Summer Corn Salad

Today’s the first official day of summer, and it’s a scorcher! I made a corn salad to cool  off.

I’ve had a version of  this with black beans, but I like pintos better.  My husband Jesus says leave out the beans altogether. You do what you want.

Use a ripe yet firm avocado and stir gently unless you want a guacamole texture. The lime and Tajín chili powder add zing.

Eat as a salad or as a dip with tortilla chips.
Serves 3:

3 cobs of corn

1 avocado – ripe yet firm

1 red bell pepper

3 Tb (to taste salsa), such as salsa casera

¼ cup Frijoles pintos (Mexican pinto beans) (optional)

½ tsp (to taste) sea salt

2 Tb (to taste) fresh cilantro leaves

Juice of one lime

chili powder or Tajín (chili powder with salt and lime)

Boil corn until done, about 10 minutes. Let cool. You can do this ahead of time. Using a large sharp knife on a cutting board, strip the kernels off the cobs.

Chop red pepper, and cilantro leaves and stir into corn. Stir in beans, salsa, salt and lime juice. Slice the avocado and gently stir in or it will smoosh! Sprinkle with Tajín or chili powder.

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Enchiladas Rojas for 15 Hungry Dancers

It’s dress rehearsal time again for my daughter’s dance company, and the parents are assigned to bring food for each meal. Sonia told me they needed a break from pasta, so we decided on enchiladas.

I made 21 enchiladas in a ¼ sheet baking pan. I made 10 more for the vegetarians, using pepper jack slices crumbled into Frijoles pintos along with the vegetables. You can make the broth below without the chicken for a vegetarian sauce.  I topped them with the heated sauce, more pepper jack, fresh cilantro leaves and olives after baking.

Broth ingredients:

16 cups (1 gallon) of water
2 chopped onions
8 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp. chipotle powder
3 Tb cumin powder (comino)
2 Tb. dried oregano
2 cups diced Roma (plum) tomatoes or 15 oz can diced tomatoes (fire roasted is nice)
1 sliced bell pepper
2 Tb. salt to taste
8 each pasilla and California chilies
6 – oz can tomato paste
1 whole chicken
 
Vegetables:
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced in rounds
3 large red potatoes, peeled and chopped  in bite-size chunks
3 large chayote, peeled, seed area removed, and chopped in bite-size chunks

2 Tb flour

Non-stick spray

21 corn tortillas for chicken enchiladas, plus 10 more for bean and cheese ones

1 can black olives

1 cup cotija cheese

1 bunch fresh cilantro

Avocados to garnish

Ideally the best way to make this is to make the chicken first, then let it cool enough to handle. Pour the broth into a container and refrigerate it until the fat congeals, then remove it. Make the sauce from the defatted broth. I didn’t have the time to do this, so made it all in one day. I used a fat separator cup to de-fat the broth. This nifty little gadget pours out the broth from the bottom of the cup as the grease rises; I then discard the fat.

Making the chicken: For this batch, I boiled a whole chicken with the spices, onions and other ingredients above.  Toast the chilies on a comal or heavy skillet first to maximize their flavor. Reserve 2 Tb of tomato paste for the sauce. I used pretty much the same recipe I used for Tamales de pollo Chicken  Tamales. It’s true you have to watch out for the chicken bones and you will get the grease, but the broth will be richer and  it’s more economical than boneless breasts, especially if the chicken is on sale!

After 40 minutes, I add the carrots, potatoes and chayote. After the chicken has cooked an hour, I turn off the heat and pull the chicken out of the broth into a large bowl. Since I was running out of time, I set the bowl inside a larger bowl (actually the bottom of my salad spinner) that I filled with a layer of ice cubes, to cool down the chicken. Using a fork and knife, I pulled the meat off the bones until it’s cool enough to handle.

I discard the skin, gristle and bones, and use my hands to shred the chicken. I then pour a cup or two of broth into the chicken, mixing it with my hands, so that the shredded chicken can absorb the flavors. You can cook it in a frying pan for 15 minutes to help it absorb the broth. Save the leftover broth to make sauce and   or Cocido de Res – Mexican Beef Stew

Mix some beans (Frijoles pintos) and the vegetables (carrots, potatoes and chayote) into the shredded chicken.

Making the sauce: This will make a nice spicy sauce. Pour about 4 cups of broth into a fat separator cup. Pour the defatted broth into a blender and discard the fat.  Add 2 Tb flour and 2 Tb tomato paste. Fish out the chili peppers and bell peppers from the pot and add them to the sauce. Whir in the blender a few minutes until smooth. I don’t peel the chili pods or discard the seeds. They just go into the sauce. If you don’t want such spicy sauce, you can discard the seeds and you can add more tomato paste. But remember, the sauce will taste hotter alone than it will be over the enchiladas. The tortillas are bland, as is the cheese, and the cilantro and avocado will cool it down a bit too. Heat the sauce in a medium saucepan for about 20 minutes, stirring until thickened. Adjust salt and let cool enough to handle.

