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Sushito Integrale

24 Jun

It’s the Final Round of the Marx Foods Integrale Gauntlet! My final entry not only fuses the great Italian Integrale rice with some of the flavors of Mexico, but I also have found a way to add the cuisine of another of my favorite countries, Japan! Yes, that’s right folks, I present to you Mexican Sushi made with Italian Integrale rice! I really wanted to show everyone the versatility of this great product, and I think with the three entries I have made for the Integrale Gauntlet, from a risotto, to a rice pudding, and now sushi, I have really given this Italian short grain

Sushito Integrale

One may ask the question, What is Mexican Sushi? Well, it is not much different from the classic Japanese sushi that we all know and love. It just simply utilizes some Mexican flavors to kick up the volume. We replace the wasabi placed under the nigiri (a slice of raw fish on a thumb sized chunk of rice) with chipotle,  add in a little jalapeno in our futomaki ( or “fat” roll) , some ripe avocado,  toss in a little cilantro and we have our Mexican Sushi!

One of the challenges of making this dish was trying to get the Integrale rice to play the role of the classic Japanese sushi rice. I found that you need to tweek two parts in the process. I found that you needed to soak the rice for a extended period of time before cooking. I also needed to decrease the amount of water used in the preparation of the rice or else the rice becomes too much like dough.

Once I had cooked and seasoned my rice, I wanted to make two different types of rolls for my entry. I wanted to make the classic Futomaki, a seaweed encased sushi roll filled with cucumber, carrot,  jalepeño, and a hint of my chipotle mayo.  I call this the “Chilango” roll, a complete vegan roll inspired by the chic urban youth of Mexico City.  Next on my list was the “Mexicali’ roll. This is a Uramaki, or an inside-out roll. This type of roll is a bit more challenging because you have to flip the nori (the seaweed) over once the rice is spread out. For this roll I wanted to meld the flavors of smoked salmon, green onion, cream cheese, cilantro, and finally some avocado.  Now there was one more roll I wanted to make, but my rice supply was dwindling, so I set to making the Nigiri.

Chilango Futomaki and the Mexicali Uramaki

This is a fairly simple preparation that involves making a thumb-sized oblong portion of rice and slapping a piece of raw fish on top. I wanted to kick it up a bit and I slathered my chipotle mayo over the bottom side of the fish and then placed it on the rice. I had a beautiful portion of sushi-grade Ahi tuna, some smoked salmon (smoked locally in Maine of course!) , and some fresh jumbo shrimp.

The Nigiri

So here we are, two plates of delicious Italian-Mexican-Japanese inspired sushi! Grab an Asahi or some Saki and Kanpai!!!

Integrale Sushi Rice

  • 1 cup of Integrale Rice
  • 1/2 cup of rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp organic sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  1. Place the rice in a large glass bowl and rinse the rice with cold water for 10 minutes or until the water become clear and no longer cloudy. You are rinsing all the starch from rice.
  2. Soak the rice in cold water for at least 1 hour.
  3. Dump the rice into a fine mesh sieve and allow to drain for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Place into a rice cooker and add the 2 cups of water.
  5. Set cooker to Cook and let it go!
  6. Once the switch resets to warm, allow the rice to steam for about 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the rice, using a wooden spoon, to a non-reactive bowl to season the rice.
  8. Place the rice vinegar, salt, and sugar in a cup and put in microwave for 15 seconds. We just want to dissolve the salt and sugar to make a solution.
  9. Now season the rice with vinegar solution.
  10. Allow the rice to cool to room temperature.

Chilango Roll

  • 3/4 cup sushi rice.
  • 1 nori sheets
  • Carrot
  • Cucumber
  • Jalepeno
  • Chipotle Mayo
  1. Take a nori sheet. Place it on the mat, with the shiny side facing down.
  2. Grab a handful of prepared sushi rice, and spread it gently over the nori – about 1cm high. There’s no need to press the rice onto the nori, only spread it.
  3. Line up the cucumber, carrot, jalepeño on the roll.
  4. Spread a bit of the chipotle mayo on the vegetables.
  5. Roll.
  6. Cut into 8 equal pieces. For best results first cut in half, then cut each half into two, and then again.
  7. Best served with soy sauce, pickled ginger (gari) and wasabi.

