Friday, August 26, 2022

Gazpacho - Veggie Soup Recipe Video

 This recipe is for all you home gardeners! And my Gazpacho video is just in time for the end of summer vegetable harvest.

Even if you don't have a summer garden, all the veggies in this recipe are easily had from local farmer's markets and roadside fruit and vegetable stands. I get my ingredients from a local Latin grocery store, too. All are for less than a buck per pound.

Click on any photo to see larger.

Tomatoes are the most expensive veggie, but they often come on sale somewhere. Cucumber and bell pepper are cheap, and onions are the cheapest veggie by far. I sometimes use garlic from the jar, but I also like a fresh chopped extra-pungent clove.

The other main ingredients are olive oil and vinegar. I get extra virgin olive oil in small bottles from my local 99c only Store and Dollar Tree. While not the best quality, hey it's good enough for me. And you can use any expensive olive oil, flavorful oil like avocado, or a nut-based one.

Gazpacho is a cold vegetable soup originally from Spain. They use Sherry Wine - use that if you can find it, but I find  Red Wine Vinegar is an easy substitution. It's okay to use any vinegar you have on hand like apple cider or white vinegar.

There is no cooking involved, all you do is roughly chop all the veggies to fit in a blender or food processor - you can use a hand blender. Pour in a half a cup of olive oil and a couple tablespoons of vinegar, then blend it all together for a minute or so, until smooth and creamy.

I like to serve Gazpacho chilled and topped with a sliced fresh herb like basil. I add a sprinkling of fine-chopped tomato and cucumber for extra color, and crunch.

The veggie balance is up to you. Some recipes call to peel and remove seeds from the cucumber. The cucumbers I've gotten lately are almost seedless, or the seeds are very small and soft. If you peel the cucumber the Gazpacho will be a brighter red color.

I used green bell pepper, but any color on sale will do. Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers are a bit sweeter but more expensive.

Tomatoes are the main ingredient. So let them fully ripen on your kitchen counter or windowsill. I use a couple pounds of tomatoes, and you can use as much as you like with an extra-large crop to harvest. Adjust the veggie amounts to suit your tastes.

My patio garden tomatoes.

So get to chopping and blend my summer fresh Gazpacho Soup for a cool and refreshing appetizer or light lunch.

Gazpacho - Video

Play it here, video runs 2 minutes, 48 seconds.

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

  • 2 pounds tomato - roughly chopped, about 3 to 4 cups. I used 4 regular sized tomatoes.
  • 1/2 onion - roughly chopped
  • 1 bell pepper - remove seeds and white membrane.
  • 1 cucumber - Some recipes just throw in a chopped and unpeeled cucumber with seeds. Okay to peel and remove seeds for a more colorful soup.
  • 1 clove garlic - 1 teaspoon chopped. Fresh or from a jar.
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar - usually sherry vinegar is used, but any type of vinegar will do.
  • 1/2 cup olive oil - okay to use any favorite flavorful oil.

 Chop veggies to fit in a blender or food processor. The veggies don't need to be finely chopped, just a quick couple of slices will do. If you have a hand blender then put chopped veggies in a large bowl.

Remove seed and white membrane in the bell pepper. Some recipes say to remove cucumber skin and seed. The type I get recently have little to no seeds. If you peel the cucumber the Gazpacho will be brighter orange or red.

You can add or subtract the amount of garlic, onion, bell pepper, and cucumber. Just make sure to add plenty of tomatoes! I do remove the stem part, but I keep the seeds.

Add veggies to a blender or food processor. Pour in a half cup of olive oil or favorite flavored oil. It's okay to add more or less olive oil, to suit your tastes.

Finally, add 2 tablespoons of vinegar. I use Red Wine Vinegar, but it's okay to use any you have on hand including balsamic vinegar. Add as much or as little as you like.

Some recipes call for adding a slice or two of bread to the blender for a thicker soup. I leave it out for this recipe.

Cover and blend it all together until smooth and creamy, about one minute.

