Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Biscuit-Topped Poblano Chicken Pot Pie



Over the years, I've written about the people who've had the greatest influence on my cooking:  my Mexican grandparents, my mother, my Southern belle great-grandmother, a couple of aunts, and my suegra (mother-in-law).   But there is one person I haven't mentioned yet...my dad.

I lived with my dad (in Texas) for maybe a year when I was in the 4th or 5th grade.  I don't remember him ever really cooking, but we did eat dinner together each night, sitting in front of the TV, watching The Dukes of Hazard or some other 80's TV show.  Back then, my dad's idea of a home cooked meal consisted mostly of frozen TV dinners in aluminum trays.  This was before the microwave oven became a must-have household appliance.

My favorite of all the frozen dinners was Chicken Pot Pie.  Something about the creamy sauce and little pieces of chicken and cut-up veggies surrounded by the golden, flaky crust had me mesmerized.  The turkey and beef pot pies were good too, but the chicken was by far the best.

When I was little older and living with my grandparents, I'd buy a frozen chicken pot pie every once in a while for those moments I was feeling nostalgic or missing my dad.  But the new and improved microwaveable pot pies weren't as good as the ones my dad used to "make".  

When Hubby and I got married, I tried my hand at making one from scratch.  The end result was quite delicious, but Hubby wasn't (and still isn't) really big on savory foods that resembled sweet treats, like pies and empananadas.  So, over the years, my homemade Chicken Pot Pie has evolved.  The filling is one of my favorite flavor combinations ever: chicken, roasted poblano peppers, and golden corn kernels.    And the pie crust has been replaced with a buttery biscuit topping.  My Poblano Chicken Pot Pie is creamy and delicious with just a hint of spice, and so comforting, every time I make it, I am reminded of the short time I got to spend with my dad and our nightly frozen TV dinners.


Poblano Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients:
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut in cubes
  • 2 large poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, and chopped
  • 1 small can corn kernels 
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
For the biscuit topping:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons butter, chilled
  • 3/4 cups of milk
Directions:
If  you haven't already done so, cook/boil the whole chicken breasts.  I like to cook mine with a clove of garlic, 1/2 an onion, a sprig of cilantro, salt and pepper.  Shred or chop the cooked chicken breasts into bite-size pieces.  While the chicken is cooking, roast the poblano peppers over an open flame, or toast on a skillet or comal over high heat, for a few minutes on each side, until most of the skin has charred.  Place in a plastic bag and let sit for about 10 minutes.  (This allows the poblanos to sweat, making it them much easier to peel.)  Remove the charred skin, seeds and stems from the poblano peppers; chop or slice the poblano peppers.

In a 2 to 3-quart casserole or baking dish, combine the cooked chicken breasts, chopped poblano peppers, corn kernels, onion and cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper.




Prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Using a wire whisk, stir in the flour until it forms a paste.  Slowly pour in the milk and chicken broth, whisking constantly to avoid clumps from forming.  Let sauce simmer, stirring occasionally, until it thickens.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables.  Stir gently to combine.


Prepare the biscuit topping by combining the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.  Using a potato masher, add the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Stir in the milk until the dough comes together.  



Spoon biscuit dough on top of the chicken and vegetables.


To prevent spills, place the casserole dish on top of a cookie sheet.  Bake in a preheated oven at 350F until the biscuit topping turns golden brown (about 30 minutes).   




Enjoy!!! 





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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Interview with Celebrity Chef Aquiles Chávez

Last week I had the opportunity to do a phone interview with renowned Mexcian chef, Aquiles Chávez.  For those of you unfamiliar with Chef Aquiles, he is the host of THREE shows on the Utilísima network:  El Toque de Aquiles, Aquilisimo, and Aquiles en HoustonHe is also the owner of the new critically acclaimed restaurant La Fishería in Houston, Texas.  Interviewing Chef Aquiles was a dream come true for this expat foodie.  We talked about Mexican food, cooking, and moving to another country.  I am a BIG fan of Chef Aquiles, so getting to interview him was like getting to meet my rock star crush and celebrating my birthday and Christmas all at the same time.

This is the English translation of my interview with Chef Aquiles Chávez.

September is mes patrio (patriotic month) in Mexico, which opens the door to a month-long feast of the best of everything Mexican cuisine has to offer.  What would you say are the most emblematic ingredients of Mexican cuisine?  That's easy.  There are three ingredients that are what I like to call the holy trinity of the Mexican kitchen: Corn, beans and chilies.  If I were to turn the Mexican kitchen into a mathematical equation it would be: Corn plus beans multiplied by chilies.  I say multiplied by chilies, because chilies are a flavor enhancer.  Chilies are what add flavor to our meals.

