Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Huevos a la Mexicana

Hola amigos! I am back! Kind of worried because I haven't gotten any comments in my previous posts... but that's ok... I just hope I didn't offend anyone with my "review" of the "Tacos Cantina" from Taco Bell! :)

So... I had promised I would write about all the ingredients for "Mole" so I will just mention some of the "modern ingredients" (I say modern because in old times the MOLE SAUCE used to have over 100 ingredients) so... this is what Mole usually includes: Dried Pasilla Chilis, Dried Mulato Chilis,  Dried Ancho Chilis,  Garlic,  Onion, Almonds, Raisins, Sesame Seeds, Bolillo (French bread or Baguette),Cloves, Cinnamon, Anise Seeds, Black Pepper, Corn Tortilla, Chipotle Chilli, Tomato, Sugar, Salt, Unsweetened Chocolate, Lard.

So, there you have it.... that is a sauce that sounds heavy, but mole poblano is basically the "perfect balance" of all those ingredients, so it's not as heavy as it sounds....

*_*_*_*_*_*

Now... Going to my recipe today, it is a common "Almuerzo" (breakfast) in Mexico, HUEVOS A LA MEXICANA (Mexican Style eggs), in Mexico, there are 3 ingredients that you should ALWAYS HAVE at hand, and those ingredients are: "chile, tomate y cebolla" (chilies, tomato and onion), by chilies we usually mean "serrano peppers" which are VERY COMMON in many dishes in the Mexican cuisine. And those ingredients will help us make this classical Mexican breakfast, if you notice, the colors of those ingredients are the very ones of the Mexican flag (green, white and red), so, not only the flavor but the colors of this dish are very representative of Mexico.

For 2 people:

Ingredients:
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 small red tomato (or half a biggger one) chopped (in cubes)
  • 1/4 white onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 or 2 chopped serrano peppers (serrano pepper is a hotter kind of pepper, you can use jalapeno or even green bell pepper if you want to avoid the heat, but serrano is the traditional pepper to use)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste
Directions:
Add the oil to a pan, wait for the oil to warm up so you can sautee the vegetables, stir in the peppers and onions, sautee (season with salt). Once the onion is clear add the chopped tomato and fry a little bit longer (about 2 more minutes, until the tomato releases some of its juices), add the eggs and season with salt again, scramble the eggs and keep the eggs moving until they are cooked the way you like them.


I do not like eggs that are way too cooked (they shouldn't be dry, plus remember, the tomatoes will make it seem like the eggs are still too moist, but it's not the egg itself, it's the juice of the tomato)

Serve with refried beans, sliced avocado with salt (optional of course) and corn tortillas.


Provecho!

Paloma.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    "Cantina Tacos" from Taco Bell

    So... It seems my previous post (the one about Mole) wasn't as "appealing" as I thought it would be ... LOL! And I understand it... Trust me... even I don't know how chocolate and things like that can taste good on chicken... But... You can't even taste the chocolate in "Mole"... just this rich sauce that makes chicken oh! so good!

    I will be posting tomorrow all of the ingredients of the original "Mole Poblano" when made from scratch so you have an idea and hopefully get you all more interested on it.

    Right now, I am just coming back from Taco Bell, yes, a real Mexican eating in Taco Bell, I go there when I feel like eating something "American" ... Hubby laughs because he says that his mom used to say: "We are having Mexican food tonight!" and she would immediately take the hard "U shaped" shells out!

    Anyway... I went there because someone (my neighbor and dear friend Tracy) told me I should try their new "real Tacos" .... He said: "They have the real stuff now, corn tortillas and onions, and cilantro" ... Sounded good, huh? And it looked even better in the picture when I got there... I don't know if Tracy, my friend, has actually tried those tacos (I truly do not remember if he said he tried them or he just saw they had them) but.... well... Let me just say this: They are not wrong to advertise them like "Cantina Tacos" they taste like they were cooked by someone who probably had too much to drink! What a disappointment!

