Tess. Lotta Photography

“You find peace . . . by realizing who you are at the deepest level” – Eckhart Tolle

Posts from the ‘Kitchen Witch’ category

Kitchen Witch: Michelle Pauline’s Chimichurri Bitches!

 

Michelle’s veggie campfire tacos graced lovingly with Chimichurri Bitches!

Michelle Pauline’s Chimichurri Bitches!

Prep time: 30 minutes

Welcome to Kitchen Witch’s Food Alchemist, my new guest chef feature. For this inaugural post, I’m psyched to share Chimichurri Bitches! sauce.

Guest chef Michelle Pauline is the star behind this particular creation. A visual artist, sculptor, and art instructor, Michelle is also a top-notch culinarian. Her take on classic Argentinian chimichurri verde, Michelle’s recipe offers a variation that includes cilantro.

A mistress of grilling & cooking on an open campfire (or any dang fire she can tame with a metal grate, her fire resistant gloves, and a foil baking pan), Michelle debuted her Chimichurri Bitches! at our annual artist-girls camping trip this past June. And, my Goddesses, were we treated to the deliciousness of her foodie mastery. Super happy campers, indeed!

Chimichurri Bitches!

A spectacular condiment on anything (seriously, our morning scrambled eggs leapt at the chance to be so bathed), Chimichurri Bitches! was, simply put, the crowning statement of Michelle’s campfire tacos, a dinner offering that paired well with the incredible sunset descending on our campsite. As one of three vegetarians in our troop, I about wept after the first bite of toasted corn tortilla crammed full with a combo of perfectly roasted sweet potatoes, red and yellow bells, jalapeños, and tart tomatillos slathered in Chimichurri Bitches! perfection.

Yay! Campfire peppers a’ roasting!

While the parsley version is a superb homage to traditional chimichurri, I am a devotee of cilantro. This tangy goodness is perfectly tailored to leave a luscious bite of jalapeño and red pepper flake on the tongue, while the bold earthiness of the cilantro and parsley with the oregano enhances main dish players, such as caramelized roasted veggies and, per tradition, grilled meats (from the raves of the carnivorous campers, the chicken tacos were bomb diddy). It is the best chimichurri I’ve spooned over anything!

Nice grill marks! Michelle, Cheryl, and Avonel scooped coals from the campfire into a BBQ at the cabin to grill the chicken breasts…just a little S&P for seasoning.

Like its creator, this sauce is unpretentious, big-hearted, adventurous, unique, and just a bit mischievous. Cheers to Chimichurri Bitches!, campfires, sunsets, and super rad girlfriends. Thanks, Michelle, for the recipe that follows!

Chef Michelle prepping a plate o’ tacos for me!

Ingredients:

1 bunch flat leaf parsley (see option variation below)

8 cloves garlic

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Juice from a 1/4 lemon

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 roasted jalapeño

1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (this can be done to taste, but it needs at least a little bit)

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Option:

Add 1/2 bunch cilantro instead of parsley

Make:

Roast jalapeño by pre-heating a frying pan or seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat. Add jalapeño pepper, turning pepper to sear each side. You want them charred but not burnt, as they will get bitter. Continue until the entire skin of the pepper skin becomes blackened. The flesh should feel soft to the touch (be careful when you test—hot stuff!). Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let them sweat a bit to cool and then peel and remove the stem (see note on the seeds below).

Peel garlic cloves and roughly chop using a food processor (or blender).

Add the fresh herb of choice (parsely or cilantro) to the processor and pulse to roughly chop.

Toss the rest of the ingredients into the processor and blend up, but not too much. You don’t want to make the herbs bitter with too much processing.

Transfer to a jar and let this baby marinate in its own juices for a day. This shit is good on anything! Even cardboard.

Note on jalapeño seeds & heat–they are hot: if you don’t want as much heat in your sauce, once the pepper has cooled, remove the seeds…..tee hee, I said, “heat in your sauce”!

Sorry not sorry :)…I just had to post the sunset!

The Crew! I love how the fog rolling in made us look like a doom metal band. I’m on the far right, looking like a thug in my Crocs – lol!

Content & photos by Tess. Lotta (© 2017 Tess. Lotta)

Recipe by Michelle Pauline (© 2017 Michelle Pauline)

Kitchen Witch: Uncle Tessa’s Bruschetta

Yum! Tangy bruschetta and a wedge of sharp cheddar–the perfect nosh!

Uncle Tessa’s Bruschetta 

Prep time: 30-45 minutes

I am posting this recipe in honor of my niece, Jillaine. Now a happily married young woman, Jillaine was growing up at the time in my life when I was well imbedded into the punk scene here in LA.

Like my boyfriend at the time, my hair was cropped short, and my typical ensemble was some version of Levis pegged to fit tight, black leather work boots or black canvass lowrider loafers from Kmart, a handmade band t-shirt or a men’s dress shirt pilfered from a thrift store, and a beater leather motorcycle jacket. To the hilariously sharp, smart, and sassy little Jillaine, I registered as a dude.

Armed with her awesome brand of little kid grit, Jillaine defied all adults who tried to correct her when she referred to me as Uncle Tessa. Of course, all her younger cousins, quite assured that the slightly elder Jillaine knew her shit, followed suit. And, to this day, I am Uncle Tessa. I absolutely would not have it any other way.

