Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cauliflower Energy Soup: Detoxing at Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays

I'm detoxing this weekend. A bit too much indulging this week... a birthday lunch with a friend that was not at all healthy, mashed potatoes for dinner twice because I really needed them, more sugar than normal... The pinnacle was an awesome Spanish wine and cheese event at Whole Foods where far too many tastes of wine and samples of cheese were savored--even a couple of slices of cured meat, along with a salt-fest of olives, anchovies and Marcona almonds that were nibbled on. I don't regret it. The fun of sitting at little tables in the frozen food aisle being overfed while learning about Spanish wines and hanging out with good friends was well worth waking up with a stuffy head and chest from all of the dairy and the tannins in the wine. Still, I found myself in need of some serious clean eating this weekend to get my system back on track. Lots of green juice, fruit and veggie smoothies and this Cauliflower Energy Soup from The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder, C.N.

Although I have made plenty of hot, cooked cauliflower soups, I was not sure about how creamy raw cauliflower would be. Blended up with the avocado and miso paste, it seems almost indulgent. 

Snyder says, "Cauliflower lovers, you will be in heaven with this soup! I never really considered myself a hard-core cauliflower lover until I started making this delicious soup. Whenever I make it, I slurp it up pretty fast! The turmeric, besides its wonderful health and detoxifying properties, gives the soup a nice yellow hue, so it doesn’t come out a pasty white or ugly gray color!

If you are new to raw soups or it is wintertime, you probably won’t want to eat this soup super cold right out of the fridge. You can heat it over the stove at the lowest possible temperature,  stirring well. Remember that you don’t want the temperature to get near 118 degrees, which is the temperature that would destroy the enzymes in this raw soup. So warm very gently and slowly!"

Cauliflower Energy Soup
The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder, C.N.
(Yield About 4 Servings)

1 med. head cauliflower (outer green leaves removed), chopped into pieces
3 Tbsp organic, unpasteurized miso paste
1/2 ripe avocado
2 cups filtered water
juice of 1 lemon
2 1/2 Tbsp of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce (I used 1 1/2 Tbsp)
1/2 tsp turmeric
chopped parsley, as a garnish
1 tsp Himalayan sea salt

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. If you’d like a thinner texture. Try adding a bit more water. Enjoy!

"Beauty Note: Turmeric is an Ayurvedic spice that has amazing antioxidant properties. It inhibits oxidation and protects us from free radical damage, and also helps us clean up metabolic waste. It also supports our liver, while adding some bright color to this soup."

Notes/Results: Simple and quite good. I reduced the amount of Bragg's Aminos, feeling that with the sea salt and the lemon juice I didn't need the extra sodium, but otherwise I didn't make any changes to the soup. This one is ready in just a few minutes--nice when you don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I let my Vita Mix blender go for a few minutes to make the soup slightly warm, but it is also good cold if you want to enjoy it on a warm day. There is plenty of flavor from the miso, Braggs and turmeric, making this a soup that I would make again--whether detoxing or not. ;-)

I am linking up this healthy soup over at Sunday Night Soup Night, a seasonal weekly soup event hosted by Debbie at Easy Natural Foods.

In the Souper Sundays kitchen this week, we have a few soups, salads and even a sandwich, so let's check them out.

Margo and Jill from SaucyCooks made a beautiful Carrot-Coconut Soup with Coconut-Crusted Shrimp. Margo says "...discipline is not a strength of mine either, so my best bet is to balance between the really healthy and the bad but tasty.  With that in mind, I decided to create a truly healthful dish, with a side of deep fried yummy, which in this case is an amazing ginger, coconut, carrot soup with coconut shrimp on the side.  The soup is delicious on it’s own but I have to admit that the shrimp did give me that TBO that I was looking for."

Ana of Sweet Almond Tree has a hearty Navarin Printanier (French Lamb Stew) to share this week and says, "Navarin refers to stew which contains lamb, and the word printanier alludes to spring and to the first tiny vegetables that appear in the garden and are kind enough to offer themselves up for cooking.  This stew is made with meat from lamb shoulder, a tougher cut of meat which becomes truly flavorful when properly cooked.  The stewing method tenderizes tough pieces of meat and allows the flavors of the ingredients to blend deliciously."

