Buen Provecho! Recipes from Along the Mission Trail by CMF Executive Director David A. Bolton
When we think of Pozole, pork and chicken always come to mind first. Adding pork or chicken Pozole as a Saturday Conference lunch option three years ago has been a big hit. During our last Conference there were still some who chose the vegetarian sandwich option. I thought it would be interesting to work up a vegetarian Pozole, and make it available at next year's CMSA Conference. I tried it last night, and I'm glad there were leftovers! It's noon, and I'm already looking forward to another bowl after work.
Pozole is a stew that historians trace back to pre Columbian times throughout much of Mesoamerica. From its beginnings, Pozole was made with corn or hominy -- a sacred plant for the Aztecs and other inhabitants of Mesoamerica. Thus Pozole was made to be consumed on special occasions. Later, ingredients were modified with the arrival of the Spanish who also brought this popular dish along the Mission Trail.
To make hominy, field corn (maize) grain is dried, then treated by soaking and cooking the mature (hard) grain in a dilute solution of slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) or wood ash, a process termed nixtamalization. Today, this fresh kind of whole kernel corn - hominy -- used in Pozole and Menudo, is often called Nixtamal by Spanish speakers. This process of Nixtamilization is believed to have its origins in present-day southern Mexico and Guatemala as far back as 1500-1200 B.C.
For Pozole, this Nixtamal is washed with cold water several times until the water covering the nixtamal runs clear.
To make tortillas, the maize is also washed, and then ground into masa. When fresh masa is dried and powdered, it becomes masa seca or masa harina, what we know of as masa for tortillas.
The process of preparing hominy, nixtamalization, is a complex process chemically, and it's also a process that allows for the formation of dough. Cornmeal made from untreated ground corn is unable by itself to form dough. So, without the nixtamalization process, or the adding of lime or ash, we would not have tortillas today. Adding lime and ash to the hominy allows for the softening of the corn and the loosening of the hulls from the kernel. It also helps facilitate the bonding of the corn proteins to each other. Hominy is rich in calcium, and the reaction of the lime and corn together allows for our body's easy digestion of the nutrient niacin.
The process of consuming hominy was not limited to the native cultures of Mexico and Guatemala. The English term hominy is derived from the Powhatan language word for prepared maize. In the present-day U.S., many Native American cultures also made hominy and integrated it into their diet. Cherokees, for example, made hominy grits by soaking corn in a weak lye solution obtained by leaching hardwood ash with water and beating it with a kanona, or corn beater. The grits was used to make a traditional hominy soup, a hominy soup that was allowed to ferment, cornbread, dumplings, or, in post-European contact times, fried with bacon and green onions.
½ pound fresh hominy - washed
½ pound uncooked red beans
2 pints vegetable stock
2 large white onions
1 head plus 4 gloves of garlic
6 dried chiles (any combination of pasilla, guajillo, puya)
In place of pork or chicken, I used red beans with hominy to make the stew.
Using equal parts fresh hominy and red beans - ½ pound each - I combined the beans and well-rinsed hominy in a large pot and filled it with water about twice as high as the hominy and beans.
Bring the pot to a boil, and add a palm full of salt. Add a whole white onion with the outer dried skin removed and a full head of garlic with the loose outer dried skin removed. Reduce the heat to a strong simmer, and let simmer until beans and hominy are both fork tender. About 3-4 hours.
Separately, in a sauté pan, sauté 1 white onion in olive oil, add about 6 dried red chiles slit lengthwise, opened up, de-stemmed, deveined, rinsed and seeded (I like a combination of 2 chiles each: chile guajillo, chile pasilla and chile puya, though any combination of these three would work). Add 4 gloves of diced garlic, and a couple of generous pinches each of Mexican oregano and salt. When the onions are tender, transfer entire mixture to a blender or food processor. Add vegetable stock (I usually use the low sodium version from Trader Joe's). Blend and add the blended mixture to the beans and hominy pot for the final two hours of cooking. Stir periodically. Check and adjust salt to taste.
A Twist on Thanksgiving
Few other times of the year equal Thanksgiving in terms of food, abundance and indulgence. This past week, as I was transcending down the tall Sierra Gorda mountain range in Querétaro, Mexico after attending a seminar commemorating Junípero Serra's 300th birth anniversary, I had the idea of a Thanksgiving fusion - adding chile to every dish planned for the Thanksgiving table back home in Santa Barbara. Surprisingly, it all worked out well, and it made for an interesting and different Thanksgiving celebration. Buen provecho!
When it comes to holidays, I am a traditionalist. I hated one year that I had to spend Thanksgiving in Mexico while reporting from Puerto Vallarta in the mid 1980's. Over-cooked hotel chicken on Thanksgiving just doesn't make it. I also don't really enjoy spending either Christmas or Easter south of the border. Here in the U.S. we celebrate, for the most part, the day -- Christmas on the 25th and Easter Sunday. However, in Mexico, for the most part, the celebration is the build up to the Holiday, whether the big Christmas celebration on the 24th or Semana Santa (Holy Week) leading up to Easter. In turn, the actual Holiday dates in Mexico - the 25th of December and Easter Sunday - usually reveal deserted towns as the locals are recovering from the big lead-up celebration.
As this Thanksgiving approached, I became increasingly excited about my holiday fusion idea. While battling the intense curves of the descending road from Jalpan to Mexico City - a path Junípero Serra journeyed some 250 years ago -- I planned my "different" Thanksgiving menu:
Instead of gravy, I prepared a fusion trio of sauces to accompany the Turkey: traditional Mole, green tomatillo salsa, and a spicy red chile de arbol salsa. All three go well with chicken, and I knew they would pair well with Turkey. We were not disappointed. As a Holiday traditionalist, I kept my turkey preparation the same: inside salt and pepper, stuffed with orange and lemon quarters, inside the skin I pushed in butter cubes along with fresh sage leaves, and on the outside I dusted it with powdered sage, paprika, pepper, and sea salt. I cooked the turkey -- breasts up -- for 30 mins at 400 degrees, and then turned the breasts down and lowered the temperature to 350 for about 3.5 hours for the 13-pound bird. Every 30 minutes, I pulled out the rack and bathed the bird alternatively with orange juice, and then the next time with vegetable broth. Serving the trio of sauces on the side allowed each guest to expert as they wished. It's amazing how well Mole goes with fresh, moist turkey.
For the sides:
Cranberries sautéed with one julienned and diced Habanero chile, seeds and veins removed, plus an added twist of citrus with one Mexican guayaba chopped up and mixed in. The sweetness came from farmer's market avocado flower honey and a bit of raw sugar.
Brussel sprouts sautéed with pancetta and garlic, and one finely sliced Serrano chile added for a bit of spice - but not overwhelming at all.
Potatoes: I boiled four russets until fork tender, removed and mashed. I added four gloves diced garlic, three diced green jalapeños and three diced red jalapeños, plus sour cream, non fat greek yogurt, a tablespoon of mayonnaise, salt, pepper, half and half and some shredded parmesan cheese on top. I re-baked this at 300 for an hour.
Instead of green beans this year, I julienned four poblano chiles (roasted and skins removed), and sautéed them in unsalted butter, adding sliced white onion, garlic, and two ears of corns cooked and the kernels sliced off. A bit of salt and pepper.
Instead of my mom's smoked salmon dip (cream cheese, sour cream, dill and smoked salmon) I substituted smoked marlin caught off of the coast of Sinaloa which I brought back following my recent trip to Mexico.
The only thing that didn't get a touch of Thanksgiving fusion this special holiday - my mom's pumpkin pie. Some recipes just shouldn't be touched.
Trio of Fusion Thanksgiving Sauces
5 tomatillos, cored and cut in half
1 cup water
4 gloves garlic
1/4 chopped white onion
2 serrano chiles cut in fourth
In saucepan, lightly simmer all ingredients in water.
Turn tomatillos as needed so both sides cook.
Pour all ingredients in a blender, add salt and pepper.
Blend thoroughly and place in a serving bowl.
Red Chili de Arbol Salsa
8 red dried chile de arbol, steams removed
1 cup water
3 gloves garlic
1/4 chopped white onion
In saucepan, lightly simmer all ingredients in water.
Lightly toss all ingredients so to cook both sides equally.
Pour all ingredients in a blender, add salt and pepper.
