Let’s head into the kitchen, shall we?

s-l1000

My blog is mainly about gnomes and dead people, which is why I usually leave the cooking to the folks who know more about that kind of stuff. My sister’s blog, Dinner is the Evening, or Andrea’s Cooking with a Wallflower, are two fine examples of what the experts can accomplish when they wield camera and spatula with equal aplomb.

Giada. I'm nothing like her.
Giada. I’m nothing like her.

Still, I venture into the kitchen now and again, and sometimes I even come back out without suffering any injuries that are too grievous. I’m certainly no Giada. I rarely measure anything, much preferring the little-of-this-little-of-that approach, which doesn’t always translate into anything you could easily duplicate.

That’s the approach I took today when I made a batch of what I’m calling Jingle Bell Salsa. Why jingle bell? Because the namesake ingredient — dried cascabel chiles — look a bit like the bell that gnomes are known to wear on the end of their caps on certain holidays, and because the cascabel seeds make a rattling noise when you shake the dried chiles.

I know you’re wondering where in the hell you’re going to get dried cascabel chiles, so let me tell you that one of my children gave me mine as a Christmas present a couple of years ago, and they were living a very dry existence in my pantry until today. If your family isn’t as weird as mine, choosing to give each other socks and underwear for Christmas instead of dried chile peppers, then I guess you’re on your own. Try looking on the Internet, or on the shelves of a Mexican grocery in your neighborhood.

So okay, with the preliminaries out of the way, let’s head to the kitchen!

Artsy arrangement of ingredients, almost like the real food bloggers do.
Artsy arrangement of ingredients, almost like the real food bloggers do.

Jingle Bell Salsa

10 cascabel chile pods, stems removed and seeds shaken out
Juice from half a lime
3 cloves garlic
Generous dollop of olive oil (more than a small dollop, but less than a glug)
One 15oz can tomato sauce
Splash of white vinegar (How much is a splash? Use your imagination!)
Handful of salt (Inexact, but err on the side of more)
1/4 large Vidalia onion (Okay to be flexible)
Good-sized bunch of fresh cilantro (Hell, just finish whatever was left in the fridge)

Garlic and cascabel chile on the sizzle in a generous dollop of olive oil. Watch your eyes during this part!
Garlic and cascabel chile on the sizzle in a generous dollop of olive oil. Watch your eyes during this part!

Step One:  Make sure your kitchen is well ventilated, because what comes next will make you think you’re living in a Mace factory.

Step Two: Heat the oil in a small frying pan. Slice the garlic and put it in the pan, along with the flesh from the stemmed and seeded chile pods. Sauté until the garlic turns a nice caramel color, and just before everyone in the house runs screaming out the door.

Throw everything EXCEPT the onion into the blender and take a picture of it because it looks so pretty.
Throw everything EXCEPT the onion into the blender and take a picture of it because it looks so pretty.

Step Three: If you can still see, pour the garlic, chile and oil into a blender. Add everything EXCEPT the onion. Blend well, then scrape into a bowl.

Mince the onion and stir it to the blended salsa. The good thing about chopping the onion is that you'll already be crying from chile fumes, so a little more won't matter.
Mince the onion and stir it to the blended salsa. The good thing about chopping the onion is that you’ll already be crying from chile fumes, so a little more won’t matter.

Step Four: Mince the onion very fine, then stir it into the salsa. This is what gives it its texture.

Step Five: Enjoy with chips, or if you don’t like it, put the salsa into a pump sprayer and use it as a personal protection device.

My Jingle Bell Salsa borrows heavily from my sister’s Salsa de Arbol, though the astute among you will notice that mine has a couple of different ingredients, most notably the lime, which I think really adds something! Besides, I don’t feel too bad since she stole her recipe from somebody else!

Completed Jingle Bell Salsa with an artful arrangement of tortilla chips on the stovetop.
Completed Jingle Bell Salsa with an artful arrangement of tortilla chips on the stovetop.
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14 Comments

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  1. Sounds really good! And wearing the gas mask lends such an air of je ne sais quoi to the salsa making! The photos are definitely foodie-worthy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds and looks great. Send some down.
    Bye the way my grocery is full of Hatch chilies of all sizes, shapes and forms. I thought of you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yup, I’ll try this one. Also following yer sister’s blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So I assume I am OK with making the assumption that this is a spicy salsa?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. i just had this salsa. BEST i have ever experienced anywhere!!! not hot, but a great tasting pleasure to all taste buds. Highly recommend trying this asap.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I still haven’t tried this one, but I intend to soon.

    What about pickles?

    Have you ever made your own pickles before? I’ve attempted twice now, but both times, ending in disastrous results. Both times, ending up with with soggy, boring pickles. That’s of course, over about a seven week period when you include fermentation time.

    Any help here? Or do I have to go through your sister? I hear she may be a little brighter.

    Liked by 1 person

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