Monday, December 14, 2015

Tuna Stuffed Broiled Chile Relleno

Tuna Stuffed Broiled Chile Relleno 

I love Chiles Rellenos. I cook them with black beans and cheese, with guacamole (a cold dish for Summer), with Mexican style ground meat, with plantain...name it. This recipe I took and modified a bit from the fantastic Susanna Palazuelos' book Mexico, una herencia de sabores, one of my favorite Mexican cooking books provided by my mother in law who adores me (what's not to love?). 

I feel sometimes that she gives me all these books knowing that I will feed her daughter properly. The current wife likes to eat... I like to cook. The perfect combo.

This dish is easy to make. It is so easy that even my "cousin" can cook it...and that says a lot about the easiness of this recipe. The great thing about it it that is SO tasty that you won't believe it. 

Honestly is real comfort food. I serve it with White Mexican rice and some refried beans and always have some fresh bread and good wine (Barolo will do fantastic!).

Give it a try and enjoy. You will be delighted to say the least.

Tuna Stuffed Broiled Chile Relleno 

Cooking Time: 120 Minutes   Makes 6 servings
Ingredients

10 Poblano Peppers (Anaheim)

200 g Manchego Cheese (shredded) or a good melting cheese

100 g Parmesan Cheese shredded  
This photo is from the book (credit to Ignacio Irquiza
as when I cooked this dish I was so busy eating it
that I forgot to take the pic...mine looked better, though.
1 Tbsp Butter

1/2 Cup Creme Fraiche 

Stuffing

4 Cup Water

-Salt to taste

1 Potato cubed (small)

1/2 Cup Corn Kernel (canned will do fine)

2 Red Tomatoes (Fresh)

1/4 of an Onion

1 Garlic Clove

2 Tbsp Canola Oil

1 Cube of Knorr Beef seasoning

300 g Tuna (in water) already drained

20 Green Olives diced 



Cooking Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 325˚F

2. First we’ll prepare the stuffing: if you are not using canned corn you can put to boil in a small pot the water and add the corn (also you can add green beans) and let them cook for 10 minutes over high heat. Add 1/8 Tsp of Salt. Remove from heat, drain and reserve.

3. Chop the tomatoes and the onion and mix in the blender along with the garlic. Reserve

4. In a medium size frying pan warm up the canola oil over medium heat, then pour the tomato-onion blended mix and stir frequently. Add some seasoning (I use a beef Knorr cube). Keep stirring for about 10 minutes until thickens, then add the drained tuna and mix until incorporated. 

5. Cover the pan and lower the heat to simmer and let it cook for another 20 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes. Reserve

6. Now we’ll prepare the Poblano peppers. Using your BBQ or a gas stove put the peppers to roast, moving them around so they don’t burn (they will blister, though). After roasting them, then put them in a plastic bag, close it and allow the peppers to sweat (30 minutes or so), then over running cold water carefully slice open each one and remove the seeds and the veins. Try not to break them otherwise they will leak the tuna mix. Put them to drain and reserve.

7. Now the stuffing part: using the palm of your hand take one Poblano pepper and carefully stuff them with the tuna mix until fully stuffed. Place it on a pre-buttered square baking dish. Repeat until all peppers are stuffed and on the baking dish.

8. Mix the two shredded cheeses and cover each stuffed pepper with a hand full until covering the stuffed part (if it spills cheese…even better). You might need more cheese if you are like me…I always for more cheese.

9. Bake for about 15 minutes or so. You will know they are ready when the cheese has melted and start to brown a little.

10. To serve: put one stuffed poblano pepper and sprinkle some creme fraiche. Serve immediately. You can accompany the Poblanos with some Mexican white rice and have ready a good piece of baguette… it will be unforgettable!

11. Enjoy!!!


Monday, November 16, 2015

Peaches Pratt (Pesche di Pratto)

Peaches Pratt (Pesche di Pratto)

My current wife's mother (Mi Santa Madre Inmaculada she calls her) has been my best recipe book provider by far. That is great as is but the most interesting fact is that she has never ever liked to cook whatsoever. As she still claims, she HAD to cook for her family but she always thought it was kind of torture. Nevertheless she accumulated a good amount of cook books from different parts of the world. 

She had (and I say "had") because she has given them to me... books in Spanish, which seems reasonable because that is the language she claims to speak. The funny thing is that she also had books in German, Italian, Chinese and Gibberish. Gibberish she kinds of uses it often, but the rest she doesn't. She comes from Italian parents (some sort of gangsters as far as I have heard...La Familia del Mattone ) but honestly my Italian is as good as hers... 

In any event, between the books she has given me (I will talk about the "family recipes" another time) there is one called Dolci Per Un Anno by Massimo Alberini. In that book with few illustrations I found this recipe and, with help of my humble dictionary and Mr Google I was able to translate it and bring it back to life. 

Pratto is a city and commune in Tuscany at the foot of Monte Retalia and this absolutely delicious buns are their pride and joy. The thing is that they call for Alkermes, a red liquor that can only be found -as far as I know- in the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. This pastry can be found in good pastry shops from Firenze to Pistoia. I obviousl lacked of this red liquor so i had to improvise. After hours of research, I understood that Alkermes is a liquor made of many spices and reminded me of Luxardo, which I have and use for my Maraschino Cherries. It is white, though...but the flavor just seemed right.

I went on and after translating, I made them. The end result is honestly glorious. The pastries are soft but with body (I dislike pastries that you bite into and you feel empty just 10 seconds after...) and a flavor out of this world. The mix of the freshly baked brioches, the soft and delicious filling and the master touch that was the syrup/coating... oh wow... they were fantastic.

So, here you have it. From Italy to my mother in law and then to me...and now to you. I really hope you like them!!!!



