Cilantro Gimlet

Cilantro Gimlet

This lovely green cocktail is a nice balance between sweet, sour, and herbaceous. The cilantro flavor in this drink is not too overwhelming.

I love cilantro, but I understand some people don’t care for the flavor. I think basil, spinach, or arugula could be substituted for the cilantro in this recipe with delicious results.

Cilantro Gimlet

makes 1 drink

1 handful of fresh cilantro (stems and leaves)
2 ounces gin
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/2 ounce of simple syrup (recipe below)
lime slice, to garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker 1/2 full with ice. Add all the ingredients and shake until very cold, about 30 seconds. Strain into a glass and garnish with a lime slice.

Simple Syrup

1 part sugar
1 part water

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

Vietnamese Cilantro-Chile Sauce (Nuoc Mam Ngo)

Nuoc Mam Ngo

This sauce is amazing! It’s sour, sweet, herbaceous, pungent, salty, and spicy. So flavorful. It is a perfect example of what I love about Vietnamese food.

Nuoc Mam Ngo

This sauce is versatile. It can be used as a dipping sauce for spring rolls as well as a sauce for grilled chicken, beef, pork, fish, or shrimp. I served it with grilled chicken atop rice vermicelli noodles and spring rolls. So good.


It’s a spicy-hot sauce, but you could control the heat by using mild jalapenos. I used one serrano and one jalapeno and it was hot, but not too hot.

If you do not have a mortar and pestle, you could surely make this sauce in a food processor or blender.

Vietnamese Cilantro-Chile Sauce (Nuoc Mam Ngo)

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 2 chiles, stems removed and chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 – 1/2 lime (rind and all), chopped (to taste)
1 tablespoon Vietnamese fish sauce

Add the chopped garlic and chiles to a mortar and use the pestle to pound them into a course paste. Add the sugar and cilantro and pound until smooth. Add the chopped lime and pound with the pestle until liquefied. There will be chunks of lime rind. Stir in the fish sauce and let sit for at least 10 minutes for flavors to develop.

Cilantro Chutney

Cilantro Chutney

This is an excellent Indian condiment.  I like it with samosas or pakoras. This chutney is versatile too. Mix it with some sour cream to make a yummy chip and veggie dip. Mix it with oil and a splash of vinegar to make a salad dressing. You can also use it as you would a pesto. Toss it with hot pasta or use it instead of tomato sauce for a pizza topping. I like making cilantro chutney the day before I want to serve it so that the flavors have time to meld and intensify.

Cilantro Chutney

1 bunch cilantro, washed and dried, most of the bottom stems removed
1 or 2 small green chiles, seeded and cut into chunks
juice of one lemon (or lime)
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 pinch of black pepper
salt to taste (not more than 1/2 teaspoon)

Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and puree into a paste. Add water, a teaspoon at a time until you get the consistency you want (not too thick, not too thin).

Jalapeno Ranch Dip/Dressing

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One of the things I miss most about Texas is the food, especially brisket and Tex-Mex. One of my favorite Tex-Mex places in Texas is Chuy’s in Austin. Chuy’s is a mini-chain now and I was able to eat at one in Plano when I was there this past September. It was wonderful! Of course Chuy’s serves up tortilla chips and salsa as soon as you are seated at your table. If you ask nicely, they will also bring you a little bowl of their Creamy Jalapeno dressing. It’s so yummy. I could seriously just eat spoonfuls of that stuff, but it’s also good as a dip for tortilla chips (or potato chips), as a salad dressing, or drizzled on anything (tacos, enchiladas, chimichangas, etc…).

Here’s my attempt at a copycat recipe of Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeno dressing:

Jalapeno Ranch Dip/Dressing

8 ounces sour cream
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 package dry Ranch dip mix (I used Hidden Valley Original Ranch)
1/4 cup prepared salsa verde (I used Herdez – it’s in a can)
pickled jalapenos, to taste (I used about 3 tablespoons of sliced pickled jalapenos)
fresh cilantro leaves, to taste (I used about a handful)

Combine ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

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Texas Pesto

Texas Pesto

I absolutely adore cilantro and always welcome ways to use even more of it.  Years ago I had a cilantro-pecan pesto at a Central Market in Austin, Texas and was hooked.  This recipe is very similar to the pesto I had in Texas.

