!VIVA RICK BAYLESS (he recommends sal del mar)!

rick-bayless-is-top-chef-masters
rick-bayless-is-top-chef-masters

I have at least four Rick Bayless cookbooks. He is masterful at translating traditional Mexican cuisine with modern interpretations. As you may know I live in Mexico but I never get Mexican food here better than when I make a dish from one of his cookbooks. Imagine my thrill when I received word that Chef Bayless is recommending Sal del Mar to all his followers on OpenSky.

In celebration of “the thrill,” we are going to make his recipe for Avocado-Dressed Shrimp a la Mexicana for dinner tonight.  Here’s his recipe…perfect for a hot summer evening.

Fiesta at Rick's Cookbook Cover
Fiesta at Rick's Cookbook Cover

Avocado-Dressed Shrimp á la MexicanaCamarones a la Mexicana con Aguacate, Makes about 3 cups

This version of Camarones a la Mexicana con Aguacate uses sun-dried tomatoes instead of fresh.  You'll find the original recipe in the Fiesta at Rick's cookbook.  The oil packed sun-dried tomatoes won't work well in this recipe.  Look for the recipe ready version which is usually sold in the produce section of select grocery stores.  They come in a re-sealable package.

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 oz. medium cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, rinsed under cold running water and drained
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped recipe ready sundried tomatoes + extra for garnish
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • Hot green chiles to taste -- usually 3 serranos  or 1-2 jalapenos, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium, ripe avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin
  • 1/3 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro, thick bottom stems cut off + extra for garnish
  • Sal del Mar to taste
  • Mini baked tostadas (we like the Sanissimo brand)

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, onion, and 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes. Measure the lime juice into a food processor or blender. Cover and turn on.  Drop the chiles and when chopped, turn off and scoop in the avocado and cilantro. Process until smooth. Thin to a "creamy dressing" consistency with water, usually 2-3 tablespoons. Taste and season with Sal del Mar, usually about 1 teaspoon.  You should have about 1 1/2 cups. Mix the dressing into the shrimp mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the shrimp and refrigerate.  When you're ready to serve, scoop onto the mini tostadas and decorate with cilantro and diced sundried tomatoes.

Buen provecho!

Just in Time for Cinco de Mayo -- The Art of Salting the Glass

With Cinco del Mayo in a couple of days, there are many great margarita recipes being posted -- check out this video "How to Make a Margarita Cocktail" by one of my favorite blogs – Epicurious.

[brightcove vid=1915433486&exp3=8541555001&surl=http://c.brightcove.com/services&pubid=1570026296&pk=AQ~~,AAAAAF2Uszg~,4oZHOeCNZ16srhB7vMWsbSsT2nb7Xcc8&lbu=http://www.epicurious.com/video/cocktails/cocktails-classics/1915458821/how-to-make-a-margarita-cocktail/1915433486&w=300&h=225]

But what’s missing is how to correctly salt the margarita glass.  We at Sal del Mar pride ourselves on how to salt a margarita correctly so that the salt enhances the flavor of the tequila and integrates the flavors. Many of you may be salt-shy due to heavy salting in your past experiences.

So, here is how Sal del Mar recommends salting your margarita glass:

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.”

•   Salt just half of the glass rim so that you don't have to have a salted rim every sip.

•   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.

Be sure to 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.

Our New Arrival

I think I now know what fashion designers go through before they show a new line each season. Well, it might not be quite as intense, but I certainly experienced the anticipation and excitement while creating our latest bag design which we named the "Oyster Shell."

I love the design. I was inspired when I Googled “Sea of Cortez Pearl” and found that the Sea of Cortez is famous for its pearls. In fact, the Cortez Pearl was discovered by Spanish Conqueror Hernán Cortez on one of his first expeditions in 1533 (click here if you want to learn more).

I give our embroiderers in the village of Sabinito most of the credit because their intricate craftsmanship gave the design something that couldn't be drawn on paper...life and beauty.

The Oyster Shell bag is available through our website, select stores and markets throughout the U.S. and Mexico.

