Month: March 2011

Potato Cauliflower Savory Tart

Potato Cauliflower Savory Tart

Paris holds a big space in my heart.  People always talk about how romantic it is there, how great the shopping boutiques are, how the French are just born gorgeous, and not to forget that the architecture will leave you speechless.  Yes those things all hold true, but more importantly the food is off the charts.  It far surpasses all expectations I ever had.  It’s full of all the delicious things that we are taught to eat in moderation, yet the French seem perfectly healthy.  I have to admit, the first couple of times I visited the great city of lights I ate myself silly. I didn’t have any reservations about what passed my lips.  I thought ” I’ll deal with the repercussions when I get back home.”  Almond croissants, gruyere cheese, chocolate, chicken pate, pistachio macaroons, crepes, gougeres, foie gras in brioche, croque monsieur,  seafood stews that were cream based over puff pastry…I could go on and on.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the savory tart.  So perfect in every way, it made my taste buds dance with joy.  I made a nice drawer for it in my memory bank, and filed it away.

One day a good girlfriend of mine called and said “I’m in your neighborhood! Can I stop by? Got anything to eat? I’m beyond famished!” I said “of course, come over.” It was set she would be at my house in one hour.  I didn’t have time to go to the market, and I was running a little low on groceries at that moment. I panicked…I looked in my fridge only to find some left over mashed potatoes, a head of cauliflower, cheese and some packaged pie crust.  What was I going to do? I immediately remembered the savory tart I had loved so much in Paris. I went to my pantry to find I had two large onions on hand, without hesitation I sliced them up and throw them into a pan with some butter.  It was time to start building my rendition of the savory tart…

Ingredients for Savory Tart:

1 – box of Pillsbury pie crust (2 packets come per box, you’ll need both)

1 1/2 – cups garlic mushroom smashed Idaho potatoes (instructions on how to make listed below)

1/2 – cup parmesan cheese shavings

1 1/2 – cups sharp cheddar cheese (grated) (I use Tillamook)

1 1/2 – cups sauteed onion (instructions on how to make listed below)

2 – cups grilled cauliflower (instructions on how to make listed below)

1 – cup gruyere cheese (grated)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees:

Line 12″ round baking dish with pie crust… (use both packets to form a big enough crust, allow excess to drape over edge of baking dish). Poke a few fork marks into the crust.

Then scoop in smashed Idaho potatoes and smooth across with the back of a spoon.

Then add parmesan cheese shavings and grated sharp cheddar cheese.

Then spread sauteed onions on top of potato/cheese layer and distribute evenly. Next repeat layering with the grilled cauliflower.

Lastly top with 1 cup of grated gruyere.

Fold up side of crust to encase edges of savory tart.

Then take a piece of aluminum foil and cover the edges of your tart so it doesn’t burn.

Bake for 35 minutes, then take the aluminum foil off and bake for another 15 minutes; a total of 50 minutes.

Serve with a simple green salad.

Bon Appetit!


Ingredients for garlic mushroom smashed Idaho potatoes:

3 – large Idaho potatoes (Peeled and cut into 8 pieces)

1 – tablespoon minced garlic

1 – stick of butter

8 – large mushrooms (chopped)

1/2 – cup whipping cream

2 – tablespoons chopped green onion

salt and pepper to taste

Peel and boil pieces of potato for 20 minutes or until a fork can pierce through. Drain and place in a bowl and mash with a hand masher. Then in a frying pan place 2 tablespoons of butter with mushrooms and garlic and let saute for 5 minutes, then add the rest of the stick of butter to melt. Pour the butter garlic mushroom saute into the mashed potatoes along with the whipping cream and the chopped green onion, and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

🙂 Smashed Idaho Potato Tip: Will taste better if made a few days ahead of time and placed in the fridge.

Ingredients for sauteed onions:

2 – large onions (sliced)

4 – tablespoons butter

1 – teaspoon dried basil

2 – teaspoons salt

1/2 – teaspoon pepper

1/2 – teaspoon garlic powder

2 – tablespoons white wine (Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc)

Melt down butter in a large frying pan, then add onion, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and let saute for 10 to 15 minutes over a medium high flame. Then add wine, mix well and let wine reduce for another 10 to 15 minutes. Mixing onions every 3 minutes or so. Then reserve in a bowl.