Chill Gazpacho until ready to serve. I like to top my Gazpacho with a fresh sliced herb and a small amount of chopped veggies like tomato and cucumber, for added crunch and color.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Mexican Cola Turkey Carnitas - Recipe for Tacos & Burritos

My latest recipe is a lighter version of Mexican-style Pork Carnitas. I often look for Pork Carnitas being slow-cooked by street vendors, like Leo's Taco Truck, in a Los Angeles alley or sidewalk. I just pull over and get in line for a luscious Carnitas taco after being on the town late at night. Hey, with my easy-to-make Mexican Cola Turkey Carnitas recipe, you can cut in line and have a taco or burrito anytime!

I flavor my Turkey Carnitas with orange and lemon juice, too. So make sure to reserve some of the simmering sauce to pour on the turkey meat just before serving. 

I know there are some of my visitors who have dietary restrictions against pork products, so this recipe is for you. So all my Jewish and Muslim readers can now enjoy authentic L.A. street tacos, right at home.

For my recipe, I use two dark meat drumsticks, that weigh about a pound each. They are often on sale and as cheap as chicken. For extra-tender and juicy Turkey Carnitas, dark-leg meat is the way to go, you can use thigh meat or even turkey wings. For Turkey Carnitas during the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays, the sales are on full blast!

This recipe is made with a bottle of Mexican cola. You can use any cola really, but I would stay away from diet - what you are looking for is the cola flavor with real sugar sweetness. And use freshly squeezed, pasteurized, or frozen orange and lemon juice.

I use garlic powder and dried onion, but you can use fresh veggies if you like. I get my spices and dried herbs at the local Dollar Tree and 99c only Stores. So between dollar store spices and poultry sales that's a lot of dinero staying in your pockets!

Click on any photo to see larger.

I first noticed Turkey Carnitas in cafeteria-style heating bins in the deli section of my local Latin market. And they are not cheap at about $7 per pound, so I decided to just make some myself.

Latin market Turkey Carnitas

Theirs seems to be drier than my fresh-made, but that could be the result of hours under heating lamps - which do give Turkey Carnitas an extra crispy edge. To get that I just bake some cooked meat in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to get some crunchy bits.

I flavor Turkey Carnitas with typical spices and herbs that Pork Carnitas also use. The most important ones are cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Extra spices include thyme, bay leaf, and chopped or dried onion - so if you don't have those, it's okay to leave them out.

The trick is to slow-cook or braise the turkey legs in the water and/or broth for 2 to 3 hours until tender. With Pork Carnitas, pork shoulder is used which has fatty skin and marbling. They are slow-cooked in their rendered fat, for that luscious flavor.

My Turkey Carnitas are lean and mean since there is little fat in turkey legs. I do leave the skin on, but you could take it off. Since turkey is much more pungent than pork, this helps make up for the extra fatty flavor you get with typical Pork Carnitas. And two turkey legs will feed the whole family!

Flour and corn tortillas are cheap these days, too. All I do is add a little oil to a pan and heat them up for a minute - stack them on a plate and cover with a paper towel to keep warm.

You can use your favorite jar of salsa for your taco topping. If you like your tacos gringo-style then chop some tomato, and iceberg lettuce, and open a bag of shredded cheddar cheese. Or kick it up a notch and click on any of the following salsa names to get my homemade recipes: Roasted Salsa Verde (tomatillo,) Red Chili (2 dried types - but the same recipe,) Pico de GalloMango, and an Avocado Crema.

My cheap$kate recipe is easy to make, just turkey legs and a few spices and herbs that are slow-cooked so all you need is a little patience, and the payoff is big time. And I use dried herbs and spices, so you don't even have to chop anything. Hey, if you don't like sugary cola then leave that out too!

So if you're looking for a dish to serve at your next taco party then try out my Mexican Cola Turkey Carnitas. Let your guests do all the work and build their own. Just set out some chopped onion, cilantro, and your fave salsa, oh, and kick it up a notch with some sliced avocado.

