Grilled Avocado Stuffed with Salsa

Let’s have a Friday quickie! Here is a nice little recipe that you can prepare in a flash. Great for a weekend BBQ as an appetizer. Never thought I would be grilling an avocado and it was quite a revelation. The Grilled Avocado Stuffed with Salsa will be a guaranteed hit!

Grilled Avocado Stuffed with Salsa 1

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

The Liver Experiment Week 6: Spiced Chicken Liver Tacos with Mole Sauce

Welcome to the 6th installment of The Liver Experiment where I will try to acquire a taste for liver. Over a 10 week period I will cook, consume and post my experience once a week about trying to appreciate my food nemesis. I hope my experiment will inspire you to try the same with your own personal food nemesis. And even if you are determined to hate liver for life I hope you will follow along throughout the whole series.

I seem to have assumed a second challenge too. When you search online for ‘liver recipes’, overall the results are not pretty. So it has been a challenge to find varied and visually appetizing recipes. So far I have made French, Indian, Austrian and Middle-Eastern prettier recipes. This week is no exception with a Mexican dish: Spiced Chicken Liver Tacos with Mole Sauce. Doesn’t a pretty taco look more appealing then a blob of plain cooked liver strips in a plate?

 taco with mole sauce

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Huevos Rancheros with a Roasted Tomato Salsa

—-Sorry I have been MIA. Was planning on catching up on comments this weekend following a crazy week…and then Saturday I had a minor flooding issues and had to evacutate my place as 7 industrial fans dry up my place. So I’ll be back to commenting asap! —-

Way before this blog, way before I realised where my passion for ethnic food would take me, I bought a Mexican cookbook like 20 years ago, ironically from an Australian publication house!?!? I was really excited about cooking up some Latin flavors but I got discouraged rather fast once I really flipped through the pages. All the recipes had the craziest and longest list of ingredients. There were so many elaborate steps. I think I never actually made a single recipe in the end.

So I shyed away from making Mexican food for so long. Now I know better. There are very simple recipes that are absolutely bursting with flavor. Take for example the humble Huevos Rancheros with Roasted Tomato Salsa dish.

huevos rancheros 020

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Brie Brazil Balls & Lentil Loaf in Tapioca Crepes with Brazilian Salsa

Brie Brazil Balls & Lentil Loaf in Tapioca Crepes with Brazilian Salsa is my answer to the folowing challenge: BLT Sandwich WITHOUT bacon, lettuce and tomatoes!

The new Creative Cooking Crew hosts really seem to have racked their brains in the last months to challenge the members with fun and crazy themes. Last month we had a Chopped (TV show) like challenge where we had to use Granny Smith apples, nut butter, vinegar and bacon in a recipe. And our hosts where just as cooky this month with this theme: BLT Sandwich WITHOUT bacon, lettuce and tomatoes! A famous movie quote came to mind: Toto we’re not in Kansas anymore! I also added a personal challenge here: to defy the concept of the sandwich. You see my ‘bread’ was the T of my BLT. Well actually I made a BBBLLT with Brazilian flair! Let’s explore my mysterious sandwich with tapioca crepes.

Brazilian Dishes BLT

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5 Star Makeover: South African Pampoenkoekies and Delicata Rings

This month’s 5 Star Makeover could not be more seasonal: we are cooking or baking with any squash of our choice. My recipe lead me down an unusual path for a squash recipe, it actually took me to South Africa. I bet you would be surprised to learn that pumpkin and other squash are served as a side dish in almost every restaurant. The South Africans love this vegetable and some varieties are indigenous to South Africa.

South Africa is located at the southern tip of Africa. For me it feels like a whole world away, making it that much more intriguing. Although the country has had its fair share of historical turmoil, South Africa is the most stable country on the African continent, making it a great introduction gateway if you plan to explore Africa some day. The urban cities are quite developed and modern. Chances are any trip to Africa will have flights to Johannesburg in your itinerary so why not stop a bit and explore.

The culture is astoundingly varied. Did you know the country has 11 official languages? The big cities are getting closer and closer to our Western standards of living but it is a reality that the rural population is still considered of the poorest in Africa. Yet the rural inhabitants are also the people who hold on to tradition the strongest, such as the Zulu culture which is still very much alive; we are mostly familiar with their tribal dance and song.

There are so many wonderful sights to explore: the number one main attraction is the wildlife reserves where you can see elephants and rhinos. There are many unique things to see with strong political influences like the prison that held Nelson Mandela. The one attraction I am most curious about is the Cradle of Mankind, a large collection of caves rich in hominid and advanced ape fossils. And no trip here would be complete without a tour of the wonderful vineyards and tasting the local dishes…which brings us back to the Squash theme of the 5 Star Makeover for October.

