Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

Love of parchment paper

March 29, 2009

Many thanks to those of you who are feeding my parchment paper obsession.  I have recently been on a brownie kick and it also came in quite handy with some Pane di Como Antico from The Italian Baker book.

I found the perfect brownie recipe in The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, where I should have looked to begin with.  The latest recipe of Moist Chocolate Brownies were made with some chopped toasted almonds and amaretto.  The parchment paper makes life so much easier.  I can take the brownies right out of the pan and cut them on the cutting board, stack them on a paper plate and take them downstairs to the concierge, as a “get well soon” gift.  Not that brownies are necessarily going to help when you’ve cut your arm with a machete.  (He’s much better now and got the stitches out last week.)

Yesterday, I made the Pane Como again and it came out even better than the previous time.  And, I’m crediting the parchment paper.  I have a small problem with my ceramic bread form – it’s a little too short.  In the past I’ve had problems with the bread running off the edge and creating a little frown.

This time, I put it on a piece of parchment and in the bread mold.  Not only did I not need to grease the mold, the paper was longer than the mold and any run off was contained, and the bread browned better on the paper than in the form.  Success on all levels.

In non-parchment paper cooking news, I made a really interesting blood orange olive oil cake and with my excessive orange purchasing lately, it is easy and fast.  I’ve never seen blood oranges here, and when I asked a friend about them she was really confused.  I used regular juicing oranges and the cake was very tasty.  I may try the original recipe soon.

Also, I got a tip from one of Adolfo’s friends about a charcuterie near my regular supermarket.  I went yesterday and there was practically a line out the door.  Everyone was getting prosciutto and I got in line.  I was able to come home with some prosciutto, salami and Dutch Gouda.  I also tried the Chilean Gouda and it was obvious why it was significantly less expensive.  There were too many interesting options listed on their wall, so I will have to go back to try the pastrami (!), Gruyere, bacon, Camembert and other interesting goodies.

Olive Paste

March 22, 2009

I made this while dad was here visiting and he wanted the recipe:

1 c. sliced kalamata olives
1/2 clove of garlic
1 t. fresh thyme (approx.)
1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
2 anchovies
1 T. olive oil (extra virgin)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process to the desired consistency.

We ate this on toast while Dad was here, but yesterday I made it again and spread on some pizza with onions and it was pretty good.


September 6, 2008

So, there have been some requests along the way for a recipe you can make with ingredients that are easily available up north. Today, I made picadillo for the second time and I think I’ve got it right now. I received the original recipe from Adolfo’s mother.


1/2 medium onion, diced
1 -2 ribs of celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork, or several strips of bacon, diced
2 T. tomato sauce (not paste)
2-3 medium potatoes, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
2 apples, diced (or 1/2 c. raisins)
1/4 c. chopped pecans
1/4 c. slivered almonds (or sliced almonds)

Fry the first three ingredients in a large skillet, or wok, with a little oil until translucent. Add ground meat and cook until the juice from the meat has evaporated and it is beginning to brown (this takes a while). Add the tomato sauce and the rest of the ingredients and enough water to barely cover, about 4 cups. Cook uncovered over medium heat until the water has evaporated and the potatoes are cooked through.

This recipe is easy, but takes a while to make.  I’m freezing the leftovers so we can have some during the week.  I think this picadillo is somewhat similar to Hash, but more intricate and interesting.  We ate ours in quesadillas, but you can make tacos or eat it over rice with some hot sauce, it’s pretty versatile.

Hot, hot, hot

May 11, 2008

Things are getting very warm here. It is nothing like an Arizona summer, nor is it wet and sticky like a Missouri summer, but all the same we are feeling the heat. Everyone says this is the hottest time of the year. As soon as the rains come, in June, the temperature drops back down to the 80s.

I’ve been making lots of salads, which are mostly composed of lettuce, carrot, cucumber, finely diced onion, avocado, and mango. The dressing is 2 tablespoons olive oil to 1 tablespoon lime juice with a smashed and finely diced garlic clove, salt and pepper. (I think I got this dressing recipe from Françoise.)

Everything is variable.

Today, for instance, I added a tomato and some parsley. The dressing had some chopped capers and white wine vinegar instead of lime juice.

We also tried some lentil burgers I found at the Ecotienda and they were remarkably good. And, there was NO terrible stomachache afterwards. I sautéed the lentil burgers in olive oil and we ate them along side the salad. If I am to continue with this trend, I may try to make my own lentil burger.

Chayote Soup

May 3, 2008

Well, a lot has happened in the last week or so. Adolfo got the worst cold I have witnessed (including a nasty fever) and I had a really rough week at work, resulting in me quitting my job. The same day I quit my job, I got an email letting me know that a job in my field was being created in Guadalajara. I have my second interview on Wednesday and if all goes well, the day after my last day of work at my current job (I gave them two weeks) I’ll start at my new job. Fingers crossed, of course.

I’m having a four-day weekend, due to Labor Day (May 1st) falling on a Thursday. And, now I’m feeling sick. It’s just a runny nose and general exhaustion, but it still stinks. Adolfo is mostly recovered. We’ve been taking a lot of naps.

