Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chile de Molcajete {Roasted Tomatillo & Arbol Chile Salsa]

The small town where we now call home is famous for producing the best chile de árbol in the world. Chile de Árbol Yahualica has a unique flavor, aroma, and spiciness unlike any other kind of chile de árbol available on the market. And it is just one of the dried chiles that I always have in my pantry. Now don't let the chile de árbol's small size fool you, this small dried chile pepper packs plenty of heat.

My favorite recipe (and probably the most popular recipe using chile de árbol) is Chile de Molcajete, a delicious roasted tomatillo and árbol chile salsa. Chile de Molcajete is one of two salsas that I make every week. (The other is my Homemade Tomato Salsa.) This salsa is called Chile de Molcajete because traditionally it's made in a molcajete (a Mexican pestle and mortar made of volcanic rock), although nowadays you can also whip this salsa up quickly using a blender or food processor. (Don't worry, I provide directions for both molcajete and blender methods in the recipe below.)

No matter how you choose to make this salsa, I'm sure it will quickly become a household favorite. The thing I love most about Chile de Molcajete, aside from it's intense and addictive flavor, is that it's super versatile. Chile de Molcajete is amazing all on it's own with an endless amount of Homemade Tortilla Chips, but you can also serve it atop eggs, quesadillas, tamales, or whatever else you can think of. I also use it to make recipes like Huevos Rancheros, Chilaquiles, and Carne de Puerco con Chile... just to name a few.    

Chile de Molcajete - lacocinadeleslie.com

Chile de Molcajete

Ingredients:
  • 12 tomatillos, husks removed 
  • 10 to 12 dried arbol chiles*  

Directions:
Heat a comal, griddle or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Roast dried árbol chiles, tossing occasionally, for about a minute. Remove from comal and set aside. Rinse tomatillos and pat dry. Roast tomatillos on the same comal over medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes, turning tomatillos occasionally, until the skin has started to char and the tomatillos have softened.

Molcajete method: Grind the roasted chiles de árbol in a molcajete with a couple of pinches of coarse salt, until the chiles resemble red pepper flakes. Add the roasted tomatillos and lightly break up the tomatillo with the pestle while also mixing them in with the chile de árbol until it resembles a chunky salsa. Season with more salt, if necessary. 

Blender method: Puree the roasted chiles de árbol and tomatillos in a blender until smooth. Pour into a bowl and season with salt. Enjoy!


Roasted Tomatillo & Arbol Chile Salsa - lacocinadeleslie.com

*If super spicy salsa isn't your thing, try making this salsa with only 2 or 3 arbol chiles.

Update: I'm proud to announce that in 2014 this recipe was featured on Woman's Day Magazine's website!















Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mole Dulce

Mole sauces are much like fingerprints in that no two recipes are alike. Recipes for mole may be very similar, but not identical.  There are mole sauces that have atleast 40 ingredients. And these ingredients can be quite exotic.  The first mole I tasted was made with Coca-Cola and peanut butter. Today, a friend told me of a mole sauce made with chocolate frosting, and another friend commented that she had tasted one made with coffee.  Sounds appetizing enough, that I'm going to have to do some experimenting in the kitchen!


My favorite of all molé sauces is Mole Dulce.  It's not too spicy, but very flavorful. My recipe for Mole Dulce is simple, with a small list of ingredients.  This recipe calls for a cut-up chicken that has been cooked in water.   I like to cook mine with onion, garlic and cilantro.  Please reserve the chicken stock/broth.


Mole Dulce

Ingredients:

  • 1 cut-up chicken, cooked
  • 1 bolillo roll, cut in 1-inch slices
  • 3 to 4 ancho chilies
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 2 tomatillos (remove husks)
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3 whole black peppercorns
  • 12 pumpkin seeds (with shell)
  • 1/2 tablet mexican chocolate (Abuelita brand)
  • 4 to 6 cups chicken stock (preferable heated)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar


Directions:
Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in large skillet or pot. Toast bolillo slices in oil. (Both sides)


Transfer bolillo slices to large bowl. Saute chilies, tomatoes and tomatillos in same skillet. Add more oil if necessary.



