Monday, September 26, 2011

"Flautas" - "Taquitos de Pollo"

Hi everybody! Here I am with another recipe to share with you! This is a very simple (and really really good!) recipe.

It's basically "chicken taquitos" but what matters is that not only it is simple to make but regardless (or because of) its simplicity it is just delicious!

I have already explained that tacos (in Mexico) do not have a "specific recipe" we call taco ANY FOOD that goes in a tortilla (flour or corn) -we just specify if it's flour or corn tortilla but they are still both tacos! we do not use HARD SHELLS in Mexico, those "pre-folded" kind of nacho shells are an American invention (not saying  is a bad invention) just not an Authentic one. So if you have tortillas in your refrigerator and even put just "onions" in it... that is already a "taco" just a "taco de cebolla" (onion taco) and I am not sure it would become very popular... but it complies with the requirements to be a taco... because it is food that goes in a tortilla... so... anyway... "Taquitos de Pollo" (also known as flautas) are VERY VERY popular in Mexico and as any other dish in Mexico there are many versions of it... so here is mine:

Makes 12 taquitos (this is usually enough for 2-3 people, one person eats 4 to 6 of these tacos)
Ingredients:
- 2 (or 3 if they are too small) cooked (boiled) and shredded chicken breasts (boil them in enough water to cover them, add salt to the water about 3 tsp. and 1/2 white onion) discard the onion and just use the meat.
- 12 corn tortillas (buy good ones, "La Banderita" is a good option, "Tia Rosa Corn Tortillas" are ok too, the best I've found are the "Fiesta" Tortillas made in their tortilleria but I don't know if there is one of those stores by you)
- 1/2 white onion
- 1/3 iceberg lettuce or 1 romaine heart of lettuce (thinly sliced)
- 1 whole red tomato (or 2 roma tomatoes)
- Crema Mexicana (Mexican Table Cream)
- Salt to taste
- Oil to fry (about 1/2 cup)

Directions:
- Warm up the tortillas (if using the microwave warm them up using paper towel in between each tortilla) and just for about 25 seconds. If using the stove just use a flat pan to warm them up (both sides) and until they are warm all the way through. This makes them easier to handle/bend/roll (even if they cool off a little while they are being filled)

- Fill them with some of the chicken and roll them tightly (place them all on a plate firmly arranged next to each other so they remain rolled)

- Warm up a non stick pan and add part of the oil (about 12 of it) until it is VERY HOT (also add a little bit of salt the oil), place the taquitos there (one by one, carefully with the seam down) once they fry on one side they will easily stay rolled because they harden. You can place as many taquitos as you want at a time, because the fact that they are close to each other helps them keep their shape but if you want to do two or three at a time is ok, just make sure they fry all the way around (turn them while they fry so they don't burn and cook evenly) They should be hard and crunchy... they should keep their shape if held from one side only. (use more of the oil if necessary, they should be fried in the oil all the way around) Look at the pics:


Place them on a plate lined with paper towel to get rid of any excess of the oil.

Plate them (4-6 on a plate) and garnish them with the onions, lettuce and tomatoes) -in that order- add some of the table cream on top of them (and sprinkle with a pinch of salt if necessary for the garnish). These go AWESOME with sliced avocado and green salsa but I had none when I made them, so if you have a good avocado at hand go ahead and try it on these.


Provecho!

Paloma

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cactus Salad - Ensalada de Nopales

Hello everyone! I am just done enjoying some grilled chicken that hubby made! It's Friday so it always feels like "grilling" on Friday nights, don't you think? who knows... it might just be the weather!

Anyway... I thought about fixing something quick to go with the grilled chicken and I decided to make "Ensalada de Nopalitos" or Cactus Salad... Nopalitos are very common in Mexico and we eat them either grilled, boiled and in salad like I just did, seasoned with some red chilies and in tacos  or with eggs in the morning (I know it sounds weird but THEY ARE SOOO GOOD LIKE THAT) So I thought I would come here and share the "recipe" with you so you can hopefully try it too!

