Friday, December 21, 2012

Enchiladas Suizas (Enchiladas in a Tomatillo Cream Sauce)

"Enchiladas Suizas" is something very new to me. I had seen this style of enchilada presented in cooking videos I subscribe to (cooking videos from people I consider talented and smart Mexican home cooks). The word "Suizas" would throw me off because it means "Swiss" so I decided to do what anyone in this modern age does I "googled it" turns out this style of Enchilada is from  a restaurant called Sanbornes Cafe located in Mexico City.

 It is essentially green enchiladas, except that the green tomatillo sauce used has sour cream incorporated into it. How the name Swiss came to be I have no idea (maybe some versions use Swiss cheese or because it has dairy?). Anyways since I am a huge fan of sour cream and the likes regardless of calories it all worked out (hey I work out enough okay end of story). After seeing other recipes this is my version and adaptation of preparing these enchiladas, I will add some notes on the bottom that may help you customize or tweak the recipe a bit to your liking plus some tips I found helpful...

Oh also I wanted to add that my family LOVED the Enchiladas! So did I, and they were a HIT! At first my mother frowned a bit at the idea of  enchiladas that go in the oven (she's had them in the past but considers them an "American" thing not Mexican, because growing up where my mom was born and raised in Zacapú, Michoacan, Enchiladas are dipped in the sauce green or red or mole or whatever, then lightly fried after dipped in sauce, filled, rolled up, and served fresh hot with queso fresco, lettuce and other delicious toppings... I have that version of enchiladas posted on my blog if interested see recipe for "Enchiladas Estilo Michoacan" ).... however my mom didn't deny that she loved these enchiladas, and it was also practical to just have a big tray of delicious warm enchiladas, and nice to have everyone sitting together as opposed to me or her having to cook the stove top variations at the moment people eat it.
...any who here is the recipe :)

Ingredients for sauce:
-2 lbs tomatillos
-2 serrano chilies (a type of green spicy chili)
-1/2 onion
-1 bunch of cilantro (washed well I use the stems as well)
-2 cloves of garlic
-1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
-salt to taste
-ground black pepper to taste
-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional I like the tough it gives it)
-approximately 1 cup of Mexican cream (you can use regular sour cream)
-approximately 4 cups water or chicken stock

Main ingredients:
-24 corn tortillas (NOT FLOUR TORTILLAS)
-1/4 cup more or less cooking oil (to lightly fry tortillas, makes them pliable and stronger so they won't turn mushy in the sauce)

Ingredients for the filling:
-shredded chicken (I used 2 leftover roasted chicken breasts, if you don't have that you can boil some chicken breasts with salt, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, and pepper with enough water to barely cover, and when tender, cool down, drain and shred the breasts)

-I also made some filling them with refried beans (a good idea for a delicious vegetarian option I have the recipe for refried beans on my blog or feel free to use any other you may like see recipe for "Refried Beans" if your vegetarian or afraid of using lard to prepare them use olive oil or another kind of oil)

 Ingredients for topping:
-shredded white cheese we used Monterrey Jack (I know it's an American type of cheese but it sure as hell is delicious) you can use "Queso Oaxaca" or "Manchego" cheese any really good white melting cheese that you like. The amount you use depends on how much cheese you like, I put enough to cover the enchiladas lightly on top, about 1/2 lb.

Directions for sauce:
(1) If tomatillos are large cut in half, throw them in a pot with chile serrano, and onion. cover with some water (approximately 4 cups) or chicken stock, bring to a boil and let cook on high until tomatillos change color (about 5 minutes)

(2) Now scoop out tomatillos, chilies, and onions and throw them in a blender RESERVE the cooking liquid in a seperate container or bowl you will use it to thin out the sauce and blend as needed, along with spices, raw garlic, and cilantro. Put enough liquid to blend until smooth, then add the sour cream and continue to blend until well incorporated.

(3) Now that your sauce is ready, heat the same pot where you made the sauce until it's really hot, add some oil and when oil is hot add the sauce you blended and let it simmer for 10 minutes so all the flavors mend, then remove from heat, mean while you can do other stuff... I forgot to take pictures of the sauce simmering unfortunately :(

(4) Set sauce aside

Directions for softening tortillas:
(1) Heat a small pan with oil on high heat, and lightly fry each tortilla on both sides just enough for it to puff slightly and make some movement but don't over do it, you just want to soften them, if you over fry them they will turn HARD you do not want that, make sure the oil is hot though and they bubble when you add them in.

