Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lime-Cilantro Vinagreta



When searching for Sauce & Salsa recipes on the Rick Bayless website for last week's I Heart Cooking Clubs theme, I was torn between two recipes.  After much thought and consideration, and a little input from Hubby and the kiddies, I went with the Tangy Peanut-Avocado salsa.  A wise and delicious decision, if I do say so myself.   One Hubby is still raving about it.

BUT...as the days passed by and the temperature outside continued to soar to the mid-90's, I couldn't stop thinking about that other recipe: a Lime-Cilantro dressing with serrano chilies.  April and May are the hottest months of the year here.  Perfect weather for a cool, crisp salad.   The salad I had in mind - made with romaine lettuce, sliced tomato and red onion, golden kernels of corn, and ripe avocado - would taste even better with the addition of lime and cilantro.

This Lime-Cilantro Vinagreta was superb.  Not the least bit overpowering, like some dressings can be.  My only complaint is that it didn't have enough heat.  (This from the Gringa who swears she can't handle spicy food.  I guess times, they are a changin'.)  Next time I make this, and believe me there will be a next time very soon, I'll either add more serrano chilies or try using jalapeño peppers instead.  I would love to try a creamier version using Mexican crema.

Have you ever made your own salad dressing?



Lime-Cilantro Vinagreta
(recipe from RickBayless.com)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 2 serrano chilies (or 1 fresh jalapeño)
  • salt

Directions: 

In a blender cup, puree the olive oil, lime juice, grated lime zest, cilantro, and serrano chilies until smooth; season with salt.  Pour the vinagreta into a jar, cover tightly, and refrigerate until ready to use.  Shake well before serving.  Enjoy!!!



IHCC theme: From the Earth

Also sharing this post with: The Food of the Month Club

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Comfort Food Classics: Sopa de Fideo Seco {She Made / Ella Hace}

This month, for She Made / Ella Hace, Heather (Girlichef) suggested we share one of my favorite classic Mexican dishes: Sopa de Fideo.  Yes, I know that I've already shared my recipe for a soupy version, but there's more than one way to prepare this comforting sopa.

When I was growing up, there wasn't a week that I didn't eat Sopa de Fideo.  On weekends or rainy afternoons, my grandpa would prepare his soupy Sopa de Fideo.   And at least once a week, Gramm made a drier version called Sopa de Fideo seco.  To be honest, it was just like any other Sopa de Pasta, but Gramm added a little something extra to make it really stand out...lots and lots of shredded cheese, that would melt it's way into every bite of tomato-y pasta.  It was the only thing I wanted to eat when I was a little girl, and all these years later, it continues to be one of my favorites.

Sopa de Fideo Seco - lacocinadeleslie.com


Sopa de Fideo (seco) 

Ingredients:

  • 7 oz. dried fideo noodles (about 1-1/2 cups) 
  • 2 roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth 
  • 1 (8oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 to 2 dried chiles de arbol, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used queso fresco

Directions: 
Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute the fideo noodles, stirring constantly (to prevent the noodles from burning), until the noodles turn a deep golden brown.



Add the tomato, onion, garlic, and arbol chilies; continue to saute for 1 to 2 minutes.


Reduce heat to low.  Slowly pour in the chicken broth and tomato sauce.  Stir to combine; season lightly with salt.  (You can substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.) 


Cover the skillet and let the Sopa de Fideo simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed.


Remove from heat.  Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the cooked Sopa de Fideo.  Cover and let the residual heat melt the cheese.  (About 5 minutes.)


Enjoy!!! 

Sopa de Fideo Seco Recipe - lacocinadeleslie.com


Be sure to visit Girlichef to check out her Sopa de Fideo!




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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tangy Peanut-Avocado Salsa


I know this is only the third week that I've been cooking with Rick Bayless, but I just have to say that I am really starting to like the man.  This week's I Heart Cooking Clubs' theme was Sauces & Salsas.  Since I'm still waiting for my first Rick Bayless cookbook to arrive in the mail, I turned, once again, to Rick's website for inspiration.

With so much yummy goodness to choose from, I decided to make Rick's version of one of my favorite salsas: Avocado Salsa.  Rick kicks this creamy salsa up a notch with the addition of peanuts.  Another of my favorite salsas is made with just peanuts and toasted chile de arbol, so I had a feeling I would love this Tangy Peanut-Avocado Salsa.  Rick did not disappoint.  This salsa was a HUGE hit with my entire family.  My two college student nephews couldn't get enough of it.  Good thing I tripled Rick's recipe.




Tangy Peanut-Avocado Salsa
(Recipe from RickBayless.com)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts
  • 2 serrano chilies, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup water or milk
  • 1 ripe avocado



Directions:
In a blender cup, puree in the peanuts, chilies, cilantro, lime juice, and water (or milk) until smooth.  Add the avocado, and continue to puree until completely blended.  Pour into a serving bowl and season with salt.  (I used milk, because that's what I usually use to thin this salsa when I make it without peanuts.) 



