Outdoor grilling season is in full-swing, and celebrated chef Rick Bayless has just the right multi-purpose seasoning for you. Try his modified recipe from More Mexican Everyday for a traditional salsa negra, a sweet and smoky paste that can be used on everything from grilled meats to sandwiches.
Sweet-Sour Dark Chipotle Seasoning • Salsa Negra
Don’t think of this Veracruz specialty as a typical salsa, in spite of its Spanish name; it’s more of a seasoning paste, with deep, dark richness and smoldering heat—just right for adding depth and complexity to the simplest of dishes. The traditional version of this salsa is so involved (oil-roast the chiles and garlic, soak in raw-sugar water, puree and cook slowly in an oily pan for an hour or more) that no one really makes it at home. Which is the reason I worked on a quick cheater version, but one that, to my taste, is pretty darn close to the original.
Makes about 2 cups
Place the two cans of chiles (and their canning liquid), molasses, vinegar, sugar and ½ cup water in a blender and process until completely smooth. Scrape into a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Let the mixture come to a brisk simmer, then turn the heat to medium-low and continue simmering, stirring regularly, until the mixture is the consistency of tomato paste, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the soy sauce. If necessary, add some water, a splash at a time, until the salsa is the consistency of runny ketchup. Cool, taste and season with salt; it may not need any, depending on the saltiness of your soy sauce. (That said, keep in mind that salsa negra should be seasoned highly, both to preserve it for longer storage and to make it useful as a seasoning.) Transfer the salsa to a pint-size jar and store, covered, in the refrigerator, where it will last for a month or two.
The Simplest Uses for Sweet-Sour Dark Chipotle Seasoning
1. Spoon onto raw oysters or add to cocktail sauce for shrimp
2. Toss with nuts and a little oil and bake for a delicious nibble
3. Toss with shrimp or smear on chicken after sautéing or grilling
4. Use as a glaze for practically anything off the grill. It’s particularly good on tuna, mackerel and sardines, as well as eggplant.
5. Believe it or not, it’s good on peanut butter–banana sandwiches
6. Use instead of Worcestershire and hot sauce for a spicy bloody Mary
7. Stir into cream cheese with crumbled bacon for an amazing bagel spread
8. Stir into caramel sauce and use as a dip for apples
9. Add to the pot when braising shortribs
Copyright © 2015 by Rick Bayless. Excerped from More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless published by Norton. Read our review of this book.
Our May Top Pick in Cookbooks is A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden by New York Michelin-starred chef, April Bloomfield! Did you know the leafy tops of carrots are actually secretly tasty? Bloomfield's recipe for Carrot-Top Pesto will completely change the way you look at this popular veg.
If you’ve never nibbled a carrot top, you have a happy surprise waiting for you. The greens are delicious: a little less carroty than the roots, and almost briny, like heartier borage. Arriving home from the market with not only a collection of sweet, colorful roots but also a big old tuft of bushy tops is like ordering pork shoulder and finding out that the kind butcher has snuck a couple of trotters into your bag.
I treat the tops as I would a tender herb, adding little sprigs to salads as I might parsley or dill. And because each bunch of carrots can bring twice the volume in tops, I make pesto. As much as I like the particular flavor of the tops themselves, I also like how they carry the flavor of basil, which comes through quite a bit considering how few leaves you use.
Makes about 1 cup
Combine the carrot tops and basil in a small food processor, pulse several times, then add the walnuts, Parmesan, garlic and salt. Pulse several more times, add the oil, then process full-on, stopping and scraping down the sides of the processor or stirring gently if need be, until the mixture is well combined but still a bit chunky. Taste and season with more salt, if you fancy.