Peaches Pratt (Pesche di Pratto)

Cooking Time: 120 Minutes*   Makes 10 servings
Ingredients

Milk Rolls or Brioches

550 g Sifted flour

120 g Sugar

70 g Room Temperature Butter

5 Room Temperature Eggs

2 8 g Instant Yeast Packets

- Seeds of a Vanilla pod

20 g Honey (Acacia would be best!)

70 g Filtered or Spring water room temperature

1/8 Tsp Salt

Custard

180 g Room temperature milk

75 g Cream (whipping cream will do)

20 g Flour

3 Egg Yolks

1/8 Tsp Salt

Seeds of a Vanilla Pod

Lemon Rind (one lemon’s)

Syrup

60 g Sugar

40 g Water

60 g Alkermes Liquor (I used Luxardo, even though is white, not red)

* plus rising time


Cooking Instructions
  1. Let’s mix the dry ingredients first: in a medium-large bowl mix the sifted flour, the sugar and the yeast.
2. Now we add half the butter and the water to the dry mixture and  knead well on a clean floured surface until you get an elastic and smooth dough. Transfer the dough to a clean (and oiled) medium bowl, cover with a damp cloth and allow it to rise for 2 hours (I put it inside my oven with the light on…it works fantastically !). It should double in size.

3. Now we’ll incorporate the eggs, the rest of the butter, the seeds of the vanilla pod, the salt and the honey. Knead well until you get again a smooth and elastic dough. If you need to add a bit more water is OK, just add it bit by bit.

4. Put back the new dough in the oiled bowl, cover it with a plastic bag and allow it to double in size for another 2 hours (again…I use my oven with the light on).

5. After the final rise, we are going to shape the dough into a long shape (like a baguette) and cut it into small 20 grams balls (like the size of a walnut). Place the balls on a prepared baking tray (parchment paper or butter)… but remember to leave room between the balls, as they still will rise. Cover them with plastic film and allow it to rest for another 30 minutes.

6. Turn on the oven and set to 425˚F

7. Once the half an hour has passed, put the baking sheets in the oven for 6 to 9 minutes (depending on your oven). They are ready when they are golden (not brown!).

8. Allow them to cool down on a cooling rack. reserve.

9. Now that our rolls are cooling down we are going to prepare the custard: on low heat mix the milk, cream, vanilla seeds and lemon rind and let it simmer for 20 minutes (very low heat!).

10. Now let’s mix the sifted flour, sugar and salt. Bring up the temperature to high  and add half the mix, and add one by one the egg yolks making sure that you keep mixing all the time as it will want to thicken fast (or cook the egg yolk which is even worst). The add the second half of the dry mix and keep mixing to maintain an even consistency.  

11. Once the mix is a bit thick, turn off the heat and allow it to cool down. It will thicken to the proper consistency…. if not you can always thicken it with some corn starch…

12. Now let’s do the syrup: Combine in a saucepan the water and the sugar until dissolved. Allow it to cool completely and then add the Alkermes liquor or the Luxardo (if you have Alchermes Liquor you must be very special… I can’t find it anywhere in North America!!!). Reserve.

13. Assembly. The last part!. Now we are going to carefully take a roll at the time and fill it with the custard using a piping bag with a cone tip (the cream is thick, so use a medium size one). Repeat until all the rolls are filled.

14. Carefully dip each ball into the liquor/syrup mix and then roll it on the sugar. Reserve.

15. Now the cute stage: If you have the patience and want to be mega traditionalist, then decorate each ball with a slice of candied orange and a mint leaf (I didn’t but next time I will….).

16. Enjoy!




Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Blue Hawaii Upside-down Pineapple Cupcake

Blue Hawaii Upside-down Pineapple Cupcake


Sometimes we want to be like kids again and sometimes we just want to enjoy the perks of adulthood. Most of the time you just can't do both. But, as they say...when there is a will there is a way:
I do like sweets and I do love bake goods. The current wife claims that she doesn't have a sweet tooth but she always ends eating most of my candy and chocolates... I do like to drink -sometimes- and the current wife doesn't...or at least that is what she claims.... 

In the last Library's book sale I bought a weird book called "Booze Cakes" . The title on its own grabbed my attention so I bought it (I can't resist sales!!!) just to discover later on that their ideas are great but some of the bake good recipes I can do better (sorry...to the book's authors) as I have baked most of the things they have recipes for. Been there done that kind of thing.

They have this Blue Hawaii Upside-down Pineapple Cupcake recipe and I loved the idea (who doesn't like cupcakes?...who doesn't like cocktails?...) so the combo sounds great to me.

Based on my own upside-down pineapple cake recipe I bake, I decided to give it a try. I used my cupcake recipe and I used their idea of the cocktail combo plus plus... I did increased the Rum and Curacao amount by quite a bit and I did change the way to incorporate them into the recipe. The end result was absolutely fantastic. The cupcakes were (I know... "were" because the current wife ate them all but one) out of this world good. They are moist, aromatic and flavorful. They are NOT by far a kids treat but if you are having friends over -I never do because I have no friends- this can be the cherry in the cake after a good dinner. I can guarantee you that they will disappear!

Blue Hawaii Upside-down Pineapple Cupcake
Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 12 servings


Ingredients

Pineapple Top

65g Butter, room temperature

1/2 Cup brown sugar

4 Tbsp Rum

10 canned pineapple rings, drained

12 Maraschino cherries (store bought)

For the cake 

125g Butter, room temperature

2/3 Cup caster sugar

1/8 Tsp Salt

2 Large eggs, room temperature

1 Tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 Cups sifted flour

2 Tsp Baking powder

1/4 cup milk

For the Finishing

1/4 Cup Curacao

1/4 Cup Rum

1/4 Brown sugar

Cooking Instructions

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Place the 65 g of room temperature butter in your electric mixer bowl and add 1/2 Cup of brown sugar. Mix well until soft but a bit crumby. Add the 4 tbsp of rum.