Debbie of Easy Natural Cooking made a velvety spring (Sour) Cream of Asparagus Soup and says, "I wanted to make a Cream of Asparagus Soup, and I had planned on using coconut milk to make it dairy free. But at the last minute, very spur of the moment, I had a change of heart and decided to use sour cream instead! I can’t remember what prompted me to do that….but I’m glad I did because it was very tasty."

Heather of girlichef has both a soup and a salad to share this week. She says, "Sopa de Fideo (or Mexican Noodle Soup) is one of those things that we make when things in the pantry and fridge are getting down to bare bones.  It's super simple, yet I'd never tried it before I got married.  Well, to be fair, I'd never even heard it. So it would've been kinda hard to make it. But that's beside the fact. My point is, this is one of those everyday foods that sort of take for granted. The more I thought about it, the more I decided that it's just as fun to share the quick everyday meals that are easily overlooked as it is the more complex ones.

Heather's salad is this colorful Spinach and Citrus Salad w/ Ginger Sesame Dressing about which she says, "The jewel-tones of segmented grapefruit in two colors, blood orange, and apricots adorn the tender green leaves of baby spinach.  Candied nuts gleaming with a thin shell of sugar are tucked amongst these bright bursts of color.  And the musky, seductive scent of sesame oil and ginger complete the experience. If you don't do it for the've got to make this for the awesome health benefits and fantastic flavors!"

Janet of The Taste Space made this pretty Warm Chickpea Salad with Mango, Pomegranate and Chaat Masala and says, "Here, the chickpeas are mixed with sweet and creamy mangoes, sweet and sour tamarind, and tart and sweet pomegranate arils doused in a savoury dressing with ginger, tamarind and chaat masala. Cilantro, used both cooked and fresh, adds a brightness to the dish. It was refreshing to break free of my typical Indian curries and savour such a nicely balanced salad.

Our sandwich entry is from Ramya of Ramya's Recipe, here with a veggie-packed version of a grilled cheese, Cheesy Sweetcorn and Bellpepper Sandwich. It's been a while since we have had Ramya here at Souper Sundays and it is always a pleasure to welcome back and old friend, especially when they bring a delicious toasty sandwich recipe to share! ;-)

Thanks to everyone who joined in with their fabulous dishes this week. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Canal House Pappardelle & Mushrooms for Food 'N Flix: Big Night

Ah, Big Night... how I LOVE this movie. It was one of the first foodie movies I "collected" and I was so excited to see it picked for April's Food 'N Flix event. If you have not seen it and love food, especially Italian food, you must see it. It helps that the cast is stellar--Stanly Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Isabella Rossellini and Minne Driver headline. Campbell Scott plays a supporting role (as well as directed the film, along with Tucci), and Allison Janney is her usually delightful self.

Set in the 1950's, the movie is about two brothers, Primo (Shalhoub) and Secondo (Tucci), fresh from Italy, who open a restaurant (Paradise), on the Jersey Shore. The restaurant is failing despite the wonderful food cooked by Primo--who hates the fact that the customers want  "Americanized" versions of the Italian dishes he cooks. Philistines! Secondo, who manages the front-of-house of the restaurant, has tried to build the business and mediate between the customers' wishes and Primo's stubborness (although he gets a little fed up too, telling a woman who insists that spaghetti should always come with meatballs, "Sometimes spaghetti likes to be alone," one of my favorite lines from the movie) 

Rival restaurant owner Pascal, has a booming business despite his mediocre food and wants the brothers (mainly chef Primo) to come work for him. Turning Secondo down for a loan, Pascal tells Secondo that he will call jazz great Louis Prima to eat at their restaurant when he is in town, saying it will help revive their business. The rest of the movie is devoted to preparing for this "Big Night" and the brothers put all of their effort and resources into this one evening that can change their fortunes. 

The food in this movie is sublime from the risotto to the rosy fioretina sauce, to the timballo (a tower of baked pasta goodness), but as usual, I waited until the last possible minute (umm... the night before entries are due) to make my Food 'n Flix dish inspired by the movie. I needed a quick and simple pasta dish, full of Italian goodness. Not one to let an opportunity to multitask go by, I had the perfect cookbook sitting on my review stack to "road test" a recipe from and be my Big Night dish.

