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January, 2014


Caramelized Pecans

Caramelized Pecans
Nueces Garapiñadas

Serves: makes about 2 1/2 cups

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Nueces Garapiñadas" />

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups pecans (you may use other nuts or peanuts as well)

To Prepare

In a medium saucepan, set over medium heat, add the sugar, water, vanilla and pecans. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula, occasionally, as it heats. It will come to a simmer, continue to cook for about 6 to 8 minutes. The pecans will be entirely covered by the transparent liquid and there will be a strong simmer.

Suddenly, the mixture will appear as if completely covered in sand: grainy and you will think you have messed it up! You have not. Continue to cook, and that clumped up sugar will begin to melt and caramelize around the already hardened and covered pecans. Stir continuously and don’t let the pecans burn. Adjust the heat if need be. You should continue until you see no more white sugar, and it is all melted and caramel covered, about 10 minutes more.

Pour the mixture onto parchment paper. Separate the pecans as you do, using a wooden spoon, or help yourself with another wooden spoon, using them as extensions of your hands. The caramel dries fast, and you will want to have the individual hardened pecans, not many clumped up. Tough, nothing happens if a few clump up...

Once they have completely cooled and dried, you can store them at room temperature in a tight container.

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Extreme Brownies with Caramelized Pecans

Extreme Brownies with Caramelized Pecans
Browines Extremos con Nueces Garapiñadas

Serves: 10 to 12

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Browines Extremos con Nueces Garapiñadas" />

Ingredients

1/2 pound unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into pieces

5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces

1 tablespoon instant coffee (may be decaf if desired)

2 tablespoons coffee liquor or coffee tequila, may be substituted with water

4 large eggs

3 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt

2 1/2 cups halved caramelized pecans store-bought or homemade

Confectioners’ sugar (optional)

To Prepare

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish, dust with flour and shake excess flour off.

In a double boiler or water bath, melt the butter with the chocolate, stirring occasionally until completely mixed.

In a small cup, combine the instant coffee with the coffee liquor or water, stir until almost dissolved and pour into the chocolate mixture, it will finish dissolving in the melted chocolate. Mix with a spatula and remove from the heat. Let cool.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a fork or whisk until they have gained some volume and seem foamy. Add the sour cream, vanilla and sugar. Mix with a spatula until thoroughly combined.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Stir.

Slowly pour the chocolate mix into egg mixture, mixing with a spatula as you do, until completely combined. Pour that mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. Finally, toss in the caramelized pecans and gently fold. Pour into the prepared baking dish and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top has lightly crisped, and the brownies are still moist but not wet (test with a toothpick).

Remove from the oven, let cool and slice into squares. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

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Chipotle Agave Chicken Wings

Chipotle Agave Chicken Wings
Alitas de Pollo con Chipotle y Agave

Serves: 6

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Alitas de Pollo con Chipotle y Agave" />

Ingredients

To make the marinade for the wings:

2 cups buttermilk

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

2 chipotle chiles from chipotles chiles in adobo sauce, seeded and minced

1 tablespoon sauce from chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

1/4 cup orange juice

Zest of an orange

1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 pounds chicken wings


To make the chicken wing sauce:

4 tablespoons agave syrup or maple syrup

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

2 tablespoons sauce from chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

1 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste


To make the dipping sauce:

1 cup Mexican crema, crème fraiche or sour cream

1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or a mild feta cheese

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves and upper parts of stems

2 tablespoons chopped chives

Kosher or coarse sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Carrot and celery sticks to eat along with the wings and dip in the dipping sauce

To Prepare

In a large bowl or baking dish, add all the ingredients for the wing marinade: buttermilk, garlic, chipotle chiles, sauce from chipotles in adobo, orange juice, orange zest, salt and pepper, mix to combine. Add the chicken wings and mix well to make sure all of the wings are coated. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a cooling rack onto a lined (with aluminum foil or parchment paper) rimmed baking sheet and brush the cooling rack with vegetable oil. Remove the wings from the marinade and place them directly onto the cooling rack. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, flipping once after 25 minutes, until crisp and browned on all sides.

