Friday, September 16, 2011

She Made/Ella Hace {Tequila!}




Last night was the biggest party of the year all throughout Mexico.

Every year on the Eve of Independence Day, people gather in their town square to watch the re-enactment of Father Miguel Hidalgo's Grito de Dolores (Cry of Independence).  Amidst the ringing church bells, fireworks and mariachi band playing, we all scream with great pride "Viva Mexico!  Viva Mexico!  Viva Mexico!"

In Mexico, it is not a party without Tequila.

So for this month's installment of She Made/Ella Hace with my  good friend, Girlichef, we will be highlighting this liquid gold  that is synonymous with Mexico.  (And I just so happen to live in the Tequila capital of the world...the state of Jalisco.)


Tequila is best appreciated served straight and sipped slowly, like only the finest of wines.  But many prefer to serve Tequila with a lemon/lime or grapefruit flavored soda.  Me?  I like my Tequila with a little Sangrita, the red stuff pictured above with the Tequila.  Sangrita is a non-alcoholic beverage that Wikipedia refers to as a Tequila chaser.  With it's tangy citrus flavor, I call it the perfect accompaniment to Tequila.

During our Semana Santa camping trip to El Rancho, we enjoyed "fancy" Tequila and Sangrita shots, served inside hollowed out cucumbers and tomatoes.



But my favorite way to enjoy Tequila and Sangrita is in a cocktail with orange juice, lime juice and grapefruit flavored soda, such as Squirt or Fresca. 



I don't know the actual name of this cocktail.  But maybe you can help me come up with a name.

Tequila & Sangrita Cocktail

Ingredients:
  • 1 oz. Sangrita
  • 1 oz. Orange Juice
  • 1 oz. Tequila
  • Squirt or Fresca
  • Limes, cut in half
  • Salt
  • Ice
Directions:
Fill a low ball glass with ice.  Pour the Sangrita, Orange Juice and Tequila over the ice.  Top with a pinch of salt and the juice of half a lime.  Finish filling the glass with Squirt.  Enjoy!!!

If you prefer a stronger drink, you can double the amount of Sangrita, Tequila and Orange Juice.

And if you want something a little fancier, throw all of the ingredients in a blender, including lot of ice, for a Sangrita Margarita!  Delicioso!



Now head on over to visit Girlichef to learn some interesting facts about Tequila!

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mole de Espinazo


Mole de Espinazo

Tonight is the biggest party of the year in Mexico, because tomorrow is Independence Day.  To celebrate, I can't think of a better recipe to share than...Mole de Espinazo

Most moles are made with chicken or turkey.  But this mole is made with a special cut of meat...Pork Spine.   

Espinazo de Puerco/Pork Spine
Espinazo de Puerco/Pork Spine
Some might consider pork spine to be an exotic cut of meat, but I assure you that it is not.  Espinazo is very similar to ribs cut crosswise instead of lengthwise.  For those of you not in Mexico and unable to find espinazo at your favorite supermarket, you can also use country style pork ribs.

Traditionally, sliced potatoes and nopales (cactus paddles) are added to Mole de Espinazo.  But when we lived in the U.S., fresh nopales weren't always available and Hubby and I really didn't care for the canned/jarred variety.  So, I substituted fresh green beans for the nopales.  Now that we live in Mexico, where fresh nopales are delivered to my door daily, I still prefer to make this mole with green beans.  And when available, I also like to add fresh baby spinach.

Unfortunately, both the green beans and baby spinach were unavailable when I made this for lunch the other day.  But I still included them in the recipe.  Just know that this is a delicious meal with or without the green beans and baby spinach.  