Remember that we, Mexicans, rarely use EXACT amounts when cooking, it's a lot about your very own taste and how you like/feel things so this is one of those recipes

Note: you can buy "Nopalitos" at any Hispanic Store in the produce area, don't buy the stalks, buy them already cleaned and cut so you don't have to deal with the thorns.. trust me it is not fun!

Cactus Salad: Serves about 4 (or 2 very hungry people like we were today!)
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups of fresh Nopalitos (cactus)
  • 1/3 white onion -whole-
  • 1/3 white onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 small red tomatoes (or 1 big) (cut in small cubes)
  • 1 avocado (cut in small cubes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 small can of Sliced (and pickled) Jalapeño Peppers - you will use 2 tbsp. of the liquid and some slices of the jalapeño peppers finely chopped - the amount of peppers depends on how much heat you like in your food, you can even use the liquid only if you don't want the peppers -
  • 1/2 tsp. FRESH lime juice
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. First boil  the nopalitos and 1/3 white onion (whole) in about 6 cups of water until the nopalitos are cooked through (they'll change to a more opaque color) -cook for about 15 mins- Then Rinse and drain about 4 times in cold water (to remove the slimy liquid from them, it won't completely go away but it'll be fine) - Place them on paper towel to remove the excess of liquid. (discard the cooked onion)
  2. In a salad container mix the rest of the ingredients  (chopped onion, tomatoes, jalapeños, lime juice, avocado and cilantro), add the cooked nopalitos to the mix, season with salt and pepper and toss until it's all combined!
Enjoy with grilled meat/chicken and hot corn tortillas!



Provecho!

Paloma.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cochinita Pibil!


Hello everybody! As I promised... Today I am going to post the recipe to make the wonderfully flavorful, tasty almost heavenly "Cochinita Pibil" but first let me tell you a little bit about it:

"Cochinita Pibil" is probably the most famous dish from Yucatan, State in the Southeast of Mexico. This dish is originally cooked in a hole in the ground, people would basically make a kind of "Adobo" to season the meat (pork) then wrap it in Banana leaves and place it all in a hole previously dug for this purpose on hot stones (rocks that have been previously placed in fire). Pibil is a word in "MAYA" and it actually means "underground" This method of cooking is used in many Mexican recipes and it has pre-hispanic origins.

"Pasta de Achiote" is the main ingredient to "season" the "cochinita". There is a tree that is native of Central America and Mexico. It produces a fruit that kind of looks like a "big capsule" and when it ripens it opens and "reveals" its red seeds (annatto seeds) which are mixed with spices to make the "dark orange" paste which is used to season many extraordinary dishes. Interestingly this condiment wasn't just valued due to its flavor but it seems that "The Mayas" also used it as insect repellent and to color fabrics and some other items. It was also used as body and facial paint for some of their religious traditions and rituals. Annatto seeds are also known for their therapeutic, astringent, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and healing by the formation of scar tissue.

There are some traditional steps to follow to make cochinita pibil, things that basically make it authentic. For example, to make a real cochinita pibil you need banana leaves and orange juice plus some other spices, if you find a recipe that does not call for banana leaves, orange juice or achiote then it's definitely not a good recipe. 

So, I won't make you wait any longer and here is the recipe to make a wonderful (and very easy) Cochinita Pibil:

Serves 6-8 people or MANY tacos 

Ingredients:
  • 2.5 pounds of pork meat (it can be butt, leg or picnic roast -the one you would use to make carnitas... that's the one I used)
  • 3/4 of a bar of achiote paste (the bar should be about 4 oz. so you would use 3 of those 4) (You can find this in the hispanic or ethnic foods isle) -it might look like this (there are different brands though):
  •  Black pepper (about 1 tsp.)
  • Salt (to taste) I used about 2 tsp.
  • 3 Garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil (or PORK Lard if you can get it) - this is only needed if the cut of pork you use is not very fatty.
  • 1 cube of chicken bouillion 
  • The juice of 2 limes
  • Juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 3 Banana leaves (you can get this at any hispanic supermarket, there is at least one in your city, I am sure! and they sell these in the produce area)

For the Garnish:
  • 2 red onions (thinly sliced)
  • 4 cups of boiling water
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • dried oregano flakes (2 tsp.)
  • salt to taste
* You also need to have soft corn tortillas to go with it!

