Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pico De Gallo with Toasted Pine Nuts and Avocado on Toasted Crostini

What a whirl wind of events happening both at home here in Lander, Wyoming and all across the world. I’ve spent the past few weeks knee deep in world and local events. Trying to stay current and aware of what is going on around me. I have been busy trying to make time to cook and write for the past two weeks, but with local and world events being what they are, I find myself easily distracted from the task at hand.

Several weeks ago there was the interesting development of Liberia, were it looks to this politically stunted Chef, as if democracy might be making a play for power. Unfortunately, bloodshed and Genocide seem to be the result. Then just last week, locally, a well known family lost there little child due to an accident that was beyond anyone’s control. And most recently, the horrific earthquake in Japan that followed immediately with a 30 plus foot wall Tsunami, which added insult to injury. Now I’m reading to top that, there Nuclear power plants are most likely going to meltdown.

Tragedy, Genocide, and Horrific events that some of us Americans only see in movies seems to becoming reality. Hard to focus on cooking when so many sad and unfathomable things are going on around me. Hard to see a silver lining, when all you see is smoke and fire on the horizon. I made a point of turning off FOX, MSNBC, and CNN this morning to give myself a mental break.

I have switched the TV to my current favorite channel “Cooking Network”. More specifically I’m watching two shows that are currently my favorite, “Bill’s Food” and “Chuck’s Day Off”. I often get good ideas from both of these shows and they seem to be more “at home” kind of cooking.

Over the past months, I’ve watch those two shows every Sunday morning after I get back home from church. They always seem to break my mind away from the week’s activities and bring me to the sweet bliss of cooking imagination. Some might call that mediation or out of body experience, but I call it sweet bliss, because all worries and topics on my mind go away, and it’s just me and the kitchen. Now, don’t misinterpret the last few sentences, because I don’t get all metaphysical, I just become focused on my passion for cooking.
So the following recipe is one of those ideas I got from watching my favorite Sunday morning food shows. It’s more of a snack, less a meal. My suggestion is to break away from current events/life and take some time to go into the kitchen to make these. Sit down with your creation and enjoy the moment, because it seems right now, all we can muster are little moments to break from the heaviness of life.

Pico De Gallo with Toasted Pine Nuts and Avocado on Toasted Crostini

1 1/2 lbs tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup finely chopped Vidalia Onion
1-2 jalapenos, (seeded for less heat, if desired), finely chopped
1/4 – 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of one lime
1 cup Toasted Pine Nuts
1 Avocado chopped
2 French bread baguettes
Olive oil
Fresh garlic cloves, halved
Kosher salt & pepper, to taste

Toast your Pine Nuts:
Take a dry non-stick pan. Put the pine nuts in (use no oil) and turn the heat to medium. Shake the pan every 30 seconds and toss the pine nuts. When they are lightly browned, turn the heat off and remove the pine nuts to a plate and leave them to cool. If you leave them in the hot pan they will keep on cooking for a minute or so.

Toast your Crostini:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Slice the baguettes into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices for crostini, 1/2 to 3/4 inch for bruschetta. Brush or spray one side of the crostini with the oil. Place on cookie sheets, oiled side down. Brush or spray the top of the crostini. Place in oven and bake until lightly browned and toasted, about 6 to 10 minutes. (Thicker slices should be baked at a slightly lower temperature, requiring more time until browned.) Turn the trays halfway through baking to ensure even toasting. Remove from oven. Rub each piece with the cut side of the garlic halves while toasts are still hot. Use warm or at room temperature. Cooled leftovers can be wrapped in foil and kept at room temperature for several days, then refreshed briefly in the oven before using.

Getting Down To it:
In a medium sized bowl, gently combine chopped tomatoes, onion, Pine nuts, and Avocado, jalapenos, cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Can be served immediately, but I recommend allowing salsa to rest for an hour to allow flavors to combine.

Try to give yourself a little break from life. It’s what keeps us from going completely nuts. Only being a little nuts is good, but being a whole lot of nuts is bad.

Sit, Eat, Enjoy!


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