By now, you've most likely heard something about 2000's cult-favorite horror novel House of Leaves. Author Mark Z. Danielewski's highly experimental writing style is often compared to that of James Joyce, but his inclusion of graphic elements—sections of text printed in shapes, multiple typefaces and font sizes, certain words printed in color—have set his novels apart in today's literary landscape. His new novel, The Familiar, is the first in a series with 27 planned volumes (yes, 27!), and it follows a 12-year-old girl named Xanther who finds an abandoned kitten on the side of the road one rainy day. Well, the story isn't quite that straightforward. Danielewski also explores Mexico, Singapore, a brutal gang in East L.A., two computer scientists in Marfa, Texas, and many more settings and characters—each with their own color-coded sections. Fans of more traditional linear narratives may want to take caution, but if you're feeling adventurous and are interested in a different kind of reading experience, then The Familiar is for you.
Xanther cracks the window, gulping air, and wow!, the spray actually warms her!
"Remember: they are only questions," Anwar has told her many times. Like he's also told her: "Remember, they are only answers."
Xanther starts breathing regular-like again.
And sure, just as there's rain out there, the number for rain is out there too.
Dancing on the pavement.
Dancing in the air.
Like music before music becomes music.
"Is everything okay?" Anwar asks.
"Huh?" Xanther responds, profoundly, rolling the window back up, too aware of what she must look like bu the look already cornering her dad's eyes. "Head in the clouds?" she tries.
"Those are some clouds."
"You know, just daydreaming," Xanther tries again.
"Tell me then," Anwar sighs. "Tell me your daydreams, daughter."
And Xanther can't stand worrying him.
She can't stand lying either. She really can't.
What are you reading today?
Looking for a fun, fast project to bring a little pop of color into a room? Victoria Hudgins, founder of the lifestyle blog A Subtle Revelry, outlines this straight-forward DIY for Colorful Rolled Tea Lights from her new book, Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed.
Any excuse is a good excuse to make a day at home a special one, and these colorful rolled tea lights will brighten up a room in more ways than one. I love the vibrancy of colored beeswax, and these small candles almost look like confetti strewn about!
Skill level: Beginner
Time needed: 30 minutes
Using an X-Acto knife, cut the beeswax sheets into three 4 x 2" (10 x 5 cm) pieces per candle.
Make the wax malleable by warming it up in your hands for a moment. Overlap the short ends of two of the pieces slightly and press together. Add the third piece in the same manner to connect the three pieces into one long skinny piece (about 11½ x 2" [29 x 5 cm] long).
Press a tea-light wick into the wax at one end. Starting from that end, gently roll the wax strip tightly around the wick to form a spiral.
Press the end of the roll into the candle base to connect.
Excerpted from Materially Crafted by Victoria Hudgins with the permission of Abrams | STC Craft. Photography by Jocelyn Noel. Read our review of this book.
Hugh Acheson, a James Beard Award-winning chef with four Atlanta restaurants, has compiled an inspiring cookbook, The Broad Fork. This guide to seasonal eating features recipes for more than 50 veggies and fruits, and with a harvest of summer berries coming soon, this recipe for Raspberry Cobbler with Drop Biscuit Topping is sure to come in handy.
I once cooked a guest-chef dinner at the great Atlanta restaurant Woodfire Grill, and the dessert course was made by chef Scott Peacock. Scott spent much of his professional life cooking and writing with Edna Lewis, one of my all-time favorite Southern culinary writers and one of the most important chefs in Southern food. Scott, who is himself a wildly talented man, clearly had learned some nuanced dessert skills from Edna because out of the kitchen emanated a truly scrumptious cobbler, wonderfully soupy with drop biscuits nestled into it, soaking up all of the fruit goodness from a mix of juicy berries. This recipe is an ode to both Scott and Edna, two of my favorite people ever to shape biscuits.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the raspberries with the 1⁄4 cup sugar and set aside to macerate at room temperature for 1 hour.
3. While the raspberries are macerating, assemble the biscuit dough: In a food processor, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, remaining
1 tablespoon sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of the sea salt. Pulse to combine, and then add the butter. Pulse until the butter has flaked into small pieces. Add the buttermilk and pulse until just combined. Remove the dough from the processor and set it aside.
