Sunday, March 6, 2011

Brimstone, the Periodic Table, and Salsa

Bear with me on this post as its a bit of a stretch but it has, I hope, some interesting information and a super-easy and delicious salsa recipe.

On this day in 1869, Dmitri Mendeleev introduced the periodic table to the Russian Chemical Society making it possible for me to barely pass high school chemistry. Sulfur is the atomic number 16 in the periodic table meaning it has 16 protons in its nucleus. (Each element has a unique number which identifies how many protons are in one atom of that element, e.g. hydrogen, and only hydrogen, has 1; oxygen and only oxygen has 8 etc. )

Garlic is rich in sulfuric compounds which is part of the reason it lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels and boosts immunity. When preparing garlic, mash it and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the sulfur compounds to form completely. Sulfur is referred to in the bible as brimstone and the term “fire and brimstone” was used to express god’s wrath.

My sister’s boyfriend has asked me for Rick Bayless’s salsa recipe. Since it calls for fire-roasted tomatoes and roasted garlic, I’m rechristening it “Fire and Brimstone Salsa” in honor of Comrade Mendeleev.

Fire and Brimstone Salsa

1 to 2 fresh jalapeño chiles

3 garlic cloves, unpeeled

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, preferably fire roasted

1/4 cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


Roast the chiles and garlic.   In a small ungreased skillet over medium heat, roast the chiles and garlic, turning regularly, until they are soft and blotchy brown, about 10 minutes for the chiles, 15 minutes for the garlic.  Cool until handleable, then pull the stem(s) off the chile(s) and roughly chop.  Peel the skin off the garlic.  Scoop into a food processor and pulse until quite finely chopped.

Finish the salsa.   Add the tomatoes with their juice.  Re-cover and pulse until you have a coarse puree.  Scrape into a serving dish.  Stir in the cilantro and lime juice.  Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2  teaspoon.  You’re ready to serve.

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