... I know this seems REDUNDANT and greasy etc. BUT if you skip this step you will get mushy enchiladas that won't be able to hold their shape, and look not appealing, the frying makes them flexible and prevents them from falling apart and helps maintain texture. You can pat dry them with paper towels after the frying however so it's not so greasy.

... use tongs or a spatula or however you feel comfortable to fry and set aside.

Directions for assembling enchiladas:
(1) Have you fillings ready and on hand, also your softened lightly fried tortillas, and pre- heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

(2) Get the baking dishes you are using to bake the enchiladas, and put enough sauce on the bottom of the dishes to lightly coat the bottom of the dish.

(3) Put filling in tortilla, and roll like a taquito, here are some pictures to help you.

we made one tray of bean ones and another of chicken ones.

carefully arrange in baking dish, and pour remaining sauce over the enchiladas (I like to lade the sauce over the to coat evenly) top with shredded cheese.

(4) Bake in oven at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes, the only reason to bake them is to melt the cheese, so they don't need to be that long in the oven. They should look like the picture below after baked :)

Use a spatula to serve

We enjoyed them with sour cream, guacamole, a red salsa, and lettuce on the side. Enjoy!

(1) Enchiladas aren't typically "swimming in sauce, they have some sauce, not too much not too little, so if your looking for something swimming in sauce this is not it.

(2) Another way to prepare these is with the same ingredients, BUT you can make these at the moment people are gonna eat them, by simply stuff the lightly fried tortillas when they are hot right away, arranging them on the persons plates and ladling the sauce over, then topping with fresh crumbled cheese since you wouldn't throw it in the oven if you opted for this option.

(3) Don't be afraid to thin out the sauce, it will thicken when it goes in the oven, and tortilla will soak most of it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Salpicon de Pollo (Avocado Chicken Salad)

Salpicon in Mexican Cuisine is a salad made of shredded meat, finely diced vegetables & herbs (onion, tomato, avocado, green chilies, & cilantro) dressed in lime or vinegar, salt, and a generous drizzle of olive oil. It is served on "Tostadas" which are crispy round fried tortillas (think of it as a large round tortilla chip) topped with shredded lettuce, your favorite salsas, and Mexican cream if desired. 

Salpicon is typically made with shredded beef, but I have chosen to make it with chicken breast, because it's well lighter, healthier, and it's what I had on hand. Also there are a lot of variations (some have cubes of cheese, some olives, capers, strands of spicy pickled jalapenos and carrots and even some include green beans) as you can see it really depends on the preference of the cook.

My version is very simple chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapeno peppers, and LOTS of diced avocado dressed in white wine vinegar (lime can be used in a pinch), salt to taste, and fruity extra-virgin olive oil. Think of it as a chopped guacamole with shredded chicken (beef can be used too, or for non meat eaters, canned tuna or canned salmon would be delicious) really you can be creative use what you like (even chopped celery would probably be good in here) however I do not recommend using chopped cucumbers or lettuce mixed into the salad because they will turn soggy and release liquid when left to cool in the fridge or overnight.

Well here's the recipe :)

BEFORE YOU BEGIN you have to boil, and then cool and shredd chicken breast here's how:
(1) Wash chicken breast in running cold water, cover with water in a large pot, add 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder, a piece of onion, and 2 cloves garlic. Bring to a boil and boil 30 minutes until tender, remove, cool, and shred.

It is now ready to use for the salad. The same can be done with beef but boil 1 to 1 1/2 hours (use flank steak or beef sold for shredding)

-2 large cooked chicken breasts or 1 - 1 1/2 lb. flank/ beef (cooked, cooled, and shredded)

-6 roma tomatoes diced
-1 medium onion minced
-1 bunch of cilantro minced
-3 fresh jalapeno peppers finely minced (more or less to taste, you may omit if you can't stand the heat or de-vein/ remove the inside and only use the green flesh lol.)
-5-6 medium hass avocadoes diced
-1/4- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar or lime juice(depends how tangy/ sour you want it, use less if you like)
-1/4 cup olive oil (more or less to your preference)
-salt to taste (at least 1 teaspoon)
-black pepper to taste (optional)

(1) Mix all ingredients on the ingredient list together

(2) Your salad is now complete  (after mixing it in a bowl I transferred to a serving dish it can be eaten right away or put in the fridge a couple of hours to let the flavors meld)
 Ingredients to serve 
-Tostadas (you buy these pre-made or you deep-fry corn tortillas and drain)
-1/2 a head of washed ice berg lettuce finely shredded (julienned), kept in ice water to prevent wilting or drying
-Mexican cream (just thin out regular sour cream if you cannot get it with a little milk to a thick but smoother cream)
-your favorite hot sauces/ salsa (I used a chile de arbol sauce, and a raw spicy green avocado based salsa which I'll post in the future, you can see other salsa recipes on my blog on the left hand index under "Mexican Salsas"

