Mexican Dishes

Cheese stuffed cauliflower in tomato sauce, Mexican style (Coliflor rellena de queso en caldillo)


Even though I really like deep fried almost everything, the part of me that knows better -or at least believes that knows better-, called "a wife" stops me from doing so with some exceptions: deep fried Twinkies, deep fried Oreos,  doughnuts, deep fried Mars Bars, tempura and other foods that I can't remember. She takes care of me...oh love....

I usually don't eat cauliflower and I really don't know why as it is quite tasty (if it is next to some dressing or in a food...because raw is just disgusting) and I went back to memory land and remember that this dish is quite similar to one that the woman who claimed to be my mother use to make, without the cinnamon, the clove and stuffing the cheese the way I did. In Mexico they usually cut the cauliflower in pieces, mix it with the egg batter and deep fry them -called "tortitas de coliflor"-. So it kind of seems similar to the traditional Mexican way, but I think that this way is somehow a bit more tasty and you don't get the oil and the egg batter aftertaste. It also looks awesome. 

As we are only the two of  us, this dish lasted for two days and for a hungry wife lunch, but usually this should be plenty to feed six people. Honestly, the touch of cinnamon and clove and the way the cauliflower is presented is just super tasty. When you cut into the cauliflower and the cheese melts in the plate incorporating itself into the tomato sauce...is just a mystical experience. Try it...you will know then what separates mixing ingredients and cooking. 

Cheese stuffed cauliflower in tomato sauce, Mexican style (Coliflor rellena de queso en caldillo)


Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 6 servings
Ingredients

1 Medium size FRESH cauliflower,
separated in small trunks.

For the caldillo (runny tomato sauce)

1/2 Onion, chopped

1 Garlic clove

2 Large tomatoes

1/2 Beef broth cube (knorr os similar)

Water as needed

1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

1 Clove, ground

For the stuffing

200 g Mozzarella cheese (or Panela cheese if you can find it), sliced in 1/4 inch pieces.

2 Large eggs, room temperature

To put together the cauliflower

  • 12 Tooth picks
  • Flour
2 Cups of canola oil to fry the battered cauliflowers.

To serve
  • White rice, Mexican style


Cooking Instructions

1. Boil water in a medium size pan and once is boiling add the cauliflower trunks (in Mexico they call them cauliflower “trees”) and cook them for exactly 5 minutes -otherwise they will turn soggy-, then drain the water and reserve.


2. In a medium size pan, heat the oil and add the onion so it gets a bit translucent, then add the garlic clove (just broken by using a knife) and mix the until the garlic has browned a bit. Reserve

3. Using your blender or food processor blend the tomatoes  and then add the  onion/garlic. Blend again and reserve in the blender.

4. Using the same pan where you fried the onions, add a bit more canola oil and, once is warm, add the tomato mix, add the 1/2 beef cube, the cinamon and the clove, mix and cover. Reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes. If, after the 20 minutes the mix looks a bit dense, add some water as we are looking for a more liquid mix -called “caldillo" in Mexico. Taste and correct if necessary. Reserve

5. Now, we are going to prepare the egg batter. First separate the eggs and reserve the yolks. In a medium size bowl use your hand mixer to beat the egg whites until you  get them stiff (you can turn upside down the bowl and it won’t make a mess). This should take about 3 to 4 minutes; then we are going to add one egg yolk and mix again until incorporated, then add the second egg yolk, mix until incorporated too. Reserve

6.  Now, we are going to prepare the cauliflower. First let’s divide each cauliflower piece in two and put a piece of the mozzarella cheese in the middle then put together with two tooth picks, like a sandwich where the cauliflower represents the bread and the cheese is the sandwich filling. Reserve 
7. In a deep small pan, heat the 2 cups of canola oil to frying temperature and it in that temperature.

