Posts Tagged ‘Southwest’

We are so lucky in Boulder to enjoy one of the best Farmer’s Markets in the country.

Visiting the market on a Saturday morning is one of my favorite ways to start the weekend. I love the visual splendor of the vegetables, the aromas of the food vendors, the hustle and bustle of the crowd. It is a truly iconic Boulder scene. People have their dogs, their bikes, their kids, their coffees, and their cloth bags. As I pass by, I like to catch snippets of conversations about organic this, tri-athalon that, gluten-free something else. I always stop by and say “hey” to Howie at the Brillig Works booth, who shares my passion for baking (and makes an awesome cinnamon roll). I swing by Shamane’s and eye their pies. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to the clever marriage of flavor and purpose in the cupcakes sold by Street Fare (to benefit the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless). And I love to make a lunch of veggie dumplings from Sisters Pantry, or some masa yumminess from Tres Pupusas.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy the market is with camera in hand, just sampling with my eyes and taking in the visual delights.  Late in the season, peaches are the darlings of the market, with people lined up early for their bag or their box.  But the thing that catches me this morning is the unmistakable aroma of roasting chiles.

If you’ve never seen this contraption, you may not know the joys of fresh roasted New Mexico-style chiles.  The roaster is a metal mesh cylinder that is filled with peppers, turned by a crank, while gas burners shoot flames to blister the skins and cook the meat of the vegetable just enough.  Then, the peppers are packaged in plastic bags to steam. Shoppers at the market eagerly scoop these up.  Once home, the skins come off easily, and the roasted chiles get used for all sorts of  delicious recipes.

Green chiles can be used to flavor your morning scrambled eggs, give a little kick to your burger, or liven up some corn chowder.  But when you want a whole heap of chile flavor, nothing beats this pork green chile from local chef Lyle Davis.

New Mexican Green Chile, Davis Family Style

Serves 8 hearty appetites


4 to 4 1/2 pounds natural pork butt or pork shoulder (country-style spare ribs can be used in a pinch), cut into cubes

2 cups unbleached flour

1 tsp black pepper

1 1/2 pounds whole, fresh roasted green chiles (don’t even THINK of using canned!)

3 large onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup olive oil

8 cups chicken stock

2 cups canned, whole peeled tomatoes, coarsely chopped

2 tsp salt (or to taste)

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped


Trim the pork of fat and set one to two large 3-4 inch pieces of white pork fat aside to use later.  Cut pork into 1-inch cubes. Place flour, salt and black pepper in a bag and mix well.  Add the cubes of pork. Holding the bag closed tight, shake the pork cubes until meat is well-coated.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large stockpot. Add chopped onions and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is browned slightly.

Add dredged pork cubes, the reserved two pieces of pork fat and stir with onion and garlic.  Allow pork to brown, cooking for up to 15 to 20 minutes. turning frequently, until pork is seared on all sides and bottom of pan has a nice amount of brown bits on it.  (This caramelized brown stuff is called the “fond,” and it is what gives meat stews and sauces their incredible deep rich flavor.)

Remove cooked large pieces of fat and discard.

Add chicken stock, green chile (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of chopped chile) and chopped canned tomatoes.  With wooden spoon, gently scrape bottom and sides of pan to help flavor the stock. With no lid on stockpot, allow chile to come to a boil and then reduce heat to a light simmer. Continue simmering for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until pork is tender. Salt to taste. The green chile should be rich and brown in color.

Optional: Just before serving add fresh cilantro to chile.

Serving suggestion: Serve in a bowl with fresh cilantro, shredded cabbage, and thinly sliced radishes and offer Oaxacan-style string cheese. Serve with hot, fresh corn tortillas. Or, pour to cover a dinner plate and top with two fried eggs, serve cooked pinto beans on the side with several types of salsa.