This Texas Pesto is versatile.  I used some to make pizzas (pesto instead of tomato sauce) topped with mozzarella, onions, red bell pepper, black olives, and artichoke hearts…..they were delicious.  The pesto is also great as a dip with tortilla chips.  My friend, Donna mixes a few tablespoons in with rice for a pretty and delicious side dish.

Texas Pesto

2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno pepper (I used a whole chile)
1/4 cup toasted pecans
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil

Prepare the pesto by combining all of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Classic Samosas with Cilantro Chutney

Classic Samosas with Cilantro Chutney

From December 27, 2008:  Samosas are wonderful Indian appetizers/snacks that I just love.  Classic samosas are filled with potatoes and peas, but there are many variations that are filled with cauliflower or meat.  They are time-consuming to make, but well worth the trouble.  I have tried using puff pastry or store bought pie dough to make these easier and quicker to prepare, but nothing turns out as well as the homemade pastry.  I should try to prepare the dough in the food processor next time…see how that turns out.  These samosas feeze well. Serve with cilantro chutney and a (sweet) mango or tamarind chutney.

Classic Samosas

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
4 T. oil
4 T. water

4-5 medium potatoes, unpeeled, boiled and cooled
4 T. oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup peas
1 T. fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
3 T. cilantro, finely chopped
3 T. water
1 1 2/ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. garam masala (recipe follows)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 T. fresh lemon juice
oil for frying

make the pastry
sift the flour and salt into a bowl. add the 4 T. of oil and rub it in with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. slowly add about 4 T. water (you may need a little bit more) and gather the dough into a stiff ball. empty the ball out onto a clean work surface. knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until it is smooth. form into a ball. rub the ball of dough with about 1/4 tsp. oil and slip it into a plastic bag. set aside for at least 30 minutes.

make the filling
peel the boiled the potatoes and cut them into 1/4 inch dice. heat 4 T. oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. add the onions and saute until brown at the edges. add the peas, ginger, jalapeno, cilantro and 3 T. water. lower heat; simmer until peas are cooked. you may need to add a little bit more water if the mixture seems to dry out. add the diced potatoes, salt, ground coriander, garam masala, cumin, cayenne,and lemon juice. stir gently to mix. cook on low heat for 3-4 minutes. take off heat and allow mixture to cool.

to make samosas
knead the pastry dough again and divide into eight balls. take one of the balls of dough and roll out into a 7 inch round. keep the dough you are not working with covered. with a sharp knife, cut your 7   inch round in half. pick up one half and form into a cone, making a 1/4 inch wide overlapping seam. glue the seam together with a little water. fill the cone with about 2 1/2 T. of potato filling. close the top of the cone by sticking the open edges together with a little water. again, your seam should be about 1/4 inch wide. press the seams down with the prongs of a
fork or flute it with your fingers. the samosa will look like a stuffed triangle. repeat this process with the other half of the round and then with the remaining 7 balls of dough. you will end up with 16 samosas.

fry samosas
heat about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. when the oil is hot, add a few samosas in a single layer. fry slowly, turning the samosa frequently until they are golden brown and crisp. remove from oil and drain on a paper towel.  repeat with remaining samosas. serve samosas hot or at room temperature

Garam Masala

2 tsp. ground cumin
4 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cardamon
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Combine spices. Store in glass jar.

Cilantro Chutney

This is excellent, especially the next day.

1 bunch cilantro, washed,
1 or 2 small green chiles, seeded and cut into chunks
juice of one lime (or lemon)
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 pinch of black pepper
salt, to taste

Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and puree into a paste. Add water, a teaspoon at a time, if necessary.