Blend thoroughly and place in a serving bowl.
In a saucepan with a little olive oil, lightly sauté, flipping as needed:
3 red dried chiles - I like puja
1 dried ancho chile or pasilla chile
(Remove and stem all dried chiles before sautéing)
3 gloves garlic
1/4 white onion
1/2 piece chocolate - Abuelitas
2 stick cinnamon
1/2 half Roma tomato cored and seeded
4 butter crackers like Ritz
Place all ingredients in a blender, add pinch of oregano, pinch of salt, vegetable or chicken stock.
Return to sauté pan and lightly simmer.
Place in serving bowl.
Tacos de Pescado / Fish Tacos
Nothing calls out the modern coast along the Mission Trail - from Mexico to California - like a good fish taco.
A battered white fish, slaw, guacamole, salsa, a slice of lime and a corn tortilla - wow! - buen provecho!
I've found that Tilapia is a good white fish for fish tacos. Wild, it is a bottom fish, and many people in Mexico have traditionally frowned on it as it is known to scour the ocean floor much like wild catfish. Today though farm raised Tilapia is well received and a great main ingredient for fish tacos.
Slice the fish filet into pieces about the length of a regular corn tortilla.
Make your batter: 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup baking powder, a pinch of salt, 1 TBLS dried oregano and water. Mix.
Dredge both sides of the fish in your batter.
Fry in hot oil, about 2 minutes.
Make your slaw: equal parts shredded red cabbage and white or green cabbage, add apple cider vinegar and salt. Lightly mix and let sit.
Make a guacamole: mash avocados, a squeeze of lime juice, salt and pepper
Make a tomatilla salsa: poach 4 tomatillos (green tomatoes with the dried outer skins removed, rinsed and the core removed). Roast 2 gloves garlic and 1 or 2 jalapeno chiles (depending on your desired heat level). Rotate the chile(s) to blacken all sides. Remove from heat, rinse and softly remove the burnt skin. Slice open and using your fingers as an aid, rinse out the seeds, veins and the stem. Place the chiles, roasted garlic and tomatillos in a blender with a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix. (Wash your hands well to remove the chile residue)
Heat the corn tortillas.
Build your tacos:
A heated tortilla, piece of cooked fish, a bit of slaw, some of the guacamole, some salsa, a squeeze of lime. Enjoy! Buen Provecho!
Machaca is a dried, salted meat that originated in the northwest of Mexico in the states of Sinaloa and Sonora during Mission times as the settlers needed a way for meat to last along the mission trail. To make the machaca, thinly slice red meet into large pieces. Salt and dry in the hot sun. Once dried, cook slightly over coals. Then the meat is shredded to make Machaca. The best Machaca today continues to come out of the Northwest corner of Mexico. Often it is brought up to the states for re-sale. Inquire at your local Mexican supermarket, or ask around your local Latino community. Eventually you'll find a person who brings the machaca to the states for re-sale. Don't worry about spoilage. The technique, similar to how the Portuguese prepare salt cod, gives Machaca a very long life.
Roma tomatos (seeded, cord and diced)
Green fresh pasilla chiles (seeded and de-veined)
White onion, diced
In a sauté pan, lightly toast the machaca in oil but do not over cook. Then add all of the ingredients and continue to sauté. The juice from the tomatos prevents the dish from drying out. The onions and green chile add flavor. Once the vegetables are tender, the machaca is ready to serve.
Best with corn or flour tortillas.
PASTEL DE GUAYABA - TRES LECHES (Guava Cake with Three Milks)
One of my favorite desserts out of Mexico is anything Tres Leches. The 'three milks' cakes and pies have a rich creamy flavor that mixes well with any kind of filling. A couple days before this past Christmas, a friend of mine from deep in the heart of Central Mexico showed me how to make a Pie de Tres Leches -- it was a Guava Pie soaked in the three milks: equal parts condensed, evaporated and whole milk. Wow! After it soaked overnight, the cake took on a wet and sweet texture that was so ever good.
I had sampled Tres Leches many times before during a variety of trips throughout Mexico, but now having seen it prepared, how easy it is, and how different and enjoyable it is as a pleasant change of pace from our normal desserts. Give it a try. You'll enjoy it, and your family and guests will too.
PASTEL DE GUAYABA - TRES LECHES (Guava Cake with Three Milks)
Cook's note: The Guayaba or Guava filling can be substituted for any fruit filling. Just prepare the fruit filling the same way as below.
Also, this recipe can be cut in half to make a smaller cake by reducing everything in 1/2 below
7 cups Buttermilk Pancake Flour - shifted
2 Cups Sugar
3 Cups Canola Oil
3 Cups Milk
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
3 dashes of Cinnamon
2 Deep Pie Molds - Hard Aluminum or Ceramic Pie Pans (at least 2 inches tall)
Butter pans, then lightly cover with flour.
In large bowl, shift flour.
Add all other ingredients.
Mix in a mixer until all blended.
Spread this mixture evenly in two large cake pans.
Cook 350 degrees, 45 mins each pan.
Once cooked and cooled, place in the refrigerator, cover with plastic wrap until ready to eat (up to 2 days out).
To Make Tres Leches Sauce:
In a blender mix: equal parts
1 can Condensed milk
1 can Evaporated milk
Whole milk equal to one can
One evening prior to serving, remove cakes from refrigerator.
One cake will be the lower half; one cake will be the upper half with the filling in the middle.
On lower-half-cake, smother slowly with Tres Leches Sauce so cake absorbs (maybe poke holes so it enters). Don't pour too quickly as you do not want the sauce to run over the edges but rather be absorbed by the cake.
Then spread Guayaba mixture (sliced Guayabas mashed with lime juice and sugar -- see below).
Before adding top half of cake, smear the underside of the top piece with 1/3 of the frosting (see below):
Poke holes on top of top cake and add remaining milk mixture so it absorbs.
Then use rest of frosting to smear around the outside of the cake -- all sides, top and bottom.
Let sit in the refrigerator to harden a bit, and then serve.
It is awesome. Enjoy! Buen Provecho! Serves 8-10 slices
In a bowl:
Cut Guayaba ends off
Cut Guayabas in half
Squeeze juice of one lime and ½ cup sugar over Guayabas
Mash all together
2 bars cream cheese
1 stick butter
2 cups powder sugar
PAN DE CAQUIS (Persimmon Bread) y PAN DE GUAYABA (Guava Bread)
At this time of year, two fruits are abundant in our corner of the Mission Trails - the ripening yellow-skinned guayaba and the Japanese variety of Persimmon introduced to the United States and southern Europe in the 1800's.
Both of these fruits can be prepared in a variety of ways and make for excellent Holiday breads, puddings, cookies, cakes, jams and punches.
Recently, I fiddled with a Persimmon bread recipe with dried cranberries and walnuts which I was later able to adapt slightly and easily replaced the Persimmon pulp with Guayaba puree. Both came out quite tasty, and I am pleased to pass them along here in our December Food Corner column just in time for the Holidays.
PERSIMMONS - Caquis
There are several varieties of Persimmon. The kind we most readily find in California originally came from China, and is the most widely cultivated species of Persimmon worldwide. Even more than grapes, Persimmon has a high tannin content that makes the unripe fruit quite bitter. Persimmons must be fully ripe - soft - before consumption. Our "California" persimmons are orange in color and are falling off the tree as we speak. The persimmon native to Mexico is a Black Persimmon. The Philippines variety is bright red, and the Indian Persimmon is green before turning yellow.
When cooking, I find it best to allow the "California" persimmon to ripen fully, until it becomes very soft. Once ripe, these persimmon can be frozen whole, as is, and brought out up to a year later from the freezer, and placed under warm faucet water while removing the skin.
To prepare a ripe persimmon in a bread or pudding, only the pulp, or the insides, are used. Over a bowl, cut a slit in the skin and remove/discard all the skin plus the inner core and attached leaves. Put all of the pulp in a bowl. Three persimmons roughly produce one cup of pulp.
Guayaba is the Spanish name for Guava. It is called Goiba in Brazilian Portuguese. Like Persimmon, Guayaba is high in Vitamin C. One of the best varieties of Guayaba that I have found is the Mexican Cream. It originated in Mexico, is small to medium in size, and boasts a light yellow skin slightly blushed with red. The insides are very sweet, and excellent for dessert.