While the wings are baking, place a small saucepan over medium heat and add all of the ingredients for the chicken wing sauce: agave syrup, garlic, Tabasco sauce, sauce from chipotles in adobo, vinegar, olive oil and salt, bring to a simmer. Whisk to emulsify and combine. Turn off the heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the crema, queso fresco, lime juice, cilantro, chives and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and set aside.

Once the wings are ready, place them in a large bowl. Whisk the agave wing sauce once more with a fork or whisk, then pour it over the wings and toss well so that all the wings are coated. Serve with the crema dipping sauce on the side.

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Mac N' Cheese Mexicano

Mac 'N Cheese Mexicano
Mac 'N Cheese a la Mexicana

Serves: 8 to 10

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Mac 'N Cheese a la Mexicana" />

Ingredients

1 pound penne or elbow-shaped pasta

3 large poblano chiles (about 3/4 pound) rinsed, stemmed, seeded and cut into large chunks

3 cups milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the dish

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 cups grated Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese, plus 1 cup for topping

1 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesano-Reggiano cheese, plus 1/2 cup for topping

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped white onion

1 cup corn kernels, shaved from the cob or thawed from frozen

1/2 pound chopped zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)

5 to 6 slices of bacon, fried and cut into chunks (optional)

1/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste

To Prepare

Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot and cook pasta until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter a large baking dish.

In the jar of a blender, puree the poblano chiles and milk until completely smooth. Strain into a bowl, pressing with the back of a wooden spoon to make sure you get mostly liquid.

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Once it has melted and begins to bubble, add the flour. Cook, stirring continuously to make a roux or paste until you get the desired color (I go for light brown and a toasty aroma), about 2 minutes. Pour the poblano chile mixture into the roux or paste, stirring as you do. Add salt and freshly ground pepper and cook until the sauce thickens, about 10 to 12 minutes, occasionally stirring. If it gets lumpy, you can smooth the sauce by beating with a whisk. Add 3 cups of Monterey Jack cheese and 1 cup of Pecorino Romano, mix well, remove from heat and stir until well combined.

In a large skillet set over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until completely soft and translucent, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the corn kernels and cook for a couple minutes. Add the zucchini, sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, mix well and set aside. We don’t want to cook the zucchini here, as it will cook in the oven.

In the large pot, where the pasta was cooked, add the drained pasta, poblano chile sauce and sautéed vegetables, gently toss to mix. If using fried bacon, add it in here! Pour into a buttered baking dish, top with the remaining grated cheeses and place in the oven until the top layer of cheese has melted and begun to crisp along the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

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January 10, 2014

You know how much I love being a guest on ABC’s The Chew, and this time they invited me to stay for the whole show as a guest host! In case you missed it, here are the segments…

Of course, I made something, too! Here I make one of my favorite healthy dishes, a Mexican inspired Frittata, with help from Daphne Oz and Carla Hall.

And then we finish up the Frittata and serve it with a crunchy Radish and Arugula Salad.

Mario Batali and Clinton Kelly shared some healthy recipes; watch them make their low-cal party appetizers in the next two clips…

And we get to try their appetizers…

Michael Symon shows us how to have a winter garden inside…

Finally, on The Chew’s online “Last Bites” segment, we talk about the Chew Crew’s hosts favorite destinations in Mexico…

For the Mexican Frittata recipe, click here.
For the Arugula Salad recipe, click here.


January 9, 2014
Chicken Tamales with Salsa Verde

Tamales are it. If you’ve eaten one, you know it.

Simple. When ready and steaming hot, unwrap the edible bundle and eat swiftly, no fork, no knife, bite by bite.  So good.

Yet as simple as it may sound to write a post about tamales, I could dedicate an entire series of cookbooks to their endless possibilities, and in the end, not have covered them all.