I didn't take a picture of the salad assembled on the tostada, because I forgot but here's the table set up, I like to spread some of the cream on the tostada, then top it with shredded lettuce and salsa
 P.S. if you like this post you may enjoy another post i have for "Tostadas de Pollo" (chicken tostadas) it's basically a de-cnstructed version of this. ALSO a already cooked rotisseri chicken that is store bought may be used to skip having to boil the chicken meat.

ALSO... I know I haven't posted much but jsut been enjoying my summer, lounging, went on a little travel, spending it with my loved ones, and yes I do cook almost daily but just haven't had time to make a post, I want to thank all the readers that stick around :) ... there's more posts to come :D

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rabo de Toro a la Cordobesa (Cordoba style Oxtail)

  At my house when we cook oxtails it's a HUGE DEAL, my grandma, mom, dad, me, and little sister ALWAYS have to be present to cook this, we have to make sure everyone is at the house for dinner that day. Why? Well because it's our favorite cut of meat, it's rich, flavorful,moist, tender and produces a sauce that is out of this world.

     There are three ways we prepare oxtails in my family, one is in a type of Mexican soup we call "Caldo de Cola" which is simply the Mexican "Cocido de Res" (beef soup with a tons of vegetables) prepared with oxtails, the other is "Rabo Encendido Estilo Chino Cubano" it's one of my grandmother's creations I guess, it's braised in soy sauce & wine but with Cuban spices and sofrito....

    BUT and it's a BIG BUT lastly the way we ALMOST ALWAYS prepare it, for us the most delicious and favorite way is well the typical Cuban-Spanish "Rabo Encendido" in which the oxtails are browned and stewed in a Spanish/ creole tomato based sauce, that's almost always our go to recipe my grandmother taught me and my mother, but today I wanted something a little different (and honestly it's not so different that's why huge emphasis on "a little" I decided to prepare it "Cordoba" style, Cordoba is a city in Andalusia, Spain, it's practically the same as my grandmother's recipe, except the spice combination is a little different instead of using "cumin" it's replaced with sweet smoked spanish paprika & has the addition of cloves & saffron which is a nice little twist :)

-4 1/2 lbs. oxtails (washed and rinsed twice, drain and pat dry with paper towels)

-extra-virgin olive oil (as needed to cook/ sautee the aromatics/ vegetables)
-4 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
-2 onions finely chopped
-1 green bell pepper chopped
-1 red bell pepper chopped
-1 yellow bell pepper chopped
-8- 12 head of garlic minced
-4 large ripe tomatoes or 8 oz. of a thick prepared tomato sauce or 16 oz. of a regular one

-3 bay leaves
-1 tablespoon "Pimenton de la Vera" (sweet SMOKED Spanish paprika)
-8 cloves (I grind them to a powder to not risk anyone biting into one)
-1 tsp ground black pepper 

-SALT to taste (atleast 1 1/2 tsp.)

Optional Ingredients:
-1 teaspoon saffron or other coloring powder (turmeric would work here goes well with smoked paprika, in Spain they have a powder called "Colorante Alimentario" it's an edible coloring powder, Cubans use one called "Bijol" made of ground annato seeds, or packets of Goya's "Sazon" with saffron or achiote, your choice, if you leave it out it's not a big deal)
-6 potatoes (peeled cut into large chunks)

(1) Heat a large deep pot over very very high heat, when it's real hot, to test it splash some water if the water turns to little pearls and bounces around before evaporating it's ready. Add your oxtail you'll hear a thundering sound sort of and a grilled smoked smell, stir oxtails occasionally and allow to brown all over (DO NOT ADD OIL) the oxtails will render some fat, this will take anywhere from 5- 10 minutes maybe longer.

(2) This creates a wonderful "fond" for de-glazing on the bottom of the pan and will add a smokey, meaty flavor. Now lower your heat, remove oxtials and set aside, in the same pan add carrots, onions, bell eppers, and garlic cook down for 5- 8 minutes until translucent scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

(3) Add your tomato sauce, 3 bay leaves, and spices (smoked paprika, cloves, and pepper) stir about 3 minutes to reduce. Add your red wine, and allow to reduce by half (the wine unlocks some flavor in the tomato that's only soluble in alcohol)

(4) Now add your oxtails and stir/ coat everything well together. Add enough water to BARELY cover oxtails, bring to a rolling boil over high heat,

cover, and reduce heat to medium low to low. Allow to simmer covered 3-4 hours. After 3 hours check for tenderness if you want it more tender cook longer.