    Directions:
    1. Cut the meat in squares (about 2") 

    2. Blend the rest of the ingredients (except for the garnish ones) until you have a pretty smooth "sauce" and use it to cover the meat, cover it all with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours so all the flavor of the sauce really impregnates the meat.

    3. Minutes before getting the meat out of the fridge, rinse the banana leaves in warm water, pat them dry and place them  in a cold oven and start it at 400 degrees, remove the leaves from the oven after about 5 minutes (or until you find that they are easier to handle and bend without tearing). - Turn down the temperature to 325F, that's the temperature you will use to bake your meat.

    4. Use the leaves to line a baking dish where the meat would easily fit (without having too much space because you'll want to make a firm bundle with the meat in the banana leaves) I used an 8x8 baking dish.

    5. Get the meat out of the fridge and place it along with the sauce in the middle of your baking dish previously lined with the banana leaves -don't worry if some of the sauce leaves the "bundle" through any crack the leaves might have, try to avoid it but don't worry if it happens- (Make sure you leave the banana leaves big enough to be outside of the edges of the dish because you will still use it all to cover your meat). "Close your bundle" by folding the edges of the banana leaves towards the meat (you can use an additional leaf of banana on top if needed to make sure it's all wrapped in banana leaves and then cover it tightly with aluminum foil.


    6. Bake for about 3 hours in the preheated oven after this time you can get it out of the oven, uncover VERY CAREFULLY because it's all HOT AND STEAMING in there. You should be able to shred it EXTREMELY easily with a fork. If it's not SUPER tender and "almost shredding on its own" you can cover it again and put it back in the oven for an additional hour.


    7. Once its ready you can uncover, finish shredding it and mix it with all the juices that are left.
      To make the garnish:
      This is VERY EASY and you can do it a few minutes before serving it all:

      Have a pot of boiling water (the 4 cups) on your stove and throw in there the sliced RED onions, leave it in the water for about 15 seconds (while gently stirring) and drain. Dress the onions with the vinegar, oregano and salt.

      You can enjoy this AMAZING dish in tacos (use soft corn tortillas) with the onions or with white rice (I had buttered rice) on the side.

      You HAVE to try this! Trust me! It is really good! Hubby had quite an experience while eating it last night! It was great to hear all the ooooh's and aaaah's while he was eating! It is very rewarding when you make a dish your family enjoys so much!

      Provecho!

      Paloma.

      Monday, September 19, 2011

      Mexican Ingredients and FIESTA

      This time I just want to share that I am very excited I found a store that sells most of the Mexican Ingredients I am so used to and I SOOO NEED to be able to cook my Authentic Mexican Food and share it with all of you!


      On Saturday we went to "FIESTA" Supermarket... It is a very "colorful" store... It has the whole "Mexican feeling" and... well.. I'll let my gringo, my husband, describe it more to you, because it is only through HIS EYES that I actually REALIZE how different it is from the rest of the American Supermarkets. For me, it is basically a "normal store", of course I realize it is different but I can't even explain it as clear as he does... you'll see what I am talking about so... Here is my husband to share about it:

      "When you approach the store you are met by outside vendors that sell a variety of items like posters, purses or music CDs.  Upon entering you realize you can purchase a flat screen TV, get it financed with zero credit history, get your hair cut, purchase produce, or buy jewelry in the produce department.  You can pick out your own live fish for dinner, buy cups, plates, utensils, glassware, cooking ware, have a full meal there and purchase underwear, shoes, shirts, pants or whatever you need for your person.  And if you are not sure if the clothes will fit, there are dressing rooms located in the frozen section." - JK



