This and That: Favorites to please a summer crowd

© 2018-Templeton Life

When I look at my June calendar I see graduations, weddings, wine festivals, anniversaries, etc., etc, etc.  Maybe your calendar is just as full. If so, we’re going to need recipes that are quick and easy and will feed a crowd. Most of those calendar events will include visits by family members and friends who will also be attending those events with us
This Chile Verde recipe was passed on to me by Templeton resident, Patty VanOrden, who first secured the recipe from Dorothy Wandruff, a former caterer in the Santa Cruz area before her move to Templeton. (It’s amazing how recipes “travel”!)
Patty served this dish with the homemade tortillas at a summer family reunion. It was really a hit when other family members helped roll out the tortillas.
I’m presenting the recipe as Patty sent it to me, so the format is not in traditional recipe style.
Chile Verde
6 lb. Pork shoulder/butt, trimmed and cubed

Brown pork in a very hot pan with hot oil for 5 minutes on one side to caramelize. This is important for color and flavor. Turn pork and brown on all sides. If using 2 pans for this procedure, deglaze one of them with a bit of beer after you brown the pork and add that to all of  the meat in the other  pan.    

Chop two medium onions and sauté with a bit of olive oil. When translucent, add 6 cloves of chopped garlic, 2-3 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro, and 2 finely diced jalapenos. You can also add a bit of cumin depending on your tastes.  

Mix the meat and onion mixture and add two jars Salsa Verde (Trader Joe’s if available), and a couple of bay leaves.

Cover the pan with foil or an ovenproof lid. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 ½ hours. Take the lid off and bake another hour, checking to be sure meat is getting done.

Serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro and warm flour tortillas.

Flour Tortillas

5 cups flour
1 heaping teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup olive oil and not quite 1/3 cup milk (add enough water to make 2 cups liquid.

Mix dry ingredients. Add liquid and mix. Make into balls and let sit for 10 minutes.

Use a lot of flour and roll out each ball really, really thin…emphasis on thin!
Cook in medium-high hot pan until bubbling and turn and cook other side, being careful not to overcook.

     This next recipe can be cut in half and used to prepare 2 servings.  

 Black Bean Burritos

4-10” flour tortillas
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped in small dice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno peppers (optional)
8 oz. cream cheese
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Wrap tortillas in foil and place in oven heated to 350 degrees, baking for 15 minutes or until heated through. Heat oil in a 10” skillet over medium heat. Place onion, bell pepper, garlic and jalapenos in skillet and cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally. Pour beans into skillet, cook 3 minutes, stirring. Cut cream cheese into cubes and add to skillet with salt. Cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir cilantro into mixture. Spoon mixture evenly down the center of warmed tortilla and roll up, burrito-style. Serve immediately.

Note: You could add some of the Chile Verde to the burrito before rolling. Other meat choices might be chicken, or beef if you want to add meat to the burritos. Without the meat, they make a very tasty vegetarian meal.

    Fresh Salsa is a must with Mexican food and this salsa will be a perfect addition to your menu.

Nuevo Salsa
10 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/4 –inch dice
¾ cup diced red onion (1/4-inch dice)
6 scallions, including 2 inches green, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 3 large limes)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
8 dashes Tabasco sauce
Coarse (kosher) salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¾ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Co0mbine tomatoes, onion, scallions, and garlic in a bowl. Add olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, Tabasco sauce, and salt and coarse pepper. Using a fork, stir in the cilantro. Refrigerate, covered.

Note: The salsa can be prepared up to 6 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. Remove it from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving to allow it to come to room temperature.

Summer Corn Salad

4 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 8 ears)
1 small zucchini quartered lengthwise, seeded, and diced
8 cherry tomatoes cut into quarters
 ½ cup diced hothouse (seedless) cucumber (1/4-inch dice)
4 red radishes cut into small dice
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup Cumin-Honey Vinaigrette

Directions for salad:
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the corn kernels and cook until just tender, 1 minute. Drain into a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again and pat dry. Combine the corn, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, and parsley in a bowl and toss to combine. Season with pepper. Just before serving, toss the salad with the Cumin-Honey Vinaigrette and transfer to a decorative bowl, and serve.
     The honey mellows the vinegar just enough to make this an ideal dressing for vegetables and grains. It is particularly delicious with fresh corn kernels.

Cumin-Honey Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk the vinegar, cumin, mustard, honey, and salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the olive oil. Continue whisking until the dressing is slightly thickened. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before use, re-whisking as necessary.

     Top off your menu with a cool, refreshing dessert and celebrate the occasion.