I love this Mexican condiment for its bold flavors and easy prep—no machines needed, just a good sharp knife to dice the main ingredients. Besides being a delicious dip for chips and veggies, it’s a great condiment for grilled chicken and fish for your next Taco Tuesday.
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 large fresh tomatoes or 6 canned Roma tomatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 1 jalapeño or other chile pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (leaves and some stems)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Coarse sea salt
- Black Lime
Mince the garlic and set aside. Dice the tomatoes and onion. Wearing gloves to keep the powerful oils off your skin, slice the jalapeño in half lengthwise and use a small spoon to scrape out the ribs and seeds, and then cut it into a small dice. Place the vegetables in a large bowl along with the garlic and cilantro, and toss well. Fold in the cumin and lime juice. Taste, add a few twists of the black peppercorn grinder and a sprinkle of the salt, and taste again, adding more salt and pepper as desired. Let the flavors meld at room temperature for 30 minutes and then refrigerate until serving. Just before serving, top with a sprinkle of black lime.
Yields about 2 cups
Many home chefs shy away from exotic cuisines, but you can master any dish with the right ingredients, starting with the right spices. There are as many recipes for the essential Indian spice blend garam masala as there are chefs! This truly exceptional one comes from my friend Prasad Chirnomula, a trailblazing chef and restaurateur in Connecticut whose latest restaurant is Chef Prasad in New Canaan. Prasad’s amazing chicken saag, which uses garam masala, follows.
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons cloves
- 1 teaspoon green cardamom
- 2 pods wild cardamom if available
- 3 pieces star anise
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Heat a heavy-bottomed pan on medium heat and sauté all the spices, except the cinnamon, until fragrant, about 3 minutes—don’t step away, as they can easily burn. Cool slightly and process in a spice or coffee bean grinder (you may need to do this in two batches). Transfer to a bowl, whisk in the cinnamon, and then funnel into an airtight glass storage jar.
Yields about 1/3 cup
Perfect over vanilla ice cream and a true treat as a topping for the lemon ice cream.
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Pinch of fine salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Mix 1-1/2 cups blueberries, cornstarch, sugar, water, lemon juice, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Off the heat, use a potato masher to mash the blueberries a bit. While still warm (but not hot), fold in the olive oil and the rest of the blueberries. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
Yields 2 to 2-1/2 cups
This rich and flavorful sauce is traditionally an accompaniment for steak, but it’s also a wonderful break from sour cream on a perfectly baked potato—so satisfying it can be the entire meal! Note: Most béarnaise sauce recipes call for making it in a double boiler to avoid curdling the yolks from direct heat—two inches of water are kept at a simmer in the bottom pan while you whisk the ingredients in the top one. However, if you use a low heat and whisk constantly, you can make the sauce in a small saucepan over direct heat.
For the potatoes:
- 4 large russet potatoes
- 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, as needed
- A few pinches of coarse salt and twists of freshly ground black pepper
For the béarnaise sauce:
- 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
- 1 shallot, peeled and minced
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh French tarragon leaves, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon, crumbled
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon water
To bake the potatoes, preheat your oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a large piece of parchment paper. Scrub and pat dry the potatoes, then place them on the parchment. With the tip of a sharp paring knife, pierce the potatoes on all sides. Rub them all over with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Bake until the tip of the knife easily goes through them, about an hour.
About 20 minutes before the potatoes are ready, make the sauce. Place the vinegar, shallots, tarragon, and black pepper in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook until the vinegar is reduced by half. Take the pan off the heat and let the vinegar cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.
Melt the butter and set aside. Whisk the yolks and water into the vinegar reduction and place over low heat. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens and nearly doubles in volume. Then slowly whisk in the butter, about 2 tablespoons at a time; repeat with the olive oil. Continue whisking vigorously until the sauce thickens but is still pourable. If necessary, the sauce can sit for 15 minutes or so; whisk gently before serving as needed.
Plate the potatoes and make a large slash lengthwise in each. Top with dollops of the béarnaise sauce and serve the rest on the side.
Yields 4 servings