Salsa Roja en Molcajete (or blender)

A good homemade salsa will liven up any dish. It’s a quick way to add a ton of flavor in a single spoonful. At home, we like to put salsa on eggs, grilled vegetables, and meats. Although right now our favorite way to eat salsa roja is along with citrus & ginger pickled things on corn chips. Luckily, zuké pickled things travels well!

20130710-114921.jpg Here, in Mexico, it’s common to spread a dollop (or several) of salsa roja on a handmade corn tortilla and devour at least 5 with a bowl of caldo (a flavorful broth) or menudo (tripe soup). Perhaps more popular and pervasive, is using it as a condiment on tacos. It’s available at every corner road side stand.

Of course, you can use a blender to make this salsa in just a few minutes, but this morning, my aunt Juana prepared salsa roja for our breakfast using one of the oldest kitchen tools in Mesoamerica, the molcajete. Molcajetes are available at most Mexican mercados (stores) and are made from different materials such as volcanic stone or plastic. They are used to make salsas, moles, guacamole, and more.20130710-115949.jpg20130710-120250.jpgSalsa Roja Ingredients:
5-6 medium tomatillos, roasted
7-10 chile de arbol (spicy=more chiles/mild=less chiles), roasted
1 clove garlic, roasted
~ 1/2 tsp water
Salt to taste

Roast tomatillos (see note below), chile de arbol (approx. 1 minute each side), and garlic (approx 2 minutes each side) on stove top or grill using flat cooking surface such as a cast iron skillet or griddle. Use aluminum foil to wrap the tomatillos as they roast over the heat. Foil acts as a steamer and receptacle for tomatillo juices, ensuring that all liquid will be reserved for salsa. Roast tomatillos until they become charred and are lighter in color, approximately 10 minutes. Be sure to turn every few minutes for even roasting.

MOLCAJETE: Begin by slowly crushing roasted chile de arbol in the molcajete with salt. Add a bit of water to prevent chile from ‘jumping’ out of the molcajete. Then add the roasted garlic, continue to crush. Add tomatillos, one at a time until all ingredients are blended together well (see photo).

BLENDER: Place all ingredients in blender, puree for approx. 1 minute or until consistency is as desired. Transfer to bowl for serving or jar for storing in refrigerator.

When all ingredients are blended well, taste first, then add more salt if needed.
20130710-120759.jpg20130710-121349.jpg20130710-121425.jpg20130710-121448.jpg20130710-121508.jpgLet me know how your salsa roja turns out, and as always, tell me how you use it. Andale!20130710-122832.jpg20130710-122929.jpg

Ancient Family Recipe with pickled things

Erika’s ‘ancient family recipe’ wowed my palate at a potluck dinner recently. It was a tender brisket served over gluten free pasta. Although she brought other delicious food, it was the brisket that left a lasting memory. Several of us topped the dish off with some citrus & ginger pickled things. It was divine, and so delicious that I was caught scraping the pan clean with my fingers at the end of the night. I had to have that recipe!

As soon as I got my hands on her ancient family recipe, I thawed my Lasater Grasslands brisket and prepared a feast of my own. Because this beef dish is slow cooked, you should plan ahead.  However, the simplicity of the recipe is a time saving way to prepare a hearty meal for your family or a gathering. In fact, the original recipe recommends preparing it ahead of time, refrigerating, and reheating before serving. Yipee!

Brisket with Citrus & Ginger

Heat over to 350°. Brown brisket on all sides (I actually cheated, and did not do this part) Place meat in a large baking dish, arrange onions on top. Combine chile sauce & water, pour around meat. Bake, covered, allowing about 45 min. per pound. Baste meat occasionally (I didn’t do this part either-call me lazy). About 45 min. before meat is done, add beer, continue to cook until done.
Serve with noodles and top with citrus & ginger pickled things

The recipe calls for chile sauce, and one of the best chile sauces I know is available at The Bit & Spur Restaurant & Saloon in Springdale, Utah – just outside Zion National Park (available by mail order too). Their chile sauce is a sweet & smoky chipotle pepper ketchup they call ‘Red Chile Ketchup’. The rich tomato taste and zesty undertones make it a great marinade, as well as a satisfying dipping sauce. Visit the Lasater Grasslands Beef website for their monthly sales, and get yourself a case of Red Chile Ketchup so that you too can enjoy Erika’s ancient family recipe!

Tasty Cleanse, Nourished Body

Guest blog by our beloved Mignon Macias:

I love connecting with people and sharing sincere enthusiasm for current passions. It’s exciting and inspiring. The other day I re-connected with Nicole T. after having not seen her for at least 2 years. Immediately we shared our smartphone snapshots, and exchanged tidbits about our lives that a quick catch-me-up session in a grocery store aisle permits. Within minutes, we realized that there was a reason for our running into each other. As Nicole pointed out, ‘ all things happen for a reason’.

Nicole had just begun a cleanse, and I was there to share with her the benefits of delicious naturally fermented foods from zuke pickled things. Everyday, but especially during a cleanse, fermented foods will improve gut flora which can boost overall health and improve digestion. This age-old process makes nutrients more readily available for absorption and enhances food flavors.

photos by Sugarcurse

Delicious flavors and inventive food combinations are what inspire the creators of Zuke pickled things, Mara and Willow King.  Their citrus ginger blend is a tangy addition to any salad, or as a condiment for fish or shrimp tacos, grilled meats, and steamy risotto. The fresh, organic ingredients (green cabbage, ginger, lemon zest, lemon juice, & sea salt) combined with the high level of lactobacilli in each jar, makes for a mouth watering treat that is rewarding and satisfying. A cleanse becomes more like a celebration, rather than deprivation.

Recently, as a modern culture, we have been re-discovering this traditional process of preserving foods with lactic acid fermentation. Nourished Kitchen explains well the benefits of eating fermented foods, and also shares amazing whole food recipes.

For a simple, quick, nutrient dense dish try this salad as a light meal, or as a side dish.

Swiss chard (thinly sliced)

Purple or lance shaped kale (thinly sliced)
Shredded golden beets
citrus ginger pickled things

Slivered almonds
Chopped pears
Olive oil
Apple cider vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste


In addition to its amazing flavor, citrus ginger pickled things is an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals. Cabbage and lemons are rich in vitamin C, which help the body resist infectious agents. Lemon peel (zest) is high in potassium and calcium. Potassium plays a role in maintaining your heart function, and aiding in digestive capabilities.  Calcium is important for maintaining bones and teeth. It also plays a role in heart rhythm and muscle function. Sea salt is naturally rich in trace minerals, essential for many metabolic functions. And ginger improves the absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients in the body. It can also help with nausea, and aids in digestion.

It’s true, as Nicole said, all things DO happen for a reason. I thank you for your excitement and support. Here’s to a tasty cleanse and a nourished body!

Please send your favorite recipe ideas for our citrus ginger pickled things. We would like to share them.