I made a really great Chayote Soup from to try and cure my nose through spicy food. It didn’t work, but the soup was better than I expected.

I changed it a little, based on what I had and how much effort I was willing to put into it. So, I’m giving you the revised recipe below:

Chayote Soup

½ onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small chile Serrano chopped
½ tablespoon butter
2 chayotes, peeled, quartered and pitted, cut into large dice (2 ½ cups)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I had leftovers of both and tossed them in.)

Cook onion, garlic and chile in butter over medium low heat for several minutes until onion is clear. Add chayotes, cilantro and cook for another 2 minutes. Add broth and simmer, covered until chayotes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Purée soup in 2 batches in a blender until smooth (be careful blending the piping hot soup) maybe for 1 full minute for each batch. Taste for salt.

This soup is spicy and a lovely green color. I think it would probably be good with a little dollop of sour cream, but I didn’t have any on hand for testing.

Hotcakes a la Mexicana

March 29, 2008

These have become the specialty of the house around here. It seems that every time we have company for breakfast, I make these. And, they are usually a big hit. Also, I have learned that the Spanish word for Pancakes is Hotcakes, so add that to your Spanish vocabulary list!

A word about the yogurt, here the yogurt is quite liquid. In fact it’s so liquid I can usually substitute it 1-for-1 with any recipe calling for buttermilk. You can use buttermilk or if your yogurt is not so liquid, you can mix it 50/50 with milk.

This recipe is adapted from Buttermilk Pancakes in The Joy of Cooking.

½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup
masa harina (corn flour for tortillas)
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 cup yogurt

Sift all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, beat egg and add vanilla extract and yogurt. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix.

Cook pancakes on a hot griddle or skillet, to which a little butter or oil has been added. The pan should be hot enough that the batter sizzles when it meets the pan. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup or large spoon to make a good sized hotcake. When bubbles appear on the hotcake or when you lift it a little and the underside looks brown, it is time to flip it. Wait an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute before removing the hotcake from the griddle.

I like to add some vanilla to these hotcakes because I think it complements the corn flour. I used to use the corn flour in the states occasionally. However, since I’ve been here, I’ve been using the masa harina and it is fantastic. The corn flour is treated so that it easily absorbs liquids and forms a dough. But, because corn contains no gluten, the hotcakes are delicate and light, instead of heavy and bread-y.

Also, most pancake recipes caution you against mixing too vigorously, or advise you to let the batter rest for a while so that the gluten relaxes. Because half the flour in this recipe is masa harina, they don’t contain enough gluten to really do more than hold the hotcake together.

Marbled Brownies

March 27, 2008

Emilie asked me for advice as to how to use her freshly acquired German Philadelphia cream cheese. This is what I would do. Em, I tried to include as many ounce measurements as I could find, but it is not consistent. I hope you have some measuring spoons!

This recipe is based on the Double Fudge Brownies from “King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking”

Temp 350F
Baking time 30min

1 cup (8 oz.) butter
1 ½ cup (12 oz.) light or dark brown sugar
¾ cup (2 ¼ oz.) dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 ½ cup (6 oz.) whole wheat flour

For Marbling:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
⅓ cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease 9 x 13 inch pan.

Melt the butter in a medium microwave safe bowl. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the microwave briefly, until it’s hot and starting to bubble.

Stir in the cocoa, baking powder, salt, and vanilla. Cool the mixture until you can test it with your finger: it should feel like comfortably hot bath water. Wisk in the eggs, stirring until smooth, then add the flour, again stirring until smooth. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Wisk together ingredients for Marbling in a small bowl until smooth. Drop by spoonfuls over the brownie batter, swirl with knife or spatula to create “marble” effect.

Bake the brownies until a cake tester or sharp knife poked into the center reveals web crumbs but not raw batter, 30 minutes. The brownies should feel set on the edges and in the center. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack; cover when cool.

I tend to make the Marble part of the brownie first and then set it aside while making the brownie batter. The original recipe suggests letting the brownies sit for 24 hours before cutting them, thus giving them a better texture. I’ve never been able to actually test this theory.


February 24, 2008

Adolfo’s brother passed us his recipe for Nopalitos and I made them for lunch today. I have eaten this recipe before and I liked it quite a bit. However, people are always cautioning about cooking nopales, which are cactus pads from a certain kind of prickly pear cactus, nopalitos are literally “little nopales” – basically they are cut up. The caution is generally because nopales are famous for their babas, or drool. If not properly cooked they ooze a goo similar to that of okra. And, it is not at all appealing when your salad looks like it’s covered in drool.

Last week, when I went to the market, I noticed for the first time that they had nopales. The market, and to a lesser extent the supermarket, is very seasonal. I may not know the particular seasons for some things, but at the market it is stark – either it’s there, it’s not there, or it’s there and looks really bad (which is the case right now with the guavas, they are out of season and look horrible). So the nopales have appeared, and they look good, so it must be nopal season.

In case you are able to get nopales where you are, I translated the recipe below. Remember, it’s a salad, so measurements are difficult to come by and it’s up to your taste.