Source: Sylvia Tawse and Lyle Davis


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Peach Salsa

Did you know that Colorado has some of the best peaches in the country?  Farmers on the Western Slope (around Palisades) do a remarkable job of growing these sweet beauties and driving them across the Continental Divide to farmers’ markets all along the Front Range. I can’t imagine how many acres of trees must be needed just to supply the hordes of shoppers in Boulder, alone.  People line up a half hour before the farmers’ market opens on Saturday mornings, just to be sure to get a bag or a 20 lb. box (I once saw someone buy four boxes!) before they sell out. They’re that good.

We are on the tail end of peach season here, but you can still find some stragglers at the market.  After you’ve had your fill of peach pie and peach cobbler, and you’ve had diced peaches on your morning cereal every day for a month, it’s time to branch out.  This salsa has that sweet heat that I find so perfect on grilled meats, or just scooped up with copious amounts of chips.  It would be awesome on fish tacos.

Remember, you can adjust the heat or the sweet by adding more or less of the following ingredients…

Peach Salsa


3  cups  diced peeled peaches (about 2 pounds)

1/4  cup  diced red onion

1/2 red bell pepper, diced fine

2-4  Tbsp  finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 seeded jalapeño pepper, minced (or less, to taste)

2  tablespoons vinegar (rice vinegar or white balsamic or white wine vinegar make good choices)

Juice of half of a lime

Honey to taste


Combine all ingredients gently.  Best served the day it is made.

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It’s hot.

The last thing I want to do is heat up the kitchen, or eat a big plate of steaming food.

At times like this, I know the perfect food — gazpacho! It’s cool and delicious and absolutely positively guilt-free.

Like anything, it’s best made with fresh-from-the-garden produce and herbs, but I often am in the mood for it before it’s harvest time for tomatoes and cucumbers here in Colorado. So, I will let you in on a little secret. You can make this any time of year, and it’s still really good. Not quite as amazing as it is when tomatoes are ripe and luscious, but how long does that last, anyway? You can enjoy gazpacho tonight!


Janet’s Pretty Good Gazpacho


46 oz. tomato juice

2 lbs. or one large can crushed tomatoes

3 stalks celery, diced fine

1 1/2 bell pepper, diced fine

2 cucumbers, seeded and diced fine

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Fresh basil and/or tarragon, chopped, to taste

1/4 cup minced red onion

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Dash of ground cumin

Dash of cayenne or tabasco, if you like a little heat


Combine all ingredients in very large bowl. Combine thoroughly. Ladle some of the soup into a blender and puree. How much? You decide. You can puree it all, if you want a smooth soup, but I prefer chunks of vegetables suspended in a soup with some body, so I puree about a third to a half of the soup. You could leave it unblended, if you like the dark red color and lots of chunks.

Chill thoroughly and serve.

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Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, I am sharing with you the recipe for my infamous margaritas.

The secret to a good margarita, first, lies in using fresh lime juice, a good quality tequila, and never ever using anything labeled “sweet sour mix,” or “margarita mix.”  Don’t even talk to me about frozen limeade concentrate.  No, the secret of an awesome margarita, like so many things in the kitchen, is in using good quality ingredients.  That, and not being afraid of alcohol.

My Uncle Steve knows how to have a good time, and he has shared with me the secret to more than one incredible cocktail (someday I will tell you about French 75’s, but you are not ready yet).  He introduced me to the basics of this fine drink.  Fresh limes.  Good tequila.  No sugar.  He taught me that limes can vary in their sourness, but never, ever use sugar to balance that out.  Just add more Triple Sec, which is sort of like sugar, but has that extra flavor and some extra alcohol, as a bonus.

Forgive me, Uncle Steve, but I tweaked your recipe a little bit.  I hope you’ll try it and decide the student has proven worthy…



1 part Tequila (I like to use a 100% Agave tequila, reposado style, but use what you like)

1 part Triple Sec

1 part fresh-squeezed lime juice (nothing bottled or concentrated)

a generous splash of Grand Marnier


Rub the rim of your prefered glass with a wedge of lime and dip into salt, if desired.

