Tostadas de Chorizo

After having watched a couple episodes of Rick Bayless’ Mexico: One Plate at a Time on Friday night, because we are the coolest people around, Ryan got inspired to make a fantastic weekend lunch. These crispy back yard snacks with their savory spicy chorizo, salty creamy cheese, and perky salsa provided much-needed fortification for an afternoon of mucking out the shed.

Side note – instead of serranos, we actually used these mystery peppers Ryan’s growing in the yard.  They’re spicy and fruity and red, maybe 2 inches long.  There’s a taqueria down the way and one day we noticed a hand-painted sign from the yard next door that said “AQUI VENDE CHILES” which means “we sell chiles here” (not quite but close enough).  We peeked through the fence and lo and behold the little yard was crammed full of big leafy chile plants, all different kinds, all really healthy.  So while I waited for our burritos, Ryan went over to investigate.

After a few minutes of finding the right family member – grandpa, it seems – and some Spanglish negotiations, he came away with these random peppers and one that the seller called “manzanilla” which means little apple.  They are slightly spicy – I’d call them perky – and very crisply fruity, much like an apple.  $7 each.  One of the many reasons why Oakland is wonderful.

tostadas de chorizo

Tostadas de Chorizo
sort of as seen on Mexico: One Plate at a Time

  • 6 oz chorizo, browned and drained
  • 6 oz Oaxacan cheese, Monterey jack, or queso fresco*, grated or crumbled
  • Avocado Salsa (see below)
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • a few tbsp of olive oil, vegetable oil, or bacon fat (mmmm)

* less melty than the other two – your choice

First, make your avocado salsa:

  • 3 medium tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 white onion, peels on, quartered
  • 5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1-2 serrano peppers, stemmed and rough chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 fat avocado
  • 1 lime

Fire up your grill, or a big heavy dry saute or griddle pan if you’re doing this indoors. Char the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and poblano until they are good and black on a couple of sides – except the onion, stick to the skin side of that one. Put them all in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 20 minutes. (You can also do this under the broiler)

Peel the skins off the onion, garlic, and poblano, and take off the pepper’s stem. Cut the tomatillos in quarters. Put all roasty veggies, the serranos, cilantro, and the sweet sweet avocado flesh into the blender and whirl until sort of smooth. Add salt and lime juice to taste and set aside.

Brush the tortillas with the oil or bacon fat, and grill or toast in a saute or griddle pan for a minute or two until crispy. Sprinkle each with a little chorizo and a little cheese, and drizzle on a little salsa. Return to the grill/pan for a minute or two to melt the cheese. Nosh.

Garden Bounty

Living in the central valley has its perks and there is a reason why it is one of the world’s most agriculturally productive lands. Thanks to the wonders of irrigation, acres and acres of rice and other food crops are grown in a climate akin to the inside of a dry blast furnace. During the summer months, I rarely made trips to the farmer’s market (seriously, who wants to go browse for food in 100 degree weather) and it seemed like we always had a plethora of free veggies from various friends’ and coworkers’ gardens. So when our friends Jake and Kendra went out of town for a couple weeks, we got to take care of their garden….and by garden I mean their giant plot of land full of vegetables. Cucumbers (Japanese, Lemon, Pickle, Armenian), eggplants (Italian, Japanese, Thai), tomatillos, peppers, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, red onion, green and purple string beans to name a few. Yuan even came out to visit one weekend and helped us harvest the garden.

Behold our bounty!

sungold tomatoes

Italian eggplant

baby Japanese cucumber

a weekend in davis

So there I was, going 11 mph on the 80 through the East Bay (aaand then again into Fairfield) thinking “Oh lord, I’ve been so good, please let there be dumplings…”

More than I ever hoped for… Then Saturday, a warm, sunny trip to the Farmer’s Market. It’s first spring here in the Bay (and surrounding territory), the cherry trees are blooming and everything smells fresh. Except that at this particular moment it’s rainy and cold in SF, and Davis rarely smells truly fresh.

These guys will keep handing you delicious samples of different Afghani flatbreads and spreads until one of your shopping companions pulls you away from the stand.

Thoroughly addictive kettle corn. Its sweet salty scent beckons from down the block. What’s that, kettle corn? I hear you! Mama’s comin’!

Puppies (and former puppies) for adoption. So hard to resist…

At home, 8 lbs of baby back ribs from Bledsoe Pork were liberally salted and peppered, and given a generous garlic rubdown.

4 hours in the oven and a bath in an orange-cabernet vinegar glaze. Glorious.

Some very sassy arugula, tossed with gorgonzola and maple-chili glazed walnuts.

Oddly, and a little disturbingly, we happened upon some pretty decent tomatoes. I think they were from San Diego?

Penne with broccoli rabe, oyster and trumpet mushrooms.

Sunday morning, french toast.

Regrettably not pictured, because I forgot to take any pics: Sunday night, back home, pillowy soft Mi Abuelita Bonita green chili tortillas were wrapped around scrumptious black mole chicken, avocado, and crumbled queso fresco. Those tortillas appear to only be available in the Sacramento area and are the stuff of which dreams are made. Its only been a week and already I’m jonesing for my next fix…