Chilango Roll and Mexicali Roll

Mexicali Roll

  • 3/4 cup sushi rice.
  • 1 nori sheets
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Green Onion
  • Avocado
  • Cream Cheese
  • Cilantro
  • Black and white sesame seeds
  1. Wrap your bamboo mat with plastic wrap. This is necessary in order to prevent rice from sticking to the mat.
  2. Take a nori sheet, and break it in half. Place one half on the mat, with the shiny side facing down.
  3. Grab a handful of prepared sushi rice, and spread it gently over the nori – about 1cm high. There’s no need to press the rice onto the nori, only spread it.
  4. Sprinkle a spoonful of black and white sesame seeds evenly over the rice.
  5. Flip the nori so that the rice is now facing down.
  6. Line up the green onion, smoked salmon, avocado, cilantro and some cream cheese on the roll.
  7. Roll.
  8. Cut into 8 equal pieces. For best results first cut in half, then cut each half into two, and then again.

Sushito Integrale

Integrale Milanese “Mexicana”

25 May Integrale Milanese "Mexicana"

For those of you who read my blog, you know that one of my all-time favorite ingredients is saffron. This delicious, but expensive, spice has a unique one-two culinary punch. It has a wonderful hay-like, flowery-honey flavor when used correctly, and it brings a very unique yellow color to whatever it’s cooked with.  I use it whenever I get the chance to use it in rice, chicken, or seafood dishes. Shortly after I won the 4thAnnual Marx Foods Morel Blogger Recipe Challenge, I jumped at the chance to enter another Marx Foods challenge, the Marx Foods Integrale Gauntlet. The Gauntlet is a 3 round challenge with the star being Integrale Rice!

Integrale Milanese "Mexicana"

Integrale Milanese “Mexicana”

Integrale rice is an Italian brown rice that is  really not a separate variety of risotto rice, but rather a way of processing the grain so that the rice maintains its raw fiber shell, vitamin B1, B5, B6, proteins and minerals. It is incredibly healthy and only grown and harvested by organic means.

Integrale Rice

Integrale Rice

It has a slightly nutty taste and a firmer texture that enhances the “bite” of your risotto! Since this is a contest sponsored by Marx Foods, they kindly sent out 1 kilo of this amazing Integrale rice to use in my recipe!

When I approached the planning of  my dish for the contest, I knew that I wanted to use saffron, I really thought that it would complement the nutty flavor of the brown rice, but I wanted to add my own twist, using the Mexican flavors that I love as well.  In my mind, I had visions of two different dishes, Risotto Milanese and Paella. Risotto Milanese being a classically rich risotto, made with bone marrow, Parmesan cheese, and of course saffron; and Paella Valencia, the mother of all rice dishes in Spain, made with Spanish Chorizo, seafood, chicken, roasted red peppers, paprika, and finally, of course, the saffron. So, doing a bit of simulation in my head (as all engineers do from time to time), I  would use the basic concept of Risotto Milanese and add tequila in place of the white wine, and mix in a bit of the essence of Paella Valencia, somewhat deconstructed, using fresh Mexican chorizo instead of the Spanish chorizo. So what place does Tequila have in a risotto you may ask? I believe that alcohol  opens up the rice and prepares it to absorb the liquids introduced into the risotto. So why not use Tequila, and using Añejo Tequila would give the risotto another unique dimension of sweet,  “oak-y-ness” flavor once the harsh alcohol cooks off.  I would finish off the risotto with a mantecatura of butter and Manchego cheese. Manchego differs from Parmigiano-Reggiano in that it is made from sheep’s milk rather than cow’s milk. The cheese has a well developed, creamy flavor, with a distinctive, but not t0o overwhelming tangy aftertaste that is characteristic of sheep’s milk. It is the mother of all Spanish cheeses, it just sings “Marry me” to the saffron!

So I set about making the chorizo fresh on Monday night. I have a standard recipe that I learned some time ago in Mexico. I also prepared my chicken stock on Monday as well.  Having given some time for the chorizo to “cure” a few days to enhance its flavors, it was time to get dirty and get to the challenge! Risotto, once the technique is mastered, is a wonderful way to start a meal, or a stunning side to accompany any protein. Just a sidebar on Integrale rice. It is a slightly different beast, because of the raw grain shell. It takes a bit more stock and a bit more time to cook. I had to use about a cup more stock and I added about 10 minutes of cooking time to get it perfectly al dente. With some constant attention, a bit of pampering, and a shot or two of Don Julio, in about 30 minutes you have a deliciously rich risotto that will be sure to bless any table! Now I call on everyone to support us and go out and vote for this dish on May 30th!