      Well, there you go! That's basically what "FIESTA" is!  If you think this Mexican store is diverse, Mexico is even more.  You can find new and old, big and small, traditional and modern, poor and rich all in the same street! Now I am going to share some of the ingredients I got there and I'll be talking more about them as I cook and blog about it all!
      Nopalitos (Fresh Cactus)
      For our desserts
      Chile Ancho
      Chile Cascabel
      The Flour my dad has always baked with

      Corn Tortilla (FRESH!!)
      Tortilla Roja (Red Tortillas)
      Achiote (Annato Seed Paste)
      Banana Leaves
       I hope you are as excited to try all these ingredients as I am to cook with them and introduce them to you! I hope you get to know them well and make them YOURS and part of your common ingredients in your kitchen!

      I know you were probably expecting a new recipe but don't worry... Just be a little patient... More is coming! Just today I made "Cochinita Pibil" so I'll be sharing that recipe on my next post.

      Thanks again to my wonderful husband not only for always looking for places for me to find what I, as a Mexican, need but also for getting involved with my culture and enjoying it with me!

      Un abrazo!

      Paloma.

      Friday, September 16, 2011

      Mexican Independence Day!

      Hello friends! I couldn't let this day pass without a post! Because today (and not "Cinco de Mayo") Mexico celebrates its "independence" it seems that we need to fight again to gain it all over again but that's a different topic I won't get into... so, anyway... The way we celebrate Mexican's Independence is HUGE! When hubby and I first met in person (we actually met online and started dating online) he visited Mexico for the first time and since he was there in September he could witness and experience for himself what "Mexico's Independence Day" is all about! Noise, Music, Lots of Fireworks, Passion, Screaming (We actually do most of it on Sept. 15th at 11 p.) We have our "Grito" - Our leaders/rulers/mayors/governors/President go outside the city hall/"Mexican 'White House' and re-enact the proclamation of Independence and SCREAM: VIVA MEXICO! VIVA MEXICO! VIVA MEXICO! and also mention the Heroes that fought to earn Mexico's Independence...The celebration basically lasts all month and you can see the streets decorated with "papel picado"  (colorful paper decorations) and there are bands and dancing groups every night in every city square... at least that's the way it's always been and that's what Josh got to experience when he was down there! He really loved it! And I was so happy to get to share and live that part of my culture with him. Of course one of the most important things during these celebrations is... FOOD! "Antojitos Mexicanos" are served EVERYWHERE: Sopes, tacos, tostadas, mole, menudo, pozole, aguas frescas, churros and much more is part of the menu of the "night" (do not expect to sleep that night) There are parties everywhere (schools, homes, offices, churches) everywhere and FOOD is like the "center" of it all, and we all usually get dressed in a very "old Mexican" way... I love it all! I hope if you ever visit Mexico you have the opportunity to be there in September 15-16 so you get to live it all first-hand! Trust me... Any description anybody can make of it all is nothing compared to living the REAL THING! I wish I could've celebrated last night as I should've but it was impossible... hopefully next year I'll get to have a big Mexican party and can cook many of the traditional Mexican dishes to share it all with you!
      Josh enjoying "Morning Street Tacos" in Mexico - Sept. 2006

      Josh and I celebrating Mexican's Independence Sept. 2006

      Tuesday, September 13, 2011

      Empanadas de Piña - Pineapple "Empanadas"

      Hello everybody! How are you doing? We are almost at the end of our groceries here, we usually go grocery shopping on specific days... and I actually like those few days before we go grocery shopping again because it actually helps me get "creative and inventive" in my kitchen.