8. Take each cheese stuffed cauliflower piece, cover with flour and cover with the egg batter, then carefully drop it in the frying oil. Once the bottom part has browned, using some tongs turn the cauliflower so the other half gets to brown. Once the whole piece is done, remove using the tongs and place each piece on a kitchen paper towel to remove the excess oil. Reserve

9. Once we have all the fried cauliflower pieces ready, we are ready to serve. In each plate put one or two pieces of the battered cauliflower and cover them with the tomato sauce, which should be a bit loose (caldillo), then on the side add some Mexican style white rice and serve.

10. Enjoy!

  



Baked Mexican Rice, Mushrooms and Meat Casserole


Here Winter still looms even though the Spring wants to push it out. Some days it rains and some other rains too. The current wife leaves home early (somebody has to work, right?) and the days I am not teaching or writing...I cook. Usually this kind of weather calls for nice cozy food. Somehow I recall from my childhood this kind of dish...simple to put together but a bit time consuming when preparing. I would assume that the woman who enjoyed calling me son did some sort of a similar dish but without the Mexican flavor. Most likely I will guess it had more of a Chilean flavor.

This year I have decided to bring back the old ways as I am kind of sick and tired of this fat free, gluten free, sugar free and flavor free times. Also food is getting quite expensive so creativity is an important part of the deal. This time around I decided it was time to bring back the beef-pork ground meat mixture and, I have to say...the result is fantastic.

When the wife came back I have left a note asking her to turn on the oven at certain time and start baking the casserole once the oven was temperature ready, so when I was to come back from teaching (one of my few night classes I teach)...food was to be almost ready. When I came back, the wife was on the phone with la suegra (mother in law)....the casserole was where I left it, along with the note, and the oven was as cold as the weather outside. So much for bringing the old time costumes back. Fail.

In any event, understanding husband as I am...I did as the note explained...then the wife showed up to say that she didn't see the note (big orange post-it on the door where she gets in....). I sight and looked at her with the most loving look I have. Sooner than later dinner was ready and ...it was great. Honestly great.

So, if you want to bring back the old times, try this recipe, just avoid the wife part. The food will bring great memories and will warm up your heart.

Baked Mexican Rice, Mushrooms and Meat Casserole


Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

For the rice:


2 Tbsp Olive oil

1/2 Onion finely chopped

1 1/2 Cup long-grain white rice

1/2 Cup mixed frozen vegetables (peas, carrots and corn)

3 1/2 Cups of chicken broth

For the sauté mushrooms

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

2 Tbsp Butter

1 10 oz (284 ml) canned whole mushrooms

1 1/2 Tsp Onion powder

For the Ground Meat 

4 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Large onion finely chopped 200 g Extra lean ground beef

200 g Lean Ground pork meat

1 Cube Knorr beef seasoning

1 6 oz Sliced black olives (canned)

1 Cup White wine (dry is better)

For building the Casserole

2 Large eggs, room temperature

1 Large roasted red pepper sliced

1 Cup Parmesan cheese grated

1 Cup Mozzarella cheese grated


Cooking Instructions
  • Rice: In a medium size pan warm up the oil and sauté the onion. Add the rice and sauté for about 15 minutes until the rice becomes slightly browned. Remember to stir frequently to avoid burning.
  •  Add the broth and the frozen veggies and raise the flame to high and bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to medium high and allow the water to evaporate to the point where you can see the rice though the water, then cover with the lid and lower the heat to simmer. Allow it to simmer without ever opening the lid (or you get a soggy rice) for 20 minutes. 
  • Remove from the heat and let it stand for another 10 minutes, then stir with a fork -not anything else-. Reserve.

  • Mushrooms: On a frying pan warm up the olive oil and the butter until really hot, then add the drained mushrooms (whole) and season with the onion powder. Keep mixing so they don’t burn. Once they look semi-browned, turn off the heat and reserve.

