Spicy Salsa Verde

salsa-in-chili-serving-dish

This is an excellent spicy salsa to dip your chips in. You can mix it into a couple of smashed avocados for an tasty guacamole.

I doubled this salsa and added broth to it to make enchiladas verdes

Ingredients: Makes about a pint of salsa

ingredients

5 large tomatillos (about ½ pound), husks removed

½  small white onion, peeled

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

1 poblano chili

1 jalapeño pepper and 2 Serrano chili peppers (This will make a spicy sauce. Use less chilies if you want a milder sauce)

3/4 tea. salt (to taste)

juice of one lime

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, plus a few for garnish.

3 Tb pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

1/4 tea. dried oregano

Preheat oven to 425’ Spray a baking pan with non-stick olive oil spray. Place tomatillos, chilies, garlic, and onion on baking pan.

Bake for 10 minutes, remove garlic and tomatillos, and flip other vegetables. Bake 10 minutes more, until chilies are charred and soft and onions begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool in a bowl or container. You can do this part a day ahead and pop the container in the fridge.

https://rozmena.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/roasted-vegetables.jpg?w=530

Toast pepitas on a comal or heavy frying pan over medium heat until they begin to pop. Let them cool, then grind them in a clean coffee grinder or spice grinder. If you don’t have a grinder, you can run them in a food processor.

Remove stems and seed pod from chilies. Keep some seeds for extra spiciness

Remove stems from tomatillos over storage container or blender container since they will make a mess. Add roasted vegetables and liquid from them, ground pepitas, lime juice, oregano, cilantro, and salt. Blend until smooth.

 

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Chili-Cheese-Bacon Cornbread

piece of cornbread

This rich, moist cornbread is flavorful with charred poblano chili, sharp cheddar cheese and bacon grease. The guilty pleasure of bacon grease is balanced by the healthy addition of olive oil! Sweetened with applesauce. Bake in the cast iron skillet used for frying the bacon.

baked pan of cornbread

Ingredients:

chili cheese
1 cup 1% milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 large poblano chili
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp paprika
1 cup cornmeal
½ cup unsweetened applesauce (I buy the little plastic containers.)
2 Tb bacon grease, melted but not hot, made from 3 slices bacon.
2 Tb olive oil
2 eggs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425◦ and place rack in middle position.
Add vinegar to milk and let it curdle while you mix the other ingredients.

sweating poblano chili

Place poblano chili on comal or heavy frying pan over high heat, turning so that it burns in places. Place in a small covered pot to sweat.

While chili is sweating, grate 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese and set aside.

bacon frying

Fry 3 pieces of bacon in a cast-iron skillet. Eat the bacon or add it to frijoles pintos, but save the grease. It should yield 2 Tb of bacon grease. Add the olive oil to the pan, and then scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Cool while preparing the other ingredients.

Sift white flour with baking powder, salt, paprika, and baking soda into a medium bowl. Stir in cornmeal until well combined.

miniced poblano chili

Remove poblano chili from pot and scrape off the blackened skin. (Don’t rinse it, since you’ll be rinsing away some of charred flavor.) Mince the chili. Include the seeds if you like more heat.

Whisk eggs with milk in a separate bowl, then whisk in applesauce and bacon-oil mixture, including the browned bits of bacon.
Stir in minced poblano chili and ¾ cup cheese.
Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Slowly mix and fold with a large spoon, only until batter is combined.

sprinkle cheese on top

Pour batter into the skillet that you fried the bacon in. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup cheese on top.
Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

cornbread and frijoles

Excellent served with frijoles pintos.

Tinga de Pollo Adobado (Shredded chicken stew with adobo style chipotles)

Tinga de Pollo Adobado (Shredded chicken stew with adobo style chipotles)

chicken tostadaMy colleague, Gabriela Pingarron, brought this to our last potluck for tostadas.  I loved the flavor. It is so easy to make too, especially using boneless chicken breasts. Gaby made it with whole chicken as well, but I imagine she spent a bit more time separating the chicken from the bones and skin.

Chipotles in adobo sauce are smoky chipotle chili peppers cooked in tomato puree, onion, vinegar, garlic, spices and salt. Opening the can is easy, but I’ve also seen some recipes on the web to make it from scratch.

