was unable to find the real sauce but managed to prepare an adequate salsa verde to serve with her recipe. This led me to Pati’s cookbook to see how she prepared her sauce. FYI…this sauce is served on almost everything in Mexico in one version or another. Enchilada recipes are widely available, but take the time to serve it with Pati’s version  of the salsa –

Pati Jinich’s Salsa Verde

Ingredients

  • 1-pound tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed (little green tomatoes)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 jalapeño or serrano chiles, or to taste
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped white onion
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and top part of stems
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
  • 3 teaspoons vegetable oil

Place the tomatillos, garlic, and chiles in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the tomatillos change from bright green to pale green and are soft but not falling apart, about 10 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatillos, garlic, and one of the chiles to a blender or food processor. Add the onion, cilantro, and salt and purée until smooth. Taste for heat, and add more chile if necessary until you have the desired amount of heat.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Pour the salsa into the saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

The sauce will keep a week in your refrigerator.

 

A Little Taste of Brazil!!

One of the most desired cuts of beef in Brazil is called (picanha) . It is also very common in higher end restaurants in Yucatan these days. What is it?

Picanha is a cut of beef called sirloin cap in the United States or the rump cap in the United Kingdom, that is popular in Portugal and Brazil. In the United States, it is little known, but referred to as the rump cover, rump cap, or culotte.

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In a Brazilian restaurant it is often served on large skewers…

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I chose to roast it whole.

There are THREE steps to the recipe, which involves marinating overnight in the refrigerator (see below) with a citrus-herb salt rub.

Simple Roasted Picanha Recipe

Step One – Citrus-Herb Salt Rub

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • Zest of one small lemon, approximately 2 teaspoons
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Score the fatty blanket on the picanha by making criss-crossing cuts into the fatty blanket covering one side of the picanha.  Fat behaves differently than meat when cooked.  It loses more liquid and therefore shrinks more.  By scoring the fat, you can prevent the piece from curling and dis-forming while it grills.  

Rub the salt mixture into the cross cuts of the fat. Refrigerate overnight.

Step Two – Preheat oven to 400 degrees, letting the picana come to room temperature.

Prepare the chimichurri sauce by mixing the following ingredients…

Chimichurri Sauce

  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili pepper flakes (less for milder flavor)
  • 2 teaspoons minced oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Step Three – Sear and Roast the picana as follows

Heat a large oven-safe skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Pour in a few tablespoons of olive oil.

Sear the beef until browned on both sides,approximately 2 minutes per side.Transfer the skillet to the oven with the fatty side of the piranha facing up.

Cook the roast for 35 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 128-130° for medium-rare. Remove the roast from the oven, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. The temperature will rise 10 degrees while resting!!

Slice against the grain for tender cuts.    

Here is my recent attempt to duplicate that restaurant experience in our oven…in case there is too much snow to fire up the Barbie, mates. Sliced after resting with chimichurri sauce.

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Seared Scallops in a Cajun Mustard Cream Sauce

Just in time for News Year’s Eve! As a change this year I decided to have Oysters Rockefeller in place of the usual escargots. Alas, they were impossible to find as fresh and on second thought I did not want to have to shuck them. Third choice was either mussels or scallops. NO mussels to be found. I had to settle on frozen scallops. This recipe from Closet Cooking was not only simple, but really awesome with the mustard sauce. Since I neglected to take a photo, this is the photo which accompanied the recipe.

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It was perfect with the broiled asparagus AND very perfect with the leftover mustard sauce, so much so that |I had an idea for using this sauce on Eggs Benedict some time.

Let me know if you try it! It made a great and simple romantic dinner for two.

Seared Scallops in a Cajun Mustard Cream Sauce

Prep Time:5 minutes Cook Time:10 minutes

Total Time:15 minutes Servings: 2

  • 1-pound sea scallops (about 1 inch thick) I used ten scallops
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy/whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun mustard (or grainy mustard)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  1. Pat the scallops dry and press on the Cajun seasoning.
  2. Met the butter into the oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add the scallops and sear until lightly golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side, before setting aside.
  3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
  4. Add the heavy cream, mustards and lemon juice, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens a bit, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste and serve the scallops in the sauce garnished with the chopped parsley.

Option: Replace the butter and oil with bacon grease or butter yet, start by cooking 4 strips bacon, use the grease to cook the scallops in and sprinkle the crumbled bacon onto the scallops just before serving!

Option: Add 1/4 cup chicken broth or seafood broth or white wine to the pan before adding the cream and deglaze the plan by scrapping all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon while the broth simmers.

