the sea of cortez and its bounty

This is a photo I took a while back at the salt ponds where Sal del Mar is harvested. The coastline is pristine and characterized by 300 estuaries and other wetlands that are key components to the rich community of plant and animal life comprising a unique ecosystem. And not far away is this beach restaurant where I took a picture of the owner and "Chef" Alejandro as he shows off the catch of the day.

Alejandro served us this platter of butterflied shrimp and white fish. It was so fresh and needed only a squirt of lime and of course a pinch or two of Sal del Mar. Alejandro tells all his customers, "I won't use any other salt".

even marmalade

Naranjita Marmalda

With citrus in abundance I wanted to make marmalade with the small oranges available inMexico, called “naranjita.” I called my friend Linda Poverman who I know makes all kinds of marmalades with the citrus from the trees that line the streets in front of her house inTucson,Arizona. She emailed me the recipe below – Linda’s recipe for grapefruit marmalade since naranjitas are not found everywhere) and then a second email that said “and of course a pinch of SaldelMar." It occurred to me that adding salt to a marmalade isn’t what you might expect. In fact, it seems magical to discover how salt works with different flavor profiles – such as a citrus marmalade. Salt is a flavor amplifier so it does make sense that you would add it to even a marmalade. And while Sal del Mar does have a distinctive flavor of its own, it shouldn’t really be tasted in the food being served. Instead, you should add just enough to bring out the flavor of the food you are preparing. This revelation about using salt has inspired me on to write more about salt in the coming year. Let me know how you like it!

Here’s the recipe from our friend Linda Poverman using grapefruit:

1. With a vegetable peeler, peel only the outer yellow layer from the grapefruit and finely chop. 2. Juice the grapefruit or separate the wedges and remove the seeds. 3. Try to include as much of the pulp as possible and have a little extra grapefruit juice ready on the side if the mixture seems too thicken as it cooks. 4. Put the peel and the pulp in a pot and let it boil for 20 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn't get dry and adding more juice if necessary. Measure the peel/pulp after the 20 minutes of cooking and add the same amount of sugar to the pot. 5. Add a pinch or two of Sal del Mar 6. Cook at a rolling boil for another 20 minutes, keeping an eye on the mixture and stirring now and then. 7. Have jars ready to fill while the mixture is still hot.

salty and sweet too

We were inspired to find a recipe for Sal del Mar’s tasting at Fashion’s Night Out at Pome in Denver on this Thursday, September 8th. The recipe had to compliment the margarita’s (salted with Sal del Margarita, of course) being served as part of the celebration. We found a version of this sweet and salty almond and adapted it. The healthy sprinkling of our coarse grain Sal del Mar combined with honey and olive oil turned out so well we think it would make a great hostess gift for a dinner party or for holiday gifts.  And it is so simple to make!

SWEET AND SALTY ALMONDS by SAL DEL MAR (Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe)

2 1/2 cups of dry roasted and unsalted almonds 1/4 cup sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons Sal del Mar 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper 2 Tablespoon of Nature's Agave™ Raw nectar 1 Tablespoon of water 1 Tablespoon of olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt and cayenne pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook Nature's Agave™ Raw nectar with water and olive oil, stirring until combined, about 1 minute. Add almonds and toss to coat. Transfer nuts to sugar mixture being careful not to scrape the extra glaze into the bowl. Toss to coat.  Cool in a single layer.

Buen Provecho!

finally a perfect salt dish

We have hunted for the perfect salt dish for a long time and finally enlisted our absolute favorite designers, Linda Poverman and Paula Hamilton, to produce it. Paula has been designing our embroidered bags among other Sal del Mar projects; Linda has been an art teacher and recently is going in another direction with her talents. We told Linda and Paula that we wanted a salt dish that reflects Sal del Mar’s simple, artistic and unique style. They took the theme and ran with it.They started with white earth clay and molded a bowl by hand topped with a handcrafted fish medallion.  Then they fired it, but left it without a glaze. We could not ask for a salt dish that works better for holding our coarse, moist, somewhat grayish Sal del Mar. (If it were white and dry, it wouldn’t be natural since most table salts have been striped of their natural minerals.) We have already been using the newly created Sal del Mar salt dish at our own dinner table. We can now just pinch with our fingers and drop into the food. You will be able to buy the Sal del Mar salt dish on-line soon.

