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June, 2011


Orange and Almond Flan
Flan de Naranja y Almendra
Serves 12

INGREDIENTS
1 cup sugar for caramel
1 1/2 cups peeled and slivered almonds
3/4 cup sugar for flan
10 eggs
1 3/4 cups orange juice
Grated zest of an orange
2 tbsp quince liquor, or Grand Marnier, optional

TO PREPARE
Preheat the oven to 360 degrees.

In a pan, heat the cup of sugar over low heat until it achieves the consistency of caramel. It takes a while, but don’t leave it unattended and move the pan as it begins to melt. Once it looks like caramel and is melted, decide how dark and strong you want the caramel to be. The lighter the color of the caramel, the lighter flavor. But be careful because if it gets too dark it can taste bitter and can burn quickly. Take it off the heat and pour it into the bottom of a flan or round tube mold or into 10 individual custard cups. Do so quickly, since caramel hardens fast.

Place the almonds and remaining sugar into the blender or food processor and finely grind. Add the orange juice, orange zest and blend. Add in the eggs and quince liquor or Grand Marnier and puree until combined. Pour the flan mixture on top of the hardened caramel in the molds.

Place the molds in a hot water bath in a deep baking pan. Make sure the water comes up to about half the height of the molds and that the water is very hot. Slide the baking pan with the molds into the oven. Bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a flan comes out clean. When ready, take them out of the oven, out of the water bath and allow to cool.

If flans will not be eaten on the same day, they can be covered and refrigerated, for up to a week. Before unmolding, you can place the molds in a container with very hot water for 5 to 10 seconds, so that the sugar will melt a bit, and help the flan come out. You can also run the tip of the knife around the rim of the flan. Then turn the flans onto a plate, but wait a bit until most caramel pours on top of each flan.


SPICED MEXICAN COFFEE
Café de Olla
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
6 cups water
6 tbsp coarsely ground dark roasted coffee
4 oz piloncillo (can substitute for brown sugar)
1 cinnamon stick

TO PREPARE
Heat the water in a pot set over medium heat (using a clay pot is the traditional way to prepare it and it gives it a very unique flavor, but it isn’t necessary). When the water comes to a boil, lower the heat and add the coffee, piloncillo, and a cinnamon stick.

Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring until the piloncillo dissolves. Remove from the heat, let it stand covered for 5 to 10 minutes and strain before serving. Alternatively, you may remove the cinnamon and use a French press to strain the coffee as well.


WHITE RICE WITH TOASTED ANGEL HAIR PASTA
Arroz Blanco con Fideos
Serves 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS
2 cups white rice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 lb or about 1 cup angel hair pasta, broken into pieces
1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove
4 cups water or chicken broth
1 tbsp fresh lime juice, optional
1 tsp kosher or sea salt, or to taste

TO PREPARE
Soak the white rice in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again. In a cooking pot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the angel hair and fry for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. It should be browned but not burnt.

Incorporate the drained rice, cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice achieves a milky white color and it feels and sounds heavier when you move it.

Add the chopped onion and garlic, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Pour the water or broth over the rice, add the salt and lime juice, and once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover with the lid, and cook for about 20 minutes.

The rice is ready when the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender and cooked. Turn off the heat and keep it covered for at least 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.


CHICKEN WITH TAMARIND, APRICOTS AND CHIPOTLE SAUCE
Pollo con Salsa de Tamarindo, Chabacano y Chipotle
Serves 8

INGREDIENTS
4 chicken quarters, or 8 chicken pieces of your choice with skin and bones
1 tsp kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 cups water
1/2 lb, about 3/4 cup, dried apricots, roughly chopped
2 tbsp apricot preserve
3/4 cup tamarind concentrate, store bought or homemade (recipe follows)
2 tbsp sauce from chipotles in adobo, or more to taste

TO PREPARE
Thoroughly rinse chicken pieces with cold water and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over low heat. Add the chicken pieces in one layer, and slowly brown the chicken pieces for 45 minutes to an hour. Turn them over occasionally, so they will brown evenly on all sides. Pour water over the chicken, raise the heat to medium-high to bring to a simmer.

Incorporate apricots, apricot preserve, tamarind concentrate, chipotle sauce, salt, stir, and keep it at a medium simmer for 35 minutes until the sauce has thickened to a thick syrup consistency and can coat the back of a wooden spoon. You may need to reduce the heat.

Taste for salt and heat and adjust to your liking.

HOMEMADE TAMARIND CONCENTRATE
Concentrado de Tamarindo
Makes about 1 cup

INGREDIENTS
1/2 lb dried tamarind pods with their shell
2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp fresh lime juice

TO PREPARE
Remove the outer pod from the tamarinds, discard, and place the pulp in a bowl. Cover them with 2 cups boiling water and let them sit anywhere from 2 to 24 hours.

With your hands, clean then tamarinds of the large seeds and strains/threads. Strain in a colander, pressing with your hands or a spoon to get as much pulp as possible.

Place the resulting tamarind juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, add the sugar, and let it simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes. The juice should have thickened considerably, to a thick syrup consistency.

Squeeze in the fresh lime juice, let it simmer for a couple more minutes and let it cool. Refrigerate and store in a tight lid container. The concentrate will keep for months.