(5) Once tender to your liking, add saffron if your using and potatoes, allow to cook an additional 30- 40 minutes until potatoes are tender and flavors meld. (add more water as needed this stew is NOT a soup, so make sure the sauce is not too thin)

(6) Serve with steamed white rice, a salad, and any other sides you may like :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Frijoles con Chile Guajillo (Pinto Beans with dried Guajillo peppers)

Beans and other type of legumes are a staple in my house along with rice (a day doesn't go by that I haven't eaten some type of bean dish and rice and I am damn proud of it because they are so healthy and good for you! Yup yup ;)

All three of my culinary backgrounds use beans in some way (from my Mexican side the humble pot of simple pot of boiled pinto beans, my Spanish and Cuban side the rich varied bean stews made with meats, sausages, and vegetables, or the Cuban staple of rice and black beans so yeah can't really avoid them hehe.

Anyways in Mexican Cuisine one of the staples is boiled pinto beans (usually just boiled with a few pieces of garlic, onion then salt to taste) however my friend Simon who's family is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico prepares the beans by boiling them with dried Guajillo peppers and a whole head of garlic. The guajillo peppers gives them a nice smokey earthy taste, and the whole head of garlic well the delicious flavor of garlic most are familiar with :) Thank Simon and his sister Liz for teaching me yet another way of enjoying beans :D

-1 lbs. dried pinto beans, or peruano beans, or flor de mayo beans
-4 dried chile guajillos (stem removed and seeds shaken out) or you can substitute with dried "Chile Nuevo Mexico" or "Chile California"
-1 whole head garlic
-salt to taste (I use about 1 1/2 teaspoons or more to taste)

(1) Put all ingredients EXCEPT the salt in pot (do not put the salt until the beans are tender because they will never be as tender as they should), cover with enough water to submerge them 2-3 inches in water.

 (2) Bring beans to a boil using high heat, then when they come to a rolling boil, cover and turn heat down to medium low. When beans are tender and salt to taste allow to boil an additional 5-10 minutes. Then turn off heat & discard/ throw away the chilies and onion (their flavor has already infused into the beans)
(1) Don't get any bright ideas and puree the garlic after boiled and strain it into teh stock, the garlic boiled whole gives a nice mild taste, but if pureed and added back HELL NO! it'll be tooooo overpowering.

(2) My mother likes to throw away the garlic after it's boiled in there and the beans are done, but she blends the dried peppers and strains them back into the beans, it's her twist on my friends recipe and I love the taste it get's that way :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Aliño de Teresita

What I present today is not a recipe for a side dish, or main course of anything like that, it's a condiment used to cook other food, and as a short cut in a lot of other recipes. Before I begin here's the background story :)

Teresita is a 92 year old lady that my mom is a care provider for. She is originally from Columbia, one of my mother's jobs is to cook for her and my since my mother has a love for the kitchen and learning new things, she was very quick to ask Teresita what she likes to eat, and how to recreate it.

One of the things essential in Teresitas kitchen is what she calls "Aliño", in her kitchen it's a very strong condiment  essentially a bunch of aromatics, herbs, as well as umami packing ingredients mixed together, simmered in generous olive oil, then bottled. used to flavor & cook other dishes, from stews, soups, sautee's, mixed into meatloafs, meat balls, etc. simply a tablespoon mixed into rice for flavor, or tossing shredded meats, steamed veggies etc. it's used as a base.

-2 bell peppers (red or green) finely chopped
-1 large onion finely chopped
-8 scallions (washed, split in half, and then finely chopped)
-20 roma tomatoes chopped
-1 head of garlic minced
-1 large bunch of cilantro chopped 
-1/3 cup dried oregano
-1/3 cup dried thyme
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-3 tablespoons lemon pepper
-3 packets of "Sazon Goya Con Azafran" or "Sazon Goya Culantro Con Achiote" (maybe not everyone can get ahold of these, I would substitute it for ground achiote/ annatto seeds like 2 tablespoons, saffron, or maybe 1 tablespoon turmeric)
-salt to taste (use atleast 2 teaspoons)
-1 1/2 cups of a good quality extra-virgin olive oil

(1) Mix all ingredients in a large pot or deep-pan (yes you heard right just throw EVERYTHING in the ingredient list in a pot or pan)

(2) Put it on the stove, mix well together with a spoon, and put on high heat, the tomato will start releasing it's juices, lower to medium high and allow mixture to cook for 10- 15 minutes.