  • Meat: In a medium size pot caramelize the onion using the olive oil (until translucent), then add the two ground meats and mix by stirring frequently. Once the meat has browned a bit, add the sliced black olives, season with the Knorr cube and close the lid. Lower the heat to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every so often. At the very end add the white wine and allow it to absorb without the lid but still at lower heat.

  • Turn on the oven to 375˚

  • Building the casserole: The final step! First butter a medium rectangular glass mold (I actually used a square one). Reserve.

  • Add the 2 eggs to the rice and stir until incorporated, then add the sliced red pepper and the mushrooms. We are ready to start the layering process…

  • The first layer is rice, so we divide the rice in 2 equal parts. Using the first half, we build the first layer and we compress it a bit so when we serve it doesn’t fall apart. The second layer is the meat (all of it). Make an even distribution and compress it also (remember that the meat doesn’t have egg mixture!) and finally the third layer (rice) which will be the top. Compress it again. By now we should have the casserole almost ready.

  • Top the casserole with the mixed cheeses and it is ready for baking! Bake for 20 minutes. The cheese on top should look a bit browned is some parts (not all though!…Otherwise you just burned the cheese!). The casserole is ready to be served.
  •  Enjoy!

 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!!!

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.

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!

Peneques

Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 4 servings
Ingredients

Peneques

100 g Mozzarella Cheese (or a good melting cheese)


6 Corn tortillas

12 Toothpicks 

3 Egg Whites

1 Egg Yolk

1 Cup Canola Oil

Caldillo (Tomato sauce)

1/2 Onion cut in thick slices

4 Tbsp Canola Oil 

1 Can of Stewed Tomato (411 g or 14.5 oz)


1/2 Cup of Beef Stock

- Seasoning (I use a Knorr Beef cube)

Cooking Instructions


1. First we are going to warm up the corn tortillas (do not use flour tortillas!!!). 

2. While the tortillas are on the “comal” (you can use a pan to warm them up) we cut the cheese in the size to make a quesadilla (1/2 inch for the sides, 3 inch length, approx). 




3. In a frying pan warm the oil to a frying temperature (high). Keep warm.



4. We are going to put the cheese in the middle of the tortilla and close it (as a quesadilla) BUT we are going to “close it” with two toothpicks, semi-closing it. Set aside (they will get cold, don’t worry).

5. In a medium bowl beat the egg whites until you get firm peaks (you can turn the bowl upside-down and it wont spill). Once the egg whites are firm then we’ll add the egg yolk and beat again to incorporate.

6. Dip the “closed” quesadilla in the egg mix trying not to over cover it, then, carefully place the future peneque on the warm oil. We want to turn it when one side is light-brown (we don’t want to burn the egg !). Once the two sides are ready, remove from the pan and place each piece on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Reserve the 6 peneques.

7. Now we’ll prepare the “caldillo” (a more liquid tomato sauce): in a medium pot, fry the onion until it gets a bit clear, add the stewed tomatoes and mix well.

8. Using your food processor, blend the onion/tomato mix until smooth. Return  to the pot and lower the heat to simmer. Incorporate the seasoning (again, I use a Knorr beef cube) and mix well. Close the lid and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

9. After the 20 minutes we should have a nice and tasty tomato sauce. To make it more liquid (“caldillo”) we add the beef stock and mix well. Cover and allow it to simmer for another 10 minutes.


10. The final step: put the peneques on the sauce (carefully so they don’t break) and make sure that all are covered with the tomato sauce. Close the lid and simmer the whole thing for another 10 minutes or so.

11. I serve two peneques per person with some nice Mexican white rice and some sauce. They should be fantastic!

12. Enjoy!!!  


Tomato Enchiladas (Entomatadas)

It would be amazing if I had all the time (and energy) in the world to cook, but that is not the case. 
Having a full time wife is a lot of work and she gives me no time for those pleasures. Also there is the age and energy factors that limit my ability to do cook as much as I want. But... one thing is having limited time to prepare food and another is to eat whatever. Sometimes easy to prepare recipes is the way to go.