Grilled Cauliflower:

1 – large head of cauliflower (cut stalks off and just use the heads)

2 – tablespoons olive oil

1/2 – teaspoons chili flakes (the kind you put on pizza)

1 – teaspoon salt

1 – teaspoon pepper

In a large bowl mix together olive oil, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Then add your cauliflower heads and mix to cover with oil. Then grill your cauliflower to brown on each side ( I use my bar-b-que, but you can easily use a grill pan or a George Foreman) about 5 minutes on each side.

Coconut Choco-Flan Cake

Coconut Choco-Flan Cake

I have a good friend named Adrianna who I nicknamed A-dre, my partner in food crime.  It took a little convincing at first, my girl wasn’t big on onion or mushrooms when we initially became friends, but once she was introduced to proper preparation, that all became a thing of the past.  It doesn’t take much nudging on my part to get her to come along when I get a hankering to scour Los Angeles in search of the yummiest macaroon, baked ziti, french onion soup, torta… you name it.  She jumps in gung-ho and puts her seat belt on, sits back and smiles.  That’s my girl A-dre.  But if anything goes wrong, I always have to absorb the blame.  She’ll complain right in front of me to other friends that it’s my fault that she gained a pound or two.  I take it because I realized many years ago that it’s hard to be a size zero and be a girl who loves to eat.  Especially when you love bread or cake.   Which I do.  But this one time….It was A-dre who was taking the blame.

A-dre and I have literally criss-crossed this entire city tasting all cakes… from the fanciest bakeries to the hipster bakeries to the mom and pop hole in the wall bakeries.  We don’t turn our noses up when it comes to good cake.  We just want to taste them all and praise the best of the best and leave the bad ones in a distant memory.  I introduced her to all the bakeries that I had grown to know and love and in exchange she introduced me to her favorites.  One day she surprises me with a delicious Choco-flan cake.  Oh my word!  I thought it was the most genius thing the food gods had ever created.  I inhaled that cake and when I caught my breath I asked for more.  I was smitten.  I needed to know exactly where this bakery laid in the land.  She went on to tell me it was located in an area that didn’t have the best reputation and in fact was a bit on the scary side.  I didn’t care.  I wanted to go there and get more of this amazing cake.  It happened to be my mom’s birthday in a few weeks so I had the perfect excuse.  I got their phone number from A-dre and ordered my mom’s cake.  My mom was just as blown away by this choco-flan cake as I was.  The day after my mom’s birthday, I ask my mom to bring me a piece of cake.  As soon as the cake enters my house I dig my fork in and savor the taste again.  That evening I tell my fiance he should try the cake…. he’s sitting in the kitchen having his slice, when all of a sudden he bites into a good sized rock.  He totally freaks out because he almost broke his tooth, and tells me “There is a cussing rock in my cake!”  I say “No, maybe it’s a hard clump of sugar?”  He assures me it’s a rock as he pulls it out of his mouth and let’s me examine it up close.  Sure enough it was a rock.  Immediately we start making unpleasant comments about the bakery and questioning the cleanliness of their workspace.  We start saying A-dre introduced us to a shady bakery.  I vow never to step foot in that bakery again.  When I tell A-dre what happened, she is absolutely horrified and embarrassed.  She feels awful and apologizes for ruining my mom’s birthday cake and almost breaking my fiance’s molar with her bakery suggestion.  I think her eyes even welled up with tears.  I tell her it’s not her fault and not to worry about it, we’ll just never go to that bakery again.  Problem solved.  Come to find out, my mom remembered when she was loading the cake into her car to drive it over to my house, she dropped the cake plate on the newly graveled driveway, and a little pebble must have flown on the cake.  So all along it was really my mom’s fault. Hahahaha.  Sorry A-dre.

The good thing is: that whole dilemma prompted me to make my own Choco-flan and see what I could do to improve this already mouthwatering cake. I wanted the cake part to be super moist, and the flan to be ultra creamy supreme….. Here is my interpretation of the wonderful cake named Choco-flan!