Option: Add 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese to the sauce!

I chose not to use any of the options this time around!!

Happy New Year!!

Shrimp and Sausage Skillet

Quick and easy dinner using only a skillet, cutting board and a knife! And it looks spectacular too!

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Shrimp & Sausage Skillet

  • 1/4 cup avocado oil divided
  • 1-pound shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp Cajun Seasoning or Old Bay seasoning
  • 12 ounces sausage cut into 1/2-inch slices (I used Argentinian chorizo)
  • 1 jalapeno minced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 lb green beans cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium red pepper cut into 2-inch slices
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat 2 tbsp of the avocado oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Once shimmering, add the shrimp in a single layer. Cook about 2 minutes, and then flip the shrimp over and sprinkle with the seasoning. Cook another minute or two, until no longer pink, then transfer to a plate.
  1. Add the remaining oil to the pan. Once shimmering, add the sausage and sauté until starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the jalapeño and garlic and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  2. Add the vegetables and continue to sauté until just tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the shrimp back to the pan and warm through before serving.

Bacon Mushroom Spinach Frittata

When you wake up an hour or so before your spouse you might as well make a nice breakfast, right? If you have too many eggs and spinach you might as well put them to use. “Alexa, what can I make?” Oops, I forgot I don’t use Alexa. “Pinterest, what can I make?”

Firstly if you did not already know it, a frittata is essentially an omelette which you prepare in an ovenproof skillet and finish in the oven. This can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner…so give it a try!

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I N G RE D I E N T S:

  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Dash of hot sauce (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms or whatever you have on hand, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups baby spinach fresh or a small package of frozen unthawed
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • small red pepper chopped for colour

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, basil, oregano, thyme and hot sauce; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes, reserving 1 tablespoon excess fat. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. (OR cheat and use precooked bacon)
  4. Add garlic and mushrooms to the skillet (adding a little oil if using precooked bacon), and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, about 3-4 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Stir in spinach and tomato until the spinach begins to wilt, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in egg mixture and bacon, reserving 2 tablespoons, until well combined. Cook, undisturbed, until edges are set, about 2 minutes. Top with remaining bacon.
  6. Place into oven and bake until top is set and golden brown, about 14-15 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately.

 

One Pan Garlic Herb Chicken and Asparagus

I really should make up a Costco Cookbook, since many of the recipes are found because the quantities are so large to use in a short period of time, especially in vegetables! This one was found on Pinterest, since I needed to use up asparagus before it started to spoil. Thanks Pinterest and Costco…Of course, the beauty of this was only one pan to clean!

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One Pan Garlic Herb Chicken and Asparagus

Ingredients:

  • 1-pound asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3-6 chicken thighs or boneless skinless chicken breasts (breasts pounded to even 1/2 inch thickness – (Mine were already butterflied so no pounding, silly, chicken thighs)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • fresh herbs for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pan/skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in garlic and herbs and cook another minute or so until the garlic is fragrant.
  1. Reduce heat to medium, add chicken to pan, and cook for 5-7 minutes, then turn over and cook another 5-7 minutes. (Chicken should be nearly, but not completely cooked through by this point)
  1. Scoot the chicken over the sides and add remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the empty portion of the pan. Once the butter is melted, add asparagus. Season asparagus with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook, rotating throughout, for 4-6 minutes until tender and chicken is completely cooked through.
  1.  Serve immediately garnished with freshly cracked black pepper and fresh herbs if desired.

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Once a year, we seem to be able to find spaghetti squash in Yucatan. This was it! If you have never baked a spaghetti squash it is so simple. When it is done baking you take a large fork and shred it et voila – spaghetti! The simple version is to bake it and the add your favorite spaghetti sauces (commercial or homemade) and lots of Parmesan cheese,

This version is a little more time consuming but well worth it. Take a look –

Spaghetti SquashThe original recipe called for the filling to be baked inside the upturned squash. It was very difficult to shred the squash with the filling in it and thus I adapted the version and filled the shredded squash, mixing the filling into it.

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Cut the spaghetti squash in half horizontally and remove the seeds. Put squash cut sides down in a baking dish with a half inch or so of water. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Cover with foil and bake in 350-degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes. Test with a fork for tenderness.

While it is baking, prepare the stuffing as shown below.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb. Ground beef
  • 5 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 large cooking onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • Seasoning to suit your taste
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of salsa (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Heat oil in pan.  (I like to use my wok) Throw in the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Throw in the onion and continue to sauté until tender.