Canal House Cooking: Volume No. 7: La Dolce Vita, by Melissa Hamilton & Christopher Hirsheimer (Andrews McMeel Publishing, January 2012, Paperback 122 pages) has been on my  stack for a few months now, with lots of recipes tagged to make. Part of the Canal House series of seasonal cookbooks, it is full of luscious Italian dishes and gorgeous photos that the authors spent a month creating and perfecting in a rustic farmhouse in Tuscany. You can easily tell from flipping through it, that Hirsheimer and Hamilton are are former magazine editors from the sheer beauty of the book. Their cooking chops are formidable too, with recipes like Chickpeas and Stewed Tomatoes, Osso Buco, Cabbage & Fennel with Sausages & Borlotti, Oil Poached Swordfish, Fresh Ricotta, Butter & Lemon Ravioli, and Gelato di Gianduia. It's a book that is a great addition to the series, but stands well on its own for any Italian food lover out there who like to cook with fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Having a passion for both pappardelle and mushrooms, my heart quickly went to the dried porcini and fresh cremini mushroom sauce tossed with thick ribbons of pasta. Of course Primo would have made the pasta himself (and there is a fresh pasta recipe in the book), but I have a good little gourmet section of a nearby grocery store that stocks a wonderful pappardelle that cooks in about 2 minutes. They also stock my favorite sun-dried tomato paste and dried porcini. This dish goes together quickly but tastes like it took time and effort making it perfect for a casual dinner or serving to company.

Canal House says, "You can use fresh porcini in this recipe in place of the cremini and dried porcini. But if you can't find fresh porcini in your market, do what we (and the Italians) do, use dried porcini with the affordable and more commonly cultivated cremini to add deep, earthy mushroom flavor."

Pappardelle & Mushrooms
Canal House Cooking: Volume No.7: La Dolce Vita, Hamilton & Hirsheimer
(Serves 4)

1 oz dried porcini
2 Tbsp butter (I used Earth Balance spread)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced 
2 Tbsp tomato paste (I used sun-dried tomato paste)
1 1/2 lbs cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper
1 lb dried pappardelle

Cover the porcini with boiling water and soak about 15 minutes to let soften. Heat butter and olive oil together in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add the cremini mushrooms, stir everything together, and cook 10 minutes.

Strain the porcini and reserve the soaking liquid. Chop porcini and add them, their liquid, and parsley to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and stir to mix everything together. Cook until the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.

Cook pappardelle according to package instructions and drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Add drained pappardelle to the sauce along with the water and mix everything together.

Notes/Results: This dish has just a few ingredients, but they work together perfectly to make a meaty, earthy dish that is full of wonderful mushroom flavor. If you enjoy mushrooms at all, this is the pasta for you. The wide pappardelle noodles are the perfect size and weight for the mushrooms making it a bowl of elegant comfort food. The only real change I made was to substitute Earth Balance butter spread for the butter--making it dairy-free, but keeping the flavor and richness that butter adds to the sauce. Delicious! I will make this again. 

Our April Food 'N Flix host Spabettie, did a fabulous job of selecting Big Night for this round, and she will be rounding up all of the entries on her blog in a few days. May's F'nF pick is another favorite foodie film in my collection, Sideways, hosted by Tina at Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Manor.

Pasta perfection like this must also go directly to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by my friend Simona at briciole. She will be rounding up a bevvy of pasta dishes on her blog on Friday. 

Note: I received a copy of Canal House Cooking Volume No. 7: La Dolce Vita from the publisher (Andrews McMeel), however I received no monetary compensation to review it. As always, my thoughts, feedback and experiences cooking from it are entirely my own.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Avocado Soup with Tomatillos and Orange: Creamy, Cool and Spicy for an Earth Day Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Happy Earth Day! Reducing, reusing and recycling are top of mind today and for me that means using up what's in the fridge rather than having to toss it and waste food. Sure, you can just eat up delicious leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to repurpose them into something even better. Like using up every last bit of this fabulous Roasted Tomatillo Salsa with Serranos, Roasted Onions and Cilantro that I made earlier in the week. The salsa has  already been enjoyed on its own and mixed into guacamole, so when I saw the recipe for Avocado Soup with Tomatillos and Orange in Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen, I knew that my last half a cup or so would be put to great use.