3. Drain the pineapple rings from the juice but keep the juice. Reserve

4. Grease your cupcake pan. Here you have 2 choices: you  can use a “jumbo” cupcake pan or a medium size cupcake pan -that is what I used-, If you use the “jumbo” one, then you will have less cupcakes but of larger size and the pineapple will be whole. I like smaller bite size cupcakes, so I went for the smaller, regular cupcake pan.

5. Place about a teaspoon of the butter-brown sugar-rum mixture in each cupcake dish and press the mixture down.

6. Place a pineapple ring on top of every layer of butter-brown sugar-rum mixture if you are doing the jumbo cupcakes OR break in medium size pieces the pineapple rings and place them in each cupcake dish trying to recreate a ring (remember that the cherries will go in the center!).

7. Add a Maraschino cherry to each cupcake dish. Reserve

8. In a large mixing bowl, add the 125g of the room temperature butter and the salt and add the sugar. Mix until soft and creamy, then add one egg and mix again until incorporated. Add the second egg until fully incorporated.

9. Add the vanilla extract. Reserve

10. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and the baking powder and mix.

11. Now we are going to incorporate our dry ingredients to our buttery mix we have in the electric mixer bowl. Add 1/3 of the dry mix and incorporate well (about 2 minutes), then add the pineapple juice, then 1/3 of the flour mix and incorporate (about 2 minutes), add the milk and finally add the last bit of flour mix and incorporate.

12. NOTE! If your mix is too dry (happens often) then just add a bit of the pineapple juice and mix. We want a soft batter…not liquid but definitely not heavy and dry. 

13. When the batter is ready, divide an equal portion of batter for each cupcake dish. I usually use a spoon full for this.

14. After dividing in equal parts the batter (you know…take a bit from this one and put it in that one kind of thing…), tap the pan to get rid of air bubbles. REMEMBER DO NOT OVERFILL!.

15. Place in the oven and bake at 350°F for 20-25mins. Watch the cupcakes. They are done when the tops are golden brown. They will be a bit -or a lot- overflowed than the actual mold. No worries…we can eat those separately.

16. Allow the cupcakes cool for 10 minutes on their own pan.

17. While they are still warm, use a very sharp knife or bread knife and slice the tops of the cupcakes off. You can eat the tops later on…. they should taste great!

18. Make sure that you don’t have a stuck cupcake, so run a soft spatula around each one to make sure they will unmold easily.

19. Plan a large baking tray over the cupcake pan. And quickly invert over. Then, one by one and super carefully transfer them to a cooling rack. Allow them to cool for about 1 hour.

20. Once the cupcakes are room temperature, we are going to add the grownup part: in a small coffeecup dish put the Curacao. Carefully take each cupcake and press on the liquor until is fully incorporated to the cupcake base (it will look blue!…easy) and put them back on the cooling rack. 

21. Now, we are going to add the final touch: in a small sauce pan mix the 1/4 cup of rum and the final 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Using low heat do a syrup. Pour the rummy syrup on top of each cupcake. If you ran short, then just do a bit more syrup. The idea is that we want moist cupcakes (moist on the bottom and moist on top).

22. Enjoy!

* To keep them fresh, use a cake holder (the ones you use to transport cakes) or a Tupperware so they stay fresh and moist. Do not leave them exposed or they will loose the buzz part…




Monday, October 12, 2015

Spiced Pumpkin Cake Mexican Style

Spiced Pumpkin Cake Mexican Style
Cooking Time: 45 Minutes   Makes 12/16 servings

Autumn gives me this feeling of home, the warmth of the fireplace and the smell of spices. Outside is raining and I realize that even though the current wife is home today, after almost 30 years of unparalleled happiness  she is doing her thing and I am doing mine. Happiness I tell you.

Just last week after the mysterious case of the disappearing Chocolate Madeleines, at the moment still unsolved (I baked 2 dozen and the day after they just disappeared and the only one around is the wife who denies even touching them), I decided to finally use my pumpkin shaped blunt cake mold that I got on sale at William Sonoma last year. You can not say that I'm not patient!

Spices can be a bit delicate becasue if you just add a bit too much of any...the end result is a disaster, and this cake has plenty of spices, so the risk of failure was high. The recipe I got from William Sonoma as the combo of spices, candied ginger and toasted walnuts made it special. The rest of the recipe looked OK to me, so I went for it with a big BUT....

I do like spices, I do like some Fall flavors BUT I do not like pumpkin flavor. You will never see in this website any recipe that calls for the flat taste of pumpkin (pumpkin cheese cake....NO!). My reasoning of this dislike I place it in the heritage of the foods and flavor tastes of when I was a kid. I am fully convinced that one likes what one had as a child, as if the taste buds develop when you are growing up. 

I grew up in Mexico City as you probably know by now. In Mexico pumpkin is not a big thing. We eat its flowers (the weird current wife does...big time) and we eat the whole thing near Day of the Dead BUT barbecued-candied (they call it "calabaza en tacha"). That I like. As the Calabaza en Tacha calls for Piloncillo (unrefined raw cane sugar) I decided to modify the recipe to please my taste buds. The end result was absolutely fantastic! How do I know it was so good you might ask?... I know because the Queen of the Secret Circle eat a whole slice... a whole slice!. Unheard of...

So, here is the recipe. You can use any blunt cake mold, but if you have the one I used...then the wow factor reaches the roof. 