      If you follow my other blog The Coffee Shop you know that the last dessert I made were those AMAZING Cheesecake Cookie Cups, those I made on Saturday (even though I posted the recipe until Monday) so they were already gone by yesterday (of course I only made 1/2 a batch) so I knew I had to start baking again to have something sweet to go with our "nightly coffee" ... I went to my pantry and I found:


      I immediately knew that would be my inspiration for my next dessert... And then I remembered my dad (an expert baker) told me once that he uses canned pineapple slices for his empanadas, he doesn't use jelly because it has too much sugar and that + the consistency of the jelly makes it all caramelize inside the empanada and in consequence you end up with a very hard piece of pastry with nothing in the middle but hard caramel in the internal walls of the empanada... So I thought: That's what I'll make!

      Then I also thought I've never actually made empanadas (even when my dad has made THOUSANDS of them) and I don't even have a recipe... I started looking online but all the Empanada recipes I found out there seemed to ask for so many ingredients! (and I was out of some of them), the reviews also made me doubt about making them or not (I didn't want to waste the only ingredients I had) and then it happened! I had the best idea I've had lately! (LOL!) I would make my empanadas with the dough I use for my apple pie! Oh! I was so excited! I thought it would work out! then I checked my pantry again... and I didn't have shortening! I usually use 6 tbsp. of butter and 6 tbsp. of shortening for my pie crust! I was very disappointed, I called my dad (in Mexico) and he told me to use just butter and the dough would be even finer... I went for it and well... These are the results:


      I am so happy that these turned out not only well... but REALLY REALLY GREAT! Hubby loves them! And they are very easy to warm-up in the microwave too!

      So here is my recipe:

      Paloma's Empanadas de Piña:

      Makes about 12-14 empanadas

      Ingredients:
      2 cups all-purpose flour
      1 teaspoon salt
      1 tablespoon sugar
      12 tablespoons butter (room temperature, softened -not melted-)
      6 to 8 tablespoons ice water (I used exactly 6)
      1 can (20 oz) of pineapple slices (drained)
      + 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1 tbsp. of cinnamon for coating.

      Directions:

      Mix in a large bowl:
      2 cups all-purpose flour
      I teaspoon salt
      1 tablespoon sugar
      Then cut in using a dough blender (or fork) but not your hands
      12 tablespoons butter
        6 to 8 tbsp. iced water (You don't need to mix too much, just until the ingredients have incorporated and you can see a ball of DOUGH forming instead of divided pieces of it)

      Your dough should look like this when you are done mixing
      Once your dough is mixed and has formed a ball just wrap it in plastic wrap or put it in a ziploc bag getting as much air as possible out of it. Then place in refrigerator for 20 or more minutes.


       In the mean time get your drained pineapple slices and cut it in very small pieces (not so small that is like mush) but just small cubes (you will see the example in another pic below)

      Also in a container or big extended plate mix about 1 1/2 cups of sugar with 1 tbsp. of cinnamon (more or less, it depends how much you like cinnamon) and set aside (you will use this to coat your empanadas when they come right out of the oven)

      Lightly Grease two baking sheets with butter.

      Preheat your oven @375F.

      Get your dough out of the refrigerator (after the 20 mins) and make small balls (1" diameter) with them, flour a smooth surface and roll each ball out with your rolling pin until you make a kind of "small oval tortilla" (about the size of your hand) and fill it with the pieces of pineapple. (about 3 tsp more or less) just making sure that there is enough space for you to fold the empanada and "seal the edges" (to do that just press with your fingers) and then press with a fork on the edges. (This also makes them look nicer) Use your fork ONCE or TWICE (only) to make little holes on top -center- of the empanadas just to let the steam out so they don't burst while baking.


      Place your empanadas on your baking sheets and bake for 9-10 minutes, open the oven and with a spatula quickly turn your empanadas so they bake on both sides, bake for an additional 5-7 minutes. Get out of the oven and immediately transfer to your container with the sugar/cinnamon mix. (use a spoon to pour the mix all over them making sure they are all perfectly coated) shake a little bit to remove the excess and transfer to a plate or wire rack so they completely cool off (you can eat them warm, be careful because the filling is REALLY REALLY hot)



      Enjoy!!!

