Friday, August 20, 2010

Review: Dr. Gonzo's "Free Range" Jalapenomash

One of the benefits of being a food blogger are the many products you get to try and write about. Some products you have used for some time and you love and want to share them with the world. Some come from the companies that create them and they're looking for your opinion and hopefully, the related exposure if you like their products. Other products come via family and friends who want you to try things they like or review their friends and families products. It's all good in the hood. As long as everyone knows: I don't lie in my reviews.

Case in point was my recent review of the Wicked Kickin Savory Cheesecake that my friend Matt Goulet brought over a while back - GOOD STUFF! Today's product for review similarly came from another friend. A week or so ago my long-time associate in rhythm and the absurd, Neil Foisy, turned up with several products from Dr. Gonzo's Uncommon Condiments that he was really excited about. He gave me the basic info, he told me his preferences and thoughts and then left me to my own designs. All he asked was that if I liked them that I please share them with my readers. That's probably not the exact language he used but the message and request were the same (Whaddup crackah!, I promised you I'd bang this wiki wiki out if it was all good and it was - BIG TIME!) I'll review the first product of Dr. Gonzo's that I tried today and enter subsequent reviews as I use and finish the rest and they meet my approval.

The first of the delectable delights from Dr. G's that I hit was the "Free Range Jalapenomash". Dr. G described this product thusly:

"Our "Free Range" Jalapenomash is an all-natural hot pepper relish… …using only the finest "Free Range" Jalapeno peppers procured in the great 2009 Jalapeno round up, this product comes in first with sweet flavor then hits you with delayed heat that dissipates quickly… … be warned, like all of our products, it just may be habit forming."

My take right off is that using the world "relish" in association with this product is kind of inaccurate. For me, relishes are always clunky and slightly syrupy affairs. I'm a fan of relishes but calling this "relish" puts one's mind in a state of anticipation that is misleading. My advice? Take that "peppermash" term and own it Dr. G. Take that term "peppermash" and define it, because you already have with me and let me tell you I am the only authority on the subject writing this sentence! Dr. G's Jalapenomash is a thing far apart from a relish. It is a peppermash (whatever that is). PEPPERMASH, understand?

I love jalapenos. Do you like jalapenos? If so, you're going to love Dr. Gonzo's Free Range Jalapenomash. It's jalapenoresplendent with jalapenoliciousness and that's no jalapenoxaggeration either! The first occasion I tried the stuff was the evening Neil was over. Neil hadn't told me what he was bringing but I had coincidentally prepared a Mexican fish and shrimp taco feast. So, my first bite of Dr. Gonzo's Free Range Jalapenomash came delivered on a very appropriate garlic-chipotle shrimp taco and let me tell you I was not disappointed! In fact I piled it on every taco I ate after that and I can eat a lot of shrimp or fish tacos, hombre!

What's to love about Dr. Gonzo's Free Range Jalapenomash? Right off, it's all-natural and easy to apply. This isn't a thick and chunky goop, it also isn't some pale, over-processed sluice spawn you haphazardly pour from a bottle. It is a fine mince of green peppery jalapenogoodness that is easy to spoon onto anything you care to (and my list is getting long!). Then there's the flavor, the distinct and wonderful SPICY flavor of JALAPENO PEPPERS. What make's Free Range Jalapenomash really good is that the spice and heat of the peppers have not been democratically dumbed down to cater to the docile and delicate palates of the average flavor and spice deprived denizen of the average American fast food counter or supermarket. You get that? Jalapenomash is NOT average. This stuff unapologetically kicks ass! Jalapenomash is spicy like God intended it to be and never lets you forget you wanted jalapeno!

Do I like it? I LOVE IT. Will I buy it? YES, I will buy it (or give Neil the money to buy it for me). There are products I like and that I buy occasionally and then there are products that I just have to have on hand because I like them so much. Dr. Gonzo's Free Range Jalapenomash is of the latter. I couldn't think of not having it around for when I prepare Mexican at home. Per Neil's instructions we also did a 50/50 mix of Jalapenomash and sour cream as a dip or taco dressing and that went astoundingly well. The flavor and burn of the jalapeno pepper in contrast to the slightly sour coolness of the cream was great! Even my wife, who can be a bit spice-shy when it comes to really spicy food enjoyed it while admitting it was hot. That's something! Hell, I'm already planning on adding Jalapenomash to my future Bloody Mary's and lots of other dishes as well. NO LIE!