No country in Latin America likes Guayaba better, though, than Cuba. In Cuba the Guayaba is referred to as La Fruta - the fruit. One of my friends, Luis, whose family migrated decades ago from Cuba, often tells me of the stories of the Cuban ladies - his mom, aunts, etc. - sitting around and eating Pasta de Guayaba (sweet Guayaba Paste), smothering it on crackers with cream cheese and talking the afternoon away. In many parts of Mexico, especially in the central region around Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca, Guayabas are used this time of year in a Holiday Ponche, a Guayaba Punch featuring a variety of fruits, raisins and a bit of alcohol. I personally like to simmer Guayabas cut in half in a bit of water and drink it like a tea during these cooler California months around the Holidays.
After experimenting last week with a successful persimmon Bread recipe, I decided to try this past weekend to substitute Guayaba puree (lightly boil guayabas cut in half in a very little bit of water, seeds and all, and then pass through a ricer or push through a strainer using only the outcome puree in the recipe). Surprisingly, the Guayaba bread came out quite nice, and the only modification to the following Persimmon bread recipe I did was add an extra ½ cup of sugar as Guayabas aren't quite as sweet as the fully ripe Persimmons.
Give this a Holiday bread a try. It's easy, your guests will like it, and it also makes for a nice gift for your neighbors specially wrapped for the Holidays.
PAN DE CAQUIS - PERSIMMON BREAD
(Easily adapted to make Pan de Guayaba or Guava Bread)
Note: To make the Guayaba Bread instead of the following Persimmon Bread, just replace the Persimmon pulp listed below with Guayaba Puree. And increase the sugar by ½ cup. Otherwise, everything else remains the same.
MAKES 2 LOAFS (9 x 4 Pyrex baking dish)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups white sugar (2 cups for the Guayaba bread version)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups persimmon pulp (or puree of Guayaba)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
Preheat your oven top 325 degrees, and oil two 9 x 4 inch pans.
In a bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, salt, nuts, cinnamon and the raisins (or dried cranberries).
In a mixing bowl, blend the wet ingredients - the eggs, oil - plus the sugar. Separately, add the baking soda to the Persimmon pulp (or Guayaba puree). Then add the pulp (or puree) to the egg mixture and lightly mix.
Add the dry ingredients to this mixture and fold in, or lightly mix.
Evenly divide between the two 9 x 4 pans and bake for roughly 75 minutes. When done, you should be able to slide in a knife and cleanly pull out of the bread with nothing sticking to the knife.
Let stand. Slice into ½ inch pieces. It's quite good toasted and covered with a little unsalted butter.
Turkeys have been around America longer than the Spanish. Native to the North American continent, Turkeys were the largest ground-nesting bird that the first European colonizers stumbled upon.
In Spanish, there are two common translations for Turkey: guajolote and pavo. In Mexico, Pavo is used more frequently in larger cities and Guajolote is commonly used in smaller ranchos.
Many pre-Hispanic cultures enjoyed turkey meat even more than we do today. In modern America, Turkey has become synonymous with Thanksgiving, a holiday only celebrated in North America in the U.S. and Canada (on different dates).
In fact, in much of Mexico, the name for our Thanksgiving, in slang, is El Dia del Pavo, Turkey Day. The correct Spanish name for Thanksgiving is Acción de Gracias.
Like many things in the Americas, the wild turkey population declined after the arrival of the Europeans and hit a low in the late 1800's. In the 1960's there was a restoration of the wild turkey population, and it quickly was labeled as a "wildlife management comeback marvel."
In modern Mexican cooking, turkey is seldom used though it makes for a great combination with Mole in place of chicken. Turkey broth made during the weekend after our Holiday, can also be substituted into many Mexican dishes that require "Caldo" or chicken broth
This Thanksgiving, enjoy your Turkey - it's a bird with a historic past. Buen Provecho!
Eggplant with Eggs and Salsa
This time of year eggplant is abundant. The plants that I planted late spring are now full of flowers, and eggplants are sprouting in their rich color. Originally from Southeast Asia and the Middle East, eggplants made their way to Europe and have been a part of Mediterranean cuisine for some time.
A Spanish dish Pisto is a regional dish prepared throughout Murcia. It is made by sautéing in olive oil tomatoes, onions, eggplant, green and red peppers. This mixture is often served warm with bread or a fried egg, and can often be used as a filling in empanadas.
Italians have been using eggplant for centuries in dishes like eggplant parmesan, and in southeastern Europe, my mom's side of the family has been preparing Moussaka with layered eggplant, meat, potatoes and sauce for centuries.
I am passing along two eggplant dishes that I had fun creating with eggplant from the garden -- a breakfast plate and a dip or spread.
When friends come over, it is fun to experiment with food and new combinations. During the weekend of the recent CMF Missions Director and Curators conference, our friends Lupita and Lilly from CAREM in Baja California stayed over. Sunday morning was a time for me to experiment in the kitchen. I was pleased that the ladies enjoyed this breakfast dish using eggplant from the garden and combining touches of Italy, Spain and Mexico . Buen Provecho!
LA BERENJENA con HUEVOS y SALSA (Eggplant with Eggs and Salsa)
Serves 6 regular, or 3 large appetite individuals
10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
3 gloves garlic - minced
12 Basil leaves
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1 chile - minced jalapeño, Serrano or other
Sauté garlic and chile lightly in olive oil, add salt and pepper. Add broken up Basil leaves, and then add the sliced cherry tomatoes. Stir lightly on low heat. Once tomatoes have released their juice, cover and turn off heat.
1 large eggplant sliced cross ways in ½ inch rings
½ cup flour
1 egg yolk beaten with a fork and mixed with a bit of cream or milk
Olive oil for sautéing
Put flour on a flat dish
Beat egg with milk or cream in a small bowl
Add olive oil to sauté pan and turn to medium heat
One-by-one, place an eggplant slice in the flour, swish around, and turn it over, coating the other side as well. Pat off excess flour, and transfer eggplant slice to the beaten egg and milk mixture. Swirl around to coat, turn over and repeat on the other side. Turn eggplant sideways so that excess egg drips off. Place the coated eggplant in the sauté plan, and lightly sauté on both side until golden brown. Remove and place on a large dinner plate topped with a kitchen paper towel to absorb excess oil. Repeat the procedure until you have six eggplant rings prepared.
A little olive oil
Salt and pepper
Poached eggs would work, but I made this dish recently with lightly fried eggs.
After frying the eggs to taste, lightly salt and pepper
On a plate, put an eggplant ring down first, top with an egg, and smother in the tomato basil salsa.
Top with a few pinches of ripped fresh Basil for color
For hungry appetites, serve two per person. If serving one, place a side of any kind of breakfast sausage or fruit.
AN EGGPLANT DIP OR SPREAD
If you have left-over eggplant and are not sure what else to do with it, someone suggested making a dip or spread. Rather than "googling" for a recipe, I like to experiment. This one came out better than I had expected. I've made it three times since! It works as a nice dip for zucchini slices, or crackers or chips, and could also be used as a sandwich or pita spread.
2 large eggplants
Juice of 1 lemon
4 gloves garlic
1 Tablespoon capers
Salt and Pepper
¼ cup milk, cream, or any dairy
I use the Trader Joe's Brand for the next 3 items:
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
2 Tablespoon each non-fat Greek yogurt and sour cream
In a 350 degree oven, place two washed eggplants with the tops cut off and the bottom cored and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove and let cool.
Slice in half lengthwise. With your fingers, or a small spoon, scoop out all of the insides leaving just the skin. Place the scooped-out insides into a blender. Discard the skin. Add the above ingredients, and blend lightly, moving up in speed to about medium. Once everything is incorporated, place this mixture in a serving bowl.
I've had a larger-than-expected crop of zucchinis this summer, and they keep coming this fall. I sliced one up crosswise into 1/4 inch slices and used those instead of chips or crackers with this dip.
Mole has been around since pre-Hispanic times. From the Spanish verb 'moler' to grind, Moles are varied, regional and historic.
Most of us think of Mole as a chocolate sauce, or we've heard that Moles are made with a long list of ingredients. Both are true.
In fact, the Aztecs made their Mole long before the Spanish New World arrival, but it was the Spanish who added new ingredients like sweet chocolate, cinnamon etc that they had discovered during voyages to other parts of the World like India.
