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Tomatillos Come Out of Their Husks

June 24, 2008

Tangy and tart, tomatillos (TOE-mah-TEE-yos) resemble small, round green tomatoes partially enclosed in papery brown husks. They are found at farmers markets and in the produce section of large supermarkets. Pam Tidaback of Arlington Heights, Ill., wrote that she uses them in this delicious and easy salsa recipe.

“I serve it with chips. It also makes a great sauce for fish, shrimp or chicken,” she wrote, adding that she had adapted the recipe from “The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook.”

‘GHOSTLY’ VINEGAR

Sue Collins sent us an e-mail about residue in vinegar. Collins fills a smaller bottle with red-wine vinegar that she buys by the gallon; she said that although she thoroughly washes and dries the bottle between refills, it invariably contains a filmy mixture she described as “ghostly.”"Not sediments,” she wrote, but rather a substance that “glides around when the bottle is moved. Do you have any idea what this is?”

Elisabeth Ortiz offers an explanation in “The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices and Flavorings.” This filmy layer is the result of a natural process when vinegar is produced from fermented liquids, such as wine or beer.

“Bacteria present in the air reacts with the alcohol to produce a thick, moldy-looking skin over the surface of the liquid, which is called the mother,” Ortiz writes.

It is harmless, but if it bothers you, just strain the cloudy mixture through a coffee filter.

LOOKING FOR RECIPES

Helen Benjaminsen of Lombard, Ill., is looking for recipes using green cardamom seeds. And Kathleen Sansone of Sycamore, Ill., wants a recipe for Navajo fry bread. Anyone have some to share?

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ROASTED TOMATILLO SALSA

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Yield: 1 { cups

1 pound fresh tomatillos, husks discarded

3 cloves garlic, unpeeled

2 large jalapeno peppers

1 yellow onion, quartered

Juice of 1 lime

{ cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons olive oil

{ teaspoon each: sugar, salt, freshly ground pepper

1. Heat oven to 500 degrees. Place tomatillos, garlic, jalapenos and onion in an ungreased baking pan. Cook, stirring once, until vegetables are charred, about 15 minutes; set aside to cool. Remove stems (but not seeds) from peppers; discard. Peel garlic.

2. Transfer ingredients to a food processor; process until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl; stir in lime juice, cilantro, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper until well-blended. Salsa will keep, refrigerated, up to 4 days.

Nutrition information per tablespoon: 20 calories, 56 percent of calories from fat, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g carbohydrates, 0 g protein, 49 mg sodium, 0 g fiber

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(c) 2008, Chicago Tribune.

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