Spiced Pumpkin Cake Mexican Style

Ingredients

For the cake:

2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour

2 Tsp. Baking powder

1/2 tsp. Baking soda

1 1/4 Tsp. salt

2 1/2 Tsp. ground cinnamon

1 1/4 Tsp. ground ginger

3/4 Tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 Tsp. ground allspice

1/8 Tsp. ground cloves

1 1/4 (150 g) Sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/4 Cups firmly packed light brown sugar

1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar

3 Eggs room temperature

1/3 Cup milk, room temperature

2/3 Cup Piloncillo* Syrup (or molasses)

1 1/4 Cups Mexican Style pumpkin puree** (or pumpkin puree)

2/3 Cup chopped toasted walnuts

1/2 Cup diced crystallized ginger

For the frosting:

8 oz. (225 g) Cream cheese, room temperature

1 (115 g) Stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 Cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/2 Tsp. vanilla extract

Food coloring as desired

Mexican unrefined cane sugar (AKA Panela sugar)
* From pureed Calabaza en Tacha -Mexican Dia de los Muertos' food-

Cooking Instructions

1. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F. Generously grease and flour the wells of the great pumpkin cake pan, if you have one, otherwise any blunt cake pan will do; tap out excess flour.

2. To make the cake, in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves; set aside. 

3. In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the brown and granulated sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes…NOT LESS THAN THAT! , stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

4. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the piloncillo or molasses syrup and beginning and ending with the milk, then the flour. Beat each addition until just incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. 

5. Add the pumpkin puree and beat until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the roasted walnuts and crystallized ginger until incorporated. The batter should look and feel heavy but not dry. If it feels dry just add a bit of milk, incorporate and check again…

6. Divide the batter between the wells of the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Tap vigorously the pan against the kitchen counter to eliminate air bubbles.

7. Bake until a toothpick inserted near the center of a cake half comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Mine takes a bit longer… about 15 minutes longer.

8. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake halves cool upright in the pan for 15-30 minutes.

9. Gently tap the pan on a work surface to loosen the cake halves. Carefully invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let the cake halves cool completely before decorating, about 2 hours.

10. Meanwhile, make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the butter and beat until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the confectioners sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

11. Using a bread knife, cut 1/4 inch off the flat side of each cake half, or enough so the two flat sides can coincide.  Place one cake half, (if you have the pumpkin mold the bottom part of the pumpkin) flat side up, on a cake stand or plate and spread the pumpkin frosting on top. Place the other cake half, flat side down, on top. 

12. Add food coloring as desired to the reserved frosting (green for leaves and tendrils). To create leaves and tendrils, using a rubber spatula, transfer the green frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a leaf or medium plain tip. Pipe leaves and tendrils on the top of the cake.

13. I melted a bit of butter, painted the cake with the melted butter and sprinkled the cake with a mix of sugar/cinnamon. That is optional though!


14. Enjoy

Friday, October 9, 2015

Hario Personal Coffee Grinder -Product review-

Hario Personal Coffee Grinder -Product review-

This is the thing: since I was little little and young young (I was once both: little and young) that woman that claimed to be my mother had, between many many idiosyncrasies, this "I must drink a coffee first thing in the morning", so every day before anything -including saying good morning- she went to the kitchen and put the tea pot on the stove while she prepared her coffee.

Way back then, at least in Mexico where we were living at the time, the only imaginable coffee one could possible drink was either Instant Nescafé or Instant Café Oro- and...if by any chance someone had gone to the USA, then they were asked to bring Maxwell House....wooooow.

The advertising was "great ideas come from great coffee" and somehow I think she bought into that even though the great ideas never came to her (buying boxing gloves for Christmas so my bully brother could beat me in a professional way is not exactly a great idea nor having me play a little cute Mexican native for a mother's day school play in grade one in a public school...I WAS BLOND and WHITE!!!....I was beaten by the school's older kids  as if I was a Conquistador in the middle of an Aztec battle). Regardless...the ideas did not come with the coffee... I can attest to that.

Observant as I was, soon I learned that the priority to face the day was to have a coffee in the mornings. My mom gave me her approval when she considered that I was old enough... so at 7 I started drinking my morning coffee. I blame my hair loss to that...

The years passed by and my morning coffee routine extended to 3 or 4 coffees in a day. I still drink 3 or 4 coffees in a day but my taste for instant got lost in time when I moved to the West Coast where coffee is almost a religion. In my search for a fantastic coffee I have French presses, Italian coffee brewers, filtered coffee machines and a fantastic Nespresso and an incredible ROK machine which I'll review in another time. Today I'll focus in this little contraption that helps to get a fantastic fresh ground coffee:

Hario Personal Coffee Grinder -Product review-

I learned about this coffee grinder thanks to Bea's baking book -one of my all time favorites- and I ordered it on line. It was not expensive (around $25 US back then) and I got it quite soon after.

This is a FANTASTIC personal coffee grinder. It can grind for 1, 2 or 3 servings. I am the only one who drinks coffee here, so I always grind just for me. This "personal" coffee grinder is made of high quality plastic and it doesn't wake up the cats when I prepare my coffee. The noise level is minimal.

This is a ceramic burr grinder that can be adjustable (by adjusting a locking nut on the base of the burr) so I can grind for a filter (my Italian French Press has a metal filter so no waste there), for an expresso machine like my ROK or whatever other setting you might need. The burr set is of great quality and the end result grind is as even as it can get.

Grinding your fresh coffee just prior to drinking your joe releases all the aromas and oils that makes the coffee drinking experience a taste of heaven. For traveling is a great alternative as it uses almost no space AND its as silent as it can be. I highly recommend this grinder, unless you rather drink tea...because that I have absolutely no idea how to prepare.

Oh, and by the way....for those who claim that coffee is bad and addictive I can debate that in a second. I have been drinking coffee for almost 50 years (I am SO old!) and still here and if I look like a zombie escapee is not exactly for drinking coffee... marriage is worst for your health, for example. I drink coffee and I'm married. I am a masochist.














Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Shredded Beef Mexican Style (Tacos de carne deshebrada)

Shredded Beef Mexican Style (Tacos de Carne Deshebrada)

My mother in law says that I cook more Mexican food than she does in Mexico, and that is probably true, considering that at her late 80's she rather but a pizza or a hot dog than having to cook. In any event, it is true: I love Mexican food as much as I love Italian food, and French food, and Argentinian food, and... you get the idea. I like to cook and I like to eat.

In this part of the globe meat is getting quite expensive, so when I see a special on meat, I just go and buy it, otherwise I cook something else. Just last week my local and favorite supermarket (it is called Fresh Street Market...and they don't pay me to say so) they had flank on special (from mega expensive to super expensive) and I bough some to cook it and make shredded beef tacos, one of the current wife's favorites. As I am a pleaser, I cooked for her that fantastic and flavorful dish. When the meat is ready, the smell on its own is so delicious that the house feels so...warm. I love it.

This is an easy to prepare dish, honest. It takes about an hour tops and the end result is great. I use my pressure cooker to make it faster and easier. It works. Way back then, when that woman who claimed to be my mother (she never was able to prove it) had couple of pressure cooker accidents involving  a huge amount of lentils or beans spilled all over the kitchen ceiling. I honestly can say that cooking with that diabolical machine made my mother mad. Similar stories I hear now and then -including my mother in law's stories. She claims that her dislike of cooking comes from that, which I highly doubt-

My ceiling is OK, my life is not in danger (from cooking mot from the current wife's evil intentions) and... the tacos just disappear. Try the recipe... the family will claim to love you more... it is as good as it is going to get. Go for it!

Shredded Beef Mexican Style (Tacos de Carne Deshebrada)

Cooking Time: 90 Minutes   Makes 6 servings
Ingredients

1 1/2 lb Flank steak

1/2 Onion

2 Carrots cut in half

1 Garlic clove 

1 Medium potato

1 Bay leaf

2 tbsp beef powder (Oxo or similar)

- water

Olive oil

1/2  Medium Onion cut in big slices

2 Cans of Stewed Tomatoes

2 tbsp beef powder (Oxo or similar)

To serve

Corn Tortillas (not flour!)

- Heavy cream


Cooking Instructions

1. We are going to use our pressure cooker (I have a Fagor, which I really like…but any will do), so we are going to put the beef (I don’t trim the fat as I believe it gives flavor to the meat), the onion, carrots (skin on), garlic clove, potato (skin on), bay leaf and the beef powder. Now put as much water as needed to cover the meat plus one inch, close the lid as per your pressure cooker instructions.

2. Put your pressure cooker over high heat and wait until the pressure is ready, on high setting (on mine is number 2). When starts whistling, then lower the heat to medium high and let it be for 30 minutes. Don’t worry…nowadays modern pressure cookers don’t explode!. The time is counted when the pressure has reached its high level, not before. 

3. While the meat is cooking, we are going to prepare the sauce. In a medium size pot, we are going to fry the onion until it gets a bit translucent (not brown!) and then add the stewed tomatoes. Add the beef powder, cover and let it simmer for about 15 minutes at medium-low heat.

4. Transfer the tomato and onion mix to a blender and blend it. 

5. Return the blended sauce to the pot, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. Reserve.

6. By now, the pressure cooker should have done its job and the pressure indicator should show that you can open the lid (don’t do it until you are sure that you can… I can tell you stories… scary stories…). Remove the beef and allow it to cool down. *

7. Once the beef has cooled down, shred it -while it is still lukewarm, otherwise it will be double the work-. Cut the shredded meat in two or three pieces to make it easy to eat. 

8. Combine the shredded beef with the sauce, mix well and on low heat and finish cooking it for another 10 to 15 minutes. If the sauce gets too dry, just add some of the beef stock you got from the pressure cooker.

9. Serve with warm corn tortillas, make some tacos and add to each taco a dollop of heavy cream and some chipotle sauce if you want (I don’t do it as I can’t eat spicy food).

10. Enjoy!


* You can use the beef broth for a later use. I also like the carrots and the potatoes because they have tons of flavor. Do a small dish with them.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Elizabeth Taylor's Fettuccine with Seafood and Caviar

Elizabeth Taylor's Fettuccine with Seafood and Caviar

So I saw this book, The lifestyles of the Rich and Famous Cookbook at my local library's book sale and I though it would have a whole chapter about me. I bought it and came home full of expectations. That didn't last long. The book only talks about the "other Rich and Famous" the rich and famous from the 99% is missing. Again.

In any event, I like the book quite a bit. Reminds me of the old good times, when Elizabeth Taylor married Larry Fortensky (yes, the construction worker) married at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. Part of the wedding banquet was this Fettuccine with Seafood and Caviar. Obviously they did use Beluga Caviar but I ran out of it (actually I ran out of money but that is besides the point). I have to admit: the recipe is quite an easy recipe to cook and the end result is fantastic. The current wife and I enjoyed quite a bit.

I proposed to the current wife to recreate Elizabeth Taylor's wedding and having the only son that legally admit I'm kind of his father to take the role of Michael Jackson. She declined because Daniel is not as white as the character called for. I bought for the wife the exact Valentino wedding dress at the Salvation Ary Store but... she refused to wear it. Ungrateful wife I got.

The only thing she agreed with me was to eat the pasta, the home made bread and the capuccino dessert I made... anything else just didn't happen, including my proposed Celebrity honeymoon recreation. Sad...

The dish is fantastic, tasty and with fresh seafood it can't get better than this. I did use caviar, but a local one, and the end result is really tasty. I wouldn't honestly use Beluga or Petrossian...but if you have money to throw away...go nuts!