Although it looks quite a bit like guacamole in a bowl (not that there is anything wrong with that), this soup has a thinner consistency and more complex flavors from the orange zest and the broth. It's smooth and silky and very cooling and refreshing to eat. Rick recommends a rich beef broth, but I subbed my own vegetarian garlic broth blend, pumped up with red miso and tamari to give it a rich somewhat "meaty" taste--my recipe changes are in red below. 

Because the soup is so silky/creamy, I thought some added texture would be good, so I added some crispy strips of tortilla, making them long and thin and placing them vertically in the cup to give it some fun flair. 

Avocado Soup With Orange and Tomatillo
From "Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen"
(Makes About 6 Small Servings)

Roast 6 cloves of garlic on a griddle or skillet over medium heat, turning regularly until soft. Peel and puree in a blender or food processor with 2/3 cup of the Tomatillo Salsa, 2 ripe avocados, about a tablespoon of orange zest and 2/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro.

Stir in 2 1/3 cups beef broth (the richer the better) and season with salt. (I used my own vegetarian broth "brew" of my basic vegetable-garlic broth with 2 tsp tamari and 1 Tbsp red miso paste stirred in and omitted the additional salt) 

Serve cool with a dollop of salsa and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro on top. (I topped my soup with the salsa and some corn tortilla "spikes"--made by slicing up a couple of corn tortillas with a pizza cutter, tossing them with about a teaspoon of olive oil and sauteing in a pan over medium heat until crisp and lightly-browned.)

Notes/Results: A simple and very tasty soup. It is cool and creamy with a gentle heat from the salsa that makes it a pleasure to eat. The orange flavor comes through nicely and the crispy tortilla strips add a textural contrast to the smooth soup. I know some people are not into cool or cold soups but with the flavors in this one, it is just so refreshing that way that I encourage you to try it. This would also be a great soup for dunking a cheesy quesadilla or a grilled cheese. It's rich--so a small cup as a starter, or even serving it in small shot glasses at a party would work well. This was a fun use for the salsa leftovers, quick and easy and I would definitely make it again.

Our theme this coming week at I Heart Cooking Clubs is From the Earth. Although in the pictures with the tortilla strips, the soup looks a bit like a sea monster, it is composed of ingredients straight from the earth and it's a bright and pretty Earth Day green! ;-) You can see what the other IHCC peeps made by following the links on the post (it will be up starting Monday--I am just a bit early this week).

I am also linking this soup up at Sunday Night Soup Night, a weekly seasonal soup event hosted by Debbie over at Easy Natural Food.

We have some soups and salads waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's take a look.

Tigerfish of has a Clear-Broth Mushroom (Shiitake, Woodear, Crimini) Soup to share and says, "When I conjured the image of this clear mushroom soup, there came Chef Ming Tsai in Dr. Oz show talking about a super mushroomy soup for super immunity. ... Pureed thick cream-based mushroom soup or light, clear-broth mushroom soup for you? I like both but can definitely down a few more bowls of clear soups any day, so clear broth mushroom soup for me, please!"

Corina of Searching for Spice made this creamy Sweet Potato, Lentil and Tahini Soup and says, "Well, it’s still soup weather out there and after my success with carrot and tahini soup,  I was eager to experiment more with tahini in soups.  The vegetables were basically what I had left in the fridge so could easily be changed for whatever you have.   It’s amazing that just a little bit of tahini makes the lentils taste really creamy.  I know it doesn’t look that pretty or appetizing in the picture, but if you like lentils and tahini then I’m sure you would love this.

Simona of briciole has a nourishing bowl of Minestra di Verdure Stile Ribollita (Ribollita-Inspired Vegetable Soup) to share and says, "I never had ribollita when visiting Tuscany, which freed me from memory-based constraints. I had the intention to stay close to the tradition, but in the end I took liberties, so, I decided to call the soup I made for the event "ribollita-inspired." However, by using some things I had in the vegetable crisper (mostly from my vegetable patch), I was true to a philosophy that is dear to my heart: you use up everything you have, trying to turn it into something flavorful and healthy."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog made two soups this week. First up this colorful Carrot Ginger Comfort Soup. She says, "I'm starting to come down with a sore throat and a cold. I was feeling chilly,  so, I wanted something hot to eat that could be made quickly. I had some sweet organic carrots in the fridge and a peice of  fresh ginger. I made the two ingredients into a quick soup that turned out to be surprisingly delicious.  It is gluten free, fat free, low calorie, and vegan and the color is bright and appealing."

