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May, 2011


May 28, 2011

I began to see the exotic side of the tomatillo once in the US.

Growing up in Mexico, they were a standard at every market, part of our weekly mandado, present in our family meals at least half a dozen times a week: in salsa verde to pour on top of almost everything, in enchiladas, chilaquiles, bathing fish, covering a shredded meat and potato stew, and sometimes cactus paddles.

Think something like salt … how odd it is to find a kitchen without salt?

Once we moved to Texas, the only place I could find them was in Latino stores. As the years moved on, there was no one I met without a Mexican connection who had ever cooked with a tomatillo or even dared to bring one home.

Sure, many people love salsa verde and eat it in restaurants or buy a jar at the store, but few know that its star ingredient, is the tomatillo.

Continue reading Tomatillo and Lime Jam


MEXICAN STYLE PASTA WITH TOMATO SAUCE, CHORIZO & FRESH CREAM
Pasta Seca con Jitomate, Chorizo y Crema

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 lbs ripe Roma tomatoes(about 6 to 8 tomatoes)
1 medium clove garlic
1/2 cup tomato cooking liquid
1/2 cup medium white onion, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 oz fresh, uncooked Mexican chorizo, casings removed and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp safflower or corn oil
8 oz dried spaghetti, angel hair or fettuccine, broken into smaller pieces
2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 to 2 tbsp sauce from canned chipotles in adobo, plus 1 whole canned chipotle chile for more heat (optional)
6 oz queso fresco, fresh cheese, farmer’s cheese, or a milde feta, crumbled
Mexican or Latin cream, as much as needed (!) or substitute for creme fraiche or sour cream
1 ripe Hass avocado, halved, peeled, cut into slices

TO PREPARE
Place tomatoes and garlic in a medium saucepan. Add water to cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes are thoroughly cooked, they look mushy and the skins have started to come off.

Transfer the tomatoes, 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and garlic to a blender along with the onion, salt and pepper. Let cool slightly and puree until smooth.

Cook the chorizo in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes, until it has browned and crisped; use a wooden spoon or spatula to break it into smaller pieces as it cooks. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked chorizo to a bowl.

Add oil to the same skillet used to cook the chorizo, over medium-high heat. Add the spaghetti or fettuccine pieces and cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until the pasta changes color and starts to brown. Do not let it burn!!

Pour the tomato puree on the pasta. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce thickens and the color darkens to a deeper red. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and adobo sauce, plus a whole chipotle chile in adobo, if desired.

Mix well, cook uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring often to keep the pasta from sticking, until the pasta is cooked through and the tomato sauce has thickened considerably. Discard the bay leaves.

Add the chorizo and stir to incorporate. Divide among individual plates; serve hot, topped with crumbled cheese, fresh cream and avocado slices.


WARM SWEET POTATO SALAD WITH CHORIZO
Ensalada Calientita de Camote y Chorizo
Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS
3 lbs sweet potatoes (about 3 large sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
1/2 tsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 oz fresh, uncooked Mexican chorizo, casings removed and coarsely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded if less heat is desired
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

TO PREPARE
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the sweet potato pieces, once it comes back to a boil, reduce the heat to medium; simmer for about 10 minutes, until almost tender and a knife can go through without breaking a piece. Drain, and transfer to a baking dish large enough to hold the pieces almost in a single layer.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk together orange juice, oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes and toss to coat evenly. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning them after about 10 minutes, until the potato pieces have started to brown and the sauce has thickened. Remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, cook the chorizo in a medium skillet over medium-high heat; use a wooden spoon of spatula to break it into smaller pieces as it cooks. After 5 to 6 minutes, when it has nicely browned and crisped, use a slotted spoon to top the hot sweet potatoes.

Sprinkle the jalapeño, red onion and cilantro on top, and toss gently to combine. Serve warm.