These 'new' ingredients, combined with the ancient Mole ingredients of the Americas: chilies, tomatoes, herbs, and seeds, helped transform the Moles of Mexico into a world-renowned dish.
There are many varieties of Mole: Mole Poblando from Puebla, Mole Oaxaqueña, and a basic Mexican Mole, among others, used in states to the North where a variety of ingredients are not as readily available as they are in central Mexico.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of attending a Conference on Mole in Puebla, Mexico on May 5th -- a historic day throughout the Country known as Cinco de Mayo.
The Conference in the birthplace of Mole Puebla was fascinating, discussions about the history of Mole, and explanations of the various techniques to making a quality Mole. Mole Poblano as we know it today was first made by Nuns at a Convent in Puebla who had been asked to prepare a special meal for a Spanish dignitary on his way from Mexico City back to Veracruz through Puebla during his return trip to Europe.
Moles may seem complex and difficult to prepare, but I'm passing on a simple Mole recipe here which you will find easy to prepare and something your family and friends will enjoy. It was taught to me by Olvia Manjarrez Guerrero during a trip I took to Culiacán, Sinaloa.
OLVIA'S MOLE - ESTILO DE MEXICO
FOR THE MOLE SAUCE
4 Chiles - Dried Pasillas, rinsed and de-seeded and de-veined
6-8 Crackers - a butter type cracker like a Ritz
2 gloves of Garlic
1/4 diced white onion
4 Cinnamon sticks
Half of piece of Chocolate Abuelita - found in any Mexican market or the international section of your major grocery store
TO PRE-COOK THE CHICKEN:
One whole chicken cut in pieces
Water to simmer the chicken
1 whole onion
2 gloves of garlic
1 Bay Leaf
Salt and Pepper for taste
First in a large pot, place the cut up chicken, a whole peeled white onion, two gloves of garlic, and the Bay Leaf.
Simmer until chicken is cooked, removing the foam from the surface throughout the process.
Then in a large saucepan, add cooking oil and little sauté the dried chilies ripped into pieces.
In the same oil, little sauté the crackers, and remove.
In the same saucepan, sauté the tomatoes, 14 onions, garlic, and the cinnamon sticks.
Once everything is sautéed well, place all of these ingredients in a blender, add the chocolate piece, and about two cups of the broth from the pot of cooked chicken.
Blend until everything is mixed together well and there are no large pieces.
In the saucepan, return the blended mixture and on top of a low flame. Add a pinch of salt.
Once the mixture is heated, add the pieces of cooked chicken from the pot and simmer about 20 minutes allowing the chicken to absorb the Mole sauce.
Serve the Mole over white rice. An excellent, exotic and flavorful meal. It serves 4-6.
A Pair of Salsas
For centuries, Salsas have been the condiment of choice Along the Mission Trail and in the early Pueblos and Ranchos. A variety of salsas could be made, basically incorporating chile and whatever other ingredients could be found locally. These salsas were often used to add a flavor sophistication to meats, and could also be used to spice up anything as basic as a pot of beans.
Today Salsa has surpassed Ketchup as the Number #1 condiment in the U.S., and new combinations of Salsa continue to be assembled. Any time I come across a fresh approach to Salsa, I like to pass it along. This month's Buen Provecho will focus on a first-time salsa for me -- one made with cucumbers -- as well as a Salsa that has its roots in Mexico's Spanish Hacienda culture.
In terms of process, the original salsas were mashed together in a molcate, the exception being the roughly-chopped Pico de Gallo Salsa (tomato, onion, chile, and cilantro). Today the trusty blender or modern food processor continues to put the traditional molcate out of business, and the following two Salsas, one modern and one traditional, can be prepared quite easily in your kicthen's blender or food processor. Buen Provecho!
CUCUMBER AND CHILE SALSA
On a recent trip through the Mission region of northern Baja California, I came across a fabulous, refreshing Salsa during a late breakfast pit stop in touristy Ensenada. A couple of blocks away from the main drag catering to tourists and the like, I stumbled on a little eatery packed with locals -- the best kind of restaurant to encounter when in a strange city with no background as to where to eat. Inside, the place smelled of quality. And the faces of those already enjoying their morning plates revealed great satisfaction. But as I looked around at the various tables and decor, the salsa that everyone was enjoying looked a bit different; and I could hardly wait to figure out why! Once served, I sampled a Salsa that I had never experienced before -- one made with a base of Cucumber. It had a little kick, but it was also very refreshing. More than anything, it was new. Give it a try, your family and guests will for sure have questions -- what is in this? Enjoy!
2 Cucumbers, 1 seeded, skinned and diced. The other put aside for juice.
1/2 red onion, diced finely
2 gloves garlic, minced
1 habañero chili, deveined, and minced
3 chili de arbol (the dried very very thin red chili)
1/4 cup white vinegar (used for pickling)
In a juicer, juice the one cucumber and put the juice to the side
In a saucepan on medium heat, add a little olive oil and sauté the onion, After a couple of minutes add the chili de arbol cut into three pieces each, the minced habañero chili, the minced garlic and salt. Let simmer until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the cucumber and white vinegar, and stir everything together.
Place all of this in a blender, and lightly pulse a couple of times until everything mixes together well. Pour into a serving bowl, and add the diced, skinned cucumber bits. Stir around a bit to incorporate everything together. Time to serve. Enjoy!
HACIENDA-STYLE SALSA FROM SINALOA, MEXICO
Missionaries moved into the mountains and valleys of Sinaloa centuries ago and, towards the end of their missionary work, established a pair of missions at San Javier and San Ignacio, about an hour north and inland from Mazatlan. Other settlers and laborers soon followed, setting up Haciendas and mining towns in the vicinity. One of these Haciendas -- that at La Labor -- brought a workforce from the nearby towns, including San Ignacio. Once the heyday of the Hacienda La Labor was over, the descendants of the families that had first flocked to this small "rancho" remained, and, among other things, passed on and refined recipes from generation to generation. This next Salsa recipe has been made by families in La Labor for many generations. It's simple, traditional and works really as an accompaniment to any dish. The vinegar adds sweetness, the chiles obviously add fire power. Together it is nice combination. It's not a salsa for those who cannot tolerate any heat; but, after the salsa "rests" in the refrigerator for 2-3 days before serving, the sweetness of the fermented vinegar definitely brings down the heat level of the combined chiles. If for a gathering, put out two Salsas -- this one for the adventurous and the heat lovers -- and a very mild one for those who do not like the spicy stuff. Buen Provecho!
1 lb jalapeños
1 lb chile Serranos
3/4 red onion
5-7 gloves of garlic
1/2 cup white vinegar (used for pickling)
Chop jalapeños and serranos in thirds and place in a colander. Wash under cold water (doing this after cutting, and not before, helps wash away some of the not-too-tasty insides of the chiles). Turn heat to medium under the large pot, but do not add any oil or water. Add chiles. Cut 1 medium red onion or 3/4 of a large red onion in half, and then rinse in water to remove some of the "onion power". Cut red onion halves into three pieces, and add to the pot.
Add the Roma tomatos to the pot, washed and cut roughly into sixths.
Do not add water to the salsa. Water takes away flavor.
Dice about 1 garlic glove per tomato, and add to the pot.
Add two pinches of oregano and a large pinch of salt
Add half cup of white vinegar, then cover and reduce heat to low heat
Simmer 20 minutes
Put everything in a blender in small batches, and pulse lightly to mix everything but don't over blend. Once a batch is blended, add to a serving bowl or container; and continue the process until all of the salsa is blended.
Refrigerate for 2-3 days before serving for best test. Best to not refrigerate in a plastic container to avoid adding any taste from the plastic container in the salsa.
It might seem like a lot of chiles, but the sweetness of the vinegar, especially after fermenting a couple of days in the refrigerator, will help to off-set the heat of the chiles. This is a very traditional salsa, and your family and guests will undoubtedly enjoy the sweet mixture of vinegar and hot chiles.
If you absolutely do not want any heat, you could switch out the jalapeños and serranos, for the lighter tasting green chile pasilla. You could also mix the chiles, 1/2 lb each of jalapeños and serranos, and 1 lb of pasillas for a milder salsa. Stepping it down this way could also help you achieve the heat level you and your family desire. If the first time you try this, it's too hot, don't be discouraged. Try again with this stepping down method. You'll eventually come to a great medium. Buen Provecho!