Integrale Milanese "Mexicana"

Integrale Milanese “Mexicana”

 

 

Integrale Milanese “Mexicana”

  • 1 ½ cups of Integrale Rice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2  medium yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup Tequila Añejo
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra vigin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon saffon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ lb. Mexican Chorizo
  • ¼ cup Manchego Cheese
  • 5 cups Chicken Broth
  1. Place the 5 cups of broth  in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  2. Add the saffron to the broth and keep very warm.
  3. Meanwhile, take the chorizo and heat over medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
  4. Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Once it is hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, but not browning!
  6. Add the rice and stir with your Girariso to combine.
  7. Add the Tequila and cook until it is completely absorbed.
  8. Start adding the stock about 1 cup at a time and stirring constantly until each cup of stock is completely absorbed before adding the next. After 4 cups of stock have been added, start tasting the rice (or about 20 minutes)
  9. When the rice is al dente, remove from heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the cheese and stir vigorously.
  10. Plate the risotto and sprinkle with the chorizo. Garnish with fresh parsley or fresh oregano.
  11. SERVE IMMEDIATELY!
Integrale Milanese "Mexicana"

Integrale Milanese “Mexicana”

Caldo de Camarón

12 Apr Caldo de Camarron

Can any two words be more delicious than Shrimp Soup? Now take that simply delicious shrimp soup and add a little Mexican flavor and you have the classic Caldo de Camarón.

Caldo de Camarón

Caldo de Camarón

Among all the tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, and tamales, Mexico also has a very large repertoire of soups, especially seafood based soups. Among those is the classic Caldo de Camarón. This hearty, slightly spicy soup is built upon a base of chile guajillo, a delicious shrimp broth, chunks of potatoes and carrots, and finished with fresh peeled shrimp. Luckily, I was able to find some fresh native shrimp at the local fishmonger, so this was a welcome treat to our Easter Sunday brunch!

In Mexico, this soup is often given complimentary in many restaurants, served in little shot glasses! It is a very delicious way to welcome you to their restaurant…

So as you welcome those special guests to your table, just remember to serve it very hot and always have fresh limes ready to be squeezed in the soup!

Buen Provecho!!!

Caldo de Camarón

  • 4 Red Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 8-10 Chile Guajillo
  • 1.0 lbs. Shrimp.
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  1. Peel and devein shrimp under cold running water, reserving peels and shrimp separately; set shrimp aside.
  2. Take shells, the onion, 2 cloves of unpeeled garlic, and ½ tsp of salt put in a stockpot and add about 3 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30-40 minutes.
  3. Strain broth and put liquid back into a stockpot and keep warm.
  4. Toast the chiles on a comal and then soak in hot water for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the stems and seeds and place in a blender with 1 clove of garlic, a peel of onion, and about 2 cups of soaking liquid. Blend to a puree.
  5. In another stockpot, heat about a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat, Strain the puree over the oil and then simmer for 8 to 10 minutes over medium-high heat, allowing the puree to season and thicken.
  6. Add the shrimp broth that you had set aside, add the carrots, potatoes.
  7. Bring broth back to a simmer, and simmer  for 5 minutes.
  8. Turn heat to high, add shrimp, bring to a boil, and simmer briefly until shrimp are done.
  9. Add the chopped cilantro and add salt to taste.
  10. Ladle soup into large soup bowls, and serve with lime wedges.

    Caldo de Camarron

    Caldo de Camarron

Mixotes de Pollo

5 Apr Mixotes de Pollo

I love waking up in Mexico City… Each morning in my suegra’s house is to awaken every sense in one’s body. The first to awake is sound; you can hear the commotion of the city, car horns going off, the sounds of the street workers yelling “Glooooobos” or the occasional “Tamales Oaxacaños” recording. The next is sight; the bright sun of the Valle de México shining through your eyelids, kick starting your brain. Then comes smell; there is nothing quite like the aroma of my suegra‘s kitchen wafting up the stairs and into the bedroom. It often brings me back to the old cartoons, where the aromas were like hands, grabbing the antagonist and leading them to their savory desires.  Finally, there is touch; to walk downstairs, sit down and take a fresh corn tortilla, a cup of café de olla, and a plate of  freshly prepared mixotes is the final step to waking up in Mexico City!

Mixotes de Pollo

Mixotes de Pollo

Among all the delicious dishes my suegra makes, one of my Top 5 favorites is Mixotes.  Mixotes is a dish typical of central Mexico and the name derives from what I believe to be the method (traditionally the meat is wrapped in the leaves of the Maguey cactus the ‘Mix’ ) and the cooking technique ( the ‘otl’ part or the ‘otes’ plural) , but I am not a Nahuatl expert so don’t quote me as the source of this linguistic synopsis. I digress, Mixotes can be made with almost any type of meat. I have had ram, lamb, and of course in the case of this recipe, chicken. The traditional way is to season the meat with a chile paste and wrap in the leaves of the Maguey, very similar to barbacoa, add a scoop of nopales, and to pit roast the packages for several hours. The modern preparation is to prepare En Papillote  and steam the packages. In this case, we use foil instead of parchment paper. The chipotles used in this dish smell particularly delicious because of the smoky, earthy flavor that dried chipotles bring to the party. Those smells are the little hands that bring me down those stairs in the morning!