Coconut Chocolate Cake Ingredients:

1/2 – cup cajeta (I use Coronado- cajeta quemada)

1 1/2 – cups water

3 – cinnamon sticks

1 3/4 – cups flour

1/2 – cup natural unsweetened coco powder (I use Hershey’s)

2 – teaspoons baking soda

1 – teaspoon baking powder

1/2 – teaspoon salt

2 1/4 – cups sugar

2 – large eggs

1 – cup buttermilk

1/2 – cup vegetable oil

1 – teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 – cups sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

In a small sauce pan over a low- medium flame, add water and cinnamon sticks and let simmer.

In a bowl combine flour, unsweetened coco powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and 1/4 cup sugar.  Set to the side.

In a mixer bowl, combine 2 cups sugar, 2 eggs, and vegetable oil. Mix on medium for 3 minutes.

Next add buttermilk and vanilla extract and beat for another 2 minutes.

Slowly add the chocolate flour mixture a little at a time to the egg/buttermilk blend to make cake batter.  Add the shredded coconut to the last 1/2 of cup of flour mixture and toss to coat, then add to the chocolate cake batter. Mix for another minute to combine.

Now take cinnamon stick water off of flame and strain into a cup. Then add  1 cup of hot cinnamon tea to cake batter, and mix for another 2 minutes on low or just to combine.

In a 12 cup bundt pan.  Coat with a non-stick baking spray, then pour in cajeta to bottom of pan.

Then take cake batter and slowly pour over cajeta.

In a tea kettle, fill with water and place over a high flame. While waiting for water to boil, make flan blend.

Flan Ingredients:

5 – ounces cream cheese (I use Philadelphia Cream Cheese at room temperature)

1 – 12 0z. can of evaporated milk (I use Carnation)

1 – 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk (I use Carnation)

1 – tablespoon vanilla extract

4 – large eggs

In a blender add cream cheese, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and eggs. Blend on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Once flan mixture is blended, slowly pour in a circle over cake batter, a little bit at a time.

Next take a piece of aluminum foil (enough to cover top of bundt pan) and coat with non-stick baking spray.  Loosely place sprayed aluminum foil on top of bundt pan and cover. Then place covered bundt pan in a large baking dish and fill halfway with super hot water from tea kettle.

Lastly, place the covered pan in hot bath in oven on middle rack and let bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes (80 minutes total).

Once cake is baked,  remove from hot bath and remove aluminum foil. Let cool in the pan for 2 hours, next run a butter knife along the edge of pan to pull cake away from pan, then flip it over onto a plate.

Slowly lift pan up away from plate. There you have it….PERFECT coconut Choco-FLAN! Put it in the fridge for another 4 hours and eat it chilled.

It’s FLAN-tastic!

Lime – Orange POW POW Margaritas!

Lime – Orange POW POW Margaritas!

I’m very sneaky when it comes to margaritas.  I like to make them really potent, but so tasty, you’d never know how much alcohol is actually floating around in your drink.  My margaritas go down smooth, and serve as the perfect thirst quencher, give it a minute or two and you’ll be checking back on your own reality, as many of my friends do when slurping down my sweet gal Margarita.  Me and Margarita have been good friends for a long time. Margarita is the sassy co-pilot I call on board when I feel an itching for a wild adventure.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be my adventure… I’m easily pleased sitting back and observing the influence Margarita takes on others as well.  Whether good or bad, it’s always interesting to watch who can resist her seduction, and who is enthralled by her alluring ways.

Here’s a funny story I relive by telling…..