Place chilies, tomatoes and tomatillos in bowl with bolillo slices. Lightly toast cloves, peppercorns pumpkin seeds and chocolate in same skillet; transfer to bowl with the other ingredients. Set skillet or pot aside, you will use this for your molé. Pour 4 cups of chicken stock into bowl; let ingredients soak for 30 minutes.


Puree the contents of the bowl in a blender until smooth, about 2 minutes. (Puree in batches if you don't have a large blender cup.) Strain puree into skillet.


Heat mole sauce over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. (Mole sauce will darken upon heating.) Season with salt and sugar. (If Mole sauce is too thick, stir in additional chicken broth, 1 cup at a time, until desired consistency.) Bring sauce to a boil.

Once your mole sauce has started to boil, carefully lay cooked chicken pieces in sauce.


Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with Sopa de arroz and plenty of warm corn tortillas. Enjoy!!!


With Love,
Leslie Limon

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mexican Style Steak and Potatoes




I was raised by my grandmother and my step-grandfather who was from the State of Chihuahua. (He's the reason I speak Spanish fluently.) He loved to cook, not specific Mexican dishes, but more like guisados. A guisado is any dish that can be prepared in one pot or pan, with many ingredients.

Pappy's favorite was his Guisado de Bistec con Papas. Being that we lived in the States, we had lots of convenience foods at hand. Pappy would always prepare this dish because it can be used as a main dish or as a filling for tacos and/or burritos. 

Guisado de Bistec con Papas a la Mexicana

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound thin cut steak, cut in 1-inch strips
  • 6 roma tomatoes
  • 2 to 4 fresh serrano chiles 
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chicken flavored bouillon (I use Knorr-Suiza) 

Directions:
Coarsely chop 3 of the tomatoes, half of the medium onion, and 2 of the serrano chiles. In a blender, puree the remaining tomato, onion, garlic, and serrano chiles with the 2 cups of water; set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the thin-cut steak and the chopped onion, and serrano chiles. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the steak is no longer pink; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the potatoes, tomatoes, chicken bouillon, and the pureed mixture; season with salt and black pepper. Bring guisado to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Enjoy!


*This guisado is great on it's own with a salad or as a filling for tacos, burritos and/or gorditas.

With Love,
Leslie Limon

Mexican Fruit Snack



Almost daily, I am reminded of when my hubby and I were newlyweds. Being from 2 slightly different cultures, differences were bound to arise. Most of our differences revolved around food. One such experience was when my hubby asked me to prepare him a plate of fruit, specifically mango. I peeled the mango, cut it up into bite-size pieces and served it to my hubby. Simple, yet hubby-pleasing!

My hubby, looked at me lovingly and asked if I had possibly forgotten something. To which I answered, "No, I didn't forget anything. Why do you ask?" My hubby explained that in Mexico, it is customary to prepare mango, and most fruits, with salt, lemon and some form of chile, be it a hot sauce or a ground chile and lemon powder. I returned to the kitchen and finished preparing the mango in the authentic Mexican way.

If you're trying to impress the Mexican in your life or just looking for authentic Mexican recipes, try serving this fruit platter.

Easy Fruit Snack

Ingredients:

  • Mango, pineapple, watermelon, papaya, coconut, cucumber and/or jicama
  • Salt
  • Tajin fruit and snack seasoning*
  • Limes

Directions:
Peel and chop desired fruit(s) into bite-size pieces. (Any combination of the above fruits will work.) Sprinkle generously with salt and Tajin seasoning. Squeeze lime juice over fruit. Enjoy!!!

*If you can't find Tajin seasoning in the latin food aisle of your grocery store, use either Valentina or Tapatio brand hot sauce.