The final result is a wonderful spicy dish in plenty of chipotle flavored broth, tender cactus, and succulent chicken. I open up that package, close my eyes, and I am transported back to my suegra’s kitchen! Enjoy!

 

 

Mixotes de Pollo

  • 6-7 Chicken Quarters (Legs & Thighs)
  • 12-13 Dried Chipotles Moras
  • 1 cup cilantro leafs, loosely packed
  • 6-7 Nopales (cactus paddles)
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Put the chipotles in a saucepan with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  2. While the chipotles are boiling, clean the nopales and cut into thin 1 inch or less strips.
  3. Place the nopales in a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 3-5 minutes. Then drain and rinse with cold water, and let drain.
  4. Take the chicken and remove the skin, rinse well and pat dry. Place in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Slice the onion thin using a mandolin and combine with the chicken in the mixing bowl.
  6. Add the nopales to the mixing bowl.
  7. Wash the cilantro and remove the stems, add to the mixing bowl.
  8. Once the chipotles are tender, put on some food service gloves and remove the stems and seeds, place in a blender with the clove of garlic and about 1/4 cup of the liquid you boiled the chipoltes in. Puree the mixture well and add to the mixing bowl.
  9. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow the chicken time to marinate in the chile mixture.
  10. Grab some aluminum foil and make 6 sheets, make them large enough to wrap two pieces of chicken and some of the chile & vegetable mixture.
  11. With a large spoon, scoop out two pieces of chicken and some of the vegetables, place in the center of the foil and fold up the package, do this until all the chicken is wrapped into individual foil pouches.
  12. Place the pouches in a large pot with about 1.5 inches of water, you can place a bowl inverted in the bottom and then place the packages on top of and around the bowl, this will allow the packages to steam. OR you can use a spaghetti cooker (the one with the strainer insert).
  13. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and steam the packages for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, take out a package and check the chicken to ensure it is fully cooked.
  14. Serve with Saffron Rice or Frijoles de Olla.
Mixotes de Pollo

Mixotes de Pollo

Flan Napolitano

2 Apr Flan Napolitano

In the center of Mexico City, not far from where the Aztec main temple, Templo Mayor, once stood, there is the famous restaurant, El Cardenal. El Cardenal is an elegant place with white table cloths, white coated staff, and wonderfully delicious traditional Mexican cuisine. We go to this restaurant each and every time we are in Mexico City, primarily because they have the most decadent desserts to be found anywhere in Mexico. Among my favorites is Flan Napolitano, a delicious creamy custard covered in a sugary caramel, it is one of Mexico’s most famous desserts!

Flan Napolitano

Flan Napolitano

Flan has a long and glorious history that reaches back as far as Ancient Rome. When the Roman Empire collapsed, the custard recipe they developed became popular throughout medieval Europe.  As the recipe was replicated and adapted, it became more and more sweet. In Latin, the dessert was known as flado, for custard, it is from the French that it eventually became Flan.

In Mexico, flan was taken to a whole new level. Traditional flan is made with eggs, cane sugar, vanilla,  and cream.  It is prepared by first making sugar syrup cooked to a caramel, poured into a mold, or in my case, small soufflé molds, then finally adding the custard. It is cooked in the oven in a water bath to prevent the custard from curdling and to keep the top of the custard moist. Flan Napolitano is a bit different, in that it is made by adding cream cheese and queso doble creama to the custard. This gives the flan a much more rich and creamy texture. Flan is perfect for cooling the palatte after a spicy, chile based dish, this is why it is so popular in Mexico. There are other flavors as well; pumpkin, almond, and even coconut. But my favorite is still the classic vanilla.

In my interpretation, I decided to try to use marscapone instead of queso doble creama. The result was simply MexItaliano!

Right from the oven

Fresh from the oven taking a little bath!