      Paloma.

      Sunday, September 11, 2011

      Sad day for the world

      Today is a day when in most places of the world we remember the tragedy of 9/11 and the people who lost their lives and those who gave theirs trying to save others in such a horrific day! I was living in my country, Mexico, when that happened and I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news, it was a sad day for the world not just for the United States but for the world! to see such evil! We see evil each day, in the news, in the radio, etc... but what happened on 9/11 is unforgettable for everyone and it amazes me that God has to see it all from Heaven and still has mercy on all of us... I don't have anything else to add to what's already been said. May God bless the families who lost someone that dark day, the children, now young people who were left without their moms or dads and May God bless the Heroes that give their lives keep trying to prevent something like this from happening ever again.

      Paloma.

      Friday, September 9, 2011

      Pollo con rajas poblanas / Chicken with poblano pepper slices

      I guess there is not an accurate translation for the name of this Mexican dish, at least not one that sounds appealing... or is short enough... so anyway... this Chicken with poblano pepper slices is a VERY MEXICAN dish! You can have it on its own or in corn tortillas to makee tacos! I love this in tacos! They are great if you have a big party and you have many people coming over, just have your corn tortillas (or even flour) ready and warm so everyone gets a big spoonful in their own tortilla! They will love it!

      Have I ever told you how wonderful poblano peppers are? I just love them!!! They have such a rich and at the same time mild flavor, there is heat in them, obviously, but there is also some sweetness to them that gives any dish a very unique and special taste! I love Poblano Peppers! And when they are roasted directly on the flames they are soooo good!  I think "Poblano Peppers" are my very favorite.

      Since I do not have FIRE ON MY STOVE right now... I have to roast them in my electric oven, to do so I just line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, place the previously washed (and pat dried) whole poblano peppers on top and bake them in a pre-heated oven at 450F.
       
       I check them after 6 minutes, turn them to the other side and leave them there for 6 more minutes and that's it! You have perfectly roasted poblano peppers. I found that even when I like my poblano peppers roasted directly on the fire of my stove top it has been pretty convenient to roast them in the oven, the flavor is definitely still there and the "peeling" part of it is much easier (plus the chilies roast more evenly).

      How to peel and seed poblano peppers:

      First of all I suggest you use latex gloves when dealing with any kind of pepper (unless it's just the nice and innocent green bell pepper), once you have roasted your poblano peppers you have to immediately put them inside a bag of plastic so they "sweat" and the peel becomes easier to remove, (besides their temperature won't be so hot once they have been in the bag for a little bit and that will make them easier to handle)

       ... If you are going to use your peppers to make "chiles rellenos" then you have to be very careful when you remove the seeds/veins, making sure you use a harp knife to open them on one side and then with your fingers remove all the seeds and as much as you can of the veins without tearing them anywhere else.


      If you are going to slice your peppers (like we will be doing in our recipe below) you don't have to be so careful with them (still treat them nicely so the flesh is nice and not mushy and your slices are as "even" as possible) and you can remove the seeds/veins with your hands or a knife.



      So... here is the recipe:

      Pollo con Rajas Poblanas (Chicken with Poblano Pepper slices)
      • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
      • 1/2  white onion (chopped)
      • 1 clove of garlic (chopped)
      • 2 cups of fresh or frozen corn kernels
      • 4 oz. cream cheese
      • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
      • 1 chicken bouillion cube
      • 1/4 cup (more or less) of milk (to adjust thickness of the sauce)
      • 6 Roasted, Peeled and Seeded Poblano Peppers (Please follow the instructions on the post above to roast, peel and seed the peppers) - cut in slices. (each slice should be about 1/2")
      • 2 Cooked and Shredded Chicken breasts
      • salt and black pepper to taste
      • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

      Directions:

