Roasted Fennel and Apple Guacamole

Roasted Fennel and Apple Guacamole Jorge and I hosted game night recently, and one of the many tasty dishes served that evening was this Roasted Fennel and Apple Guacamole.  But first let me tell you a little about the game we played: Cards Against Humanity.  This game is awesome.  Basically one person reads a question or a fill in the blank statement (the black card), then everyone else tries to answer that question or complete the statement using the cards they have in their hand (the white cards).  The person holding the black card then decides which pairing is the funniest.  What makes this game awesome, is that the white cards can be pretty darn outrageous.  I mean, we played for almost 4 hours, and I couldn’t stop laughing for most of the evening.  My face hurt afterwards.

I think Cards Against Humanity has been out for a little bit, and I’m probably late to the party here.  But if you’ve never played, and you don’t mind a little over-the-top humor, you need to give this game a try.  So much fun.

And if you want to host a game night of your own, I’d definitely recommend making this guacamole.  Rick Bayless released this recipe last year, and I’ve had it bookmarked ever since.  Sweet, herbaceous fennel is roasted until tender and fragrant, then added to cubes of rich avocado along with crisp, tart apple, lime juice, jalapeno, and cilantro.  This seasonal variation of a Mexican classic is sharp, creamy and wonderfully complex.  The licoricey fennel compliments the avocado while tiny pops of green apple offer contrast in flavor and texture.  The fennel isn’t really overpowering here.  With each bite, you’ll notice just a hint of fennel at the end.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Bacon Tostilocos

Bacon Tostilocos

Oh man do I have a fun recipe for you today!  Tostilocos, a Mexican street food specialty, are typically made by cutting open a bag of flavored corn chips and piling on toppings such as pickled pig skin, tamarind candies, Japanese peanuts, jicama, cucumber, lime juice, chamoy and hot sauce.  I first had Tostilocos last year at our San Diego LGBT Pride festival.  Jorge and I had been walking around all day, and I was getting huuuungry.  We stopped to sit for a moment in the shade, when Jorge hopped up and said, “I’ll be right back.”  Several minutes later, he returned with a bag of Tostilocos.  After just one bite my taste buds were all like, “Whaaaaaaat???”  Such a crazy combination of flavors that just completely work well together.  Sweet.  Salt.  Sour.  Crunch.  I’ll have to say the one element I’m still not completely sold on is the pickled pig skin.  It’s like savory gummy worms.  But wet and slippery.  Not my fav.  So when I was coming up with a homemade version of Tostilocos, I decided to substituted thin strips of smoky bacon for the pickled pig skin.  I also included some quick pickled cucumber and red onion to add another note of sweet, sour and salt.  You can easily make these pickles at home in just one hour (mainly inactive wait time).  Jorge and I will still get Tostilocos each year at the festival, but now I can easily satisfy cravings in between with my bacon version!

If you don’t live in San Diego (or any other City bordering Mexico), some of these ingredients may look very foreign to you.  Try to find a Mexican market in town.  They should have everything you need.  Or you can easily purchase these items online.  I purchased everything at Pancho Villa’s Farmer’s Market here in SD.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Summer Crush

Summer Crush Made with heirloom tomato, basil, watermelon, vodka and lime, Summer Crush is the type of cocktail you could easily enjoy after a day spent at the beach.  When you’re feeling a bit parched from being in the sun all day.  After you’ve casually dropped your beach bag on the floor, but before you jump in the shower to wash away the surf and sand.  Sweet, tart, and incredibly refreshing, Summer Crush is a muddled mix of the best summer produce.  And vodka of course.

To make this drink, you’ll first need to prepare a sweet basil syrup.  I’d recommend getting this done in advance and storing in the refrigerator.  With the syrup prepared, this drink comes together in a matter of moments!  Next muddle sweet basil syrup, heirloom tomato, Thai basil and watermelon in the base of a cocktail shaker until the fruit releases its gloriously flavored juice and the basil its oils.  I use both sweet and Thai basil for this drink to add some depth of flavor; however, you could certainly use all sweet basil if Thai isn’t available.  Finally, shake in some vodka and lime juice to balance out the flavors.  The finished cocktail is summer incarnate.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Pineapple Tequila Sorbet

Pineapple Tequila Sorbet Summer is in full effect here in San Diego, and strangely, it’s been quite humid.  This humidity doesn’t really compare to the many hot, damp summers spent in New Jersey, but  now, I’ve completely lost my tolerance to extreme weather conditions.  Any slight deviations from perfection seem to throw off my daily rhythms.  After spending two nights tossing and turning, I installed my little window air conditioner, and made a batch of this Pineapple Tequila Sorbet.  Freshly blended pineapple is flavored with an Aleppo chile, lime, and citrusy tequila.  After a short while in the ice cream maker, this flavorful puree is transformed into scoopable sunshine.  The color really is quite remarkable.  Cool, fresh and bright, one taste of this sorbet will surely banish any warm weather discomfort.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Kale and Avocado Summer Rolls

Spring Roll Making During San Diego’s June Gloom, the weather is rarely ideal for going to the beach.  Which makes me sad, because it’s around this time of the year that I start yearning for a beach day.  The beach is one of the main reasons why I moved from New Jersey to San Diego.  Each year while I was growing up, I would spend a week or two at my Aunt’s beach house on Long Beach Island (eating many of these).  It was one of my favorite times of the year.  So naturally, when it was time for me to move out on my own, I picked a city with easy beach access.

