This is my second year participating in the Del Real Foods food blogger recipe contest. Last year, I was lucky enough to have been selected by the company to make a video for my Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe, even though I wasn’t a winner. It was so much fun!
(Check out my video and post about my awesome trip to Los Angeles here.)
Anyway, it didn’t take much for me to become a fan of Del Real Foods. Their products are all minimally processed – for example, chicken and pork that is marinated and fully cooked, but without all of the additives (and tons of salt) that you typically find in premade, frozen “convenience” foods.
This year, I hope I win the contest, instead of just making a video! I am a huge fan of pupusas (I’ve made my own before), and the Del Real brand pupusas are really delicious. Since a pupusa is basically a handheld, self-contained grilled cheese sandwich, I decided to do a Mexican-style play on the typical grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup combo.
If you can, try to use fresh tomatoes. You can use canned tomatoes if necessary, and it will still be delicious, but the extra sweetness that comes from a fresh tomato is a perfect compliment to the spices in the soup. And don’t be afraid of that whole jalapeno pepper — this soup is a little spicy, but it compliments the pupusas perfectly!
Spicy Roasted Tomato Soup with Pupusa Dippers
- 10 fresh tomatoes (or two big cans of stewed tomatoes)
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 head of garlic, diced
- 1 jalapeno, chopped
- 1 avocado
- 2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 cube of tomato chicken bouillon (Caldo de Tomate)
- 1 package of Del Real Foods Pupusas (5 individual pupusas)
- 2 tbsp. cumin
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- 2 cups water
- salt and pepper
- Cotija cheese (for garnish)
First, begin with the fresh tomatoes and roast them whole in a broiler or over an open flame. (If at all possible, use fresh instead of canned tomatoes for the best flavor.)
Roast the tomatoes until the flesh starts to shrivel and blister, then set aside to cool.
While the tomatoes are cooling, sautee the jalapeno, onion, garlic and celery in a large pot, and cook for a few minutes until slightly soft. Then trim the stems off of the tomatoes and add to the pot.
Next, add the spices, water and bouillon, and bring to a boil. Then cover and let boil gently for about 15 minutes, or until all of the vegetables are soft. While the soup is boiling, prepare the pupusas — it’s really easy, just cook them in a pan for a few minutes on each side.
When the soup is finished, use an immersion blender to blend all of the ingredients, and serve immediately with a hot pupusa, garnished with cotija cheese and avocado.
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Disclaimer: I was provided Del Real Foods products free of charge as part of the food blogger contest, but received no other compensation, financial or otherwise, for this post. The opinions expressed herein are my own.
This month, I got to check out San Diego’s newest and freshest spot. The Ceviche House in North Park combines a family atmosphere with fresh and fast food.
For the last four months, I’ve been on intense chemotherapy, so my doctors didn’t let me eat any raw fish or other foods that might present a greater risk of illness. I finally got the All-Clear to eat some, and I am so excited to be able to enjoy beautiful dishes like this again.
And it was perfect.
I got the Ensenada (yellowtail, watermelon, pomegranate seeds, microgreens, avocado, and chili-sesame oil) on a tostada — but you can get any of their menu items on a lettuce wrap or bowl if you want to skip the carbs. I was concerned that the chili-sesame oil might be too spicy (my mouth is still a little sensitive to spice after chemo), but it’s a perfect compliment to the sweetness of the watermelon and the saltiness of the fresh yellowtail. I could have eaten 2 or 3 of these!
And just look at how pretty it is! I’d never had ceviche without peppers and onions before, or with fruit, but the combination of flavors in this dish is amazing … I can see why it’s one of their most popular dishes.
I had a hard time deciding, because all of the options looks amazingly delicious. Tuna, cucumber and orange zest? Yes, please. Shrimp and mango? Totally.
Owners Viviana and Juan Carlos make sure to procure only the best from sustainable sources like superstar seafood mongers Catalina Offshore Products. You can taste the quality in every piece of fish and produce.
To show off their new store, The Ceviche House is giving an Acapulco Ceviche away to two lucky winners. Be sure to follow Starbright’s Kitchen and The Ceviche House for more chances to win:
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Pan de Cazon is a regional specialty of the Campeche region of Mexico; a region bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on one side and Guatemala on the other. As I’m sure you can imagine, the other regional specialties of the area include some amazing seafood dishes – I know that soon, want to try some recipes like Siete Barbas and seafood tamales.
I rarely get the chance to cook with great fish, and lately I’ve had a bunch of it from Catalina Offshore Products here in San Diego. These guys are incredible! I had an amazing filet of spiny dogfish shark, caught wild in Mexican waters. If you are unable to get a decent piece of shark, this recipe will also work with any white, flaky fish.
I based my recipe off of this one from El Cielo Foods, but mine isn’t quite as spicy. Instead of using whole habanero peppers, I seasoned mine with a really good hot sauce. Feel free to add more if you can handle more spice than I can.
Pan de Cazon
- 1-2 filets of shark or other white fish, chopped into 1″ pieces
- 7-8 small corn tortillas, slightly crispy
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 avocado
- 1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 sprig of fresh dill, chopped
- 2 cloves chopped garlic
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. California chile powder or chipotle powder
- 1/2 tsp. habanero pepper hot sauce (I like El Yucateco)
- olive oil for sauteeing
- salt and pepper
In a small saucepan, heat the black beans with a little oil, and half of the cumin and chile powder, plus salt and pepper. Mash the beans slightly as they cook. Set on low heat to keep warm.
In another small saucepan, sautee the onion and garlic with oil and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with the rest of the cumin and chile powder. Mash the tomatoes slightly as they cook, and add the pieces of fish and the hot sauce to taste. Add the dill and half of the cilantro. Let simmer for about 5 minutes.