Add ground beef and brown thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.

Add other seasoning such as Italian as you wish*

Mix in the cheese. Mix in the salsa.

Keep warm until the squash is tender.

Turn the squash over on a plate leaving on the outer shell, shred with a fork being careful not to break the shell.Fill with the ‘stuffing”.

Top with sour cream, more salsa? BBQ sauce?

 

 

 

 

15 Minute Thai Basil Chicken

When life gives you lemons…oops…a great Thai basil plant, one makes more Thai food, right? This 15 minute recipe was incredible. You do not have to use Thai basil, but the taste will be a little different. In place of the Thai chilies, I used a few drops of Sriracha sauce.

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15 MINUTE THAI BASIL CHICKEN

Prep Time: 6 mins Cook Time: 9 mins Yield: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 ounces green beans
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, coarsely chopped
  • 4 sliced shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 minced Thai chilies, or to taste
  • 1 cup very thinly sliced fresh Thai basil leaves
  • Jasmine rice, to serve

Heat the oil in a wok or heavy, high-walled skillet over high heat. As the wok is heating up, whisk together the oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar until well-combined. Set aside.

Add the bell pepper and green beans to the hot wok. Stir-fry for one minute. Add in the chicken and stir-fry, breaking apart as you go, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the shallots, garlic, and Thai chilies. Cook until fragrant, about 1 more minute. Then, pour in the prepared sauce. Continue to cook until the sauce begins to glaze onto the meat, about 1-2 more minutes.

Stir in the Thai basil leaves and cook until the chicken is completely cooked through, the basil is wilted, and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Serve warm with rice.

Roasted Parmesan Garlic Shrimp

“Honey, I’m home!” (for all of those familiar with that old greeting from some TV show?) Welcome back former followers. Your encouragement is appreciated. A recent house sitter left behind some really nice frozen shrimp and (Pinterest to the rescue) I decided to thaw them out- 24 beautiful specimens which only required peeling and deveining. Once done, I put them in some cold water with a little salt and put them back in the refrigerator awaiting dinner prep.  Some fresh asparagus was also waiting to be used. Everything came together with very little prepping…

  • 1 pound medium raw shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Cocktail sauce for dipping (1/2 cup ketchup + 2 tablespoons horseradish)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with oil.

Place the shrimp in a single layer on the sheet. Evenly distribute olive oil, Parmesan, garlic, oregano and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss together with your hands and spread out again.

*Place the pan in the oven and roast the shrimp until just pink, firm and cooked. This should take 9 minutes. When done sprinkle with lemon juice and serve with whatever side you have chosen.

*NOTE…since the oven was on I also roasted the asparagus which was drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan. If you choose to do the asparagus, put it in the oven 10 minutes before the shrimp and leave them in until the shrimp are done.

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Creamy Slow Cooker Chicken with Bacon and Cheese

Just another slow cooker recipe…LOL. This one tastes incredible AND its Keto friendly as part of my new JOURNEY to eat healthier this year. As always I was touring around Pinterest and came across this one by Kasey Trenum. It was so great I forgot to photograph it. It was on Kasey’s Pinterest page.

 

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Creamy Slow Cooker Chicken with Bacon & Cheese {low carb & keto}

Ingredients

  • 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ tsp poultry seasoning
  • ½ tsp rosemary
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 3 pieces of cooked bacon, crumbled
  • cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 cup cheese
  • 3 pieces of bacon, crumbled
  • ¾ tsp Xanthan Gum (for thickening – available at higher end grocery stores)
  • salt/pepper to taste

 

Instructions

Add chicken and next 6 ingredients to slow cooker.

Crumble 3 pieces of cooked bacon on the top of the chicken.

Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 to 3½. (Watch your cooker – it was done sooner than I expected)

Add heavy whipping cream to slow cooker.

Dollop cream cheese on top and stir to combine all ingredients.

Using 2 forks, shred chicken in slow cooker.

Sprinkle ¾ tsp Xanthan Gum and allow to simmer with the top off for a few minutes while the mixture thickens.

Spray a casserole dish generously and dump contents of slow cooker into dish.

Add 1 cup of cheddar cheese (or more if you’d like) then crumble 3 pieces of bacon on top.

Place in oven on broil for 2-4 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly and bacon is extra crisp.

Enjoy!

Nutritional Information based on MyFitnessPal app (8 servings) – Calories 302, Fat 24.7, Protein 17.2, Carbs 3.3 -Fiber .8 = Net Carbs 2.5