Assembling the enchiladas: Preheat oven to 375’ and grease a large pan with nonstick spray. Pour a few inches of sauce into a shallow flat-bottomed bowl. Place a large plate nearby. Heat a comal or heavy griddle or skillet and place one or two tortillas on it until they are hot and softened, and barely crisp. Take out one of the tortillas and briefly immerse each side in the sauce until it is coated with the sauce, then place it on the plate.

Take a few tablespoons of the chicken mixture (double-check with your fingers that you have removed all the little rib bones) and place it inside the tortilla. Then roll it up and place it seam side down on the greased pan. Repeat. It’s nice to have a partner place the tortillas on the comal for you. When the pan is full, place it in the oven for 20 minutes, until the tortillas begin to dry out.

While enchiladas are baking, crumble cotija cheese in a small bowl, and add a few handfuls of cilantro leaves. Open a can of black olives and drain it. Heat remaining sauce to boiling. When enchiladas have baked, pour a line of sauce down the middle of the enchiladas. Sprinkle the cotija cheese – cilantro mix over them and place a black olive in the middle of each enchilada. Nice served with soft sliced avocados.

Chayote Salad



This spiny chayote reminds me of an old man who needs a shave! I bought the chayotes from an elderly Chinese woman selling them in her front yard on Fruitvale Avenue in East Oakland. They were so prickly that I had to use oven mitts to handle them at home and use a fork to steady it while I peeled it with a knife.

Chayote squash was grown by the Aztecs who named it chayotli in their Nahuatl language. I combined ingredients of Mexican and Spanish origin to make this salad. I drew inspiration for this recipe from Ensalada de chayote written by my friends and gourmet role models, Victor M. Valle and Mary Lau Valle, in their fascinating book, Recipe of Memory: Five Generations of Mexican Cuisine

Chayotes come in smooth skinned varieties as well, but Victor and I agree that the spiny ones are more flavorful. I suppose I could make some sort of analogy to life or raising kids who are hard to handle but, well I’ll let you finish that sentence.

Ingredients

1 large or 2 medium chayotes

about 10 Kalamata olives

15-oz  can drained garbanzo beans

1/2 tsp minced fresh oregano or 1/4 tsp dried oregano.

1 cucumber, peeled

1 small avocado

two radishes

¼ cup cilantro leaves

handful of fresh lettuce leaves for each bowl

Dressing:

2 Tb extra virgin olive oil

2 Tb fresh lime juice,

½ tsp salt

pinch of chipotle chili powder

Boil whole chayote with 2 cloves smashed garlic and a tsp salt for 30 minutes until tender. Let cool in refrigerator, then peel, remove pit, and slice. Add  kalamata olives, garbanzo beans, and oregano.

Dressing : Whisk 2 Tb garlic olive oil, 2 Tb lime juice, ½ tsp salt, with a pinch of chipotle powder. Pour over salad. Let sit for several hours.

Cut a peeled cucumber and a small avocado into bite sized chunks. Gently toss in salad with  two sliced and quartered radishes and ¼ cup sliced cilantro leaves.

Two Autumn Fruit Salads: Sweet and Spinach

All these fall fruits are in the colors of autumn leaves. My inner Martha Stewart told me to cut the fruits into the shapes of leaves and attach branches to them. My own self told Martha to bug off!

The tangy guava nicely balances the sweetness of the other fruits. Thanks to one of my co-workers who brought in the fruits from her tree, I was able to add them to the salad. The Fuyu persimmon is the small flat-bottom type that you can eat while it is crispy.

Serves 2

One bosc pear, one peeled kiwi fruit, two peeled Fuyu persimmons, two guavas, peeled, one apple, one branch of dark red or deep purple seedless grapes.

Halve the grapes and slice and chop the other fruits. Mix together with 2 Tb chopped pecans and walnuts.

My husband, Jesús, likes the salad plain, but I prefer to dress it with a tangy, sharp cheesy mixture of 1 tsp thick, chunky blue cheese dressing such as Marie’s, 1 tsp plain nonfat yogurt and 1 Tsp lemon juice.

I served a spinach autumn salad at dinnertime. I used one bosc pear, two peeled Fuyu persimmons,  two peeled guavas, and one apple and walnuts as above, and traded in the kiwi and grapes for avocado and grapefruit sections. Serve over spinach leaves with a teaspoon of Marie’s blue cheese dressing plus a teaspoon each of grapefruit juice and extra virgin olive oil, or just the blue cheese dressing straight from the jar.

Watermelon Avocado Salad – ensalada de sandia y aguacate

avo watermelon salad ingredients
This refreshing salad is a perfect match for spicy dishes. I was inspired by Mexican street vendors who sell watermelon and corn topped with salt, lime juice and chili powder.