 

Flan Napolitano MexiItaliano

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 14 ounces (1 can) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 9 ounces cream cheese
  • 9 ounces Mascarpone Cheese
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 of a vanilla bean
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

For the caramel:

  1. Combine 1 cup sugar with the a bit of water in a saucepan and place over medium-high heat.
  2. When the sugar begins to melt, swirl the pan over the heat for 10 minutes, until it darkens to a honey-amber color.
  3. Remove from heat and immediately pour into each flan mold, tilting it so the caramel evenly coats the bottom.
  4. Place the molds in a large roasting pan and set aside.

    Making the caramel

    Making the caramel

For the flan:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Bring about 4 cups of water to a simmer and keep it hot. You’ll use this for your water bath.
  3. You will need to slice the vanilla bean down the sides and remove the inner seeds, to do this take a pairing knife and slice it lengthwise, open it up and scoop out the inner seeds and place it in the bowl.
  4. Combine  the condensed milk, evaporated milk, cream cheese, crema and vanilla in a saucepan and place over medium-low heat.
  5. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, but don’t allow it to come to a full boil, once it is throughly combined into a cream, remove from heat.
  6. Whisk together the eggs and remaining 1 cup sugar in a large bowl, add a pinch of salt. Whisk vigorously until thick and pale yellow in color.
  7. Now, GRADUALLY whisk the cream into the egg mixture, but be careful not to add it too quickly or the eggs will cook (What I do is combine the cream and the eggs together a ladle at a time)
  8.  Pour the custard into the caramel-coated flan molds.
  9. Carefully pour the hot water from the kettle into a roasting pan so that it’s about halfway up the side of the molds. 
  10. Transfer to the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  11. If you notice during this time that the surface is starting to turn golden-brown but it’s not fully cooked yet, cover it with foil so it doesn’t burn.
  12. You may also periodically insert a knife into the center of the flan to check for doneness. When the knife come out clean, it’s done; when the custard is just set and slightly jiggles, it’s time to take it out.
  13. Let custard cool completely in the water bath. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  14. To serve, run a knife around the inside of the mold to loosen the flan. Place a serving plate over the mold and invert it to pop the flan out

    Flan Napolitano

    Flan Napolitano

Bacalao en Cilantro

28 Mar Bacalao con Cilantro

If you ever get to travel to Mexico’s Gulf Coast, you will find that Mexicans really know their fish; it’s not all just about tacos and Ceviche!  Bacaloa en Cilantro

I had some fresh Haddock filets that I wanted to cook and my family does not particularly like the standard approach New Englanders take to their seafood; often deep-fried in heavy breading, or baked, drowned in butter and topped with crackers. Sometimes, there is nothing better than whipping up some beer-batter, deep-fry those filets, and have yourself some luscious Baja Fish Tacos, but were looking for something a bit more healthy! As I went through the recipe Rolodex in my head, I remembered a recipe that I once read in Diana Kennedy’s The Essential Cusines of Mexico for Pescado en Cilantro. In her version she uses snapper, but I had no access to fresh snapper, so I improvised and used the haddock instead!

 What I really like about this dish is the sauce. The chile, onion, and cilantro flavors combined with the fiery juice from the can of chiles make for a unique combination. To accompany this dish, I decided on using my go-to recipe of Saffron Rice. I just love the flavor of saffron with seafood.

You can go about the preperation two different ways. You can make the sauce and add the sauce to the casserole dish halfway through cooking, or you can simply drizzle it on the fish once you plate. I, out of sheer forgetfulleness (I wanted to cook the fish in the sauce to add the flavors of the fish and lime), ended up drizzling the sauce around the rice. It all turned out well in the end, the acidity and heat of the cilantro sauce complimented well with the fish and rice. After all, the taste of the sea, the chiles, cilantro, and saffron seem to be a match hard to beat!

 

Bacalao en Cilantro

(Baked Haddock in a cilantro sauce)

  • 2-3 pounds haddock or cod, cut into 6 ounce portions.
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 Jalepeños em escabeche
  • 1 cup of cilantro, packed
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons juice from the chile can
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Cut the fish into 6 ounce portions
  3. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a saute pan and saute the onions over medium high heat for about 5-6 minutes.
  4. In a casserole dish pour the lime juice and lay down half the onions.
  5. Season the fish with salt and pepper and place the fish on the bed of lime juice and onions, drizzle 2 tablespoons of oilve oil and place the rest of the onions on the fish
  6. Cover with foil and bake in oven for about 20-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
  7. Take a clove of garlic, the jalepeños, the juice from the chile can and the cilantro and place into a 3 cup food processor, drizzle in the remaining olive oil with the motor running.
  8. When the fish is cooked, serve by laying down the saffron rice, top the rice with onions and a piece of the fish. At this point you can drizzle on the sauce or spoon it along the circumference of the rice. Top with chopped cilantro and serve!