Speaking of chilies, what are your favorite chilies to work with? 
That's a difficult question to answer.  Each chile is special.  Each chile has it's moment to be enjoyed.  It own dish to shine.  For example, I can't imagine making chilaquiles without  dried pasilla chilies from Oaxaca.

I live in a small town that is famous for producing the best chile de arbol in the world, what are your thoughts on chile de arbol
I love chile de arbol!  I can't imagine eating a bowl of Pozole or a Torta Ahogada without a chile de arbol salsa. I make a salsa with toasted chile de arbol and sesame seeds that goes perfectly with Pozole.

What do you think are some common misconceptions that people have about Mexican food?  
That they confuse Tex-Mex food with Mexican food.  That all Mexican food is spicy.  And that what is served at fast-food taco chains is what constitutes authentic Mexican cuisine.

What Mexican dishes are a must at a Mexican themed party, say for Mexican Independence Day? 
You can't have a party without Pozole, Mezcal, Mexican Wine, Tostadas, Refried Beans, Churros....

Is there a Mexican dish or ingredient that is trending in the US right now? 
Yes, huitlacoche, nopal, squash blossoms, and avocados are very popular.  Especially Avocados from Mexico, the best avocados in the world.  9 out of every 10 avocados sold in the US are Avocados from Mexico.

You recently moved to the US, how was the transition from living in Mexico to living in the US? 
It was a big shock.  A cultural shock, more than anything.  Going from living in a laid back society where our motto is "No pasa nada!" to a society of order and respect, it's a big change.  One of the things I like most about the US is that the motto of "el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz"  applies perfectly here.

How important is it to you and your family to maintain your Mexican traditions and culture now that you're living in the US? 

No matter where you live, you have to remember where you came from.  One of the most important things for us is to maintain our language.  For example, our children will speak English at school and with their friends, but at home it will be strictly Spanish.  It's also important for us to conserve our Mexican values, like love, respect for our elders, and family unity, so our children grow up to be positive Mexican-American citizens.

Is there a classic American food that you like?
Yes, hamburgers!  Especially homemade hamburgers made on the grill.

You are a spokesperson for Avocados from Mexico, how important are avocados in your kitchen?  
It was an honor for Avocados from Mexico to invite me to work with them.  I'm an avocado fanatic.  It's an all natural product that is harvested year-long in the rich soil of Mexico.

A lot people think that avocados can only be used as a garnish or just to make guacamole, what are some other ways avocados can be enjoyed? 
Avocados are a fruit, but in Mexico we think of it more as a vegetable and only use it in savory dishes.  In Brazil, avocados are known as the butter of fruits.  They eat it spread on toast and drizzled with honey.  I recently made an avocado cheesecake at the restaurant that was a big hit.

What are some of your favorite avocado dishes?
I can't imagine eating a ceviche, or a tuna tostada, or a torta without avocado.  Those are the foods I enjoy most because they're the flavors I grew up with.

What do you miss most from Mexico?  
My parents and the food!


To learn more about Chef Aquiles Chávez, visit his website.  You can also follow him on Twitter.


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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

18 Summer Beverages to Enjoy Before Fall {FOTMC Round-Up}




It's the last week of summer!  For some, that means that crisp, cool Autumn days have already made an appearance.  For others, it means we still have a few weeks of hot weather to tolerate.  Whether you're looking for a refreshing beverage to help you cool down, or are looking to hold on to summer for just a few more days, the Food of the Month Club round-up has a delightful collection of Summer Beverages that is the perfect way to say farewell to summer.

To get things started, my friend Maura from The Other Side of the Tortilla, introduces us to La Paloma, a "refreshing, classic Mexican cocktail", made with grapefruit juice and tequila.

Photo courtesy of The Other Side of the Tortilla


Next up we have a stunning Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea Water) from another foodie friend of mine, Bren Herrera from Flanboyant Eats.  This is a tart and delicious way to keep cool, "especially when it’s hot and humid out."  This beverage can also be enjoyed during the fall and winter thanks to the ginger, clove, and orange peel, whose flavors and aromas are perfect for the holidays. 



If you like Piña Coladas, then you'll love what Natalia from Comiendo en LA whipped up for us: Piña Coladas made with two kinds of rum, fresh pineapple, and whipped cream.



Natalia also shares her recipe for a rich and cool Banana-Coffee Frappe!



My BFF (best foodie friend) Girlichef served up this bright and sunny Pineapple-Vanilla Agua Fresca that looks and tastes like summer in a glass.



