Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Salsa, Chips and Tea. Anyone?

So welcome to shoulder season around the Lake. The erratic weather messes with your body and mind. Enter food cravings. Hot food? Cold food? Yikes!  No worries. Hot salsa and warm tortilla chips are the perfect answer to work for you no matter what Mother Nature does this season.
I’ll be honest with you. I am a salsa and chip addict. On the South Shore I’ve ordered them at different Mexican restaurants. I’ve bought the “Killer” salsa in the plastic container at Safeway—it’s to live for. And there was this small dive I used to visit when running errands around town. For 1.99 I got a container of salsa to write home about and a bag of light, crispy warm chips.
One day I asked the girl at counter. “Why is this salsa so inexpensive? You should charge more.” She smiled and handed me the smooth and spicy sauce and chips in a to-go bag. Another time I stopped by to be “gifted” my salsa and chips. The girl was MIA. An older, no-nonsense man gave me my usual fare. He mumbled, “4.99.” Huh? I paid the price but blamed myself for boldly suggesting the rate increase.
So this DIY recipe is a tribute to the small eatery that made me smile (at 1.99 or 4.99). I usually make chunky salsa with summertime herbs for the thrill of it. This time around I changed it up and tried the smooth variety with a different texture as a tribute to the girl who gave me a great deal on salsa and chips.
tomato-Jalapeno SALSA AND CHIPS
2 cups tomatoes, fresh, diced (I used the Roma variety)
¼ cup onion, yellow or red, chopped
¼ cup jalapeno pepper, seeded, diced
2 teaspoons garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons cilantro, dried (fresh is better but wait until summer)
½ teaspoon Herbs de Provence (optional)
A dash of ground pepper, sea salt to taste
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
In a blender (mine has a pulse button) or food processor combine tomatoes, onion, jalapeno pepper, garlic, herbs, and spices, lemon juice. Pulse about one dozen times. Put into container, cover. Chill in fridge at lease one hour.
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Baked Tortilla Chips: Slice 6 wheat flour tortillas. (You can use corn or white if preferred.) Cut tortillas in half. Slice three times like a pie or pizza. Place on two cookie sheets. Drizzle with olive oil or canola oil. Sprinkle with ground pepper and sea salt. In a 350 degree oven bake about six to 10 minutes. Turn once. Remove when light brown. *You can fry tortilla slices in canola oil for crispier chip but baked is healthier and lower in saturated fat. Salas and chips serves 4-6. Yes, you can double the recipe. And don't forget to put on a kettle for tea time! Hot or iced. Both will work for the roller coaster temperatures.
Homemade salsa tastes fresh. Sure, homegrown herbs or ones you buy at the store make it even better. Right now during shoulder season dried herbs are more convenient and likely cost less in the long run. There’s nothing like going to a restaurant and being served warm chips with delicious salsa. But making this appetizer yourself at home? Yep, it’s the same and well, you’ve got total control of adding more or less of your favorite ingredients and the heat—warm or hot. Is it worth the extra time and effort? Yeah, it is from the first chip to the last. And hey, you can enjoy extra salsa and chips the day after—whatever the temperature is outdoors.

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