In my early twenties, I worked for a high end post production studio where lots of celebrities would come in and do voice over work primarily for animated films, cartoons, and commercials.  You could imagine the insane demands we had to meet to make these people comfortable.  Naturally it was my job to keep the entire studio well supplied with all happiness relating to food and drink.  With a giddy bounce in my step I took that ball and ran with it.  In addition to the many treats I would whip up on a daily basis, every Friday afternoon I would up my game with a bigger bang.  This usually involved my dear friend Margarita.  Long story short…One Friday afternoon, a HUGE celebrity we all know and love comes walking through the door.  Along with greeting this celebrity (that I will not name), I offer him a margarita on the rocks that I had just made.  He looks at me with a cheshire grin, and then stares at the margarita for a long time.  Inside I’m doing somersaults just talking to him, so the idea that he is about to enjoy something I made is exciting.  Then he turns back to me, and says “I’m sorry, that margarita looks so delicious, but I really can’t.”  Still enthusiastic I say “Of course you can. I made it just for you. It’s amazing. This margarita will fly you to the moon. Drink it.”  His eyes went puppy dog sad, but still kept his grin to be polite then said “Wow. I would love nothing more than to drink that margarita, but darling I really shouldn’t.”  Me being the young buck that I was I said “Alright…Let me know if you change your mind” with a tone still trying to persuade him.  As he walked into his studio a few of my co-workers come running out, and say to me “Are you out of your mind? Don’t you know he just got out of rehab for being an insane alcoholic? He crashed and spun his car out on Mulholland Drive.”   I felt bad for tempting him with my luscious margarita.  No wonder he stared at it like a hungry wolf about to attack his prey.  Too bad he couldn’t control his alcohol… he missed out on a super yummy margarita.

I had a birthday this past weekend, and a few of my friends and some family decided to join me for a toast.  Of course I made margaritas, and like always…EVERYONE was in LOVE with Miss Margarita.  Here’s a photo of my birthday festivities….



Margarita Ingredients:

3 – cups tequila ( I use Cuervo 1800, or Cuervo gold )
3/4 – cup Cointreau
3/4 – cup triple sec
1 – cup Rose’s sweetened Lime Juice
2 1/2 – cups margarita mix
1 1/2 – cups orange juice (I use Florida Natural- no pulp)
3/4 – cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 12 limes) – I save the rinds of the limes to put inside of the margarita pitcher
salt (optional)
sliced oranges for garnish (optional)

ice cubes

In a 11 cup pitcher mix in all ingredients including lime rinds. Salt the rim of your glass (Optional), add ice cubes and pour in margarita. Garnish with orange slice.

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding


“I could feel your energy, it’s very strong.  I could tell by looking in your eyes, you are a very old wise soul.”  These were the first words I heard as we entered into the gates of Christiania, Copenhagen.  Now mind you, this wasn’t a fortune teller expressing these words to me, it was simply a woman passing me by.  I wasn’t sure what to expect of Christiania, I had heard all these magical wonderful stories of how it was a real life version of Pinocchio’s “Pleasure Island”.  I had heard how creative people had taken over this piece of land in Denmark, and gave it to the poor, along with Greenlanders, and talented musicians.  It was now a place where progressive thinking thrived, and anyone who craved a liberated lifestyle could come to this great commune and feel at home.  It was August of 2002, and I was on tour with my aunt Hope, singing backing vocals and playing keyboards as part of The Warm Inventions (Hope Sandoval and The Warm Inventions).  We had a few days off and the band decided Copenhagen would be a grand place to pass our free time.  Within two hours of arriving and parking our tour bus, a plan was mapped out, taxi cabs were called, and we were on our way to Christiania.  En route there, Hope continued to school me on all the in’s and out’s of Christiania…telling me that it was a place where cannabis, hash, and hallucinogenic mushrooms were sold freely, and if you didn’t have enough money they would also be willing to barter with the individual.   Even though this was not an activity we would take part in, it is an important piece of information one needs to know in order to get a full understanding of the place.  She went on to tell me that many chefs had opened five star restaurants in the commune and were generating a lot of traffic to the area.  No one was allowed to take photographs anywhere on site, and police cars were forbidden from entering along with taxi cabs, therefore we would have to be dropped off at the gate.  So like I said…I didn’t know what to expect.