I wanted to cook with new squashes I had yet to explore. I could not resists these two beauties: the Turban and Delicata squash. The Turban has a unique shape that has earned it its name. The flesh has notes of hazelnut when ripe. If you pick it to soon it could be bitter. The Turban squash has been used more for decorative purposes in the past but it is now making an appearance in the kitchen. It is great for soups and desserts as the flesh is quite moist.

The Delicata squash has an elongated shape marked by yellow and green stripes. This is a heirloom variety. The flesh is an orange-yellow color. Taste wise it is the sweet potato of the squash world and the flesh is creamy while still holding its shape. This one is great for stuffing, in meat dishes or as a side dish.

hosted by 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro Cooks!

Pumpkin Fritters, or Pampoenkoekies, are a traditional South African meal that can be prepared as a savory or sweet dish. Of course you can substitute the pumpkin for another moist flesh squash like the Turban squash. If you want a sweet fritter reduce the salt a bit and add 2 tbsp of sugar, then dust with a cinnamon sugar.

I chose the savory version which pairs beautifully with a spicy mango salsa. And I just so happen to find a South African Mango Salsa recipe. It is kind of unique with some cucumber in there. The recipe asks for a super hot chilli of your choice. I actually changed it with a African Bird pepper powder I have. On the hot scale this pepper kicks ass so better to add a little bit at a time.

The Maple Glazed Delicata Rings have no relation to South Africa but they look cool and are wonderful to snack on in between fritters. It’s like vegetable candy.

Ξ South African Pumpkin Fritters (Pampoenkoekies) Ξ
adapted from Weight Watchers

1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups pumpkin or squash
2 large eggs, separated
olive oil

In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin with egg yolks; mix until well-combined. In another small bowl, whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Alternating in batches, add flour mixture and egg whites to pumpkin mixture, stirring after each addition.

Coat a large skillet with oil; heat until oil shimmers. Drop 4 large spoonfuls of batter onto skillet to form four 3-inch fritters; cook until bubbles start to form along sides, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Flip fritters and cook until lightly browned, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more; remove fritters to a serving plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat process two more times to make twelve fritters total. Yields 1 fritter per serving.

Ξ Maple Glazed Delicata Rings Ξ
adapted from Diana Rattray

1 medium Delicata squash
1tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoons maple syrup
sea salt

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Grease the foil or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cut the squash in 1/2-inch thick rounds; scoop seeds out of each round. In a bowl, toss the squash with the melted butter and maple syrup. Arrange the squash on the foil-lined pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake at 400° for 35 to 45 minutes, turning once about halfway through the baking time.

Ξ South African Summer Mango Salsa Ξ
adapted from Ocado

1 mango
1/2 Red Onion
1/4 Cucumber
1/8 tsp African Bird pepper (or 1/2 Hot Chilli)
1/2 good handful Coriander
Dash of sea salt
1 pouring lime Juice

Dice mangoes in 1/2 inch cubes, shop red onion, and dice cucumber. Chop up the hottest chilli you can find  or add chilli powder. Chop coriander and add. Pour in lime juice and add salt. Mix well. Leave in fridge for an hour.

SRC: Strawberry Avocado Salsa

Today is my group’s reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club. What is the SRC? Basically you are assigned a fellow participant’s blog by the organizer and then you pick a recipe of your choice from that blog and make your version of it. But it is a secret, you cannot reveal whom you picked and what you made until the established posting date and time.

This month I was assigned the blog Cooking With Chopin, Living with Elmo, which is authored by the wonderful Ginny. She is a very happy housewife and mother to two boys and the youngs certainly enjoy spending time in the kitchen with their mom.The array of recipes to choose from was quite vast and finding one in particular to settle on was tough. I was very tempted to try her Bacon-Spinach Pinwheels, Lavender-Lemon Roasted Salmon or Apple-Cinnamon Pull Apart Loaf, but in the end a dish I had to prepare for a BBQ potluck won out: I chose the intriguing Strawberry Avocado Salsa. If you want to skip the obvious corn chips, this sweet and savory salsa goes perfectly with chicken, salmon or trout, or pork tenderloin.

Ξ Strawberry Avocado Salsa Ξ

2 cups ripe strawberries, finely chopped
1 large avocado, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
2 green onions (green part only), sliced into thin rings
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Juice and zest from one large lime
2 teaspoons finely chopped, seeded jalapeno pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and preferably serve immediately. If you plan on serving a bit later toss the avocado with someone of the lime juice to prevent from turning brown.



Fish tortilla citrus vanilla gastrique radish salsa

A wonderful new way to enjoy a fish tortilla: top it with a fabulous citrus & vanilla gastrique and a radish salsa! Served with battered radish leaves.