    The options are "chicken, pulled pork -carnitas- and steak", I didn't feel like trying the chicken one, so I ordered 2 "carnitas" and 1 "steak".... Each taco is made with 2 corn tortillas, which by the way they couldn't even warm up properly... I mean... if you can't even warm up a tortilla then don't use 2 for each taco! The tortillas were breaking apart because they weren't warm all the way through... so... Now you know that to warm up a tortilla you must know how to do it too... You can't just let your "fingers" tell you they are "warm" you need to actually SEE the tortilla forming some "air pockets" where the INSIDE of the tortilla is warming up too!

    Then.. The steak tasted nothing like "Mexican steak" but it was "ok" .... Just don't ask me about the carnitas... oh! Don't even get me started... it was more like a "spreadable greasy something" with pieces of onions and cilantro....

    I must say "Thanks for trying!" But I ended up eating a "hard shell taco" I will stick to those when I go to Taco Bell... I truly enjoyed the "hard shell taco" at least I know what those are all about....  I don't MEAN to be MEAN... I am not a Taco Bell hater... I actually enjoy some of their stuff... But I guess they should leave the "Mexican stuff alone" it's not their thing ...

    I was thinking that I probably would've liked those "cantina tacos" if I wasn't "expecting the real deal" but.... not... it's not even that.... at least the tortillas were nothing good...

    Vecino! (neighbor) ... Now I feel guilty because if you try or tried those tacos and you thought they could be "the real deal"... then I truly truly should be making some tacos soon for all of you ! - I know I am all promises and never really make anything :(

    Above: My handsome gringo enjoying a "taquiza" (taco dinner) in Mexico.

    Big Hugs for all of you... and Provecho!

    Paloma.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    MOLE!!!

    Hola amigos! I know you are probably thinking the title for this post is weird.... but do not worry, I will not write about lumps on the skin or about an infiltrated person in a team or anything like that.... I am talking about MOLE SAUCE (Mole is pronounced like... hmmm, like "mo- as in moment" and "-le as in legs")

    There are many different kinds of "MOLE" in Mexico, and some of them are nothing at all like the rest (sometimes I even wonder why they are called mole), but I would say the most popular MOLE is "Mole Poblano", it takes its name from its state of origin "Puebla" and it is such a delicious dish, you have to TRY IT! and that's the type of mole I will focus on today.

    When my mom and grandma' were here these past weeks (Yes, they are already gone and I am missing them so much!) they made "mole con pollo" (mole with chicken) .... Mole Poblano is a combination of chilies, spices, nuts, seeds and chocolate, it is such a rich sauce! but it requires too many ingredients and time to make it from scratch (which of course is the best), But I must say I have never made mole from scratch... Now, there are many brands that offer good "MOLE", basically the "paste" and you can just "make it your own" by adding some little touches that will make it more "homemade like".

    The Brand I suggest you to use is: "Doña Maria"


    That would be the base for the sauce.

    To make your own "Pollo con mole" you will need:

    Ingredients:

    1. 2 pounds of chicken (legs and thighs)
    2. 1/2 white onion
    3. 2 cloves of garlic
    4. 2 tbsp. of salt
    5. 1 cup of Mole Dona Maria (the whole container of 8.25 oz)
    6. 1 slice of bread (white or even 1/2 hot dog or hamburger bun)
    7. Approx. 2 oz. of chocolate (chocolate "abuelita", "ibarra" or "Goya" -those are the brands to use-)
    8. 1/2 tsp. sugar
    9. 2 tbsp. chunky peanut butter
    10. 1 pinch of salt, ground black pepper and garlic powder

    Directions:

    Put the chicken in enough water (2 inches of water over the top of the chicken), add the 1/2 white onion, cloves of garlic and 2 tbsp. salt, cook it all together until the chicken is cooked (no pink juices running).

    While the chicken cooks, fry the slice of bread in some vegetable oil and set aside, it should be just a little golden, separately fry the chocolate just for a little bit (about 2 mins).

    Once the chicken is cooked, use 2 cups of the liquid of the chicken and blend it with the rest of the ingredients (mole paste, bread, chocolate, sugar, peanut butter,  pinch of salt, black pepper and garlic powder)

    Put the sauce in a big pan, start the low fire until it starts bubbling, add 2 more cups of the liquid of the chicken and the pieces of chicken until it all starts bubbling, make sure the chicken legs and thighs all get covered by the sauce. (note: If it is too thick you can add one 1/2 to 1 cup of water to it)

    Done! You have "Mole Poblano" right in your kitchen!