Nopalitos Salad

Wash the nopales and look them over carefully for needles. Cut into large dice. Add to salted water, which is boiling with a piece of an onion. Boil for 20 minutes. Drain and remove onion pieces.

Mix in a medium sized bowl: finely diced onion, finely diced chile serrano, chopped tomato and cilantro. Add the drained nopalitos and add to your taste: salt, olive oil and vinegar or lime juice. You may also add diced avocado. Finally on top sprinkle queso fresco, or other similar cheese.

You can refrigerate the salad before serving, because it is much better cold.

I would say that refrigeration is not an option, you must at least serve the salad at room temperature, so a quick refrigeration helps you get there faster. Of course, you can add the tomato, cheese and avocado right before serving. I used about 1 ½ – 2 cups of nopales, the onion was red for color and I used probably 2 T., one whole avocado, which I also believe is not optional, and a roma tomato. I also used probably 1 T. of lime juice and I seeded the chile.

It was quite successful and not at all drooly.

Tortilla Soup

September 3, 2007

This recipe is one that we use to make often. I made it for lunch this weekend and it turned out quite good. We used a recipe from Cooks Ilustrated and Rick Bayless’s Mexico: One plate at a time, and sort of mashed them together in the way that suited us best.

6-7 tortillas
1 chile pasilla or chile ancho
2 T. vegetable oil
1 white onion
4 cloves garlic
4 small tomatoes (like roma, or a can of diced tomatoes)
2 T. vegetable oil
4-6 chicken thighs, or other chicken parts (not all breast meat)
1-2 sprigs epazote (Good Luck!)
9 c. water (part chicken broth, or with additional ½ onion and 2 cloves garlic, or both)
lime wedges
queso cotija (or some other kind of dry salty cheese)
crema (or sour cream) (optional)

1st – cut tortillas in strips that are ~ ½ in. wide and 1 ½ in. long. Fry, slowly, at a medium heat in a skillet with oil until brown and crisp. When the tortillas hit the oil they will soak it all up, so stir frequently in the first minute or two so that all the tortilla pieces get some oil on them. Be patient, stir occasionally. This should take about 30 minutes, or so.

2nd – place chicken thighs and epazote in water with broth. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer until thighs are cooked, about 15 minutes.

3rd – quarter onion and place in food processor with garlic. Process until finely chopped.

4th – once tortillas are crunchy and brown remove from skillet to a paper towel-lined plate. Remove stem and seeds from chile and tear into flat pieces. In the same hot skillet, briefly toast until they smell nice, about 1 minute. Place on the same plate with the tortillas.

5th – remove chicken from broth and skin and de-bone, if necessary. Remove the epazote from the broth (and any onions or garlic). Shred meat and return to broth.

6th – heat skillet with vegetable oil and when oil shimmers, add onion and garlic mixture. While the onion and garlic fry, add tomatoes to the food processor and process until finely chopped. (Some people will want to skin the tomatoes first. It’s up to you. The skin will separate in your soup.)

7th – after the onions and garlic have started to turn a bit translucent, but not brown, add the tomatoes. Fry until they reach the consistency of tomato paste (10 minutes or so).

8th – carefully transfer tomato mixture into broth and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Taste for salt.

Assembly: In each bowl place a small handful of tortillas, some sliced avocado, crumbled chile and crumbled queso cotija (some people put runny monterrey jack in their tortilla soup, but I prefer a hard, dry, salty cheese in mine). Ladle soup over the garnishes. Serve with lime wedges and creama (if you like).

The soup will freeze without the garnishes. The tortillas and chile will keep in a sealed plastic bag.

Recipes for down-home Mexican cookin’

August 27, 2007

Part 1 of 2

Not really, those recipes are way to involved for us right now. Here are some things that we’ve made in the recent past (parts 1 and 2). By way of disclaimer: they may include ingredients that are either difficult to find, or expensive for those of you in colder climates or locations with a very small Mexican population (perhaps, France or Japan).

Side of the road salad

(not really a title, but it’s what I think of when I want this salad)

I’ve never seen this salad on a menu. In fact, I’ve only ever seen this salad being sold out of little carts on the side of the road or in a small parking lot, think hot-dog vendor-style. Adolfo thinks it’s too dangerous (illness-wise) to buy this from the guys at the corner. Who, by the way, are always busy and seem to have a following. (I’m a bit more of a risk-taker in this department, but I still haven’t tried their wares.)

1 mango, peeled and cut in large dice
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into medium sized matchsticks
1 smallish jícama, peeled and cut into medium sized matchsticks

Combine with the juice of 1 large (or 2 small) lime(s), about 1/2 t. salt (good salt, if it makes a difference), and 1 t. of your best chile powder (or to taste). I used some Chile de Árbol powder when I made this yesterday.

(chile as opposed to chili, which is a mixture of spices, chile powder is a ground up dried chile pepper, if you have no choice go with the chili powder)

I didn’t measure the salt or the chile powder when I made it, and the guys at the corner don’t measure anything either.

More recipes and descriptions coming soon….