Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Black Cookies or..not that black cookies? The Oreo Paradox

Black Cookies or..not that black cookies? The Oreo Paradox

Oreos are one of the most known cookies in the world and probably one of the all time classics of American Bakery Pastries. I have been enjoying Stella Parks' Brave tart book as she not only have amazing recipes but she has done quite a research in American baked goods.

In her recipe to bake Oreos and their history. Wow...so much has happened from the very first confectionary goodies ideas and now -that this company went belly up after being the most successful company in the planet to "I just had an idea..." . Amazing. So..the Oreos are not the original recipe nor the one that came out as the chocolate sandwich with creamy stuffing we know today. That merit belongs to a cookie called Hydrox. They still sell them but obviously you have to look for them as the muscle of Nabisco (National Biscuit Company...ha!) but they are out there. They are kind of the adult version of Oreos. Less sugar, less sweet and crunchier. I won't dare to tell you which one is best but at least give it a shot.

In any event. Hydrox was more the recipe I did from the Brave Tarat book. It is a FANTASTIC cookie but it is labor intensive and quite messy to make. Here at home the current wife has decided to protest and support store bought Oreos so she has eaten them all so no proof of competition nor quality is available anymore. But that is a different story: today I just wanted to say that there is black and there is black.

BLACK or black?

I did the same recipe with a small variation to verify the claim that the original recipe would produce really black cookies versus the everyday approach which produces a brownish black. Oreos are black no doubt and usually at home we end with a dark brown cookies but never black-black. The trick? Before putting the cookies in the oven I sprinklered the first batch with cocoa powder: the end result? Black-black.
Then I did the second batch the usual way...just into the oven as last step. The result? Black-brown. Ja!

Does it matter? I would say yes if you are a stickler to original recipes. I am. So here are the two pictures: same dough different procedure before putting them in the oven. Now you know..black is not always black..
Black Oreos...

Brown Oreos

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Peruvian shrimp and Corn Chowder (Chupe)

Peruvian shrimp and Corn Chowder (Chupe)

Some things are just great from scratch and this Peruvian recipe is so so tasty. It is not a 5 minute soup by far and it does need more ingredients than most soups BUT the end result is fantastic.

While I was listening to Vangelis' 1942 Soundtrack, which on its own is sublime music I was cooking this Peruvian dish. 

This is a slow, take your time soup, because at the end great food needs time. Chupe is a staple in Peru's picanterias. I was reading that most people can do ceviche but Chupe is another level that can only be mastered by some. I won't say I have mastered it but..wow...this was a delicious and fantastic dish. The soup dates from the early 1900s and is not an every day soup. It is a weekend soup because it requires peace, tranquility and, most important, it fills the air with an unforgettable aroma that will be in your memory for ever..

Legend says that in the Inca era, when the sons of the main warriors achieved puberty they were to fast in order to withstand war . During those 15 days the young guys could only eat bollos (bread made of maiz) and water.

Once they completed the test, beautiful women would come to pick up one of them at the time and offer them a mix of tomato, aji, huatacay and other spices for the guy to lick from...well..from...well..I don't remember from where but what I know is that the licking part was called chupe. Once this was done and they convinced the boys that they had to give a chance to other men to do the same..they were named warriors. 

I'm not a warrior and the one who claims to be my son is far from be one, so I did the soup and the only body part that one could lick was..the fingers. Well...don't say I dd not try...

Peruvian shrimp and Corn Chowder (Chupe)

 Time: 90 Minutes   Makes 6 servings

3 Tbsp Canola Oil

1 Lb Unpeeled (better with heads!) medium shrimp

3 Tsp Salt

1 Onion -chopped-

1/2 Tsp Paprika or Piquillo

1/4 Ground Cumin -freshly ground is better-

1 Small Butternut Squash (about 1 1/2 lb), chopped in 1/4 inch chunks, obviously without skin and seeded.

1 lb baking potatoes -yellow- peeled and cubed into 1 1/2 inch chunks

2 Medium ears of corn, halved

8 Cups of Water

1 Cup of Heavy Cream

1 Cup of Frozen Peas

Cooking Instructions
1.In a large pot (I mean..large like the one used to cook pasta in) and heat over medium heat the oil. Once is hot, add the shrimp (wash it first) and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook stirring frequently until the shrimp are pink and firm, about 7 minutes or so. Remove with a slotted spoon, set aside and allow to cool. Once they are cool, remove the heads and peel. Reserve.