Dr. Gonzo's Free Range Jalapenomash scores very high with me and if you're a fan of jalapeno flavor you need to get yourself some soon and you can do that by popping into Dr G's storefront at Dr. Gonzo's All-Natural Mega-Spicy Emporium, 122 Main St. Worcester, MA  01608 or you can order it online at:

I've been hitting heavily on the good Dr.'s Black Fly mustard lately, more to come...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Recipe: Broiled Chipotle-Garlic Shrimp

Tacos, like summertime pasta sauces in my house, come in a wide variety of types based on whatever ingredients may be on hand. We're so used to making impromptu fresh tacos in my home that it's become an improvisational process.

Predictably, that improvisational process over time begins to bring some constants to light. These are ingredients and factors that seem to be present in all of our best taco recipes. So, in the interest of helping you to create better tacos at home, I thought it important to share them with you here.

It should go without saying when preparing food at home in general, but you have to start with the freshest, quality ingredients. Nothing will increase the quality and the flavor of not only tacos but all your home cooked food like fresh quality ingredients.

Nowhere in your taco will this be more apparent than in the salsa you use. DO NOT EVER use salsa from a jar. Salsa is easy-to-make and there is no substitute for fresh salsa - NONE. It's the same with guacamole. Make them both fresh and give them some fridge time to chill down a little bit. The crisp coolness of the fresh salsa and guacamole add a nice contrast to the cooked components.

This one will bum you out if you're pressed for time (understandable) or lazy (unforgivable) but: make fresh tortillas. All it takes is a bag of Maseca, a little water, a little salt, an inexpensive tortilla press and a few minutes on a griddle and your tacos are already going to be better than almost any restaurant, almost anywhere in the country. Fresh tortillas have a flavor that cannot be found in those funky things in plastic bags at the grocer. If you really can't or don't want to make your own, see if you can buy fresh ones from a local commercial tortilla maker. You'll be glad you did.

Finally, you're going to want to keep those tortillas hot and flexible and nothing in my experience seems to do that better than La Tortilla Oven. We get lots of free products at Chop Onions and Boil Water to try and review and I'm always honest. I bought La Tortilla Oven with my own money and used it for a long time before I ever reviewed it. It's the real deal. It keeps the tortillas HOT. Alternatively, you can heat them as you need them. We'll do that on occasion if we have the time.

The recipe below is the first of a few taco recipes I'll be posting on Chop Onions, Boil Water. You'll see that it calls for fresh salsa, fresh guacamole and "white sauce". Don't skip the white sauce. Sure, mayonnaise and plain yogurt might seem an odd mix, but it's one of those things that transcends the simplicity of it's ingredients. Lots of people who love Rubio's fish tacos swear by it and it sure has become a staple in our Mexican seafood preparations! It always surprises the people who try it. Muey bueno! Si?

You'll also notice I call for 2 to 4 cloves of garlic. If you're right in your mind about food, use 4. If you're British, use 2.

Broiled Chipotle Garlic-Shrimp Tacos
Prepare the following before you begin making the tacos:

White Sauce: Mix together a 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and 1/2 cup of plain yogurt. Refrigerate until use.

Fresh Tomato Salsa (click here for recipe)

Chunky-style Guacamole (click here for recipe)

Broiled Chipotle Garlic-Shrimp Tacos:

12 corn tortillas
1 7 oz. can of chipotles in adobo
1 lb. shrimp (peeled and deveined)
2-4 cloves of garlic (chopped fine)
1 Tbs of peanut oil
1/2 Tbs sweet butter
3 Tbs fresh cilantro (chopped)
1-2 tsp Fresh lime juice (to taste)
Quesa fresco or your favorite Mexican cheese blend.

Be a trooper and get yourself a tortilla press and some Maseca and make your own tortillas, or buy them and microwave them in a "La Tortilla Oven" to keep them warm.

Set your oven to broil.

Place a small sauce pan over medium-low heat and add the peanut oil. Add the sweet butter, when it fully melts add the garlic and continue cooking for a while until the garlic softens but does not brown. Be sure not to burn the garlic. Keep warm.

