Saturday, June 30, 2007


It's summertime which means I'm cooking in Saugatuck, Michigan for the first family of food: The Winstons. Going North for a part of the summer has been a ritual of mine for several years now, and just as much a tradition once I've arrived has been the annual salsa making session with Rosalyn Winston (the oldest daughter). Usually Rozie and I couple our salsa with a larger Mexican feast, drawing many of the ingredients from the great Latin markets in Southwestern Michigan. On this occasion however we chose to simply fry some homemade tortilla chips and make a flavorful cooked salsa from the first of the summer's tomatoes. (I think I ended up making Chinese that night).

Rozie is a big fan of the type of cooked salsa I learned to make from the Mexican line and prep cooks who worked for me when I was running commercial kitchens. They had a very quick and easy recipe for their "comida" salsas which were typically made for staff meal, the meal a restaurant crew eats before or after service. The simple slate of ingredients usually included a whole ripe tomato, a whole jalepeno, one roasted onion and a generous dash of salt. Cover these ingredients with a little cold water and simmer until everything breaks-down, about 15-20 minutes. Then puree in food processor until smooth. We would eat it at room temperature with a squeeze of lime and freshly ground black pepper. It was incredibly refreshing, especially in a super-hot restaurant kitchen in the middle of summer.

For our salsa Rozie and I followed the general procedure that I learned years ago with a few modifications. First we blanched the tomato to remove the skin, which would make the salsa smoother. Then we seeded and stemmed the jalepeno to make it less spicy, something my Mexican crew would scoff at. Finally we peeled and diced a whole ripe mango to provide some added sweetness, important when not using local tomatoes at the peek of their season and ripeness. This salsa is great not only with corn chips but also as a sauce for grilled chicken or fish.

Rozie's Tomato Salsa
Makes 3 Cups

Ripe Tomatoes, Peeled & Diced 3 Medium
Sweet Onion, Roasted & Diced 1 Small
Jalepeno, Seeded & Diced 1 Small
Ripe Mango, Peeled & Diced 1 Small
Lime Juice from 2-3 Limes
Fresh Cilantro, Chopped (optional) 1/4 Cup
Kosher Salt & Fresh Black Pepper To Taste

Combine everything but the cilantro and lime juice in a medium saucepan with 1/4 Cup cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until everything is tender, about 20 or 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and puree in food processor or blender until smooth. Season to taste and stir in lime juice and cilantro. Serve at room temperature. Will keep for several days refrigerated.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Everything that Falls off a Hamburger

I taught a cooking class/team building event the other night for a group from Edward Jones with a focus on summer fixings, or as I fondly refer to them "everything that falls off a hamburger". The class was a hands-on exercise where we made a variety of homemade pickles, creative mustards, relishes and even my take on 'real' tomato ketchup, and then paired them with the appropriate main course (ie. sausages, burgers, steak, fish). I explained to the class that the subject matter was very near and dear to me not just because of the time in film school when I virtually lived off of condiments (who doesn't in college?), but rather that even today my favorite part of a good hamburger or sausage usually turns out to be the tangy, salty and sweet stuff that goes on top. So in the spirit of the "condiment season" here's a recipe for coriander-orange mustard. A super simple recipe, it's great with any type of burger or sausage, and is a great glaze for grilled salmon. Enjoy!

Coriander-Orange Mustard
Makes 1 Cup of Mustard

Coriander Seeds 1 Teaspoon
Dried Orange Rind ½ Teaspoon

Dijon Mustard, Smooth 1 Cup
Honey ½ Cup

Preparation Procedure-
Using a mortar and pestle or clean spice/coffee grinder grind coriander seeds and orange rind until powder. Mix with Dijon and honey. Refrigerate.