Avocado and Shrimp Salsa

a little more lime in the salsa

Mama Canales-Garcia’s Avocado and Shrimp Salsa

I didn’t get a chance to make this with Danny directing me (on their wedding china, against their giant loft windows, sigh), so I made a couple bloopers. One, Danny doesn’t use jalalpeños, because he finds them unreliable (some are so mild they taste like bell peppers, some are so hot they’ll ruin the dish). Instead, he leaves the heat on the side in the form of Tapatio hot sauce. Always Tapatio, don’t even ask. Danny also shares my view that finely chopped white onions are vastly superior to red ones in salsas and guacamoles. Alas, three different stores failed to produce one, and red it was. I hope Mama Canales-Garcia forgives us. 🙂

Please, adjust everything here to taste. Maybe you want more tomatoes or shrimp or lime. You might want extra heat and no onions. This recipe is intended for your kitchen, you plate, your belly, so make it the way you’d like it.

Makes about 6 cups salsa

1 pound small shrimp, shelled and deveined or pre-cooked and defrosted
2 firm-ripe avocados, halved, scored into a small dice
2 cups grape tomatoes, quartered or 2 cups chopped tomatoes, drained a little
1/2 small white onion, very finely chopped (use red if you can’t find white)
1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
Drizzle of olive oil
Juice of 1 to 2 limes
Handful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
Hot sauce, on the side
Tortilla chips, to serve

To cook the shrimp: Bring salted water* to a boil and turn off heat. Add shrimp, cover pot and let stand until firm and pink, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain shrimp, pat dry and chill.

Make salsa: Chop shrimp into small bites and put in medium bowl. Scoop avocados into bowl. Add tomatoes, white onion, jalapeño (if using, to taste) and a drizzle of olive oil. Add the juice of one lime, and a second one, if needed. Add salt to taste, then cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips.

* If you have more time, you can first make a shrimp stock with about 3 cups water, 1 cup beer or wine, the reserved shrimp shells, additional lime juice or the peels from the lime juice you’ll use in the salad and some peppercorns or red pepper flakes. Boil these together for 20 minutes, then strain the mixture. Cook the shrimp in this stock instead.


Shrimp Sauteé with Thyme Grits





I used grits labeled “organic stone-ground corn grits, medium grind”. You can choose white or yellow grits, medium or coarse grind, as you prefer. Adjust the cooking time as needed. Realistically, using a grain labeled “polenta” will work here as well. As written, the recipe is dairy-free, but I can assure you the grits will taste delicious with a nub of butter and a cup of grated cheddar cheese stirred in at the end. Pass hot sauce at the table.


    • 6 cups water, plus more if needed
    • 1 1/2 cups medium or coarsely ground corn grits
    • 2 teaspoons salt (divided)
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
    • 4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
    • 1 fresh jalapeno chile, seeded and thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup minced green bell pepper
    • 1 bunch green onions, whites and green tops chopped and reserved separately
    • 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil


  • Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. (If you have one that’s nonstick, use it. You’ll thank me later.) Whisk in the grits and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt. Reduce the heat and simmer the grits, partially covered, stirring occasionally to keep them from sticking. Cook until the grits are thick and just tender, about 40 minutes for medium ground grits or longer for coarse grits. (Whisk in additional water if the grits get too thick. They should remain pourable.) Stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the thyme.
  • In a large frying pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve it in a bowl. Add the jalapeno, green bell pepper, and white portion of the green onions to the pan. Cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the bowl with the bacon. Wipe out the pan. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp (if there are too many to spread in a single layer, cook in two batches), black pepper, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are almost done, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until the shrimp are just done, about 1 minute more. Stir in the lemon juice, reserved bacon and vegetables, and the tomatoes. Remove from the heat.
  • For serving, scoop some grits onto each of four plates or shallow bowls. Mound the shrimp on top of the grits and sprinkle the basil and green portion of the green onions over the top.

Strawberry Basil Hand Pies

strawberry basil hand pies & the first blogstar sunday supper

written by  on April 19, 2012 – 12 Comments
Categories: dessertspring foodsstrawberriessummer foodssummer recipe


strawberry hand piesWhile the strawberries on the roof deck have flowered and there are tiny berries if you look closely, strawberry season is still a month away at least. But I’ve always aimed to maintain flexibility when it comes to seasonal, local eating, and sometimes, you just need some strawberries. What I’m saying is: for dessert at the first Blogstar Sunday Supper, I couldn’t bear to make an apple dessert because it’s April and I’m just ready for spring foods. So I made strawberry hand pies.