POTATO, SCALLION & CHORIZO CRISPY TACOS
Tacos Crujientes de Papa, Cebollita y Chorizo

INGREDIENTS
1 lb red bliss potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 oz fresh, uncooked Mexican chorizo sausage, casings removed, coarsely chopped
8 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
1 tsp kosher or sea salt, or more to taste
10-12 corn tortillas
Safflower oil, for frying
Salsa verde or any salsa of your choice

TO PREPARE
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the potato pieces, once the water returns to a boil, cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain.

Place the chorizo in a large skillet over medium-high heat. As it cooks, use a wooden spoon or spatula to crumble it into smaller pieces. Once it browns and crisps, 5 to 6 minutes, add the scallions and stir to combine; cook for about 1 minute or until the scallions begin to soften.

Add the cooked potatoes and salt, mashing them into the chorizo mixture with a potato masher or a wooden spoon, for about 1 minute until well combined. Remove from the heat. Taste, add salt as needed.

Heat a dry, medium skillet over medium heat. Warm the tortillas in the skillet one at a time for 15 to 30 seconds on each side, to soften them for rolling.

Place a few tablespoons of the filling on each tortilla, and roll into a taco. Insert a wooden toothpick through taco pairs through thee seams to help them retain their shape as they cook. Place the completed tacos on a platter or tray with the seam sides facing down as you work. When they have all been rolled, finish the tacos by either frying or toasting them.

To fry the tacos:
Pour enough oil into a large skillet to a depth of about 1 inch, place over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, 4 to 6 minutes, fry the tacos in batches, placing them in the skillet, without crowding them. They oil should be bubbling as they cook. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on the first side, until the bottom and sides have crisped and turned golden. Use tongs to turn over the tacos, cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels. Continue until all the tacos have been fried.

To toast the tacos:
Heat a large, dry skillet or comal over medium heat. Working in batches, place the tacos in the skillet. Let them toast and heat for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the tacos are browned and crisped, then flip to the other side and toast until evenly browned and crisp.

Remove all toothpicks; serve warm.


Who doesn’t love sausage? Chorizo, the Mexican version, is a deep-burnt-reddish explosion of fresh, moist, exotically seasoned flavor. When it’s fried, it becomes crisp and incredibly savory. This episode will look at the difference between Mexican chorizo sausage and its Spanish, Central American and South American cousins.


GARIBALDIS: MINI POUND CAKES WITH LIME-APRICOT GLAZE AND SPRINKLES
Garibaldis: Panquecitos con Chabacano y Chochitos
Makes about 60 mini pound cakes and 30 medium sized ones

INGREDIENTS
1 lb butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

For the glaze
1 cup soft apricot preserve
5 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup sprinkles

TO PREPARE
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a set of muffin or mini muffin molds.

Cream the butter in a mixer at high speed. Incorporate the sugar and keep on beating until it is well incorporated. Add the eggs, one by one, making sure each one is well incorporated into the mix.

In a mixing bowl, combine the all purpose flour with the baking powder and a pinch of salt. Bring the speed of the mixer to low, and slowly add the flour mix, alternating with the heavy cream until well combined.

Spoon the batter into the molds up under the rim, as they will puff. Place molds in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes for normal muffin molds and about 10 minutes for mini muffin molds. A toothpick should come out clean when they are ready. Remove from the oven. Once cool enough to handle, remove them from the molds and place them on a plate or cooling rack.

In a saucepan set over medium heat, combine apricot preserve, sugar and lime juice. Stir occasionally for a couple minutes until the ingredients are well dissolved. Place chochitos or sprinkles in a large plate or bowl. Holding one pound cake at a time, dunk the top, up to half their height, into the apricot glaze, then gently roll the glazed part with the chochitos or sprinkles. Place them on a platter, let cool and cover. They taste even better the day after!


