Simple is Sometimes Better

Radishes with Sal del Mar sea salt

Radishes with Sal del Mar sea salt

I have been thinking for days about what to post for a 4th of July picnic recipe. I finally had an idea flash... a crudités...something I always love to serve with barbecue picnics of hot dogs, hamburgers and corn-on-the cob.

Radishes are my favorite crudités. They are best served ice-cold and on warm summer evenings (I sometimes serve them on ice).  I use a variety of radishes, if available, especially French breakfast and baby Easter Egg radishes.

The classic way to serve them is with soft unsalted butter and, of course, Sal del Mar gourmet sea salt. Eating them with butter and Sal del Mar is absolutely decadent. (Use the European style of unsalted butter).

Of course, half the dish for me is stylizing it. Clean and trim the radishes, leaving a few pretty leaves on top. Arrange on a plate with Sal del Mar. Serve the butter in a small dish or ramekins. Simple!

A Diane Keaton Discovery

I have long admired Diane Keaton, not just as an actress but as a designer. I have followed her in Architectural Digest where she has been featured many times. In fact, I have recently discovered that the set design of a new NBC comedy, The New Normal, was inspired by her Spanish Colonial-style house in Bel Aire.  I also read an article in the New York Times that she is designing tableware for Bed Bath and Beyond.

So, it is not surprising that with her impeccable taste the first word she said when she walked into Bon Boutique in Tucson was “Wow.” She liked what she saw so much that she wrote an article for Remodelista: Sourcebook for Considered Living.  (See her article: http://remodelista.com/posts/a-treasure-trove-in-tucson)

I discovered Bon Boutique many years ago when I was editor of Tucson Lifestyle Home and Garden magazine and feel the same way Diane Keaton does about the store and owners, Bonnie and Crystal.  They have hand-picked, wondrous items that you can’t find anywhere else.

I am very pleased to know that Sal del Mar is one of the items that Bon Boutique carries in their store and on-line, as well.

PS:  I like to imagine that Diane Keaton walked into Bon Boutique and said Wow!” when she saw Sal del Mar artistically displayed in one of Bon’s hand-crafted woven baskets.

Check out Sal del Mar on Bon Boutique's website.

!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.

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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.

Holiday Time in Mexico

Our first Sal del Mar “tasting” held in Mexico was a big hit. It took place at the Sagitario gift shop in San Carlos, Sonora, a Mexican port town on the Sea of Cortez, near where we harvest our flavorful Sal del Mar sea salt.

The best part of the Sagitario “tasting” was when Vivian Arellano-Bennett brought us a box of Chocolate Holiday Bark candy she made using Sal del Mar as “snow.” Her recipe is an interpretation of an Ina Garten recipe and it was amazing. I must admit, I was a bit wary... even though salted chocolates and carmel are very popular, I just wasn’t sure how I would like chocolate and salt together. But what I discovered is that Sal del Mar brings out a new dimension of flavor in chocolate. It's an easy recipe and a way to pair Sal del Mar with a box of homemade chocolates for the holidays. In fact, the Editor at House Beautiful chose Sal del Mar as one of her favorite gourmet gifts to give this holiday season!

Here's the recipe...

Chocolate Holiday Bark with Sal del Mar Snow Adapted from an Ina Garten 2007 recipe. Prep time: 15 min Inactive Prep time: 2 hrs Cook Time: 10 min Serves: 24 pieces

Ingredients:  8 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped 8 ounces very good bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 1 cup whole pistachios, chopped 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped Sal del Mar, to taste and sight

Directions:  On parchment paper, using a ruler and a pencil, draw a 9 by 10-inch rectangle on the paper. Turn the paper face down on a baking sheet pan. Melt the two chocolates in a heatproof bowl, metal or glass, set over a pan of simmering water. Pour the melted chocolate over the paper and spread to form a rectangle, using the outline. Sprinkle the nuts and cranberries over the chocolate. Finish by sprinkling Sal del Mar over the chocolate, nuts and cranberries.  Set aside for 2 hours until firm. Cut the bark in 1 x 3” pieces and serve at room temperature.

Helpful hints: The water in the pan should not be boiling under the bowl. Keep the water just simmering. Chocolate does not like oil or water.  Make certain your bowl is clean and dry.  When you remove the bowl with the melted chocolate from the pan of simmering water, give the under side of the bowl a quick wipe with a dry cloth or paper towel so it doesn't drip onto your paper-lined pan when you are pouring out the chocolate.

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!