Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cream of Ancho Chile Soup for Souper #SundaySupper

lacocinadeleslie.com

Dried chilies are a permanent fixture in my cocina.  The world famous Chile de arbol my small town is known for, smoky chipotles, and the guajillos that add vibrant color to every dish, are just a few of the chilies I keep in my pantry, along with my faves, ancho chilies.

Ancho chilies are dried poblano peppers.  Poblanos are my favorite fresh chile pepper, so it's makes sense that anchos would be my favorite dried chile.

I use ancho chilies to make salsas, moles, and as the base for many a soup where they play a supporting role to an ensemble cast of ingredients.  But sometimes I just want the chilies to shine all on their own like in this Cream of Ancho Chile Soup.  It's smooth, vibrant, and spicy!

If you like Tortilla Soup, then you're going to love this Cream of Ancho Chile Soup!  You get the same flavorful broth without all those extra add-ins to distract you from the flavor of the ancho chilies.  Actually this soup makes an excellent base for a spicy tortilla soup.  Just add some chicken, cheese, and avocado, and you're all set.  

lacocinadeleslie.com

Cream of Ancho Chile Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 dried ancho chilies
  • 2 dried guajillo chilies
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup Mexican crema or sour cream

Directions:
Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Saute the chopped onion for about 1 to 2 minutes, until it turns translucent.  Add the dried chilies and minced garlic and saute for another 30 seconds.


Pour in 3 cups of the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 10 minutes; let cool slightly.


Remove stems and seeds from the chilies.  In a blender or food processor, puree the chilies with the onion, garlic, and chicken broth they were cooked in.


Strain the chile puree into the same saucepan they chilies were cooked in, along with the remaining cup of chicken broth.  Season with the ground cumin and a little salt.  Bring to a boil over medium-low heat.


Reduce heat to low and stir in the Mexican crema.  Let simmer for about 5 minutes.


lacocinadeleslie.comLadle soup into bowls.  Garnish with fried tortillas strips or croutons.  Enjoy!!!


For more super soup recipes, check out all of these wonderful soup recipes my #SundaySupper friends have cooked up for you this week.


Do The Chicken Dance (chicken {or other poultry} soups)


Where’s The Beef (Beef Soups)


Pass The Pork. Please (Pork or Sausage Soups)


Under The Sea (Seafood Soups)


Eat Your Veggies (Chock Full o’ Vegetables Soups)


Some Don’t Like It Hot (Chilled Soups)


Join the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter on Sunday, February 24th to share your favorite soup, stew, chowder or bisque recipes with us! We’ll tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world.  Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun.  Follow the#SundaySupper hashtag, and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat.  Check out our#SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos!


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Friday, February 22, 2013

Orange Margaritas con Limon y Chile {She Made/Ella Hace}


Raise your glasses, my friends!  Today Girlichef and I are celebrating a very special holiday for this month's installment of She Made / Ella Hace...

It's National Margarita Day!

And because great minds think alike, Girlichef and I have both made Orange Margaritas, which was totally unplanned.

The inspiration for my margaritas comes from my favorite mid-morning snack: orange wedges with salt and chilito en polvo (lime-chile powder).


And just like my favorite snack, you get sweet, salty, tangy, and spicy in every sip.  These margaritas were so good, I almost didn't want to share them with my Hubby.  He's lucky he works right next door.

I like my margaritas on the rocks.  If you have a cocktail shaker, by all means use it to make these margaritas.  But if you're like me and don't have a cocktail shaker, you can whip these up in a 2-cup measuring cup or in a blender.  

What's your favorite kind of margarita?


Orange Margaritas con Limón y Chile

Ingredients:
  • Lime wedges
  • Lime-chile powder (I use Tajin brand) 
  • 1-1/2 cups orange juice
  • 2 oz. tequila (I used reposado) 
  • 2 oz. lime juice
  • 2 oz. agave nectar
  • Salt (optional) 

Directions:
Fill a small bowl with 2-3 tablespoons of lime-chile powder.  Moisten the rim of two glasses with a lime wedge.  Dip moistened rims in the lime-chile powder; set aside.


In a 2-cup measuring cup, whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, and agave nectar; set aside.  Fill the lime-chile rimmed glasses with ice. Pour 1 oz. of tequila into each glass.  Pour half of the orange juice mixture into each glass; season each glass with a pinch of salt and lime-chile powder.  Stir gently to combine.  Enjoy!!!


