Pati's Mexican Table
By adding a few key Mexican ingredients to what you’d normally find in an all-American pantry and fridge, you get these to-die-for, lip-smacking dishes.
Pati takes you to Xochimilco, the legendary floating gardens of Mexico, and sprinkles a few flowers into some impressive but easy Mexican recipes.
COFFEE FLAN WITH TEQUILA WHIPPED CREAM
Flan de café con crema batida al tequila
Makes about 10 individual flans
For the Flan:
1 cup sugar
1 14oz can La Lechera sweetened condensed milk
1 12oz can evaporated milk
1 cup whole milk
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Mexican instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
For the Whipped Cream:
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons white or silver tequila
To Prepare the Flan:
In a heavy medium saucepan, cook the sugar over medium heat, stirring frequently, until melted and golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Quickly pour the caramelized sugar syrup into individual molds. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place all three milks, the eggs, vanilla and coffee in a blender. Mix until completely blended and smooth. Pour into the caramel-lined molds or ramekins. Set the molds into a larger baking dish or pan. Carefully pour boiling water (it is very important that the water already be very hot) into the larger holding pan up to at least half the height of the molds. Place on the middle rack of the oven.
Bake, uncovered, about 40 minutes, or until the center comes out moist but clean. Remove the individual molds from the water bath and let them cool completely. Refrigerate the molds, covered with plastic.
To serve, run a thin knife around the edge of the pan between the custard and the pan. Invert the flans onto plates to unmold them. Carefully lift up the molds to allow the syrup to run over the flan.
To Prepare the Whipped Cream:
Whip the cold cream in the bowl of an electric mixer. When it starts to hold peaks, add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and tequila. Continue to whip until it forms stiff peaks. Serve flan with a generous dollop of whipped cream; serve cold.
TEQUILA, MEXICAN CREAM AND CHIPOTLE SHRIMP
Camarones al tequila
Serves 3 to 4
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup Tequila Reposado
1/4 cup Mexican cream, Latin style cream, crème fraiche or heavy cream
1 tablespoon chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, or to taste
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, optional, seeded and minced
10 chives, sliced
Peel and devein the shrimp. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
In a large and heavy sauté pan set over medium-high heat, let the butter melt. Once it starts to sizzle, add the garlic; stir and cook for 10 to 15 seconds, until it becomes fragrant.
Incorporate the shrimp, making sure that the pan is not overcrowded, and let them brown on one side and then the other, for about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Don’t let them overcook; they should be browned on the outside but barely cooked through.
Add the tequila, and slightly tilt the pan over the flame to ignite it. Let it cook until the flames disappear. Stir in the cream and the chipotle sauce (and the seeded minced chile if using).
Serve immediately, with the chives sprinkled on top.
FRESH JíCAMA AND ORANGE PICO DE GALLO
Pico de jícama y naranja
Makes 8 servings
1 large or 2 small jícamas, 1 1/2 pounds, peeled and cut into sticks
3 oranges, peeled and separated into segments or sliced
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
3 tablspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or more taste
1 tablespoon dried ground chile Piquín or Tajín, or to taste
1/2 cup shelled roasted (not salted) peanuts, chopped and toasted
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to create a vinaigrette.
Place the jícamas and oranges in a salad bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette. Let it all marinate for about 10 minutes, either inside or outside of the refrigerator. Sprinkle with the peanuts and serve.
ANCHO CHILE AND ORANGE JUICE TEQUILA CHASER
Makes 10-12 small servings
1 ounce or 2 ancho chiles
3 cups fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
Heat a comal or dry skillet over low-medium heat until hot.
Remove the stems, seeds and veins from the ancho chiles. Toast over the hot comal or dry skillet, over medium heat, for about 15 seconds per side, until chiles have softened and then begin to toast, have changed their color and released their aroma. Be careful not to burn them.
Place the chiles in a saucepan and cover them with water. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, until they rehydrate and look plump; let cool.
Place chiles and 1/2 cup of their cooking liquid in a blender along with the orange juice, lime juice, white onion and salt. Purée until smooth.
Serve as a drink alongside tequila in caballitos or straight, poured over ice cubes. Sangrita can be refrigerated for up to a week.
This episode puts a twist on tequila by using it in a number of tasty, savory and sweet recipes sure to impress special guests. Mixologist extraordinaire Derek Brown shows Pati how to make one of his signature cocktails, and she uses tequila to ignite a main dish.
MEXICAN FRENCH TOAST ROLLS
6 slices white bread
Cajeta, La Lechera dulce de leche, nutella or any preserves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Trim the crust from the bread. Flatten the slices slightly with a rolling pin. In the center of each bread slice, add about 1 teaspoon of the filling of your choice.
Roll the bread and the mixture like a cigar or a rolled taco; set aside until you finish all of the slices.
In a bowl mix the egg and the cup of milk, whisk until well combined. In another extended bowl, mix the sugar with the cinnamon.
Set a skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of butter.
Soak the bread rolls in the milk mixture until fully coated. Add them to the hot pan, which should have the butter already melted, cook the rolls until they’re golden brown and look fully cooked. Roll the fingers in the sugar and cinnamon mixture; they are ready to eat!
GREEN CHILAQUILES IN A ROASTED TOMATILLO SAUCE
18-5″ corn tortillas
2 pounds green tomatillos, husked and rinsed
Half of a large white onion
1 or 2 serrano or jalapeño chiles
1 garlic clove
2 or 3 cilantro sprigs
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing tortillas
1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup queso fresco or cotija, or substitute with Farmer’s cheese or mild feta, crumbled
1/4 cup Mexican cream
To Prepare the Tortillas:
Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Cut the tortillas into 2-inch, bite-sized pieces, lightly brush with oil, sprinkle salt. Set them on a baking tray and bake in the oven until crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let the pieces cool. Alternately, you can fry the tortilla pieces.
To Prepare the Tomatillo Sauce:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the tomatillos, onions, garlic and serrano chiles in a bowl. Add about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and rub all the ingredients until everything has a light coat of oil. Lay the ingredients in a baking tray. Sprinkle with salt.
Bake until tomatillos are soft and plump and all the ingredients look charred.
Let the ingredients cool. Add the charred vegetables, the cilantro and the broth to a blender and mix well.
Heat a pan over medium heat, adding one additional tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the sauce from the blender and finish cooking over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Season to taste.
When the sauce is hot, quickly but carefully add the tortillas. Stir the tortillas into the mixture so that they are fully coated with the sauce.
Serve the tortillas and salsa in a large platter, garnished with the sliced onions, crumbled Mexican queso fresco, drizzle with the cream, garnish with chopped onion and cilantro. Eat immediately.