Saturday, July 31, 2010


Now that I have you salivating over corn fungus, let's talk edibles.  Yet another overpriced cooking school (everyone scoffed at me when they heard I spent $600 pesos; but I have yet to find a single school that isn't in that same price point) was kind enough to post some nummy recipes for us!  Yay, thanks Culinary Adventures!

Mango Mousse (Mousse de Mango)
6 servings
  • 2 ripe mangoes
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 envelope gelatin*
  • 2 tablespoons hot water*
  • 2 tablespoons cold water*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1+1/2 cups whipped cream
1. Place the mangoes and powdered sugar in a food processor and puree.
2. In a large bowl, place the gelatin with the cold and hot water, lemon juice, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir and then let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Add the mango puree to the gelatin mixture. Let sit for 20 minutes.
4. Beat one cup of the whipping cream to soft peaks and gently fold into the mangoes.
5. As this point you can either spoon the mousse into individual dishes or place the entire amount into a spring-form pan for slicing later.
6. Let the mousse chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours. Top with fresh whipped cream.
*You can omit the gelatin and water, producing a softer consistency-more like a pudding.

Poblano Chiles stuffed with Scrambled Eggs & Bacon
(Chiles Rellenos con Huevos Revueltos y Tocino)

4 servings
  • 4 large fresh poblano chiles
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 cup manchego cheese, grated
  • 1 cup tomato puree
1. Roast and clean the poblano chiles.
2. Place the bacon in a large frying pan and cook until crisp. Remove from the pan and drain all the grease, except 1 tablespoon.
3. Sauté the onion in the bacon grease for a few minutes, add the tomatoes and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Crack the eggs into a medium bowl and stir in the cream. Add salt to taste.
5. Add the eggs to the frying pan and finish cooking. Stir the bacon in.
6. Stuff each chile with the egg mixture. Place 1/4 cup of grated cheese on top and broil until the cheese is melted. (If you do not have a broiler, you can melt the cheese in an oven.)
7. Heat the tomato puree. Spoon 1/4 cup of the puree on each plate and place the chile on top.
Plan Ahead:
1-3 days in advance: Make tomato puree
1 day in advance: Roast poblano chiles

Chicken Poblano (Pollo a la Poblana)
6 servings
  • 4 poblano chiles
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 white onion, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 boneless chicken breasts
  1. Roast and clean the poblano chiles. Roughly chop and place in a blender.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan. When hot, add the onion, garlic, oregano and thyme and sauté for 5 minutes.
3. Add the cream, cilantro and salt. Cook for another 5 minutes.
4. Pour the mixture into the blender with the poblano chiles and puree until smooth. Set aside.
5. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the chicken breasts and cook until both sides are lightly browned.
6. Pour the poblano sauce on top on the chicken breasts when serving.
Plan Ahead:
1-3 days in advance: Make the poblano sauce.

Mexican Beef Tips (Puntas a la Mexicana)
4 servings
  • 1 1/4 pounds marinated skirt steak
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large white onion, sliced
  • 3 roma tomatoes, cored & sliced lengthwise from the center
  • 3 serrano chiles, sliced lengthwise into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
salt and black pepper to taste

1. Slice the skirt steak, across the grain, into 1" strips.
2. Place the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When it starts to sizzle, add the steak and brown on all sides.
3. Add the onion, tomato, and chiles. Cover, stirring occasionally until the meat is cooked, 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro, salt, and pepper.

Green Rice (Arroz Verde)
4 servings
• 2 poblano chiles
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
1. Roast the poblano chiles. (see page ...)
2. Place the chiles into a food processor, adding the cilantro and chicken broth. Puree.
3. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the oil. Add the rice and onion and cook for about 10 minutes.
4. Stir in the garlic and cook a minute longer.
5. Add the poblano chile liquid to the rice, stir, cover and let cook for about 20 minutes or until done.

