Salsa and Dips

What goes with almost any Mexican dish . . . Guacamole of course!  It’s a favorite for dipping, as well as topping burritos, enchiladas and nachos.  And since I’m celebrating Cinco de Mayo, I thought I’d show you how I make guacamole in a molcajete.  Molcajetes are used to crush and grind spices as well as preparing salsas and guacamole.  In Mexico they are made from porous basalt volcanic rock, typically round in shape with a bowl in the center supported by 3 legs.  The tool used to grind is called tejelote and made from the same material. A molcajete brings out the most amazing aroma by grinding the ingredients into the volcanic stone.  There is an earthiness that heightens your senses of smell and taste. By grinding each ingredient you create a layer of flavors that will come together in the most amazing way.  Every time I make guacamole in a molcajete I think it’s the best guacamole I’ve ever tasted. . . and then I make it again!  Happy Cinco de Mayo!! (more…)


Ya Ya’s Euro Bistro is a restaurant here in KC that has an extensive menu garnishing traditional meals with a European spin.  We hadn’t been there in many years but for our anniversary Joe took me to Ya Ya’s for a night out.  Before the meal was served they brought out a Baba Ganoush appetizer with soft french bread for dipping that was so tasty.  It had a hint of lemon and tasted different than anything we had ever had. We both loved it and asked the waiter what it consisted of.  He was happy to share and told us that it was made with roasted eggplant, Greek yogurt, garlic, an herbed olive oil and sprinkled with a spice called Zatar.  Most recipes use tahini in their Baba Ganoush which is why this dish tastes so different.  I found a recipe online from St. Louis Today for Ya Ya’s famous Baba Ganoush that had the exact ingredients our waiter had listed.  I made a run to Tasteful Olive for an olive oil that would give this dish the taste we had experienced at Ya Ya’s.  When I explained to them what I was making they suggested Milanese Gremolata, a flavored olive oil consisting of fresh lemon zest, minced garlic, Italian flat leaf parsley and a hint of mint.  With the olive oil in hand I walked a couple doors down to Penzey’s where I found Zatar, a spice that is a popular Middle Eastern blend consisting of sumac, thyme, sesame seeds and salt.  Roasting the eggplant was a bit time consuming but I have to say my homemade Baba Ganoush came together with the consistency and flavors that we enjoyed at Ya Ya’s.  It couldn’t have turned out better!   (more…)


Joe took me out recently to a new place called Red Door Grill.  We were seated in the dining room right in front of a huge glass window looking into the kitchen area where the staff were preparing delectable wood fired dishes.  They were grilling burgers, chicken, steak, and fish. Everything looked so tempting with wood smoke rising  and open flames shooting through the huge grilling area.  I was so conflicted when it came to ordering but in the end I decided on these Rojo Nachos with a green chile cheese sauce, pico de gallo, guacamole, pickled jalapenos, queso fresco and sour cream.  You could also add Ancho Pulled Chicken for a couple dollars more. Yes, please!!   Our server brought out a massive mound of fresh corn chips topped with all the afore mentioned favorites.  I couldn’t decide where to start it was so gorgeous.  It appeared that they pooled some of the cheese sauce on the bottom so that the nachos wouldn’t get soggy so quickly. Everything else was evenly piled on with so many complimenting flavors. There was no way to eat it all even with Joe helping me out.  A week went by and I was still craving these nachos so I decided it was time to make my own.  So what do you think . . .


I love big ole burritos stuffed with everything.  Sometimes I take the time to make a big batch of them that will last us for several days.  And sometimes I wrap them up to freeze for an easy meal later on.  I’ve been wanting to try a burrito bowl which is so popular these days.  I must admit it is much easier to just layer a bowl with my favorite meat and toppings but I missed the tortilla so I toasted one to have on the side.  This is literally a bowl of my favorite things starting with grilled steak and chicken that is spicy and flavorful.  More goodness comes with a scoop of fresh guacamole, salsa verde, roasted corn salsa, seasoned black beans, sour cream, Oaxaca cheese and cilantro lime rice.  Most everything was made from scratch but there are short cuts you can take to make the prep a little easier.  There is a visual appeal of a burrito bowl that you don’t get with a traditional burrito that is smashed together once you roll it up.  So the question is, do you prefer steak or chicken or both?


Zucchini and/or green chile make a great summer side dish when you slice them into bite size strips to resemble french fries.  Dipped in a buttermilk batter and rolled in panko bread crumbs give them a crispy outer texture that tastes so good.  French fries and ketchup may go hand in hand, however zucchini and chile fries taste especially good dipped in salsa or green chile dip. You can’t go wrong there.  Imagine these fries alongside a big juicy burger or a grilled chicken sandwich.  I can assure you they truly taste scrumptious together!


May the luck of the Irish be with you!  Here in Kansas City there are always celebrations taking place in honor of St. Patrick’s day.   You might see green water flowing through our “City of Fountains” or witness the largest St. Patrick’s parade anywhere.  Also one of my favorite bands,”The Elders” return home for their annual “Hoolie” concert.  It’s a festive time to be sure! While others cook a more traditional Irish feast, I’m going with something fun.  I’m pretty sure nachos are not something you would find on a true Irish menu but it’s something that is festive and fun to eat. It starts with thin sliced potatoes baked crisp in the oven.  These chips become the foundation topped with a tangy Irish cheese sauce and loaded with anything you want.  As you can see, I like a lot of toppings!


I’m still on an Aussie kick, this time I’m having summer shrimp tacos with a fresh jicama salsa and jalapeno cream.  The medley of colors, textures and flavors are so appetizing starting with the salsa which is made from fresh ingredients with a bite of crunchy jicama.  And topped with sour cream with roasted jalapenos to add a bit of spice.  Everybody loves finger foods that you can pick up with your hands to eat.  These were no exception literally being wolfed down in minutes.  Portion control just went out the window!

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