(3) Allow to cool, and store in clean glass jars or containers, when fully cooled seal, and store in fridge (it can last up to 1 weeks in the fridge) if you want to store longer it can last for several months in the freezer. This recipe made about 4 jars, we store 2 in the fridge and 2 in the freezer.My family can go through a batch like this in like less than 2 weeks or so but it's because we are 4 people, and usually have guests and such, so we cook a lot :)

-In the future I will share some recipes using this condiment :) in the mean time if you decide to make it, feel free to be creative with it.
 -ALSO this is not meant to be eatin on it's on, or by the spoonfuls, it has a very strong flavor, and can be somewhat salty. So do not use it as a vegetable side or to eat on it's own.
-I don't have any specific recipes like I said before posted yet to share using this condiment but just some really brief uses you can: (1) Steam any vegetables and add a couple spoonfuls of it and toss them in that for flavoring, with maybe more salt to taste. (2) When you make a chicken soup, you can remove the chicken, shredd it, and toss it in some of this condiment, serve with rice, and the soup on the side. (3) Any meat can be boiled with just onion, garlic, oregano, then removed, shredded and tossed in some of the condiment (4) Mix about 1/2 cup of the mixture into 1 lbs or ground meat, 2 eggs, and fry the mixture like patties. etc. you guys get it :)
-Been using this condiment lately since I been pretty busy with school and it makes a lot of stuff quick to put together.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Albondigas de Pollo con Hierbabuena Entomatadas (Mint Chicken Meatballs in Tomato)

Meatballs made with rice and mint are popular in Mexican cuisine (they can be made with pork, beef, chicken, turkey whatever meat of your choice or combination) often served in a soup with a variety of vegetables (if you would like to see this check my mother's recipe for "Caldo de Albondigas") . However they can also be cooked in a spicy chipotle sauce, or how I present it here in a very simple light tomato based sauce that can be made spicy, mild, or with no heat at all.

 My mother made these meatballs yesterdays using ground chicken and a simply tomato sauce that wasn't' spicy at all (we had a bowl of freshly made green salsa that was extremely spicy for those that wanted to add heat to their dishes they could simply grab a couple spoonfuls and drizzle on their plates). The dish is fairly simple, very quick to put together, and with ingredients readily available to anyone in any country I believe and it tastes heavenly and is so light on the stomach (the mint leaves are good for digestions , and rice is very easy to digest). If your looking for something simple and healthy give this a try :)

Ingredients for meatballs:
-1 1/2 lbs ground chicken (grind it yourself or buy it ground)
-1 1/2- 2 cups cooled rice (could be white rice or leftover rice of any kind, my mom used leftover yellow rice from last night)
-1/2 a large bunch of mint leaves (cleaned, washed, patted dried then finely chopped)
-1/2 chopped onion
-2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 large egg
-salt & pepper to taste

Ingredients for sauce:
-1/2 a large onion or 1 onion finely chopped
-2 cloves garlic
-5-6 fresh ripe tomatoes
-1 heaping teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
-1 cup water
-salt and pepper to taste
-extra-virgin olive oil

Ingredient to garnish (optional):
-finely chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

(1) Put all meatball ingredients in a bowl,

mix together to combine, but do not over mix,
  and then form meatballs into medium sized balls. Set aside.
 (2) In a deep wide sauce pan or wide pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat, sautee chopped onions, and when onions are translucent and well cooked about 5- 7 minutes.
(3) Meanwhile in a blender blend tomatoes, garlic, chicken bouillon powder, salt and pepper, and add about 1 cup of water to blend everything to a smooth sauce,
 when blended add this mixture to the sauteed onions.
(4) Bring sauce to a boil, add meatballs one by one,
 cover and simmer 20- 25 minutes, until cooked through, add more water and adjust salt if you want the sauce looser. Before turning off sprinkle cilantro or parsley if you want to.

(5) We served it over white rice, with a salad dressed in olive oil, lemon, oregano, and salt.

(1) When my mom makes the chicken meatballs like she did here, she adds more rice because the ground chicken meat for some reason seems to be "looser" than using beef, it's less compact , so if you see the recipe when she prepared the beef ones for her soup, she used less rice.

(2) Don't panic if the chicken meatballs aren't perfectly round or seem too gloppy after making the meatballs, simply before adding to the hot pot, roll them in your hand into a ball prior to dropping them in the hot pot.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mi Birria de Res y Puerco (My Mexican Pork and Beef Stew)

“Birria” is a type of Mexican red stew or soup made with pork, beef, chicken, goat, or even turkey.

