MEXICAN STYLE PASTA WITH TOMATO SAUCE, CHORIZO & FRESH CREAM
Pasta Seca con Jitomate, Chorizo y Crema
1 1/2 lbs ripe Roma tomatoes(about 6 to 8 tomatoes)
1 medium clove garlic
1/2 cup tomato cooking liquid
1/2 cup medium white onion, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 oz fresh, uncooked Mexican chorizo, casings removed and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp safflower or corn oil
8 oz dried spaghetti, angel hair or fettuccine, broken into smaller pieces
2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 to 2 tbsp sauce from canned chipotles in adobo, plus 1 whole canned chipotle chile for more heat (optional)
6 oz queso fresco, fresh cheese, farmer’s cheese, or a milde feta, crumbled
Mexican or Latin cream, as much as needed (!) or substitute for creme fraiche or sour cream
1 ripe Hass avocado, halved, peeled, cut into slices
Place tomatoes and garlic in a medium saucepan. Add water to cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes are thoroughly cooked, they look mushy and the skins have started to come off.
Transfer the tomatoes, 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and garlic to a blender along with the onion, salt and pepper. Let cool slightly and puree until smooth.
Cook the chorizo in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes, until it has browned and crisped; use a wooden spoon or spatula to break it into smaller pieces as it cooks. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked chorizo to a bowl.
Add oil to the same skillet used to cook the chorizo, over medium-high heat. Add the spaghetti or fettuccine pieces and cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until the pasta changes color and starts to brown. Do not let it burn!!
Pour the tomato puree on the pasta. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce thickens and the color darkens to a deeper red. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and adobo sauce, plus a whole chipotle chile in adobo, if desired.
Mix well, cook uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring often to keep the pasta from sticking, until the pasta is cooked through and the tomato sauce has thickened considerably. Discard the bay leaves.
Add the chorizo and stir to incorporate. Divide among individual plates; serve hot, topped with crumbled cheese, fresh cream and avocado slices.
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.
Oaxaca cheese is a mild tasting, gently salty, stringy white cheese with a deliciously chewy, full and filling bite. It is made in the same way as Mozzarella cheese. In fact, they taste very similar! Once the curds are formed, they are heated in water, stirred, and heated in water again. Throughout the process, as they are heated and stirred, they are made into very long threads that are pulled once and then again, until the desired consistency is achieved. Then the long threads are wrapped into balls.
In Mexico, and recently in some places abroad as well, you can find freshly made Oaxaca cheese, as it is usually found in small town and open air markets. You can also find commercially processed Oaxaca cheese in grocery stores, but the flavor and consistency changes considerably from the fresh ones.
Continue reading Oaxaca Cheese
Queso Fresco, which translates to Fresh Cheese, can be found throughout Mexico with slightly different variations. It is also called Queso de Pueblo, Queso de Rancho and sometimes just Queso Blanco. In some small towns it may be found sold wrapped in banana leaves and if you are lucky, in the small baskets where they are sometimes made.
It generally comes in rounds. Though it appears to be firm and can hold its shape nicely when cut into sticks or squares, it is very soft and crumbles easily. It is used in many ways, such as a side to guacamole and salsas, crumbled on top of hundreds of antojos like tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, refried beans and even soups. I also love it diced or crumbled in salads. Possibilities are endless.
Continue reading Queso Fresco
I am so surprised tostadas haven’t become wildly popular in the US. Here are some reasons for my surprise…
They can be assembled in a couple minutes, as ingredients can be prepared beforehand or store-bought. They can be eaten anytime of day, depending on what you layer on them. They are a wholesome one stop meal, for proteins, vegetables and carbohydrates happily mingle in there. They are accommodating, you can decide how much to add of each topping. They are forgiving, choices can vary from one tostada to the next. Moreover, they are fun to prepare, eat and share.
In a sense, they are the perfect dish for casual entertaining. So much of Mexican food just lends itself to being in a Fiesta mood.
Continue reading Tostada Buzz: To infinity, and beyond!