2.Add to the pot the onion, paprika, cumin and another teaspoon of salt. Cook  for about 5 to 7 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the squash, the potatoes, the corn and the water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender -but not soft!-, between 12 to 15 minutes. 

3.Add the cream and simmer for another 20 minutes, then stir in the shrimp and the last teaspoon of salt (I added INSTEAD a knorr Onion-cilantro cube- and the frozen peas. Cook until the shrimp are just heated through, about 5 minutes.


* Adaptation from Food and Wine Magazine’s Quick From Scratch soups and salads cookbook. 2004

Friday, February 9, 2018

Roasted Poblano Pepper and Corn Cream

Roasted Poblano Pepper and Corn Cream

 Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 6 servings

So, winter still is here and comfort food is in order. Soup is always a good welcoming food when you get home. This soup is quite tasty and should NOT be spicy. It has some texture to it that is complimented with the poblano pepper slices and the whole pieces of corn.

I have a good selection of Mexican Cook Books -as Mexican cosine is one of my favorites- and of all my books I couldn't get a descent recipe that I would think is honestly fantastic. So..I blended some of the recipes, adapted them and I got this splendid soup that the current wife loves. I can eat it too as it is not spicy and I would't hesitate to prepare it in the rare occasion when we have guests for dinner.

Roasted Poblano Pepper and Corn Cream

4 Poblano peppers (Anaheim), roasted  and de-seeded  

4 Tbsp White Onion, chopped

1 Medium Onion, diced

1 Tbsp Butter

500 g Canned Corn (or fresh and cooked). Peaches and Cream works best

3/4 Cup Whipping Cream

1 l Milk

100 g Gouda Cheese, grated

1 Cube Chicken Seasoning Knorr

Cooking Instructions
  1. Roast the peppers on the BBQ or the stove until they brown a bit (we don’t want to burn them!), then put them inside a plastic bag and close it so they can sweat for 20 minutes or so.
  2. After the 20 minutes peel the peppers using running cold water. Remove the stems and the seeds -and some veins also so we remove the spiciness- 
  3. Slice the peppers in 1/2 inch slices and reserve.
  4. Drain the canned corn and reserve
  5. On a small pan, caramelize the onions using the butter. Reserve.
  6. Using your blender, blend the following in 3 batches (this is important) at high speed: 3 (not 4) peppers, 3/4 of the canned corn (not all), the cream, the milk and the grated cheese.
  7. Using a medium pot, cook the blended mix until it boils, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes, with lid on. Mix every 5 or so minutes so the cheese doesn’t go to the bottom. After the 15 minutes add the onions and the Knorr cube and keep cooking it for another 20 minutes (simmer), lid on and keep moving it every 5 minutes or so.
  8. Turn off the heat and remove any foam until we only see the cream. Add the remaining sliced poblano pepper and the remaining corn and mix well.
  9. Serve warm with some tostadas (corn tortilla please!)
  10. Enjoy

Thursday, February 8, 2018

And some things have changed...I think

Times change and people change the way they see the world. Nowadays being politicly correct is the new black and somehow we all have become more sensitive to..everything.

I was reviewing some adds from the 50's and they are, in our eyes today..quite..insulting?. I think they are funny though but I am one of those odd people who thinks that humor is a must.

When I was looking at this ad two questions came to mind: one is..really? and the other one is..is this why they have easy open bottles now?

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Meanwhile some pictures..

Meanwhile I am watching movies and all..I still try to cook some stuff. Last week was great as we had Pozole Rojo (can't find the picture!), Make your own flank tacos with pinto beans, queso fundido and Sopa de Haba (broad-bean or fabada bean soup). No recipes today though...