Serves 4

2 cups cubed seedless watermelon

1 large firm but ripe avocado, cubed

¼ cup cilantro leaves.

½ cob boiled or roasted corn kernels

Dressing:

juice of 1 lime

sprinkle of cayenne or hot chipotle chili powder

¼ tsp salt to taste.

Combine watermelon, corn and cilantro. Gently stir in avocado. Squeeze lime over salad, sprinkle cayenne or chipotle powder and salt, mix well. Serve immediately.

 

Fish Tacos without grease – Tacos de Pescado sin grasa

???????????????????????????????I first tasted Baja-style fish tacos in a fast food place by the beach in Los Angeles. I thought they were the most wonderful thing! But I needed to find a less greasy alternative.

I make a lighter version (361.5 calories for 2 tacos) of those fried fish tacos, using Barbecued Salmon or Poached Salmon. Substitute lime for lemon in the recipe.

Or try my spicy pan-fried rock cod or salmon with Tajín (chili powder with lime and salt) in the recipe below.

Salmon is rich in omega-3, the healthy fat.

I add lots of fresh vegetables and heat the tortillas on a comal until stiff enough to hold a taco shape. Top with lime juice, salsa and avocado chunks or  Sonia’s guacamole.

Pan Fried Fish Tacos Serves 3 hungry people

Crunchy yet still not as greasy as deep-fried fish tacos, I made these with dry masa harina (corn flour) that I used for making tamales. It’s not as coarse as cornmeal, but not as fine as tortilla masa. If you don’t have masa, substitute 1/2 all-purpose flour and 1/2 cornmeal.

2 large fillets (1  1/2 pounds) of rock cod (red snapper) or salmon. Tail pieces of fish are best as they contain few if any bones

2 Tb canola oil

1/2 cup masa para tamales (or 1/4 cup each flour and corn meal)

1  tsp salt

several grinds black pepper

1 tsp Tajín (tah -Heen) (chili powder with lime and salt)

1/2 cup milk (I use 1% fat)

juice of one lime

Wash fillets well and dip in milk.

Combine masa, Tajín, salt and pepper on a plate.

Shake excess milk off fish and roll it in the masa.

Heat oil until hot. Place fish in oil and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes, until it browns. Turn over and cook until golden brown on the other side.

Sprinkle with lime juice. Serve with vegetable slaw as below.

Taco Ingredients: Makes 6 tacos

6 corn tortillas

½ lb cooked salmon fillet, skin removed.

Veggies:

1 cup finely chopped or shredded cabbage

1 red bell pepper, diced

¼ cup cilantro leaves

1 large radish, sliced or chopped

½  cob of cooked corn (boiled or roasted), stripped (You can substitute defrosted frozen corn)

juice of 1 lime, plus another lime to squeeze on tacos

salsa to taste

salt to taste

avocado chunks or Sonia’s guacamole to taste

Mix chopped vegetables together, adding a bit of salt and lime juice.

Flake the salmon and squeeze lime juice on it.

Heat tortillas on comal or heavy frying pan until pliable, then fold in half. Heat until they hold their shape but are not so crispy as to break when you open them.

Fill with salmon and cabbage slaw. Top with guacamole, lime juice and salsa.

This recipe can also be viewed at

http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/cookbooks.asp?cookbook=288991

Nutrition Facts
3 Servings 
Amount Per Serving
Calories 361.5
Total Fat 17.6 g
Saturated Fat 2.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 9.0 g
Cholesterol 36.4 mg
Sodium 185.1 mg
Potassium 1,069.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 40.2 g
Dietary Fiber 11.4 g
Sugars 3.5 g
Protein 18.8 g
Vitamin A 18.0 %
Vitamin B-12 26.1 %
Vitamin B-6 49.1 %
Vitamin C 162.0 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 11.7 %
Calcium 8.5 %
Copper 24.0 %
Folate 31.0 %
Iron 14.6 %
Magnesium 16.4 %
Manganese 15.0 %
Niacin 39.9 %
Pantothenic Acid 27.3 %
Phosphorus 23.2 %
Riboflavin 27.1 %
Selenium 35.9 %
Thiamin 22.7 %
Zinc 9.4 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

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Sonia’s guacamole

My 17 year-old daughter Sonia makes awesome guacamole for her friends, and if I’m lucky she’ll leave me some too. Here is her amazing recipe.

Ingredients:

2 avocados

½ Roma tomato, finely chopped

½ minced jalapeño or Serrano chili pepper

2 tsp. minced onion (to taste)

juice of ½  lime

2 Tb salsa casera (we use Herdez brand)

salt to taste

Smash the avocados in a bowl with a potato masher. Stir in tomato, jalapeños, lime juice and salsa. Add onion to taste and salt to taste. Stir well.