This tomato enchiladas, which are called Entomatadas in México are one of my favorite last minute dishes (and I have to admit that I am the King of Wing (I can wing any meal with any ingredient I have in hand)... so... this is a non-spicy Mexican dish that will make you  look that you know what you are doing.

The kid that claims to be my son is not a huge fan of this kind of dishes (he rather have some Thai food...ouch!!!!) but, what can I say: I swear he is not mine... probably that is why I call him Sue-she-mean.

So...get ready for a fast and fantastic easy to make Mexican dish:

Tomato Enchiladas

Cooking Time: 1 Hour   Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

4 Kg Tomatoes (large) 
1 Onion (medium)
1 Garlic clove
- Seasoning to taste
12 Corn Tortillas (do not use flour tortillas!!!!)

4 Tbsp Oil
600 g. cheese that melts nicely (Monterrey jack... fortina)*


Cooking Instructions

1. Cut the tomatoes, garlic and the 1/2 the onion. Blend perfectly . Reserve.

2. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. Once warm, add the tomato mixture and add a cube of chicken -or beef- broth (or your favorite seasoning for a tomato sauce) and cook covered for 30 minutes in LOW heat. Stir occasionally.

3. While the tomato sauce is cooking, we are going to dice the remaining onion. I like to dice it quite small. Reserve. 

4. Shred the cheese. Some people like Fortina cheese because it melts wonderfully. I like that one and also I like Manchego or Monterrey Jack cheese. Your choice (please do not use Philadelphia or Blue cheese...). Usually 15o grms. per guest is enough cheese. Reserve.

5. By now the sauce should be ready. Taste it and, if necessary, season a bit more. We should be ready for the final step.

6. Put 3 tablespoons of oil and heat in a frying pan. Medium heat. 

7. Warm the corn tortillas (3 at the same time, which is one serving). Once the tortilla is soft we are going to pass them trough the heated oil both sides and place the first fried tortilla on a plate.  

7. Stuff the oiled tortilla with some of the diced onion and plenty of cheese. Don't be stingy for crying out loud! 

8. Fold and repeat the process 3 times per dish. Stock the tortillas (that should look like a folded quesadilla) nicely on the plate and top with plenty of the tomato sauce. Spread more cheese on top and serve. The cheese on top will melt, otherwise put the plate for 30 seconds in the microwave.

 9. Repeat the process 3 more times to get the 4 servings.

10. Garnish with some sliced onion, some cheese. I like to have refried beans with this dish (on a side)... it always works.

10. Open a Tecate beer can for you (you deserve it...you cooked the meal...)  and offer some plain water for your family and guests...

 11. Enjoy!

* You can also stuff the entomatadas with shredded chicken or pulled pork and the end result will be as good as with the ones with cheese.

** The photo is not mine. As every time I prepare these is a fast and easy solution for dinner...I forget to take a picture. Next time... 



Lobster Tacos !

Sometimes life is like that. One has to separate himself from the crowd and feel like a million bucks. I do that when the lobster is on special at my local market (actually supermarket). When that opportunity arises, I just buy two or three lobster tails and freeze them until the day comes to enjoy one of the easiest and tastiest Mexican dishes I know. 

I would love to say humbly that I invented the recipe but I would be lying. I have eaten it somewhere (honest I don't remember... an age idiosyncrasy you know) and, based on my taste memory I decided to give it a try. They were a big success!

Something is for sure: I did not went to any restaurant that would have served this amazing dish with the guy who calls himself my cousin, because he is as cheap as they come. He would have said something like why to spend in lobster tacos if I can make those at home, just with pork meat instead of lobster and flour tortillas instead of corn tortillas.

In any event, the current wife has enjoyed them several times as I always make sure that my son or any other uninvited guests are not coming for dinner. 

Lobster Tacos !

