Monday, April 9, 2018

A Pretty Green Dip

I love Salsa Verde. It's so flavorful, particularly if you take the time to roast or broil the veggies. I set a recipe out here in the blog a while back, but it seems I just never make it the same way twice. 

As it happens, I was asked to make a "Jalapeño Dip" for Easter festivities. As it also happened, I had a gallbladder attack and it was removed just 2 days before Easter, so I messed the festivities - but I did make the dip. Problem was, while it looked and smelled great, I just couldn't taste it for fear of what pain I would endure. I live by my taste buds, so this was against everything I know, to allow a new recipe out to family without ever really being able to taste how the flavors worked. 
Green Jalapeno Dip
Green Jalapeno Dip

Salsa Verde made with Poblanos
Salsa Verde made with Poblanos
I had never made a "jalapeño dip" before, so I thought about it some, and decided that I should start with a Salsa Verde, or "Green Sauce" and then add ingredients to make it a dip. I wanted to make it with a tiny bit of bite, but nothing kids couldn't handle. I decided that instead of the one green pepper for making the Salsa Verde, I would add in 2 Poblano peppers. These gave the sauce a much deeper color than I had ever achieved before. As it happened, this batch of Poblano peppers had no particular heat to them, so that was good. Once most of the ingredients were together, I added in one roasted, peeled and seeded jalapeño pepper. I was "tasting" things only in the sense of a quick touch of the tongue - but no swallowing (I was in some major pain, I tell you). I detected no heat, so I added a second, and then a third. Finally I felt a little tiny note of spice - and left it at that. 

I asked the hostess of the Easter festivities to please poll those who ate this dip, so I would have some handle on how good was it. Did it need anything to boost flavor? The report was that it was amazing, and once people got past the color green, they gobbled it down and the container of dip was gone! I guess that means it was good.

Meanwhile, I am doing well after my surgery, so one of these days I am making another batch so I can actually taste it. Sigh. It sure did look good.

Green Jalapeño Dip
Green Jalapeno Dip
Green Jalapeno Dip

Made 3½ cups

1½ cups Salsa Verde, made with Poblano Peppers
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 cup cilantro leaves
3 blistered, peeled, seeded jalapeño peppers (leave seeds and membranes in if you prefer the heat) 
1 teaspoon salt 

Make the Salsa Verde recipe, adding in two Poblano peppers, blistered, peeled and seeded, to the basic recipe. The recipe for the Salsa Verde makes about 3 cups, so the rest can be frozen for a later date. 

Measure out the 1½ cups Salsa Verde in a blender and add in the extra jalapenos, lime juice, cilantro and salt. Blend very fine. In a mixing bowl, with hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sour cream until smooth, then add the blender mixture of "doctored" salsa verde and beat to combine. Chill thoroughly before serving. Wonderful served with corn tortilla chips.

If you wonder what else to do with the leftover Salsa Verde, it can be used as is for a dip, or it can be used as a braising liquid for a pork shoulder roast. There are many wonderful uses, but the pork shoulder is such a favorite! Pollo en Jocon is another great use for it.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest at AHOFpin.


Please Enjoy my April Newsletter

A Harmony of Flavors April 2018 Newsletter
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Easter, April, Food
Celebrating Spring, Friend

April! It's time for Spring showers, and lots of flowers. Except here up north, where Mother Nature has apparently not received the notice that Spring has sprung! Easter is past already, and grilling time is just around the corner, at least we can hope. In other areas, it may have started last month (or never ended).

For me personally, this month marks my own birthday, as well as birthdays of a lot of family and great friends. It has often been a month of birthday cakes of one kind or other. Since I love baking, making birthday cakes, or any other type of cake, is no difficulty at all. Interestingly, a friend of mine who has been around for the last 3 years at our birthday time, loves white cake with white icing. I say interesting, because this has always been a total favorite of mine, also.

This year I am not partaking in the Winefest Renaissance, held for the benefit of the Aberdeen Boys and Girls Club, and for the first year in many I am not frantically busy with preparations for this event. I love creating foods to pair with particular wines, showcasing the benefits of great pairings. It is just a huge effort all on my own, so this year I humbly bowed out. For now, I have no new appetizers to suggest for wine and food pairings, though I am sure there will be others during this year.

Please check "
A Harmony of Flavors" website and "A Harmony of Flavors" blog site, continually being updated with new recipes. There is a lot to choose from!
Spring, April Showers
cakes, celebrations, everyday cakes
Some Exceptional Cakes

While my preferred birthday cake is white cake with white icing, there are so many wonderful cakes out there to try. Many cakes I have made have come out so wonderfully moist and delicious that I would like to share four of my favorites. I have a lot more than four favorites, but I don't want to get carried away.

Three of these cakes are ones I have had repeated requests for, when asked to make birthday cakes for others. Still, it does not have to be anyone's birthday for a cake to be enjoyed. One of these, the pound cake, is a newcomer to my favorites list, but still worthwhile, if a heavier, moist cake is desired.