We finally arrive, and are dropped off at the side of a dirt road.  The taxi cab driver gives us his phone number and tells us he will return to pick us up in the exact same spot, all we need to do is give him a call when we are ready.  We walk through the big rod iron gate that is separating Christiania from the rest of Copenhagen, and make our way through what resembles a swap meet.  Little tents stand all lined up side by side, vending beaded bracelets, glass blown pipes, and colorful cute summer dresses.  The sun is just about to set when we come to a section of the commune that houses some of the best restaurants in all of Copenhagen.  We chose one that was made out of big rocks.  The smell of delicious-ness wafted us at the door.  I remember everything was made of wood inside, the floors, high ceilings with the beams exposed, the chairs, stools and the massive long table they sat us all at.  It was the most casual, laid back experience I had ever witnessed.  The waitress smoked puff after puff as she took our order.  There were dogs and cats lounging around, some even under our table.  Yet every meal described on the menu sounded absolutely divine.  It would have taken wild horses to pull me away from my plate that night.  Everyone at the dinner table went silent once the food was served.  There was no time for talking, the main focus was tasting and eating.  All you heard was “Ummmmm”, and little sounds of pleasure under the tongue.  At that point of my gastronomic journey I was in heaven, and ready to be in a food coma.  There was no way I would fall short without requesting dessert, didn’t matter how full I was.  I ordered the chocolate croissant bread pudding….it was out of this world.  Now I could officially say I lived the magic firsthand.  I wondered why this place was famous for forward thinking and not for their bread pudding?

Here is my version of the Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding I sampled many moons ago in the beautiful Danish community of Christiania.

Ingredients for Bread Pudding:

1 1/2 tablespoons of salted butter

1 1/4 – cups sugar plus 2 tablespoons

4 – eggs

1 – teaspoon cinnamon

1 – teaspoon almond extract

1 – teaspoon vanilla

3 – cups half and half

1 – cup whole milk

5 – tablespoons unsalted butter (melted and brought back to room temperature)

5 – cups moist chocolate cake (no frosting) (cut into small squares)

5 – cups stale (3 – 4 days old) croissants (cut into small squares)

2 – banana (sliced)

1 – cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 – cup chopped pecans

1/2 – cup shredded sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F

In a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish, take salted butter and generously grease entire dish. Cut both chocolate cake and croissants into cubes.

Now take 2 1/2 cups of chocolate cake and 2 1/2 cups of croissants and mix together in baking dish. Now arrange neatly to make your first layer .

Next neatly lay banana slices, chocolate chips, shredded coconut and pecans.

Mix remaining croissant and chocolate cakes cubes together, then top banana, chocolate chip, pecan, coconut layer with mixed cake/croissant cubes.

Now, with a electric mixer, beat 1 1/4 cups sugar and eggs together on high for 6 minutes. Next add cinnamon, almond extract, vanilla, half and half, milk and unsalted butter, and beat for 1 minute.  Carefully ladle egg/half and half mixture over prepared cake/croissant cubes.

Once all of the egg/half and half mixture is poured in, gently  press down on  cake/croissant cubes with both hands to make sure they are soaked in egg/half and half mixture. Then sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.

Now in a large baking dish or roasting pan (15 x 10 inches or 4 quarts) fill 1 inch deep with hot water to create a water bath, then place the 9 x 13 inch prepared bread pudding dish in the middle of the 15 x 10 water bath (you want the bath to go halfway up the side of the 9 x 13 inch dish) and place in oven for 1 hour.

As soon as the bread pudding is ready, remove from water bath and and let it cool for 15 minutes.

I enjoy serving mine warn with coconut pineapple ice cream (I use Haagen Dazs) on top, and colorful candy sugar sprinkles.  I could eat bowl after bowl….

Happiness is Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding!


Quesadillas de Rajas con Crema

Quesadillas de Rajas con Crema


Six years ago… Mando’s cousin Ampelio buys us tickets for the bullfights in Mexicali, BC. I find myself in a dusty, dirt-filled arena surrounded by testosterone-fueled men wearing big sombreros, shit-kicking cowboy boots, their best blue jeans and crisply ironed white button-downs. I believe Karla (Ampelio’s wife) and I are 2 out of 20 women to be counted at this event. Outside of the arena, music is heard every 50 feet with a new set of mariachis giving their best gritos (yells) and singing as if their lives depended on it. Sweet confections made of either coconut or pumpkin are sold next to trinkets that light up to encourage a cheering crowd. At this point I’m liking the bullfights, walking amongst the locals and embracing their view.

