Monday, February 10, 2014

Tomatillo Pesto

Back in September (yes, I'm that far behind on my blogging) my gardening friend asked me if I liked tomatillos, as she had a surplus of them.  I wasn't completely sure how to respond because, as a rule, I am not fond of the tomatillo sauce that is served at most restaurants, but I'm not sure how accurately that reflects the taste of a real, live tomatillo.  So I told her that I wasn't a huge fan, but would be willing to try them fresh to see whether I liked them or not.

So she brought me 5 beautiful, fresh tomatillos.  I hadn't really thought about what I would do with them, so I started looking for recipes.  I was hoping to find something other than sauce, but I did not have much luck with that.  I finally decided to try this recipe I found at A Thought for Food, a site well worth checking out as it is chock full of lovely recipes and breathtakingly beautiful photos.

I made the recipe pretty much as written, and I must say it was something of a revelation to me.  It was fresh, tart, and spicy.  It pretty much begged to be used with pork, so I bought a tenderloin at the Apple Market.  I looked online for a roasting technique for the meat and found a good one, but I somehow failed to bookmark it so I regret that I can't link to it.  But I can remember how I cooked it.

The sauce married well with the pork.    I put the tenderloin on a foil-lined baking sheet, seasoned it, and then covered it with the sauce.  I baked it at 375 deg. F. until an internal thermometer read 145 degrees, then let it rest before slicing into it.  It was stupendously good.

I cannot recommend this salsa highly enough.  It is fresh and spicy and so far goes well with everything I have tried.  It is especially good spread over fish just before broiling.

Home Cookin Chapter:  Spices Spreads Dips Sauces


4 to 5 medium tomatillos, husked and roughly chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed, dried and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup toasted walnuts (any nuts will work)
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, roughly chopped, seeds removed if
you prefer less heat
1/4 cup walnut oil (any oil will work)
juice of 1 lime
kosher salt, to taste

Place all of the ingredients except for the oil in a food processor with the blade attachment and process until well blended.  With the motor running, add the oil in a fine drizzle and continue to blend to the desired consistency.

adapted from -cilantro-pesto/

Exported from Home Cookin v.8.55 (

Monday, February 03, 2014

Stir Fried Broccoli with Shallots

It's been a while since I pulled out the wok.  Sub-zero temperatures and snow do not bring it to mind, and we have had more than our share of both so far this year.  But I continue my goal to eat more vegetables and have been in the habit of always having broccoli in the fridge.  I was mostly just blanching it and eating it that way, sometimes tossing it in a light walnut oil and wine vinegar dressing, sometimes just adding salt and pepper and leaving it at that.  As quick and easy as that is, and as much as I like broccoli by itself, I find myself looking for different ways to prepare it.

I mostly think of stir fry as a grand production, with my "if these ingredients are good, this many more would be so much better" mentality.  I will end up with a large amount of little bowls and plates that leave a lot to clean up at the end, and often the flavors compete with each other rather than complementing the main ingredient.  I can't remember whether or not I've mentioned it before, but that is one of the things I have been working on this past year or so:  less is more.   I try to remember and repeat it every time I walk into the kitchen.  And you know what?  Less really is more, at least in the kitchen.

In this case it is an especially good thing.  When I keep my stir fry simple, it is a snap to whip one up in a jiffy, with minimal cleanup required at the end.

This method works well with broccoli, but could be used with just about any other vegetable you would like to use.  Here's how I did it:
Home Cooking Chapter - My Recipes

Serves 2

1/2 Tbsp peanut oil, or other oil with a high smoke point
1/2 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 head of broccoli, cut into smal florets of even size
1/2 Tbsp ginger garlic paste (or 1 tsp each of fresh ginger and
minced garlic)
1 Tbsp sweet sherry
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water, as needed

Combine the sherry and soy sauce in a small bowl and set aside. In another small bowl, combine the water and cornstarch and set aside.  Have the shallot, broccoli, and ginger garlic paste ready.

Heat the wok until smoking.  Add the oil and the shallot and let cook for a few seconds.  Add the ginger garlic paste and stir for another few seconds.  Add the broccoli and cook until just tender.  As soon as the garlic and ginger start to brown and stick to the bottom of the wok, pour about half of the water around the edge of the cooking food to create steam and to loosen the garlic and ginger from the bottom of the wok.  Cook until the water has evaporated.  Repeat with the rest of the water if necessary.

As soon as the broccoli is ready - about 5 - 7 minutes total, add the sherry and soy sauce mixture.  As soon as it is boiling, add the corn starch and water slurry and cook until the mixture thickens, about 10 seconds.  Remove the wok from the heat and turn the broccoli into a serving bowl to keep it from cooking more.  Serve immediately.

Exported from Home Cookin v.8.55 (
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