Icy Spicy Gazpacho

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Well…it is May and the dog days of summer have arrived, bringing soaring temperatures with them. May is my least favorite month here, in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The other eleven months are favorites though, as the climate here is just about perfect year round. If you can make it through May, I’d say you’ve got it licked! If you can’t stand the heat don’t turn on the stove. That is why this gloriously good version of Gazpacho reigns as a summer soup. There is no need for turning on a stove because there is no cooking involved! Cooking no…chopping yes, but worth every knife stroke.If you’re too hot and burned out to chop up the ingredients, then by all means  throw everything into a blender and blend away. If, on the other hand, you’ve got an air conditioned kitchen and a sharp knife…do it the clown’s way…by hand. The results, I, and those to whom  I’ve served it,  think are sublime. Serve it icy cold. Best to start preparing this refreshingly zingy, tangy, chunky, spicy, cold, wonder of a summer soup early in the day, so it has plenty of time to chill out in the fridge. Happy Cinco de Mayo!


1 qt. bottle Clamato juice

16 oz. can whole tomatoes

1 cup minced onion

2 cups minced celery

2 cups minced green pepper

2 cups diced cucumber

3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press

1/2 cup sliced green olives

juice of 1 lime

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce( I used a habanero hot sauce)

Garnishes: Crumbled bacon, garlicky croutons, sour cream, diced avocado, cilantro sprigs


Empty the tomatoes into the bowl of either a food processor, or a blender. Pulse briefly, just enough to have a small, chunky, consistency. Pour into a medium to large bowl. Add the Clamato juice. Finely dice the onions, green peppers, and celery. Add to the tomato mix. Peel the cucumbers, slice lengthwise and remove the seeds.(I use a serrated grapefruit spoon). Dice the cucumbers and add to the bowl. Add the olives, oregano, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic, hot sauce, lime juice, cilantro, vinegar and olive oil. Stir to combine and taste to adjust seasoning. Cover and chill till really cold. To serve, ladle into bowls and top with diced avocado, garlicky croutons, crumbled bacon, a dollop or squiggle of sour cream and sprigs of cilantro.

Yield: 3 qts.


The Ultimate Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin

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Today, while staring at a sad bunch of bananas, (which sat on my counter looking forlorn and forgotten), it dawned on me to make banana muffins. I’d never met a banana muffin recipe that I’d liked…until today. This one is from the famous Flour’s Bakery…with only a few changes. Instead of sour cream, I added plain yoghurt, and substituted chocolate chips for the toasted nuts (which I would have added, if only I’d had them). If you’re looking for the ultimate in a banana muffin, your search can now end. You’ll find just the right amount of banana flavor, perfect moistness, and delicate, fluffy crumb right here with this recipe. The recipe was actually intended for banana bread, so if you feel like banana bread, go for it. KC wanted muffins, and gloriously ended up with the ultimate in banana ones!There is a wonderful flea market, which  began about six months ago, here in San Miguel de Allende, called La Pulga. Translated from Spanish, it means the flea. Vendors sell everything imaginable, but KC has noticed recently, that the vendors selling food seem to be the most successful. Being one of the vendors, I’ve decided to stick with what the public wants and I hope to deliver this month with these delicious muffins, my carrot cake muffins, and other tantalizing goodies that come to my clownish mind before the 15th. I’ll keep you posted on my success …hopeful success, that is.


1 2/3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda ( 3/4 teaspoon, if baking at high altitude)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar, plus 2 Tablespoons ( omit the extra 2 Tablespoons, if baking at high altitude)

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup oil

3 1/2 very ripe bananas, mashed

2 Tablespoons yoghurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chocolate chips

2/3 cups toasted, chopped walnuts, or pecans

Chocolate frosting, or nutella to cover muffins (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon into a medium sized bowl. In a separate, small bowl, beat the eggs. Add the eggs, oil, mashed bananas, yoghurt ,vanilla, chocolate chips and walnuts to the flour mixture and whisk together, making sure it is all well blended. Line a 12 capacity muffin tin with paper liners. Fill each 3/4 full and bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown . Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in center… it should come out clean when done. Remove from tins when cool, and frost if desired.

Yield: 12 muffins

Mango Madness or A Sort of Saucy Mango Chutney

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As luck would have it, Kitchenclown scored yesterday, while flipping through the pages of the latest SPA cookbook. Fine members of the San Miguel de Allende community contributed some of their favorite recipes, as well as photographs of their beloved animals, to this cookbook,  with the proceeds from it’s sale going to the SPA, or Sociedad Protectora de Animales (humane society). This recipe was donated by Henry Vermillion, a gifted artist and gallery owner.Besides knowing his way around a canvas, Henry also knows his way around the kitchen, and this here chutney goes to prove it! KC had the pleasure of working for Henry in his gallery a few years ago, and Henry always whipped this up for openings. Dang…we were all thrilled with his efforts, as you will be, if you decide to give it a go, Poured over cream cheese and served with crackers,  it’ll make your party, as well as your tastebuds zing!