Mole ingredients
Mole ingredients

Mole de Espinazo

Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. Pork Espinazo 
  • 1 medium onion, cut in half
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Cilantro
  • 4 dried ancho chilies 
  • 3 corn tortillas, cut in wedges
  • 1 large roma tomato, cut in quarters
  • 3 tomatillos, husked and cut in halves
  • !/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup green beans, cooked (optional) 
  • 1 bunch baby spinach, rinsed and patted dry (optional)

Directions:
Place the espinazo in a large stockpot with a couple of sprigs of cilantro, one clove of garlic and half of the medium onion.  Season with salt and black pepper.  Bring to boil over high heat and let cook for 15 minutes.  Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Let simmer for 60 to 90 minutes or until the espinazo is tender.  (When using fresh green beans, I like to add them to the meat during the last 20 minutes.)

Cooking Espinazo de Puerco


In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat.  Add the chilies to the skillet and let fry for a couple of minutes on each side.  (You don't want to brown the chilies, you just want them to plump up a little.)

Fried Ancho Chilies

Transfer the fried chilies to a heatproof bowl; set aside.

Mole de Espinazo Prep 1

Continue frying the rest of the mole ingredients - the tortillas, tomatoes, tomatillos, the remaining onion and garlic - in batches, adding more vegetable oil, if necessary.  Transfer to the heatproof bowl with the fried ancho chilies.  (You want to fry the tortillas, just until they start to get crisp.  And the tomatoes, tomatillos and onion just until they start to brown. Sauté the garlic for about 30 seconds.)

Mole Prep Collage

Cover the mole ingredients with 3 cups of the broth that the espinazo was cooked in.  Let soak for about 15 minutes or until the chilies are soft and tender.

Mole Prep 2

Once the mole ingredients have had a chance to soak, slice the potatoes and set aside.

Sliced Potato

Remove the stems from the chilies.  Puree the mole ingredients and broth in a blender.  (Depending on the size of your blender, you may have to do this in batches.) 

Mole Prep 3

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil over medium-low heat.  Strain the mole puree into the skillet.  Pour about 2 cups of broth, 1/2 cup at a time, into the mole sauce until desired consistency.  (Not too thin or too thick.)  Season with salt, ground cumin and black pepper.

Mole Prep 4

Add the sliced potatoes to the mole sauce.  Reduce heat to low, cover skillet and let simmer about 5 minutes. 

Mole Prep 5

Add the espinazo to the skillet.  Cover and let simmer over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes for the potatoes to finish cooking and for the flavors to develop.  (If adding green beans and baby spinach to the mole, add them with the meat.) 

Mole Prep 6

Serve with Mexican Rice and/or Refried Beans and plenty of warm corn tortillas.  Enjoy!!!

Mole de Espinazo 2






Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blue Corn



I wasn't planning on posting today (Sunday = family time), but my brother-in-law Gerry brought us a delicious and colorful treat this weekend that I just had to share...Blue Corn!

I've seen yellow corn, maiz blanco/white corn (which is actually a pale yellow) and maiz negro/black corn (which is purple), but I had never seen Elotes Azules before.  Isn't it gorgeous?  The color is like dark denim.  And the taste is oh-so-sweet!  They were so sweet and delicious, I ate them plain.

I wonder if these are the elotes used to make blue tortillas???   

Have you ever seen (or tasted) blue corn?






Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sopapillas

I have a confession to make...

Before The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-off, I had heard of Sopapillas, but I had no idea what they were.

I wasn't sure if Sopapillas referred to some kind of Sopa (soup) like Sopa de Fideo.  Or if it was more like a Papilla, a fruit/veggie puree or baby food.

Turns out I was wrong on both counts.

Thanks to this Cook-off and a post by my friend, Girlichef, I learned that Sopapillas are actually fried pieces of Heaven dough.  Very much like donas (doughnuts) or biegnets.  But Sopapillas have the added bonus of being dipped in honey to eat.  (Sigh!) 

Absolutely heavenly!

Perfect for dessert, a late-night snack or Sunday breakfast!   


Sopapillas


Sopapillas
(from The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain)

Ingredients:
  • 1 envelope instant or quick active dry yeast
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water
  • 4 cups flour (plus extra for kneading)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt (I have no idea if mine is Kosher!)  
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups vegetable oil (for frying) 
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • Honey (for dipping)

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the yeast and water.  Let set for about 5 minutes until yeast dissolves and starts to look creamy.

