Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Serious Eats: Charred Corn and Cherry Tomato Salad

Charred Corn and Cherry Tomato Salad with Zucchini and Radishes
This is a nice late August farmers' market dish from Kenji over at Serious Eats, one that checks a lot of the boxes as far as what is local and fresh this time of year. However, unless you stock things like Mexican crema and cotija cheese... and live in a place where limes grow, it does involve another trip to a the kind of market that has fluorescent lights (and no farmers) to fill out your ingredient list. To save time the day you make it, you are probably going to want to make the supermarket trip before the farmers' market, as that stuff will sit way better than your fresh veggies. That said, I was able to pick up the corn, tomatoes, zucchini, radishes, and scallions all at the farmer's market at the Harvard Science Center... everything perfectly ripe and lovely.

There is a lot of knife work here, so it might take longer than the prescribed 20 minutes of prep time if you are not especially fast... but you can chop things while the zucchini and corn are on the stove. Plus you want this room temperature, not hot, so there is no particular hurry. I found the flavors to be quite good and for it to be a great way to consume bountiful summer produce.

As you can see above, I preferred it taco style as a main course but it could obviously work very well as a side dish.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Easy Pressure Cooker Chile Verde

Pressure Cooker Chile Verde
This is just a variation of Alton Brown's Pressure Cooker Chili, which I've posted about a couple of times. Alton's recipe is not one that's meant to be particularly authentic or elaborate... just a quick full flavored chili that takes advantage of the best qualities of the pressure cooker. So while I would like to make a more hardcore chile verde at some point... with the roasted tomatillos and peppers and all that... this recipe is purely a quickie type deal with jarred salsas and canned peppers. Not something that is particularly fashionable in this era of DIY ketchup and slow food, but sometimes you just want a chile verde you can have on the table in an hour.

I like a good chili even at the height of summer, and using a pressure cooker means you don't even have to heat up your whole house.

Easy Pressure Cooker Chile Verde


  • 3-3.5 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 1.5-2" chunks
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 16 oz. jars of salsa verde
  • 1 4 oz. can of diced green chilies (preferably Hatch)
  • 30 tortilla chips
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • diced onion, for garnish
  • corn tortillas, for serving


  1. Place the meat in a large mixing bowl and toss with the peanut oil and salt. Set aside.
  2. Brown the meat in 3 or 4 batches in a 6 quart (or larger) pressure cooker over high heat, approximately 2 minutes per batch. Once each batch is browned, place the meat in a clean large bowl.
  3. Once all of the meat is browned, add a couple of tablespoons of water to the cooker to deglaze the pot.
  4. Add the meat back to the pressure cooker along with the salsa, diced peppers, tortilla chips, cilantro, and ground cumin and stir to combine. Lock the lid in place according to the manufacturer's instructions. When the steam begins to hiss out of the cooker, reduce the heat to low, just enough to maintain a very weak whistle. Cook for 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the pressure to reduce naturally (10-15 more minutes).
  5. Put in bowls and top with cilantro and diced onion. Serve with warm corn tortillas.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Epazote and Pressure Cooking Homesick Texan's Black Beans

One of the herbs you see called for in many Mexican or Tex-Mex recipes is epazote, but it is unfortunately hard to come by outside of the Southwest. You can buy it dried online, but I'd never see it fresh here in Boston, even in the most expansive of grocery stores or farmers' markets. However that appears to changing as we all become more aware of regional and ethnic cuisines. Indeed, the picture above is a bunch of epazote I purchased for $2 at Chase's Daily in Belfast Maine. There is, of course, no way we can use that much epazote before it wilts but don't forget you can always dry your own herbs. Some herbs are easier to dry than others (based on water content) and I'm not sure how our epazote will do, but I will report back on the results in a couple of weeks.[UPDATE: Works great! I hung it upside down from a pot rack for about a week or two and it dried fine with no mold or anything. That bunch was enough to fill a bit more than once standard size spice jar.]

The weirdest thing about epazote is probably its smell... which is quite strong and somewhat reminiscent of varnish, which probably doesn't sound that appetizing... but it doesn't actually taste like varnish (in fact it tastes good) and the smell goes away when it's cooked. A further point in the positive column is that it contains a compound that reduces gas, which is probably why the most common thing to add epazote to is a big ole pot of beans.

Thus I decided use my epazote in Homesick Texan's Black Beans while simultaneously adapting said recipe to the pressure cooker. The only other things I've changed are that I've made it completely vegetarian (easy enough since she uses chipotles en adobo intead of ham hocks for smokiness), the amount of liquid (you need less in a pressure cooker), and ratio of water to veggie broth. Note that level of heat of the beans with four chipotles in adobo is significant so you might want to lower that if you are sensitive to spice.

Austin Style Black Beans

Pressure Cooker Austin Style Black Beans


  • 16 oz. dried black beans
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut oil or canola oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2-4 chipotles in adobo, chopped (depending on heat preference)
  • 1 tablespoon of epazote or 2 sprigs fresh
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped and divided
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3 cups of water
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat oil in your pressure cooker over medium heat. Sauté the onions and carrots for 10 minutes and then add the garlic for one minute.
  2. Add beans, chipotles, epazote and half the cilantro. Cover beans with water and broth and scrape up any fond that has developed on the bottom of the pot.
  3. Secure pressure cooker lid and bring pot to high pressure over high heat. Lower heat to maintain pressure and cook for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove pressure cooker from heat and allow pressure to lower naturally.
  5. Remove lid and add the cumin, tomato paste, lime juice, salt and remaining cilantro. Simmer over medium heat until all beans are fully cooked and flavors have melded.