Sides

Avocado Toast with Roasted Corn and Queso Fresco

(recipe will make 6-8 slices of avocado toast)

For avocado:

Combine two large firm, yet ripe, avocados with about one tablespoon of fresh lime juice. Use a potato masher and coarsely blend. Reserve. Press plastic wrap directly on top of smashed avocado.

For roasted corn:

Rub two ears of fresh corn with olive oil. Season corn with Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and place into a preheated 375 degree oven. Roast for 20 minutes. Rotate cobs and roast for an additional 20 minutes until some kernels develop some golden brown color. Remove and allow cooling. Cut kernels from cob and reserve.

For chipotle mayo:

Place can of chipotle peppers into a blender. Add a small amount of water – just enough to get blender whirling. Blend until smooth. Add 2 T of chipotle puree to 1 cup of Hellman’s mayo. Stir to combine. Reserve.

For queso fresco:

Use a fine grater and grate about 1/2 C of fresco for sprinkling.

For toast:

Use a good quality artisanal rustic bread. Slice round into fairly thick slices. Brush each slice with olive oil. Grill bread slices using a grill pan or panini press. Toasting in the oven is an option too. I prefer the grilling technique as it produces a crisp exterior and maintains a chewy interior. Using a toasting method can make the bread a bit too crunchy.

Assemble the toast:

Spread a layer of chipotle mayo on prepared toast, add a nice slather of mashed avocado, roasted corn and queso fresco. Garnish toasts with fresh cilantro, a spritz of Kosher salt and a wedge of lime. Muy delicioso!

Notes from the kitchen:

All components, except the toast, can be prepared ahead. Serve this with Green Chile Chicken soup.

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Roasted Figs with Bacon and Blue Cheese

Slice figs in half, lengthwise. Trim stem off. Slice a small piece off of the opposite side so that the figs will sit level. Place a piece of slab bacon, already cooked about 90 % through on top of the fig half. Top bacon with a piece of blue cheese. Drizzle EVOO over cheese.

Slice figs in half, lengthwise. Trim stems off. Slice a small piece off of the opposite side so that the figs will sit level. Place a piece of slab bacon, already cooked about 90 % through, on top of the fig half. Top bacon with a piece of blue cheese. Drizzle EVOO over cheese. I used brown turkey figs from California.

Place figs into a preheated 300 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes until figs and cheese have softened.

Place figs into a preheated 300 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes until figs and cheese have softened.

Remove figs from oven. Place on a platter and drizzle with balsamic syrup. Serve with a side of chili spiced pecans.

Remove figs from oven. Place on a platter and drizzle with balsamic syrup. Serve with a side of chili spiced pecans.

Everyone needs at least two.

Everyone needs at least two.

Cucumber and Yogurt

Bulgarian Whole Milk Yogurt (my favorite)

3-4 Mini cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and chopped small

Fresh dill, chopped

Fresh mint, chopped

Spritz of salt

Thinly sliced radishes

Portions are your call. I like it chunky.

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Combine ingredients and chill for 15 minutes or so. Best prepared just prior to service.

This is refreshing and a nice side to the chicken dish.

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Okra Gumbo Schmufle

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So I had about a quart of locally grown/organic okra, a ripe tomato, an onion, garlic and half of a red bell pepper. What do you make with that? Okra gumbo of course. I also had some smoked basmati rice. Check it out. It really is tasty with certain foods.

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Saute thin slices of onion, red bell pepper and slivers of garlic in olive oil. Add a spritz of salt and pepper.

Add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste. Saute until some sticking occurs.

Add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste. Saute until some sticking occurs.

Add okra, 1 t of smoked paprika, 1 t of curry powder and 1 t of red pepper flakes. Add okra pieces and enough water to simmer.

Add okra, 1 t of smoked paprika, 1 t of curry powder and 1/2 t of red pepper flakes. Add enough water to simmer.

Cover and cook over low heat until flavors meld. Add additional salt if needed.

Cover and cook over low heat until flavors meld. Add additional salt if needed.

Prepare rice according to package instructions. Add cooked rice to okra mixture. Top with fresh cilantro. This is yummy.

Prepare rice according to package instructions. Add cooked rice to okra mixture. Top with fresh cilantro. This is yummy.

This is so filling that it makes an excellent one pot meal. Serve with a salad. Good to go.

This is so filling that it makes an excellent one pot meal. Serve with a salad. Good use of summer okra.

Salsa Roja

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4-6 cloves of garlic, your call

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1 – 28 ounce can of diced San Marzano tomatoes (yes, Italian tomatoes!)
Half a bunch of cilantro, large stems trimmed away
2 t salt

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1 large jalapeño, stem removed and sliced in half lengthwise, cut into chunks
1 small white onion, cut into chunks

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2 T EVOO

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Using a food processor fitted with the steel blade, drop the cloves of garlic through the feed tube while machine is running. Stop machine and scrape down sides. Run again for even chopping.

Add tomatoes, salt and cilantro. Process until a smooth consistency is achieved. Pour tomato mix into a mixing bowl.

Place jalapeño and onion chunks into the processor. CAREFULLY, pulse mixture until pepper and onion are similar in size. If you over process, you will get a wet onion juice. No bueno. Add onion mix into the tomato mix. Add EVOO and stir to combine. YUM. Place in the refrigerator. Delicious for several days. After that, onion and garlic can overwhelm.

Note: For a spicy version, leave all seeds and membranes of the jalapeño intact. For a milder version, remove all seeds and membranes. Or, meet in the middle.

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