REFRIED BEAN AND CHEESE CHIMICHANGAS
Chimichangas de Frijoles con Queso
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
4 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
1 jalapeño or serrano chile, seeded and chopped (more or less to taste)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups refried beans
1/4 cup water
2 cups Mexican Manchego, Chihuahua, Monterey jack or light chedder, shredded
12 flour tortillas, medium size
Salsa of your choice

TO PREPARE
Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into a medium sized skillet set over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and let it cook 4 to 5 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add the chile, give it a couple stirs and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 15 to 30 seconds more. Incorporate refried beans along with 1/4 cup water and mix well. Let it cook and season for a couple minutes as you mash it all together. Turn off the heat.

In a comal or skillet set over medium-low heat, heat flour tortillas one at a time, about 15 seconds on each side, to soften so they won’t break when folded. Add about 2 heaping tablespoons each of refried beans and cheese near the edge of the tortilla, one at a time. Begin rolling as if making a chubby taco, after the first fold, tuck in both edges of the tortilla, continuing to roll to make a thick bundle. Flatten a bit with your hand.

Reheat remaining oil in the same saute pan or comal, over medium-low heat. Place chimichangas in batches and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until they achieve a lightly browned crust on both sides. You may also use more oil and deep-fry them over medium heat for less time, but I like the first option more…

Serve along the side of the Rabo de Mestiza eggs and spoon some of its sauce on top, or serve with the salsa of your choice.


RABO DE MESTIZA: POACHED EGGS IN A TOMATO AND POBLANO RAJAS SAUCE
Huevos Rabo de Mestiza: con Salsa de Jitomate y Rajas de Poblano
Serves 6 to 8

The sauce can be made ahead of time and the dish cooked right before you want to eat it.

INGREDIENTS
2 lbs Roma tomatoes
1 garlic clove
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp corn or safflower oil
1/2 cup white onion, slivered or thinly sliced
3/4 lb poblano chiles, or about 3, charred, sweated, skinned, stemmed, seeded, cut into about 2″ slices (may soak in hot water with 2 tbsp brown sugar or piloncillo to tame heat)
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp kosher or sea salt, more or less to taste
8 eggs
1 cup queso fresco, crumbled, my substitute for farmers or a mild feta
Corn tortillas or toast, optional

TO PREPARE
Place the tomatoes along with the garlic and bay leaves in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, simmer until thoroughly cooked, about 10 minutes. Place tomatoes, garlic and bay leaves in the blender and puree until smooth.

In a large, heavy bottomed pan set over medium heat, pour in the oil. Once hot, cook the onion, stirring now and then, until soft and translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the poblano rajas and let them cook for 1 or 2 minutes. Pour in the tomato sauce, sprinkle the marjoram, salt and pepper, and let it season and thicken for about 10 to 12 minutes. You can make this sauce ahead of time and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

When ready to make the eggs, reheat the sauce, then lower the heat to medium-low and add the eggs one by one. It is easier if you crack the eggs into a small bowl or cup and slide them into the sauce. Sprinkle a bit of salt on top of each egg and cover the pan with its lid. Let the eggs poach until cooked. I like the yolks, still runny, which takes like 4 to 5 minutes.

Serve on plates and sprinkle crumbled cheese on top. Have warm corn tortillas or toast on the side.


A Mexican brunch is the perfect way to ease into the weekend. What kinds of recipes are truly Mexican but truly inspired, too? This episode will look at what a late breakfast/early lunch in Mexico might look like, and what recipes you can prepare in your own home.


May 16, 2011
Huitlacoche 2-thumb-510x343-1639

Whenever it starts pouring down in late Spring, I hanker for Huitlacoche.

A true Mexican delicacy, also called cuitlacoche, it is a form of fungus similar to some mushrooms, that grows on fresh corn. In the rainy Mexican season, that starts in April (some say March…) and ends sometime in September (some say October…) it’s when you can huitlacoche  at its peak.

It doesn’t look that pretty. It grows in an oversize and disproportionate manner on the ears of corn, producing huge kernels that are black inside and covered with a somewhat silvery-white, sparkly and velvet textured skin.

Its flavor is intense and unmatchable: mushroomy, earthy, woody, a bit inky… reminds me of calamari ink.

Continue reading Huitlacoche

Continue reading
Huitlacoche

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