Ingredients:

2 Tb olive oil

1 onion, finely sliced

1 package of 6 chicken breasts

1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced

7 oz can chipotles in adobo sauce

3 cups chicken soup. You can use homemade broth, such as Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup, or commercial broth

5 bay leaves

Rinse breasts and trim any fat. Cut into quarters. Pour oil into a medium-large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir the onions with a wooden spoon until they begin to soften. Add the chicken breasts, salt, and garlic and stir until they begin to brown.

Pour the can of chipotles en adobo into a blender. Add 3 cups of broth. Blend for a few seconds. Pour the blended mixture over the chicken and add enough broth to cover it. Add bay leaves and stir to separate chicken. Bring to boil, then lower to medium and cook for 20 minutes.

Fish the chicken out of the soup with a fork. Let it cool enough to handle. Shred the chicken by hand. Discard bay leaves.

chicken in pot

Add the chicken back to broth. Stir over medium heat until chicken absorbs almost all of the broth.

Serve as tostadas, or use as filling for tacos or Enchiladas Rojas. You can add the leftover chicken and broth to tortilla soup

chicken taco

Huevos con nopalitos (Eggs with Young Cactus Pads)

nopales con huevos

Nopal

Nopales (no-PA-les) are flat spiky cactus pads of the Nopal (no-PAUL) or prickly pear cactus. Nopalitos (no-pa-LI-tos) are the young pads suitable for eating. They can be cooked and eaten after removing the spikes.

nopal pad

You can buy nopalitos in Mexican grocery stores, de-spiked and sold whole, or chopped into little squares and tucked into a baggie. This is one instance where I go for the processed foods, although I have thought from time to time of planting a nopal in the front yard. The chopped nopalitos will last up to 3 days in the fridge. Similar to okra, nopales get gooey when cooked, while retaining a nice crunch.

ingredients

I combined the nopalitos with onions, red bell pepper and tomato for color and flavor and stirred them into scrambled eggs.

Serves 2

1 nopal pad, de-spiked (makes about 1/3 cup chopped)

¼ onion

1 tsp olive oil

1 small red bell pepper, copped

¼ large tomato, or 1 small Roma tomato, chopped

5 large eggs

¼ tsp salt

sprinkle of cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

several grinds or shakes of black pepper

several sprigs of chopped cilantro for garnish

saute vegetables

Chop onion and sauté in olive oil over medium heat a couple of minutes until it begins to soften. Add nopalitos and red bell pepper and cook about 5 minutes.

cook tomatoes with vegetables

Stir in tomatoes and cook several more minutes until the tomatoes soften. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and add salt and peppers.

Add the eggs to the vegetables and stir until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

Garnish with cilantro and top with salsa if you desire. Serve with hot tortillas or quesadillas (tortillas heated on a comal or heavy skillet and sprinkled with a bit of cheese).

Chocoflan!

This Mexican cake is a combination of my two favorite desserts: chocolate cake and flan.  It’s a pretty cool way to make: first you put cake batter in the pan, and then you pour the flan on top. The cake batter rises to the top and the flan sinks to the bottom and absorbs the delicious cajeta (ka-HEH-ta) caramel sauce. The flan doesn’t have any chocolate in it and the cake appears to be untouched by flan. Magic!

I tried making this 3 times until I got the cake right: a moist and richly chocolate. I adapted Kevin and Nancy Mills’  recipe for Devil’s Food Cake from “Chocolate on the Brain”, substituting Peet’s coffee for some of the water, and adding a bit extra vanilla and cocoa.

Ingredients:

3 Tb cajeta. I use Los Mexicanos brand, which is more syrupy than canned cajeta.

for cake:

½ cup brewed coffee (I used Peet’s)

¼ cup water

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (use the best you can find. I use Guittard brand from Berkeley Bowl’s bins)

¾ stick butter, plus about a teaspoon for greasing the pan

¾ cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour

¾ tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

for flan:

3 large eggs

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 can evaporated milk

2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350◦

Combine flan ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Heat the coffee and water to boiling. Add cocoa and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add ½ the chocolate mixture and beat until well blended.

Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until just mixed. Add the rest of the cocoa mixture and beat on low speed again until it’s blended into a batter. Don’t over-beat or it will toughen the batter.

Butter a Bundt pan (use a nonstick pan for best results) using your fingers. Pour the cajeta in and use your fingers to spread it around the bottom and sides.

Using a rubber spatula, scoop cake batter into the pan, and smooth it out.

Pour the flan on top of the cake batter.