Enjoy!!!    This salsa would be great as a dip served with tortilla chips, or as a salsa on quesadillas or tacos.  (I served my salsa with tacos de carne asada.)



IHCC theme: Sauces & Salsas


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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tamales Dulces de Membrillo y Queso {Sweet Quince Tamales w/ Cheese}


A couple of months ago, my suegra (mother-in-law) sent over a couple of tamales for me to enjoy for breakfast.  I unwrapped my tamales, thinking they were the usual shredded pork tamales with Mole Ranchero, but to my surprise they were sweet tamales.  But they weren't the regular sweet tamales made with piloncillo and raisins or stuffed with pineapple that my suegra always makes.  They were a very special batch of tamales, stuffed with what we call cajeta de membrillo.



Cajeta de Membrillo (also known as Ate de Membrillo) is a typical Mexican candy made from quince.    It's sold in large blocks, but you can have the vendor sell you as big or as little a piece as you want.  (I  usually buy half a kilo, which is a little over a pound.)  When eaten as a candy, the texture is soft but firm, kind of like jello.  But when baked into empanadas, muffins and/or danishes, the Cajeta de Membrillo melts and turns into a jelly that looks an awful lot like cajeta.  As for the taste, Cajeta de Membrillo always reminds me of apple butter.

My suegra's tamales were so out-of-this-world delicious, I've been waiting for an excuse to make them.  Thanks to this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs' theme (Sweet Tooth), and Rick Bayless, I finally had the excuse I've been looking for.

Rick's recipe originally calls for Ate de Guayaba (Guava Paste).  Since guava and quince paste both  have the same consistency, I chose to use Cajeta de Membrillo, because I really wanted to re-create the tamlaes my suegra made.  What really got my attention is that Rick also added cream cheese to the filling.  The tangy-ness of the cream cheese would be the perfect way to off-set the sweetness of the masa (dough) and the Cajeta de Membrillo.  I didn't have any cream cheese on hand, so I improvised by using Queso Fresco.


The results were even better than I had hoped for.  The Queso Fresco and the melted Cajeta de Membrillo worked perfectly together.  To give you an idea of just how good they were, my Hubby,  who is not a big fan of sweet tamales at all, couldn't keep his hands off of them.  




Tamales Dulces de Membrillo y Queso
(Sweet Quince Tamales with Cheese) Recipe slightly adapted from RickBayless.com

Ingredients:
  • 1 (8oz.) package dried corn husks
  • 3-1/2 cups masa harina (I use regular Maseca) 
  • 2-1/4 cups hot water
  • 10 oz. butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 16 oz. Ate de Membrillo (Quince Paste) 
  • Queso Fresco or 12oz. cream cheese

Directions:
Soak the corn husks in hot (boiling) water for 1 to 2 hours until very soft and pliable.  Rinse with cold water and pat dry completely with paper towels.  Remember: Masa (dough) will slide right off of wet corn husks.




Mix the masa harina with the hot water until the dough start to form a ball.  The mixture will be kind of dry and crumbly.



With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the butter with the granulated and brown sugar, the salt and baking powder until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Remember: Light and fluffy butter equals a light and fluffy masa (dough).


Reduce the electric mixer speed to medium-low.  Crumble the masa, a third at a time, into the butter mixture and continue to mix alternately with a third of the milk.



Repeat with the remaining masa and milk.  Continue mixing until no pieces of masa are visible.   The tamal batter should be creamy and fluffy.



Spread 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons of tamal batter onto two-thirds of a corn husk, leaving a 1/4-inch border free at the top and on the left-side edge.  Place a few pieces of ate de membrillo (quince paste) and queso fresco down the center of each tamal.  Gently fold over the left side of the corn husk, so that the masa wraps around the filling.  Finish rolling the corn husk and tuck in the ends.



Transfer the finished tamal to a large plate until you've finished forming all of your tamales.


Arrange the tamales in a deep pot.  Don't pack them in too tight, because they need room for the steam to circulate.  Without getting any water on the tamales, fill the pot with about 2-inches of water (about 2 or 3 cups, depending on the size of your pot).


Cover the pot and let the tamales simmer over medium heat for about an hour, adding more water if necessary.  You'll know the tamales are done cooking, because the batter will have puffed up.  Let the tamales cool for about 15 minutes before serving.



Serve warm for breakfast or dessert.  Enjoy!!! 


*Recipe yields about 24 tamales.


