Tag Archives: Relish

I’ve been chopped!

If you like food, and you like hearing what others have to say about food, you’ve probably grazed on the offering of the Food Network.

As two self proclaimed foodies, my wife and I enjoy following a couple of shows. One of our favorites is the extremely entertaining show Chopped.

In case you are not familiar with the show, here’s a quick overview:

Four chefs walk into a kitchen… oh wait, that’s a different joke. No, here:

4 chefs cook in a timed competition to make the best food. They have 20 minutes to make an appetizer, 30 minutes to make an entree, and 30 minutes to make a dessert. There is a basket of mystery ingredients, which usually has about 3-4 items each chef must use in the final dish. Plus there is a stocked kitchen so they can grab additional things like spices.

In my own fun version, I was hungry. I had about 20 minutes to eat before we needed to go someplace, and I had the following items in my “basket”:

Tortilla Chips,


And Sardines.

Since I considered this to be an appetizer round, I naturally decided to make a quick salsa of Raisins and Sardines, with a bed of crushed tortilla chips. Finding some fresh Cilantro in the fridge with some Mustard, I raced against the clock to bring the elements together– carefully dicing the cilantro, and arranging it all together to form a very tasty appetizer!

Now for the judges…

How did I do?

Food critic one: “I thought the presentation was quite nice, a small colorful bowl, and the cilantro and raisins really coordinate well.”

Food expert two: “I agree, but what I really like the flavor this dish brought out, the salty sardines, and the sweet raisins with the freshness of the herbs, a very good start to a meal.”

Grumpy food person: “But for someone with a background in slow food methods, can we really give him a pass with only 20 minutes of preparation?”

Food expert two: “Good point, I think that using Mustard out of a jar was just a cop out.”

Food critic one: “I disagree Two, I feel the use of fresh herbs like Cilantro is perfectly in line with slow food principles, and it’s not really possible to cook slow food fast.”

And whose dish is on the chopping block?


Grumpy food person: “Well, we thought that your flavor combination and presentation were spot on, but that using a prepackaged Mustard instead of making your own was not adequate for you to move on in this competition, and so for those reasons, you’ve been chopped.”

Exit interview:

Me: “Though this is a crushing blow to my own ego, I must say that just being here and making this amazing salsa has been it’s own reward.”


Chipotle Cranberry Relish with Chicken and Rice

So there I was, innocently wandering the halls of the local Aircraft hanger.. um, I mean Supermarket. I think we may have run out of something, or needed a last minute item, but anyway, there I was. This particular store actually has a pretty nice Organic/Natural section cordoned off from the ‘normal’ food. One product line they carry is Living Intentions, a company that specializes in soaked, dried nuts. So, when I’m there, I look in for whatever Living Intentions products they have. This time, the only two things they had were Pumpkin seeds, and Chipotle Pistachios .

I was not particularly enthused by this meager offering since I’m just not that into Pumpkin seeds, and Chipotle Pistachios?? Well, my wife got the Pistachios to munch on the way home, and they were pretty good, but we didn’t eat a lot of them. But then…

My wife was trying to figure out how to jazz up a rather stale, routine chicken and rice dish.  Normally, we’d add some raw cheese and a veggie on top, but the Chipotle Pistachios inspired my wife.  After a whirlwind of activity, she produced a relish like nothing I had ever had! See below for her creation:

Chipotle Cranberry Relish (serves 4)

(make to taste; amounts are approximate)

3-4 Ounces of fresh Cranberries

Half a bag Living Intentions Chipotle Pistachios (or 2.5 oz of  other soaked/dried nut and add 1-2 teaspoon of chipotle seasoning**)

1 small Orange

1-2 Tablespoon Lime juice

1 Tablespoon Olive oil

1 small bunch of Cilantro (about 1/3 cup)

Sea Salt to taste

Grind nuts in food processor; add cranberries and process.  Then add orange, olive oil, lime juice, and salt (and Chipotle spices** if adding separately from nuts).  Blend, then add cilantro until well mixed.  End result should somewhat resemble the consistency of fresh homemade cranberry relish (thick and a little juicy).

Serve on Chicken and Rice.

If you can’t find Living Intentions nuts at a store near you (or if you have time and prefer doing it the hard way), you can soak your choice of nuts for 6-9 hours, drain, then scatter on a tray in your dehydrator or stove (on it’s lowest setting) and top with Chipolte seasoning.  Let dry/dehydrate for roughly 12-15 hours or until done.

**Chipotle seasoning (roughly from the Living Intentions label): Chili powder, Onion powder, Cumin, Sea Salt, and Tamari sauce (gluten-free).  Wheat eaters could use regular Soy Sauce in place of the Tamari.  Organic seasonings are best as they are non-irradiated.

So next time you get a chance, duck into random Aircraft hangers and look for some soaked nuts in the natural food section–they’re usually behind the torque wrenches.