With Love,
Leslie Limon

(P.S.) This recipe can be prepared with out the Tajin or hot sauce.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Agua de Jamaica {Hibiscus Flower Iced Tea}



Flor de Jamaica_Dried Hibiscus Flowers


This is Flor de Jamaica.  You might know it as dried hibiscus flower, but here in Mexico we just call it Jamaica.    Flor de Jamaica is mostly used to make a delicious and refreshing iced tea called Agua de Jamaica.  It's one of the most popular Aguas Frescas in Mexico and can often be found along side with Horchata and Agua de Tamarindo.  (I refer to them as the Aguas Frescas trinity.)

The very first time I tasted Agua de Jamaica was as a newlywed at a Mexican restaurant in the U.S. To be honest, I didn't care much for the taste.  It was very strong and extremely bitter.  My hubby agreed with me, but insisted that Agua de Jamaica tasted much better than what we had just had.  He also said it would be even better if we made our own, so we headed to our local Latin supermarket to purchase dried Jamaica to make our own Agua de Jamaica.

I still wasn't too convinced, but I'm a good sport and I trust my hubby.  With our newly purchased one pound bag of Jamaica, we went home, where we consulted with some of our Mexican friends and neighbors on how to prepare our Agua de Jamaica.  Every recipe our friends shared involved soaking the Jamaica in boiling water for about 30 minutes.  After that, all we had to do was let it cool, add  more water and sweeten it with some sugar and voilá...Agua de Jamaica!  Our first attempt was a huge success. Hubby was right, homemade Agua de Jamaica was absolutely delicious and it quickly became one of my favorites.  

When my suegra (mother-in-law) visited us in the U.S. for the first time, she showed me an easier way to prepare Agua de Jamaica.  Instead of simmering the flor de Jamaica on the stove, she just added a handful of dried hibiscus flowers to my sun tea jar and let it sit on the counter all morning.  By lunchtime, our Agua de Jamaica was ready.  So easy and just as delicious!  And that's how I continue to make my Agua de Jamaica all these years later.

Making Agua de Jamaica


Easy Agua de Jamaica
(Hibiscus Flower Iced Tea)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup dried jamaica flowers
  • 4 quarts water (about 16 cups) 
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups sugar
Directions: 
Fill a 4-quart sun tea jar (or pitcher) with water; add the jamaica flowers.  Cover and let sit for at least 2 hours. Using a slotted spoon,  remove the Jamaica flowers.   Stir in the sugar until completely dissolved.  Refrigerate  Agua de Jamaica for 1 to 2 hours before serving.  Serve with ice.  Enjoy!!! 

Agua de Jamaica_Hibiscus Flower Tea




Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sincronizadas de Bistec

One of the first things I did when I arrived in Yahualica, was check out the local restaurants. It was then, that I noticed something on the menus, that I had never seen before. Sincronizadas. I immediately asked my hubby about them and he explained that sincronizadas are very similar to quesadillas. Well, this I had to try! It was really good and is now something that my kids ask me to make on a regular basis.

Sincronizadas are very easy to make. One of the main ingredients is cheese. The restaurants usually use American cheese and Oaxaca cheese. Today, I used queso fresco, because that's what I had on hand. For those of you in the States that might not be able to find Oaxaca cheese, mozzarella works well in this recipe.



Sincronizadas de Bistec

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. thin boneless beef steak (atleast 6 steaks)
  • 6 slices American cheese
  • 1-1/2 cup shredded Oaxaca or Mozzarella cheese
  • 12 flour tortillas
  • butter
  • coarsely chopped lettuce
  • sliced tomato, avocado and onion
  • Canned jalapeño strips (optional)

Directions:
Prepare vegetables; set aside.


Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil on a griddle or a comal over medium-high heat. Brown steaks until thoroughly cooked. Remove steaks from heat; shred or chop into bite-size pieces.


Melt 1 teaspoon of butter in non-stick skillet over medium heat. Place one flour tortilla in skillet. Top with 1 slice American cheese and 1/4 cup shredded Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese; cover with another flour tortilla. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until bottom tortilla is a light golden brown; flip sincronizada over. cook for another minute or 2, until bottom tortilla is also a light golden brown. Remove sincronizada from pan.


