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Pati's Mexican Table


Nana Jose's Flourless Chocolate Cake

Nana Jose’s Flourless Chocolate Pecan Cake
Pastel de Chocolate y Nuez de la Nana Jose

Serves: 10

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Pastel de Chocolate y Nuez de la Nana Jose" />

Ingredients

1/4 cup unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon for buttering the pan

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1 cup pecans

6 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

Pinch of kosher or coarse sea salt

Confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Lightly sweetened whipped cream (optional)

Berries (optional)

To Prepare

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper.

Bring about 2-inches of water to a simmer in the bottom half of a double boiler or in a medium saucepan. Place the top half of the double boiler, or a metal bowl or heatproof pan if not using a double boiler, over the simmering water and melt together the chocolate and the 1/4 cup butter. Set aside to cool.

Using a blender, chop the pecans finely. Add the eggs, vanilla, sugar, salt and melted chocolate mixture, blending until smooth. Pour the batter into the buttered springform pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out moist but not wet, about 40 minutes.

Once it has cooled a little, run the tip of a knife around the pan and release the cake from the pan. Invert onto a plate, and then again, or serve directly onto plates if left on bottom part of springform pan. If desired, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and serve with whipped cream and berries.

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When you’re a busy mom to three boys and you have a job, you have to make an effort to set aside time for just you and the hubby. So today, Pati is preparing a special meal for a date night with her husband, Dany. And since he LOVES seafood, she’s going to make seafood dishes for their romantic night in. A trip down to the state of Michoacán where Pati meets the Butterfly Net Fishermen helps the inspiration.


Rodrigo-Style Fish

Rodrigo-Style Fish
Pescado Rodrigo

Serves: 6

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Pescado Rodrigo" />

Ingredients

For the sauce:

1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (white and light green parts only)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves and upper stems

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped jalapeño or serrano chile, or to taste

1 tablespoon Maggi sauce or soy sauce

Kosher or coarse sea salt, to taste


For the fish:

6 tilapia fillets (about 6 ounces each) or other mild white fish fillets (sea bass, grouper, red snapper or rockfish), rinse and pat dry

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

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

All-purpose flour, to coat fish fillets

Vegetable oil

12 corn tortillas, store-bought or homemade

To Prepare

To make the sauce: In a small bowl, combine the scallions, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, chile and Maggi sauce, and stir to mix well. Set aside for at least 15 minutes. Season with salt to taste, if need be.

Sprinkle the fish fillets with the salt and pepper. Spread flour on a large plate and coat each fillet thoroughly on both sides.

Heat 1/4-inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the fish, in batches to avoid crowding, and sear for about 3 minutes, until crisped and browned on the bottom. Don’t fiddle with the fillets, let them brown so they don’t stick to the bottom and can be released. Turn and brown for about 3 minutes on the second side. The fish is ready when the thickest part is cooked through and it flakes easily with a fork. Put the fish on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Keep warm in a low (250°F) oven, if you won’t eat it in the next 10 minutes.

Transfer the fish to a platter and pour the sauce on top. Or, you can do as I do, flake the fish and serve drizzled with the sauce, ready to make tacos. Serve with corn tortillas.

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Shrimp Cocktail Pacifico

Shrimp Cocktail Pacífico
Cocktail de Camarones del Pacífico

Serves: 6

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Cocktail de Camarones del Pacífico" />

Ingredients

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled

1 cup ketchup

3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Maggi sauce or soy sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped white onion

1 jalapeño or serrano chile, finely chopped, or to taste

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pimiento-stuffed olives

1/2 cup seeded and chopped ripe tomato

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican, or 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh

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

1 ripe Hass avocado, halved, pitted, meat scooped out and cubed

Tortilla chips, store-bought or homemade, or saltines

To Prepare

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute. Immediately drain the shrimp and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the ketchup, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, Maggi sauce and olive oil. Add the shrimp and toss to combine. Add the onion, chile, olives, tomato, parsley, cilantro, oregano and salt, and mix gently until well blended. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.

When ready to serve, stir the avocado into the shrimp cocktail. Serve with tortilla chips or saltines.

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Pati takes some of the classic American meals and gives them an exotic yet homey Mexican twist. Plus, take a look as Pati helps make and then devours one of Mexico’s famed hot dogs, Richard’s in Morelia.


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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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 white or silver tequila

1 cup pineapple juice

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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