salting the glass perfectly every time

When it come to your favorite margarita, you may be salt-shy due to heavy salting in your past experiences. Yet, when the salting is done correctly, it enhances the flavor of the tequila and integrates the flavors. I prefer to salt-encrust just half of the rim so that guests can sip from the salt side or not as they drink their margarita. Here is a simple method to be sure your glass is salted perfectly every time: 1. Spread Sal del Margarita* evenly on a small plate 2. Moisten the rim of your glass -- just the top edge -- by running a lime slice around the rim delivering a light coating of lime juice 3. Press the rim of the glass into the salt to crust the rim 4. Tap off the excess 5. Allow the salt to air-dry before filling the glass -- this ensures that the salt lightly flakes off with each sip

Other tips:

  • Use a martini glass instead of the bowl-sized glasses served in some bars that are so big that they require a straw to drink the margarita because they are too heavy to lift. I call margaritas made this way the “new martini.”
  • Use a cocktail shaker and mix small amounts of margaritas.  The shaken method of making a margarita gives it a purer taste over the taste of  sweet slushy margaritas. Shake for about 10 seconds to melt the ice into the drink. Strain into your glass.
  • Ingredients matter. Margaritas are best made with 100% pure agave blanco tequila; fresh-squeezed lime juice and the orange sweetness of Cointreau. There is a growing trend of using boutique aged tequilas.
  • Experiment with adding other flavors to the salt. For a mango margarita, I finely chop mint leaves and mix it in the Sal de Margarita.

*Use Sal del Margarita and let the crisp, salty taste complement the lime and the tequila ingredients while delivering a light crunch as you sip from the glass. Notice how Sal de Margarita quickly dissolves on the palate? Be sure to see my blog archive “marvelous margaritas” for more ideas.

marvelous margaritas

Marg Bag

Today’s margaritas offer many variables starting with the seeminly limitless choices of tequilas. Over the years, I’ve finally begun to understand that there are all types, grades and styles to choose from.

Then one must consider which of the orange-flavored liqueurs you should use: Triple Sec; Cointreau or Grand Marnier. I’ve even seen recipes that go the entire liqueur gambit including using Midori, and Chambord.

The one ingredient that doesn't seem to share limitless choices is salt. All the margarita recipes I’ve ever seen just recommend a coarse salt or kosher salt. But salts, too, have different tastes and textures and just like in a recipe for a delicious sauce, the taste of the salt can make a difference of how a margarita will taste. The third ingredient, fresh lime juice isn’t even a sacred ingredient, You can have a Strawberry Margarita, Melon Margarita or Mangorita to name of few.

And so I want to introduce you to our new product: Sal de Margarita!

Harvested from the Sea of Cortez, our sea salt has a multi-layered  advantage over other salts for enhancing a margarita. To begin with Sal de Margarita has a crisp salty taste that complements the lime and the tequila ingredients while delivering a light crunch as it is sipped from the glass. Then also the texture of the coarse grains of the crystals make it ideal for crusting the rim of a margarita glass. And what I like a lot about Sal de Mar for a margarita is that after sipping it, it quickly dissolves on the palate. You can find Sal de Margarita online our at our retail stores.

Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner and  I am eager to know what one is your is  your favorite.

DAVID THORN'S CLASSIC MARGARITA I like this recipe  because it isn't the sweet, slushy concoction that some bars serve (and which are not my favorite.) David secrets are: he uses 100% silver agave tequila; Cointreau instead of Triple Sec because even though it is more expensive it has the necessary sweetness but is a more elegant flavor; he uses fresh lime juice instead of the bottled version; the fresh orange juice along with the Grand Marnier temper the sharpness while adding character to its natural flavor; and it is shaken in a cocktail shaker allowing the ice to melt and the right degree of frostiness.

To Prepare: Moisten the rim of a martini glass with the cut lime Spread Sal de Mar on a small plate Dip the moistened rim of the glass into the salt until evenly crusted

Margarita Mixture: 2 oz. Milagro Silver Tequila (David’s favorite) 2 oz. Cointreau (not Triple Sec) 2 oz. fresh lime juice 1 oz. fresh orange juice

Garnish: Lime slices 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier

Add margarita mixture to a cocktail shaker.  Add ice and cover. Shake thoroughly to chill the mixture. Strain into into a Sal de Mar crusted glass with or without ice. Garnish with a slice of lime and the splash of Grand Marnier. Makes one cocktail.