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IHCC Theme: Sweet Tooth



Thursday, April 5, 2012

Micheladas {Bienvenido, Rick Bayless!}

I'm looking to make a new friend.  Maybe you've heard of him.  His name is Rick Bayless.  I've heard his name before, and I've watched 2 or 3 episodes of his show "Mexico: One Plate at a Time".  But I don't really know that much about him and I've never tried any of his recipes.

Well, that's all about to change.  For the next six months, Rick Bayless will be the featured chef of  I Heart Cooking Clubs, and will be a weekly feature here in my cocina.   I don't see any reason why we wouldn't get along.  Rick's specialty is Mexican food, and I just happen to live in Mexico, where I  cook Mexican food almost daily.  On paper, we're perfect for each other.  But who knows.  Only time will tell.

To welcome Rick to my cocina, I prepared a couple of Micheladas, to toast to what I hope is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Micheladas are a popular, somewhat spicy, beer cocktail here in Mexico.  I've already shared my recipe for Micheladas con Clamato, which were the only kind of Micheladas I've ever had.  But for Rick, I thought we should have the original.  The one that started it all.

Salud!  (Cheers!)



Micheladas
(Recipe from RickBayless.com)

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon bottled hot sauce (Valentina brand is best)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Jugo Maggi (It's a seasoning sauce)
  • 1 cold beer (I used a 355 ml. bottle of Corona) 
  • Limes
  • Salt

Directions:
Run the cut side of a lime around the rim of a chilled beer mug.  Dip the moistened rim in a small plate with a couple tablespoons of salt.



Fill the mug with ice cubes.  Add the lime juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Jugo Maggi, and a dash of salt.  (I rarely measure out the ingredients.  I just add a squeeze or two of this, and a couple of dashes of that.  It's really up to you.  You can use however much you want of each of the ingredients.) 


Slowly pour in the beer.  Stir gently until everything is combined.  Enjoy!!!


*Serves 1


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IHCC theme: Bienvenido, Rick!



Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Last Holiday Recipe Round-Up {Food 'n Flix}

I'm so happy that I was able to host Food 'n Flix once again, and to share one of my favorite feel-good movies, Last Holiday.  Now it's time to round-up all of the delicious recipes that some of my foodie friends were inspired to make after watching this movie.

The first dish that we see Georgia (Queen Latifah) cook is a recipe by Emeril Lagasse.  That is what inspired Elizabeth from The Law Student's Cookbook,  to try her hand at one of Emeril's recipes, this hearty Beef Stew.


Tina at Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Head Manor prepared Bananas Foster in a decadent, buttery, Brandy sauce.



Deb from Kahakai Kitchen also made Bananas Foster, but she turned them into a Thick Bananas Foster Shake.  With salty caramel to line the glass, and coconut milk and ice cream, for a tropical touch, you would never guess that this was dairy-free.



 "...In the spirit of turning possibilities into realities...and living like you were dying...and not being so afraid of living...", Girlichef offers us these sweet and indulgant Meyer Lemon Curd Brioche Crescents.



And lastly, my contribution...  I prepare this Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelet), because if I learned I only had 3 weeks to live, I would want to fulfill my lifelong dream of traveling to Spain, and feasting on all of the yummy tapas available.


For more Food 'n Flix fun, be sure to visit Spabettie, who is hosting this month's flick, "Big Night".


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Monday, April 2, 2012

Food of the Month Club: April

April is a very special month here at La Cocina de Leslie.  This humble little blog will be 3 years old on the 18th.  So to celebrate this joyous occasion, this month's ingredient for The Food of the Month Club is one  I hold near and dear to my heart.  And it also happens to be my last name...Limón!




Now you're probably wondering why there's a picture of limes, if limón is the Spanish word for lemon. Where I live in Mexico, limones are actually limes. Bright green limes and/or key limes. Instead of describing a color as lemon yellow, we say it's verde limón (lemon green). I've only seen yellow lemons twice in the 11 years that I've lived in Mexico. (But I live in a small town, so I'm rather sheltered.) On a side note: the Spanish word for limes is lima.  The limas around these parts aren't the limes you see pictured above.  They are a different citrus fruit all together that aren't the least bit tart or sour. (As soon as I find out the English name for our limas, I will let you know.  Or if you know the name, let me know in the comments.)

Spanish lesson aside, and just to be clear...
The Food of the Month for April is LIMES! 
I use limes for almost everything.  Agua de Limón is one of my favorite Aguas Frescas.  My whole family likes to squeeze lime juice on everything from chopped fruit to tacos, and even soups.  And let's not forget about all of the sweet and tart lime desserts out there.  (Hello, Key Lime Pie!)

I hope you'll join me this month for The Food of the Month Club.  

What are some of your favorite lime recipes?
  



How to participate:
  1. Cook up something delicious using Limes 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. Email your entries to me at leslielimon@lacocinadeleslie.com by April 29th.  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 April 30th for the Lime recipe round-up.  




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