Monday, February 5, 2018

Childhood of a Leader Movie

Childhood of a Leader Movie

Besides cooking, I have other hobbies like watching movies. I have been watching movies since I was a tween. I never stopped watching and still I do, Just not that much at the movie theatre but on DVDs or Netflix.

I have decided to share from now my views on what I have watched recently..and my first one to review -more like comment, really- is Brady Corbet's Childhood of a Leader.  This mega young film director shines in his approach to the roots of a dictator. You could say that the movie is based on Sartre's short story..which probably is..but his approach exploring the origins and reasons for a ruthless dictator to do, well, what they do.

Honestly we know the names and worst actions of some dictators but really we never stop to think: where this guy came from?, that is, not the rise and fall of this kind of addicted to power people -if we can call them that-. I can't imagine a happy childhood of Franco, Hitler, Hasina, Stalin, just to name a few. I don't think we should blame their parents because that would be unfair as an individual has his own personality regardless. The movie explores that: the result of a bad mix: parenthood, growing up environment and, most important of all..their own personality.

Prescott is a 10 year old kid that on his own is a petulant psychopath and well.. the environment where he grows is the proper media to become a dictator.

The movie moves fast, the acting is fantastic and the script is riveting. I enjoyed it a lot and it has been stock in my head since I watched.

If yo care for intelligent storytelling this movie should be on your list.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Goat Cheese Cream with Spiked Figs and Caramelized Almonds

Goat Cheese Cream with Spiked Figs and Caramelized Almonds

Sometimes we just want to go crazy and do some out of this world dessert. This is one of those. I read it from this wonderful blog from Tia Alia who is a wonderful chef. I really liked the idea and went for it. I did it first exactly as she suggested but then I wondered how would this great dessert would taste like by using a herbal liquor. The one I choose was Saint Germain which has a very distinctive flavor. I liked the second one best and this is the one I am sharing with you. 

We had our very good friends (actually one of the few friends I have..) for dinner because they are not only a delight to spend time with but they also enjoy good food. Mr. C is one of my favorite guests because he always like my cooking. Mrs. B likes it too but he takes the ovation. Actually this time around the one who claims to be my son came with his better half (late!!!!) so the whole dinner was a delight. The Big Head is chatty as they come and his better half (the one who can not be named) is chatty as well but picky eater -I tell you-. The current wife, the lucky one, was in charge of the entertainment (that is chat and chat and more chat) which is her forte. Was great. 

The menu was Italian so the whole experience was fantastic. We had a great time and as usual we had no leftovers. Try this dessert and you won't regret it. 

Goat Cheese Cream with Spiked Figs and Caramelized Almonds

Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 4 servings


For the Goat Cheese Cream

100 g Whipping Cream -cold-

150 g Glazing suggar

150 g Goat cheese 

40 g Amaretto liquor

40 g Milk -cold-

4 g Gelatin Sheets *

For the Spiked Figs

4 Dried Figs

200 g Water

50 g Honey

4 g Cumin (freshly powdered)

4 g Clove (freshly powdered)

