Red Hot

Remember that small obsession I have with spicy foods and corn and salsa and tortillas? Well it hasn’t gone away. So much so, that I adapted a few other not-so-traditionally-Latin foods into a spicy red hot fiesta of a meal in my new place the other night.

It all started with a small trip home for less than 24 hours. Actually I think I arrived around noon and left by 7 am the next day. In those short 19 hours I had visited my favorite CSA farm, gone grocery shopping at my coop, packed everything I had up in my house, loaded it onto a truck, went out to dinner, had a great time with my family, slept well, then headed out again. The food sections of this small endeavor were amazing. The dinner, at Maxi’s Supper Club (a small place in Ithaca serving some decent Cajun fusion foods), was great served with a ten-dollars-off bottle of wine, which I split with my mom. The farm was even better – I got to talk to the farmers and hopefully start up a small distribution of their CSA down in my neck of the woods in Brooklyn. Talking with them was such a great time, since they were so down to earth and really into their foods, and getting the word out about sustainability and seasonal produce. On my departure, they offered me a bag or two of some produce. How could I say no, right?

Away from the farm, back to my house to pack up all of my worldly possessions (except those golf clubs that are still in attic from a time when I used to play and not be so awful…), I went with two bags full of zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, peppers, eggplant and Swiss chard. What a nice house warming present for a Brooklynite!

For my first dinner in my new place with friends over, my desire for beans and spicy sauce kicked into high gear. True I wanted to be classy and refined, but I just wanted to get into the foods in front of me, too.  Then that desire for spice added, like a pregnant woman’s strange flavor combination desires, to wanting to cook beets and Swiss chard. As my imaginary meal progressed I had amassed corn and beans and tomatoes and hot sauce and beets and Swiss chard and tortillas and zucchini and broccoli and some cauliflower and it just got overwhelming and amazing.

It might have been a little much in the long run, but I guess I’m just into “overdoing it” recently. Off into the wonderful world of cooking I went.

Ps. Cooking world is much like reading world, where you get so sucked up into the plot of the meal, or the narrative, that everything else drips away – time, people, music, it all just melts into this surreal feeling of accomplishment and production.

The tortillas sat waiting to be rolled out as beets sautéed with olive oil. Swiss chard wilted and balsamic vinegar reduced. Broccoli popped with garlic and eggplant roasted. Salsa sat in the fridge from the day before marinating with vinegar, oil, and a touch of honey with a lot of hot pepper. Friends chatted in the living room and sipped on IPAs and enjoyed what was a relaxing Sunday.

When the food hit the table, and my camera stopped clicking, we dove into the food and sipped hard on our water to calm the spice that built up. Emily had brought over a habenero salsa that got the best of most of us, but it didn’t matter because the foods’ flavors pressed through, and a table filled of six people enjoyed the best of most worlds: spice, homemade food, and good dinner conversation. First dinner, success.

 

Overnight Salsa

4 tomatoes, roasted in the oven at 400 for 15 minutes

1 onion, chopped

2 ears of corn, boiled and kernels cut off the cob

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 hot pepper, chopped with seeds

A decent amount of vinegar

Likewise with the olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Paprika

Tablespoon of honey

 

Combine it in a jar, seal it, leave it over night in the fridge to let the flavors mix and mingle, serve with some tortillas and roasted beets and cheese, if you please. 

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