Add 5 Romas washed and cut in sixths
Don't add water, the juice from the Romas will be enough liquid. Adding water takes away flavor.
5 Dientes large de ajo or 7 small ones (1 per tomato)
2 pinches oregano
Large pinch of salt
Add half cup white vinegar, then top and reduce heat to a low heat
Simmer about 20 minutes
Put in a blender in small batches, don't over blend
Transfer to a large bowl afterwards.
ENCHILADAS de FRIJOLES
Enchiladas have been a part of the menu along Los Caminos Reales probably as early as the Spanish settlers began to build on and modify the ancient cuisines of New Spain.
In etymology, Enchilada is the past participle of the Spanish word 'enchilar', "to add chile pepper to", literally to "season [or decorate] with chile".
Basically, an enchilada is a corn tortilla rolled around a filling and covered with or dredged in a chili pepper tomato sauce.
Enchiladas can be filled with a variety of ingredients, including meat, chicken, cheese, beans, potatoes, vegetables, seafood or combinations.
Today the enchilada, which has its origin in the days of the Mayan Civilization, has many forms, from the cheesy baked version found in Tex Mex cooking to the traditional style still served throughout Mexico.
Our food journey this month explains the technique of making the traditional enchilada. It's simple and enjoyable. Buen Provecho!
Enchiladas de Frijoles
Cook's Note: This recipe is for Enchiladas filled with refried beans and a dry Mexican cheese. The filling can be substituted, as mentioned above, with: shredded cooked chicken, meat, seafood, veggies, just cheese or any combination.
Ingredients: Serves 3-4
12 Corn Tortillas (I have really come to like the Trader Joe's brand corn tortillas. They're fresh, without a lot of preservatives, and at 99 cents a packet, a great bargain.)
Cooking oil (vegetable the best)
A homemade chile tomato sauce or for quick prep canned Pato Sauce found in every supermarket's international or mexican foods section
1 diced onions, and
Cheese: preferably Cotija cheese, as its called here; in Mexico just simply "queso seco'" or dry cheese. Note: The other common Mexican cheese is queso amarillo "yellow cheese" or, as they often say, "queso para quesadillas." A drier cheese is preferred for these enchiladas.
In one skillet, fill with about a half inch of the oil, and turn burner to medium.
In another skillet place the tomato/chile sauce, or 2 small cans of the canned Pato Sauce.
Take a corn tortilla and with tongs submerge in the hot oil 5 seconds. Remove and then submerge in the tomato/chile sauce until well coated and remove to a flat surface.
Place 2 tablespoons of your filling across the tortilla, just to one side of the middle of the tortilla at about the 1/3 mark.
Sprinkle some of the dry cheese on the beans.
From one end, begin to roll the tortilla over the filling, ending up with a kind of tube.
Place on a plate. Repeat this process with 2 or 3 other corn tortillas, and place on the same plate. This is a serving.
Top the 3-4 enchiladas with a scoop of the tomato sauce, some of the diced onions and more of the crumbled dry cheese.
A more modern version adds diced lettuce on top. Your choice.
As always be creative, try new things and give it a try. You'll enjoy them, and your guests will too.
Summer brings out a special air for everything outdoors. Whether near the coast, inland, or wherever you may be, seafood is especially attractive this time of year as summer days of fishing, walking on the beach and enjoying our beautiful Alta California coastline are ever so special.
From Mexico's Sinaloa to Baja California to Alta California, the abundance of seafood easily found along the Pacific and in the Sea of Cortez must have made its way to the tables of early missionaries.
Shrimp in Sinaloa, fish and abalone in the Californias have been seafood staples for centuries dating back to our native cultures.
To start June, I spent a week in Sinaloa beginning my current video production focusing on the history of the Sinaloa missions which date to the 1500's. These missions were key to the later mission expansion into Sonora, Mexico and later into both Baja and Alta Californias.
Sinaloa is rich in seafood: monster shrimps, octopus, a variety of fish and gallo de acha, a scallop like shell fish found only in the Sea of Cortez. This Mexican state which features some of the oldest missions in the Americas, provided a great backdrop, not to mention a huge seafood cooking inspiration. How the early missionaries must have enjoyed this excellent seafood of the Pacific.
A trip to the central market of Sinaloa's capital Culiacan led me to create the following, something all of us can do here easily in Alta California. A seafood pasta with a taste of Mexico.
As always, enjoy. And Buen Provecho!
1 white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, julienned, then cut the strips in half
1 green chile pasilla, julienned then cut the strips in half
12 gloves garlic, or less if preferred
5 roma tomatos, cord, seeds/center removed and then diced
Good olive oil
4 Chiles: Either dried red chile de arbol or fresh green Serranos or Jalapenos
1 bunch cilantro (half for the Pasta sauce, half for garnish)
4 green limes
Crushed black pepper
Mexican cream, or 4 tablespoon sour cream (or non fat greek yogurt) and 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 lbs shrimp preferably with heads on and still with outer shell
1 lb oysters, scallops or clams
Shrimp Stock to become Seafood Pasta Sauce:
In a medium sauce pot, cover bottom with thin layer of good olive oil and put over medium low flame
Break off heads of shrimp and outer shell/casing and add to skillet. Add 3 gloves garlic, smashed with flat side of knife or diced. Add 1/4 of the diced white onion, sea salt to taste, and a couple of chiles to taste either fresh chopped serranos or dried chile de arbol. Fill pot about 3/4 full with water and simmer to make a shrimp stock. Add any juice or 'liquor' from the oysters, scallops or clams, or add 1/3 bottle of clam juice. Simmer hard for about 45 mins, stir a few times with a big stirring spoon to get the most flavor out of the seafood bits and vegetables.
Shrimp Stock/Seafood Pasta Sauce:
In a separate large sauce pan on low heat, add a thin layer of good olive oil and then to flavor the oil, add 3 chile de arbol cut or ripped in thirds, or fresh cut-in-half serrano or jalepeno chiles. Leave chiles in the oil for 5 minutes to give oil flavor. Take all chiles out, and save for a future meal or discard.
Into the chile oil add what I newly call the Mexican flag: the remaining diced white onion, and the julienned green pasilla chile and julienned red bell pepper.
Increase heat to medium, and sauté, adding a little sea salt and crushed black pepper to taste.
Dice 5 gloves garlic, and add to the sauce pan. Add also the Roma Tomatos diced. Chop a half punch of cilantro and add, plus the juice of three limes.
Leave this mixture to sauté until everything is cooked just soft, periodically adding a scoop or two of the simmering shrimp stock as a de-glazer and for flavor.
Once done, put a strainer over this pot with the simmering vegetables and pour the shrimp stock in. Discard all that remains in the strainer
In a blender, blend this vegetable and shrimp stock mixture well. Return to the pot and leave on very low simmer
Separately in another sauté pan, add oil and 5 gloves chopped garlic, and sauté the raw shrimp and the other seafood you've chosen
In a large pasta pot, bring water and sea salt to a boil. Add your pasta of choice
In the sauté pan with the blended shrimp stock, add some Mexican cream or 3 tablespoon sour cream, and 1 tablespoon mayonnaise. Stir. This is your sauce for the pasta
Once pasta is done, strain and return to the pasta pot adding a bit of the pasta water to the sauce. Add the sauce over the pasta and stir
Serve in a big bowl, garnished on top generously with the seafood combo
Further garnish with a little diced cilantro
Wow! Enjoy. 2 hours prep time, but well worth the effort. Your guests will agree...
Many dishes from pre-Hispanic times in the Americas continue to be prepared and enjoyed today with a few changes that have been adopted over the past five centuries.
The hearty, broth-style stew - Cazuela (literally translated as 'prepared in a clay pot' or barro) - is a perfect example of a pre-Hispanic dish modified over time with ingredients introduced along our vast Mission Trail.
Like Pozole, experts believe Cazuela was originally produced in pre-Hispanic times with human meat and vegetables simmered for a few hours creating the broth-like dish. The introduction of cattle by the Spaniards and the immediate end to human sacrificing drastically changed dishes like Cazuela and Pozole, as human meat was quickly replaced with red beef or chicken.
