Wednesday, February 29, 2012

FOTMC Round-Up: Chocolate

I can't think of a better way to celebrate Leap Day than with a party.  A chocolate party!  It's time to round-up all of the decadent, sinfully delicious, chocolate recipes a few of my friends around the blogosphere made for this month's Food of the Month Club.  

To get our little Chocolate party started, let me offer you something to drink, like this gorgeous Chocolate Margarita from Vianney of Sweet Life.  I don't know what I love more: the homemade chocolate syrup, the shaved chocolate around the rim, or the chocolate "Amor" garnish... Simply stunning!



Ready for a little dessert?  Corina from Searching for Spice whipped up this gorgeous Chocolate Microwave Cake.  I could swim in that rich, luxurious pudding that magically forms when done cooking in the microwave!


Since February is el mes del amor (the love month), Heather from Girlichef baked up these super cute heart-shaped Chocolate Fudge Brownies with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.  It fell in love just looking at them.



For those of you who aren't all that crazy about chocolate desserts, Sarah from Kitchen Procrastination,, made us these Seared Steaks with Red Wine and Chocolate Sauce.  The sauce sounds amazing!



Still in the mood for something sweet?  My friends at  Peru Delights made these sweet candy confections called Chocotejas.  So many flavors and textures in one tiny piece of candy.  (Sigh!)  


Then we have this dreamy Chocolate Chip Chocoflan from Nicole at Presley's Pantry.  So much chocolate-y goodness in one incredible dessert.


Now to end our little party, I send you hugs and these sweet, irresistible Monkey Kisses from Ericka at Nibbles & Feasts.  Bet you can't have just one!


A big THANK YOU, to my wonderful foodie friends for joining me.

If you would like to be included in next month's Round-Up, be sure to tune in tomorrow to find out our Food of the Month for March.

What's your favorite way to use chocolate?

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Carrot Cake Capirotada {Bread Pudding}

Last Wednesday, marked the beginning of Cuaresma (Lent).   For those of us in Mexico, Cuaresma means two things: Meat-Free Fridays and Capirotada.

Capirotada is a traditional Mexican bread pudding made with sliced bolillo rolls, raisins, peanuts, cheese and a piloncillo syrup seasoned with cinnamon and clove.  My suegra (mother-in-law) makes a big batch of Capirotada every Friday during Lent to share with the entire family.  Every time Doña Esperanza delivers a piping hot bowl of her sweet Capritoada, I am reminded of when my grandparents used to make their Capirotadas to share with family and friends

Gramm's Capirotada was more along the lines of the classic American bread pudding using white sandwich bread, and baked in an egg and milk custard.  Pappy, on the other hand, prepared what I liked to call Kitchen Sink Capirotada. Pappy threw in everything he could get his hands on, except the kitchen sink.  He'd add raisins, orejones (dried apple slices), sliced bananas, crushed pineapple, coconut, shredded carrots, pecans, peanuts, cheese...  If it was in our pantry or fridge, it was going in the Capirotada.  The piloncillo syrup that the Capirotada was baked in was similar to what my suegra makes, except sometimes Pappy would add a little brandy or red wine para que le de un toque especial (to give it a special touch).

My Capirotada is a combination of the two Capirotadas I grew up eating.  I don't add as many ingredients to one Capirotada as my grandpa did, but all of those ingredient can be combined in different ways to make a unique and delicious Capirotada.  Carrot Cake Capirotada is what I make most often, but I also love the Banana Nut Bread and Apple Spice variations.

Slice of Carrot Cake Capirotada with Cream Cheese Glaze

Carrot Cake Capirotada

Ingredients:
  • 3 or 4 bolillo rolls
  • 2 cups shredded carrot
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1-1/4 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • A pinch of salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F.  Slice the bolillo rolls into 1-inch cubes.  You'll need about 6 cups of bread cubes.

sliced bolillo

Place the bolillo cubes in a generously greased baking dish.  Stir in the shredded carrot, the chopped pecans, and the raisins.  (You can also add a small can of crushed pineapple, drained, and 1/2 cup of shredded coconut.) 

carrot cake capirotada prep 1

In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, evaporated milk, regular milk, sugars, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.

carrot cake capirotada prep 2

Pour the milk mixture over the bread cubes.

carrot cake capirotada prep 3

Gently press down on the bread so that every piece can soak up the milk mixture.  Bake uncovered in a baño Maria (water bath or bain Marie) for about 45 minutes.  (For the water bath: Place the baking dish inside a large baking pan and fill the larger pan with about 1-inch of boiling water.)

carrot cake capirotada prep 4

Remove the capirotada from the oven and let cool slightly.  Prepare the Cream Cheese Glaze by combining the cream cheese with the powdered sugar with an electric mixer.  Stir in enough milk, one teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency.  Drizzle Cream Cheese Glaze over the capirotada.

