What's cooking: Sikil P'aak (vegetable dip) - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

What's cooking: Sikil P'aak (vegetable dip)

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Chef Courtney Contos joins us to prepare Sikil P'aak. 

Vegetable dip of toasted squash seeds, roasted tomatoes, and chile

2 medium Roma tomatoes, charred

2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and charred

1 medium habanero, charred, seeded, and finely chopped

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup Seville orange juice or substitute

2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste

2 cups Pepita molida (recipe follows)

1/4 cup chives, chopped

1/2 medium white onion, charred and finely chopped

3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

tortilla chips for serving

1. Place the first six ingredients in the jar of a blender and process until throughly liquified; set aside. You should have 2 cups of the puree; if not add water to complete the amount.

2. Place the Pepita molida in a large mixing bowl. Different conditions will cause the ground seeds to absorb the liquid at different rates, so add the tomato puree to the seeds gradually. Start by adding only about 3/4 of the contents of the blender and stir to blend throughly. Let the mixture rest for 5-10 minutes; the seeds will absorb the liquid and the dip will thicken. Add more of the liquid if you wish. In cantinas, Sikil P'aak is served in a thinner state, something like yogurt. You will add between 1 1/2 and 2 cups of the puree. Stir in the chives, chopped onion, and cilantro and check for seasoning; add salt if necessary.

3. Serve Sikil P'aak with tortilla chips.

Pepita Molida (toasted ground squash seeds, hulled)

4 cups green squash- or pumpkin seeds, hulled

1. Heat a large dry cast iron skillet over highest heat for 5 minutes. Place the seeds in the hot skillet. As soon as the begin to pop, toss or stir them vigorously and constantly to avoid burning the seeds at the bottom. Continue toasting until the seeds are fragrant and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Immediately transfer the seeds to a metal colander or large sieve (residual heat will burn the seeds if you leave them in the skillet). Outdoors, or in a place where you don't mind making a bit of a mess, briskly toss the seeds in the colander to shake off the papery skins.

2. Once the seeds have cooled, place them in the bowl of a large food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process 3-4 minutes, until the powder begins clumping on the sides of the bowl. Stop the motor and use a spatula to scrape the powder back into the bowl. Process another 2-3 minutes. Scrape the bowl down again and process until you see very little movement of the powder (the clumping action is a result of the oils being released from the seeds). Taste a bit of the powder: it should have a pleasant texture but not be grainy. If it's grainy, process a minute or two more.

3. Transfer the powder to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator or about two weeks, or freeze for several months

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