CHILE CON QUESO

Chile with cheese is the literal translation. It’s more of an appetizer than an entree. And, it is easy to make. Plus, there as many recipes for Chile con Queso as there are cooks that make it. The variables are the type of cheeses you use and the kinds of chiles you prefer. Make it hot, make it mild. This recipe uses a fresh roasted poblano chile and a small jalapeño for a little heat. I opted for Pepper Jack and Velvetta cheese this time, but most any cheese of your choice is good as long as it melts smoothly. You can make it without the ground beef but that does add a lot of flavor. I also used fresh vine-ripe tomatoes that I cored and removed the skin. Use a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes if you want. If you don’t want to use a fresh roasted poblano, use a small can of diced green chiles.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup diced red or white onion
  • 4 small Roma tomatoes, core removed, diced or 1 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium poblano, roasted, skin and seeds removed, diced or 1 small can of diced green chiles
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, seeded, minced
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chile powder
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1 cup velvetta, cubed
  • 1/4 cup chopped chilantro
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • Tortilla chips

Directions:

  • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tsp of canola oil. Crumble in the ground beef and cook until just browned. Add the onions, tomatoes, poblano, jalapeno, garlic, garlic powder, cumin, chile powder, salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything together well. Bring to a simmer, lower heat, cover, and cook for 25 minutes.
  • Add the milk, cream, 1 1/2 cups Pepper Jack, and Velveeta and bring to a simmer, stirring, until all the cheeses have melted and are smooth. Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • Place in individual small bowls and top with more Pepper Jack then serve with tortillas chips. Garnish with cilantro and green onions.

REALLY GOOD HOMEMADE SALSA

There is nothing more satisfying than finding the right salsa recipe then using home-grown tomatoes to make it.

I have made my own salsa hundreds of times over the years, and they just didn’t cut it. This one finally does.

Keep in mind, we like this ratio of the standard salsa ingredients. If you want it spicier then use more jalapeños or Serranos. Less sugar, more salt…here is where it is up to you. Also, how much you process it will determine how chunky it is. Chipotles perhaps?

It will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days if you store it in a container with a tight fitting lid. I use a large canning jar. You could also do the whole canning process, but that involves cooking the salsa…and we prefer to leave it fresh and just use it within a few days.

Those tomatoes are from our garden. If you don’t have that, buy the vine rip tomatoes on the vine. Do not use canned diced tomatoes, it will taste tinny.

And, of course, make your own corn tortilla chips! We are smoking a Santa Maria Tri Tip tomorrow…this salsa was made for that.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored
  • 1 medium jalapeno, stem and seeds removed, rough chop
  • 1 cup white onions, rough chop
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 large garlic clove, thin sliced
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions:

  • Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you have your desired chunkiness. Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
  • It can also be frozen in plastic freezer bags or plastic containers.

HOW TO MAKE THE WORLD’S BEST GUACAMOLE

Okay, okay…the World’s Best Guacamole may be a little over the top…but, it’s really, really good!

I’ve made (and failed) at many versions of Guacamole. By the way, I have been making this version for about 30 years or so…and fallen from the lesser guacamole faith a number of times with other ingredients that just didn’t cut it.

The keys to the best guacamole are: #1 – Use only the best RIPE Haas avocados. #2 – Ensure all your ingredients are fresh and high quality. #3 – Taste…season…taste…season until it is just right.

These ingredients compliment the star of the show…I can’t explain it any better. Guacamole should be avocado-forward all the way. Whatever you choose to put in it, just make sure it doesn’t interfere with this most luxurious fruit! It is a fruit, isn’t it?

Feel free to add more jalapeño for more heat. Or more cilantro and lime juice.

Also, ‘Guac’ just doesn’t last long after making it. Saving it overnight and expecting it to taste the same ain’t gonna happen! Plus…it gets brown real fast!

IMHO…don’t even think about garlic…it will overwhelm the avocado taste.

Here’s a hint or two about ripening these things. Don’t do the microwave thing to speed the process…NOT! Do not think it will ripen in the fridge, it won’t. Room temperature only. You can hasten it along a bit by placing them in a paper bag for a day or two.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe medium to large Haas avocados
  • 1 medium jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, minced
  • 3-4 tbsp onions (white or red), minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp lime juice, fresh is best
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp white or black pepper
  • 1/4 cup ripe tomatoes, cored and seeded, 1/4 inch dice

Directions:

  • Scoop out the flesh from the avocados and place in a medium bowl. Mash with a fork leaving some chunks. Add the jalapeño and the onions. Mix until well combined. Add the lime juice, cilantro, and salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and fold everything together. Taste and reseason if necessary
  • Place an avocado pit in the middle of the guacamole and push down. Then cover the surface of the guacamole with some plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes or so until chilled.