Plan Ahead:
1 day in advance: Make chicken broth and roast poblano chiles

Pork Loin w/ Mango-Chipotle Salsa
(Lomo con Salsa de Mango y Chile Chipotle)

6 servings
  • 2 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 cups mango, chopped (approx. 2-3)
  • 1 chile chipotle, seeded and minced (see page...)
  •  1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh Mexican lime juice
  • 1/8 cup cilantro, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the tenderloin and sear until browned on all sides. Transfer to a baking sheet.
3. Place the tenderloin in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until done. (which for pork means 140 degrees.)
4. While the pork tenderloin is in the oven, place all the salsa ingredients into a large bowl and mix well.
5. Slice the tenderloin and top with the Mango Salsa.

Fruit-Chipotle Salsa:
Substitute 1 cup chopped pineapple for a cup on the mango.

Shrimp in Pumpkin Seed Sauce (Camarones en Pipián Verde)
6 servings
  •  1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 serrano chile
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 lettuce leaves
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  •  1 pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1. Preheat the broiler.
2. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a frying pan over high heat or under the broiler, stirring frequently so they don't burn. (Avoid browning them excessively, to maintain the sauce's trademark green color.) Seperate 1/4 cup for the garnish. Toast the sesame seeds in the same manner.
3. Place the tomatillos, chile, onion and garlic on a tray under the broiler until soft. About 5 minutes on each side.
4. Place all the ingredients, except for the shrimp, in a blender. Puree until smooth.
5. Pour the sauce into a stock pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower to medium heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
6. While the pipian is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for about 5 minutes or until done. Drain.
7. Mix the shrimp into the pipian.
8. Garnish with the remaining 1/4 cup of toasted pumpkin seeds.

Plan Ahead:
In advance: toast the pumpkin and sesame seeds.
Pipian also holds well in the refrigerator, so it can be made a few days in advance.
Pipian freezes well, so make a double batch and save the other half for a quick meal when there's no time to cook.

Chocolate Kahlua Cake (Pastel de Chocolate con Kahlúa)
1 cake, 12-15 slices
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 + 1/2 cup Kahlua
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease three-9 inch round cake pans with shortening, line with wax paper and then grease again.
3. Place all of the ingredients, except the boiling water, into a large bowl. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.
4. Add the boiling water and continue beating for another minute.
5. Divide the batter evenly among the 3 cake pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until done.
6. While the cake is in the oven, make the Kahlua filling. Boil 2 cups of water over high heat in the bottom part of a double boiler. Place all the ingredients (with only 1/2 cup of Kahlua) in a large bowl over the double boiler. Stir the mixture continuously until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
7. Un-mold the cakes and lay out on 3 separate plates. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of Kahlua on top of all three. Let cool for 2-3 hours. When ready to frost, place the first layer on a serving plate, spread with 1/2 of the Kahlua filling. Top with the second layer and spread with the remaining filling. Top with the third layer and frost with chocolate butter cream frosting.

Beat 1/2 cup softened butter (one stick) in a mixer, add 3 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup milk, 1/8 cup cocoa, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until fluffy.

Raspberry Chipotle Brownies
(Brownies con Frambuesa y Chile Chipotle)

12 servings
  •  3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo, minced without seeds
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease a 9x13 pan with shortening, line with wax paper, and then grease again.
3. Boil 2 cups of water over high heat in the bottom part of a double boiler. Place the butter and cocoa in the top part. Stir until well blended. Remove from heat and let cool.
4. Place the eggs, salt, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat for 1 minute. Add the chocolate mixture, chipotle chiles, and adobo sauce. Beat for another minute.
Stir in the flour. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
5. Spread the raspberry jam on top and swirl with a knife into the brownie mixture.
6. Bake for 25 minutes or until the center is done. Invert the brownies and remove the wax paper. Let cool. Cut into 12 pieces.

What IS IT with Mexico?!

I have made two half assed, "eh, it's close to Mexican food because it exhibits flavors present in Mexican cuisine" dishes since I've been in Mexico.  Very similar to things I would make at home.  But here?  They are freaking delicious; at home they're okay.  What the hell?