Empty the can of chipotles in adobo into a food processor or mixer and blend until it is a smooth paste.

Take the shrimp and coat it well with 2-3 tablespoons of the chipotle paste. If you need less or more that is fine. If you like it spicier, add as much as you like. You're the taco king here. When finished, thread the shrimp onto dual skewers (this makes for easy turning in the oven).

Place the shrimp skewers on an oiled broiling pan and broil, turning often until done.

Remove from the oven and slide the shrimp off the skewers and into a bowl. Coat and toss with the garlic and oil mixture, sprinkle with lime juice to taste and then garnish with the chopped cilantro.

Serve immediately with hot tortillas and the white sauce, salsa, guacamole and cheese available as toppings.

Don't forget the cold beer!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review: Wicked Kickin Savory Cheesecakes

Not long ago my friend, surf buddy, insurance entrepreneur and all-around-good-guy Matt Goulet came by Hancock Hall for dinner. Being the honorable sort and a dyed-in-his-skin-true-blood-stand-up-New-England-Yankee, he didn't come empty handed. Instead, Matt brought a fine bottle of Chardonnay and something I had never heard of before: a Wicked Kickin Savory Cheese Cake.

HUH? A savory cheesecake? Whaaaaaaaaaat?

"Savory" and "Cheesecake" are two words I've never associated with each other. Sweet offerings such as strawberries, cherries, blueberries and a host of other things I'm familiar with on cheesecake. Pepperoni, salmon, chicken, spinach or lobster as cheesecake ingredients? Not so much. To say I was intrigued by Matt's giant hockey puck of cheesy mystery is an understatement.

Matt explained that Wicked Kickin Savory Cheesecakes offer a variety of flavor combinations, each with their own unique name that is associated with people or places in Massachusetts (the company is located in Dartmouth, MA). Among their many offerings are seafood cheesecakes, Mexican cheesecake and even a barbecued pork cheesecake. For that evening's experiment he wisely chose the Portuguese-style "New Beige*", a savory cheesecake that listed amongst its ingredients: linguica (a spicy sausage), crushed red pepper, onions, peppers and cheddar cheese. Right off, we hit a snag. What, no Chourico? Don't they know that one of the mantras of Chop Onions, Boil Water is "EVERYTHING is BETTER with CHOURICO!"? I wouldn't let that huge disappointment kill my curiosity though so bravely and selflessly, I proceeded on.

My wife warmed the Wicked Kickin "New Beige" Cheesecake per Matt's instructions. Rather than trying it with crackers as he had also suggested, I instead tried a small "naked" slice to better sample and judge it for this review.

It was fragrant and smelled delicious, its aroma reminded me of pizza. Its consistency was much lighter than I had anticipated, slightly quiche-like but also its own thing. So I grabbed a forkful and the real test commenced. Warm and richly flavored but surprisingly light, a cheesy, velvety goodness punctuated, yet balanced by the big, bright flavors of the linguica, peppers and onions. There was no need to take time to process it, it was good right off. In fact it was delicious! DELICIOUS I TELL YOU! My wife agreed and subsequent samplings did not diminish our opinions.

In my opinion, Wicked Kickin Savory Cheesecakes are perfect as appetizers, hors d'oeuvres or as a "dip" (Matt was on target with his crackers). Could they be offered as a main dish? Certainly, and there are many sides that they could be interestingly coupled with.

I give the Wicked Kickin Savory Cheesecake "New Beige" the Chop Onions, Boil Water seal of approval. Would I buy one myself? Yes, they're perfect for entertaining! Pop one out on the table at a party and you are going to see a lot of pleasantly surprised guests! Thanks for introducing us to them Matt, we're fans.

All Wicked Kickin Savory Cheesecakes are made fresh to order at their Dartmouth, Massachusetts location. Out of state orders are shipped frozen. For a full menu, faq and other information or to order your own surprisingly delicious Wicked Kickin Savory Cheesecake visit their website at: You can also E-mail them at: info@wickedkickin.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or call: (508) 858-9923.

*"New Beige" is the nickname for the city of New Bedford, Massachusetts which has a large Portuguese community which also explains this cheesecakes ingredients.