1/2 Cup of Saint Germain liquor 

For Crocanti (candied) Almonds

40 g Whole almonds

20 g White Sugar

Cooking Instructions 

Goat Cheese Cream
  1. Using the COLD whipping cream we are going to whip it until stiff peaks (you can turn upside down the bowl and wont fall!). Reserve
  2. In a different bowl mix the goat cheese (without the outer layer), the glazing sugar and the Amaretto. Reserve
  3. In a third bowl we hydrate the gelatin sheets (* why I did not use just plain gelatin?..because gelatin sheets will produce a more “clear” natural color than other forms of gelatin) for about 15 minutes. After this time, we warm up the milk (microwave is OK) , drain the water from the gelatin sheets and we mix the gelatin with the warm milk.
  4. Add one tablespoon of the cream cheese mix to our gelatin/milk mix until incorporated. We keep doing this until there is no more cream cheese mix left.
  5. Right after that we incorporate the whipped (and cold) cream, FOLDING it carefully so it doesn’t go flat on us. Put it back in the fridge until you are ready to serve dessert. 
Spiked Figs
  1. In a small pot (small enough just to fit the ingredients..not bigger than that) we warm up the water, honey, the cumin, cloves and figs and we warm them up until boiling point, then we lower the heat to simmer and leave them simmering for 15 minutes.
  1. We turn off the heat and allow the figs to hydrate for about 2 hours. After that we remove the figs add the Saint Germain, mix and cover with plastic film. DO NOT DISCARD THE LEFTOVER SYRUP.
  2. We use a fine strainer and put though the syrup from the small pot, then we bring it back to the pot and on lower temperature we simmer until we get a thicker syrup. Allow it's  to cool and incorporate to the figs/Saint Germain mix and cover again with the plastic film.

Crocanti Almonds (candied)
  1. In a large pan and medium heat we toast the almonds until lightly brown (don’t let hem turn black or they will get bitter). Once they are light brown we sprinkle the sugar and using a wooden spoon we turn them often until they are 100% covered (candied). Immediately after we transfer them to a metal cookie tray with parchment paper and we separate them using the wooden spoon. Allow them to cool and put them in a dry environment (I put them inside a glass jar).
Putting it all together.

  1. Using your glass desserts we distribute the goat cheese mix trying not to get the cream on the glass walls (of course you can clean them after for presentation), we put the fig on top and pour the Saint Germain/syrup mix. On top put some candied almonds and serve immediately
  2. Enjoy!! 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Julienne Soup

Julienne Soup

There are dishes that because they are so simple we kind of forget that there is always some little secret that transforms it from good to great. In the Julienne Soup is the ORDER on how we put the vegetables to cook. Ass the density of each item is different and we don't want to have a mushy soup...the key is the lineup.

The potatoes go first and they will remain in the bottom of the pot, then the semi-hard and finally the soft. Sounds silly but it does make a difference.

Many people will say...I don't need a recipe for this and more power to them. I do and the end result is great. The current wife loves soup and honestly I don't cook it as much as she would like me to..but when I do..she enjoys it so much. I was in the right mood yesterday and did it. She was happy and, well...the rest is history.

Julienne Soup

Cooking Time: 35 Minutes   Makes 6 servings


2 Lt Vegetable Broth

2 Medium Sized Yellow Potatoes

1 Medium to large Leek

2 Pieces of Celery

4 Medium size Carrots

2 Large Chard leaves

1 Large Zucchini 

1/2 Cup of Chopped Cilantro

- Salt to taste

Cooking Instructions

1. In a medium size pan put the vegetable broth to warm up at medium high heat. While this is happening we are going to either julienne or cube all our vegetables and put them aside.

2. Once the broth is warm, FIRST put the potatoes to cook for 10 minutes with the heat to medium. Do not use the lid though.

3. Then put the Leek, celery and carrots and allow them to cook for another 10 minutes.

4. After that put the Chard, the zucchini and the cilantro and let it simmer for the last 10 minutes or so. Then adjust the flavor (I use a chicken broth cube).

5. Enjoy!


Some people like to add parmesan cheese when serving, other people like to squeeze half a lime and some even put 1/4 cup of Brandy. You choose.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Spiced Hibiscus Infused Tequila Cranberry Sauce

Spiced Hibiscus Infused Tequila Cranberry Sauce

Yes, this is completely mine. Yo solito as my muy mexicano friends would say. This recipe I made 3 years ago and I have been doing it since. It comes to shine in Thanksgiving and in Christmas. It is a favorite of the one who looks like an alien, smells like an alien but claims not to be an alien (who by the way lives with the one who claims to be my son).

The "not an alien" just eats it like crazy. She even hides some in her pockets -I have seen it!- but I just don't say anything because I am so prudent. 