*For frozen margaritas: Puree the orange juice, lime juice, agave nectar, and tequila in a blender with 2 to 3 cups of ice.

Now head on over to Girlichef's blog to check out her Orange-Vanilla Margaritas.




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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Enchiladas de Acelgas (Swiss Chard/Spinach Enchiladas)

Do you ever go through phases with certain foods?  I have been on an acelga kick for quite some time.  I can't get enough of them.  Acelgas is the Spanish word for Swiss chard, but depending on your produce vendor here in Mexico, you could end up with either Swiss chard or Spinach.  Good thing I'm crazy about both, and that the two are completely interchangeable in today's recipe and in this introduction.

If my grandmother was still with us, she'd tell you that I've been in love with spinach since I was a little baby.  Gramm LOVED to tell the story of how the only thing I ate for the first couple of months when I started eating solid foods, was pureed spinach.  She'd try to feed me other pureed veggies and fruits, but I wanted nothing to do with them.  All I wanted was spinach.  And lots of it.  I was like a mini-Popeye.  But way cuter.

So, maybe things haven't changed that much.

I love to eat acelgas in a soups, salads, quesadillas, and even on pizza.  But I think my favorite way to eat acelgas has to be in enchiladas verdes.   Enchiladas de Acelgas (Swiss Chard Enchiladas) are creamy and cheesy, and just a little bit spicy.  They are a delicious meat-free enchilada, perfect for Cuaresma (Lent).

Enchiladas de Acelgas (Swiss Chard Enchiladas) - lacocinadeleslie.com

Enchiladas de Acelgas 
(Swiss Chard/Spinach Enchiladas) (Recipe adapted from Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin)

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed
  • 2 serrano chilies
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup Mexican crema
  • 2 bunches acelgas (Swiss chard or spinach)
  • 1/2 medium onion,  finely chopped
  • Queso Fresco, crumbled
  • 12 corn tortillas
Garnish: 
  • Mexican crema
  • 1/2 medium onion (red or white), sliced
  • Cilantro (for garnish) 


Directions:
In a medium saucepan, cook the tomatillos and serrano chilies with 2 to 3 cups of water, over medium-high heat, until the tomatillos are fully cooked.  Puree the cooked tomatillos and serrano chilies with 1 cup of the water they were cooked in, along with 1/2 medium onion and the clove of garlic.   Pour the salsa verde into a saucepan.  Stir in the 1/4 cup of Mexican crema, and season with salt; set aside.



Remove the stems from the acelgas, then roughly chop the leaves.  Rinse the acelgas thoroughly with cold water.  Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute the chopped onion for about 30 seconds.  Stir in the acelgas; season with 1 teaspoon of salt.  Cover and let cook until the acelgas have wilted, and most of the liquid has been absorbed.  Stir in 1/4 cup of the salsa verde.

I didn't remember to snap a photo of my cooked acelgas until I was almost done assembling my enchiladas.  

Once you are ready to assemble the enchiladas, make sure you have all of the ingredients assemled together.  Warm up the salsa verde and the acelgas.  Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a medium skillet, over medium-high heat.  Fry the corn tortillas one at a time, in the oil for about 30 seconds on each side, just until the tortillas are soft and pliable.  Dip the tortillas in the salsa verde, one at a time, until evenly coated.  Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of cooked acelgas onto each tortilla, and top with 2 tablespoons of queso fresco.  Carefully roll up the enchiladas and place seam side down on a serving dish.


Once all of the enchiladas have been assembled, top with more of the heated salsa verde.  Garnish enchiladas with Mexican crema, crumbled queso fresco, onion slices, and cilantro.  Serve with Sopa de Arroz (Mexican Rice) and Refried Beans.  Enjoy!!!



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*This recipe is part of the Lenten Blog Hop hosted by Mama Latina Tips.









Monday, February 18, 2013

Cocina Tips: Remedy for Salty Beans

Have you ever added too much salt to your Frijoles de la Olla (cooked beans)?  If so, freaketh not!  In this first installment of Leslie's Cocina Tips, a new feature here in my Cocina, I'm going to share a few simple ways to salvage those salty beans.

One option is to drain the beans into a large strainer and rinse with cold water.  Then return the beans to the pot and bring to a boil with enough water to cover the beans.  Rinse and repeat the process, as necessary, if the beans are still too salty.