Cazuela, like Pozole, was an easy dish to prepare Along the Mission Trail as ingredients could be easily substituted based on the supplies of the day.
Today, Cazuela can be found in cities throughout Mexico, and in Mexican kitchens and restaurants in our corner of the Mission Trail. The modern version is a tasty and satisfying meal served traditionally with warm tortillas, either corn or flour, a bit of lime wedge and, if desired, a splash of your favorite hot sauce or crumbled dry, spicey chiles or pepper flakes.
It is very easy to prepare ("no tiene chiste", as they say in Mexico, literally there's no joke to it, or there's nothing to it).
Give it a try, you'll enjoy it, and as always, Buen Provecho!
1 lb Beef cut in cubes for stew as is found in any of our supermarkets
3 gloves garlic
5 whole carrots, cleaned and cut in one-inch pieces
10 small potatoes, cut in half
1/2 of white onion
3 whole Roma tomatos
Calabasa, or the thick, long light green squash, not zucchini (definitely found at any Mexican local market. You might also substitute zucchini cut in one-inch pieces if needed)
2 Handfuls of green beans, ends chopped off
2 whole yellow corn on the cob, husks removed, ends cleaned off, and each cob cut in thirds
1.5 gallons water
3 TBLSP Sea Salt (or less if desired)
In a large spaghetti pot, or clay pot if you have one, place meat cubes and add the water, bring to a boil, and reduce to a hard simmer.
Occasionally skim off from top of the pot the 'foam' caused by the fat of the meat.
Continue simmering and removing the 'foam' for 10 minutes.
Add the 3 TBLSP salt.
Reduce to a low simmer.
Add the whole Tomatos, the whole 1/2 of Onion, 3 gloves garlic whole and the corn-on-the-cob cut in thirds.
Continue to simmer for 30 minutes.
Then to the pot add the Potatoes, simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the carrots cut in 1 inch pieces.
Simmer 10 minutes.
Finally, add the Squash cut in one inch pieces and the whole green beans.
Let everything simmer a bit more until the potatoes are fork tender and the carrots have not become too mushy.
Serve in large bowls. Place a few pieces of meat, and some each of all of the vegetables into each bowl. Fill the bowl just below the rim with the flavorful broth or caldo.
For the table, offer warm corn or flour tortillas (plan 3-4 per person), a lime wedge per person to squeeze juice into each bowl, and hot sauce or dried chiles or flakes to each person's taste.
Be prepared, your guests will probably ask for a bit more.
During the past few months, I've written here in Correo about Pozole and Frijoles Puercos, both dishes Sinaloan-style. Both dishes we were pleased to offer for the first time at the recent CMSA Conference at Mission San Rafael Arcangel.
This month we're featuring kind of a hybrid of the two plates - Gallina Pinta - a pre-Hispanic dish still enjoyed today. It includes Hominy used in Pozole, and Peruvian beans, or frijoles peruanos, used commonly in Frijoles Puercos
This dish is full of protein and carbohydrates, and is a great accompaniment to eggs, or chicken and meat. Add a bit of your favorite salsa or hot sauce on top, and you will enjoy not only a tasty dish but a very historic one as well.
Unprepared hominy, or Instamal (about a pound), found fresh at your local Mexican neighborhood supermarket. (You can also substitute canned hominy, but nothing tastes as good as the 'real stuff.')
Beans - Peruvian or Peruano beans are best, but you can also use Pinto beans. About a pound.
Salt - sea salt if possible
What To Do:
Rinse the hominy in cold water multiple times to release and discard the lime. When the rinsing water runs clear, you are good to go.
In a large pot, cover hominy with water about three inches above. Bring to a boil and simmer hard for about 45 minutes.
Then add the beans to the same pot. Bring everything to a boil. When the beans float to the surface at the outset of boiling, add salt.
(This technique of adding salt to the beans once the water begins to boil and the beans rise to the surface is commonly performed throughout Mexico).
Reduce to a hard simmer for 2-3 hours until the beans are tender. Periodically check your water level, you might need to add water to the pot during the cooking process.
Serve alongside your favorite egg dish for breakfast, or alongside chicken or meat for lunch or dinner. By themselves, they make for a great snack.
An easy, historic and tasty dish.
SALSAS FOR ALL SEASONS - RED AND GREEN
With spring here and summer approaching, a good barbeque or outdoor party is always spiced up with salsa. Whether for chips or on meat or chicken, or whether green or red, salsa is something everyone enjoys. It can be as hot or as mild as you want, and provides color and freshness to any gathering.
Over the years, whether travelling throughout Mexico or hearing my Santa Barbara friends' "grandmothers' salsa recipes" while growing up, I've enjoyed experimenting with the many varieties of salsas. Here are two easy salsas that you can prepare quickly, and are guaranteed to add a bit of welcomed spice to any table:
GREEN SALSA - SALSA VERDE
8 tomatillos - small green tomatos (be sure they are not too mushy, or are discolored. Before adding to my shopping cart, I always peel off the outside paper-like covering to make sure they are fresh)
2 jalapeno peppers (for hotter salsa add 1 or 2 serrano peppers)
About a quarter of a white onion
2 gloves garlic
1 bunch of cilantro - 1/2 for cooking, 1/2 for garnish
A bit of salt and pepper
What To Do:
Cut out the top of the core of the tomatillos, cut tomatillos into quarters.
Add them to a medium size saucepan and add water to just cover.
Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. About 10 minutes, until tomatillos are soft.
In a skillet, on a 'comal', or in the oven, char peppers and then remove skin and stem.
Lightly toast the onion and garlic in the same manner.
Add peppers, onion and garlic to the saucepan with the tomatillos.
Add two pinches of salt, and one pinch of black pepper.
Chop and add the cilantro.
Simmer everything for about 5 mins. Add a bit of water if needed.
Take all saucepan ingredients and put in a blender. Blend until everything is combined.
Add to a serving bowl and top with the remaining cilantro, chopped finely.
RED SALSA - SALSA ROJA
4 big tomatos
2 serrano or jalapeno peppers - more if hotter salsa is desired
1/4 white onion
2 gloves garlic
1/2 bunch cilantro for garnish
Salt and pepper
What To Do:
In a skillet, or on a 'comal', char the skin of the tomatos, and then remove the skin and core the tomatos. Place in a blender.
(You may also remove tomato skin by quickly dropping them in boiling water)
Char peppers, and remove skin. Add to blender.
Lightly toast onion and garlic. Add to blender.
Add a bit of water to just cover all ingredients.
Add 2 pinches of salt, 1 pinch of pepper.
Blend until all ingredients are combined.
Pour into a serving bowl and top with the cilantro, chopped finely.
(Buen Provecho Note: For a very mild salsa, either the above red or green version, use just 1 pepper. Depending on the hotness desired, add additional peppers. Cooking and trying new recipes is always an experiment. If, when done, your salsa needs more 'kick' add additional peppers, 1 at a time until you reach the right mix. If your salsa is too hot, you can always add additional tomatos or tomatillos to bring it back to a tolerable level. For parties, you might consider making each of the above salsas two ways - one mild, one hot. Be sure to label them accordingly for your guests)
Croquetas de Cascara de Plátano - Plantain Skin Croquetas (Dominican Republic)
The first Spanish explorers to the New World arrived at the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Columbus, an island later divided up in two as French Haiti and the Spanish Dominican Republic.
Many of these early New World explorers, or later their descendants, spread out throughout every corner of the Americas, including eventually Alta California. Others remained in the Caribbean. Those that stayed on "the islands" soon established a unique cuisine blending the best of Spain with Caribbean ingredients.
This following recipe features a distinctly Dominican dish, one which includes the skin, or cascara, of a plantain beautifully mixed with a Spanish sofrito and bread crumbs to form Croquetas de Cascara de Platano. Enjoy!
Olive oil for sautéing
Skin of three plantains
1 red bell pepper
2 gloves garlic
3 Roma tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 egg yoke
Bread crumbs to form Plantain balls
1/4 cup Flour
6 cups cold Water
Eggs, flour and bread crumbs for breading
Oil for frying
A sofrito is used as a base for a variety of Spanish Caribbean dishes. It's basically the Spanish version of the French Trinity: olive oil, chopped onion, garlic, red bell pepper, salt, pepper, and tomatoes. Sometimes Cilantro is added for color and taste.