Cooking Time: 30 Minutes   Makes 6 servings
Ingredients

6 Medium Lobster Tails (fresh!)

1 Tbsp Butter

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1/2 Onion -diced-

1 Medium Lime (fresh!)

1 Tsp Piquin Chile -dried and ground-*

1 Tsp Ancho Chile -dried and ground-*

1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt

6 to 8 Corn Tortillas (soft)

To Serve 

- Mexican Style Rice (see recipe)

- Black Beans (“Frijoles de Olla”) -see recipe-

- Pico de Gallo Salsa (see recipe)



Cooking Instructions


1. Clean the lobster tails, remove the shells and set aside.





2.In a medium pan, warm up the olive oil and the butter together and mix until incorporated. Use medium heat.

3. Fry the diced onion until it becomes a bit clear but not brown. Reduce the heat.

4. Cut the lobster meat in 1/4” pieces and fry it (low heat) for about 10 minutes. It is important that the heat is low, otherwise the lobster will dry up. Move constantly.


5. Add the lime juice and the piquín-ancho mix (I use Tajín brand pre=prepared mix). Continue mixing until evenly incorporated.

6. Warm up the rice, the beans and the tortillas.

7. Elevate the heat to high and finish frying the lobster for another 2 or 3 minutes. The lobster will absorb the juice. You are ready to serve!


8.  I usually serve the dish in 4 different soup plates:

One for the lobster
One for the Mexican style rice
One for the beans
One for the pico de gallo salsa (smaller plate)

9. Take a warm tortilla and put a lobster spoon full, half a table spoon of rice and half a table spoon of beans. Add some pico de gallo salsa and,

10. Enjoy! 

* Piquín is a variety of hot pepper that grows in bushes that have small and pointy leaves. Usually they are 1 or 2 cm. long (about 1/2 of an inch). They are round and a bit elongated. 
When fresh they are green and when mature they become deep red. People consume it dried and by then its color is brown-red. It is a bit spicy but tolerable (that is, not crazy spicy). 

Also it is called tepínchilepínchilitodiente de tlacuache (opossum's tooth), mosquitopajaritoenanopulgaamashchilpaya or just chile piquín

I usually buy it in a pre-prepared form: a mix that contains salt, dried lime, piquín, dried ancho chile and some preservatives (the brand I buy is called Tajín, but there are many others that are just called “chile piquín”. I use it to spice up many Mexican dishes, fruits and veggies...


Huitlacoche Pasta

Cooking Time: 40 Minutes   Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

3 Tbsp Olive oil

1/2 Onion finely diced

1 Garlic clove, chopped

1 Flaked Tuna in water can

4 Stewed tomatoes

1 Can of Huitlacoche* (380 g)

1 Small can of sweet corn 

1 Box (454 g) Spaghetti pasta

- Parmesan Cheese 

Cooking Instructions

1. In a medium size pot, heat the olive oil and cook the onion until translucent and then add the chopped garlic. Reduce heat.

2. Drain the water from the tuna can and then add to the onion mix. Bring heat to medium high and fry the tuna until a bit golden (fully cooked…a bit brown)

3. Add the stewed tomatoes and mash them a bit so it incorporates to the mix -but we want it a bit chunky-. Reduce heat and let it cook, covered, for 15 minutes.

4. Add the huitlacoche* to the sauce and stir until incorporated, then add the corn and stir again. Cover and allow it to simmer for another 15 minutes (covered).

5. In a big pot, heat water and then cook the pasta for about 10 minutes or until is “al dente” (the pasta is semi-soft but the center is a bit uncooked). I never add oil nor salt to my pasta when cooking it…so far no problems there. Once the pasta is cooked, remove from the heat, strain it under cold water and drain perfectly. Return the pasta to the already drained big pot.

6. Add the huitlacoche sauce to our pasta and stir until coated evenly.

7. Serve and top with parmesan cheese.

8. Enjoy!

*Huitlacoche…

Even though is a fungus that grows on corn, it is black and looks quite suspicious, huitlacoche is not only tasty for is good for you.