In my mind, they were going to be adorable and perfectly made–expertly fluted envelopes of jammy strawberry sweetness. My sophistication and baking prowess would plainly be in evidence, all the bloggers in attendance would declare me a baking genius, and I would become an underground baking legend and then the regular kind of baking legend. Baking legends are a thing, right?

strawberry hand pies
strawberry hand piesIn reality, the whole wheat dough was on the brittle side (though still buttery and delicious), and the hand pies came out looking very…rustic (and a tad soggy). Alack. But hand pies are meant to be a fleeting pleasure, made to be eaten quickly, dripping juice down your arms. So they weren’t fancy or perfect, but they were real, and that’s what matters.

Luckily, all the bloggers in attendance graciously raved about my humble efforts. Feeding people can be personal, so I was relieved and happy that they liked them.

The hand pies aside, we had a fantastic time with a wonderful wine tasting from Pasanella and Sons, and meats, cheeses, breads, and munchies from Murray’s Cheese Shop and BKLYN Larder. As we left, each blogger received a personalized gift bag from Wantist, and body care products from Malin & Goetz. The supper was a fantastic experience–it was thrilling to spend the evening with so many powerhouse bloggers and entrepreneurs, and to meet and connect with some of the friends I’ve made online. Finally, I am so thankful to know and work withSarah Bryden-Brown. She’s totally my fairy blogmother. Thanks Sarah!

A note on the recipe: to feed a crowd I made my hand pies smaller, but have given the recipe for full-sized pies.

Strawberry Basil Hand Pies
makes approximately 12 large pies

for the crust (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
16 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/3 cup ice water, or more if needed

In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and sea salt to combine. Slice to butter into little bits, and pulse into the flour mixture. Combine the water and sour cream, drizzle over the flour mixture, and pulse just until the dough forms a rough ball (though it’s less flaky, I often make a wetter dough since it’s much easier to work with–you can always add flour as you roll out the dough). Turn dough out on to a lightly floured surface, gather into a ball, divide in two, wrap tightly, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

for the filling (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
4 cups strawberries, stems trimmed and cut into quarters
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Blanch the basil leaves for 30 seconds, remove from water with a slotted spoon, and pat dry. Cut into thin ribbons.

In a large bowl, toss together the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and basil. Set aside.

to assemble the pies
1 egg white, lightly beaten
sugar for sprinkling on each pie

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut one of the dough rounds into thirds. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a 10 – 12” oval. To make the first two pies, cut the oval in half, and use a slotted spoon to pile 1/3 cup filling onto one half of each semi-circle. Quickly brush the edges with the egg white, and fold over, pressing each into a turnover shape. Seal the edges with the tines of a fork. Repeat for each pie.

Before placing in the oven, brush the top of each pie with the egg white, and sprinkle with sugar. Then, using a sharp paring knife, make two 1/2″ slits in the top of each pie.

Place pies in the oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the dough is a light golden brown, and the juice is bubbling out.

Cool for 5 minutes, and then carefully place on a rack to cool completely. Serve as is, or with a dollop of crème fraîche.

Braised Beef Short Ribs

short rib + horseradish cream



Braised Short Ribs with Potato Purée, Swiss Chard and Horseradish Cream
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques

The braise on this smells so good, it moves me to cliche: It makes my knees weak and I briefly considered dabbing it behind my ears so I could keep it with me all day. In the end, I did not. Or so I tell you.

I have adapted this recipe in just a couple ways, because honestly, it’s perfect, but being not in a restaurant kitchen with dish washing help I have tried to reduce the number of pots it requires and swap the potato puree (which, if you can even get your head around this, has twice the amount of cream and butter than my recipe below and then is passed through a fine-mesh tamis twice, when I draw the line at once…) with Cook’s Illustrated’s classic mashed potatoes, which never do me wrong and have never been the cause for any complaint.

Updated [2/27/12] Note: Mashed potatoes of this yield have an estimated serving size of 4. If you (or your party) is larger or (understandably) likes a bigger helping of potatoes, it might be on the safe side to double it.

Finally, we doubled the recipe so of course your portions will look a tad tinier.

Serves 4 (generously) to 6

6 large beef short ribs, about 14 to 16 ounces each (if ribs are tinier, buy by weight, not number)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, and 4 whole sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
3 dozen small pearl onions
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced carrot
1/3 cup diced celery
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups port
2 1/2 cups hearty red wine
6 cups beef or veal stock
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
2 bunches Swiss chard, cleaned, center ribs removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Horseradish Cream (recipe follows)
Potato Purée/Mashed Potatoes (recipe follows)

Season the short ribs with 1 tablespoon thyme and the cracked black pepper. use your hands to coat the meat well. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Take the short ribs out of the refrigerator an hour before cooking, to come to room temperature. After 30 minutes, season them generously on all sides with salt.