Then of course, there are always the icings to go on these cakes. I must admit I have a favorite, in my Cream Cheese Frosting, but even with my Whipped Buttercream, it is difficult to go far wrong. It's all in the time spent whipping the butter to near white in color, and then proceeding.
A different type of frosting, slightly less sweet, requires cooking beforehand, and this one, called Honey Butter Icing, is very creamy smooth. If you love all things strawberry, try out my Strawberry Rosewater Frosting, whether you use the rosewater or not.

Clockwise from the top left above:

Carrot Cake: This particular carrot cake has been around my family for at least 35 years or more. It has all the things a great carrot cake should have, and is unfailingly moist. If carrot care is a favorite, this one is great as a layer cake, sheet cake or cupcakes. I've even used it for mini two-bite cupcakes.

Prune Spice Cake: This is a superb spice cake. The use of prunes is what makes it so tender and moist. Nice and dark with spices, and given depth with prunes, this is a superb example of a great cake for any time at all. If you don't want to frost the cake, simply serve with a good lemon curd.

Maple Pecan Pound Cake: If you love a nice, moistly dense pound cake, these flavors have got to be tried. Rich and so well flavored it needs nothing more than a dusting of confectioners' sugar. If you must have your cake iced, then choose the Cream Cheese, Whipped Buttercream or perhaps the Honey Butter Icing for a less sweet version.

Maraschino Cherry Cake, revised: I know many people will find this objectionable, due to the cherries with all their coloring and fake flavors, but my husband is a die-hard maraschino cherry lover, so I created this cake just for him. It took a few tries to get it just right, but now it is very right, indeed.

Below is a button to connect with a really great Bonus Recipe for this month, celebrating Spring.
CLICK HERE for a Bonus Recipe
Springtime, April Showers
Bolognese Sauce, Bolognese recipe
Delicious Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese is a little different from regular spaghetti sauces in that they often have things like carrot, bacon and/or cream added. It took me a while to come up with a recipe for Bolognese sauce that my husband actually liked, so I am quite proud of this one. Easy to make, doesn't take much time, there's just no reason not to give this recipe a try. I served it here over penne pasta, but regular spaghetti is perfect. If you are conserving carbs, try it over spaghetti squash. It is delicious, no matter what the sauce is served over.
potatoes, panch phoran, spice mixtures, Indian
Try a Different Spice Mix for Potatoes

Experimenting with a spice mixture called Panch Phoran, sometimes referred to as the Five Spice of India, Panch Phoran has an intriguing set of flavors, and in this case the spices are generally left whole. For this application, making Potatoes Panch Phoran, I did grind them coarsely, and the result was just fabulous. It was an experiment that went exceedingly right, so I encourage you to give this a try as an alternate flavor sensation alongside your next meal.
soup, potatoes, leeks
Potato Leek Soup
Potato Leek Soup is one of those soups that can be made to serve for a fancy dinner of many courses, or just served at a quick evening family dinner. It is easy to make and so delicious to eat, it is a real shame not to make this a few times a year.

If you are a soup person, this is a soup to try. Pureeing takes only seconds and gives that lovely smooth texture, and I used cream to make it even more creamy, though this is not totally necessary.
Springtime, April Showers
sumac, zahtar spice
Sumac and Zahtar Spice

Sumac is a berry that grows wild all around the Middle East, dried and ground into a powder and used as a souring agent, similarly to lemon or tamarind. It is dusky red in color and is used in many applications, from mixing in marinades to sprinkling over vegetables and meats. As with so many things these days, Sumac is readily available online.

Zahtar is a spice mixture, also common in the Middle East with Sumac as one of its main components, along with sesame seeds, thyme, oregano and salt. Zahtar is wonderful mixed with olive oil for dipping breads, sprinkling over eggs or avocado, or over veggies. The applications are endless, as it is just so very tasty.
Here below are some ideas for using Zahtar or Sumac. Clockwise from top left are Zahtar mixed with olive oil for dipping bread, Zahtar sprinkled over a cheese dip, sumac mixed with yogurt used as a marinade for chicken to be grilled, and Asparagus with Feta, Pistahcios & Zahtar. Any of these simple uses only require having the spice or spice mixture on hand. Give these a try!
sumac, zahtar spice
author, Chris Rawstern
Happy Spring to all my readers. I hope you will visit all my sites and try some new (or old) recipes, learn something new about an herb or spice or other subject, or maybe just daydream. However it is accomplished, I endeavor to provide articles of interest. Not everyone cooks these days, due to time constraints, though I did cook meals for my family back when I had 4 youngsters and worked 2 jobs, so I know it can be done. It requires some real attention to detail, to be sure. Many of my newer, more complex recipes have been created now that I am retired and have extra time on my hands, yet many are easy and quick.
April Showers, Springtime
Please forward this newsletter to any friends who may find my stories, articles and recipes of interest. Subscribe to this Newsletter by hitting the Subscribe Button below. Follow me on Facebook, check out my A Harmony of Flavors website, and A Harmony of Flavors blog. Find all my food (and lots of other) photos on Pinterest at AHOFpin.
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