Well, I guess it had to happen sooner or later. Ladies and Germs: 5 Star Makeovers is at WAR this month. Yes you read me right. We have created our very own friendly competition based on Restaurant Wars, like the popular part of the Top Chef show. Members of this fabulous gourmet group were divided into teams of 3. We had to come up with a restaurant or menu based on an ingredient or concept. My personal challenge: radishes meet fish tortilla!

Does life imitate art or art imitate life? Who knows but unfortunately we did loose some teams along the way following incidents. Mine survived without any battle. I am so happy to have worked with my 2 particular team members Faith and Shannon. We all got along fabulously, came to decisions rather fast and we were very encouraging of one another.

Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa

My team chose radishes and we announced our menu about a month ago here: Raphanus! Celebrating the Radish. Not one of us were particular fans of this vegetable but we all appreciated the challenge of turning this foe into a shinning star for our dishes. And since that was not tough enough we added another aspect: there must be a citrus vanilla component to our dish. All 3 of us were ready to confront our radish dish with our chef’s sleeves rolled up. Who won? In the end the radish won us all over.

After reading my post please go visit the rest of my team so you can see our complete menu. You will find Shannon’s radish themed appetizer and Faith’s radish themed dessert  by clicking on their respective links. I can’t wait to go check them out. But first let’s take a look at my dish, the main course:

Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa, battered radish leaves.

Say that 3 times fast lol. It’s a mouth full…but a so delicious one. OK so my vanilla component is a vanilla gastrique. I never made one before so this was new. A gastrique is a reduction of a sweet and sour element, usually sugar and vinegar. I added a vanilla bean to mine. This stuff is freaking addictive it’s ridiculous. I used it as part of my Radish salsa vinaigrette.

I more then covered the citrus factor. In total I used satsuma mandarin juice, Yuzu lemon juice, dried orange peel and lime juice. I also wanted to add a little heat to my dish since it has a Tex Mex flair. I chose a Serrano pepper and some habanero infused salt, just a touch.

My radish salsa plays the crowning jewel atop of a fantastic fish tortilla dish. Although I enjoy it I don’t prepare a whole lot of Tex Mex, it’s not part of my culture. And I had never had a fish in a tortilla before, something I had been curious about after seeing such a dish featured on a few blogs. Well it was just fantastic and the sweet tanginess of the radish salsa gave it a perfect flavor kick.

And there is a side dish surprise recipe all the way at the bottom of this post!

 

Vanilla Gastrique

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Zinfandel vinegar (you can use any vinegar)
1/2 vanilla bean, split length wise

Add all ingredients to a pan and place on medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by 1/3 and is syrupy. Allow to cool and discard bean.

Red and Black Radishes, the Stars of the show

 

Radish Salsa adapted from Figareau

12 radishes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1 satsuma mandarin (or orange)
1 1/2 tbsp Yuzu lemon juice (or lime)
1 tbsp vanilla gastrique
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch habanero infused salt (or plain salt)
Pepper to taste

Washed, trim and dice finely the radishes. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill for at least an hour before serving.

Ξ Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa Ξ

team radish 15

For the fish

1 1/2 lbs firm white fish (I used Tilapia)
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel
Dash of salt and pepper

Heat grill or oven to 400F. Place fish in an aluminum pan, coat with olive oil, lime juice and spices. Cook about 10 minutes (more or less) until fish comes apart with a fork.

team radish 6  team radish 7

team radish 1  team radish 5b

Assembly

tortillas
red bean paste
prepared fish
red onions, thinly sliced
cilantro
sour cream with a touch of lime juice and diced Serrano pepper.
radish salsa

Line plate with tortillas. Spoon a layer of red bean paste. Place fish on top of red beans.
Top fish with red onions, cilantro, sour cream and radish salsa. Makes 4 individual servings or 1 big plate to divide.

WAIT, one more recipe, a SIDE DISH adapted from Kitchen Gossip. Why throw away those lovely radish greens? These fritters are like a cross between hush puppies and an Indian Bahji – unique to say the least.

team radish 4  team radish 11

team radish 12

Ξ Battered radish leaves Ξ

2 cups radish leaves, chopped
3 heaping tbsp cornmeal
2 tbsp rice flour
1 Serrano chili, finely chopped
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Paprika
Salt to taste
Oil to Deep Fry
Water

Mix leaves, flours and spices in a bowl. Add a little bit of water at a time and mix until batter is sticky
Shape into small balls and deep fry in oil at 375F until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels before serving. Enjoy hot or cold.

Don’t forget to go visit Shannon’s radish themed appetizer and Faith’s radish themed dessert  by clicking on their respective links after leaving a comment. Thank you to our amazing organizer who came up with this brilliant concept: Natasha at 5 Star Foodie &  Laz at Lazaro Cooks!