4. Add the lemon zest and cornstarch to the raspberries, stir to combine, and place the mixture in a 6x8 inch baking dish. Dollop spoonfuls of the biscuit topping over the raspberries. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Back in January we shared our 15 most anticipated books of 2015, and now it's already time to talk about the best and biggest books published so far this year. Based on the number of pageviews on BookPage.com, we present you with the top 10 books that have readers talking.
After you've looked through the list below, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below. And then vote in our reader poll for your favorite book of 2015 (so far!).
#1: The Girl on the Train
By Paula Hawkins
British author Hawkins struck gold with this deliciously twisted thriller that became an instant bestseller. Told through three unreliable narrators—Rachel, the alcoholic voyeur; Megan, the other half of the "golden couple" Rachel watches from the train; and Anna, who lives down the street. When Megan goes missing and a media firestorm follows, Rachel feels compelled to get involved. Already optioned for film by DreamWorks, this edge-of-your-seat suspense is sure to continue its upward trajectory.
#2. A Spool of Blue Thread
By Anne Tyler
With 20 novels published during her 50-year writing career, Anne Tyler has cemented her reputation as one of our most consistent and talented American authors. Her newest family saga, A Spool of Blue Thread, focuses on the Whitshanks, led by Abby and Red, a long-married couple whose story of the day they fell in love has become legendary. But now their four children are wondering whether—and how—Abby and Red can continue to live alone in the Baltimore home that Red's father built as they enter their 80s.
#3. The Bookseller
By Cynthia Swanson
Debut novelist Swanson penned a surprise hit with her inventive portrayal of one woman's two distinct lives in The Bookseller. Exploring the "what if?" questions we all ask ourselves at a certain age, Swanson follows Kitty Miller along two life paths—as both an unmarried bookshop owner and as Katharyn, a suburban stay-at-home mother.
To an outsider, Grace Chapman has a perfect life: She’s a lifestyle maven with a best-selling author husband of 20 years, a beautiful daughter and an elegant home outside of New York City. But Green takes us underneath the veneer, and soon the cracks begin to show.
Larson is one of our most talented and exciting writers of narrative nonfiction today. In Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, he tells the riveting, tragic story of the final voyage of the luxury British ship, which sailed from New York City on May 1, 1915 with 1,959 passengers, and was sunk by a German U-boat off Ireland's coast just six days later. Larson weaves in an astonishing amount of research into this event which is often cited as the reason America joined the fighting in World War I.
#6. Etta and Otto and Russell and James
By Emma Hooper
Emma Hooper’s captivating debut novel is inspired by a piece of her own family history. Shifting back and forth through a couple's history, Hooper tells the story of 83-year-old Etta as she leaves her husband Otto behind to walk more than 3,000 kilometers to see the ocean. This touching and creative novel explores the fuzzy boundaries of love, memory and time.
#7. He Wanted the Moon
By Mimi Baird and Eve Claxton
When author Mimi Baird was 6 years old, her father, prominent Boston dermatologist Perry Baird, did not come home. In the following 15 years between that fateful night and his death in 1959, Baird saw her father only once. When she discovers a cache of her father's letters and his unfinished manuscript in the '90s, Baird sets herself the task of bringing her father back to life.
#8. It Was Me All Along
By Andie Mitchell
Andie Mitchell chronicles her lifelong struggle with binge-eating in her strikingly honest memoir, It Was Me All Along. Tipping the scale at almost 300 pounds at the age of 20, Mitchell confronted her dependence on food to numb her emotional pain instead of nourishing her body during a semester trip to Rome.
#9. Born With Teeth
By Kate Mulgrew
You may recognize Mulgrew from her acting in television shows such as "Orange Is the New Black" and "Star Trek: Voyager," but she proves to be an equally skilled storyteller in her tellingly titled Born With Teeth. Yes, Mulgrew chronicles her 40-year career, but the boldly honest and heartbreaking stories concerning her Irish-Catholic family and deep friendships are the true focus of this well-crafted memoir.