The first thing I made was a quesadilla.  Tough right?  Yeah; it was mind blowing.
Tonight I made steak tacos with homemade guacamole - in fact, the guacamole was LESS complex than I make it at home and 1000 times better.
I don't know if it's the brands, or the meat, or the pan, or the altitude or what, but I don't think I'll be happy with several of my "Mexican" dishes when I get home.  Maybe that's why I spent $300 on kitchen equipment today (hey, it was on sale).  Or maybe that's just because I'm a shopaholic.
Mexican dishes I DON'T think I'll be trying when I get home?  Huitlacoche (aka corn smut).  I definitely want to try it while I'm here, but I doubt it's something I'll be doing at home.  I know I know, you're too lazy to click the link.  Let me break it down for you.  A prime delicacy round these parts, is to eat corn that has been infected with a fungus.  It looks even more delicious than it sounds, let me tell you:

Thoughts abound on the etymology of the name; but let's just say that most agree that it has something to do with shit.  I think it was due to this that chefs tried to rename it "the Mexican truffle" - nice try guys.  According to my research, it has an earthy, mushroomy flavor that terrifies and intrigues me.  I like truffles.  I love mushrooms.  I love wine made from grapes that has been infected with botrytis. All fungus.  Why not corn fungus?  Aside from it looking absolutely horrendous, I think I'm too curious to not order it if I see it on a menu.  
If you're now all worked up and wanting to check this stuff out, the good (?) news is that it is available canned.  And we all know how yummy canned things can be!  In any case, here are a gabillion recipes to get you started.
You're welcome.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mi primero clase de cocina Mexicana

Today was my first (expensive) cooking class here in San Miguel de Allende, and it was really fun.  There were only four of us, so the chefs let us kind of run amok and be more hands on with them in the kitchen, even though the class looked to be set up as a demo only.  They taught it in English and Spanish, which was very helpful - both ways.
We made three traditional dishes - a sopa de tortilla that is eaten all throughout Mexico; a pescado a la Veracruzana that is a specialty from the Veracruz region; and flan, por supuesto.
They also served a hibiscus tea kind of drink, and margaritas, woo!  I learned some great new techniques and the food was AMAZING.  Here I thought my dad's tortilla soup was the best. . . I mean, it's still amazing and much easier than today's recipe, but this one. . . que rico!

There were a few "new to me" ingredients as well:
epazote - a green with small, pungent leaves that is typically used in quesadillas or with mushrooms
guero chilies - they have the same smell and color as peperoncinis, but they were long and thin
Cajeta Envinada - a caramel sauce made with goat's milk, which actually did have a flavor reminiscent of goat cheese

I also learned a few new techniques - very helpful for getting a superfine dice as we needed for the Pescado a la Veracruzana.  Typically in Mexican cuisine, the entire tomato is used - skin, seeds, and flesh.  For this recipe we scooped the seeds out though, and they showed us an easy way to do that (though I argue scraping it with a spoon would be even easier).  So, without further ado. . . .

Sopa de tortilla
Pescado a la Veracruzana
Flan de Caramelo

Flan de Caramelo

Flan de Caramelo
2 c sugar
1 c Ranchero Cheese (Farmer's cheese or cream cheese)
1 1/2 c milk
1 1/2 c Cajeta Envinada
1 c cream
6 eggs

Preheat oven to 350.  Place 1 cup of the sugar in a pan and allow to caramelize; swirling and stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Pour the sugar into a mold and tilt so the caramel covers the bottom and sides of the mold.  Set aside.
At this point, we put the rest of the ingredients (except the Cajeta Envinada) into the blender and pureed.  The written recipe recommends lightly beating the eggs with the rest of the sugar; pureeing the milk, cheese and cream in the blender; and then combining the two.
Pour into the mold on top of the caramel.  Place the mold into a larger pan with 1 inch of hot water in the bottom of the pan (a water bath).  You can cover with flan with foil, though we did not.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  The flan will still have a lot of jiggle to it.  Allow to cool to room temp, and refrigerate over night.  (We popped ours straight into the fridge so we could eat it the same day; I imagine it would be a bit more set up if you leave it in the fridge over night).
To serve; place mold in hot water to soften caramel and run a knife around the outside edge.  Place a plate on top, and carefully invert so the plate is on the bottom and the mold is on top.
Serve with Cajeta Envinada or other caramel sauce.