When you take the ribs out of the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Toss the pearl onions with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon thyme, 3/4 teaspoons salt, and a pinch of pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast them about 15 minutes, until tender. When they have cooled, slip off the skins with your fingers and set aside. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F.

When it’s time to cook the short ribs, heat a large Dutch oven [or a large saute pan, if you would like to use a separate braising dish; I aimed to use fewer dishes] over high heat for 3 minutes. Pour in 3 tablespoons olive oil, and wait a minute or two, until the pan is very hot and almost smoking. Place the short ribs in the pan, and sear until they are nicely browned on all three meaty sides. Depending on the size of your pan, you might have to sear the meat in batches. Do not crowd the meat or get lazy or rushed at this step; it will take at least 15 minutes. [I find this takes closer to 45 minutes if you’re really thorough. Be thorough!] When the ribs are nicely browned, transfer them to a plate to rest.

Turn the heat down to medium, and add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme springs, and bay leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up all the crusty bits in the pan. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables just begin to caramelize. Add the balsamic vinegar, port, and red wine. Turn the heat up to high, and reduce the liquid by half.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Arrange ribs in the pot, lieing flat, bones standing up, in one layer. [If you used a saute pan for previous steps, transfer the ribs to a braising pan at this point.] Scrape any vegetables that have fallen on the ribs back into the liquid. The stock mixture should almost cover the ribs. Tuck the parsley sprigs in and around the meat. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and a tight-fitting lid if you have one. Braise in the oven for about 3 hours.

To check the meat for doneness, remove the lid and foil, being careful of the escaping steam, and piece a short rib with a paring knife. When the meat is done, it will yield easily to a knife. Taste a piece if you are not sure. [If you would like to cook these a day ahead, this is where you can pause. The next day, you can remove the fat easily from the pot — it will have solidified at the top — bring these back to a simmer on the stove or in an oven, and continue.]

Let the ribs rest 10 minutes in their juices, and then transfer them to a baking sheet.

Turn the oven up to 400 degrees F.

Place the short ribs in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes to brown.

Strain the broth into a saucepan, pressing down on the vegetables with a ladle to extract all the juices. Skim the fat from the sauce (if you made these the day before, you will have already skimmed them) and, if the broth seems thin, reduce it over medium-high heat to thicken slightly. Taste for seasoning.

Heat a large saute pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Tear the Swiss chard into large pieces. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to the pan, and stir in the cooked pearl onions. Add half the Swiss chard, and cook a minute or two, stirring the greens in the oil to help them wilt. Add a splash of water and the second half of the greens. Season with a heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of ground black pepper. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring frequently, until the greens are tender.

Place the swiss chard on a large warm platter, and arrange the short ribs on top. Spoon lots of braising juices over the ribs. Serve the potato puree and horseradish cream (recipes below) on the side.

Horseradish Cream

3/4 cup créme fraîche
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the créme fraîche and horseradish in a small bowl. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Taste for balance and seasoning.

Mashed Potatoes
Cook’s Illustrated’s Master Recipe

2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed (I used Yukon Golds)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick, 4 ounces), melted
1 cup half-and-half , warmed
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
Ground black pepper
Chives for garnish (optional)

1. Place potatoes in large saucepan and cover with 1 inch water. Bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender (a paring knife can be slipped into and out of center of potatoes with very little resistance), 20 to 30 minutes. Drain.

2. Set food mill or ricer over now empty but still warm saucepan. Spear potato with dinner fork, then peel back skin with paring knife. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Working in batches, cut peeled potatoes into rough chunks and drop into hopper of food mill or ricer. Process or rice potatoes into saucepan.

3. Stir in butter with wooden spoon until incorporated; gently whisk in half-and-half, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Ramen Crust Pizza



[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

About the authorJ. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

YIELD: Serves 3 to 4
ACTIVE TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: 10-inch cast skillet
THIS RECIPE APPEARS IN: Pizza Lab: How to Make Ramen Crust Pizza


  • 2 packages instant ramen noodles, noodles only
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces grated mozzarella or Jack cheese
  • 3/4 cup homemade or store-bought pizza sauce
  • 2 ounces grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • Toppings, as desired


  1. Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 450°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook, breaking them apart with tongs, until flexible but not completely softened, about 2 minutes. Drain carefully.2

  2. Heat olive oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add noodles and press with the bottom of a spatula into an even later that completely covers the bottom of the skillet. Reduce heat to low.

  3. Spread half of mozzarella or Jack cheese evenly over noodles, then spread sauce, going all the way to the edge of the pan. Spread remaining mozzarella or jack on top along with half of parmesan. Top pizza as desired, then place in oven. Bake until top is browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan. Allow to cool slightly, then use a thin metal spatula to loosen edges from skillet. Carefully slide pizza out onto cutting board. Slice, and serve immediately.