Girlichef also made Coconut Horchata, which combines everything you love about Horchata with the tropical flavor of coconut milk.



Eva from TechFoodLife offers us a delightful, summery twist to traditional lemonade with Watermelon Lemonade.



Ckay from Sweet and That's It gives us a delicious way to start our day with her Frulatto, a fruit and yogurt smoothie made with apples, banana, orange, and mango.



My friends from Peru Delights introduce us to Chicha Morada, a traditional Peruvian beverage made with purple corn, pineapple, apple, and quince, seasoned with cinnamon, cloves, and allspice.



Heather from Malice in Dunderland shares two creamy banana beverages:  Batido de Guineo (Banana Milk)


and Felicidad del Guineo, a banana slushie with with orange juice and coconut milk.



My other BFF, Vianney from Sweet Life, shares her Agua de Zanahoria y Piña (Carrot & Pineapple Cooler), that I'm sure will instantly become my hubby's new favorite Agua Fresca.



Vianney also treats us to two of her famous margaritas!  The first is a gorgeous cotton candy hued Plum Pineapple Margarita.


And the second is this sweet Prickly Pear Margarita that uses green tunas (prickly pears).



The girls from Muy Bueno Cookbook, whose first cookbook comes out next month, share their Agua de Piña recipe with us.



And finally my contribution to the Summer Beverages round-up: Agua de Frutas (Papaya, Guava & Apple Punch),



Shirley Temples,



and Banana Daiquiris.



As always, thank you so much to all who participated.  This is the biggest FOTMC turn-out we've ever had! If you would like to be included in the next Food of the Month Club Round-Up, we're cooking with apples this month.  See the announcement post for more details.


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*All photos used with written and/or verbal permission of the participating bloggers.


  


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Frijoles Charros / Rancheros {Cowboy Beans} #SundaySupper



This week's #SundaySupper theme is one I hold near and dear to my heart, because today we're celebrating Mexican Independence Day!

Most years, I like to go all out for el Día de la Independencia, with a big feast of traditional Mexican dishes like Tamales, Pozole, or Mole de Espinazo.  But this year, I was in the mood for something simpler.  Something homey and comforting.  Maybe something soupy like Pappy (my abuelito) used to make.  But I also wanted something that would use the gorgeous little red beans I found at my favorite produce store earlier in the week.  That's when I remembered Pappy's Frijoles Rancheros, which my grandmother always argued were actually called Frijoles Charros.  I really didn't care what they called them, I just wanted to dive into the hearty bean soup with pieces of pork meat.  Sometimes that pork meat was bacon, but most of the time, Pappy made his Frijoles Charros with smoked patitas de puerco (pigs feet).  Either way, it was always delicious.

For me, Frijoles Charros is the perfect dish to serve this year for Mexican Independence Day, because it's made with one of the most important staple ingredients of Mexican cuisine: beans.  And it gets much of it's flavor from a tricolor Salsa Mexicana, with the same colors of the Mexican flag.  And because it reminds me of the stories Pappy used to tell me about his childhood en el rancho (on the ranch) in the mountains of Chihuahua.  It's an awesome Mexican recipe any way you look at it.

Feliz Día de la Independencia!  Viva México!  Viva México!!! Viva México!!! 


Frijoles Charros o Frijoles Rancheros
(Cowboy Beans) (Recipe adapted from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless)

Ingredients:
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 3 large roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh serrano chilies, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cups Cooked Beans with bean broth
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Directions:
In a large 2 to 3-quart saucepan or stockpot, saute the bacon over medium heat, stirring regularly, until  completely cooked and crispy.  Add the onion, garlic, and serrano chilies.  Saute for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the tomatoes and let cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the beans with their broth and 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro.  Taste and season with salt, if necessary.  Cover and let simmer over medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes.  Serve in bowls and garnish with more chopped cilantro.  Enjoy!!!


For more Fiesta food & drinks, be sure to check out all of the #SundaySupper recipes!

Sopas (Soups), Ensaladas (Salads), and Entremeses (Starters)
La Comida (the food)
Postres (desserts)
Bebidas (beverages)

Please be sure you join us on Twitter throughout the day (this coming Sunday, September 16) during #SundaySupper. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 pm (Eastern) for our weekly #SundaySupper  live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite recipes for a Mexican Fiesta! All you have to do is follow the#SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat!  We’d also love to feature your Mexican Fiesta recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers!