My grandpa would add a patita de puerco (pig's foot) to his salty beans and would let them simmer for another hour or so.  The patita de puerco absorbed some of the salt, while also adding extra flavor to the beans.

But my favorite remedy is super simple and highly effective...

Potatoes!

Just add 2 or 3 potatoes, peeled and quartered/sliced/chopped, to the pot of frijoles and let simmer for about 15 minutes.  (Add 1 to 2 cups of water to the beans, if necessary.)  The potatoes will absorb some of the salt, and salvage your pot of frijoles.   You can remove the potatoes and use them in some other dish.  When my kiddies were little, they loved to eat those chopped cooked potatoes in a bowl of caldo de frijoles (bean broth).

Do you have any tips for how to salvage salty beans?  Share your tips below in the comments!


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Friday, February 15, 2013

Agua de Cuaresma



Cuaresma (Lent) is upon us!  That means Meat-Free Fridays will be making a comeback to my Cocina during the next 40+ days.  Some of the recipes I'll be sharing this year for Lent are...Tortitas de Camaron and Capirotada (Traditional Mexican Bread Pudding).   But for this first Friday of Cuaresma, I'm going to share a traditional Agua Fresca recipe that is near and dear not only to my Hubby's heart, but also to the hearts of generations past of this fair pueblito we call home.

I first heard of Agua de Cuaresma a few years ago at a special town meeting, held in the heart of our town - El Jardin (the plaza/townsquare) - that discussed the customs and traditions of generations past.  I really enjoyed that town meeting, because it gave me a sense of what Yahualica was like all those years before I moved here, and how holidays (and religious observances) like Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), Christmas and Cuaresma were celebrated.  The memories shared painted such beautiful and vivid images of years past, that it saddened me to think that some of those customs and traditions were being lost and forgotten.

That's one of the main reasons I celebrate Lent with my family.  I want my kiddies to experience the same customs and traditions that were celebrated and cherished by Hubby and the generations before him.

Agua de Cuaresma was one of the lost traditions most mentioned during that town meeting.  I had never heard of Agua de Cuaresma until then, but I was curious to find out more, so I asked my suegra (mother-in-law) all about it when we got home.  She explained that it was a very refreshing Agua Fresca made with oranges, bananas, and lettuce leaves.  We planned to make it someday in the not-so-distant future for Lent, but sadly we never got around to making it.

My Hubby doesn't remember that town meeting, but he does remember drinking Agua de Cuaresma every year during Lent when he was growing up.  So today, I decided to surprise him by making it to enjoy with lunch.  All I had to go on recipe-wise was how my suegra explained it to me oh-so-many years ago.  I'm pretty sure I got it right, because Hubby paid me one of the nicest compliments by saying that my Agua de Cuaresma tasted just like the one his mom used to make.



Agua de Cuaresma

Ingredients:
  • 6 oranges, peeled and quartered
  • 8 cups of water 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 lettuce leaves, torn into large pieces
  • 2 to 3 oranges, sliced
  • 2 large bananas, sliced
  • Ice (optional) 

Directions:
In a blender cup, puree the peeled oranges with 3 to 4 cups of water.  Strain into a 4-quart pitcher.  Pour in the remaining 4 to 5 cups of water; sweeten with sugar.  Add the torn lettuce leaves, the sliced oranges and bananas; stir gently.  Fill pitcher with 2 to 3 cups of ice.  Enjoy!!! 


*In other parts of Mexico, Agua de Cuaresma is also made with beet juice, and is sometimes called Agua Santa (Holy Water).


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For more delicious Cuaresma recipes, check out these recipes that are part of the Lenten Recipe Blog Hop hosted by Mama Latina Tips.










Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mexican Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding #SundaySupper

lacocinadeleslie.com

Love is in the air and I am in the mood for...chocolate!  Lots and lots of chocolate.  And since chocolate makes the heart grow fonder, I whipped up a little something special for the people I love most.  A rich, Chocolate Bread Pudding made with my favorite kind of chocolate...Mexican chocolate.  

This Mexican Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding is so sweet and delicious, it's like tearing off pieces of a fresh baked bolillo roll and dipping them into a cup of Mexican hot chocolate.  But it's like 10 times better, because the chocolate doesn't completely dissolve and disappear into the milk.  The Mexican chocolate melts into these super soft morsels that have a slightly grainy texture from the cinnamon and sugar the Mexican chocolate is flavored with.