TO MAKE PLANTAIN BALLS:
Slice plantains through the skin long ways equally around three times. Cut off plantain ends.
Peel the Plantains and then Julienne the Plantain skins across into 1/4 inch slices.
Put these Julienned plantain skins in 6 cups cold water with 1/2 cup flour for 10 mins so the skins don't turn color.
Then place in boiling, salted water until tender.
Remove from boiling water, and place in Sofrito.
Saute and stir so plantain skins absorb the Sofrito flavors.
Put in food processor and blend, adding one egg yoke as a binder and bread crumbs.
Once thoroughly mixed, place this mixture in a bowl.
Form small balls - 3/4 inch in diameter - and then run through breading chain: Flour, Eggs and the Bread Crumbs.
Fry balls in vegetable oil under golden brown.
Remove and let stand in paper towel to remove excess oil.
Frijoles Puercos de Sinaloa
Recently, with an eye on our upcoming CMSA Conference at Mission San Rafael Arcángel, I have tried to identify and research some popular food items from the Mexican state of Sinaloa - the birthplace of many Alta California explorers, founders, soldiers, and missionaries.
A large contingent of the De Anza Expedition travelling north to found San Francisco Bay came from Sinaloa. The Sinaloa missions were some of the first founded in the Americas (16th and 17th century) and are located just north of the key port of San Blas in neighboring Nayarit.
Today Sinaloa is known for many dishes, among others, its red Pozole, machaca (dried beef), seafood (from the waters of the Sea of Cortes), and frijoles puercos (pork beans).
At the upcoming CMSA Conference, we are introducing Sinaloa-style red Pozole as a lunch item for the first time (more than half of our Conference attendees so far have signed up for Pozole) and at our Friday evening Registration Reception we are serving, among other things, Frijoles Puercos, also Sinaloa-style, and a real treat for those who have never tried them.
*Beans, preferably Peruano or Peruvian beans found at any of our Mexican-themed supermarkets. These beans are a light yellow in color, not to be confused with the more white colored Great Northern Beans. Peruano or Peruvian beans are used more commonly in most of Mexico than Pinto Beans.
*2 sticks of Chorizo (Pork chorizo preferred by Beef Chorizo can be substituted)
* Monterey Jack Cheese
* 1 small can of Red Salsa
*1 white onion
* Salt to taste
Traditionally, these beans are prepared in a clay pot or Barro, but you may also prepare them in a regular stew pot.
In a large pot, bring the Beans to a boil and then simmer until soft with a diced or halved white onion and salt to taste. Cook's note: When the beans first come to a boil, it is the best time to add the salt
Once the beans have been cooked tender, add to a blender with some of its juice and blend until smooth.
Separately, in a clay pot, Barro, or a stew pot, heat the Lard on low to medium heat. Add the Pork Chorizo, and continue to stir until the chorizo is cooked and has broken up into very small pieces.
Add the blended bean mixture to the Pot of chorizo and stir until thoroughly mixed together.
Reduce heat to low. For best results, continue stirring the beans and chorizo together with a wood spoon. Be sure to stir from the bottom of the Pot up. You will notice that eventually the fat from the chorizo will make its way to the surface of the beans, which shows that the chorizo and blended beans have been thoroughly mixed together.
Add the one can of red salsa to the pot, and mix it throughout the mixture
Cut up in small chunks or shred Monterey Jack cheese, and add this as well to the Pot of beans and chorizo. Continue stirring the Beans until the cheese has melted thoroughly.
It is ready to serve. Frijoles Puercos are ideal as a side dish for eggs, or with any chicken or meat dish. Serve with either warm corn or flour tortillas, or as a dip with tortilla chips. Unbelievable!
Pozole or Posole
1 dish; an interesting history
Whether traveling through Mexico or visiting your local favorite Mexican restaurant, most of us have had the pleasure of sampling the flavorful stew Pozole or Posole.
The word Pozole is derived from the Nahuatl language word potzolli, which means "foamy".
This traditional pre-Columbian soup or stew made with corn and meat has been around since Aztec times, though the 'meat' ingredient changed dramatically after colonization by the Spaniards.
The ancient peoples of Meso-America believed that corn was sacred, and thus Pozole was consumed only on special occasions. The Natives also believed that God created humans with cornmeal dough and thus Pozole, a mixture of corn, meat and species, has long tweaked the interests of scholars.
Research by Mexico's INAH and UNAM reveals that in pre-Columbian times, Pozole was made with corn and "the meat of sacrificed humans".
"After the prisoners were killed by having their hearts torn out in a ritual sacrifice, the rest of the body was chopped and cooked with corn. The meal was shared among the whole community as an act of religious communion. After the conquest, when cannibalism was banned, pork became the staple meat as it 'tasted very similar', according to a Spanish priest."
Today, the pork version of Pozole is a typical and popular dish throughout Mexico, most notably in Sinaloa, Jalisco, Michoacan and Mexico City.
The pork in Pozole can also be substituted for with chicken or turkey; a meatless version of Pozole is also gaining favor amongst vegetarians.
The color (use or lack of dried chile) of Pozole and Menudo (another popular stew) differ in Mexico from north to south. In Jalisco, for example, Pozole is white (made without dried chile) and the Menudo is red (with chile). In Sinaloa it's reversed, red Pozole and white Menudo.
In addition to corn (usually hominy), other 'red' or Sinaloan-style Pozole ingredients include, across the board, dried chiles, red onion, garlic, tomato, salt and oregano.
In Mission times, Pozole was a common meal, easy to make on the frontier and substantial. Depending on how hard or difficult the times were, 'Mission' Pozole could either be made with a lot of meat or with non at all.
(Chicken or Turkey may be substituted, or left out completely for a Vegetarian Pozole)
Serves 10-15 people
1 kilo (2 lbs)instamal (uncooked Hominy)
2 Roma tomatoes
3 dried chile anchos - chili colorado (not chili negro)
2 dried red chili rojo - guajillo o anaheim dried
1.5 kilo (3 lbs) pork neck with bone in, cut in 2-3 inch chunks ('gogote' in Spanish)
4 gloves garlic
Instamal can be found at any of your local Mexican markets; grocery store canned Hominy is not recommended
Wash 3-4 times to remove cal
Fill very large soup or spaghetti pot halfway with water
Boil Instamal for 1.5 hrs until Instamal is half-cooked, still a bit hard
Add pork chunks, and one whole peeled red onion cut in half and continue cooking together
Preparing the Chili:
Separately, slowly cook for 30 minutes chili in a small saucepan in water with 2 diced Roma tomatoes
Once cooked, put chile mixture in blender with 4 gloves garlic, and a pinch of oregano
Pass through a colander, pushing liquid through with a large spoon directly into Instamal/Pork pot.
Add a bit of water from Instamal pot to colander, to help continue straining blended chile mixture through.
Disgard chile mixture that would not pass through colander
Add 4 Tablespoon salt to Instamal/Pork pot
Cook 1 hour more until pork is cooked, flavors blend and Instamal is fork tender
Serve hot in soup bowls, spooning 1-2 pieces of Pork, some of the Hominy and Broth into each bowl.
Garnish with diced white onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime.
Sonoran-style Handmade Flour Tortillas
The northwest of Mexico, specifically the states of Sonora and Sinaloa once part of vast Nueva Vizcaya, is an area well-known within our Mission circles as the birthplace of many of the settlers who founded and populated Alta California. From the exploratory expedition of Portola to the later settlement expedition of De Anza, Sonoran and Sinaloan blood undoubtedly flowed through the veins of the early European establishments of Alta California.
This northwest region of Mexico also produces some of the most famed meat and tortillas in all of Mexico. The dried meat Machaca was first prepared in this area - its made nowhere better today.
And to accompany this delicacy, tortillas were soon perfected. Corn of course, but also handmade flour tortillas have made their way onto plates throughout Sonora and Sinaloa for centuries.
Earlier this month, I spent 10 days in Culiacan, Sinaloa to learn more about the foods of Northwest Mexico and Nueva Vizcaya.
I attended both the Colegio de Sinaloa's Conference on the History and Development of Sinaloa Cooking, as well as a private in-home cooking lesson on the finer points of handmade flour tortillas at the residence of Rosa Ley Cota, a native of Sonora and a transplanted 'Culichi' or Culiacan resident for the past 40 years.