McCreight’s follow up to her breakout debut, Reconstructing Amelia, is another suspenseful story about the ripple effect of tragedy. When the corpse of a baby is found in the woods of a picture-perfect New Jersey town, each resident suddenly becomes subject to scrutiny and suspicion. Reporter Molly Sanderson has just suffered a stillbirth, so this case feels personal, but she’s determined to solve the mystery. Using flashbacks and multiple narrators, McCreight keeps the tension tight all the way to the satisfying conclusion.
What do you think, readers? Don't forget to vote in our reader poll for your favorite book of 2015 (so far!).
Chef Rick Bayless has won international acclaim for his lifelong devotion to Mexican cusine. He's back with a new cookbook, More Mexican Everyday, filled with, you guessed it, more fantastic Mexican recipes like this Grilled Salmon in Toasty Peanut Salsa.
Grilled Salmon in Toasty Peanut Salsa
Salmón a la Parilla con Salsa de Cacahuate Tostado
When the wild salmon start showing up in the late spring, this is the dish I dream of making. It’s simplicity come to life in the best possible way, one that focuses on the stunning flavor and buttery texture of the salmon, the smoky and elemental draw of the grill and the perfect, rich gilding from a spoonful of red chile–peanut deliciousness.
*If you don’t have guajillo chiles, you can substitute New Mexicos or 2 anchos
On one side of a large (10-inch) dry skillet, roast the garlic over medium heat, turning regularly, until soft and blackened in spots, 10 to 15 minutes. On the other side, toast the guajillo chiles. Use a metal spatula to press the chile pieces flat against the hot surface of the pan. When they release their aroma and change color slightly (maybe even give off a faint wisp of smoke), about 10 seconds, flip them over and press down again to toast the other side. Scoop into a bowl and cover with ¾ cup very hot tap water to rehydrate, 10 to 15 minutes.
Cool the garlic until handleable, peel it and place it in a blender, along with the
guajillo chiles (including their soaking liquid), the chipotles and the peanuts. Blend until nearly smooth, then scrape into a small bowl. Stir in a little more water if necessary to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency. Taste and season with salt,
usually about ½ teaspoon.
Heat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire and let the coals burn until covered with white ash and very hot. Smear the salmon fillets and green onions (or ramps) with a little oil and sprinkle with salt. On the coolest part of your grill (usually toward an edge), grill the onions (or ramps), turning regularly, doing your best to keep the green parts farthest from the heat, until soft, about 15 minutes. Lay the salmon fillets on the hottest part of the grill, placing what had been their skin side down. When the grill grate has deeply seared marks into the salmon and the salmon has begun to release itself from the grate, about 3 minutes, depending on the heat of your fire, flip the fillets and cook to your desired degree of doneness, usually a couple of minutes
longer for 1-inch-thick fillets to reach medium. Transfer to warm dinner plates.
Chop the green onions (or ramps) into small pieces. Spoon some salsa over each fillet, sprinkle with chopped onion (or ramps) and serve right away.
Copyright © 2015 by Rick Bayless. Excerped from More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless published by Norton. Read our review of this book.
Sydney Padua's impeccably researched, yet playfully imagined graphic biography is a treat for history buffs and graphic novel lovers alike. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage brings us into the heart of London's intellectual society in 1842. There, Ada Lovelace—young mathematician and the daughter of famed poet Lord Byron—meets Charles Babbage at a party. Here is where historical accuracy takes a backseat, and Padua presents a rip-roaring adventure story in which the pair build the famed Difference Engine, known as the world's first computer, and take the Victorian era by storm. With fantastically detailed art, footnotes and diagrams of Babbage's steam-powered computer, this is a whimsical graphic account like no other.
What are you reading today?
