Salsa Verde Baked Cod with Pineapple-Poblano Salsa

salsa-verde-fish-dinner

Call this my California comeback meal.

I cooked very differently in Argentina. I used almost exclusively Argentine products, except some spices I brought with me. I was cooking meals for me and only me, so I was less adventurous, plus my kitchen was less stocked. (Ask Marissa, who said she’d never seen a fridge of mine so empty.) And when I went out for meals, it was mostly for Argentine or Italian, nothing with much spice. So I looked forward to the flavors I’d return to in Los Angeles.

pineapple-poblano-salsaCilantro, lime and chilies — one of my favorite combinations, common in Mexican and Indian cuisine — came together in two components of this fish. First, a salsa verde, which cooks with the fish, then a pineapple and roasted poblano salsa served on top.
Does it need both? Maybe not, but we had produce to use up, and the two salsas work together nicely. The tomatillo sauce keeps the fish moist while baking, and I loved the sweet, sour and spicy addition of chunky pineapple-poblano salsa.

We served the fish with cilantro rice, quesadillas and a salad with my cilantro-lime dressing (used before on an Ahi Tuna Tostada and Fiesta Quinoa). The meal was very California, and I liked it.

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Peach and Bell Pepper Salsa

More and more, I find myself needing to cook. Not because I want to eat but because I just feel like chopping and mixing. Getting a perfect dice on an onion? Rapidly slicing celery? Whisking a vinaigrette? Grinding spices? These are all therapeutic activities for me. And it just doesn’t feel right anymore to go too long without doing them.

Which is probably why at about midnight after going to dinner with my family — and less than seven hours until I needed to wake up for a marathon day of graduation ceremonies — I ended up inventing this salsa.

I wanted to make sure everything would be ready for our graduation BBQ the next day, and I just felt compelled to start chopping. I started by dicing jalapeno peppers, followed by two bell peppers and some red onion I had in my fridge. I added lime juice, olive oil, salt and cilantro. I thought I could add tomato when I got some the next day. But when I looked at it, the yellow bell pepper reminded me of mango, and I wanted the salsa to be sweet.

Well, I found a can of peaches in the pantry, cut those up, and tossed them in. A little more lime juice, a squeeze of fresh orange. Hey, this is actually really good.

It sat overnight, and then it made its debut at the BBQ. We dipped chips in it and served it on burgers. The leftovers lasted several days in the fridge. Bell pepper is nice because it keeps its crunch for a while. And what I think is fun about this salsa is that the peaches and yellow bell pepper look similar, as do the jalapenos and green pepper, so you kind of never know what you’re going to get.

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Tacos de Lengua

I wish I could tell you these tacos are delicious and leave it at that, but I should probably address the issue of lengua — tongue.

Watching hours of Anthony Bourdain and reading more about food convinced Michael and I that we ought to be less discriminating in our meat choices. We like to be informed carnivores, people who eat meat, well aware that it came from a live animal, instead of ignoring what a steak once was.

We realized, if we’re going to eat the spinal muscles (T-bone) and diaphragm (skirt steak) of cattle, we shouldn’t squirm over tongue just because someone couldn’t come up with a more marketable name for it.
So at a Mexican restaurant in LA, Michael ordered a huaruche de lengua. It was awesome. A month or so later we made tongue and oxtail stew. Friday it was tongue tacos after Michael got a tongue from Missouri Legacy Beef. (See Michael’s portrait of Mark and Susie here.)

For the tacos, the meat was cut so small and mixed with other ingredients, even Kat was OK with it (It was her first time trying beef tongue). Cooking tongue might be difficult for some because there’s no hiding the fact you’re cooking a giant tongue. But it didn’t really bother me, especially the second time around.

If you can get over the idea of eating tongue, it’s to your benefit. The meat is really tender and tasty. Plus it’s so cheap. Remember, it’s just another muscle of the animal. Nothing to be afraid of.

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Chorizo Taco Salad with Corn Salsa

Last week I picked up a pint of beautiful cherry tomatoes at The Root Cellar. I popped a whole one in my mouth and it was like candy (which is a wonder because I didn’t even like tomatoes really until I got to college). I was so happy to finally have a tasty tomato after months of winter. But the sun was shining that day in Columbia, and I decided to make a meal that would feel like my perennially warm home of Los Angeles: a light and fresh taco salad.

I love beans and cheese too, but this was not a day for those. This day was about the fresh tomatoes and greens I had picked up. I made a sweet and spicy corn salsa with the cherry tomatoes. Then, I filled the tacos with a chorizo and ground beef mixture, green peppers and red onions (cooked, but still tender), the salsa, sour cream and cilantro. I put the tacos on top of a bed of greens for presentation, then we went out to my front porch, and smashed the tacos and mixed the whole thing together to eat as a salad.

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