Serves 6-10

Pescado a la Veracruzana

Pescado a la Veracruzana
2 1/2 lb fresh red snapper (or similar) filets - washed and dried with paper towels
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium onions, minced
8 Roma tomatoes, minced
2-3 roasted red peppers, minced
2 laurel (bay) leaves
1/4 c chopped flat leaf Parsley
1 c green olives stuffed with pimentos
2 guero chilies
2 tbsp chopped capers (or left whole if small)
sea salt to taste, and fresh ground pepper (you can use a molcajete to grind the salt and pepper before sprinkling on the fish)

Heat enough oil to fry the veggies.  Add the onions first and saute til translucent.  Add the tomato and cook for about 2 minutes.  Make a hole in the bottom of the pan, and add the garlic in to fry.  Once garlic is cooked, stir all together.
Add peppers, parsley, olives, capers and laurel/bay leaves.  Add a pinch of salt and the chiles gueros with some of their juice (note that the chiles have been left whole).  Turn down to a simmer.
Option one:
Heat another (nonstick) pan until very very hot.  While pan is heating, season the fish with salt and pepper, and drizzle with oil.  Once pan is ready, add the fish to the pan (the oil on the fish is enough to keep them from sticking).  LEAVE THE FISH ALONE.  It's ready to be flipped once it moves freely in the pan when you shake it.  If you try to flip it too early it'll fall apart.  Once ready, flip it and cook til the other side is golden brown as well and the fish is cooked through.  Serve with a generous portion of the vegetable mixture.
Option two:
Rather than leaving the sauce to simmer, put it into a baking dish.  Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper and place on top of the sauce.  Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in an oven that has been preheated to 200 for 30 minutes or until the fish is cooked.

Serves 6

Sopa de Tortilla

Sopa de Tortilla
5 q chicken broth
1/2 pasilla chile - fried
6 Roma tomatoes
1 medium white onion
5 cloves of garlic
2 epazote sprigs (the written recipe calls for an additional 1/4 cup of epazote leaves to be blended with the rest of the ingredients, but we didn't do it, so I'm leaving it optional here)
sea salt to taste
3 tbsp veggie oil

2 c veggie oil
18 corn tortillas, sliced into thin strips and fried (and left to dry for one day according to the written recipe - we just fried ours)
6 pasilla chiles cut into rings and fried in oil

2 avocados, cut into cubes
2 c ranchero cheese in cubes (optional; we didn't use this)
1 c Mexican cream (optional; we didn't use this)

To make the garnishes:
Fry tortilla strips in hot oil until crispy and brown (and bubbles have disappeared).  Drain them on paper towels.
Cut the pasilla chiles into rings and fry in oil as well.

To make the soup:
Roast the tomatoes, onions and garlic in a very hot and dry skillet until blackened.  When dark, put the entire things (garlic skins and all) into the blender with the fried pasilla, one quart of chicken broth, a nice big handful of the fried tortilla strips, and that optional epazote; blend well.  Strain into a hot cazuela or clay pot with a bit of vegetable oil in the bottom and let it fry a little bit to bring the flavors out even more.  Add in the epazote sprigs.  Finally, add chicken stock and sea salt to taste.  Let simmer and check seasoning periodically.

To serve:
In the bottom of each soup bowl, place a small handful of the tortilla strips, the cubed avocado, and the cheese and cream if using.  Ladle some soup into the bowl, and top with pasilla rings.

Serves 4-6

Thursday, July 22, 2010


As I sit here in Mexico with no one to exclaim to (boo hoo right?), I have to share the new float madness with you, Dear Reader (so basically me, Quinn or Amanda.  Hi!).  Not new to everyone, but new to me, okay?
Quinn over at Libation Lab got me started with his talk of bourbon coke floats, and then Sara Kate over at The Kitchn rubbed it in my face with her cherry lambic floats, and then the readers went and put salt in the wound with their talk of cherry lambic with chocolate ice cream, or orange liqueur over vanilla ice cream and use of sour cherry compote or what the hell ever; and then, what the?  Even the cat wants it.

I'm not going to post a recipe here, because, hi - it's stuff over ice cream, but I might add tasty flavor combos here if I come up with any on my own after salivating over all of these.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pho home!