    It seems everyone makes Birria different,  the versions I am familiar with do not use tomato, it is composed of dried chilies, a little bit of vinegar, &  a spice mixture which for me should always include at least cumin, oregano, bay leaves, ginger (some don’t use ginger but to me it adds a special something, it doesn’t dominate the dish but adds a hot warmth that’s subtle) and some type of  sweet spices (it can be any of the following or combination or all of cloves, allspice berries , and or cinnamon)  and is cooked on stove top.

     On my blog I have my grand aunts recipe for “Birria” this recipe I present today is how I like to make it, it’s the recipe I came up with after seeing different cooks versions of “Birria” (including my grand-aunts) and I picked the components I liked from most from them and well came up with this version, the spice combination may seem odd to certain people, but trust me, when all these spices marry, none of them are more pre-dominant that the other, they combine to form a distinct flavor that taste like well “Birria” I really suggest anyone to try it if you never have and have the ingredients available … and don’t tell my aunt but I think it’s better than hers hehe.


2 ½ kilos about 8 lbs meat (pork, beef or goat I used 5 1/2 lbs pork spareribs and 2 1/2 lbs beef neck bone)
¼ cup vinegar (to marinade meat briefly)

Other Ingredients:
-5 chiles anchos
-15 guajillos chilies (you may use “Chile California” or 10 “Chile California & 5 “Guajillos”)
-3 cascabel chilies (optional can substitute for “Chile de Arbol” or “Chile Japones”)
-8 garlic cloves
-2 inches ginger peeled and sliced
-20 allspice berries
-5 cloves
-20 black peppercors
-2 cinnamon sticks
-1 tsp. cumin
-1 tsp.  oregano
-3 bay leaves
-salt to taste

(1) Wash the meat several times in water and drain about twice, for the third time soak in water, add a lot of salt, lime juice and swish it around then drain, and rinse once more, drain well.
(2) Get meat in a deep container or pot, add vinegar, stir well, and set aside while you prepare the rest of the stuff. (the vinegar is used to get rid of any gamey flavor specially if you use goat)
(3) Now get all the dried chilies (ancho, guajilli,  & cascabel), remove stems, seeds, and veins from all chilies, peel all the garlic cloves and lightly mash, peel and slice the ginger, and bash the cinnamon sticks and set all aside and have the rest of the spices on hand except bay leaves
(4) Now heat a pan with a generous amount of oil, fry all the chilies in batches briefly about 30- 40 seconds, set aside in a deep bowl, now fry all the spices except cumin, oregano & bay leaves.
(5) Blend everything (all the chilies and spices EXCEPT bay leaves) in batches to a smooth paste in a blender, add water as needed to get a paste consistency together with atleast 2-3 teaspoons salt. Set aside.
(6) Get your meat and drain the vinegar but do not rinse, add the blended chilies and spice mixture paste, coat well, and tuck in bay leaves in the mix. Cover and allow to marinade in the fridge over night, or atleast 2 hours

(7) Next day add enough water to barely cover about 1-2  inches deep, and bring to a boil, skim off foam, taste for salt you will probably have to add 2 more teaspoons of salt or more or less to taste and allow to simmer until meat is tender.

 About 2 hours.

  Serve with minced onion, cilantro, lime wedges, & corn tortillas
In addition I like to serve it with a spicy salsa that's made from dried chile japones or chile de arbol.

(1) If you cannot stand a little bit of spicy at all,  skip the Cascabel chilies, substitute them for “Chile California” and substitute all the Guajillos for “Chile California” this way it will not really have any heat.

(2) Like I said before give this recipe a try you won’t regret it  you can use bone in skin-on chicken, beef, pork, or even a whole turkey cut into segments

(3) After cooking it, you can refridgerate over night if you'd like to remove the excess fat from the stew, but to be honest it's what makes it delicious ;) 

(4) Also if you want a less oily dish, instead of frying everything, you can lightly toast the dried chilies in a hot griddle or comal for less than a minute, and soak in warm water. You can also toast all the spices, and pan- roast the tomatoes, onion, ginger, and garlic. Puree everything in blender minus the bay leaves.