    Bacalao con Cilantro

    Bacalao con Cilantro

Saffron Rice

  • 1 1/2  cups white jasmine or basmati rice
  • 1/4 white onion diced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Saffron threads
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  1. Place the water, saffron, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then turn off to let the saffron steep.
  2. Heat oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
  3. Add onion, rice, and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes
  4. Add the saffron mixture and bring to a simmer.
  5. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until water is absorbed and rice is tender, 18 to 20 minutes.
  6. Let rice stand, covered, off heat 5 minutes
  7. Fluff with a fork and serve with your fish!

Pozole Verde

13 Mar

This is a recipe that tugs right at my heartstrings. I love Pozole and this recipe for verde from Karen at The Back Road Journal does this traditional dish proud! Viva Pozole!

Baja Fish Tacos

27 Feb Baja Fish Tacos

 

Back in my days in the U.S. Marines, when I was stationed in Southern California, I used to take weekend trips with some friends down to Rosarito Beach, Mexico. Among all the wonderful things that Rosarito Beach had to offer, one of my first stops was to this little taco stand across from the hotel we always stayed at. Although I do not remember the name of the place anymore, I certainly do remember the flavors! The fish tacos were unlike any I have ever tasted, fried in a rich batter, served with fresh, handmade, corn tortillas, cabbage, salsa, and a delicious mayonnaise, served with a ice cold Pacifico clara! To me, this was the ultimate weekend getaway!

Baja Fish Tacos

These flavors were all but forgotten until I watched an episode of Rick Bayless’s outstanding series, Mexico: One Plate at A Time. There he was making what sounded like the same fish tacos I had fell in love with all those years ago! I instantly placed a sticky note in my head to test out this recipe and share the recipe with you!

I made a few modifications to his recipe for my tastes, but if you want the exact recipe, you can find it at his website under Classic Ensenada Fish Tacos. I left out the baking powder, as I found that the batter became very “puffy” while frying and I added some lime zest to bring a bit of citrus flavor to the beer batter. You can experiment with different types of beers also, a deep amber beer will give this batter a great nutty flavor, almost any type of beer will work, but I would avoid using a wheat beer, as it tends to alter the consistency of the batter.  You will also find that my salsa is different than his, I am using a classic salsa recipe that I learned from my wife. Finally, I use a chipotle sauce rather than a plain jane mayonnaise based sauce. I just like the smokiness of chipotle with the citrus flavors of the fish. None of these modifications are to say that I know better than Rick Bayless, I just wanted to add a bit of my own flavors to his great recipe!

Baja Fish Tacos

One of the best things about testing out a recipe is getting to eat the finished product. I cracked open a cold bottle of Corona and took a bite of my fish taco. I closed my eyes and was instantly transported back to that little roadside taco stand in Rosarito Beach…

 

 

 Baja Fish Tacos

(Adapted from Rick Bayless’s Ensenada Fish Tacos )

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless fish fillets (I like halibut or cod, but you can use just about anything)
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chicken-flavor powdered bouillon (I use Knorr)
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Lime zest
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil to a depth of 1 1/2 inches for frying

Garnishes:

  • ½ head savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
  • Salsa de Chile Arbol (see below)
  • Chipotle Sauce (see below)
  • Lime wedges
  1. Finely mince the garlic, sprinkle generously with salt, then mash back and forth with the side of a knife across a cutting board until it makes a paste.
  2. Put the garlic paste into a medium bowl and add the oregano, black pepper, mustard, bouillon, beer, lime zest and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  3. Add the flour to the wet ingredients and whisk just until combined.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet or dutch oven to 370 degrees.
  5. Cut the fish into pieces about 3 inches long by 1/2 inch square
  6. Take a piece and dip it completely into the batter, then lay it gently in the oil.Keep going with a few more pieces (4 at a time). Fry, turning regularly, until they are a deep golden brown and crisp, about 4 minutes.
  7. Drain on a paper towel and then place in a warm oven on a wire rack over a sheet pan while the rest of the fish are frying.
  8. Set out with cabbage, salsa, warm corn tortillas, limes and the crispy fish for everyone to make tacos.

    Baja Fish Tacos

 

Salsa de Chile Arbol

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 peel of onion
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed
  • 1/2 ounce (15-20) dried arbol chiles
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  1. In a small saucepan, bring about 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Remove the stems and caps from the chiles.
  3. In an ungreased skillet over medium heat, toast the chiles, toss constantly to avoid burning, until the chiles fill the kitchen with their toasty aroma, about 1 1/2 minutes.
  4. Once the chiles are toasted, put them in the boiling water with the tomato and boil for about 5 minutes.
  5. Drain well and place in a blender or a food processor with the garlic,onion, and cilantro. Pulse until nearly smooth.
  6. Add the salt.