Ancestral, iconic, yet humble, is each single tamal. And the tamal universe, immense, imagine: tamal refers to anything wrapped and cooked in a husk or leave. Usually made with masa, typically corn masa, either mixed with or swaddling ingredients, or both! As you move through Mexico, and increasingly outside, you find them in different shapes (round, square, flat, puffed up, even triangular like Michoacán corundas); with different wraps (corn husks, either fresh or dried, banana leaves and even fresh edible leafy greens like chaya in Chiapas); with an infinity of ingredients, from savory, like chicken, meat, seafood, vegetables, beans, all sort of grains, salsas and cheese…to sweet ingredients, like fresh and dried fruits, nuts, chocolate, cajeta

The consistency and texture vary greatly, too, from thin and dense like tamales found in Oaxaca; to sticky and gelatinous from Yucatán; to spongy and cakey like the ones from northern and central Mexico, where I grew up.

Continue reading My Favorite Tamal of All Time: Chicken in Green Salsa


Grilled Pineapple Margarita

Grilled Pineapple MargaritaMargarita de Piña Asada

Serves: 6 to 8

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Ingredients

Vegetable oil, for greasing the grill

1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch rings, crosswise

1 jalapeño, chopped, or more to taste

1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves and upper stems

3 cups pineapple juice

1 cup white or silver tequila

3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 cup agave syrup or simple syrup

2 tablespoons kosher or coarse sea salt

2 tablespoons ground piquín chile or Mexican dried ground chile

1/2 cup turbinado or dark brown sugar

To Prepare

Preheat a grill to medium-high heat. Brush the grill with oil and place the pineapple rings flat on the grill, and cook, flipping once, until charred on both sides, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool while you mix the cocktail.

In a large pitcher, add the jalapeño, cilantro and 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar. Using a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon, begin to muddle or crush the ingredients together. Chop all but 2 pieces of the pineapple (will be used for garnish) into 1-inch pieces and muddle those with the jalapeño mixture. Add the tequila, pineapple juice, lime juice and syrup and stir well to combine. Let sit for at least 10 minutes or place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

In a small saucer, combine the remaining sugar, salt and chile powder. Dip the rims of the margarita glasses into another saucer with water to wet the rims, alternately rub rims with half a lime, then dip into the sugar, salt and chile mixture. Fill each glass with the chunky margarita (making sure you are adding the chunks of muddled fruits and vegetables) and garnish with a wedge of pineapple.

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Everyone knows that Mexican food is great for a party. In this episode, Pati invites some of her son’s friends (and their parents) over to her house and makes some of her popular fiesta dishes — perfect for any party! In Mexico, she travels to the town of Quiroga, known as the Carnitas Capital of the World, where she’ll show us one of her absolute favorite treats: The REAL Mexican Gazpacho!


Morelia-Style Gazpacho Salad

Morelia-Style Gazpacho SaladGazpacho Moreliano

Serves: 6

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Ingredients

2 cups peeled and diced ripe mango

2 cups peeled and diced pineapple

2 cups peeled and diced jícama

3 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

6 tablespoons finely chopped white onion

3/4 cup finely crumbled queso Cotija, or substitute queso fresco, mild feta, dried ricotta or Romano cheese

Kosher or coarse sea salt, to taste

Dried ground piquín chile or Mexican dried ground chile, to taste

To Prepare

To make individual gazpachos: In a cup, add a layer of mango, pineapple, jícama, a tablespoon of onion, a tablespoon of queso; then another layer of mango, pineapple, jícama, and another tablespoon of queso. Pour in 1/2 cup orange juice, a tablespoon of lime juice, and sprinkle salt and ground chile to taste. Repeat to make 6 individual cups.

To make for all: Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl to your taste!

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Salsa Verde Cruda with Avocado

Salsa Verde Cruda with AvocadoSalsa Verde Cruda con Aguacate

Serves: makes about 2 cups salsa

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Ingredients

1 pound tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and halved

1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, meat scooped out

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped white onion

1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and top part of stems

1 jalapeño or serrano chile

3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste

To Prepare

Combine the tomatillos, avocado, onion, cilantro, chile (you can add half of the chile first, and add more if you want more heat…) and salt in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth.

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