Rosa is an expert in handmade flour tortillas. Along with her husband Francisco Solorzano, she produces 400 of the delectables daily for sale to residents of the Culiacan neighborhood, La Colonia Industrial Bravo. (I made the right choice building a home in Culiacan three years ago just around the corner from Rosa!)
Rosa's recipe and style comes from her Sonoran roots, and her family tree is unique:
Her paternal grandfather migrated to Mexico from Hong Kong, and soon changed his name from Li to Ley. Her maternal grandmother descends from Jewish and Arab immigrants, and her maternal grandfather Cota shares the same Spanish surname as many early Alta California settlers.
Rosa's handmade flour tortillas are simple, delicious and sought after.
Attendees of the 2012 CMSA Conference at Mission San Rafael Arcángel this February will have a chance to enjoy Rosa's tortillas at the Friday evening reception. Enjoy!
Next month in the January CMSA Correo, I'll have more on the foods of Sinaloa and Sonora - the foods of Alta California settlers.
Following is Rosa's recipe for Handmade Flour Tortillas - Tortillas de Harina hecho a mano.
ROSA'S HANDMADE FLOUR TORTILLAS
Makes 40 tortillas
1 kilo (2.2 pounds) 8 cups Harina or Flour (Good Pie flour in the U.S.)
200 grams (1.5 cups) of manteca vegetable - vegetable shortening
1 beer mug size glass of water
20 grams (5 tsp) of salt - fine sea salt
SHORTENING: For best results, buy the Manteca or Vegetable Shortening at any Mexican market in the U.S. The brand Inca is widely available in the U.S. You can also use Crisco but Rosa says Inca gives the best results.
SALT - be sure your sea salt is very fine. Trader Joe's sea salt, for example, is too coarse. Regular table salt or fine Kosher salt will also work.
1 kilo = roughly 2.2 pounds - 8 cups
200 grams = 7 ounces - 1.5 cups
20 grams = .70 ounces - 5 tsp
Boil water with the salt
In a bowl, mix together flour with the manteca or shortening.
Add 6 big ladles of the boiling salted water to the flour/shortening mixture
Stir with a spatula as the mixture at first will be too hot to mix by hand
Once the mixture has cooled a bit, knead the dough by hand
The consistency should be just a little sticky
Once dough is well kneaded, break off balls roughly one half size of a golf ball, about 3/4 inch
While the dough continues to cool, lay the balls one at a time in a tortilla press, or between two paper or kitchen towels, and press, or roll out, to 5 inch in diameter circles
Let these cool
Then once cooled to room temperature, pat one piece at a time into flour - both sides - and roll out like a pie crust to just slightly thicker than 'paper thin'
Stack these - don't worry they will not stick to each other
Once finished rolling out all 40 tortillas, heat a Mexican comal or other stove top griddle or cookie sheet on the burners
Heat each tortilla briefly on one side until the dough begins to rise, then with a spatula, flip over quickly for a few more seconds on the other side (don't let tortillas brown on either side)
Lay out tortillas once heated
Tortillas can be eaten now - the best! - or reheated the same way to be eaten later.
The tortillas will last 4-5 days without freezing, or an unlimited time in the freezer
When ready to eat, simply defrost, reheat on a comal, stove top griddle or heated cookie sheet on the burners
Eat the tortillas plain, or filled with meat, chicken, shrimp, beans or any filling imaginable.
Simply The Best - Buen Provecho!
Lentil Salad and Moroccan Mint Tea
The foods found along our Mission Trails are diverse, often complex and a fusion of many cultures. During much of September, I was fortunate to spend three weeks in Spain and among the Berbers in Morocco. I was fascinated to see how similar some Moroccan dishes are to what can be found in Mexico.
For example, the common Tajin, one of three Moroccan main dish staples -- couscous and pastilla being the others -- is quite similar to Cocido found in Sinaloa and Sonora, and other parts of Mexico. Both Tajin and Cocido feature simmered meat and vegetables. The slight difference: in Morocco Tajin has virtually no broth; in Mexico the meat and vegetables in Cocido come in a caldo or broth.
Similar foods in Morocco and Mexico are understandable: the Moors invaded and conquered Spain and lingered around for 700 years, and the "Spanish" (a mix of pure blooded Spaniards as well as descendants of a Moorish and Spanish blood mix) conquered much of the Americas, including Mexico and the present-day U.S. Southwest.
Foods travel. How often have you gone on a foreign trip and soon crave something from your home kitchen or from your mother's table?
In our next addition of Correo, I'll dive into Moroccan dish preparation, explaining how to make Pastilla, a dish of stewed chicken, onions and spices inside puff pastry -- something the Jewish refuges from Spain in and around 1492 introduced into Moroccan kitchens after Morocco welcomed the Jews following their similar expulsion from Isabella and Ferdinand's Spain. Today, Pastilla is made by both Jews and Arabs alike all throughout Morocco. Interesting how food can become common ground during so much religious conflict.
While in Spain, I also spent a great deal of time in kitchens and restaurants, understanding the Iberian cuisine that also had an effect on the foods and menus of the Americas. Lentils were common fare along our Mission Trails.
In Barcelona, I sampled something I had never tried before but enjoyed -- a cold lentil salad made with white wine vinegar, tuna, hard boiled eggs, green and red bell peppers and chopped onions. It was quite good. (I've made it twice already and I've only been home from my trip for just seven days!)
Back in Morocco, everyone drinks mint tea. It was so good. Interestingly, it's actually made with Chinese green tea, a bit of sugar and mint leaves.
MOROCCAN MINT TEA
In a tea pot, put in 3 bags of Chinese green tea (today I bought a box from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, but I am sure there are many others).
Add the water to the tea pot, and steep for 2-4 minutes.
In a tea cup, mug or a glass (the way it is served in Morocco), put in sugar to taste and push in about 4-5 springs of mint leaves.
Add the hot tea, and begin to enjoy.
ENSALADA DE LENTEJAS - Lentil Salad
Rinse about 2 cups of lentils in a metal-mesh strainer. In a large sauce pot, add the rinsed lentils and cover with liquid (I use a 50-50 mix of water and vegetable broth). Add 1/2 diced onion, and 2 Roma tomatoes (seeded, cord and diced). Once the water begins to boil, add a small palm of salt, and then turn heat down to a simmer. It'll take about 90 minutes. Add additional liquid if the lentils become too dry. Once the lentils are fork tender, put a strainer over another large pot. Pour in the lentils and liquid, and move around the strainer so that all of the liquid passes through to the other pot. You should end up with a strainer full of lentils, and as dry as possible.
Transfer lentils to a pyrex pan.
Dice 1 green bell pepper, 1 red bell pepper, 1 /2 onion (finely diced). Add all three items over the lentils. Dice another Roma tomato, and add that too. Finely chop about 6-8 springs of Italian parsley springs, using mainly the leaves and little of the stems, and add over the lentils.
Add a bit of salt and finely ground black pepper to the lentils.
Lightly mix around the lentils, peppers, onions and parsley so that the ingredients are equally distributed amongst the lentils.
For the dressing, drizzle over the top of the lentils a bit of extra virgin olive oil and a generous amount of white wine vinegar (be careful not to make the mixture too soggy. But add enough vinegar so that you can taste it).
Stir around the dressing to equally coat the lentils.
Open one can of tuna (I prefer white albacore in olive oil, but tuna in water is fine too) and boil three eggs.
Sprinkle over the lentils the canned tuna (sans the water) and the boiled eggs -- sliced and diced into workable pieces.
Finally, lighting toss the lentils, tuna and hard boiled eggs with a pair of forks.
Taste, add a bit more vinegar if needed.
Along with a side salad (romaine lettuce, shredded parmesan cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar) it makes a nice, light and healthy lunch.
(The reserved liquid can then be used as a lentil soup. Separately sauté in extra virgin olive oil diced carrot, 1/2 onion, a bit of bell pepper(s), garlic and 1 Roma tomato. Optional: Diced chili, seeded and deveined to taste.
Add the softened, sautéed mixture to the thick lentil stock, add a bit of salt and pepper and finely diced Italian parsley and cilantro (50-50 mix). Simmer for a couple of minutes.
Serve in soup bowls with a scoop of sour cream or greek yogurt in the middle.)