Perfect 3- minute Corn on the Cob

corn on the cobMy big sister, Leanna, gave me this easy recipe for perfect corn on the cob: Fill a large pot 1/3 with water and cover it. Heat to boiling. While water is heating, shuck the corn and rinse it. When water is boiling, put the corn in and cover the pot. Turn off the flame. Let the corn sit in the hot water for 3 minutes. Cut off the stem end, strip off leaves and silk, and enjoy! We love the white Brentwood corn here in the Bay Area. It is so sweet I like to eat it for dessert.

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Calabacitas (Spicy Squash Casserole)

???????????????????????????????I make this every summer when squash and corn ripen. My sister Leanna grows beautiful squash in her sun soaked Southern California garden. We made calabacitas (call-ah-ba-SEE-tas) with it when she visited me.

I discovered the recipe in the children’s book Carlos and the Squash Plant / Carlos y la planta de calabaza by Jan Romero Stevens. It’s a tale of a boy who won’t wash his ears until a squash plant grows out of his ears. His mom serves him calabacitas when he finally washes the plant out.

I put my own touch on her recipe, by substituting olive oil for margarine, adding oregano, red bell pepper and tomato for color. Our friends Victor and Mary Lau Valle, who are master chefs,  brought us homegrown squash and oregano and taught me Victor’s mother’s version, using the Mexican cheeses asadero and cotija. (Victor and Mary are the authors of Recipe of Memory:Five Generations of Mexican Cuisine)

asadero cheeseAsadero is a Mexican mozzarella and melts wonderfully. Although it is a low-fat cheese, it has a wonderful buttery taste not usually associated with mozzarella. The cotija we used was a powdery cheese in a bag, (not the kind that comes in a brick.) It made a nice crunchy crust on the casserole when we broiled it.

???????????????????????????????Ingredients:

2 Anaheim peppers and 2 jalapeños (add more jalapeños for extra heat) You can substitute poblano chilies for the Anaheims for a smokier flavor

5 Tb olive oil

1 onion, diced

sea salt

About 1 tsp ea dried or 2 tsp fresh oregano

5 small to medium summer squash  (I used sunburst and zucchini)1 red bell pepper, diced

2 cobs corn. Cut the cobs in 2 crosswise to get a flat surface, then strip the corn from the cob. I sauté the uncooked corn. Sometimes I  use cooked corn and skip the sauté step.

3/4 cup of chicken broth. I use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup You can make this vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth.

3 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1 1/2 cups asadero cheese, chopped. If you can’t find asadero, substitute Monterey Jack.

1/2 cup powdered cotija cheese

Place chilies directly on a gas flame until they char, then turn until all sides char. If you don’t have a gas stove, use the barbecue. And if you don’t have a barbecue, then char them on a heavy comal or frying pan placed over a burner on high. Place charred chilies in a small pot and cover until they are cool enough to handle. ???????????????????????????????The chilies will sweat and the skin will soften.

While chilies are sweating, chop the vegetables and place them in a cake pan by groups. Start off with the onion, then chop the other veggies while the onion cooks.

DSC02848Cut the squash at different angles so they’re chunky.

I use a wok to cook this in, but you can use a large heavy frying pan as well.

Sauté onions in 1 Tb olive oil over low heat until translucent, about 10 minutes.  Set aside in a large bowl.

Raise the heat and add 2 Tb olive oil to the pan. Add squash with oregano and a pinch of salt. Saute squash until it is beginning to brown on all sides. Add to the onions in the bowl.

???????????????????????????????Saute red bell pepper and corn in another Tb of oil until they begin to char. Then add to the other veggies in the bowl.

cooking tomatoesSaute the chopped tomatoes and a pinch of salt in another Tb of olive oil. Be sure to spread the tomatoes out so that they can caramelize. Add 1 tsp more fresh oregano, and cook tomatoes over medium heat until they are mostly dry, Caramelizing the tomatoes concentrates their flavor- they are so delicious!

???????????????????????????????While tomatoes are cooking, take out the chilies from the pot. Remove the stem and slice them open lengthwise. Scrape the charred parts from the skin, then scrape the seeds and soft parts from the inside. Julienne the chilies into thin strips.

Add the the chilies and the vegetables from the bowl to the tomatoes.

Pour in chicken broth and heat until boiling, stirring vegetables together.

Stir in 1 cup of the asadero or Jack cheese. Spray a flat casserole or 11′ x 8″ cake pan with non-stick spray, and pour the vegetables into it.

Sprinkle the rest of the asadero cheese on top of the calabacitas. Then sprinkle with cotija powdered cheese.

Move a rack to the upper third of the oven and turn on the broiler.

baked calabacitasPlace under the broiler for 3 -5 minutes, until the cheese turns a golden brown.

???????????????????????????????Delicious served with corn tortillas to soak up the cheesy sauce. You can mix it in with Frijoles pintos (Mexican pinto beans)

Got leftovers? Add them to chilaquilas

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.

Cocido de Res – Mexican Beef Stew


After 25 years of marriage, my husband, Jesús, suddenly told me “You know my favorite food is caldo de res. My mom used to make it for me.” It took him that long to tell me! (In California it’s known more as cocido de res, so I titled the blog that.) So I called his mom, Conchita, and I got the recipe. Of course I tweaked it a bit, but he loved the results since the broth was so rich.