One holiday season a few years ago, the now adult Jillaine invited family members to give her our go-to fave recipes. She then compiled these into beautiful scrapbooks that she gave to us as gifts (right?! I told you she is clever). This bruschetta recipe was my contribution.

As an assertive antipasto, I enjoy the tangy pop of the cherry tomatoes against the juicy smoothness of peeled tomatoes. The firm red onions and fresh basil show up nicely due to lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. I like it piled high on crusty bread, as is traditional bruschetta. But, being punk rock and all, I add a wedge of sharp cheddar cheese, instead of an Italian variety.

Enjoy! And, cheers to you, Jillaine! I will always be your Uncle Tessa.

 

 

Ingredients:

4 large tomatoes – peeled, seeded, and chopped in chunks (when priced right at the grocery store or farmer’s markets, I use heirloom varieties. In general, I use the organic tomatoes-on-the-vine variety).

1 cup cherry tomatoes – halved then halved again and seeded

11 large basil leaves – chiffonade (how to below)

3 large cloves garlic finely chopped (1-2 tablespoons to your liking). Reserve 1/2 tablespoon

1/2 cup diced red onion (or more if you, like me, dig onions)

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Juice from 1 small lemon (2 tablespoons)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse sea salt

Fresh ground pepper

Loaf of crusty bread

Ready to peel! Super juicy…

Make:

To peel tomatoes: prepare a bowl with ice and water. Bring a pot of water to a boil and, one at time, add the tomatoes with a slotted spoon. Watch them closely and, once the skins split, spoon them out into the ice bath. They are now ready to peel, seed, and chop.

Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, halving them again to make quarters. Remove seeds.

 

Basil – the queen of fresh herbs!

Chiffonade: pile up basil leaves, roll the pile together, and chop into thin ribbons.

Combine tomatoes with cherry tomatoes in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and gently toss/stir until all ingredients are well distributed, adding coarse salt and fresh pepper to taste.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes to let flavors develop.

Bread prep: If you are experienced with your chef’s knife, create a garlic paste by piling the reserved garlic on a cutting board with a pinch of coarse salt. Mash the salt & garlic combo by sliding chef’s knife over it, dragging the combo along the cutting board, using a bit of pressure to mash it together. Scoop garlic mash back into a pile and repeat. Combine mash with olive oil in a small bowl and mix with a fork to distribute garlic into oil. Brush on wedges of crusty bread and toast.

Alternatively, if you are not as confident with your chef’s knife, just rub a whole garlic clove on toasted bread and drizzle with olive oil.

Recipe & photography by Tess. Lotta

Kitchen Witch: Bullet Pesto

© Tess. Lotta

Bullet Pesto

Prep: 30 minutes

I grow monster amounts of basil on our back porch garden, and this rad little recipe is my killer pasta sauce version! Super easy, freaking crazy delicious, and nutritious with whole wheat or a quinoa-rice pasta.

I love my food processor, but, some days, I just don’t have it in me for the clean up. Also, though I have worshipped a Vitamix from afar, I keep opting for photo gear for the money (but, my dream will come true, someday).

So, for crazy busy days when I need an easy clean-up sauce, marinade, or dressing, I opt for my juicing blender—mine happens to be a NutriBullet. I have dedicated the larger container that came with it for marinades, soups, and sauces. I love to mark up anything with a Sharpie!

As my father, Joe “Cap” Lotta, would say, “Mangia tutti” – let’s eat!

When blending in a cylindrical juice blender, you may need to add moisture to some ingredients, like nuts, to get them moving.

Ingredients:

Big ol’ bunch of fresh basil (2-3 cups or large size container at the grocery store)

Extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano (fresh or the classic off-the-shelf mix)

Juice of 1 large lemon

1 cup raw almonds (1/4 cup if not saving-see below)

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup if not saving-see below)

Coarse salt

Black pepper

Room temperature water

2 cloves garlic roughly chopped (less or more, to your taste)

Dry pasta—I prefer rotini to grab the sauce in the ridges

Make:

Roast the almonds and pumpkin seeds together in a toaster oven or stove top in a skillet, stirring frequently until the aromas are released and the nuts turn a richer, slightly darker color. Don’t go too far, as they get bitter. Set aside to cool. Divide out about 1/4 cup of the mixture for pesto and save the rest to add to salads, etc.

Wash and pull basil leaves off stem. I am not a purist on this; if there is some stem, no big deal.

Pre-blend roasted seed/nut combo into small pieces—add a bit of water, if needed, to get it moving thru the blender. We don’t want nut butter—just chunks.

Add all remaining ingredients, starting with a 1/4 cup olive oil and 2-3 tablespoons water. Blend until you have the consistency you like. You can add more olive oil and/or water, S&P, or cheese to your liking.

Refrigerate for about an hour to let flavors develop.

Cook up pasta and ladle out 2 cups of cooking liquid into bowl or measuring cup just before draining the pasta. Drain pasta and return about half of it to the now dry pot. Add back in about a 1/2 cup of reserved liquid. Stir in pesto to coast pasta, adding more pasta as you stir. I like my pasta thick with sauce. If I have any left, I freeze for another recipe.

Recipe & photography by Tess. Lotta