On the rare occasion in June when the sun decides to break through the marine layer, I immediate make plans to go to the beach.  I pack my bag with a book, iPad, iPhone, tanning oil (I am a New Jerseyite at heart), water and snacks, like these Kale and Avocado Summer Rolls.  Kale is marinated in a dressing of honey, lime, fish sauce, garlic and chile, then wrapped up with a fresh mix of carrot, cucumber, avocado, mint and cilantro.  These flavors are bold and bright.  Portable gourmet, this summer roll can easily stay in my bag for a few hours without worry of spoilage.

So it ends up that today is actually one of those rare beautiful days in June.  I’ve got my bag almost all packed up, so I’m going to finish here.  I’ll be on the beach enjoying a few of these tasty rolls.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Puesto’s Red Michelada

Puesto's Micheladas If you are currently on the hunt for that perfect cocktail for Memorial Day weekend, stop here.  I’ve got one for you.  This Red Michelada comes from one of my new favorite Mexican hot spots, Puesto.  The most basic micheladas are made with beer, hot sauce, lime and salt.  Puesto’s Red Michelada is made with a bold blend of beer, fresh tomato, tomato juice, roasted jalapeno, onion, orange juice, lime juice and hot sauce.  Finished with a chile-salt rim, this tall glass of Mexican deliciousness is spicy, savory and surprisingly refreshing.  Enjoy one of these Red Micheladas grillside while you soak up some gorgeous afternoon sun.  I know that’s what I’ll be doing this Memorial Day.

In addition to this spicy libation, the man and I enjoyed a number of other tasty treats at Puesto including a flight of tacos, shrimp ceviche and two frosty paletas.  Continue reading for the recipe plus a recap of the entire lunch.

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Pulled Pork Tamales with Corn Salsa

Pulled Pork Tamales with Corn Salsa Several days ago, temperatures in San Diego shot up to the mid 80’s and 90’s, causing an almost instantaneous craving for summer flavors.  Fresh berries, sweet corn, juicy tomatoes, grilled meats and gloriously green herbs.  I immediately got in my car to do some grocery shopping.  Windows down.  A warm breeze blowing.  Spotify on full blast.  Pulled Pork Tamales with Corn Salsa in mind.

This recipe captures the essence of summer.  Smoky, succulent pulled pork is encased in corn masa, then steamed until light and tender.  Accompanying the tamal is a corn salsa spiked with red onion, serrano chile and chopped cilantro.  This salsa is fresh, fresh, fresh.  A perfect counter to the richness of the tamal.  Summer, I am ready for you.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Pear Salsa

Pear Salsa

Fragrant chunks of crisp, Bartlett pear are tossed with sweet red onion, fiery bits of serrano chile, fresh mint and verdant cilantro.  This beautiful bowl of purple and green is then dressed in a simple mix of olive oil and lime juice.  Fresh, bright and SO yum, this recipe makes a lot of salsa, so make sure you have friends or family around to help you finish it.  I love to serve this up with some tortilla strips, but you could also spoon atop a seared piece of fish or mix in with steamed rice.

We’re all familiar with tropical fruit salsas like pineapple and mango, but really, you can use any type of fruit.  I’m getting a little giddy just thinking of the possibilities!  Apple and thyme salsa?  White peach and tarragon?  Berries and sage?  So many options!  What’s your favorite type of fruit salsa?  Continue reading for the recipe and share your thoughts below!

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Citrus Pickled Onions

Citrus Pickled Onions

Each winter, when all manner of citrus is in season, I make these Citrus Pickled Onions.  Crisp slices of red onion are marinated in a mixture of citrus juice, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper and allspice until tart and tender.  Charred jalapeño and bay leaves are added to the mix to bump up the savory spice factor.  Two of the things that I love the most about this recipe are its ease and versatility.  This quick pickle requires just 10 minutes (if that) of prep time, and 3 to 6 hours of unattended marinating time.  Also, you can vary the types of citrus used in the pickling liquid.  For this batch, I used grapefruit, lime (from my backyard) and orange.  In previous batches, I’ve substituted in lemons, blood oranges and pomelos.  You can use these pickled onions as a accompaniment to burgers, braised or grilled meats, and tacos.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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El Comediante

El Comediante

El Comediante (Spanish for the comedian) is your cocktail for this weekend.  And the next few weekends.  Made with Red Bell Pepper Rum, Ginger Syrup, lime, ginger ale, red wine and mint, this colorful cocktail is packed with flavor and aroma.  The red wine floating on top pairs beautifully with the red bell pepper rum.  And with each sip, you’ll get a nosefull of spicy fresh mint.  Get a few of these in you, and you’ll be giggling all evening long.  Continue reading for the recipe plus a video from my recent segment on San Diego Channel 6!!

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