Monday, August 29, 2011

Comfort Food Classics {Banana Pudding}


I don't know about you, but Mondays aren't always my favorite day of the week.  There's always so much to do and well, 2-day weekends aren't long enough to rest and relax and prepare to face a new week.

Mondays are much better after a 3-day weekend.  But since there just aren't enough of those, I've had to find another way to make Mondays more bearable.

I find that a yummy, creamy, dreamy dessert like Banana Pudding turns an ordinary Monday into something extraordinary.

This Southern classic reminds me of my great-grandmother Pearl, who made the best Banana Pudding I've ever tasted.  One bite of this creamy dessert had me feeling like I was sitting in her kitchen back in Amarillo.  

Banana Pudding is traditionally made with vanilla wafers.  And as you all know, there are just some things that I can't find here in my small town.  You also know that I'm not one to let a little thing like that keep me from enjoying one of my childhood favorites.  Maria's cookies were a perfect substitute.

Whatever type of cookie you choose to use, this Banana Pudding is a delicious treat any day of the week. 

Homemade Banana Pudding
(slightly adapted from Southern Plate by Christy Jordan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of Maria's cookies
  • 5 ripe bananas, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, yolks and egg whites separated
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar


Directions:
Start by placing a layer of cookies in the bottom of a 9-inch baking dish (square or round). 



Top the cookies with a layer of sliced bananas.  Continue alternately layering the cookies and bananas until you have three layers of each. 



In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the sugar with the flour and salt.



Gradually stir in the milk, whisking until the flour and sugar have dissolved and no lumps remain.



Whisk in the egg yolks until well combined.



Place the sauce pan on the stove and cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened.  (About 15 minutes.)



Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.



Immediately pour the vanilla pudding on top of the layered cookies and bananas.  Let sit for about 5 minutes.



Preheat oven to 325F.  While you wait, prepare the meringue topping by beating the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until foamy.  Add the powdered sugar.



Continue to beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form.



Spoon the egg whites on top of the vanilla pudding, making sure to spread all the way to the edges.



Bake at 325F for about 15 minutes or until the meringue turns a light golden brown. 



Let cool to room temperature before serving.  Or refrigerate for about 2 hours before serving.  Enjoy!!! 



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Linking up this week with:
Tip Junkie handmade projects

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mystery Revealed: Tepache

The other day I asked if any of you could identify this beverage...



Quite a few of you, whether here on the blog or on Facebook, guessed correctly...the mystery beverage pictured above is indeed, Tepache.

Tepache is a traditional Mexican drink made by soaking pineapple rinds in a mixture of water and dulce macho (piloncillo) and letting it ferment for at least three days.  The longer it ferments, the stronger the taste.  Kind of like a pineapple cider.

My first taste of Tepache was much better than I had expected.  It was sweet and tasted just like Agua de Piña.  Granted it hadn't fermented that long.

Here in my small town, Tepache is served with ground chile, lime juice and a pinch of baking soda para que no te haga daño (so that you don't get sick), which results in a refreshing drink, perfect for these hot summer days. 

Have you ever tried Tepache?  What did you think?


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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Name That Beverage

Welcome friends to another addition of everyone's favorite game...NAME. THAT. BEVERAGE!  (Applause)

The game where I show you a picture of a tasty drink and you have to guess what it is.

So, without further ado...Can you NAME THIS BEVERAGE?




Be sure to come back mañana to find out what it is.


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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Name That Food

I don't know about you, but I really love playing this game.  And there are just so many foods to choose from here in Mexico.

Today's mystery food is brought to us by my brother-in-law, who saw these and thought they'd be perfect for another installment of Name That Food.  


So...Do you know what today's mystery food is? 

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

She Made/Ella Hace {Conchas}



I have partnered up with my friend Girlichef  to bring you a new series called She Made/Ella Hace.  We're both American girls, married to gorgeous Mexican men.  See?  We already have a lot in common.  And we both love Mexican food.  The only difference is that Girlichef lives in the U.S. and I live in Mexico.  We don't always have the same ingredients available and we often times have different ways of preparing the same dish.  Once a month, we will choose a dish or ingredient to see just how different or similar our cooking styles really are.

For our first installment we chose Conchas, a classic Mexican pastry.  Growing up, I would only choose Conchas when we visited the local panaderia (bakery).  The Conchas always looked so pretty, I had a hard time choosing between the chocolate, vanilla and strawberry topped pastries.  All are delicious, but I've always had a weakness for the Chocolate.