I made this bread pudding as a dessert, but it would also make for a sweet breakfast to surprise your loved ones with, say on Valentine's Day morning.


lacocinadeleslie.com


Mexican Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding 
(recipe from Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin)

Ingredients:

  • 4 bolillo rolls, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sugar 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 2 disks Mexican chocolate (Abuelita or Ibarra brands), roughly chopped
  • Whipped cream (optional) 

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350F.  Generously butter a large baking dish.  Arrange the bread pieces in the baking dish and let sit uncovered for about an hour to allow the bread to dry out a little.



In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until light and fluffy.  Slowly, whisk in the milk until well combined; stir in the sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Pour the the milk mixture over the bread, tossing lightly to make sure every piece is evenly coated.  


Top with the chocolate; stir ever so lightly to make sure you get a little bit of chocolate in every bite.


Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and let set for about 10 minutes.  To serve, top with a dollop of whipped cream and a dash of ground cinnamon.  Enjoy!!!

lacocinadeleslie.com

For more delicious treats to share with the ones you love, check out what my #SundaySupper friends are serving up this week. 

#SundaySupper Valentine’s Day Breakfasts, Apps & Main Dishes:
#SundaySupper Valentine’s Day Sweet Eats:
#SundaySupper Valentine’s Day Drinks:
#SundaySupper Valentine’s Day Tablescape: A Romantic Table For Two Please from An Appealing Plan 

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter on Sunday, February 10th to talk all about Valentine’s eats and treats!  We’ll tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world.  Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun.  Follow the#SundaySupper hashtag, and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat.  Check out our#SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos!


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Friday, February 8, 2013

Chopped Salad w/ Garlic-Mexican Crema Dressing


When coming up with this month's theme for The Food of the Month Club, I started to think about the salads I grew up eating.  I was one of those weird little kids who loved her veggies, with the exception of onions, and I especially loved salads.  When I went to live with my parents in Amarillo, I remember taking regular walks to the fast food restaurant that was down the street, to order a small salad instead of the burger & fries kid's meal that most 8 year olds would have ordered.

Once I was back in California with my grandparents, I still loved salads.  Gramm would occasionally make egg or potato salad, but those were reserved mostly for church functions or potlucks.  But the salad I remember the most was Gramm's BLT salad, which consisted of bacon, iceberg lettuce, and chopped tomato mixed together with mayonnaise.  It was my absolute favorite.

Years later, when Pappy retired and took over most of the cooking, he'd start out making Gramm's BLT salad, but would then add an ingredient here or there, like red onion and golden corn kernels, because according to him, "algo le faltaba."  (Something was missing.)  But it still wasn't quite what he wanted.  After a couple more tries, and the addition of avocado and ham, Pappy was pleased enough that he said, "Ya no le falta nada!" (It's not missing a thing!)

Now that I'm all grown up with kiddies of my own, I still make Pappy's salad, with the same ingredients.  The only thing I've changed is the dressing.  There's still mayonnaise in the mix, but I've also added Mexican crema, garlic, and lots of black pepper.   The dressing alone is so good, every time I make it, I have to resist the urge to drink it.

What salads did you grow up eating?

Chopped Salad w/ Garlic Mexican Crema Dressing - lacocinadeleslie.com


Chopped Salad w/ Garlic-Mexican Crema Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1/2 cup Mexican crema
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground black pepper (depending on how much you like pepper)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk
  • 6 cups chopped lettuce (iceberg or romaine), rinsed and dried
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 small can yellow corn kernels, drained
  • 4 slices ham, chopped
  • 1 avocado, peeled and chopped

Directions: 
In a medium non-stick skillet, cook the bacon until crisp and fully cooked.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain off excess bacon fat; set aside



For the salad dressing: Whisk together the Mexican crema, mayonnaise, minced garlic, salt, and ground black pepper in a small bowl.  Stir in milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency.   



In a large bowl or serving platter, layer the lettuce, tomato, onion, corn kernels, ham, avocado, and bacon.



Drizzle the Garlic-Mexican Crema dressing on top.  You can serve the salad as is, or lightly toss it all together until every piece of lettuce is coated with dressing. 



Enjoy!!!

Mexican Chopped Salad w/ Homemade Dressing - lacocinadeleslie.com


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