2 ripe mangoes

1 cup raisins

1 small jar peach, or apricot preserves

1 teaspoon chipotle powder

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon dry mustard

2 packages cream cheese

crackers for serving


Peel the mangoes.Remove the pits and place the mangoes into the bowl of of a food processor or blender. Add everything, except the raisins, and process to a fairly smooth sauce. Pour into a bowl, and stir in the raisins. To serve, place a block of cream cheese on a plate, and pour half the sauce over it. Repeat with the other block of cream cheese. Serve with plenty of good crackers.

Yield: 3 cups

Bang Bang Shrimp

While cruising the internet for mouthwatering possibilities, Kitchenclown came across this one for Bang Bang Shrimp.  KC decided to give it a go, and is very happy she did! Crunchy panko and seasoned flour coat these little yumsters, which are then tossed with a slightly fiery sauce. What a delicious appetizer it made for one, (actually dinner), as only one was going to be involved in the consumption of it.Next time,( and there will surely be a next time), I’ll invite a friend to devour the scrumptiousness as well! Drop down a bit to view the devourability factor,(you’ll be glad you did), as the clown had a glitch in the photo upload!


1 lb.Shrimp, peeled and deveined

Spicy sauce:

!/2 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise

4 to 5 teaspoons chili garlic sauce, such as Sriracha

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar

For the egg mixture:

1 egg, beaten

1 cup milk

For the breading mixture:

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 cup of vegetable oil for frying

1 scallion, green parts only, sliced diagonally for garnish

handfull of julienned lettuce to place the shrimp on.

Instructions: Mix all the ingredients for the sauce together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings. Mix the flour, panko, and seasonings together in another bowl. Beat the egg into the milk in another small bowl.  Dip the shrimp first into the beaten egg-milk mixture, then into the panko-flour mixture. Then dip again, into the egg mixture and once more into the panko-flour mixture. Put the coated shrimp,side by side, on a plate, and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes, which will help keep the coating adhered. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan,until hot.Add the shrimp and fry till golden, about 30 seconds on one side.Flip and fry 30 seconds on the other.Drain on paper towels. Toss gently with the sauce. Place the shrimp atop the shredded lettuce, and garnish with the slivered scallions. Bliss I tell You…unadulterated bliss!

Yield 2 to 4 appetizer portions

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Garlicky Homemade Naan Flatbread

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After searching the internet for homemade Naan recipes, Kitchenclown settled on this one,  which had scores, and scores of raves. Add another one, from the clown, because it deserves every one of them. It’s absolutely delicious, especially when you serve it with the Chicken Souvlaki, a recipe posted here recently. It makes about 20 flatbreads, so unless you’re planning on feeding a crowd, or freezing them for later, you might want to cut the recipe in half.

Note: I’ve found that whenever you use yeast in a recipe, a critical part of the success of the yeast dough, is the temperature of the water and the freshness of the yeast. I strongly recommend the use of a candy thermometer to accurately gauge the temperature of the water. If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast and ensure failure. I’ve also found that heating the water to EXACTLY 110 degrees has yielded nothing but success. Also be sure to check the expiration date on the yeast package for optimum freshness. These tips should always be applied, to any yeast dough, whether it be pizza dough, focaccia, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, or anything you want to get a rise out of! Okay…nuff said. Now quit clowning around and get into the kitchen for some fun bread making!!!!!


2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 cup warm water (110 degrees)

4 Tablespoons sugar

3 Tablespoons milk

1 egg, beaten

2 teaspoons salt

4 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon garlic powder

!/4 cup melted butter

! 1/2 teaspoons Zaatar seasoning

1 Tablespoon oil

Directions: Place 1 Tablespoon of the sugar into 1 cup of warm water. Add the yeast and stir to dissolve. Let sit several minutes, until the mixture starts to bubble and become frothy. Place the remaining sugar, salt, baking soda, garlic powder, milk and egg into a large bowl mix well and add the flour. Pour the bubbling yeast mixture into the flour, and mix until you have some kind of ball. Start kneading, If the dough seems too dry, add a teaspoon or so of water, if too wet a teaspoon or so of flour.  Continue kneading until you have a smooth elastic ball, about 6 to 8 minutes. Pour the Tablespoon of  oil into a large bowl. Place the dough ball into the oil, and rotate it, so the entire surface is covered. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. This may take a few hours. When doubled, punch the dough down, and pinch off small pieces of dough about the size of a  golf ball. .Roll into balls place them on a cookie sheet. Cover with plastic, and allow to double in size. Preheat a grillpan , cast iron skillet or comal. Grease the grillpan, Roll each ball into a thin circle and place on grill. While the first side cooks , brush the tops with the melted butter and sprinkle with the Zaatar. You may cover each one with a lid while cooking, but I didn’t find this step necessary.Devour !!!!!