      - Melt the butter in a pretty wide skillet, I use a non-stick one, you can use a cast iron too or even a paella pan.
      - Sautee the onion until it's translucent. Add the garlic and sautee with the onion for approximately 15 seconds stirring constantly (make sure it does not burn)
      - Add the corn and cook in med-low heat for about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper (use less salt than you usually would because the chicken bouillion will add more salt to this dish)

      - Add the cream cheese, cream and mix until it begins to form a creamy sauce (add milk to adjust thickness if necessary, just about 1/4 - 1/2 cup not more)
       - Bring to a boil and turn down the heat to low, add the chicken bouillion cube, stir so it blends with the cream. Add the poblano pepper slices and chicken. Toss it all in the pan making sure everything is covered by the cream. Cover and keep cooking for about 5 more minutes.
        
      - Remove from the heat and top with the mozzarella cheese if desired.


      You can have rice as a side for this dish and lettuce/tomato/pepino salad or you can have it as the perfect filling to make tacos with corn tortillas! I know it's a lot of work involved in this, but it's pretty simple to make once you get used to the whole roasting/peeling/seeding part... Besides, the flavor it's indescribable! Trust me! You have to try this!

      Enjoy!!!!

      Paloma.

      Monday, September 5, 2011

      Stuffed zucchini (with bacon and mozzarella)

      Hello everybody! I have been busy changing some little things on my blog... like the colors, button, etc (I encourage you to visit the Welcome Page I just added pictures of my mom, dad, husband and some random "food pictures" from Mexico) so, anyway... I was thinking that maybe many would think they are only going to find hot/spicy food recipes in my blog, but I just want you all to know that "Cooking with Fire" is not about "adding hot pepper or Tabasco sauce" to everything you cook, it's about Cooking with Passion, with Love for others! and hopefully with Real Fire on your Stove (which unfortunately, I don't have right now because my stove HAS TO BE electric in the new place we live... oh well!) but ... I just want you to know that I hope I will make this blog as varied as possible and you will find from a salad, stew, etc... to a luscious dessert! It doesn't have to be spicy at all! (sometimes it'll be! of course!) I just hope I can help "end some myths" about Mexican food being spicy! All filled with "taco seasonings" and "yellow melted cheese on top" ... Mexican food can be refined, ideal for a romantic dinner or just for a family gathering where everyone can enjoy!

      So... ok... let's just go for our new recipe...

      Stuffed Zucchini:

      Servings: 4

      Ingredients:
      - 2 Zucchinis
      - 1 clove of garlic (crushed and finely chopped)
      - 3 slices of bacon (cut in small squares)
      - 1/4 cup shredded mozarella cheese
      - Salt and black pepper (to taste)

      Directions:
      - In a pot with water, boil the zucchinis for about 8 minutes, they should be cooked but still firm so they keep their shape.
      - In the meantime fry the bacon in a pan on the stove until it's cooked all the way through and starts getting crispy. (Make sure it's not too crispy)
      - Once the bacon is cooked and the zucchinis have boiled for about 8 minutes, remove the zucchinis from the water, cuth them lengthwise in halves and remove the center/pulp and seeds (set aside) and put each "empty zucchini shell" for about 30 seconds on each half in the hot fat the bacon released (the bacon can still be there cooking, it doesn't matter) just make sure you coat the zucchinis with part of the fat so they get the flavor/saltiness from the bacon.
      - Remove the "zucchini shells" from the pan, season them with a little bit of salt and black pepper, set them aside.
      - Now in the same pan with the bacon add the pulp/seeds from the zucchini, garlic and season with black pepper (only add salt if you taste it and think it's necessary, but remember that bacon is already salty). Cook for about 1 or 2 more minutes, stirring constantly and use this to stuff your "zucchini shells" top with mozarella cheese (you can add more if you want) and serve hot! (You can even set aside and have this ready to warm up later in the oven)

      I hope you enjoy this recipe... I made it yesterday and hubby loved it! Remember that cooking "The Mexican way" is not about "amounts and following recipes to the "t" " It's about cooking with love and combining the ingredients and flavors you love! You can make stuffed zucchini with many other ingredients, you can use corn and fresh mozzarella cheese and tomato. You can also fry some ham with butter/garlic/onions and stuff your zucchini topping it all with mozzarella...You can do SO MUCH ... just get creative! ;)





      Provecho.

