Habanero Hot Sauce

A couple years ago we planted several (a dozen?) habanero plants. They produced plentifully! Delicious light-green, yellow, and bright orange habanero peppers. They are picante! (They kinda hurt!) With so much abundance, I searched for a hot sauce recipe using habaneros and found this one below. (Slightly modified by me.) It’s hot, but the carrots help offset the heat, and maintain the good habanero flavor.

One modification I made was to add the jalapeño flavor. We had an even greater abundance of that pepper, so I added them in. An equal amount, or slightly more.

The result? A fantastically hot/spicy sauce that has great flavor, and lasted many months in the fridge. Love it!

Habanero PeppersIngredients:
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used mild olive oil)
1 Cup chopped carrots
2 Cups water
5 habanero peppers, minced
5 jalapeño peppers, minced (or another type of hot pepper, if preferred)
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt

In a large skillet, saute the onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add carrots and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are soft. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender or food processor. Add the peppers, lime juice, vinegar and salt. Puree until smooth. Return mixture to skillet and saute for a few more minutes, this gives the sauce a more liquid consistency.

Store in a sealed jar in your fridge. Sauce can last for many months—unless you use it all first!

Garlic/Basil Pizza Dough

One thing we love around here is PIZZA! And, since I became fairly proficient with a few bread recipes, I figured I could probably do the same with pizza dough, right?

I found a good basic crust recipe in a cookbook we picked up along the way, and I had a recipe from my sister-in-law… both were similar, and both were pretty good. But the crust was rather bland. So, I got creative and added a few pizza-ish herbs! Thus was born my Garlic-Basil Pizza Dough!

Ingredients

2 cups warm water (~110ºF)
2 packets of yeast (3 1/2 tsp)
4 Tbps Olive Oil (I use mild)
2 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
5-6 Cups flour

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, then add the rest of the ingredients. I generally do five cups of flour first, and then mix in the final cup (or less) till the dough is the perfect consistency. Put a little olive oil in the base of your mixing bowl, cover, and let the dough rise for around an hour in a warm place. I preheat the oven on the lowest temperature while making the dough, then turn it off and let it rise inside the oven.

This amount makes enough dough for two large cookie-sheet pizzas.

Enjoy!

Amazing Greek Dressing

Sometimes, simpler is better. Most of the recipes I use tend to end up there. It’s really strange, but for some reason, the recipes with fewer ingredients are the ones that taste the best!

This Greek Salad Dressing recipe is one such case! Was just used again last night with Chicken Souvlaki, and was more than well-received. I’m pretty sure you’ll love it, too!

(Recipe can be reduced, if desired)

Greek Dressing

21 oz Olive Oil (I use mild)
6 oz Vinegar (I use white)
4 tsp Oregano
3 tsp Garlic
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper

Combine ingredients in a dressing shaker, shake vigorously, and enjoy! You can enjoy right away, but if you let the dressing sit for a while it will allow the flavors to combine deliciously!

Pabellón Criollo: Carraotas Negras (Black Beans)

Pabellón - Carraotas NegrasAnother important piece of the pabellón meal is the black beans! Now, I do take the shortcut of using canned beans to start with, but you could certainly use dry beans. Prepare them as instructed and then finish them as described below. (But I’ll start with cans… it’s easier, faster, and they still taste great!)

Carraotas Negras (Black Beans) for Pabellón
2 cans black beans
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 1/2 tsp chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp adobo (with pepper)

Mix in garlic, onion, cilantro and adobo, and cover beans. Simmer on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally for 20-30 minutes. The longer (and slower) you simmer, the better the flavor and consistency. Should be thicker when it’s ready to serve.

The amounts above are definitely approximations. Add each/all of those ingredients to your taste preferences. But that combination, simmered to perfection… a fantastic part of pabellón!

Pabellón Criollo (Carne Mechada)

When I was a kid, my family moved to Caracas, Venezuela. It was quite an experience, living three years of my youth in a foreign country. I learned the language, absorbed some of the culture, and acquired a taste for the food!

Now, as an adult, one of our favorite meals to make is pabellón criollo—the Venezuelan national dish!

I don’t always make the full meal, in fact, I almost never include the platanos [plantains]. (That’s just a personal preference.) But even when we just make parts, it’s fantastic! I will post each part of the meal separately here, starting with the recipe I use for the carne mechada [shredded beef].

(Note: I found this recipe posted to an internet forum several years ago now. I translated it, and of course, I modify it slightly every now and then. Usually we use a bit more meat (3lbs or so), and roughly double the rest of the ingredients. I also usually add a teaspoon and a half of Adobo once I add the meat to the vegetables.)

Carne Mechada:
1/2 kilo (about a pound) Flank Steak (any beef for roasting will do)
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Pepper (Green and/or Red) finely chopped
2 sticks of Celery, chopped
1 Bunch of Cilantro – finely chopped
1 Can of Stewed Tomatoes
Garlic, Salt & Beef Bullion if you want

Place the meat crockpot with about a cup of water, medium onion, and a little salt. I add adobo and olive oil as well. Cook on low for many hours until tender, pulls apart easily.

Turn crockpot off, remove the meat and let it cool so you can shred it with your hands. Do not dispose of the liquid.

In a large pot, put just enough oil to cover the bottom. Heat up the oil and begin sauteing the garlic, onions, cilantro, pepper(s), and celery. Let it cook till all smells great, but do not burn the onion and garlic. After these have simmered for a bit, add the tomatoes and simmer a bit longer. Add the shredded meat and let it simmer a while longer. Now add the beef bullion, and the liquid from the crockpot. You can add a couple cups of water as well.

Stir this up and let it simmer for as long as you can, as this will let the flavors cook together. Making it delicious!

Serve when ready with rice, black beans, and arepas y platanos if you can. (More ideas for those to come!)

¡Buen provecho!