Category Archives: Sauce

Carne Asada with Skirt Steak, Pt. 1

Yes, I finally found skirt steak at the grocery, so I’m trying out the Serious Eats recipe, mostly because the marinade/salsa looks so tasty. Luckily there are just two of us and the little under-1 lb package will do. Even at that small size, it was $18, though, so I don’t want to make any mistakes.

I made few changes to the salsa:

  • I only used dried ancho chiles, 5 of them, instead of the two kinds in the original
  • I added two roasted jalapenos from our garden
  • I did not use canned chipotle peppers
  • I did not have, nor want fish sauce, so I added a 3rd tablespoon of soy sauce
  • Neither did I have the coriander seed, so I just skipped that
  • And mostly, I didn’t do all the juicing of fresh fruit nor the toasting and grinding of seeds—I didn’t even chop my own cilantro!


I’ll be back later to show how it all worked out on the grill—that’s the part I’m worried about, that cooking with the lid off won’t give me the char I want before the meat’s too done. In the meantime, here’s the sauce, with my variations:

Carne Asada Salsa

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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See the original recipe here:

  • 5 whole dried ancho chilies, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 roasted jalapeno peppers, peeled and seeded
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 6 medium cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup cilantro paste—solves dealing with the disgusting smell of cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • Kosher salt
  1. Place dried ancho chilies on a plate and microwave until pliable, about 20-30 seconds. I didn’t know how this would work out, because I only ever reconstitute dried peppers to use in chili or to make enchilada sauce. I always strain the reconstituted, blended chiles, so I was concerned about the pepper skins, but they blended up nicely.
  2. Transfer to a blender with the rest of the ingredients, except the salt.
  3. Blend for 1-2 minutes until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender jar to get all the bits.
  4. Transfer the salsa to two bowls, one to eat later as a dressing, the other for the marinade.
  5. Add 2 teaspoons kosher salt to the marinade, dip meat portions in the sauce, then pour all into a sealable bag. Seal and refrigerate for about 3 hours.
  6. Add salt to taste to the remaining salsa and refrigerate.


Orange Coconut Curry Sauce

Still one more orange recipe, because I have just a little orange juice left, plus one of the oranges from the previous featured post photo. This is not about brining or marinating, although the finished dish includes the leftover marinated grilled pheasant breasts mentioned in the last post. Leftover meat like pheasant or chicken breast that can become dry with reheating, even after you marinated or brined it for the first cooking, works best in a sauce that is cooked separately, then used to lightly reheat the cooked meat.

The resulting sauce has a noticeable orange flavor and is a nice addition to a typical curry sauce.

Orange Coconut Curry Sauce

  • Servings: about 3 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 medium onion, sliced in thin strips

1 bell pepper, any color, cut in thin strips

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1 tablespoon grated garlic

1.5 teaspoons curry powder

olive oil for sauteing

zest from 1 orange

1/2 cup orange juice

1 can full-fat coconut milk

slurry of 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 3 tablespoons water or orange juice

  1. Heat olive oil, maybe 2 tablespoons, in a large skillet over medium heat, and saute the onion and pepper until softened and the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the ginger, garlic, and curry powder. Cook for a few more minutes, then add the orange zest, orange juice, and coconut milk.
  3. Bring just to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cornstarch slurry, stirring and simmering until the sauce is lightly thickened and the cornstarch has had time to cook through, probably no more than 3 minutes.

For my dish, I added the sliced cooked pheasant breasts (4 breasts or about 2 cups) before I thickened the sauce, letting the meat simmer in the sauce until heated through.

Quick, Light Pizza Sauce

In this recipe, I’m referencing two posts  from about one year ago that covered the making of pizza dough and the final pizza. The dough really is terrific and I recommend it:

Pizza: Day One

Pizza: Day Two—White Pizza

I always make this pizza with a Parmesan white sauce, but now my husband thinks he has gone lactose intolerant, so I’m trying to cut down on too much milk or cheese in any one meal. We’re still going to have some cheese on the pizza, but I needed to figure out a tomato sauce that wasn’t too acidic—we’re not crazy about those rich tomato sauces that border on sour. Problems, problems, problems.

I started with a large can of whole plum tomatoes, strained out the liquid, to be used to flavor another dish, and pulsed them in the food processor with about 6-8 cloves of roasted garlic, olive oil, salt , and a little dried oregano. I’m hoping that by not precooking the sauce, it will be lighter instead of concentrated. It seems pretty thick, already, for a raw sauce, and still retains some of the texture of the tomatoes. I’ll miss the white sauce, but I hope this is a good alternative.

In my opinion, the crust is the star of pizza, anyway.

Other than the sauce, I’m using the same toppings that we like—country sausage and roasted bell peppers. Since I put oregano in the sauce, I’m leaving out the arugula that I like on a white sauce. I’m going light on the Parmesan and mozzarella, but can’t leave them out completely. The lactase tablets will have to get him through that.

Quick, Light Pizza Sauce

  • Servings: covers at least 3 12-inch pizzas
  • Difficulty: easy
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I large 28 oz can whole plum tomatoes, strained (San Marzano tomatoes, if you can find them)

6-8 cloves roasted garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2-1 teaspoon dried oregano

  1. Strain the canned tomatoes, cutting into them to release any hidden liquid. Reserve liquid for another dish, like Spanish rice.
  2. Place strained tomatoes, roasted garlic, olive oil, salt, and oregano in bowl of food processor.
  3. Pulse to a fairly smooth consistency.
  4. Spread on pizza dough, then cover with other toppings and bake according to your directions.

This is a light sauce that doesn’t overpower your other toppings—it was just what we were looking for (even though I still prefer white pizza sauce).

It was Pesto!

The answer to yesterday’s mystery freezer question is pesto—roasted tomato pesto. It must have been one of those days near the end of our ripening tomatoes, especially the ones brought into the garage to ripen after the season, when, faced with a mountain of ripe tomatoes, I did what I usually do—roast them with a little olive oil and salt, then figure out how to eat them. At least some of them went into the pesto. Roasted tomatoes make an interesting twist to that concentrated, thick paste. I could taste the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and walnuts, garlic, and parsley, which I prefer to cilantro. We ate it in spicy beef wraps, like these—Spicy Braised Beef Tacos— but without the extra crumbled cheese. I cooked the beef in the oven, in a large cast iron dutch oven, with about 3 cups of crushed tomatoes from the garden (also in the freezer, but recognizable).

What are your favorite ingredients to add to pesto to change it up?

The darker bits are char from the roasted tomatoes