    Serve hot with rice and refried beans or lettuce salad. Have corn tortillas to go with it too!

    If you are enjoying this blog... share it with others... tell your friends about it.... I am really trying to share about Mexican cuisine... 

    Provecho!

    Paloma.

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    Easy rice

    This rice recipe I will share with you is really, really simple...

    Rice is a very "Mexican thing to eat" (not only Asian people eat rice) ... If you go to a Hispanic Store you will find HUGE bags of rice, and trust me.... As a Mexican I know if we buy a bag like that, we will go through it really quick

    Rice goes great with most Mexican dishes, its mild flavor goes great with the way we cook meat, peppers, etc... Besides, it is a great "filler".

    This recipe makes a lot of rice (for about 6 people, so you can cut it by half to try it first)

    Ingredients:
    • 2 cups of Long Grain Rice
    • 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth  (another way of measuring the liquid for the rice, is that there should be about an inch of water above the level of the rice)
    • 1 or clove of garlic
    • 1/4 white onion (chopped) - or 1/2 white onion if the onion is small.
    • 1 tomato (fresh) or 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce
    • 1/2 cube of tomato bouillon.
    • 1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil (it can be olive oil)
    • 1 cup of canned mixed vegetables or canned cubed carrots -rinse well- (optional)
    • 1 stem (with leaves) of cilantro
    • 1 serrano pepper (optional)
    • Salt to taste (about 2 tsp.) 

    Directions:
    1. Fry the rice in the oil until it is not translucent any more, it should be an opaque white. (medium heat)
    2. Add the onion and garlic and turn the rice around with a spoon (wooden spoon is ideal) keep frying until the rice turns into a light golden color.
    3. Add the chicken broth and tomato (fresh or canned), season with salt and add the tomato bouillon, leave it uncovered until it starts boiling.
    4. Once it is boiling, add the canned vegetables and the serrano pepper.
    5. Cover the pot of the rice and decrease the heat just so it simmers for about 25 minutes. (see next step though)
    6. Check the rice after the first 15 minutes of simmering test it for doneness and check the water, if it seems to be too dry and the rice is still hard add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water.
    7. Add the cilantro and cover again, let it keep cooking for the remaining time (still low heat).
    8. Remove from the fire and serve.



    Provecho!

    Paloma.

    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    Chiles rellenos - Stuffed peppers

    "Chiles rellenos" are such a traditional Mexican dish.... I remember when I started dating my husband on 2006 (For those who do not know we met online "e-harmony") I was in Mexico and he was living here, in Wisconsin.... And in one of our conversations, I remember him saying: "I wonder what you are going to cook when we marry, because I don't like Mexican food" I told him I was convinced he would LOVE Mexican food once he really tried it but he was pretty sure he had tried "all kinds of Mexican food" here in Wisconsin, he said he had gone to "very authentic restaurants" (they claimed to be authentic) and he says that he saw Mexican people in the kitchens (well, they were employees there, but it doesn't mean they were really cooking Mexican food) One of the things he told me he hated the most was "guacamole", he basically disliked avocado.... Little did he know how much he would love it one day!

    So, on his first trip to Mexico, I made sure he ate not just "our real tacos" (which by the way he couldn't stop eating) but I wanted him to try  some other Mexican dishes I knew would change his opinion about "Mexican" food.... So, he tried "Chiles rellenos" and it was "love at first bite" he couldn't believe how delicious that dish was, he was all aaahs and ooohs and wows while he ate.... and that is why I want to share with you such great recipe:

    "Chiles rellenos" are roasted poblano peppers, stuffed with "picadillo" (a ground beef "guisado" -stew type of thing but not with too much liquid in it-) or stuffed with "queso fresco" (Mexican style fresh cheese) and then passed through an egg batter and finally fried in very very hot oil.