I used the leftover broth from making the chicken for Enchiladas Rojas for 15 Hungry Dancers. You could also go cross-cultural and use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup or go the easy route and use boxed or canned broth. When you add the bones and beef to broth and slow cook it, you will get an incredibly rich broth.

I went to the local Mexican market in Berkeley,  Mi Tierra, and the carnicero (butcher) cut up the meat for me on a giant band saw.

If you don’t have chilies, you can substitute 1 tsp ancho chili powder (or more if you like it spicier).

Makes about 12 servings

Ingredients:
1 gallon (16 cups)  chicken or beef broth. If not using the broth fromEnchiladas Rojas for 15 Hungry Dancers or Tamales de pollo,  add the following ingredients to Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup  or other plain chicken or beef broth:
3 ancho chilies
1 tsp. chipotle powder
3 Tb cumin powder (comino)
2 Tb. dried oregano
 
2 chopped onions
1 sliced bell pepper
6 minced garlic cloves
 
2 cups diced Roma (plum) tomatoes or 15 oz can diced tomatoes (fire roasted is nice)
6 – oz can tomato paste
1 Tb. salt to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper
 

Boil the broth in a large pot. Toast the chilies on a heavy skillet until soft and slightly blackened.  Remove and let cool a few minutes, then place in a plastic bag. After it’s completely cool, about 20 minutes, remove the skin, stems and seeds and add to the boiling broth. If you want a spicier stew,  add some of the seeds to the broth.

Toast the chili powder, comino, and oregano on the skillet a few minutes until fragrant then add to broth.

Pour a tsp of olive oil in the skillet and add the chopped onions and bell peppers, stirring over medium flame, until softened. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, then add to broth. Add tomatoes and tomato paste, black pepper and salt.

1 pound beef chuck roast, cut into cubes against the grain

1 pound beef short ribs, cut into cubes against the grain

2 Tb olive oil.

Salt and pepper to sprinkle on beef

Vegetables:

2 bell peppers, stem, ribs and seeds removed

1 pasilla chili, stem removed.

3 large carrots, peeled and sliced in rounds

3 large red potatoes, peeled and chopped in bite-size chunks

2 large chayotes , peeled, seed area removed, and chopped in bite-size chunks

3 cobs sweet corn, cut into rounds (use a large knife)

Garnish:

cilantro leaves

avocado slices

lemon or lime juice

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet. Sprinkle beef with salt and black pepper, and add to the skillet in batches, browning on both sides.  Then add it to broth. Pour the soup into a crock pot and cook on low for 5 hours.

Transfer the whole soup to a large pot, add vegetables to the broth and bring to a boil. Cook for 30 more minutes until vegetables are tender. Adjust salt to taste. You can skim the fat off the top of the soup and serve. Or you can transfer it to a large container and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. The vegetables will absorb the flavors of the broth and impart their flavors as they sit in the broth all night. Remove the congealed fat from the top of the soup before serving.

Serve garnished with fresh cilantro leaves, a slice or two of avocado, and a squeeze of lemon or lime, with warm  or fresh baguette (we are in Berkeley after all).

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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Tostadas

This easy tostada recipe is crisp with fresh vegetables and is low in fat and calories.  I heat the tortillas in a comal or in the oven until crispy, instead of frying them as is traditionally done.  I put minimal cheese on top and skip the sour cream.  It is delicious made with homemade pinto beans : see my recipe Frijoles pintos (Mexican pinto beans

I have made this with leftover roasted chicken breast. See my recipe:  Roast Chicken

I add 1/4 cup salsa and 1 tsp cumin (comino) and heat it up. I’ve also made it  with  well-drained chicken breast that has been cooked in enchilada sauce (leftover from making enchiladas.)

Serves 4 people ( 8 tostadas)

8 corn tortillas

1 1/2 cup pinto beans

1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast. (You can eliminate this if you want a vegetarian tostada.)

1 ear roasted corn

¼ cup salsa and 1 tsp cumin  (if using roasted chicken breast),

salsa to put on top (to taste)

¼ head crisp lettuce such as iceberg or romaine

½ cup chopped cilantro

1 large tomato or 2 small tomatoes

1 red bell pepper

black olives if desired

¼ cup grated Colby-jack cheese and/or crumbled cotija cheese

1 large avocado

1 tsp lime juice

salt to taste

Heat oven to 450’ Place corn tortillas on the oven rack or on a cookie sheet. Let bake for about 8 minutes until light brown and crispy. Alternatively, heat on comal on medium heat until crispy

Mash pinto beans with pot liquor. Heat in microwave or in oiled frying pan.

Chop roasted chicken. Add salsa and reheat in microwave for 1 minute, or in frying pan until warm. If using chicken cooked enchilada sauce, drain well or your tostadas will be soggy!

Slice kernels from corn cob

Shred lettuce, chop cilantro, red bell pepper, and tomatoes.

Grate Colby-jack cheese and/or crumble cotija cheese.

Make guacamole or simply slice or mash avocado with a sprinkling of salt and lime juice.

Assemble Tostadas:

Spread beans on crispy tortillas. Add 1 tsp. Colby-jack cheese and let it melt into beans. Add chicken.

Top with corn, lettuce, tomatoes, red bell pepper, cilantro and tomato, avocado or guacamole, and olives if desired. Crumble a bit of cotija cheese on top if desired. Add salsa to taste.