Temperatures are rising and summer peaches will be here soon! This light Italian dessert from Nonna's House has the perfect ratio of very little work with immense flavor payoff—now that's a recipe I can get behind!
Stuffed Baked Peaches (pesche al forno ripiene): During peach season, the height of summer, this dessert is light and refreshing. Be sure to look for balsamic glaze, which is different from balsamic vinegar, in the supermarket.
Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
Arrange the peaches cut side up on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar. Bake until tender but not soft, and the sugar has melted and is bubbling, about 25 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
Place the mascarpone and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Process until smooth. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl and stir in the almonds.
Fill the centers of the peaches evenly with the mascarpone mixture, about 2 tablespoons per peach. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Drizzle each peach with 1 teaspoon balsamic glaze to serve.
Looking for a new snack with a bit of a spicy kick? This recipe from Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil for Muhammara, a Middle Eastern staple, is sure to appeal to fans of hummus.
A sumptuous spread from that region of the Middle East where the finest culinary traditions of Lebanon, Turkey and Syria all blend together with a little Armenian influence as well. The best chile pepper to use in this muhammara (moo-HAMMa-rah) is coarsely ground or crushed dried Aleppo pepper, although other kinds of Turkish and Syrian chile peppers are good too. They are all available from World Spice Merchants in Seattle (www.worldspice.com) or from Kalustyan’s in Manhattan (www.kalustyans.com).
Sweet peppers are best when roasted over live fire—either a gas flame on your stovetop or charcoal embers in the fireplace or on the outside grill. Roast, turning frequently, until the skins are black and blistered. Failing gas or charcoal, you can also roast peppers under the oven broiler until they are collapsed and the skins are blistered—but they will not have the intense flavor of flame-roasted peppers. Whatever the method, put the roasted peppers in a paper bag and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes to steam in their own heat and soften. At that point, it’s easy to remove the blackened skin, using a paring knife to pull it away. Then cut the peppers open, draining any liquid into a small bowl. Discard the stems, seeds, and white inside membranes.
Roast the walnuts, the pine nuts and the bread crumbs in a 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes. The walnuts are ready when their thin skins start to flake off; the pine nuts and the bread crumbs are done when they are golden.
Toast cumin seeds in a small skillet on top of the stove, stirring and tossing until the fragrance starts to rise. Remove immediately and grind to a powder in a spice grinder, or pound in a mortar.
MAKES 2½ TO 3 CUPS
CHOP the peppers coarsely and transfer to a food processor. Process in pulses until you have a textured puree.
IN a mortar, pound the garlic cloves to a paste with the salt. Add the roasted walnuts and continue pounding, adding a tablespoon or two of the reserved pepper juices. Once the walnuts are quite pasty, pound in the bread crumbs. (If you don’t have enough pepper juice, use a tablespoon or two of lemon juice instead.) Transfer the ingredients in the mortar to the food processor and process very briefly, just enough to mix everything together.
WHY, you may ask, do I not just put everything into the food processor to start with? Muhammara is supposed to have a rather coarse texture from the walnuts and bread crumbs; in order to control that texture, I think it’s better to pound the walnuts, bread crumbs, and garlic in the mortar and mix them very quickly into the pepper puree.
SCRAPE the contents of the food processor into a bowl and stir in the chile pepper, pomegranate syrup, ground cumin and 4 to 5 tablespoons of the oil. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and taste. If necessary, adjust the seasoning with more salt, lemon juice, or pomegranate syrup.
WHEN you’re ready to serve, pile the muhammara in an attractive bowl and dribble the remaining olive oil over the top. Garnish with roasted pine nuts and serve with crostini (toasted bread crusts) or crackers or, to be most authentic, toasted triangles of Arab pita bread.
Note: Muhammara is also a beautiful relish to serve with any sort of roast or grilled lamb.
Excerpted from VIRGIN TERRITORY: EXPLORING THE WORLD OF OLIVE OIL © 2015 by Nancy Harmon Jenkins. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.