    Chile de Arbol

    Chile de Arbol

 

Chipotle Sauce

  • 1/3 cup Chipotle Mayo
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  1. Whisk all ingredients together until you make a smooth sauce.

 

Chipotle Mayonaise

  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ tablespoon water
  • ½  tablespoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1/8 of a teaspoon salt
  1. Using an immersion blender in a deep cup (I use a Pyrex 4 cup measuring cup), blend the yolk, liquid, chile powder, and salt.
  2. While still blending, start incorporating  the oil mixture a bit at a time (What I do is put the oil in a squeeze bottle).
  3. Once all the oil is incorporated, you will have a nice, thick, mayo.

    Baja Fish Tacos

    Baja Fish Tacos

Tlacoyos de Frijol

20 Feb Blue Corn Tlacoyos
Blue Corn Tlacoyo

Blue Corn Tlacoyo with nopales, salsa roja, and queso fresco

One of the things that I love about Mexico is the open air markets that pop up across neighborhoods throughout the city each day. These bazaars are called Tianguis. In my suegras (mother-in-law)neighborhood, Tianguis is usually on Sundays and Wednesdays, but you do not have to travel very far to find another local Tianguis on any given day. For me, I just love wandering through these markets, especially once I get to the section that is selling food. One memory that I have is going to a Tianguis with my suegra and I stopping by this stall with a little old lady and her large comal, a pot of refried beans, and a large bowl of fresh corn masa. My suegra put up three fingers and the little old lady took a ball of masa, formed a thick tortilla in her hands, stuffed it with beans, and flipped it back and forth between her two hands. Once she has formed a large, mostly flat, football shaped cake, she slapped it on the hot comal. A few minutes later, I had this delicious toasted treat called a Tlacoyo.

Yellow corn Tlacoyo

Yellow corn Tlacoyo topped with sour cream, nopales, salsa verde, and queso fresco

Tlacoyos are a simple, but delicious antojito that are oval shaped fried or toasted cakes made of masa. They are similar to fresh corn tortillas, but are somewhat torpedo or football shaped and fatter. They are usually stuffed with refried beans, requeson, fava beans, or chicharon (pork rinds) or other ingredients. The toasted or fried Tlacoyo is traditionally consumed with only salsa and cheese. We usually just pile on some fresh sautéed nopales, salsa, and cheese, but you can experiment with all sorts of toppings here. Start with some shredded chicken or chorizo and don’t stop until you have topped it with some fresh queso canasta or queso cotija!

Forming your Tlacoyo takes a bit of skill and a LOT of practice. As I made them, I had a few failures, but by the end, we had made a few perfect Tlacoyos to shoot and eat! Maybe someday in the future I will shoot my own videos, but until then, you can view a YouTube video on how to make Tlacoyos here : How to make Tlacoyos.

Duo de Tlacoyo

Duo de Tlacoyo

Tlacoyos de Frijol

  • Frijoles de Olla
  • Salsa Roja or Salsa Verde (see below)
  • Sauteed Nopales (see below)
  • Queso Fresco or Queso Cotija
  • 2 cups Blue Corn Masa Harina or Maseca Masa Harina
  • Water

1. In a large mixing bowl dump in the masa harina and make a well in the center.

2. Start adding water with about 1/2 cup at first then mix in the masa just as you would to make fresh pasta dough.

3. Continue to add water at little bit at a time until you form one cohesive mass of dough, it should be a little bit on the wet, tacky side.

4. At this point you can follow the YouTube video or you can follow my method (warning: this takes a bit of practice to perfect and it is difficult to write a procedure!) Take a little larger than a golf ball size bit of masa and form an oblong mass, take it to a tortilla press and LIGHTLY press out a rather thick tortilla.

5. Take the thick tortilla and spread some beans down just the center of the tortilla. Then fold one side halfway in and then the other side halfway in, then fold down the top and bottom to cover the beans completely.

6. Take it back to the tortilla press and press it out lightly to form a long torpedo shaped, or football shaped thick tlacoyo.

7. Place it gently on your heated comal and toast well on both sides.

9. Once you have all your tlacoyos toasted, spead a bit of corn oil on both sides of the tlacoyo with your finger or a brush, then fry until crisp and golden.