Judee also made this diet-friendly Weight-Loss Artichoke Soup and says, "This soup has a great flavor for a low calorie, low fat vegetable broth.  It is made from frozen artichokes, red cabbage, spinach and tofu."

Debbie of Easy Natural Food says, "Tom Kha Gai Soup is a Thai classic, and one of our all-time favorite soups! It is a soup with chicken cooked in a broth of coconut milk that has been infused with the flavors from lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Despite how much we like it, I’ve never tried making it at home before. I think I had convinced myself that there was no way I would be able to even come close to getting an authentic flavor. But provided you have the right (authentic) ingredients, Tom Kha Gai is surprisingly easy and very tasty to make at home."

Janet of The Taste Space has a soup and a salad entry this week. Her soup is this exotic Root Vegetable Mulligatawny. Janet says, "Mulligatawny is a British Indian curry-flavoured soup and literally means “pepper water”. However, recipes seem to be so varied that anything goes. Tess‘ version of mulligatawny is primarily red lentils, lemon and cilantro, whereas this is a creamy, tomato-spiked vegetable curry-soup brightened with tamarind. The leftovers were definitely more of a curry consistency.

For her salad, Janet made this Warm Mediterranean Chickpea and Spinach Salad and says, "This salad is so good that I have no reservations serving it guests.  Delicious slightly warm but equally good as leftovers brought up to room temperature. Of course, please double the recipe if making it for a group.  I don’t know who wouldn’t like a warm chickpea and spinach salad filled with artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and lots of herbs."

Joanne of Eats Well With Others offers up a tasty Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese and says, "The majorly good news about this pasta, though, is that it actually won't really stick to your thighs in any way, shape or form.  In fact, just the opposite.  Made with whole wheat pasta and stuffed with asparagus, kale, and tomatoes, this is veritable health food. Not that it tastes like it.  My brother ate at least two and a half servings of it and his only comment was, "the only thing I didn't like was the tomatoes". I'd call that a win."  

Finally we have some lovely little sandwiches from Graziana at Erbe in Cucina, these Danish Canapes with Thyme (Smoerrebroed). Graziana says, "A couple of years ago I tried many Danish recipes, and my favourite was the smoerrebroed (or smørrebrød), canapes with rye bread or white bread, and many combination of ingredients: Danish butter, fried fish, Hungarian salami, radishes, tomatoes, Dana Blue cheese, tartar of beef, boiled or raw eggs... For my miniatures lunch I made some tiny smoerrebroed: rye bread spread with Danish butter flavored with thyme and garnished with cherry tomatoes for the miniature effect."

Some wonderful creations this week! Thanks to all who joined in. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy healthy Earth Day and week!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tangy Green Guacamole with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa w/ Serranos, Roasted Onions & Cilantro: Seriously Delicious & Addicting!

You know those people that attach themselves to a particular appetizer at a party or gathering? They sit or stand close by so they can reach it without effort, sometimes they even protect "their" dish with their body positioned around it and sort of glare at anyone who looks like they might be getting close-- very reminiscent of a hungry lion in the wild, feasting on a newly slain antelope and growling menacingly at any other lion that gets near. If you have more polite friends, family and sometimes acquaintances than I do and you have never witnessed this type of behavior, you will if you make this Tangy Green Guacamole. It is positively addicting!

I am normally not a fan of "stuff" in my guacamole. Just a little lime, salt, and a touch of Tabasco with all that gorgeous avocado is the way I like it. A little cilantro is pushing it. Tangy Green Guacamole blends those creamy avocados with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa with Serranos, Roasted Onions and Cilantro (both recipes from Salsas That Cook by Rick Bayless.) The salsa is pretty amazing on its own, but the pairing makes for a flavor-packed, almost fruity (in the best possible way) guacamole with a good spicy kick. Serve it with some home-baked corn tortilla chips and watch the pack circle and devour it.

Rick Bayless says, "The roasty flavors of the tomatillos, garlic and onions are the perfect way to underscore the naturally nutty flavors of avocados - especially Hass avocados, the pebbly dark-skin ones. Though this guacamole improves if made an hour or so ahead, it stays looking fresh and green for slightly longer than traditional guacamole (the acidity of the tomatillos helps here), but don't make it more than 3 or 4 hours in advance."