    Here is what you need to make them: (4 people)
    For the peppers:
    4 poblano peppers (get 6 just in case any of the peppers gets torn if it's the first time you are handling these)
    2 eggs (divided)
    2 cups of all purpose flour
    1 tsp. of salt

    For the stuffing:
    Queso:
    1 8 oz. queso fresco (you can easily get this in a "hispanic or Mexican" grocery store)

    OR

    Picadillo:
    1/2 lb. ground beef
    1 potato (cubed)
    1/2 white onion (chopped)
    1 clove of garlic (chopped)
    1/2 cup of crushed tomatoes
    1/2 cube of chicken bouillon
    1/4 cup of finely chopped cilantro (fresh)
    salt and black pepper to taste

    Directions:

    This dish needs to be made with some time, because of all the steps involved and especially if it's the first time you make them, I would say take your good 2 hours (is not too much work but it takes time, trust me, it's all worth it)

    First roast the peppers, One or two at a time, cook peppers directly on the grate for about seven minutes. Periodically turn with tongs or a fork to cook all sides of the skin. (don't worry if it looks black, that will go away when you peel it)



    Roasting Poblanos Using the Oven or Broiler
    To roast peppers in the oven, preheat the oven to 450° F. Spread the peppers in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook until the skin blisters and begins to darken, about five to ten minutes.
     

    Put the peppers inside a plastic bag so they can "sweat" and then you can remove the skin easier (for about 8 mins.)


    While the peppers are "sweating" make the stuffing, if you are using queso, then skip this step and just cut the queso fresco in 1/4" slices, your stuffing is ready.

    If you are going to make "Picadillo" (which I highly recommend you go for it!! You can actually make some chiles with cheese and some others with ground beef and then choose which one is your favorite) then you need to:

    1. Sautee the onion and garlic (properly season with salt and black pepper)
    2. Add the ground beef (brown it, season it with a little more salt and pepper and make sure it doesn't clump, keep it moving so it is really ground) -cover the pot with a tight lid so the meat releases its juices- (medium heat)
    3. Once the meat has browned, get rid of about 70% of the liquid, keep it moving so it fries a little bit and the liquid reduces and add the cubed potato, let it all cook until the potatoes are almost cooked all the way through
    4. Add the 1/2 cube of chicken bouillion and the crushed tomatoes, cover, reduce the heat and let it all simmer until the potatoes are cooked all the way through.
    5. Remove from the fire and add the chopped cilantro.

    Once your stuffing is ready, you can go back to your peppers, peel them (remove the thin burnt layer of skin) and get the seeds and veins out (use plastic gloves because the heat of the peppers is all in the seeds and you can get your hands burnt (TRUST ME!), do this very carefully, trying to keep the flesh of the pepper intact and by opening a 1 1/2 inch slit on one side of the pepper with a sharp knife.

    Stuff your peppers with about 3 slices of cheese or 3 tablespoons of picadillo (it also depends on the size of the pepper) they shouldn't be too full that the food comes out or too thin that there isn't enough stuffing inside.



    Put the all purpose flour in a bowl and in a separate bowl beat the egg whites until they form peaks, still beating on high with your electric mixer slowly fold in the egg yolks, so the batter stays really frothy.



    Now in a pan (deep enough for your oil but not too deep that is hard for you to handle the peppers, you can use something as deep as a wok) start heating the oil, this is one of the main secrets of chiles rellenos, the oil should be really, really hot, ALMOST bubbling, you can test it by adding a little bit of the egg batter and it should fry pretty quick and you should see it "sizzle" immediately. While the oil heats up pass your chile relleno (carefully) and ONE at a time by the flour until the pepper is lightly coated with flour, then immerse the pepper in the egg batter (trying to keep the open side of the pepper up) you can handle the pepper by its tail and tip, quickly put the pepper in the oil and turn it so it is all fried up, the fried egg will prevent the food from coming out of the pepper, once it's all fried and it looks beautifully golden all around put your chile relleno on a plate (lined with paper towel to absorb the excess of oil), Do this for each pepper and THERE YOU GO! Your very own CHILES RELLENOS!



    You can serve chiles rellenos with rice and refried beans or rice and lettuce salad, corn tortillas are a MUST.  I will share the recipe for a very easy rice tomorrow.

    Provecho!

    Paloma.