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Saturday, September 15, 2012

September: Food of the Month Club Announcement

Hi foodie friends!  Food of the Month Club is back!  And hopefully, it will be better than ever.   Sorry for the little hiatus, but I had a few distractions here on the homefront.  But everything is back to normal and we are pretty settled into our new schedules.  Thank you all so much for your patience.  I apologize for any inconvenience.  I also want to say thank you to everyone who wrote in asking about FOTMC, requesting that it make it's comeback very soon.  You wrote in and I listened.  I love hearing from you, whether it be in the comments, an email, Facebook, or Twitter.  I know I don't always answer in a timely matter, but I am working on it, I promise.

Before I announce the main ingredient for September,  I do want to inform you of one small change to the Food of the Month Club.  Instead of the month being from the 1st through the 30th, our months will run from the 15th to the 15th.  Starting in October, you can expect both the Announcement post for that month, along with the Recipe Round-Up of the previous month to be posted on the 15th.  

Now for this month's Food of the Month...  (Insert dramatic drumroll here!)



Apples!!!   

For me, apples have always been synonymous with September and autumn.   Not only are they sweet and tart all at the same time, but they're also quite versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.  But honestly, all I can think about right now are sweet, baked goodies with lots of cinnamon.

I hope you'll join me this month.  And be sure to tune in next week for the July/August Summer Beverage Round-Up.


How to participate:
1.)  Visit La Cocina de Leslie the 15th of each month to find out the Food of the Month.

2.)  Cook up something delicious using the Food of the Month as one of the main ingredients.

3.)  Post the recipe(s) on your blog.  You may submit more than one recipe, but no more than 3 can be included in the round-up.  All posts must be current.   

4.)  You must link to this page in your apple recipe blog post(s).  You can also add the Food of the Month Club badge to your post and/or sidebar.  You can find the code for the badge here

5.)  Email your entries to me at leslielimon@lacocinadeleslie.com no later than the 14th of the month.  Be sure to  include:
~your name
~your blog name
~permalink to your post
~a photo of your recipe or permission to pull one from your post

6.)  Visit La Cocina de Leslie on October 15th for the apple recipe round-up.  



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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pollo Adobado con Papas #SundaySupper {Adobo Chicken & Potatoes}

Over the years I've mentioned how much I love September.  First of all, it's my birth month, making this the most awesome month of all.  When I was a little kid, September also meant apple season and time to go back to school.  And now that I live in Mexico, September is all about the fair, parades, and celebrating Mexican Independence Day.

But there is another reason I love September...it's football season!  It's also futbol (soccer) season, but I still love American football a little more.  When we're lucky enough to find a game being televised, you can find me and Hubby camped out in front of the TV with an ice cold glass bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola and one of our favorite football foods: Pollo Adobado.  It's a little bit spicy, more than a little saucy, and if you're like my kids who love to eat this with their hands, it can be a little bit messy.  But it is a whole lot of deliciousness.  Sure to score a touchdown with your family!

I usually bake my Pollo Adobado at home, but we've also baked it in the big clay oven at the ranch.  And if you don't feel like turning on the oven at all, you can make it in your crockpot.




Pollo Adobado con Papas
(Adobo Chicken with Potatoes)

Ingredients: 
  • 3 dried ancho chilies
  • 1 medium onion, cut in quarters
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 pounds chicken, cut up
  • 6 medium potatoes, cut in wedges
  • 4 to 6 oranges, cut in half  (or 1 cup of orange juice)

Directions: 
On a griddle or comal, heat 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  Toast the onion on the comal until it softens and the skins has charred slightly; set aside.  Toast the dried chilies and garlic for a few seconds on each side, remove from heat.  Transfer the dried chilies to a small saucepan and bring to a boil in 2 cups of water to soften the chilies.  Let cool slightly.  Remove the stems and seeds from the chilies, then puree the chilies in a blender with the toasted onion and garlic and the water the chilies were cooked in.  Season with 1 teaspoon of salt, and the ground cumin.



In a large baking pan, combine the chicken and potatoes; season with salt and pepper.  Pour the adobo sauce over the chicken and potatoes, making sure each piece is covered with adobo.  Squeeze the oranges over the chicken, removing any seeds.  If you don't have fresh oranges on hand, you can use 1 cup of orange juice.  Again, mix well to combine the adobo with the orange juice.



Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 45 minutes to an hour or until the chicken starts to pull away from the bones.


Enjoy!!!



This week's #SundaySupper theme, hosted by Supper for a Steal, is a Tailgate party!  For more tantalizing tailgating treats, check out this week's #SundaySupper line-up:


Pre Game Warm-ups:
Don't forget to join us later today as we share our favorite tailgate recipes and tips.  Hop on twitter at 7pm EST for the live #SundaySupper chat.

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