I currently add 1/4- 1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds that I blend to the marinade and let me tell you it gives the dish a wonderful flavor, and hits spot on in the taste when it comes to tasting like it's from a Birriereria (place that specializes in Birria)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Turmeric Rice

Turmeric rice is a golden/ yellow colored rice colored with well "turmeric" For those who don't know what it is, it's a root related to ginger I think, that can color and tinge things yellow, it can be bought fresh at many Asian stores but is commonly sold dried, and ground in powdered form which is what I use and have readily on hand. It's also used in "home remedies"/ alternative medicine, I use it to cleanse my liver from drinking and any inflammation (hot water with turmeric, and black pepper which makes it more bio-available), or when I have colds or want to boost my immune system, and especially for swollen tonsils. Feel free to research it if you would like.

Anyways this rice dish I learned it from one of my little sisters friends parents (I don't know their name it was a LOOOooOOooong time ago, they were family acquaintances) they are from somewhere in India so I'm assuming the dish is Indian.

I use to prepare this pretty often when I learned it a few years ago, it goes well as a side with anything you would serve with white rice with (grilled, pan-fried, or stewed meats, vegetable sides, whatever you want or is appealing to you). It's a nice alternative to the Cuban yellow rice I make, and very simple and quick to put together, plus I always have the ingredients on hand (rice, cumin, bay leaves, turmeric, onions and garlic, things I believe most people probably have in their pantry and on hand) So here goes :)

-2 cups white rice (washed/ rinsed and drained)
-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 teaspoon ground turmeric powder
-1 onion thinly sliced/ julienned
-4 cloves garlic (or less I really like garlic so I used 4 cloves)
-oil to sautee ingredients (whatever you like to use, I used canola)
-salt to taste
-water (amount depends on what type of rice you use, if using regular long-grain white rice use 3 cups water, if using basmati I like to use 4 cups water, if using a good quality new-crop Jasmine rice use equal water to rice)

(1) Heat a large shallow pan or pot, add oil and when oil is hot sautee sliced onions along with bay leaves until caramelized over medium high to high heat.

(2) When onions get color, add garlic and stir cook until fragrant.

(3) Now add cumin, turmeric and give a quick stir, then add rice another quick stir, hot water and salt to taste (I used about 2 teaspoons salt use more or less to taste, when water begins to boil taste it, if it doesn't taste like sea water/ the ocean you probably should add more, because the rice grows and absorbs a lot of salt other wise it may be bland)

(4) When boiling give a stir, cover, and lower heat, cook for 25 minutes, then turn off and remove from heat let rest another 5 minutes. You can fluff it if you want to at this point. It's ready to serve :)

Please Note:
*** If using a rice cooker and you want to avoid the stove top, simply add your washed rice to the rice cooker, the cold water, salt to taste, and sautee the onions, garlic, spiced with oil in a small pan and dump the stuff you sauteed into the rice cooker, stir, and cook according to your rice cooker directions :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding)

There are TONS of recipes for making Capirotada, every family, household, or individual seems to have a different style of making it, different ingredients they add, etc. BUT the element I've noticed present in ALL of them is SUGAR, CINNAMON, CLOVES, and sometype of cheese and of course hard toasted bread that sucks up the syrup and becomes tender, the rest can vary greatly. It is popular around Lent for Catholic Mexicans, and well whoever grew up with this dish.

This is my grandmother's recipe (from my mother's side her name is Leonor) her and her family are from Guadalajara (Jalisco), Mexico, and of Spanish descent. This recipe is my grandmother's grandmother's recipe so it's probably been in my family since 1800's, over time the addition of condensed milk is my mother's idea, and she uses it to replace part of the sugar in the recipe and for extra richness, my grandmother uses evaporated milk in place of the heavy cream because it is almost always stocked in our pantry, but I'm sure in the old day's it was heavy cream :)

I noticed a lot of people use a simple syrup with just piloncillo, water, cinnamon and cloves, it's a dark watery syrup, that the bread is soaked in, but my families way of making it we always add whole milk, and cream and such making it more decadent and giving it more body... we layer it with a fresh tender cows milk cheese called "Queso Fresco" the variety we use is very tender for this dish, it also includes in between the layers ripe plantains, pecans, and raisins.

For some using cheese in a dessert may sound weird, but it's really common, Cubans pair Gouda or other types of white cheeses with sweet fruit compotes, marmalade's, and fruit pastes, in Spain a fresh cheese called "mato" is paired with honey and walnuts and called "mato y mel", or I've seen french cheese platters with raisin type bread, fresh fruit, etc. so it's not really an odd concept, at least not to me and many others. HOWEVER ...

and it is a BIG HOWEVER there's one thing that even left me saying what the &*#$ when I was learning to make this... my grandmother adds a piece of onion, and fresh tomato that she later strains out pf the syrup, I mean well I know they both have some sugars/ sweet components to them, but it is odd, trust me though they don't over power the dish AT ALL, they add a very subtle flavor but it doesn't taste like tomato or onion just adds a special note, I know it sounds weird but give it a try, and if it really freaks you out, I'm sure you can leave it out and still get a delicious result. I really thought my grandma had lost her bonkers but I googled around and found some recipes include the onion and tomato in their syrup and it works.