MANGO MARGARITA This recipe is entirely an experiment.  My husband, Phillip and I came up with this version because we wanted a Mango Margarita but couldn't find any recipes that were not a frozen, sickening-sweet concoction. So we used the "Keep It Simple" formula and kept to the basics but used the best ingredients to take it to a different level of a sipping cocktail. Our formula was:  a good 100% agave reposado tequila;  a high-level orange liqueur;  a fresh mango instead of bottled juice; and Nature's Agave agave nectar instead of sugar water.

To round out our luxe ingredients, we crusted the rim of the cocktail glass with our new product, Sal de Margarita and combined it with mint leaves that we crushed and finely chopped.  It adds even more character to the flavors.   We think it is delicious! Let us know what you think!!

For crusting the rim of glass: 1/2 fresh lime for moistening the rim of glass Sal de Margarita Crushed and finely chopped mint leaves

Spread Sal de Margarita on a small plate. Add chopped mint leaves (about 4 parts Sal de Margarita to 1 part chopped mint leaves). Moisten the rim of 8-oz martini glass with a cut lime. Dip the rim of each glass in the salt, creating a thin crust over half the rim.  (We liked having just half the glass with salt.  It seems like just the right amount)

For Margarita Mix: 4 oz  tequila, preferably a reposado 100% agave tequila 2 oz.  Patron Orange Liqueur 2 oz. agave nectar 2 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice 1/2 large very, very ripe mango (approximately 4 heaping tablespoons)

Blend the ingredients together in a blender with no ice. Pour mixture into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a prepared 8 oz. martini-style glass.

a little bit french ... a little bit italian hors d'oeuvres

I know that it isn’t tomato season yet, but I couldn’t resist posting this recipe because I am really hungry for tomatoes after the long winter. And what is so great about this recipe is that you use cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes seem much more flavorful than the larger varieties early in the season.

This recipe is a little bit French and a little bit Italian. I found it in a beautiful book, The Heirloom Tomato by Amy Goldman. Even though the recipe has just a little salt added here and there, using Sal del Mar really intensifies the flavors.

INGREDIENTS: BAKED RICOTTA CHEESE 1 1/2 pounds whole-milk ricotta cheese 1//4 cup extra-virgin olive oil Coarse-ground pepper

SHERRY SHALLOT VINAIGRETTE 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar Sal del Mar to taste 3 tablespoons finely diced shallots 1/2 cup pure olive oil 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

CHERRY TOMATO SALAD 2 pints of cherry tomatoes Sal del Mar to taste Freshly-ground pepper to taste 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

TAPENADE 1 cup Nicoise olives 1 garlic clove Sal del Mar as needed 4 oil packed anchovies 1 1/2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

8 1/4-inch thick slices rustic bread Pure olive oil as needed

For the tapenade:  Remove pits from the olives. Make a garlic paste by slicing the garlic clove thin, sprinkling with Sal del Mar, and using the flat of your knife to mash the garlic into a fine paste. Place the anchovies, garlic paste, and capers in the a bowl of a food processor. Process until almost smooth. Add the olives and pulse until finely chopped and spreadable but not pasty. Transfer the mixture to another bowl and stir in the olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

For the bread slices:  Brush lightly with olive oil and grill until crispy or toast them in a 400-degree oven, flipping once, until browned.

For the cherry tomatoes: Make the vinaigrette by mixing the vinegars and Sal del Mar. Add the shallots and soak for 30-minutes. Whisk in the olive oils. Taste and adjust with additional vinegar, oil or Sal del Mar. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and mix with the vinaigrette one hour before serving. Season with salt and pepper. Combine in a bowl with a wooden spoon, working gently so as not to bruise the tomatoes.

For the ricotta cheese: In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Place the mixture into an oval gratin dish that has been greased with olive oil. Smooth the top and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Grind the pepper over the top. Bake on a foil-lined sheet pan until the cheese is heated through and a golden-brown crust forms on top. Cool at room temperature, about 25-minutes.

Serve the tomato salad, baked ricotta cheese, tapenade and grilled bread on separate dishes and have guests make their own delicious hors d'oeuvres.