Fill a cocktail shaker, if you have one, half-way with ice cubes.  Pour all ingredients into shaker, cover, and shake until thoroughly mixed and chilled.

Strain into festive glass of your choice, over crushed ice.  The crushed ice is important, as it slowly dilutes this very strong drink, allowing you to sip it, savor it and not make a fool of yourself too quickly.

Enjoy responsibly.  This means, for most of us, giving our car keys to the host, just to be sure we don’t do something we regret.

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Recently, I served this stew to some friends who were transitioning to a vegan diet. Talk about “a healthy abundance!”  This dish is a delicious, filling and flavorful main course, and no one missed the meat.  One of my guests (Greg, you know who you are) proclaimed it “one of the best things I’ve eaten all year!”

Most of us could benefit from eating less meat, and the planet would be better off, too. Some studies say that, globally, meat production dumps more carbon into the atmosphere than transportation!  Turns out that switching to a vegan diet could do more to reduce your carbon footprint than switching from an SUV to a Prius.  Lucky for us, saving our own health and the health of our planet can be a tasty undertaking.

adapted from Epicurious.com

Serves 6, generously


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups finely chopped onions

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams; about 2 medium), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 cups orange juice

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed, drained

2 poblano chilies, seeded, chopped (Roasted, if you have them)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes

1/4 cup (or more, if you really like it) fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)


Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add ginger, chili powder and cumin and stir 2 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, orange juice and garlic and bring to boil. (Add water if needed to cover potatoes.)  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until sweet potatoes are almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir beans, poblano chilies and bell pepper (and tomatoes, if using)  into sweet potato mixture. Cover and simmer until chilies are tender, about 15 minutes longer. Add cilantro, if using.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over low heat before continuing, stirring occasionally.)

Top with sour cream, diced avocado and orange segments, if desired.  Garnish with more cilantro.

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Don’t you just love how recipes migrate and evolve?  This recipe came to me from a “mom friend,” Pat, who first had this “Tortilla Soup” in the cafeteria of the hospital where she worked.  The chef generously shared the recipe, and Pat added the zucchini and pieces of chicken and passed it along to me.  I added more veggies and took out the cheese and tortillas, to lighten it up.  At this point, I had to rename it, because it wasn’t really tortilla soup any longer.  I called it Southwestern, but the truth is, it came from the Midwest to the Rocky Mountains and now to you, wherever you are…

This soup is a heartier, healthier version of traditional tortilla soup, loaded with veggies.  I love the combination of the lime and that jalepeño kick.  I serve it here with corn bread muffins.  You could garnish it with shredded cheddar cheese and some fried tortillas, if you want something that harkens back to the soup’s origins.


2 quarts chicken stock

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb., total)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

4 stalks celery, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 zucchini, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped

1/4 cup chopped green onion

8 oz. frozen corn

1 1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 jalepeño pepper, diced

Juice of one lime

Salt to taste


In large soup pot, sautée onions,  garlic, celery, carrots, zucchini  and bell pepper in olive oil until onions are translucent.  Add stock.  Add tomatoes, beans,  olives, green onion, corn and spices.

In 1 tablespoon olive oil, sautee  diced chicken until cooked through.   Add to soup pot.

Simmer until ready to eat, the longer the better.  Finish with squeeze of lime  and salt to taste.  Sometimes I add a splash of white wine.

Serve with crushed tortilla chips, and shredded cheddar cheese on top.

Nutrition Information, estimated per 16 oz. bowl (without  chips or cheese):

Cal:  207, Fat: 4.3 g (Sat Fat: .5 g), Cholesterol: 26.3 g, Protein: 16.4 g, Sodium:  826.8 mg (+ added salt), Carbs:  26.5 g, Fiber: 5.8 g, Sugar: 6.9 g, Calcium : 55 mg

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