Easy Morita Chile Salsa

20170309_172702My husband and I were on our way home from a destination wedding in San Miguel, Mexico last fall when he struck up a conversation with a young American woman sitting next to him who currently lives in Mexico City.  She shared with us her favorite and authentic salsa recipe using her favorite chile.

I found Morita Mexican Whole Dried Chiles on Amazon and ordered them.  They are a beautiful red chile with a wonderful smoky flavor.  Her recipe is simple but delicious and only requires 3 ingredients.

In a dry cast iron pan over med-high heat, roast 2-3 dried chiles and 2-3 cloves of whole garlic. Stir to allow these ingredients to brown and soften. In the pictures below I also roasted some sliced shallot or onion although this wasn’t in her recipe.  Remove place in the bowl of a small processor. Take one washed, large, whole tomato and place it in the hot pan.  Roast until the tomato skin begins to brown, peel and soften.    Although her recipe calls for the tomato to remain whole, mine was store bought so I quartered it, I thought this would release the tomato’s juices. Use a wooden spoon to roll it around the hot pan to roast all sides.  Remove from the pan and add to the processor.

For a milder salsa, use 1 or 2 more tomatoes.  The chiles are very hot but if you like the heat, roast and add more. Salt to taste. I suggest, when possible use farm fresh tomatoes as they are sweeter and juicier and make the best salsa. Supermarket tomatoes  will work when garden fresh aren’t available. Serve with chips.

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Shrimp Cocktail

Many people shy away from cooking shrimp for shrimp cocktail because they are afraid of overcooking the shrimp and ruining them.  It really isn’t that scary or difficult.

Boil water in a large pot.  Throw in a bag of frozen extra jumbo shrimp.  When the water returns to a boil, IMMEDIATELY dump the shrimp into a strainer, quickly refill the pot with cold water and pour the shrimp into the cold water, add ice.  This stops the shrimp from cooking and consequently, overcooking.

Strain and peel shrimp, dry with paper towels, if necessary.

Easy cocktail sauce

Bottled cocktail sauce is usually awful.  Mix ketchup and horseradish to taste.  If you are really adventurous and like hot horseradish, consider making your own.  Just buy a horseradish root from your local supermarket.  I cut off a portion of the root and store the remainder in the refrigerator.  Peel the root and cut into smaller pieces.  Finely chop in a food processor.  Add a 1/4-1/2 tsp salt and 1 -2 tbls white vinegar through the top of the processor.  Be careful taking the lid off (I have often done this outside since the fumes from the horseradish can clean out your sinuses!)  Store in fridge for 2-3  weeks.20161123_125701

High off the Hog

For the past two years to kick off the summer we have held at our home a pig roast for 150 of our nearest and dearest friends.  This year rain was threatening but we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.  Our three kids and their boy/friends/girlfriends arrived early to help set up. We set up five tents and a borrowed “carport” tent just in case the weather took a nasty turn.  I had rented five 6′ tables and fifty chairs.  We provided beverages and desserts, the rest was provided by the “caterer” Ray, my husband’s customer, and his wife put on a fabulous pig roast that is second to none.  Ray trailers his smoke/roaster from his truck and pulls in with the pig that has been cookin’ since the night before.  Image

Janet arrives with their staff in toe to set up the buffet.  Along with the pig, they provide they 30 racks of the meatiest ribs on the planet, BBQed beef brisket and hamburgers and hot dogs for the kids. We noticed that the kids opted for the ribs and pork, so next year, burgers and dos are out!.

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The sides consist of potato salad, cole slaw and cornbread.

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 We provided beverages and many of the desserts were brought by the invited guests.  For entertainment we had a Corn Hole competition, Volleyball, and our neighborhood band provided music all afternoon and into the night.  After the band cleared out at midnight, Whoever was left sat around the pit fire into the wee hours of the morning.  A great time was had by all.

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A Rustic Wedding

Well on October 26, 2013 we had a wedding.  The reception was held at a rustic locale – a local winery.  It was a brisk October day but the sun was out and that’s all we cared about.  The wedding was outside, the colors were “merlot”, how appropriate, and the flowers were typical fall colors.  The sunflower was the prominent flower.  The brides maids carried a sunflower with berries wrapped in burlap.

We decided to have different “antique-y”vessels for the centerpieces.  This was one of my favorites – a white toy pick up truck for the Sweetheart table.  Notice the tin cans trailing from the rear and the “Just Married” sign on the hood.

This bouquet was on the gift table.  The copper pail has been in the family for years – brought over from Sweden by my Grandmother.  We also use a copper kettle and my mother’s tarnished silver tea set.  Even the floral designers said it was one of their favorite weddings and fought over which container to use.  I had many of the guests take them homes I would be sure to get them back later.

Nothing like the comfort of a meatloaf…

It was a typical freezing cold New England evening and since I was making a meatloaf anyway, I decided to invite some friends to share it.  Many supermarkets now sell ground veal, pork and beef in one package which makes making a meatloaf that much easier.  My recipe is partly my mother in law’s and one I found in a magazine.  It is truly delicious and from what was left of the extra large loaf I made, my guests must have agreed.

In 2 tbls melted butter saute:

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup diced celery
Season with salt and pepper

Sprinkle 1 tsp dried thyme over and add:
3/4 cup grated carrot (buy the packaged grated carrots. it’s easier)
several cloves of garlic minced( you can never have too much garlic) I use a small food processor
Stir until combined then remove from heat and cool.

In large mixing bowl combine:

2 pkgs. of combined ground meats: veal, pork, beef (usually each package is 1 lb.)
1 cup panko crumbs ( or Italien bread crumbs for a little more flavor) soaked in 1/2 cup milk ( I use skim)
2 beaten eggs
1 3/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper
Mix with hands and shape into a 9×5 inch loaf in a casserole dish.

Mix:
1 can tomato sauce (small)
1/2 cup water
3 tbls vinegar
3 tbls. brown sugar
3 tbls prepared mustard
2 tsp worcestershire sauce

Spread over entire loaf. I sometimes poke holes in the meatloaf so the sauce sinks into it.  Bake in 350 oven for 1 hour or until thermometer reads 155 degrees.

I served red skinned garlic mashed potatoes with a green salad and a nice crusty bread.  There were eight of us and the meatloaf was gone even after second helpings.

Usually, successful entertaining means going the extra mile and being fancy, but this was one I my best dinner parties ever.  Enjoy!!