      Paloma.

      Friday, September 2, 2011

      Linguine in tomato/chipotle sauce

      You can probably see a pattern here... yes... I had a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and I didn't want to either leave them too long in the fridge or have them go to waste... Since you don't really use many of these awesome tasting peppers in recipes a small can of them can go a very long way... (Actually I still have more than 1/2 of them)



      So.. I'll post the recipe for the pasta today, I accompanied the pasta with breaded chicken strips and also with fried garlic/butter zucchini, I'll post the recipe for the zucchini on Monday and the chicken strips were so easy to make that I am sure you already have your very own recipe, I don't think I'll share that because it's just plain chicken breast strips in a breading of flour/breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and black pepper.

      Ok.. let's not make the story longer than it is and go right into the recipe:


      Linguine in Tomato/Chipotle Sauce:
      Serves 4
      1/2 lb. of linguine pasta
      2 tbsp. olive oil
      1 lb crushed tomatoes
      1/4 cup of water
      1/2 white onion (chopped)
      3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
      1/2 cube of chicken bouillion
      2 chipotle peppers (from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce) - chopped -
      grated parmesan cheese (optional)

      Directions:
      - Cook the pasta according to the instructions of the package (al-dente)
      - While the pasta cooks pour the 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a pot (big enough to make the sauce and to add the pasta there at the end.)
      - Sautee the Onions, season with salt and pepper.
      - When the onions are translucent add the garlic and sautee for 30 more seconds
      - Pour the tomato sauce, add chicken bouillion and water bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and let it simmer for 10 mins (stirring occasionally)
      - Add the chipotle peppers, stir and let it simmer for extra 5  minutes and add the cooked pasta, making sure all the noodles are covered by the sauce.
      - Serve and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top if desired.



      Buen provecho!

      Paloma.

      Thursday, September 1, 2011

      Potato and carrot cream soup

      You would wonder... who doesn't love a good creamy soup? right? it feels like they were made to make people feel better and even loved... But hubby does not like them! so most times I am craving soups because I don't usually cook them... last week was different! regardless of his dislike towards them, I made a potato and carrot cream soup.. And hubby (who hates all creamy soups) loved it!



      So ... I am going to share with you how I made it:

      Serves about: 4 cups or 2 big bowls

      Ingredients:

      • 2 tbsp. butter
      • 1/2 big white onion - chopped - (or 1 smaller)
      • 3 carrots - chopped in small cubes
      • 2 potatoes - chopped in small cubes -
      • 3 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced)
      • 1/2 cup chicken stock
      • 1/2 cup heavy cream
      • 1/2 cube of chicken bouillion (knorr suiza) 
      • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
      • salt and pepper to taste

      Directions:

      In a big stainless steel pot (or a dutch oven) melt the butter (medium heat) and add the onion, carrots and potatoes (season with black pepper and salt) cook for 8 minutes stirring frequently, add the sliced garlic cloves and cook for an additional 30 seconds (no more). Then add the chicken stock, making sure you scrape the bottom of the pot (to remove all the goodness that might stick to it). Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low, cover and let it simmer for about 6 minutes (stirring occasionally, making sure it doesn't dry up or stick to the pot). Add the heavy cream, stir one more time and check the potatoes for doneness. Once the vegetables are completely cooked scoop it all (or pour it all) into the blender (you can do this in two batches) and blend until smooth. Return it all to the pot where it was cooked and chicken stock or heavy cream as needed (to adjust thickness) and season with more salt and pepper to your liking, stir and let it simmer for 2 more minutes; remove from the heat, add the chopped cilantro and stir so it blends with the soup. Serve immediately and decorate with fresh cilantro leaves in the center.

      Buen Provecho!

      Paloma.