Monday, March 14, 2011

Hot and Spicy

by Steph

I'm down to the last few items in my fridge that we currently buy from the store that could easily be homemade. Saturday, I had a breakthrough with one of the more daunting ones: the salsa.

Blame my husband. He used to think Taco Bell was good Mexican food but since he married into my half Mexican family, he's become a Mexican food snob. His salsa has to be un-chunky, hot and spicy. It can't have too much tomato-y or cilantro-y taste in it either. Plus it can't be too onion-y. Basically, all he wants is something that will taste good while it burns his taste buds right off.

So I attempted to make it from scratch. After my hard work of chopping onions, tomato, cilantro, garlic and jalapeno, I got the courage up to offer him a sample.


He looked so hopeful since everything else I've made from scratch has ended up just as good or better than whatever is store bought.

He lovingly tried to save my pride and ego, but the damage was done. I'm a real live half Mexican who can't make salsa. BUT I'm also a stubborn white girl and I wasn't going to let the salsa win.

{Enter: the GRILLED jalapeno}

I text'd my cousin to see if she had any pearls of wisdom about salsa. "All I know", she wrote "is that you grill the serrano (pepper), peel it and chop it up into the salsa. It adds flavor."

"Okay..." I thought. I had already added peppers. Raw, but they were still peppers. But I trust her so I decided to give it a try. What she failed to tell me was that when you grill peppers, you inadvertently create pepper spray with the smoke coming out of the pan. My poor husband and I were wheezing, coughing and sneezing and hours later I could still feel the burn of the peppers in my chest. But SUCCESS!!! I added the grilled peppers (I didn't skin them - just chopped them up to mush) to the salsa and to the surprise of my husband, it was BETTER than the one he has so ardently clung to for the past 6 months. He immediately grabbed the bag of chips and plopped on the sofa for snack time. And I breathed a sigh of relief. And then gagged and coughed from the pepper spray I had inhaled earlier.

I'm notorious for adding pinches and pinches without really measuring so I can't say the recipe below is exactly what I used. I do know that these are the ingredients and I'm fairly sure about the measurements. If you try the recipe and its horrible, blame my husband.

2-3 small tomatoes
1/4 onion
1 garlic clove
a few cilantro sprigs
5 grilled jalapenos (like I said, he likes it HOT and SPICY - you might add 1-2 for a medium hot taste)
{At this point, I would chop all the above ingredients in a cool Tupperware chopper whirrer thingy to get that salsa texture. If you like chunky salsa, then just chop everything with a good ol' knife and mix together.}
1/2 tsp. salt (??? I can't remember what I added... add to taste?)
1/2 tsp. pepper (same as the salt... add to taste)
1/4 tsp. sugar
juice from 1/2 lime

That's from a real live Mexican loved by her real life white boy husband. Enjoy.

By the way, if you want to attempt homemade chips also, cut corn tortillas into four pieces and throw into a pan of hot oil. Let them sizzle for a few minutes until they turn golden and the sides start curling and then flip them. Once they're done, put them on a paper towel and add salt. You'll probably need to cook a few before you get the right timing for a perfect chip. I made a bunch last weekend and they were yummy but I decided to take the lazy route this week and get some store bought chips... Yes. Sometimes I can be lazy!!! Don't judge me.