Elizabeth Taylor's Fettuccine with Seafood and Caviar

Cooking Time: 30 Minutes   Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

2 Tbsp Unsalted butter

1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 lb Scallops

2 Cups Heavy Cream

1 lb Fettuccine (preferably fresh)

1 oz (30 g) Caviar (Beluga anyone?)

Cooking Instructions

1. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over moderately high heat and add the shrimp and toss it until pink (about 2 minutes…tops!).

2. Add the scallops and cook for 1 minute per side. Pour in the cream and partially cover the skillet. Cook for about 3 minutes until the shrimp are a bit firm.

3. Using a slotted spoon remove the shrimp and the scallops and cover them with foil to keep them warm. Reserve.

4.  Reduce the cream over high heat by half and then return the shrimp and the scallops. Reserve.

5. Cook the pasta (follow the manufacturer’s instructions or cook for about 2 minutes if handmade). Gently reheat the cream with the scallops and shrimp.

6. Drain the pasta and place it in a pre-warmed mixing bowl. Add the cream sauce and the caviar and toss gently to blend. Season if necessary (I don’t think it needs more seasoning…).

7. Serve at once and enjoy!



Monday, September 21, 2015

Sous Vide Mezcal and Lime Shrimp

Sous Vide Mezcal and Lime Shrimp

While the current wife was away taking a course on how to I don't remember what (and I do pay attention!) I decided that it was a good time to keep learning how to use my Anova Sous Vide machine.

I went to my local supermarket where they sale non local food (...sounds familiar?) and bought fresh Mexican shrimp. I bought the Mexican kind because they were a good size and...on sale. On sale is one of my favorite expressions. As I had purchased a good mezcal in my last trip to Mexico I decided to try this recipe from Emily Farris. As usual I modified the recipe to accommodate to my own taste and to avoid a flare-up (Chron's). 

The mezcal is an interesting story. Way back then, when I was young, smart and beautiful -last Century- I used to go to have a drink with my University friends or with my super good friend Jaime. Before that actually I never went to a bar ... really... that is the official story and I stand by it. In any event, most of my friends drank Cuba libre (Coke and Rum) and I drank tequila. Back then tequila was a poor man's drink, so I was not well seen in those cantinas. Every time I asked for a tequila they looked at me as if I was asking for charity or something. There were no choices: tequila was one (Cuervo) and it was white. It is important to clarify that I drank tequila because I was cheap...it just happened that I liked it.

35 years later tequila has become a big deal, almost a fad. There are thousands of brands (really!) and the price goes from $15 US a bottle to $500 US a bottle. When I go to a restaurant (the wife does not approve cantinas even though I met her in one...but that is another story) and ask for a tequila... they bring this elegant cart with at least two dozen kinds of tequila... your pocket is the limit.

As tequila became so successful, those guys in Oaxaca were about to go to war against Jalisco, who produce most of the world's tequila. In Oaxaca they drink mezcal... and if tequila was a poor man's drink, then mezcal was for those "teporochitos" (drunken men wandering the streets). It was the lowest of the low. But... now mezcal has moved up to the high realms of tequila and there are also hundreds of brands and the prices and quality mimic the tequila's.

In a future post I'll explain the differences between the two beverages but for now, I share my super successful shrimp with mezcal recipe. I really really liked it. The consistency and flavor of the shrimp was out of this world. So far this Sous Vide machine is more than I expected....



Sous Vide Mezcal Lime Shrimp


Cooking Time: 30 Minutes      Makes 4 servings
Ingredients

1 1/2 lb shell on jumbo shrimp

4 tbsp Mezcal * 

zest and juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp Olive Oil

2 tsp Ground cumin (fresh if you can)

1 tbsp Salt

1 Clove garlic, minced

1/2 Onion finely sliced

4 Tbsp Mezcal for serving time

- Avocado slices for serving


Cooking Instructions

1. Set your Sous Vide to 135˚F or 57˚C

2. In a ziplock bag (large size) combine all the ingredients and seal the bag doing the water immersion method and place it in the already heated water bath.

3. Set the time for 30 minutes 
4. When the timer goes off, remove the bag from the water and divide the contents in 4 portions (juice and all). 

5. Add 1 Tbsp of Mezcal for each portion at the very end… to give it a kick.

6. Serve on a rice bed (I did it on a Mexican style rice), add the avocado slices and serve.

7. Enjoy!


* If you don’t have Mezcal use Tequila. The main difference is that the Mezcal will give a smoky flavor to the dish whereas tequila won’t.

...and for the so-called cousin of mine who is living in the XII Century... please you try the recipe on a Pressure Cooker. See what happens cheapo!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Spaghetti with Cherry Tomato Sauce

I was watching the other day with the current wife a new Netflix show called Chef's Table and I was watching Massimo Bottura's episode. Watching this episode confirmed two things: one...I can't afford to eat an any of the restaurants featured in the show and... I'm not ready to go full blast to spend what I don't have and eat at any of these restaurants as they are more expensive than training a new wife.

Based on that I decided that it was about time to prepare another fresh hand made pasta dish. I do love hand made pasta and I am convinced that there is nothing like it. It is a labor intensive process but with the help of my Cousinart attachment for pasta making and some patience, I just went for it. This time I tried Mario Batali's recipe for the pasta (and please don't tell me that is soooooo easy to make home made pasta and that one doesn't need a recipe because I just don't believe so). It was an egg pasta recipe and yielded enough for two occasions.

The Cherry Tomato Sauce is from a book I really like called Donna Hay Instant Cook (even though I did the pasta and I still don't qualify as a cook... ). The end result is absolutely fantastic, honest. You should try it even if you go and buy store bough pasta. You will feel that eating this pasta is like watching leaves fall in Autumn. Is that good.