Carrot Cake Capirotada with Cream Cheese Glaze

Enjoy!!!

Slice of Carrot Cake Capirotada with Cream Cheese Glaze 2

*Variations:  For Banana Nut Bread Capirotada, substitute 3 or 4 sliced bananas for the carrots.  The Cream Cheese Glaze is optional or just sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.  For an Apple Spice Capirotada, susbstitute 2 cups of chopped Granny Smith apples for the carrots, and 1 cup of walnuts for the pecans.  Omit the Cream Cheese Glaze.  Drizzle a little maple syrup over the top after it comes out of the oven. 

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For more recipes to enjoy during Cuaresma, check out The Lent Club hosted by Presley's Pantry.



Saturday, February 18, 2012

Horchata de Coco {Coconut Horchata}


Horchata de Coco - lacocinadeleslie.com

I really wish I had taken time out from enjoying my tamales on El Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas) and paid a little more attention to whether or not Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Groundhog's Day.  I don't think I can take much more of this cold, gray and rainy winter weather we've been having these past two weeks.  I know two weeks of 40 degree temperatures and scattered rain showers isn't really cause for complaint, but this unseasonable weather really has this California girl craving for a little sunshine.

Since I can't control the weather and make the sunshine come to me, I had to make something that would remind me of warm, sunny weather.  Enter Horchata de Coco!  Whenever I drink this creamy, coconut agua fresca, I feel like I should be relaxing on a tropical beach somewhere, soaking in the sun, listening to the waves crash upon the sand.  Throw in a couple of palm trees and a good book and all that's missing is a cute little umbrella in my drink to complete my summer fantasy.   (Sigh!) 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make Tamales de Puerco {She Made/Ella Hace}



Tamale Mise en Place

Today, on this the second day of February, I have a very special treat for you!  It's Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas).  In the Catholic faith, it's a Feast Day to celebrate the day that Mary presented Jesus in the temple.  It's also the day the person that found El Niño Dios (Baby Jesus) in La Rosca de Reyes to make the tamales.  And that's exactly what Girlichef and I are making this month for She Made / Ella Hace.

I can't think of a better tamal recipe to share with you than my grandmother's delicious shredded pork tamales.  Tender pieces of shredded pork in a spicy chile colorado sauce tucked inside a soft and billowy corn masa (dough).  And hidden inside each tamal, was Gramm's secret weapon ingredient...Black Olives.  Gramm had to fight me for the olives, because I was always putting the olives on my fingertips.

I knew that making Gramm's tamales would bring back a lot of happy childhood memories of watching her and Pappy assemble the dozens of tamales to be shared with family and friends.  My kitchen felt so warm and comforting as the tamales simmered away on the stove.  It felt and smelled exactly like my grandmother's cozy little kitchen.   I slid down to sit on the floor, just so I could bask in the familiar aroma for a few more minutes before the kiddies came home from school.  I closed my eyes, wishing I could hear my grandparents laughing and joking as they worked.  And that's when the tears rolled down my face.  Happy tears.  Yes, I miss my grandparents dearly and I'm still mourning the loss of my beloved grandmother, but I found comfort in realizing that I am keeping their memory alive by sharing and passing on these traditions to my children.  And hopefully one day, they'll share these same traditions with their families.

Uncooked Shredded Pork Tamales

Tamales de Puerco con Chile Colorado
(Shredded Pork Chile Colorado Tamales)

Meat Filling:
  • 2 pounds pierna de cerdo (you can use pork rump or shoulder roast) 
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 dried ancho chilies
  • 2 dried guajillo chilies
  • 1 cup pork or chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin


Masa (Tamale Dough):
  • 4 cups masa harina (I use regular Maseca) 
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup manteca (lard) or shortening
  • 3 cups pork or chicken broth

Additional Ingredients:
  • 24 large dried corn husks
  • 1 to 2 cans whole black olives, pitted

Preparing the Meat Filling:
Making tamales can be a little time consuming.  So to make it an easier and more pleasant experience, I like to prepare the meat filling a day or two in advance.

Cut the pork meat into about 4 large pieces, so that the meat cooks evenly.  Place the pork meat in a 4-quart pot with the medium onion and two garlic cloves; season with salt and pepper.  Fill the pot with enough water to cover the pork meat, about 6 to 8 cups.   Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer until the meat is completely cooked and very tender.

