Pico de Gallo

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I love chips and salsa, tacos with salsa, eggs with salsa, burritos with salsa. And although getting it from the jar is easy, making your own is not only easy the taste is so much better. The vegetables are fresh and bright and the you can easily adjust both the heat and the amount of tomato (sometimes I find jar salsas have far too much tomato.

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Pico de Gallo is a pretty simple recipe as far as cooking goes, but in terms of technique it is good practice for both chopping and mincing.

Technique:

Chopping: “Trim and peel the food as needed and cut into manageable chunks so that there is a flat surface to put on the cutting board. Then use the knife tip to cut strips lengthwise. The space between these cuts will be the width of your pieces. Cut the strips crosswise to make small pieces. Put downward pressure on the knife as you work.” – How to Cook Everything Cook Book

– Hold the sides of the food to steady them.

– Tip for onions: Cut the onion in half from the tip to the tip. Then, cut only one tip off and peel back the first two layers of the onion keeping the skin attached to the bottom tip that wasn’t cut off. Cut lengthwise cuts into the onion (from tip to tip). Starting from the cut off tip end, cut opposite of the lengthwise cuts you just made, put the tip of the blade against the board and rock the knife through the onion.

– Tip for tomatoes: First cut out the stem with a paring knife. Then using the middle of the blade press through the tomato cut four or five big slices. Take each slice separately and hold the sides while cutting lengthwise strips. Then, place the strips diagonally to your knife. Place the tip of the knife against the board, while holding the strips together rock the knife through the tomato. Repeat for all slices.

Mincing: For mincing you want to chop the chopped pieces until they are teeny. Once you have chopped something you want to continue to rock your knife through rotating from 3 o’clock to 6 o’clock on the cutting board only. Put everything back in a pile with your knife and continue rocking your knife through. You may want to hold the tip of the knife with your free hand and this will help steady.

– Tips for jalapenos: The heat from the jalapeno comes from the seeds, so if you want less heat take out the seeds before chipping and mincing. The heat from the jalapeno sticks to hands and utensils, so if you plan on cutting other things you might want to save the jalapeno for last as to not transfer the heat. Also, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards, or you can wear gloves. Usually, you can smell the heat of the jalapeno when you slice it open, try to judge how much you want to use depending, and make sure you taste it. The longer the salsa sits in the fridge the more the heat will disperse.

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Pico de Gallo

Ingredients

4 large tomatoes

1 medium onion chopped

1 or 2 hot green chiles (like jalapeno)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons fresh lime

some salt and pepper

1. Chop the tomatoes, onion and cilantro

2. Mince the garlic and jalapeno

3. Add all the ingredients in a bowl and addsomesaltandpepper to taste.

Serve on tacos or with chips!

Tip: You can make this a smoother salsa (less chunky) if you put all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend to the consistency you like. No need to chop or mince, simply cut the tomatoes and onion into big chunks to help the blade go through them.

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Homemade Mayonnaise

Me and the BF love to watch the Next Food Network Star. So much so that three years ago on New Years Eve while getting ready to go out we were watching a marathon. Once we got ready and were heading to the car we stopped mid-walk and decided that we would really rather go back home and finish the marathon. When we got back we threw on our pajamas and rang in the new year watching the rest of the season.

Yesterday, while watching season 7 for a second time through one of the contestants was reprimanded because he didn’t make his own mayonnaise for his sandwiches. The BF asked whether I had a recipe for homemade mayo, and before he could finish asking I had already pulled out a recipe that I had been storing in my recipe book.

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The amazing thing about homemade mayo is not only that it is ridiculously easy to make, but you can add anything to it and create any flavors you want. I am going to post here both the original recipe (from the FoodNetwork Magazine) and a recipe from Alton Brown which uses some different techniques and ingredients.

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Ingredients

1 Large egg yolk

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar (I used distilled white vinegar)

Salt

1/2 cup vegetable or grapeseed oil

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. Bring 2 inches water to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Combine the oils in a pyrex measuring up (the one with a spout) and set aside.

2. Whisk the egg yolk, vinegar and 1 tblsp water in a medium heatproof bowl. 

3. Set the bowl with the yolk mixture over the saucepan and slowly whisk until a thermometer inserted into the yolk mixture comes up to 150 degrees, or 4-5min.

4. Set the bowl in the ice water to stop it cooking and whisk until the mixture is just lukewarm (do not let it get cold).

5. Put the bowl on a damp towel. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt

6. Start pouring the oils in very slowly whisking the entire time. If at any point it is not emusifying, stop adding the oil and whisk until combined. Whisk in 1-2 teaspoons water if the mayonnaise is too thick. Season with salt. Cover and refrigerate for up to four days.

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Tips and tricks:

1. You can add anything to the mayo. We made three types, one with two-cloves of minced garlic, one with minced garlic and lemon pepper seasoning, and one with minced garlic, chili powder and cayenne pepper.

2. Here are some other suggestions:

a. Dill: Combine 1 cup mayo with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon chopped dill, 2 teaspoons minced shallot and 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning. Season with salt and pepper.

b. Chipotle: Combine 1 cup may with 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 4 minced chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Alton Brown Video: (the mayo starts at 5:02)

Enjoy!

P.S. If you are watching season 8 FoodNetwork star, my money is on Justin!