I love San Diego. A lot. So much so, in fact, that sometimes I throw little parties for my local friends just to celebrate the amazingness that is America's Finest City.
Whenever I find – or manufacture – a good excuse, I like to gather everyone together and create cuisine inspired by a certain location. This go-around, obviously, was dedicated to my fine hometown of San Diego. A place where surf and turf meets Little Italy, and juicy burger joints brush up to the finest French cuisine this side of Paris.
Welcome to my coastal kitchen.
We've been working with Ritz and Southwest Airlines on a recipe contest, so I recently found myself staring at a GIGANTIC box of Ritz crackers on my dining room table. Perfect excuse for a party! These San Diego-inspired appetizers definitely kept my crew chowing down.
For my first San Diego-inspired recipe, I deconstructed the quintessential California fish taco into a patty.
- 1 8- ounce salmon filet
- 1 cup crushed Ritz Crackers crushed
- 2 eggs beaten
- 2 tsp dill
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/8 cup shredded coconut
- juice from one lime
- 1 Tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Mix salmon, Ritz Crackers, eggs, dill and garlic salt. Form into patties the size of about two tablespoons each.
- Cook patties in butter over medium heat, about five minutes per side.
- Mix remaining ingredients, top fish taco patties and serve
Next up, savory sausage bites are a perfect pairing of meaty sausage with melty cheese. The Italian flavor packed into these petite packages was inspired by San Diego's Gaslamp district, a historic region known largely as the seaside spot where fine diners and club-goers comingle. The Italian charm in the area has recently localized quite a bit into the adjacent region known as Little Italy.
- 16 ounces ground sausage
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1/2 cup mozzarella
- 1/2 cup Ritz Crackers crushed
- 1 tsp basil
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup thick spaghetti sauce
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix all ingredients except spaghetti sauce and roll together to form tablespoon-sized balls.
- Bake for 18 minutes, turning halfway through.
- Serve on dollops of tomato paste.
The kids like to help out a lot when I'm cooking. These savory sausage bites are super-fun to roll into little balls, but I suspect that Some Boy was really just looking for an excuse to steal my crackers.
Other people weren't quite as discreet about their foray into the kitchen to taste-test. These bites made their way off the plates and into a group of satisfied smiles just as fast as I could get them out of the oven!
Ritz and Southwest Airlines want to hear about your favorite destination and your foodie inspiration. Tell them where you want to go on Instagram or Twitter with #LuvRitzSweepstakes for a chance to win $5,000 in Southwest gift cards!
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What cuisine is your area known for? Have you ever created recipes highlighting local flavors?