Yeast


Combine the flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the flour to the yeast mixture along with the melted butter.  Mix until well combined. 

Dough Prep


Turn dough out onto a generously floured surface.  Knead the dough until its smooth and elastic. 

dough prep 2


Place the dough inside a greased bowl.  Turn greased side up and cover.  Let the dough proof (rise) for 1 hour or until double in size.

108


Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll or pat the dough into a 12 x 9-inch rectangle.

Rolled-Out dough


Cut the dough into 12 equal squares.  Cut each square in half diagonally.  (You should have 24 triangles.)

Shaping Sopapillas


Heat the 2 cups of vegetable oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat.  Carefully drop 3 to 4 triangles of dough at a time into the hot oil and let fry for 45 seconds to 1 minute per side or until golden brown.  Remove the sopapillas to a heatproof plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.

Frying Sopapillas


In a medium bowl, combine the 1 cup of sugar with the ground cinnamon.  Dip the warm sopapillas in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, making sure both sides are evenly coated. 

Sopapillas in Cinnamon Sugar


Serve with honey for dipping and/or a steaming mug of Mexican Hot ChocolateEnjoy!!!  

Sopapillas y Chocolate


*This post is part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef.




Friday, September 9, 2011

Poblano Macaroni & Cheese

When I saw that one of the recipes for Week 2 of The Homesick Texan Spotlight & Cook-Off was for Poblano Macaroni & Cheese, I knew I had to try it.  I love Macaroni & Cheese and I love Poblanos, so having them both together in one delicious recipe sounded like a match made in heaven.  Like peanut butter & chocolate.  Beans & rice.  And limón y sal.  (Lime & salt.) 

And a perfect match they were.  I may not be a Homesick Texan, but I am a homesick Gringa and the smoky, spicy goodness of this macaroni and cheese, seasoned with ancho chile powder and ground cumin, is everything Tex-Mex should be.

I couldn't get enough.

I will definitely be making this again! 


Poblano Macaroni and cheese



Poblano Macaroni & Cheese
(from The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain)

Ingredients:
  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 8 oz. elbow macaroni (I used two 200gr. packages of serpentina tricolor)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1-3/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder or chicken bouillon
  • 1/4 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 12 oz. grated Manchego or Chihuahua cheese

Directions:
Roast the poblano peppers directly over an open flame, until the skin has charred and blistered.  Place the poblano peppers in a plastic bag for 5 to 10 minutes.  (This causes the chilies to sweat, making it much easier to remove the skin.)

Roasting Poblanos


Remove the charred skin from the poblano peppers, along with the seeds and stem.  Chop the poblano peppers into small pieces.  (This would be a good time to chop the cilantro and grate the lime zest.)

poblanos, cilantro and lime zest


Boil the macaroni/pasta in a pot of boiling, salty water for about 5 minutes.  You want the pasta to be "al dente".  

serpentina tricolor
Don't you love my Serpentina Tricolor

While the pasta is cooking, generously grease a baking/casserole dish with butter.  Drain the pasta and pour it into the baking dish; set aside.

serpentina tricolor 2


And now for the cheese sauce...

Preheat oven to 350F.  Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over low heat.  Add garlic and sauté one minute.  Stir in the flour and let cook until a light golden brown. 

roux


Gradually pour in the milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps from forming.  Let cook until the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat.  Stir in the chicken bouillon, chili powder, ground cumin, lime zest, cilantro and chopped poblanos.  Season with salt and pepper.

poblano cheese sauce prep


Add half of the cheese and stir until melted. 

Poblano cheese sauce


Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir until well combined. 

Poblano Mac n cheese prep


Top with remaining cheese. 

Poblano Mac n cheese prep 2


Bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes.  Enjoy!!!

Poblano Macaroni and Cheese 2


*This post is part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef.




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