Greek Chicken Souvlaki with Tzaziki Sauce

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In the mood for some delectable Greek street food? Then you’ve come to the right place! Strips of chicken breast are marinated in a lemony, yoghurt marinade with garlic and oregano, then grilled to mouthwatering perfection. Serve it with tzaziki,( a refreshing cucumber yoghurt sauce), roasted red peppers, red onions, tomatoes, and garlic slathered homemade naan, or pita bread and you’ll have a deliciously memorable feast.

Ingredients for the chicken:

1 large chicken breast

1/4 Spanish onion, grated

4 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 Tablespoons plain yoghurt

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon

1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus 1/8 teaspoon

1 Tablespoon dried oregano

2  tomatoes, cut into wedges

1/2 red onion, cut in thick slices

1 red pepper

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

home made naan or pita bread

wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes before using


Cut the chicken into chunks or strips and place them into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, garlic, 1 Tablespoon olive oil,.1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, oregano, yoghurt, and grated onion. Mix it all together, cover and refrigerate 2 hours. While the chicken is marinating, roast the red pepper and make the tzaziki sauce. Place the pepper over a gas flame, turning frequently with tongs, until the skin is black and blistered. You may also put the pepper under a broiler to blacken it. Let cool, remove the skin, stem and seeds. Cut into strips and set aside in a small bowl. Place the red onion slices and tomato wedges into a roasting pan. Toss them together with the remaining tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Place them into a preheated 350 degree oven and roast for about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the marinade and skewer it. Reserve the marinade, and use for basting the chicken. Grill the chicken on a grillpan, or outdoor barbeque for about 8 minutes, turning frequently, or until cooked through. Serve with the roasted pepper, tomatoes, onion, tzaziki ,feta and warm naan or pita bread.

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients for the tzaziki sauce:

1 English cucumber

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press

pinch of cayenne

1/2 teaspoon dried dill

2 teaspoons fresh mint leaves, minced

salt to taste

Directions: Peel the cucumber. Cut it in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds. Grate it on to a clean kitchen towel and use the towel to wring out all the juice. Place it into a small bowl, and add the garlic, dill ,mint, cayenne and yoghurt. Mix well and serve over the souvlaki.

Yield: 3/4 cup

Spicy Thai Shrimp and Black Rice Salad

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Kitchenclown recently discovered black rice and is thrilled with this dark discovery.This type of rice originated in China, but is now cultivated in parts of Italy. It’s  aroma while cooking is intoxicating, and it’s chewy texture and nutty flavour add even more appeal. It’s said to have more antioxidants than blueberries, and who wouldn’t want to incorporate all of those characteristics into a healthier diet?


1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup black rice

1 cup fresh pineapple, diced

2 large mangos, peeled and diced

3 scallions, minced

1/2 red pepper, diced

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, minced

3 Tablespoons fish sauce

1 to 2 serrano peppers, stems and seeds removed, finely diced

3 teaspoons brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated

juice of 2 small limes

Directions: Place the rice into a lidded pot and cover with 2 cups water. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. As soon as the water comes to a boil, turn the heat down to it’s lowest setting. Cover the pot, and cook for 40 minutes to an hour. Taste for doneness. It should be chewy, but not brittle. If there is any remaining water in the pot, but the rice is the proper consistency, simply pour the rice into a strainer and strain off the excess liquid. Remove to a medium sized bowl and cool.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a gentle simmer. Add shrimp and cook for about a minute, or just until the shrimp turn pink. Immediately remove from heat, drain and set aside.

Dissolve the brown sugar in the fish sauce in a medium bowl. Add the garlic, ginger, serranos, lime juice, mint, cilantro, and red peppers. Toss in the shrimp, along with the mangos and pineapple and mix well. Note: If not serving immediately, do not add the pineapple. The acidity of the pineapple can change the texture of the shrimp, turning it mushy, so wait till serving time to add it.

Add the shrimp mixture to the black rice and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve either over lettuce leaves, or in individual lettuce cups.

Yield: 6 servings