It’s ironic. The farthest away from Mexico I’ve been, the closest I’ve felt to my home country and the more I’ve gotten to know it.
Namely, there are 2,419 miles between my home in the DC area and the home I was born and raised in, in Mexico City (I’ve seen it in Google maps a thousand times with my boys), it’s a 44-hour drive if you go non-stop and a 5-hour flight with no connections.
Distance matters. It weighs, in tons of pounds of nostalgia that can be soothed in the kitchen. Distance has made my time in Mexico intense and adventurous, and the foods I am able to replicate in my American kitchen that much more precious.
Continue reading Yucatán Style French Toast: Ultra Decadent
1 cup milk
2 Mexican chocolate bars (each about 3 ounces), cut into large chunks
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of kosher or coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1 large egg
Special equipment, optional – Ebleskiver filled pancake pan
Fillings, La Lechera dulce de leche or cajeta, chocolate and hazelnut spread, jams or preserves
Confectioners' sugar (optional, for dusting)
In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium-low heat. Add chocolate chunks and stir occasionally until it has dissolved, a few minutes. Remove from heat and using a molinillo or whisk, emulsify or foam as much as you can. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour with the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the melted butter to the dry ingredients as well as the beaten egg and start to mix with a spatula. Slowly, pour the Mexican chocolate milk, mixing fast so the egg will not cook (!) if the milk is still hot. Continue to combine until you get an even and homogeneous batter, just a minute or so. You should have a shiny and a bit runny batter. Taste it: it’s so good! Let it sit for a few minutes, it will fluff up a bit, which is what you want.
Meanwhile, heat your special pan or skillet over low to medium-low heat until very hot, about 4 or 5 minutes. Butter the pan and spoon batter into each hole, about 3/4 of the way up each cup. Once you can move the balloons around (like when pancakes are ready to flip), but the batter in the center can still be runny, you can add a half a teaspoon of a filling of your choice. Cover with a bit more batter to fill the cups just a tad beyond the rim. Using two spoons or two wooden skewers, flip the donuts to the other side. Give them a minute or two and remove from the pan. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired, (I always do!) and eat while hot.
If making normal pancakes, cook as regular pancakes. Heat the skillet over medium-low heat until very hot. Grease with unsalted butter and ladle batter into the pan. Flip once the top shows bubbles and the bottom is cooked enough to be released from the pan. Cook on the other side for a minute or two and serve. Add the fillings as toppings instead of as a filling.
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REFRIED BEAN AND CHEESE CHIMICHANGAS
Chimichangas de Frijoles con Queso
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
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.
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
1 cup queso fresco, crumbled, my substitute for farmers or a mild feta
Corn tortillas or toast, optional
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.