Embroidery Ambassador Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo pic
Frida Kahlo pic

Frida Kahlo is an artist whose work I admire, but I am also fascinated by her unique sense of style. She wore fashion, not of the time, but glorious costumes from the Tehuana people that enhanced her exotic good looks. So, when I heard that there was an exhibition featuring Frida Kahlo, Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray, at the Tucson Museum of Art I attended with gusto. Muray’s collection documents Frida over a 10 year period and it was noted that Muray photographed her more frequently than any other person.The reason I am posting the Frida Kahlo exhibition in my blog is that the photographs capture the beauty of the Tehuana dresses which were sewn with elaborate embroidery. It occurs to me that the traditional costumes such as the ones that Frida wore are disappearing but there is still the tradition of the women in villages throughout Mexico who embroider like the women of Sabinitowho embroider our Sal del Mar bags. Their skill and artistry is truly a work of art.

embroidery detail on orig design
embroidery detail on orig design

It is rewarding to see the tradition of embroidery continue. .. and wait until you see the new Sal del Mar bag design we are adding to the collection  -- just completed by our embroiderers and soon to be released in retail stores and on our website!

Not Your Traditional Turkey

I’ve been going through recipes trying to decide on a Thanksgiving turkey that isn't “traditional." I remembered one of my favorites from my days as the "Southwest Homes" Editor of Tucson Lifestyle magazine. It was a recipe by Jeanie Neubauer from her Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Co. Cookbook. In addition to writing several cookbooks, Jeanie is the owner of the Santa Cruz Chili Company in Arizona. We did a photo shoot at her ranch in Tumacacori and then Jeanie made it especially memorable by serving our photo crew her "Turkey Santa Cruz." The crew didn't always get such treatment, but Jeanie as I have learned is a master hostess. As I recall, Jeanie had other Thanksgiving dishes with the turkey even though it was probably August since we shot articles at least three months in advance. You won't be disappointed!

Turkey Santa Cruz

by Jeanie Neubauer, owner of the Santa Cruz Chili Company

1 turkey, 12-15 lbs

1 tbs softened butter

2 tbs Santa Cruz Chili Paste

Sal delMar gourmet sea salt

Rinse and dry turkey. Season outside of turkey generously with Sal del Mar and sprinkle with pepper. Blend butter and chili paste then gently rub over turkey, covering evenly.  Set turkey in refrigerator until ready to stuff.

Stuffing

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced celery

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbs butter

3 tbs Santa Cruz Chili Powder

1/2 cup chorizo

4 cups stale cornbread

3 eggs

1/2 cup water, more if needed

To make stuffing, sauté onions, celery and garlic in butter over medium heat for three minutes.  Add chili powder and chorizo and cook over low heat for 10 minutes until flavors blend and chorizo is cooked. In a large bowl, combine cornbread with eggs and mix well. Blend in onion mixture and add water as needed if stuffing is too dry.

Loosely stuff turkey and sew closed. Bake at 325○F according to directions, usually 1/2 hour per pound. Start turkey in open roasting pan on a rack, breast down. Turn turkey breast side up when 3/4 done. If breast begins to get too brown, cover loosely with foil. Turkey should be golden brown with a crisp, rosy skin when done.

Give a Mermaid this Holiday Season

For the last 10 months, I have been working on producing a holiday bag design for Sal del Mar. It has been exciting from start to finish. It started with an off-handed comment from a retail store owner in Tucson who loves our original palm tree and sea creature design, but said, "you should have a mermaid embroidered on your bags..."

With the idea incubating in my head, I asked Paula Hamilton to sketch a design featuring a whimsical mermaid surrounded by waves holding a seashell and we added a jaunty Santa's hat for the holidays.

To make a long story short, I gave the sketches to our group of embroiderers in Sabinito, Sonora, Mexico and they created their own version of "a mermaid in a Santa hat" and voila, we had our “Holiday Mermaid.” The embroiderers are the most important part of our team -- their artistic freedom allows each embroiderer to create a unique bag that we then fill with Sal del Mar gourmet sea salt. The result is a masterpiece of naive beauty.

Well, I received the first delivery of our Holiday Mermaids, and they are ready just in time for early holiday shoppers. The unfortunate/fortunate news is that the she is available in a limited number -- one has to remember that the Sal del Mar bags are all hand-crafted and not mass produced.

Hopefully you will like the Holiday Mermaid design as much as I do. You can buy them on our website or at specialty boutiques around the country and Mexico. Feliz Fiesta!