Pho (pronounced fuh, not faux, you xenophobe) at home is now easy AND SOUTH BEACHY AND GLUTEN FREE OMG.  Thanks Whole Foods!!!

As I was strolling along the other day, I saw this little box in the "new stuff!" area.  Brown rice noodles?  Hmm, you don't say.  Pho at home without hours and hours spent making broth?  Interesting.  I'm in.
I opted for the Garlic Goodness flavor (obviously), but there was also shiitake mushroom and zesty ginger I believe; plus a larger box of plain old noodles with no seasoning packet.  And dudes - you can buy them on Amazon (see the bottom of the post).
Some broth (I recommend sticking to the recommended beef broth, and NOT using the low sodium since I ended up having to add quite a bit of salt), some meat (I used some rotisserie chicken I had on hand, but you could use super thinly sliced beef which will cook in the broth, or cooked shrimp or bbq pork if you wanted), and some veggies (we opted for green onions and cilantro - both musts if you ask me, and mushrooms and red peppers).  Hard boiled eggs, bamboo shoots, basil, sliced jalapenos and mungbean sprouts would also be fantastic additions.
Heat up the broth with the seasoning packet and then toss in your meat and heartier veggies to heat through or cook, then add the noodles and cook til soft.  Add the cilantro and stir in, and finish with a squeeze of lime over the top if you're so inclined, plus a squirt of Sriracha, and dinner is ready.  Decent pho at home, hooray!!!  The box serves two hungry eaters.

Asparagus & Prosciutto Pizza

If the fact that I use prosciutto and arugula on every pizza I make has gotten old I'm sorry, but it's just how it goes in my house okay?  Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the amazingly delicious pie we made last night; made only better by a delicious bottle of Tempranillo.

I learned from one of my favorite pizza masters, that the easiest way to make sauce is thusly:
1 can of San Marzano tomatoes
fresh basil
pinch of salt
your hands
(a pinch of red pepper flakes would be a great addition if you're feeling spicy)
- open the can and dump it into a bowl, tear up some basil, chuck in some minced garlic, add a pinch of salt and then smoosh it all together with your hands, pulverizing the whole tomatoes into puree.  Done.  This makes way more than you need for one pizza, but can be frozen.
(By the way; said pizza master might be game to teach you and your friends the basics if you ask nicely.)

As for the pizza, it's easy:
A bag of whole wheat crust from Trader Joe's, or whichever premade crust you like best; heck, make your own, whatever
lowfat mozzarella
4 or so slices of prosciutto, torn into thinner strips
5 asparagus spears, thinly sliced on the diagonal (you know, so it looks almost like almond slices); keep the pretty tops for garnish on top of the pizza
freshly grated Parmesan or Reggiano
1 large handful of arugula
(for arugula salad: salt, verjus or lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil - toss together and set aside)

Pop your pizza stone into the oven and preheat.
Roll out your dough as you do - for me this involves rolling it out on wax or parchment paper that has been floured, making it super thin, sprinkling with a generous amount of cornmeal, then placing my peel on top and flipping the whole thing over and peeling the paper off what is now the top; leaving your cornmeal ball bearings ready to slide around on the peel.  Badda bing, badda boom.
Sauce that bad boy as heavy or light as you like, and top with mozzarella.
Scatter your thinly sliced asparagus all over the joint, then lay the prosciutto on top.  If you saved your asparagus tips, here is where you can make the pretty design.  Sprinkle with a generous amount of Parmesan or Reggiano and bake away.  I like mine a little more done so the crust is a bit crisper and the prosciutto gets all crispy like bacon, oh my God my mouth is watering just typing this.
Once it's done, take it out of the oven and let it sit a few minutes or when you cut it all of your toppings will ooze off.  Top the complete sliced pie with your arugula salad and hook in.

This time around, we ended up with extra dough that we made breadsticks out of (cut into strips, brush with olive oil, sprinkle generously - REALLY generously - with Garlic Garni and top with freshly grated Parmesan or Reggiano); bake until browned and as crispy or as soft as you like 'em.  That extra sauce comes in handy here for dunking.