Assemble the pan de cazon by spreading the beans on a crispy tortilla, then putting another tortilla on top, then adding the shark and tomato mixture. Alternate the beans and the shark to make a tall stack, then serve warm with cilantro and fresh avocado.
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Caramelized Banana Brioche French Toast seems like it would be tricky and time-consuming, but luckily, it’s not. Unless you are making these for an army – which you could if you wanted to – they only take a few minutes. This simple recipe is for one, and takes as much time in the morning as a bowl of oatmeal.
I got the idea for a simple caramelized banana sauce from a recipe for caramelized banana pancake squares, from the new release, “The 8×8 Cookbook” by Kathy Strahs. Check out my review of “The 8×8 Cookbook” here and pick up a copy of the cookbook, too.
If you’re in San Diego, like me, get it from Cardamom Cafe and Bakery. Trust me; you wont be disappointed.
Caramelized Banana Brioche French Toast
- 2 thick slices of Brioche bread
- 3 large eggs
- a splash of milk
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 ripe banana, sliced
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 5-6 tablespoons butter
- powdered sugar for serving
Scramble the eggs and add the milk and cinnamon. Place each slice of bread into the egg mixture and let sit for at least a minute on each side so the bread soaks up all of the egg mixture.
Heat 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a pan and fry each piece of bread for about 3-4 minutes on each side. While the bread is cooking, put 2 tbsp. of butter in a separate saucepan with the banana slices facedown. Let the banana slices cook for about a minute in the butter to brown them slightly, then add the brown sugar.
Pour the hot banana and brown sugar mixture over the french toast slices, and serve immediately with a dusting of powdered sugar.
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This is the perfect comfort food.
As soon as this soup starts simmering, you’ll see (and smell) why this was one of my grandmother’s best recipes, and one of my favorites. The key, as always, is to use good stock and to let it simmer for a while to marry all of the flavors.
You can use any type of fresh mushroom for this recipe; I had a lot of oyster mushrooms and creminis in my CSA box, so that’s what I used. I would just stay away from any canned mushrooms because they will be extra chewy in this slow-cooked soup. Also, I use a good chicken stock, but if you want to keep this recipe vegetarian, simply use vegetable stock or mushroom stock instead. Personally, I like the additional flavor from the chicken in this soup. And don’t skimp on the garlic – it’s one head of garlic, not one clove. That’s not a typo!
Also, a quick word about the barley: use caution. I’ve heard more horror stories this week about a soup that should have been good, if only it hadn’t become a huge blob of sticky barley with a few slices of carrot in between. One cup of dried barley — pearl or regular — cooks to THREE CUPS of cooked barley. This recipe is for 6 servings of soup, and uses only one cup of dried barley. And it’s plenty.
Of course, if your leftovers happen to be too thick, simply add a bit more stock, reheat, and you’ll be fine.
Mushroom Barley Soup
- 1 cup dried pearl barley
- 2 lbs. various fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 1 quart, plus 2 cups, chicken stock
- 3-4 carrots, chopped
- 2-3 small red potatoes, chopped
- 1 large parsnip, diced
- one large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 head of garlic, diced
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- fresh dill, chopped
First, start to sautee the garlic and onion in a large pot and cook until fragrant. Add the carrots, potatoes and parsnip, add more oil if needed, and season with salt and pepper.
Cook for 1-2 minutes, then add a quart of the chicken stock and the barley. Bring to a boil, then add the mushrooms. Reduce the heat and cover, then let simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until the barley is cooked. Taste the soup, add more salt and pepper or more stock if needed. Sprinkle on fresh dill and serve hot.
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I love every type of soup or stew, and I recently discovered a lovely new one. It’s the best kind: one you can adapt to whatever is in your kitchen. I had a lot of winter vegetables on hand, like parsnips, turnips, potatoes, eggplant, and squash, so that’s what I used. I also happened to have several lovely filets of salmon, but you can use any type of fish.
This is a traditional Senegalese dish, and I based my adaptation on the Thieboudienne in Saveur Magazine, but obviously I changed it a lot. This recipe calls for the fish to be stuffed separately with a mix of chiles and parsley, but I just added those to my stew and made sure the fish was spread throughout the pot, instead. I also pre-cooked my rice and chopped my vegetables for quick cooking, instead of the more traditional African method of serving the vegetables almost whole.
I’d also recommend serving with some fried plantains on the side (or in the stew), if you can find them. Just sautee each slice for 2-3 minutes in hot oil — no need to coat or dredge the plantains, the natural sugars inside them create the crispy crust — then season with salt, pepper, and lime juice.
Thieboudienne with Winter Vegetables
- 1-2 large filets of flaky fish
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1/2 of one large eggplant, diced
- 1 parsnip, diced
- 2 turnips, diced
- 2 small red potatoes, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3-4 medium carrots, diced
- 1 head garlic, chopped
- 1 handful of parsley, chopped
- 1 can of diced tomatoes and chiles
- 2 tbsp. tamarind paste
- 2 tbsp. fish sauce
- salt and pepper
- lime wedges for serving
- extra virgin olive oil for sauteeing
- 1 quart vegetable stock
Start by sauteeing the garlic and onion in a large Dutch oven, and cook until transparent. Add the potatoes, carrots, eggplant, parsnip and turnips, as well as the fish sauce, tamarind paste, and some salt and pepper. Make sure all of the vegetables are coated. Add the can of tomatoes and chiles, then the stock, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover, and let simmer for about an hour.
Add some of the fresh parsley (save a little for serving), the fish and rice, then cover and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked thoroughly. Flake the fish and make sure it’s mixed throughout the stew. Taste, add more salt and pepper if necessary* and serve with fresh parsley on top and a wedge of lime to squeeze on top.
*Use caution with salt, because the fish sauce adds a lot of sodium!
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