Place sincronizada on a plate. Place desired amount of chopped steak on half of the sincronizada. Garnish other half with lettuce, tomato, onion and a slice of canned jalapeño. Fold sincronizada in half and serve.  Repeat with remaining tortillas. Enjoy!!!




*This recipe yields 6 sincronizadas.

With Love,
Leslie Limon

Saturday, May 9, 2009

When Life Gives You Lemons...Make Pie

I love all things lemon! Even my last name, Limón, is the Spanish word for lemon. With the warmer weather, comes an abundance of Mexican limes, which are very similar to Key limes. Both lime or lemon juice can be used in this recipe. Remember, FRESH is always best!

Like most of my recipes, I've had to make some adjustments, mostly because many ingredients aren't available where I live. This recipe calls for a graham cracker crust, but I make my crust with Maria's cookies.




Pay de Limón 
(Key Lime Pie)

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Maria's cookies, ground into fine crumbs
  • 1/3 cup melted butter (90 grams)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
  • 3 egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue topping)
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 drops green food coloring (optional)
  • Meringue Topping (recipe follows)

Directions:
In medium bowl, combine cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press mixture firmly onto bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). In large bowl, beat egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, lime zest and food coloring with electric mixer on medium speed for 1 minute or until well blended. Poor mixture into refrigerated pie crust. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until center is set; remove from oven. DO NOT TURN OVEN OFF!


Prepare Meringue Topping. Spoon onto HOT pie filling, spreading to cover filling completely. Bake pie for 12 to 15 minutes or until meringue is lightly golden brown in color. Remove pie from oven. Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate pie for atleast 4 hours. Enjoy!!!

Meringue Topping:
Combine 6 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch and a dash of salt; set aside. Beat 3 egg whites at medium speed of an electric mixer, until soft peaks form. Gradually beat sugar mixture into egg whites. Continue beating until egg whites are no longer gritty, or until sugar has dissolved.



With Love,
Leslie Limon

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hamburguesas de Pescado {Fish Burgers}

Today, I wrote in my other blog about having fish delivered to my door on Fridays. When it comes to seafood, we are very picky eaters. One of the only ways that my hubby and kiddies will eat fish is if it's fried in beer batter and served on a hamburger bun. Fish Burgers are pretty easy to make. This recipe serves 6 and only requires 3 tilapia fillets.

I've also included my super easy recipe for homemade tartar sauce, because I have yet to find a bottle or jar of tartar sauce here in Mexico.




Hamburguesas de Pescado
(Fish Burgers)

Ingredients:

  • 3 tilapia fillets, cut in half cross-wise
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • Beer Batter (recipe follows)
  • Tartar Sauce (recipe follows)


Directions:
In small bowl, combine flour and seasoning salt; mix well and set aside. Rinse tilapia fillets with water. Pat them dry with paper towels. Season fillets with salt and pepper. Dust fillets with flour mixture. (This gives the batter something to adhere to.) Fill large skillet 1/2 inch with vegetable oil. Dip fillets in beer batter. Carefully place fish in hot oil. Fry in oil until fish is golden brown on both sides. Remove to paper towel lined plate to drain off excess oil. Serve on hamburger buns; top with tartar sauce, lettuce and tomato.

Beer Batter:
In medium bowl, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whisk in 1 large egg and 1 cup very cold beer until no lumps remain. Set aside until ready to use.

Tartar Sauce:
In small bowl, mix together 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup finely chopped pickel, 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion and 1 tablespoon pickel juice. Cover and regrigerate until ready to use.



Enjoy!



With Love,
Leslie Limon

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Comfort Food Classics: Sopa de Arroz (Mexican Rice)

Sopa de Arroz (Mexican rice) is a traditional Mexican dish. Recipes for sopa de arroz vary from state to state, and even from family to family. Today I'm sharing my recipe for Mexican Rice, which I make at least once a week for my family.


The very first recipe I learned to prepare was my grandmother's. She always used finely chopped onion, tomato and garlic and a can of tomato sauce. In my book, I always considered Gramm's recipe to be the best and thought it to be quite authentic, being that my grandmother had been raised in San Luis, Sonora, Mexico.

