Sunday, July 29, 2007

Fire and Ice

Picky eaters drive me crazy (ie:my son)! I don't even mind so much if someone does not like something if they will just try it and then make that decision. I like to cook with what some people (not me) might consider somewhat unusual ingredients. This usually means some spices that they are not familiar with or combinations of foods that your basic Southern/Americana cook would not typically use. Because of this, when I make a new dish I am often faced with the dilemma..."do I tell them what is in it?" With my children the answer is usually a no. My policy is make them taste first and then disclose. Friends and acquaintances on the other hand are a little trickier.
I will have to say that most of my friends have a pretty open mind about trying new things and now after a few times of trying my new creations they have come to know that for the most part my cooking ROCKS (hey when you got it Flaunt it)! It also does not hurt that I have a disproportionately large number of male friends most of whom are Firefighters that subscribe to the ... If it does not eat me first philosophy. I also think it helps that due to the military, a lot of them are not Southern born and raised.

Now, no offense to my friends (or anyone else) who are not Damn Yankees (like myself). I am not knocking Southern cooking. Lord knows that I love to eat it. But I am not that great at cooking it. ( I can't make good fried chicken to save my life). What I am getting at is there is a simplicity to the ingredients of Southern Cooking and some people who have eaten it all their lives are resistant to try things they are not familiar with.

On of my favorite things is to mix sweet and savory. Even I had trouble with that concept at first but once I tried it I was hooked. Now I look twice at those recipes with combinations that even I have some doubt about. I try to think about the ingredients separately and then use some blind faith.

Today's recipe was one that gave me pause. I love salsa! I have seen recipes for Watermelon salsa several times over the past few weeks. Now I make a fruit salsa all the time but it is definitely a sweet salsa and I make cinnamon tortilla chips with it. But this is a Savory Salsa with garlic and jalapenos. At first I was like, ehhhhh that really does not sound too good. But then after seeing it a couple of more times I was intrigued. I found several recipes on Recipezaar along with several other sites that I googled. There are many variations and I took what I liked best from them to come up with this one. I kept the name from the one I followed most closely because I thought it described it perfectly "FIRE AND ICE SALSA" The cool watermelon with the hot jalapenos is a surprising combination. I debated telling my friends what it was before they tasted it because quite honestly when you look at it you can't tell it is not tomatoes. But in the end I did and they tried it anyway. As is typical with something unusual, it got a slow start with people tentative about it but by the end of the evening the huge bowl was nearly gone. How could they have doubted me?

Fire and Ice Salsa

3 cups diced watermelon
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1/4 cup diced red pepper
1-2 jalapeno peppers finely diced (adjust to taste)
1-2 cloves garlic finely minced
1 TBS Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup finely minced cilantro
2Tbs finely chopped mint leaves
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover refrigerate for at least 1 HR. Serve with tortilla chips. Also would be great over broiled fish. 24-48 hr. is about the extent of it's shelf life in the fridge but so far mine has not lasted that long anyway.

Note: Be careful with the jalapeno. The contrast of it with the watermelon makes it seem hotter. Error on the side of not enough to start with then you can add more according to your taste.

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