Salsa festival brings out the heat

I was a judge today at the first Family Salsa Festival salsa competition at the Good Samaritan Mission in Wimauma.

Despite a brief rain shower, the event itself was fun and brought out a variety of salsa, including black bean and corn, mango and smoked.

The perfect salsa involves blending the right amount of heat and sweetness.

And a little kick doesn't hurt.

I applaud all the participants and congratulate the winners who earned bragging rights:

Commercial/Professional - Cigar City Smoked Salsa
Best Decorated Booth - South County Career Center (Team #1)
Hottest Salsa - Tree Dog Salsa
Finest Fruits - South County Career Center (Team #1)
Best Bean Salsa - East Bay High School
Righteous Roasted Salsa - Cigar City Smoked Salsa
Top Tomato Salsa - The King's Bistro
Mind Blowing Mild Salsa - South County Career Center (Team #2)


A taste of life on the farm

When you hear the word "Swiss" what do you think of? Maybe watches and army knives? For me, not surprisingly it's food.

There are at least three Swiss foods that come to my mind right away, and you can probably guess what they are: Swiss chocolate, Swiss cheese and Swiss chard.

Granted I might not choose a leafy green over cheese, let alone chocolate, but when it comes to veggies it's right up there near the top of my list.

You can read about my recent visit to Hydro Harvest Farms - which included picking this beautiful Swiss chard - in this week's Table Scraps column on tbo.com.


Got leftover corned beef?

These are delicious! The poppy seeds, butter, and onion "marinade" turn this sandwich into buttery, finger-licking goodness. If you want, you can make them a day or two in advance before baking, and substitute any other combo of deli meats and cheeses.

Two thumbs up!



3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter

1/4 cup sweet onion, minced

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons hot or spicy mustard

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon chopped parsley


24 small dinner rolls

Horseradish mayonnaise

24 (about 1 pound) thin slices of deli corned beef

24 (about 3/4 pound) thin slices of Swiss cheese

Butter or line two 9- x 13-inch baking pans with non-stick foil.

To prepare marinade, saute minced sweet onion in butter over low heat until onion is soft and translucent. Add poppy seeds, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and brown sugar. Stir until brown sugar is melted into the sauce. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Set marinade aside to cool while you assemble the sandwiches.

Slice the buns in half. Spread bottoms of the buns with a thin layer of horseradish mayonnaise. Fold corned beef slices to fit the bottom of each bun. Repeat with Swiss cheese slices, folding to fit buns. Replace bun tops. Place corned beef and cheese buns into greased baking pans. Pour marinade evenly over buns in both pans. Cover tightly with foil. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the marinated buns covered for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Source: Adapted from www.homecooking.about.com


Sticky chicken thighs. Oh, honey. This was good!

Last week I found myself at Mabry's Market, where I picked up a jar of handmade preserved lemons.

Chopped up and tossed into salads, stews and sautes, preserved lemons add a bright, nuanced burst of flavor in one speedy step.

Susan Bishop, the market's owner, shared her favorite Nigel Slater recipe for sticky chicken thighs with preserved lemons and honey.

The chicken practically melted off the bone, and its taste and smell were wonderful!

I served the crispy-skinned thighs with orzo, mixed with some of the olives, parsley and lemon mixture.



1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 lemons, juiced only
Dollop of grainy mustard
Good squeeze or two of runny honey
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 large chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
Sea salt to taste
2 - 3 preserved lemons
Handful of green olives, pits removed and sliced
Small handful fresh flatleaf parsley, leaves only

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl add the lemon juice, honey, mustard and garlic. Mix well.

Place the chicken thighs in a medium roasting pan and pour the honey mixture over the chicken. Let marinate for at least an hour in the fridge. Sprinkle with sea salt, then cook in oven for 45 minutes, turning halfway after 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the preserved lemons open and remove the soft flesh to leave just the lemon rind (discard the flesh). Cut the rind into strips and toss together with the olives and parsley.

Serve the chicken thighs sprinkled with the olive, parsley and preserved lemon mixture.