Mexican Cola Turkey Carnitas - VIDEO
Play it here, video runs 3 minutes 44 seconds

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

Ingredients (about 12 tacos)
  • 2 Turkey Legs - about 2 to 3 pounds total. Okay to use thighs or wings. Use a turkey breast too, although it's a bit drier to my taste.
  • 1 Mexican Cola - 12 ounces. Okay to use any bottle or can of your favorite cola.
  • Orange Juice - 1/2 cup store-bought, frozen, or fresh-squeezed. 
  • Lemon Juice -  juice of 1 whole lemon.
  • Oregano  - 1 teaspoon dried or fresh.
  • Dried Onion - 1 tablespoon.  Okay to use a 1/2 chopped onion.
  • Dried Garlic - 1 tablespoon. Okay to use fresh chopped garlic.
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

Add turkey legs to a large pan or pot, over medium heat. I leave the skin on. It renders very little fat, but it's okay if you want to remove it.

Pour in orange juice and Mexican cola (or a regular cola.)

Sprinkle on the dried oregano, onion, and garlic. 

Salt and pepper to taste, or about 1/4 teaspoon salt and half teaspoon pepper.

Add the juice of a lemon or lime.

On your stovetop, bring the cooking pot to a boil. Once it's boiling, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook covered for 2 - 3 hours until meat separates easily with a fork.

You are cooking the Turkey Carnitas so the broth reduces and intensifies and the meat becomes flavorful.

Check every hour or so, and add water, orange juice, or Cola, if it cooks out, but it's okay for the liquid to reduce by half for an intense "pot liquor" to drizzle over the finished Mexican Cola Turkey Carnitas.

Rotate the meat a couple times during simmering so all sides evenly cook through.

Done when meat is fall-apart tender. Use a fork to see how easily turkey flakes off the bone.

Traditionally Carnitas are chopped or shredded and piled into flour or corn tortillas. When you peel turkey from the bone, look for small fine bones and chewy cartilage to remove.

For serving, just take turkey pieces and chop them into small 1/4-inch pieces. You could also do the "pulled pork" method of using 2 forks to pull the tender chunks apart to shred.

Drizzle on some of the "pot liquor" or broth if you are storing the Cola Turkey Carnitas to serve later. Or if you are keeping it warm in the oven, make sure to drizzle on plenty, so cooked meat stays moist.

The above method is the easiest way to make Carnitas. Outdoor sidewalk vendors cook it similarly in a large pot or pan filled with pork shoulder and thick skin, intestines, tongue, and other parts, slow cooking for hours in the rendered fat and broth. And when you order, the cook just plucks out a hunk of meat and chops it into small pieces to pile on a warmed corn tortilla. The main difference here is way less fat and grease! 

You can top Cola Turkey Carnitas Tacos with my Pico de Gallo (recipe here,) or simply with chopped onion and cilantro. Go Americano with your favorite salsa, iceberg lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheddar cheese.

For a Cola Turkey Carnitas Burrito, add some of my Mom's Mexican Rice (recipe here) with a heated can of pinto beans or my Homemade Mexican-style Pinto Beans along with the above-mentioned chopped veggies. If you have a favorite salsa then use that...and don't forget the hot sauce!

Roasting for Crispy Bits
This is a lean way. Just add the larger chunks of tender braised turkey to a roasting pan and bake for about 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. 

To keep the Turkey Carnitas extra moist add some of the broth to the roasting pan, just enough to barely cover the bottom. 

You just want to lightly brown some of the turkey pieces for crunch. Don't worry about all the small boiled bits, just add them to the larger roasted pieces and chop them up altogether.

Friday, August 19, 2022

National Potato Day - Recipes & Reviews

The most humble and cheapest of veggies is the tuber or potato. I can get them for way less than a dollar per pound. So there is every reason to celebrate National Potato Day. Be sure to click on any recipe name to see the tasty original blog post recipe.

I'll start my potato recipe roundup with the most soul-satisfying Mashed Potatoes. I make mine the easy way with just boiled potatoes, milk, butter, a lot of black pepper, and a touch of salt. I always serve them with my Thanksgiving Turkey.

Here's my video below (Click on the recipe name above to see my photos and recipe text.)

Carrying on the Mashed Potato theme, my next recipe is from across the pond (Great Britain,) Shepherd's Pie. Potatoes are at their best when playing second fiddle to the main ingredient, often it's meat.

It's a hearty one-pot meal that has it all. Ground meat, green peas, carrot, onions in a bath of au jus gravy, and topped with mashed's so good. Once assembled, you finish the Shepherd's Pie off in the oven to get a browned topping. The prep work is straightforward, just some veggie chopping and pre-cooking the meat, veggies, and mashing potatoes. See how I do it below.