Once inside, we walk through narrow white corridors that lead us to our box seats, where a man wearing a Tecate t-shirt immediately arrives with a large metal bucket filled with tons of ice, beer, salt, chile, lemons, limes and very few non-alcoholic beverages. He also brings along a platter of corn tortilla quesadillas with all the fixings on the side to build your own…it was marvelous.  The Tecate t-shirt man reappears every half hour on the dot to replenish anything that has gone missing out of the bucket….sometimes he brings big red roses too. Everything is going smoothly…it’s the perfect weather, people are jovial, I probably have some big piece of cheese stuck in my mouth, and you can still hear the music bleeding from the outside making its way through the tunnels…then the nightmare begins! Each bull gets slaughtered by the coward in his tight hot pink outfit riding high on a horse. With each passing minute I feel all happiness leaving my body! I’m rooting for the bull. I want to see the punk in his sorry hot pink stockings go down! It’s so unfair and hopeless, hardly a fight. I start to sob, and I’m trying to control myself because I really want to scream out in complete horror and cry at the top of my lungs. Then, before I allow myself to go there, I feel Mando in his true down low style whisper in my ear, “Stop crying. My cousin paid a lot of money for these tickets so pull yourself together!”  Trying to be nice, I wipe my eyes and breathe in the sassy me and exhale the vulnerable me, only to turn around and find Karla in the same exact state with her black mascara running down her face…she makes a cute raccoon. We look at each other and start laughing. Meanwhile Mando and Ampelio are screaming in Spanish and in between breaths, downing as many beers as they can pour down their throats.

At the end of the evening, I convince the man who kept the bucket nicely well stocked to sell me his Tecate t-shirt because Mando loved it so much……then off into the sunset we ride with dirt in our hair and delicious quesadillas on my mind.


Ingredients for Rajas con Crema:

4 – tablespoon olive oil

4 – pasilla chile (Roasted, peeled, and cut)

2 – yellow bell pepper (deseed, and slice)

1 – large onion (sliced)

2 – teaspoon salt

1/2 – teaspoon garlic powder

4 – tablespoon water

16 – ounces sour cream (I use Knudsen)

2 – teaspoon vegetable bouillon (I use Knorr)

Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small dish,  with a pastry brush generously brush pasilla chiles with olive oil to coat. Then place oil coated pasilla chiles on an  open medium high flame. Burn the skin of the entire chile. It will take about 5 to 7 minutes.

Once chiles are completely charred, place them in an air tight ziplock bag for 1 hour. This step will allow chiles to steam in their own heat and will make peeling charred skin off much easier. It’s an essential step.

Once chiles have steamed, remove from ziplock and place under a slow stream of water from faucet. With your fingers slowly and carefully peel charred skin off of chile, until all burned skin is removed.

Remove stems and deseed skinned pasilla chiles. Then slice into long strips 1/4 of an inch thick. Now slice onion and yellow bell peppers too.

Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a big frying pan over medium flame, allow to heat for two minutes. Then add in sliced onions and sliced yellow bell pepper. Saute for 10 minutes, stirring every so often.

Then add in sliced pasilla chile, along with salt, and garlic powder. Mix to combine and allow to saute for 15 to 20 minutes or until all peppers and onion are limp and soft. Then add in 4 tablespoons of water, and vegetable bouillon. Give it a good stir and let cook for another minute or so.

Now for the final step, add sour cream and stir in well, cook for 3 minutes. Then place in bowl.


Quesadilla Ingredients:

10 – corn tortillas (I use Guerrero, king size)

12 – ounces queso fresco (I use Cacique’s Ranchero)

6 – ounces monterey jack (grated) (I use Tillamook)

Warm tortillas  over an open flame for 20 seconds on each side

Then fill with a slice of queso fresco and a little handful of monterey jack cheese. Fold in half.

In a large pan or comal, heat over a medium flame. Place folded corn tortilla stuffed with cheese in pan and heat on each side for 2 – 3 minutes. You want the outside to be slightly hard and the inside to be soft and melted.