When I got married one of the first recipes that I wanted to wow my new hubby with was with Gramm's sopa de arroz. My hubby liked it, but I could tell that there was something he wasn't telling me. My hubby kindly explained that my rice was nothing like the rice his mom prepared during his childhood in Mexico.  His mother's rice didn't include chopped onion or tomato. So, the next time I made Mexican rice, I made it without any of the vegetables and only added a can of tomato sauce. Well, that was probably the worst rice we had ever tasted. Even hubby agreed that that could not be how his mom prepared her sopa de arroz.

Luckily, after we had been married for 6 months, my suegra (mother-in-law) went to visit us in the States. During her stay with us my mother-in-law shared each and every one of her authentic Mexican recipes, including her recipe for sopa de arroz. After hearing her recipe, all I could do was laugh out loud. My hubby had gotten it SO wrong!

My suegra explained to me that some of her 6 children were picky eaters when they were younger. One child didn't care for tomato, another didn't care for onion, and none of the children liked garlic. So, in order to maintain the taste of her sopa de arroz and keep her children happy, she'd puree the vegetables before adding them to the rice. Hence, the reason my hubby didn't recall chopped veggies in his mom's rice. This is my mother-in-law's recipe for Mexican Rice. It's very similar to my grandmother's recipe except with pureed veggies and no tomato sauce.

Mexican Rice recipe - lacocinadeleslie.com

Mexican Rice
lacocinadeleslie.com

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 3 roma tomatoes, cut in quarters
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt

Directions:
Puree the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and water in a blender until smooth, about 1 minute; set aside. Heat vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; add rice and saute until rice turns a light golden brown.


Carefully and gradually, pour the puree mixture over the browned rice. Add the chicken broth and chicken bouillon cube; season with salt. Bring rice to a boil. Taste broth and season with additional salt, if necessary. Cover saucepan and reduce heat to low. RESIST THE URGE TO STIR! Let rice simmer until all liquid has absorbed. Remove from heat and let set for at least 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Receta en español 












Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Conchas



For those of you not familiar with Mexican food, conchas are a very popular Mexican sweet bread. Conchas can be found with either a vanilla, strawberry or chocolate sugar topping. My favorite is chocolate. I can't remember where I found the original recipe, but I have made a few changes to achieve a more authentic flavor. And the very best way to eat conchas, is with a cup of Mexican hot chocolate! Simply delicioso! (After posting this recipe, I think I'm going to have to bake up a batch.)

Conchas

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 envelope instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 large egg
  • Cocoa Topping (recipe follows)

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, undissolved yeast and salt. Heat water, milk and butter until very warm (120ºF) or just until butter melts and milk begins to scald. Gradually add to to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed of an electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add egg and 1/2 cup flour; beat 2 minutes on high speed. Stir in enough remaining flour, by hand, to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in large bowl that has previously been sprayed with Pam. Turn greased side up; cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rest until double in size, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Prepare cocoa topping while dough is rising. Divide cocoa topping into 24 equal pieces; set aside.
Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. (They may look small, but will double in size.) Shape each piece of dough into a smooth ball. Place balls on greased baking sheet. Flatten each ball slightly with hand.
Flatten each portion of cocoa topping, between 2 pieces of wax paper, to prevent sticking. Place one round on each dough ball. With sharp knife, cut a 1/4-inch deep tic-tac-toe board on each concha. (I like to use cookie cutters.) Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Bake at 375ºF for 20 minutes or until dough is a light golden brown. Remove from baking sheet; cool slightly on wire rack. Enjoy!!!

Cocoa Topping: In medium bowl, cut 1/2 cup butter into 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 cup all-purpose flour with pastry blender until crumbly. Stir in 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
With Love,
Leslie Limon

*Note: You can substitute quick active dry yeast for the instant yeast.  Just be sure to dissolve it in the hot water and let it set for about 10 minutes before adding it to the flour mixture. 

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