You can't get more redwhite, and blue than a picnic-style chilled Potato Salad. I still make it quite often, too. My version is a Classic Potato Salad

Again, the ingredients are cheap, simple, and easy to get. I like the added crunch of fine-chopped raw onion and chunks of celery. I make mine extra decadent with the addition of chopped boiled eggs. 

For your next picnic or backyard BBQ make a cool batch of my Classic Potato Salad

This is one of my most controversial recipes and it's called Mom's Cajun Potato Salad. Mom came to visit me in Los Angeles and I got her to make it. My Mom lives in Louisiana and she knows her Cajun cooking.

When I saw what she was doing I had to point out to her that she was making Mashed Potatoes, not Potato Salad!

Well, we had it out and she won, of course, I should have known better butting heads with her. I'll let you make the call if it's mashed or salad-style after watching the recipe video below.

Originating in Central and South America, the potato comes in many varieties and colors. I like red potatoes but orange sweet potatoes are especially delish. Lately, I've been grilling them more than typically baking in the oven. 

You can grill them just like you would a regular Russet potato. They soften and char quickly and easily. So next time you're at the grill throw on sliced sweet potato and make Grilled Russet and Sweet Potatoes.

My Cajun nephew Zak works as a cook and learned a great Sweet Potato Hash to go with his classic Blackened Fish recipe. It's a 2'fer you can check out below.

You'll find these Breakfast Potatoes at truck stops and diners just off the interstate almost everywhere. This potato recipe sautes chunky potatoes, with a veggie mix of bell pepper, onion and garlic. They're also called Skillet Potatoes and Home Fries.  Make a big batch, they reheat fine the next day, too.

I like spuds fried, boiled, and grilled, in the morning, noon, and night. For breakfast, I'll grate a potato to make Old School Hash Browns

You may think I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel for this Cheap$kate Deal of the Day review of canned Corned Beef Hash from years ago -- you know I kinda liked it, really.

I can't argue with you here, I guess you get what you pay for. But, you know, this canned potato and meat breakfast side is not too bad...really. You can read my review/taste test by clicking right here - reading is believing!

Speaking of Corned Beef here is a classic St. Patrick's Day dish of Corned Beef and Cabbage - with potatoes of course.

I make mine with cabbage, carrot, and red potatoes. Normally expensive corned beef drops to half price or less during the holiday. I cook the corned beef first and finish up the dish by boiling the veggies in the broth until tender.

It's actually a very easy recipe to make, just watch it below to see for yourself.

Ribeye Steak and Red Potatoes may be my favorite oven-broiled combination. I usually start the potatoes first because I slice them thick. 

After one side of the potatoes are browned I throw on the Ribeye. When it's cold outside the oven does double duty by warming up the kitchen, too!

A most unusual tuber is a Yuca. It looks foreboding, but when boiled it is super tender and very mild in flavor. I first had them at L.A.'s premier Cuban Restaurant, Versailles served with white rice, black beans, and roast pork.

I buy Yuca from local Latin groceries and even at 99c Only Stores in the frozen deli cases all peeled and ready to reheat.

I have a most delicious and tangy recipe called Yuca and Mojo Sauce with Onion

I had a neighborhood restaurant I would frequent on Sunday mornings for an expresso and a Spanish Omelet to go with my Sunday L.A. Times newspaper. 

Spanish Omelet is simply scrambled eggs with sliced potatoes. You should saute the potatoes first as the eggs only take a couple of minutes to cook.

I have a great Fritatta to start your day. Again it has sliced potato, but with a Latin pepper called a pasilla or poblano. But don't worry as they are not spicy. They are more like a sweet red or yellow bell pepper.

It's basically an omelet as well, that's finished with a layer of cheese and baked in the oven under the broiler to get a nice cheese-charred topping.

And let's not forget the French Fry, or Chips, as they call them in England. 

The trick to a crispy Fry with a soft center is to fry them twice. Check out my video below of Fish and Chips and at the end of the video, I show you the frying technique.

I'm always coming up with recipes that include the common potato. So do check back for more eats that feature the most versatile spud.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...