Tangy Green Guacamole
From Salsas That Cook by Rick Bayless
(Makes a Generous 3-Cups)

3 large ripe avocados, preferably the pebbly-skin Hass variety.
1 cup Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus a few leaves for garnish
Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon

Remove the little nub of stem that is still usually lodged at the top of each avocado. Cut each avocado in half by slicing straight down through that spot where the stem was attached, until you reach the pit, then rotating the knife all the way around the pit. Twist the two halves apart, then scoop out the pits. With a spoon, scoop out the soft flesh from the skins, collecting it in a large bowl as you go. Coarsely mash with the spoon (or you can use an old-fashioned potato masher or large fork).

Gently stir the salsa into the avocado mixture, along with the cilantro. Taste and season with salt. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate until you're ready to serve. (Not only will the guacamole improve if made half an hour or so before serving, but also it will maintain its fresh look longer if served cold.) Scoop into a decorative bowl, garnish with cilantro sprigs and you're ready to set it out for your guests to enjoy.

Rick Bayless says, "If you've shied away from green salsas, finding them acrid and briny, try this very fresh tasting roasted tomatillo salsa and you'll be won back."

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa with Serranos, Roasted Onions and Cilantro
From Salsas That Cook by Rick Bayless
(Makes About 2 Cups)

1 lb (about 7 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
4-5 fresh serrano chiles, stemmed
1 small (4-oz) white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 cloves garlic, peeled
about 1/2 cup water (if needed)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely packed
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp sugar (optional)

Heat the broiler. Lay the whole tomatillos and serranos on a broiler pan or baking sheet (line it with heavy-duty foil for the greatest ease in cleaning and collecting the juices). Set the pan 4 inches below the broiler and let roast until the tomatillos are softened and splotchy black in places (the skins will split), about 5 minutes. (Your goal is to cook the tomatillos through while they roast, which means they'll have begun their transition from light bright green to olive color on the top side.) With a pair of tongs, flip over the tomatillos and chiles and roast the other side for another 4 or 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Turn the oven down to 425 degrees F. Separate the onion into rings and, on a similar pan or baking sheet, combine them with the garlic. Set in the oven. Stir carefully every couple of minutes, until the onions are beautifully roasted. (They're going to look rather wilted and translucent, even have a touch of char on some of the edges.) The garlic should feel soft and look browned in spots. Total roasting time will be about 15 minutes. (If you like smoky flavors in your salsa, try roasting the onion and garlic on a perforated grilling pan over a moderately low charcoal fire.) Cool to room temperature.

In a food processor, pulse the serranos (no need to peel or seed them) with the onion-garlic mixture until moderately finely chopped, scraping everything down with a spatula as needed to keep it all moving. Scoop into a big bowl, then, without washing the processor, coarsely puree the tomatillos and their juice. Stir them into the bowl. Stir in enough water to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency — in Mexico they like this salsa spicy and pretty runny, the kind of salsa you dribble on rather than scoop up with chips. Stir in the cilantro.

Taste and season highly with salt. Taste again and, if you wish, add just enough sugar to take the edge off the tomatillos' very bright tanginess. If you're planning to use your salsa right away, simply pour it into a bowl and it's ready, or refrigerate it and use within 5 days.

Notes/Results: Just make it! The salsa is excellent and the guacamole is to die for. ;-) Other than a little time to roast the salsa ingredients, both recipes are quick and easy to put together. My tortilla chips are just thick-cut homemade-style corn tortillas sliced into triangles with a pizza cutter, lightly misted with olive oil, and sprinkled with smoked salt, ground cumin and chili powder then baked at about 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, then allowed to sit in the turned off oven another 10 minutes or so to crisp up. I made the salsa the night before, so the flavors had time to come together, then mixed up the guacamole the next night. The extra salsa went into an avocado soup that I will be posting this weekend--it's a very versatile ingredient. I was happy with both of these recipes (a bit too happy with the guacamole as I ate most of it) ;- and I will definitely make them both again.

Our theme this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs is Salsas and Sauces. We are cooking with Rick Bayless until October so if you have a hankering for Mexican food, come join us.