One of the very first recipes I shared on this blog was my recipe for Conchas.  That was 2 years ago and well, times have changed.  The recipe is still pretty much the same, but I have made a few changes in my technique.  So I thought today would be the perfect time to share my New & Improved Concha Recipe with lots of step-by-step photos.

And be sure to visit Girlichef's blog to see her Conchas!!! 


Conchas

Ingredients:

Sponge
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 packet instant or quick active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup very warm water
Dough
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups flour
Topping
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry milk powder 


Directions:
In a large bowl combine all of the sponge ingredients, except the water.



Stir in the very warm tap water.  If you're like me and don't have running hot water, just heat the water on the stove for a couple of seconds.



Cover the sponge with plastic wrap and let set for 10 to 15 minutes or until full of tiny little air bubbles.



While the sponge is proofing, heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat just until the butter begins to melt.  DON'T let the milk come to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Don't worry about the butter.  The residual heat from the milk will continue to melt it.



Remove the plastic wrap and whisk in the milk and melted butter mixture, along with the egg, salt and ground cinnamon.



Stir in 2-2/3 cups of the flour until well combined.



Roll dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.  (If the dough gets too sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until it's no longer sticky.)



Return dough to the mixing bowl.  Cover and let set for 60 to 90 minutes or until dough has almost doubled in size.



While dough is proofing, prepare the Concha Topping by combining the flour and powdered sugar in a medium bowl.



With a pastry blender or your handy dandy potato masher, cut in the butter until well combined.



Stir in the vanilla.



Continue to mix by hand until the sugar topping forms a ball.  Divide in three equal pieces and place each piece in a small bowl.  Stir in the cocoa powder and ground cinnamon into one of the doughs of sugar topping, mixing until well combined.  (Mixture might be sticky.  Do not add more flour.)

  

Stir the strawberry milk powder into one of the other doughs of sugar topping.  You could just use red or pink food coloring, but my kiddies love the added strawberry flavor.  And I have to admit, adding the strawberry milk powder reminds me of the delicious Conchas I used to eat at my Aunt Teddy's panaderia.



Leave one sugar topping ball of dough plain.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  (Refrigerating the dough will make it much easier to work with.)



Place the risen dough on the counter.  Look how soft and puffy that dough is!!!



Divide the dough in half.



Divide each half into 6 large or 12 small balls of dough.  Place seam side down on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Cover and let set another 20 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350F.



Meanwhile, divide each ball of sugar topping into 2 or 4 equal pieces, depending on whether you divided each half of the Concha dough into 6 or 12 pieces. 



Flatten each piece of sugar topping with your hands or between 2 pieces of plastic wrap until about the size of your Conchas.  



Lay each piece of sugar topping a top a ball of Concha dough; flatten slightly with your hands.   With the tip of your knife, score the sugar topping into decorative shapes.  Bake at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes or until the Conchas turn a light golden brown. 



Enjoy!!!

she made-ella hace conchas 1


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Monday, August 1, 2011

Nopales con Queso

Hubby cutting Nopales at El Rancho

Thanks to the rains this summer, we have an endless supply of nopales (cactus paddles), whether it be from the vendors who knock on my door each morning or the nopales that are just ripe for the picking at El Rancho. 

As I've explained before, Nopales are an important part of the Mexican diet.   Nopales are very versatile and are a delicious addition to any dish.  Some of the more tradtional ways to enjoy Nopales is in Ensalada de Nopales or in Moles and Chilitos.

But to me, there is nothing better than Nopales Asados (Grilled Cactus), roasted outside on the grill or inside on top of a comal.  I could eat them like potato chips!  Without the guilt!!!  Nopales are loaded with vitamins and minerals and they help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels.  Top Nopales Asados with a little melted cheese and you are really in for a treat! 


Nopales Asados con Queso Fresco
(Roasted/Grilled Nopales with Queso Fresco)

Ingredients:
  • Fresh Nopales (Cactus Paddles)
  • Queso Fresco (Asadero, Adobera and/or Oaxaca cheese also works well) 

Directions:
Heat a comal or griddle over medium heat.  Roast the nopales on the griddle for about 5 minutes. 



Turn the nopales over and season with salt.



Top each nopal with a slice or two of Queso Fresco and continue for another 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted.



Serve plain or with your favorite salsa or inside of a corn tortilla for a delicious Quesadilla de Nopal Enjoy!!!



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