10. Take your tlacoyo, spread some fresh sautéed nopales, put a liberal spoonful of salsa on top of the nopales, then add some crumbled cheese and serve!

Fresh Sauteed Nopales

 

  • 6-8 Nopales (Cactus Paddles)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon corn oil
  • Pinch of Salt  

1. Clean the nopales by cutting off the needles and the nodes, and then cut the stem and the edges off the paddles.

2.  Cut each nopal into thin strips about 1 inch long in length.

3. Once they are all cleaned and cut, place in a pot of boiling water and boil for about 5 minutes or until tender.

4. Rinse under cold water.

5. Take a medium sautee pan and about a tablespoon of corn oil and heat until shimmering.

6. Add the nopales and sautee for about 2 minutes.

7. Add the oregano and salt and toss well. Continue to cook for about 1 or 2 more minutes.

8. Serve!

 

Salsa Verde 

  • 3 Tomatillos
  • 6 chile jalepeño
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 peel of onion
  • 1/4 cup cilantro loosely packed
  • Salt to taste

1. Toast the tomatillos, jalepeño, and garlic on a comal.

2. Once they are all nice a toasted (but not burnt!), halve the tomatillos, peel the garlic, and remove the stems from the jalepeño. You can also remove the seeds and veins from the jalepeño for a slightly milder salsa.

3. Place in a food processor with the onion and the cilantro.

4. Pulse until you get the consistency you desire, less for a chunky salsa, more for a smoother salsa.

5. Spoon into a serving bowl, add the salt, and mix well.

Blue Corn Tlacoyos

Blue Corn Tlacoyos with beans, nopales, salsa roja, and cheese

 

Mole de Olla

10 Feb Molle de Olla

Although this has been a very mild winter in the Northeast, Winter still has New England firmly in its grasp. I cannot think of a better way to warm one’s soul than some delicious, comforting, beef stew. Not just your average, everyday beef stew, but an authentic Mexican stew made in a broth of chile pasilla that originates from the state of Oaxaca. Mole de Olla!

Mole de Olla

Mole de Olla

This is a recipe that my wife taught me when we first married and I have used ever since. This recipe has a unique ingredient that many of you may not have heard of. It is called Epazote. Epazote is a herb used in many dishes in Mexico. It adds a unique flavor to dishes, but its best quality is its ability to control  intestinal gas! In Mexico, they use fresh epazote branches in Mole de Olla, but since we do not have any here, I have to use dried epazote. A good rule of thumb is to use 1 teaspoon of dried epazote for each fresh branch of epazote. You can source dried epazote here!

Mole de Olla is rather simple to prepare. The only thing to be mindful of is the order that you cook the vegetables in, which will ensure they are all the proper tenderness at the same time. We start by slowly simmering the beef short ribs and the beef. My recipe uses short ribs as well because I like the added flavor that the beef bones bring to the stock. Just be sure to de-bone the beef after it is cooked! After the beef is pretty much done, we start adding the vegetables. First we add the corn and potatoes, then the beans and the carrots. We add the chile pasilla puree, simmer until all the vegetables are the desired tenderness, serve in large bowls with fresh limes and fresh corn tortillas and maybe a delicious Malbec! 

Mole de Olla

  • 1 lb beef short ribs
  • 1 lb lean beef, cut into small chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10-12 cilantro stems, tied with butchers twine
  • 2 teaspoons dried epazote
  • 2 corn cobs
  • ½ white onion
  • 1/2 head of garlic
  • 1/2 lb. green beans
  • 6 medium red potatoes, quartered
  • 2 large carrots sliced quarters
  • 5 chiles pasillas
  • salt to taste
  1. Cook the all the beef in about 3 quarts of water, along the onion, the garlic, salt, bay leaf, and cilantro stems on low heat for 30 minutes.
  2. Cut the corn cobs into 1 inch slices, wash the potatoes and quarter them. Slice each of the green beans in half, then quarter the carrots.
  3. Once the meat is cooked, add the corn and potatoes.
  4. About five minutes later, add the carrots, the beans, and the epazote.
  5. While this is all simmering away, toast the chiles on a comal, then soak them in water for about 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the seeds and veins, then add the chiles to the blender with about ½ cup of the stock, a slice of white onion, and a clove of garlic.
  7. Blend this to a nice puree, then strain into the pot through a medium mesh sieve.
  8. Simmer until all the vegetables are tender, about another 30 minutes.
  9. Remove the beef short ribs and de-bone the beef and put the beef back into the pot.
  10. Serve in large bowls with lime slices and fresh corn tortillas!

    Mole de Olla

    Mole de Olla