Immigrants from Lebanon, Syria and Israel have left a tasty influence on Mexican cuisine over the years; this show will look at how they came to such a far-flung (but fascinating) country and what kind of legacy they’ve contributed–other than Frida Kahlo and Salma Hayek, of course.


dumplings

CINNAMON AND CORN MASA DUMPLINGS
Chochoyotes de Canela
Makes about 15 chochoyotes

INGREDIENTS
1 cup corn masa flour, such as Maseca
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp lard or vegetable shortening
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp sugar

TO PREPARE
Mix the corn masa flour with water and knead until the dough is smooth and has no lumps, about a minute. Add the lard, cinnamon, sugar and salt and mix until it is well incorporated.

Make little balls of about 1 inch with your hands. Using your little finger, make a dip in the middle of the dumpling. One by one add them to the simmering sauce, mole or soup that they will be cooked in. It will take about 10 to 15 minutes for the chochoyotes to be fully cooked.


PIGGIES: CINNAMON AND PILONCILLO COOKIES
Chochinitos: Galletas de Piloncillo y Canela
Makes 30 medium sized cookies (with a 4-inch cookie cutter)

INGREDIENTS
12 oz piloncillo, chopped or grated, or substitute for 1 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup water
1 true or ceylon cinnamon stick, about 3″ long
2 sticks or 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp honey
4 1/4 cups all purpose flour, you may need a bit more
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
Butter to grease a cookie/baking sheet
2 to 3 tbsp all purpose flour, you may need a bit more or less, to roll out the dough
1 egg, lightly beaten to be used as a glaze
Confectioner’s sugar to sprinkle on top, optional

TO PREPARE
In a saucepan, combine grated piloncillo or dark brown sugar with water and cinnamon. Place over medium heat, once it simmers, lower the heat to keep it at a medium-low simmer for about 15 minutes, until it thickens to a light syrup consistency. Turn off the heat and remove the cinnamon stick. You should have now about 1 1/4 cups piloncillo liquid, need not be exact! Add butter and honey into the hot liquid and stir until it dissolves.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a hole in the center and pour in the piloncillo mixture. Mix it all together with a spatula until it is well incorporated. Combine the eggs into the dough, which will be sticky and gooey. Seriously: it will be GOOEY and that is OK.

Place plastic wrap in the bottom of a mixing bowl to have wings on the sides. With a spatula, push the dough onto the plastic wrap, wrap the dough, and refrigerate anywhere from 2 hours to a couple days.

When you are ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a couple cookie or baking sheets with butter.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and sprinkle a couple tablespoons of flour on a countertop. Rub a bit of flour on the rolling pin as well. Roll out the dough which will now be firmer, until you have about 1/4 -inch thickness. Using piggie cookie cutters (or other shapes, but then you may need to change the name!) press down on the dough, moving it a bit on the counter top, to make it easier to lift the shaped dough.

Place the piggies on the baking sheet as you shape them along. Gently brush the cookie tops with the remaining egg. Roll the leftover dough into a ball, wrap it with the plastic wrap, and place it in the freezer for at least 10 minutes before using it again, or it will be too soft and sticky. Repeat to make the remaining cookies.

Bake the cookies anywhere from 7 to 9 minutes. Remove them from the oven and place on a cooking rack. You may sprinkle confectioners’ sugar on top. Keep them covered so they remain soft.

My boys love to eat them with a tall glass of milk, I like them with a hot cup of coffee.


HORCHATA WITH CINNAMON AND VANILLA
Horchata: Agua de Arroz y Canela
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
2 cups long or extra long white rice
3 cups hot water
1 cinnamon stick, (ceylon or true cinnamon, if you can)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 cups milk
1 1/4 cup sugar
Ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top, optional

TO PREPARE
Place the rice in a bowl and cover with hot water. Roughly crumble a piece of True cinnamon into the rice mix (Cassia will not let you break it…) and let is all sit and rest anywhere from 2 to 8 hours outside of the refrigerator.

Place half of the rice mixture in the blender with half of the milk and vanilla and blend until smooth, then strain into a pitcher or container (if using Cassia cinnamon, remove it). Place the other half of the rice mixture in the blender with the remaining milk and the sugar, pure until smooth and strain into the same pitcher or container.

Stir well and serve over ice cubes, or place in the refrigerator until it is cold. Serve with more ice cubes to your liking, and sprinkle some ground cinnamon on top if you wish.


AMARALLITO MOLE WITH CHICKEN
Mole Amarillito con Pollo
Serves 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS
2 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 lb or about 8 to 10 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 Roma tomato
4 garlic cloves
2 whole cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
3 tbsp vegetable oil
8 chicken pieces, with skin and bones
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
5 cups chicken broth
3 medium fresh hoja santaor 5 dried, optional
Cinnamon Masa Dumplings, optional (recipe in same episode!)

TO PREPARE
On an already hot comal or dry skillet set over medium heat, toast the chiles for about 10 to 15 seconds per side. They will become more pliable and release their aroma. Remove the chiles from the pan and place them in a cooking pot along with the tomatillos, tomato and garlic cloves. Cover with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, until they are soft and cooked. Transfer to a blender along with 2 whole cloves, ground cinnamon, oregano, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Gently add the chicken pieces skin side down first, and brown on each side for 3 to 4 minutes. Incorporate the onion and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until soft and translucent. Pour the reserved pureed sauce on top, add the hojas santas if using, and cook until it has seasoned and thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer and keep at a steady simmer on medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the masa dumplings one by one to the pan. Cook for another 12 to 15 minutes, or until the dumplings are cooked and the mole thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.


Mexico is now the largest importer of cinnamon in the world–but how do they use it that’s so special? Just how different is the Ceylon or True cinnamon used in Mexico from the Cassia cinnamon of Southeast Asia?

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