Home made pasta is something close to my heart. The woman who claimed to be my mother (remember...no father as I was conceived by an Alien abduction event or something like that). That woman used to slave herself almost all Sundays to have for dinner my favorite aunt (actually my only aunt) and her companion, a super nice guy who worked in TV doing a show with a mouse... for a living -fact-. Those evenings were fantastic. I was sent to the "Club" (a Christian Priest Factory called Vanguardia in the Colonia Roma) while she was the official Chef. Dinner was always an entree, some sort of pasta and... dessert. Dinner was always fun and after dessert I was sent back to the Vanguardia place to watch a two-for-one movie show that included "almost just released" movies like Ben-Hur, The Great Train Robbery -the 1903 one- or Santo vs Las Momias... the Mexican twist to horror movies.

I did not became a priest (but it did cross my mind and it was motive of long chats with my mom who saw me as the next Pope), nor a Chef... but I manage to learn how to cook...today Spaghetti with Cherry Tomato Sauce... imagine.


Spaghetti with Cherry Tomato Sauce

Cooking Time: 20 Minutes*      Makes 4 servings
Ingredients

For the Hand Made Pasta*:

3 1/2 Cups Sifted all purpose flour


5 eggs room temperature

1 Tbsp Water

…or enough store bought pasta for 4 people

I always do twice hand made pasta as needed because I keep half of it (after drying it so i can eat fresh pasta next time without the labor)

For the Sauce:

1 Tbsp Butter

500 g Cherry tomatoes (super fresh), halved

1/2 Tsp Sugar

2 Tbsp Olive oil

2 Cloves of Garlic, crushed

1/3 Cup Basil leaves (fresh)… a bit chopped (big pieces)


Before Serving:

Fresh Parmesan Cheese grated (tons is good)


Cooking Instructions:

1. In your mixer bowl combine the sifted flour and the eggs and mix it at speed number 2 until combined. You might need 1 tablespoon of water to make it manageable (or two…) . You will get a sticky dough that is ready to be kneaded.

2. Flour a clean surface and start kneading the dough, using primarily your hands. Once the dough is a cohesive mass, set it aside and scrape the work surface so we don’t have any bits of dry dough.

3. Lightly flour the surface and continue kneading for 10 minutes, dusting with flour when necessary. The dough should be elastic and a bit (just a bit) sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest -room temperature- for 30 minutes.

5. Once the time has passed, start rolling the pasta according to your own pasta maker’s instructions (there are some manual, some electric and some people use the II Century system and do it all the way by hand… your choice). 

6. While the pasta is resting, put water to boil in a large bowl. This will be where we cook the actual pasta. Some people like to add salt and some oil to the water… I don’t but it is up to you.  Keep the water boiling while we do the sauce.

To cook the Sauce: 

Place a large frying pan over high heat, add the butter and the tomatoes, making sure that the cut side of the tomatoes is the one touching the pan surface. Cook for exactly 4 minutes. Do not add salt!!!!!!

2. Put the pasta to boil. It should take about 5 minutes or less to be ready (home made pasta cooks way faster than store bought). Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overcook.

3. By now the tomatoes are golden, so you can jus quickly stir for a minute or so and add the olive oil, garlic and the basil. Stir to combine.

Putting all together:

The pasta should be ready and drained. Add the pasta to our frying pan where we have the sauce and
toast to coat.

2. Serve and top with tones of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese.


3. Enjoy!!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Bourbon Glazed Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin

Bourbon Glazed Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin

Finally I got my Sous Vide machine to compliment my Modernist Cuisine . Still I need some other stuff, but the current wife has to work harder to buy me my little gadgets... I don't work because I am an intellectual and an artist... she knows that.

The one I got is an Anova Sous vide and it so easy to use and so fantastically advanced. I just unpacked it, plugged it, installed the app...and done. The app is required so you can access your machine at distance so you can control it. I was doing gardening, so the phone beeped when my food was ready. Nice!

My first experiment was the Bourbon Glazed Tenderloin (the tenderloin was on sale...I couldn't resist) and as the current wife is in a "conference" in Kelowna -and also she is visiting the kid that we found in a forest after aliens had abducted him for experiments and that now we call him "son"... so I could cook to my liking. The recipe I got was from the Modernist Cooking Sous Vide book by Jason Logsdom... and aI did some changes to it based on my health limitations.

The end result was fantastic. The experience was worth wile. The first thing I learned was that I could use a zip-log bag instead of the vacuum sealed bags -which I don't have but that you can gift me anytime...just don't wait until Christmas please-. I do have ziploc bags as the wife has some sort of obsession... she ziploc bags everything, including the cats (today they seem a bit blue but it might be the weather). She tried to ziploc me but I ran like crazy and started to cry. The tears worked just fine.

The second thing I learned was that the Sous Vide system works with two things: electricity and patience. If you are looking for a fast meal, I recommend the microwave oven.

So... this is it, my very first Sous Vide meal. The Pork Tenderloin side dish was Mexican Style Chilliwack Corn... nice. I did have leftovers for tomorrow as today I'm cooking Mole Enchiladas...it is raining and I'm wifeless...

Oh, by the way... if you are the elderly fellow that claims to be my cousin and that only approves the recipes that were done by your great great grand mother.... sorry... this is not for you. Please burn your meat on an open fire. Be my guest.


Bourbon Glazed Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin

Cooking Time: 6 Hours*   Makes 4 servings
Ingredients

For the Pork

1-2 Pounds pork tenderloin

1 Teaspoon dried sage
1 Teaspoon allspice
1/2 Teaspoon ginger


Finishing Ingredients

For the Glaze

1 Cup bourbon whiskey
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup ketchup
2 Teaspoons Worcester sauce
2 Tablespoons of Apple vinegar
2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
Salt 



Cooking Instructions

* The 6 hours include prep time…the actual cooking time is 45 minutes !!!