Side Dishes for Quesadillas:

1 – cup red cabbage (sliced thin)

1/2 – cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 – cup salsa (refer to my “salsa for the ages” recipe, posted on 03/09/11)

2 – avocado (either sliced or mashed)

1 – bowl of rajas con crema

Take your quesadilla and fill with a little of each side dish.

Mmmmm Quesadillas… “Que Chaka!”

My fiance’ Mando, Me, Karla, and Ampelio at a local bar after the bullfights.

SALSA for the ages!

SALSA for the ages!

I realize in the community of salsa makers, no one wants to share their recipes.  Everyone acts like they are going to get their prize winning salsa patented, bottled, and it’s going to be the next big thing to sweep the shelves at every supermarket across the land.  Is it me, or has the universe gone salsa crazy?  The mere mention of salsa brings out a competitive streak in most people I know. They’ll say they have an aunt or a godmother who makes the best salsa and no one can compete or compare. Perhaps that is so. Then, you have the salsa aficionados who want to know if you use a blender or a molcajete and tejolote (mortar and pestle). God forbid you mention the wrong method; they will snub their noses at you and look the other way.  I’ve seen it happen.  I learned to make my salsa the old fashioned way… trial and error.  It took some time and a few bad batches, but I finally got my salsa science down… I can now make it with my eyes closed and it’s exactly the way I like it.  I want to be the first one in the salsa community to step forward and share my recipe.  And guess what?  I didn’t have to think twice about it. : )

Ingredients for Salsa

½ – tablespoon vegtable oil

1 – large onion (cut into 4 pieces)

5 – garlic cloves

¼ – cut salt plus 5 teaspoons

9 – Roma tomatoes

4 – chile de arbol

6 – serrano chile

9 – jalapeno chile

8 –  yellow chile

11 – stalks green onion (white part only, chopped)

½ – cup cilantro (remove stems, tear leaves into little pieces)

2- teaspoon black pepper

4 ½ – cups water chile was boiled in


Pour vegetable oil into a small frying pan, over medium flame, add brown onion and garlic cloves, allow to brown on all sides. Take out of pan and set in a bowl for later use.

In two large lidded pots (between 8 and 9 quarts) fill halfway with water. Set both pots over a medium flame and add 1/8 cup of salt to each water pot. Cover with lid and bring to a boil.  In one of the pots, add tomatoes and chile de arbol, cover with lid and let boil for 20 minutes.

In the other pot, add serrano chile, jalapeno chile, and yellow chile, cover with lid and let boil for 35 minutes.

While waiting for your chiles to boil, take this opportunity to chop the green onion and tear the cilantro.

In a blender (you’ll need to work in two separate batches, blending until all ingredients are blended) add boiled tomatoes, chile de arbol (remove stems), fried brown onion, fried garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 2 teaspoon salt, and 2 1/2 cups of water chiles were boiled in.

Blend for 30 seconds. Once blended pour tomato onion blend into a big bowl. Next mix in cilantro and green onion.

Now for the next round of blending. In a blender (you’ll need to work in two separate batches again, blending until all ingredients are blended) add serrano chiles (remove stems), jalapeno chiles (remove stems), yellow chiles (remove stems), 2 cups of water that chiles boiled in, 3 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Blend for 30 seconds.

Now add chile blend to big bowl of tomato onion blend and mix well.

There you have it…salsa for the ages!

ENJOY with corn chips or anything else your heart desires!

🙂 Salsa Tip: I usually divide salsa into jars and give away to friends or store in refrigerator  for up to a week.