Shredded Pork Tamale Filling Prep 1
I used 3 small onions, because that's what I had on hand. 
Let the cooked pork meat cool slightly before shredding it.  Reserve the pork broth for making the masa (dough).  (If you're going to prepare the meat filling in advance, refrigerate the pork broth and reheat it just before starting to make your masa.) 

While the meat is cooking, cook the dried ancho and guajillo chilies in 2 cups of water.  Let cool slightly, then remove the stems and seeds.  Puree the chilies, 1 clove of garlic, the chili powder, and ground cumin with 1 cup of the water the chilies were cooked in and 1 cup of pork broth until smooth.  Pour the chile puree over the shredded pork and mix until well combined.

Shredded Pork Tamale Filling Prep 2


 Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Shredded Pork Tamale Filling


Preparing the Hojas (corn husks):
In a large bowl, cover the corn husks with boiling water.  Cover and let set for about an hour or until the corn husks are soft and pliable.

Dried Corn Husks

Rinse the corn husks with cold water to remove any dirt and residue.  Pat the corn husks with a kitchen towel until completely dry.  (Masa doesn't stick to wet corn husks.)

Rinsed corn husks


Making the Masa:
In a medium bowl, combine the masa harina, baking powder and salt.

Tamale Dough Prep 1

In a large mixing bowl, cream the lard with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  (Light and fluffy manteca makes for light and fluffy tamales.)

Tamale Dough Prep 2

With your electric mixer still on medium-high, beat in the masa harina, one cup at a time until no dry bits of masa harina are visible.  (Mixture will be grainy.)   Reduce the electric mixer speed to low and stir in 3 cups of very warm pork broth until it has all been absorbed.   Using your hands, press the mixture together to form a dough.

Tamale Dough Prep 3

Now let's make some tamales! 
Spoon about 1/4 cup of masa (dough) onto each corn husk.  You could spread the masa with a spoon, but I think it's much easier to flatten it with your fingertips.  A good rule of thumb is to flatten the masa to about a 1/4-inch thickness across two-thirds of the corn husk, leaving a 1/4-inch space on one side and the top, and about a 3-inch space at the bottom.

Tamale Prep 1

Spoon a couple tablespoons of the meat filling down the center of the masa and top with 2 to 3 black olives.  (This is when Gramm would say, "Don't be stingy with the filling, no las estasmos haciendo para vender!") (Translation: We're not making them to sell!)  

Tamale Prep 2

Starting at the 1/4-inch edge, gently fold your tamal in thirds, then tuck in the ends.  (This is the easiest way to wrap tamales. The process will get easier with each tamal you make.  Practice makes perfect!)  Place the tamales seam-side down on a large plate, until you've finished  with all of the tamales.

Tamale Prep 3

Fill the bottom of an 8 to 10-quart tamale steamer (or larger if you are doubling the recipe) just to the bottom of the ridge where the steamer insert rests.  Place the insert inside the tamale steamer and arrange the tamales loosely so the steam can circulate.  Cover and cook over high heat for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 45 minute to an hour.  (If you don't own a tamale steamer, don't worry.  My grandmother cooked her tamales in a large roasting pan on the stove with enough water that covered the tamales about 1/3 of the way.)  

Tamale Prep 4

For a complete meal, serve with Mexican Rice , Refried Beans, and a delicious Atole.  (And remember to remove the corn husks from the tamales before eating them.)  Enjoy!!!  (Yields 18 to 24 tamales) 

Shredded Pork Tamales


Now head on over to Girlichef's to check out her recipe for sweet Tamales de Fresa!  



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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Food of the Month: February

Being that February is known here in Mexico as el mes del amor (the month of love), I've chosen an ingredient that is synonymous with love and Valentine's Day...Chocolate! 


Photo Credit 

Sinfully delicious chocolate, in all it's glorious forms.  Dark Chocolate.  Milk Chocolate.  Bittersweet.  Semi-sweet.  Chocolate Chips.  White Chocolate.  And my personal favorite, Mexican Chocolate.

The possibilities are endless.




How to particpate:

  1. Cook up something delicious using the Food of the Month as one of the main ingredients.  
  2. Post the recipe(s) on your blog, making sure to link to this page in your blog post(s).  You can also add the Food of the Month Club badge to your post and/or sidebar.  (Current recipes only.)
  3. Since February is a shorter month, please email your entries to me at leslielimon@lacocinadeleslie.com no later than February 26th.  Be sure to  include:
*Your name 
*Your blog name 
*Permalink to your blog post 
*Photo of your recipe or permission to pull one from your post

       4.  Visit La Cocina de Leslie on February 29th for the recipe round-up.  



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