The recipe is honestly quite easy to prepare. The story behind the recipe is that 3 years ago I bought a bottle of this Rosangel Tequila in Mexico as I though it would be just incredible. Well..far from that. The tequila honestly is horrible but i can just throw things away so I decided to cook with it and use the tequila flavor that I like so much. The result was fantastic and the cranberry sauce is just something else. The distinctive tequila flavor is there, no doubt and the mix with cranberries and orange just did it.

When I mentioned that you can make your own is true though..I have done it before with Quince and with Chestnuts...is easy but require LOTS of patience. You choose...

Spiced Hibiscus Infused Tequila Cranberry Sauce

Cooking Time: 30 Minutes   Makes 12 servings

12 oz Bag of fresh Cranberries
1 Cup of Sugar

1 Cup of Tequila Reposado already infused with tequila (*) OR 1 Cup of Centenario Rosangel Tequila.

1/2 Cup of Water

1 Tsp Tajin Chile Mix

- Grated zest from an Orange

Cooking Instructions
1. (*) O.K. the “infused tequila” thing. It is not that hard but requires at least 1 year patience. If you know the Hibiscus plant (Flor de Jamaica) you know that people drink it as a tea or as a cold tea (agua de jamaica). To infuse the tequila all you need is one bottle of reposado tequila, a cup of caster sugar and a cup of dried hibiscus flower. Mix the sugar with the tequila until blended and then add the hibiscus flower. Put it back in its bottle and place it in a dark place…for a year or so. every mont you turn the bottle upsidedown to mix and put it back. At the end of the year you remove the flowers and you have an infused tequila.. OR  buy a bottle of Hibiscus Tequla from Centenario (called Rosangel) which is not a good tequila watsoever but is great for the recipe. Your choice.
2. I did the later so I used the Centenario Rosangel Tequila. 

3. Combine the cranberries with 1/2 Cup of tequila, the water and the Tajin mix (you can buy it at any Mexican grocery store) in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the berries pop, the add the other 1/2 Cup of tequila, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.

4. Turn off the heat and stir the orange zest. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate. Can be made several days ahead.

5. Enjoy !

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Cheese Cake Filled Cake with Blueberry Sauce

Cheese Cake Filled Cake with Blueberry Sauce

Nora Carey's Perfect Preserves book has some amazing recipes but when I got the book I couldn't wait to try this cake. I can't imagine someone who doesn't like cheese cake and I know how to prepare some using super different recipes. What I liked about this one in particular was that is actually a cake with cheesecake filling...most likely closer to the original cheese cake than the one prepared with crackers.

This is a great variation to the regular recipe and the end result is quite amazing. It doesn't need to be refrigerated and it doesn't strike you as a cheesecake when eating it. I used my own blueberry sauce -we just finished blueberry season- but you can use store bought (or cherry?). The current wife loved it but this time she was good: she allowed me to have a slice. Oh love...

Cheese Cake Filled Cake with Blueberry Sauce

Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 18 servings
1 Stick (1/2 Cup) Unsalted Butter, softened

1 Cup Sugar

4 Large Eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp Milk

1 Tbsp Vanilla

1 Cup Flour

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp Salt

1/2 Lb Cream Cheese

1/2 Cup Sour Cream

2 Cups of Blueberry Sauce

Cooking Instructions
1. Using your mixer, cream the butter and 1/2 Cup of the sugar until the mix is light color and fluffy.

2. Beat in the 2 eggs, one at the time, making sure that the first one has incorporated perfectly.

3. Beat in the milk and the Vanilla and mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

4. Fold the dry ingredients into the butter mix until incorporated. Reserve.

5. Let’s prepare the cheese filling: In a small bowl whisk the cream cheese and the sour cream until smooth. Beat in the remaining 1/2 Cup of sugar and the remaining 2 eggs, one at the time.

6. Pour the cake batter into a buttered and floured  10 inch. spring pan (removable bottom) and using a spatula spread it so it is even. Now pour the cream cheese mix into the center and bake for 60 minutes or so, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

7. Allow it to cool and carefully remove the spring mold. 

8. Serve with blueberry sauce and enjoy!