Main Ingredients:

-1 1/2 lbs french bread or bolillo bread or "birote"
-about 1 cup pecans (more or less as needed you'll see later)
-2 large plantains (frying bananas)
-raisins about 1 cup (depends how much you want)
-1/2 lb. fresh cows milk cheese/ "Queso Fresco" (a type of fresh soft cows milk cheese)
-butter (to grease baking dish)
-corn tortillas (as needed to line up baking dish or vessel)

Ingredients for syrup:
-1 liter/ 4 cups whole milk
-2 14 oz. cans of evaporated milk or heavy cream (about 4 cups if using heavy cream)
-2 14 oz cans of water (use the evaporated milk to measure it out)
-1 can of sweetened condensed milk (optional replace it with 1 large cone of piloncillo or 1 cup dark brown sugar if you don't have it or want to use it)
-2 large cones of "Piloncillo" (cones of unrefined solid cane sugar, you can use dark brown sugar if you don't have it, the equivalent of 2 cups to replace it)
-3 cinnamon sticks
-4 cloves
-1/2 onion chopped into big chunks
-1 large tomato cut into chunks

(1) Mix all syrup ingredients (milk, evaporated milk, water, 1/2 onion, tomato, cinnamon, cloves, and piloncillo along with condensed milk if using) in a large pot, stir occasionally and bring to a boil (takes awhile to get there) , lower heat to low and allow to simmer uncovered for 5- 10 minutes, turn off heat.

(2) Meanwhile, get several deep- baking dishes, we used 1 large one, one medium one, and 1 small one (we just kept layering and making until we ran out of syrup, my grandmother didn't really measure it was all approximated). Get the baking dishes you are using, and brush heavily all over with melted butter (put ALOT!) and line it with corn tortillas, including the edges (you'll have to cut some in half) that way line the sides with it.
(3) Now that you have your dishes/ mold/ vessel ready (greased and with a layer of corn tortillas) add 1 layer of the toasted hard bread, grab the syrup mixture and ladel it with a strainer over the bread slices, so you don't get any of the solids in the syrup, ladel it little by little over bread NOT all of it, just moisten the bread slightly.

(4) Springle with raisins, pecans, fresh cheese crumbled, and plantain slices. Add another layer of bread and ladel some of the syrup over it with a st, and sprinkle again with raisins, pecans, fresh cheese, plantain slices, and finally add the the other layer and sprinkle with the raisins, fresh cheese, plantain slices, etc. ladel syrup again

Basically you are making layers, the amount of layers you have depends on how deep your vessel/ dish is.
(5) When your done with all your layers, and stuff, the remaining syrup ladel it over your bread pudding dishes MAKING sure to strain it (you don't want to bite into a clove, or piece of cinnamon or worse a tomato or onion... lol.)

(6) Bake covered in an oven for 40 minutes, at 350 degrees, then uncover and allow to bake an additional 10 minutes.
Turn off heat, remove and allow to cool down.

(1) The bread we used was already hard, it was already toasted, fried, etc. during this time of the year you find it in any of the Mexican/ Latin groceries stores here in LA/ Southern California. They sell 1 lbs. bags, if you don't live in an area where it is readily available, simply buy a large loaf of good french bread, slice it into thick pieces, and let it stay out over night so it turns hard and stale, then toast in a pan by frying all sides with some oil. or rub it with butter and bake it. It makes for more work though...

(2) This can be done on stove top, use a deep thick pot, make your layers, cover over high heat, then lower heat to very low and leave it 20- 25 minutes, then remove from heat and let it rest. This is usually done in a clay pot. I used an oven. Originally my grandma said her family would make it in large clay pots over a fire outdoors, with a large heavy comal (type of griddle) over it with a wood fire happening on it it would heat the top and bottom. I have no clue how to do it like that though...

(3) This makes a pretty large amount feel free to cut the recipe in 1/2, it's not really a recipe that needs measuring to be honest, like you taste the syrup if you want it sweeter well you add more sugar, etc. the raisins, pecans, cheese, plantain you add as much or as little as you like, if you don't like some of them well omit it.