Thursday, August 17, 2017

Green chile creamy avocado salsa

green chile creamy avocado salsa | Homesick Texan

The first time I had the creamy green salsa found on many Houston Tex-Mex tables, it was an eye-opener. It was cool, creamy, and bright with just a hint of spice. I was in love and it became my favorite thing about the whole dining-out experience in Houston.

Mama Ninfa Laurenzo of Ninfa’s fame was the one who popularized this style, as she was among the first to make this salsa a common accompaniment to chips along with the usual red. Her recipe has been published many places, and in the early days of this site I ran the one that had been in the Houston Chronicle.

Now, her version calls for sour cream, though along the border and in Mexico, Mexican crema would be more common. For years, I made it this way and was pleased. A few years ago, however, I came across an avocado salsa that had all the tang and spice of hers, yet it was dairy free. I published a recipe for this in my first cookbook, and while sometimes I go back to the sour cream version, more and more I prefer to make it without.

green chile creamy avocado salsa | Homesick Texan

This style of creamy avocado salsa is a popular condiment to tacos, flautas, and steak in Northern Mexico and along the border. A healthy handful of tomatillos is mixed with avocado, cilantro, garlic, and chiles to form a silky blend. This allows the avocado to go further than it would in guacamole, which makes for a cost effective yet tasty sauce.

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Thursday, August 03, 2017

South Padre shrimp ceviche

South Padre shrimp ceviche

This time last summer, I found myself on South Padre Island. I was thick into a queso road trip and as such had been eating multiple bowls of molten cheese from morning until night. While that experience was indeed glorious, after a couple of weeks I needed something more light and acidic. A restaurant on the island called Ceviche, Ceviche provided just what I craved.

This take-out spot, not far from the ocean, had been highly recommended to me as a fine place to get fish and shrimp mixed with fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, cantaloupe, jicama, and avocado. The set up was much like Chipotle, in that you choose your protein base and then let the person behind the counter add in whatever other ingredients strike your fancy.

South Padre shrimp ceviche

That day, I was feeling traditional and so I went with Gulf shrimp, which was in season, along with a classic blend of tomatoes, garlic, onions, jalapeƱos, and avocado. A generous splash of lime juice brought it all together and gave it additional life. When it was done, I took my ceviche, walked past the grassy dunes, sat on the sand, and watched the water crest and fall as I ate. It was a perfect lunch.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Texas potato salad with nasturtiums

Texas potato salad with nasturtiums

There was once a town in North Texas known as Cathron’s Store. In the late 1800s, a grocery, a grist mill, and a post office could be found in this small Lamar County community, though by 1905 the name had changed to Tigertown and Cathron’s Store was no more. Most people, I reckon, have never heard of this place; it is forgotten. But because of a most unusual potato salad recipe by one of its residents, the town and its legacy continue.

Now, I realize that potato salad may seem an odd subject for contemplation, but Texan-style potato salad—which is typically yellow and tangy with mustard and often mashed to the point where you can’t tell where the potatoes end and the other ingredients begin—is not usually seen outside the state. It’s a unique dish.

Curious as to its beginnings, I began to do research and delved into a collection of recipes from the 1800s to see how it was made in the state’s early days. Most of the potato salad recipes followed a familiar fashion with hard-boiled eggs, pickles, and onions all bringing color and spark to the dish. Surprisingly, mustard was the preferred dressing even then, and while some recipes were prepared with cubed or sliced potatoes, mashed potatoes were used, too. The potato salad that Texans eat today has deep roots.

Texas potato salad with nasturtiums

As I was reading, I came across a mashed potato salad by a Texan named Mrs. Lissa Gardner Bowman. She lived in Cathron’s Store. Her version started with leftover potatoes that she mashed and then mixed with the usual suspects. But just when things were becoming predictable, Mrs. Bowman encouraged the cook to go out into the garden and pick some nasturtiums for garnish. Not only was her hometown new to me, but also was her directive to add flowers to one’s potato salad.

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