Pre-Bath

1. Mix the spices together in a bowl. Place the tenderloin and the spices mix  on the Ziploc bag, mix until the whole tenderloin is covered and seal using the water immersion system to eliminate the air trapped inside the bag (basically it means that you submerge the semi-sealed bag in water -not allowing water to get in- and squeeze so all air is out, then just close the bag) . 


2. Put the Ziploc bag in the fridge for about two hours so the spices aromatize the meat.

Cooking

3. Preheat the water bath to 135°F / 57.2°C. Place the sous vide pouch in the water bath and cook for 3 to 6 hours… I like my meat pink so I gave it 4 hours. I used my Sous Vide ruler App that based on the meat thickness and weight gives you the cooking time.

4. Wait…and wait… imagine that you are using a slow cooker. Go and do some other stuff and your phone will tell you when the time is up. My Sous Vide machine has bluetooth capabilities so I used that.

…half an hour to finishing cooking the meat….the you:

Finishing the Bourbon Glazed Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin

5. Preheat the grill to high heat.

6. Prepare the glaze mix together all of the ingredients in a pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 30 minutes, until it thickens some. And, YES…it uses a whole cup of bourbon… but the end result justifies it, believe me.

7. Take the pork out of the pouch and pat dry. Sear on the grill until grill marks form on the first side, a couple of minutes. Brush the glaze on the side facing up and turn the tenderloin. Repeat several times until it is coated with the glaze, cooking about 30 to 60 seconds per turn. 

8. Remove from the heat, brush once more with the glaze, slice into 1/2" rounds and serve. I had as a side dish a Mexican Style Corn… but you can use other stuff like mashed potatoes, baked potato or…gasp… greens…


9.Enjoy



Friday, August 14, 2015

Red Tomato Mermalade

Red Tomato Marmalade

Once a year the current wife likes to invite her "birdwatching" friends to have "tea". She thinks that I buy the "birdwatching" and the "tea" part...but I just let it slide. She always says that she will buy some chips and cookies from the supermarket and that that will do. Yeah, right!

She knows that I won't allow that to happen so I offer my catering services to host her drinking friends...sorry..."birdwatching" friends. I wouldn't do this if I didn't like her friends, which I do and because I want to keep the marriage in a standby status...I don't make waves.

This year I cooked some very tasty and different dishes: I cooked Mexican corn on a stick (big hit), Poblano, Cheese and Corn Ebelskivers, Red Tomato Empanadas - a dish from Monterrey, Mexico and a Cognac Drunken B.C. Cherries and Equatorial Dark Chocolate Tart. I have to say... I was happy with the end results.

The "tea" party went well and the current wife's drinking friends...sorry....birdwatching friends were happy. Some even took some leftovers for their houses. I love when the food is all gone and the food is appreciated. It was great. 

The recipes for all the other dishes eventually will make the blog, promise, but for now I'm just sharing my Red Tomato Marmalade (and...please all those British readers.... I know that you all call only "marmalade" if its made of citrus.... but this is actually called Marmalade...so call the Queen).

To prepare the Tomato Empanadas I had to cook first my marmalade, which took me a day and a half. It was completely worthwhile. The end result was fantastic and even I managed to preserve 3 small jars... honest, if you have the patience and the will or if you fear your wife...you will find that this jam is something else. I absolutely loved it.

The limes were from Mexico (where else?), the tomatoes were local, from the super famous Brian of West Vancouver (his fruits and veggies are nothing short of extraordinary), the coriander is from Guatemala -from my friend Esther-... sort of the perfect combo. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. If not, you can always buy a factory made jam. 


Red Tomato Marmalade

Cooking Time: 120 Minutes   Makes 3 pints (1.5 Kg)
Ingredients

3 limes
1 kg Firm, ripe tomatoes*

4 Cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 Tsp Coriander seeds, coarsely crushed

57 G Pectin Crystals (1 box of Certo or similar)

* The original recipe I found called for the tomatoes to be peeled and seeded, but I decided not to do so to preserve the pectin that the fruit naturally has. And…also it called for lemons instead of limes… but I like limes better than lemons.

Cooking Instructions

1. Thinly peel 2 of the limes and slice the peel (julienne) in thin strips. Squeeze the lime juice of the 3 limes.

2. In a non-corrosive pan, place the tomatoes with the sugar, the lime rind and the lime juice and slowly bring it to a boil, mixing now and then so the lime-sugar covers the tomatoes.  



3. Once it has boiled, reduce the heat to medium-high, keep mixing until the tomatoes break and their juices start to combine with the lime-sugar mix. Skim the foam that forms on top.

4. In about half an hour or so, the mix will be all blended (you might see some tomato chunks…just break them with the wooden spoon to incorporate). Bring the mix to a boil and incorporate the pectin and the juice of the remaining lime. Stir like crazy so  all incorporates well. Add the coriander and mix until incorporated.

5. Using your candy thermometer we’ll watch the temperature so it reaches 105 ˚C , therefore we  will continue stirring until the water evaporates (it takes me about an hour of stirring and watching to get the consistency of jam). 

6. To know when the jam is ready I use the “wrinkle” test, that is, I put a saucer in the fridge to cool and when I think that my jam is ready, I pour a teaspoon of the jam on the saucer and run my finger through it…when the jam separates and stays separate….then I know that my jam is ready).

7. Pour the jam into a square glass mold (the ones we use to bake Lasagna) and allow it to cool overnight. The next morning it should have the perfect consistency, then proceed to ladle into the jars and seal.


6.Enjoy!… This jam should have a shelf life of 2 years…but mine didn’t make the weekend.