Fried Chicken Po-Boy

Fried Chicken Po-Boy

Her name was Hattie May Presley… my great grandmother, she was from the south, Missouri to be exact (well some people call it Midwest, but she called it south).  I never met a woman like her in my entire life.  With a calm and proper demeanor, coupled with a heart of gold, she was such a precious little lady.  She had a strawberry patch in her back yard, and use to make her own preserves.  Enjoyed taking cucumbers to vinegar and making her own pickles as well.  She spent the better part of her career as a cook for the nuns at St.Johns hospital in Santa Monica.  She could take any scraps in the kitchen, turn it into the best thing your mouth ever tasted, and whip it up in flash no less.  She was the type of woman that dressed her breakfast table with every proper serving dish.  I remember when I was 5 or 6 years old being served a grapefruit sliced in half with a maraschino cherry in the middle along with my poached eggs, grilled ham and smothered potatoes.  My great grandma Presley was crafty on many levels; she made me a closet full of dresses when I was first brought into the world, and continued until I was in the 3rd grade.  We have the pictures to prove it.   I had gone to spend some time with her when I was 12 or 13, and the hairdo I was sporting at the time didn’t sit well in her world…  She gave me a long lecture on how to care for my hair, saying “Don’t wash your hair everyday young one. Don’t you know your washing the natural oils off your hair? Wash once a week if you want your hair to be healthy.”  Then she proceeded to grab a brush and comb through my naturally super curly hair, all the while telling me she was making Shirley Temple curls.  When I looked in the mirror my hair was a frizz ball rat’s nest.  She was adorable for trying to reshape my wild hair into perfectly manicured curls, it just wasn’t happening.  I look back on the many wonderful adventures spent at great grandma Presley’s house, learning to play croquet in her backyard, wandering around her kitchen peeking in the cabinets to see where she hid her magic, and eating the most wonderful meals my young life had ever known.  She lived to be 95 years old, I was 18 years old at the time of her passing.  I miss my great grandma Presley and wish someone in my family had a book of all her amazing recipes.  Here is my version of a fried chicken po-boy I once devoured in her kitchen, I serve it in honor of great grandma Presley and all her southern charm.

Ingredients for Gravy:

1 – stick salted butter
1 – teaspoon chopped garlic
8 – ounces sliced mushrooms
5 – stalks green onion chopped
1/2 – teaspoon black pepper
1 – cup chicken broth
1/4 – cup cold water

1 1/2 – teaspoon corn starch

In a medium sauce pan, over a medium flame , add butter and chopped garlic and let saute for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring butter mixture the whole time. Then add mushrooms, green onion, and black pepper, and continue to saute for another 10 minutes. Then add chicken broth and bring to a boil.

While waiting for the butter mushroom broth to boil… In a separate cup, add cold water and corn starch. Mix until corn starch is completely dissolved. Then once the butter mushroom broth starts to boil, slowly pour in the corn starch water mixing the broth constantly…

It will start to thicken immediately. Then take off flame and set to the side. Now you have gravy!


Ingredients for fried chicken:

1/2 – cup coarse salt
5 – cups cold water
4 – large boneless skinless chicken breast
2 – cups buttermilk
1 1/2 – teaspoon ground black pepper
1 – teaspoon Lawry’s seasoning salt
1 – cup all purpose flour
1/2 – teaspoon dried basil
1/4 – cup cornstarch
2 – cups vegetable oil or lard


Pour coarse salt and cold water in a big bowl and let dissolve. Next add chicken breast and cover bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Remove chicken from bowl. Dispose of salt water. Place chicken back into the bowl and pour in buttermilk. Cover bowl with saran wrap and place back in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.

Remove chicken breast from buttermilk bath, and cut into 1 1/2 inch strips, then place on a wire rack to rid of excess buttermilk for about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile in a large paper bag add black pepper, Lawry’s seasoning salt, flour, dried basil, and corn starch. Close the top of the bag and shake it up to mix evenly.

Now take your sliced chicken strips (a few at a time) and add to the flour mixture. Close the top of the bag and shake it up to coat your chicken evenly.

Then place chicken strips back on the wire rack to sit and absorb flour mixture for 5 minutes.

Pour vegetable oil or lard in a big frying pan over a medium flame and allow to get hot for about 6 minutes. Then working in batches add your chicken strips to pan and fry on each side for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on thickness of the chicken.


Once browned and crispy, place on a paper towel lined plate to absorb some of the oil.

Now take a french roll, and slice across… fill with chicken strips and gravy!

Now that’s what I call eating right.

Great Grandma Presley at her home in Santa Monica.