This black fungus (Ustilago maidis) is a parasite of the corn. The word comes from the nahuatl “huitla” which means excrement and “cochi” that means pig. The scientific name comes from “ustilare” -to burn- and “taino mahis” that means corn.. keep in mind that what, even though the meaning of the name is not appealing, the flavor and the nutritional value are amazing.

Nahuatl was the language of the Mexicas also known as Aztecs, and it is still spoken in small rural areas around Mexico City.






Mexican Style Lentil Soup
Cooking Time: 60 minutes Feeds 4 hungry people


Ingredients

250 g Green lentils

1 l Water

100 g Chorizo (Mexican is the best for this recipe)

1 Large Tomato

1 Large Carrot -cubed-

1 Laurel leaf

1 Large Potato -cubed-

150 g Finely chopped onion (about 1/4 of a large onion)

2 Garlic cloves cut in thin slices

1 Piece of toasted bread (dry, not soft)

- Canola Oil

- Kosher Salt

Instructions

1. Peel the carrot and the potato and cube them in small pieces. Reserve

2. Cut the chorizo in 1 cm slices (doesn't need to be exactly 1 cm !)

3. Clean the lentils using cold water and in a large pot, medium heat put them to cook with the water. Do not put the pot lid on!!

4. Add the tomato and the laurel leaf after about 15 minutes (the tomato is whole)

5. When the water with the lentils is boiling, lower the heat to simmer and add the chorizo, carrot and potatoes. Leave it simmering for for approx. 45 minutes (by then they should be soft but not breaking apart...if they are still a bit hard, leave them for intervals of 5 minutes and check them to see when are they ready). Stir occasionally.

6.  In a medium pan heat the oil and fry the onion and the garlic until the onions are a bit clear and the garlic looks a bit toasted.

7. Add the toasted bread, bring the heat to high and let the onion golden allowing the bread to absorb the flavor. 

8. Add the bread, onions and garlic to our lentils and we mix gently -we don't want lentil smoothie-. By now the lentils should be perfect (soft but whole). They should have some liquid broth as we don't want them like paste. If they are too thick, add a bit of water (a bit!). At the end we want a soup that has a bit of broth and tons of lentils.

9. Remove the laurel leaf. 

10. We are ready to serve!..some weird people (like my wife) likes to slice a banana on top of the lentil soup as they (she) claim that enhances the flavor. I never contradict the wife -survival instinct they call it-. The fact that she adds ketchup I'm not going to mention because I am a discrete guy.

11. Enjoy!


* Photo from Enriqueta Lemoine's fantastic cooking site SavorFaire (the recipe is mine though)... I forgot to take my own picture... next time.






Super Cheese Mexican Style Zucchini

Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

4 Fresh round Zucchini 

250 g Melting Cheese (I used Oaxaca style cheese) coarsely chopped

1 Jar of Stewed Tomatoes  (see recipe here) -500 g-


1/2 Chopped onion

1 Tbsp Oil

- Salt to taste


Cooking Instructions

1.Put the oil in a medium size pot and bring it to very hot. Pour the oil in the pan as we are going to fry the onions for the sauce: we want to caramelize them a bit (translucent is good)

2. Once  the onion is ready we pour the stewed tomatoes. That will mix with our onions by moving it for 10 minutes. After that add the salt AND TASTE IT !!!. Sometimes instead of salt I use 1 little Knorr cube (beef). Reserve
3. Using your food processor or your blender (or by hand if you still think that we are in the 1500's or live in a cave) blend the onion-tomato sauce. Pour the sauce in the same pot we used before and put your fire to high until the mix start bubbling. 
4. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover it  and let it cook for 20 minutes (you want to check here and there just to make sure that everything is OK). Once ready turn the heat off and keep the lid on.

5. While the sauce cooks take a bigger pan (like the one for cooking pasta) filled with warm water and bring it to a boil. Add the zucchini and let it soften for about 7 to 10 minutes. You know that they are ready when you can (they must be still hard, though!) puncture them with a fork. We want them a bit hard and not soft at all!!!


