In my twenty years of professional cooking I had great knife skills. While other cooks I worked with cut themselves on average about once per year I had a once every four years average, and the cuts were never serious. When I cut myself last night on my Oxo mandoline I burst out in a short string of obscenities. My little finger on my right hand apparently was not paying attention to the razor sharp blade that was slicing cabbage like a paper shredder. It was a real attention getter and hurt plenty while bleeding according to the laws that say, “When you cut out a chunk of flesh, you will bleed profusely!”
Of course it happened towards the beginning of dinner prep making the rest of the meal a challenge to prepare. There was zucchini to cut into bite sized cubes, sans fingers. There were onions to chop and eggplant to slice. It was all quite hindered by the creeping thought of, “You will do it again if you are not careful!” from that little voice that is supposed to protect us. This little voice however was just irritating me on this occasion. Dinner prep did get done, albeit much slower than usual. The paper napkin that I wrapped my bleeding finger in needed a replacement soon. I went upstairs for a bandage and was again reminded of the diabolical minds that package bandages in those impossible to open wrappings. They probably do tests with a hidden camera on volunteers who cut themselves then try to open a bandage packaged by maniacs while the test observers are laughing their collective asses off behind oneway glass.
For the next hour I tried my best to keep the poor little pinkie elevated to slow the bleeding and throbbing having thoughts of where was that protective mandoline guide that would have saved my finger the pain and my mind the turmoil? Then it occurred to me that I would have an interesting couple of days ahead as I engaged in my travel/food writing at the computer. It’s not enough that the bandage gets in the way but the cut is toward the tip of my finger making typing as smooth as a soccer player kicking a ball with a foot in a cast. It can be done, but it hurts and doesn’t go so well.
I always like to look on the bright side of things and it occurred to me that with this cut I now have four years of cut-free chopping, slicing and dicing ahead if history is any indicator. To avoid any knife work over the next couple days while my finger heals I could just go out to eat or cook heat-and-eat foods…yuk! When it comes to typing I will just have to blunder through the pain and discomfort hoping for a speedy recovery.
There is a lesson to this mistake that says; “Those who don’t use proper protection shall type hindered for days and shall type badly.” So my friends take care of thy digits and don’t be stupid when handling sharp objects while preparing dinner or you will type like meeeeeeeee.
At a recent cooking class I conducted at Phillip’s Mushrooms in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania I made Maitake mushroom tacos topped with Pico de Gallo . I needed some kind of tomato component to go with the tacos and didn’t want to use typical salsa. I decided to make a Pico de Gallo and use tomatoes from my garden since I have so many this year. Instead of using regular tomatoes I used Sungold and Sweet Million cherry varieties that are known for their sweetness.
I also had a new heirloom variety named “Juliet” that is similar to a roma tomato but half the size. It looks like a roma and tastes similar too. What I really love about the Juliet is the amount of bright red tomatoes I pick every day from my one-and-only bush. It really puts out the fruit! Into the mix it went in my trial version with the usual chopped onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime. It was outstanding. It lit up the Maitake tacos and paired well with the Asiago cheese I grated and melted over the mushroom layer. With fresh arugula on the next layer the Pico De Gallo made for a lovely looking taco that everyone loved.
A few days after teaching the class I had some more tomatoes to use up and made a new batch the same way as the first. This time I served it with tortilla chips, avocados on the side and a glass of Spanish rosé. The sweetness of the cherry tomatoes made the Pico pair perfectly with the chips and wine. What a great summer appetizer spread it made.
You can probably buy the Sungolds and Sweet Million tomatoes at most any farmer’s market in the U.S or in a specialty grocery store. As for the Juliets, I think they are quite rare and you would need to use roma tomatoes. What sets this apart from other Pico de Gallo recipes is the sweet cherry tomatoes. If you can’t find the ones I used just get the sweetest ones you can find and it should turn out fine.
I believe this would be a great side dish for any Mexican type food whether it’s burritos, tacos, nachos or tostadas. Give it a try and please leave comments on how it turned out.
1 cup whole Sun Gold tomatoes
1 cup whole Sweet Million tomatoes
1 cup whole Juliet tomatoes, or roma tomatoes
1/2-3/4 cup yellow onion diced small
1 cup fresh cilantro
2 jalapeños chopped, or green bell pepper if you don’t want it spicy
1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
Cut Sun Golds and Sweet Million tomatoes in quarters, then cut in half. *
Dice Juliets or romas.
Add everything together in a 2-3 quart mixing bowl tossing until distributed equally. Toss fairly gentle so you don’t break down the tomatoes too much.
As a salsa it serves about 6-8. For a taco topping this will tap about 30 tacos.
I like to cut the cherry tomatoes in quarters then lay them skin side down in a row of four pieces and cut in half.