Fill a large roasting pan with about 1 ½ inches of warm water. Set inside of oven on a rack on the lower third of the oven.

Place the Bundt pan inside the water bath (Bain de Marie).

Bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted all the way through the cake comes out clean. The chocolate cake will rise to the top.

Cool right side up on a rack. Then cover with foil and refrigerate overnight, or at least 12 hours. Serve cold.

Run a butter knife around all of the edges of the Bundt pan, then invert pan on a large plate.

The flan will now be on top, with the cajeta melted into it.

Pollo pibil – Achiote chicken

DSC01318Achiote paste is used in Mayan Yucatán cusine, the most famous dish being cochinita pibil (literally pork cooked in a pit). The deep red paste is made with ground annatto seed. Friends from tropical countries have told me that they just went to their achiote tree and broke open the pods to use the seeds for a fresh flavor. For the rest of us, buy it in a  3 ½ ounce brick in a small paper box at a Mexican market.

Yucatán cooks use sour oranges, called su’uts’ pak’áal in the Mayan language, which are also known as Seville oranges. I found some at the San Francisco Heart of the City Farmer’s Market in UN Plaza. If they are hard to find in the your area, you can substitute juices from one orange, one lime, one lemon and one grapefruit.

The chicken is traditionally served with red onions which have been pickled with salt and lime juice.

Lorena del Carmen, a Mayan woman I know here in Berkeley, inspired me with her recipe. She made her chicken a bit differently though. She first boiled it, then split it in half and painted the achiote mixture on the inside of the chicken. She then baked it. But I’m following her recipe for the onions. Although she didn’t measure the ingredients, I estimated the amounts from watching her make them.

Ingredients:

ingredients for achiote chicken w grapefruit, lime, lemon, orange and achiote del MayaMarinade:

one pack of chicken breast halves (about 5 or 6 halves)

1/2 brick achiote paste

1 Tb olive oil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp or more to taste Tapatio sauce

2 tsp sea salt

several grinds black pepper

Juice of 3 large Seville Oranges

OR

1 1/2 Tb  juice from one lime

2 Tb juice from one lemon

1/3   cup  juice from one orange

1/3 cup juice from one small grapefruit

red onionsPickled onions:

1 red onion

1 Tb salt (I like to use sea salt)

Juice from 3 limes

Make the marinade:

Mix achiote paste with olive oil, using a fork to make a smooth paste, then add the juices, oregano and salt, and stir well until no lumps remain.

Trim fat off breast halves and cut each into about 3 pieces, about 3 x 4 inches. Stab the pieces a few times to let the marinade permeate them. Submerge in marinade so that all sides of the meat are covered. Marinade several hours.

onions sliced, salted and w lime juice marinadeAfter you put the chicken in the marinade, make the pickled onions. . Slice a red onion thinly.  Put a layer of onions in a ceramic bowl and sprinkle salt  over it, and continue to layer with salt, using  a total of 1 Tb salt. Squeeze 3 limes over the onions.  mix with your fingers, and then cover with plastic wrap and set aside to marinate until chicken is cooked. The onions will soften when pickled. Stir every so often while the onions are pickling. Serve with the chicken.

Grill meat on barbecue over medium flame.

If you’re not up for barbecuing, you can place the chicken in a shallow baking pan under the broiler for 15 minutes until they brown.

serving with onionsGarnish with fresh cilantro and serve with pickled onions and  fresh tortillas. Or make tacos with them.

Camarones al Mojo de Ajo – Garlic Shrimp

On our first date, my husband and I cooked Camarones al mojo de ajo. We’ve been in love ever since.

I love the Spanish word for garlic clove: diente, which also means tooth. And there is some resemblance, come to think about it.

serves 4

1 ½ lbs large raw shrimp
1 head of garlic
¼ cup dry white wine  such as Chardonnay
2 Tb olive oil
sea salt to taste

Defrost shrimp in a colander under cold running water for 7 minutes.

Smash the garlic head in a molcajete (mortar and pestle made of volcanic rock). This will loosen the peel, separate the dientes, and smash the garlic to release the flavor. Discard the garlic peel and finely mince the garlic.

Heat olive oil in a wok or large heavy frying pan.  Add garlic and the shrimp. Squeeze in a large lime and add wine. Stir until the shrimp turn completely pink. Salt to taste. I used a few grinds of smoked sea salt.

Serve with Rainbow Roasted Vegetables, tortillas and .