6. Take your zucchini of the water and IMMEDIATELY put your zucchini under cold running water. You want to do right away because otherwise the zucchini keeps cooking. 

7. Once the zucchini is cold we remove their top (stem side) making sure that the exposed flesh has a diameter big enough to remove some of the flesh with a teaspoon  but not bigger than that.


8. Now with the teaspoon we remove some of the flesh making sure that we leave enough flesh on the sides (hollow only half the zucchini) so they don’t dissolve in front of us (if you messed up already, then go to plan B and make zucchini soup!) . Remove about half of the flesh. Reserve

9. Now the assembly. In a medium baking dish we put our zucchini. Reserve.

10. Stuff the  zucchini with the chopped cheese (the smaller the pieces the better) until they almost overflowing (melted cheese occupies less space than freshly cut cheese).

11. Bring your oven to 325˚C

12. Now just pour your sauce around the zucchini without touching them (we are making a sauce bed) 
and bake it for 15 minutes or until you see that the cheese has melted. Once melted the cheese remove from the oven and serve IMMEDIATELY (they are fantastic when you eat them right away but they reheat perfect).

13. I like this dish with rice (today was Spanish style rice) but you can accompany the zucchini with nice and soft mash potatoes.

14. Enjoy!

















Chiles Rellenos








Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

6 Green Poblano Peppers (also knownas “chile ancho”)

2 Tbsp Canola Oil

1/2 Onion -thick slices-

6 Stewed Tomatoes*

1 Beef Broth Knorr cube

300 g Manchego Cheese cut in 6 pieces

12 Tbsp Cooked Black Beans -or pinto beans-**

*To stew a tomato see recipe here 

** To cook beans “Mexican style” see recipe


Cooking Instructions

1. In a BBQ or in the stove we are going to prepare the Poblano Peppers first:
- Once the BBQ is warm, put the peppers on the grill and close the lid. Wait for about 3 minutes, open the lid and turn them around. You will see that the skin has blackened a bit and it has lots of blisters. That is what we want. Wait for another 3 minutes, lid closed.
If you are doing it on the stove, turn the fire to high heat and place the peppers directly on the fire, turning them every minute or so until the whole pepper is blistered.


- By now the peppers should be blistered and a bit blackened -NOT BURNED!!-. Remove and put them in a plastic bag (using tongs) and close the bag. They will sweat. Leave them there for a while.

2.In a medium pan, warm up the canola oil and sauté the onions. Incorporate the stewed tomatoes and stir at medium heat for 10 minutes.

3. Remove the mix of tomatoes and onions and blend them. Bring them back to the pan and keep the heat on medium. Add the Knorr cube -or your brand of concentrated beef stock- and stir until dissolved. Keep stirring for 10 minutes and put the lid, lowering the heat to the simmering setting. We are going to keep it like this for 20 minutes and then turn off the heat. Reserve.

4. The peppers should be lukewarm. remove them from the bag and, under
cold water remove CAREFULLY the skin. We don’t want to tear the pepper’s flesh.

5. Once you have the peppers skinless, with a small knife open each pepper lengthwise. Carefully remove the seeds and reserve.

6. Now we are going to stuff the peppers. Take one cheese piece and place it inside the pepper. Add two full spoons  of beans and carefully close the pepper. Repeat for all peppers and reserve.

7. Take, one by one, the stuffed peppers and carefully place them inside the
tomato sauce we have prepared. Turn the heat to medium-low. Put the lid and let them warm up for another 20 minutes. 

8. Once the cheese has melted we know that our peppers are ready.

9. Usually what I do is serve one chile relleno with Mexican style rice and sauce and accompany the dish with warm and delicious corn tortillas.

10. Enjoy!









* If you want to use canned beans follow my recipe here
** Stewed Tomatoes and black beans recipe to come...