Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tex-Mex And Peas: Peas Part 2

Fig.1. The peas add another flavor dimension to the tacos. I like sour cream, chopped green onions and Frank's Red Hot on my tacos. I got the Frank's 'Think' Red Hot in my publi-sac, I put that shit on everything.

I really don't want this post to sound like I'm trying to 'trick' your kids into eating something nutritious. I never agreed with that approach. Kids, from a very young age, need to know exactly what they're eating: be it broccoli, rapini, zucchini, tomatoes, Brussel sprouts or peas; tell your kids what vegetables and fruits they're eating. Give them young ones enough credit, they will like their vegetables. Don't buy into the pre-disposed assumption that 'kids hate vegetables'. That's just the product of television and city-urban legends. News-Flash: children who live on farms eat their vegetables.
That being said, adding peas to tacos works; like I mentioned in my previous post, the peas add another flavor dimension to the dish, and if the peas are deep enough in the taco, your kids won't be able to pick them pesky peas out.

Hard Shell Tacos With Peas
Serves 4 (2 tacos each)

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 kilo lean minced meat
1 cup fresh peas
3 smoked chilpotle peppers in adobe sauce, chopped (I make my own, but I also like to use San Marcos, see picture below)
1 small can, or 1 cup pureed tomatoes
Tex Mex spices, add to your tastes (I like my pre-made blends at Spice Station or Olives et Epices.)


Heat the olive oil in a large pan set over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the meat and cook until no longer pink, make sure you break up the meat well. Add the peas, chilpotle peppers, pureed tomatoes, and spices and cook until it all comes together, 5 minutes.

Serve the meat in warmed shells (or soft tortillas if hard shells aren't your thing) and garnish with whatever you like.

Fig.2. These peppers are awesome.  I use them in all my Tex-Mex recipes, in my ribs, and in various other BBQ applications.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Let The Pea-A-Thon Begin

 Fig.1.A bushel of fresh peas. It's a good thing.

Things come to life when the markets begin to sell berries, fruits and vegetables and I ain't talking about the food. At the risk of sounding overly sentimental, what comes alive is something in me that's been dead all winter: the colors, sights, sounds and flavours spark that culinay flame, and nothing awakens an appetite like fresh peas.

Peas are nothing short of a miracle.  How fauna has evolved to the point where little edible peas are protected by a pod calls into question the existence of a higher power.  For everyone out there who has only ever seen peas either frozen in a bag, or in a can with a Green Giant on the packaging, you owe it to yourself to get out to a farmer's market and gaze upon the splendor that is a fresh pea.
I bought a large bushel from the Birri Brothers with the intention of snacking on and cooking with peas all week, I'll be buying another couple of bushels which I'll be freezing.

Fig.2. A large bowl of shucked fresh peas, a perfect raw snack food.

Peas are one of those versatile ingredients that can be added to almost anything. This recipe is the first of a four part 'pea-a-thon'.  It's a simple way to use peas and an example that peas can add a different flavour to any dish.

Sea Snail and Pea Ceviche
I buy my sea snails (they're called borgot in French) at Atkins & Freres in the Jean Talon Market. Their 'borgot' come two ways: bottled in Mason Jars in a brine vinigar solution, and a variety just soaking in brine.  These sea snails are cooked so it's technically not a ceviche, but feel free to use fresh raw scallops or raw sole if you can't find sea snails. Like all ceviches, the viniger will 'cook' the seafood.

Fig.3. Sea snails from Quebec, or borgots in French


8 to 10 Sea snails, sliced
1/3 cup fresh raw peas
1 small shallot, finely diced
red wine viniger


Put all of the ingredients in a dish, mix and serve.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Garlic in The Blood

My Great Grandmother, Nonna Pina, believed that garlic was good for the blood.  If me or one of my cousins became sick, she'd load us up with garlic.  Till this day, when I feel a cold coming on, I head straight to Marathon and load up on tzatiki.  Who wants a kiss?
Nonna Pina was on to something. Garlic has been proven in helping people with high blood pressure and also helps boost the immune system.
Fresh Garlic, garlic leaves, and garlic shoots are now in abundance at any farmer's market. Forgo the dried garlic for a few weeks and use the fresh stuff.  I like to puree some garlic and freeze it, when I need to make a soffrito of any kind, I throw some in the pan.

Pureeing and Freeing Fresh Garlic.

Chop the garlic in small pieces and simply puree using a hand blender or a regular blender.  Place mashed garlic in ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, pop them out and store in a freezer bag. When needed, simply dd the frozen garlic cubes into a hot pan with oil or butter. The garlic will keep for 3 to 4 months.