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Posts Tagged ‘mexican’

Horchata

It has been a hot summer in Buffalo. One of the hottest that I personally can recall. We’ve been traveling a ton and trying to enjoy every last-minute of the heat and sun while we are in town. We don’t leave again for another month so we hope to get the bikes out a few times, head to the beach and maybe even squeeze in some hiking or camping or something. Now that we are working from home, we really want to take advantage of the summer months while we can and enjoy the beautiful weather, before the snow and cold set in.

One of my favorite things about the short-lived summertime in Buffalo, is playing around with refreshing drink recipes. Admittedly, I planted mint in my yard, just to make mojitos and this summer I even infused my own liquors after reading this article in Bon Appetit magazine. Now that I made my first two batches and they turned out great, I plan to write-up a post about them.  Don’t worry though, it isn’t just “adult beverages” I like to create, I love making fresh smoothies in the morning, iced teas, flavored sparkling waters and the like. Naturally, when I came across a post on David Lebovitz’s blog about making homemade horchata, I couldn’t wait to try it. There is nothing better than an ice-cold refreshing glass at an authentic mexican restaurant. OK, so maybe it is a close second to a good margarita, but it’s still incredible. It’s light, full of delicious flavors and it is perfect on ice on a hot summer day. There are few “authentic” Mexican restaurants here in Buffalo, (as far as I am concerned, none of them are authentic) and definitely no taquerias, so the chances of finding horchata here, are slim to none. I usually reserve my mexican indulgences for when we travel, rather than being let down, so when we aren’t traveling and I am craving Mexican, I tackle it myself at home. It isn’t nearly the same, but I still find it to be better than any of the Mexican restaurants here. I make my own tortillas, pico de gallo and guacamole, which is already a step above most places. We are actually having black bean tacos at home this week and I cannot wait.

When I saw how easy this horchata recipe was, I knew that this would be another Mexican treat worth trying at home. It is quite simple, you will spend more time waiting for the rice to soak then all of the prep time combined. You definitely want to make sure you strain in through cheese-cloth so you get all the rice bits, otherwise it will settle to the bottom of the pitcher in the fridge.

In addition to David’s recipe, I also checked out Rick Bayless’ recipe and many others. I came across many variations on the recipe, some include almonds, lime zest, etc. I decided to alter them all slightly and go with my own combination and I was very happy with the results. Oh and definitely try a glass with a shot of good rum stirred in, YUM!

Another fun twist you can take with the horchata is something that I have now learned is called a “Cochata”: Iced Coffee + Horchata. I made this apparently trendy drink in accidental desperation the morning after making the horchata. I wanted an iced coffee and realized after it was poured that we were out of any milk or cream, so I poured in a large glug of the horchata and was instantly in love. You have to try it.

On a side note, I apologize for the lack of posts and recipes on here, we just got home from nearly 2 weeks on the west coast. So I am hoping to get more recipes up here in the next few weeks as we are home for a month straight, finally. It has been a busy summer, full of travel and events, so I am excited to have some time at home.

Ground up rice and spices for horchata

Horchata
Makes 7 servings
Adapted from recipes from Rick Bayless and David Lebovitz

2/3 cup white rice
2 cinnamon sticks
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
3 2-inch strips of lime zest (colored rind only) 3/4 inch wide
3 cups of hot water
3/4 – 1 cup sugar
3 cups of cold water

Grind the rice in a blender or spice grinder into fine pieces. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and add in the cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and lime zest. Stir in 3 cups of hot tap water, cover and let stand at least 6 hours or preferably, overnight.

Remove the cinnamon sticks and pour the mixture into a blender and blend for 3 to 4 minutes, until it no longer feels very gritty. Add 2 cups of water, and then blend for a few seconds more. Set a large sieve over a mixing bowl and line with 3 layers of dampened cheese cloth. Pour in the mixture a little at time, gently stirring to help the liquid pass through. Squeeze the cheese cloth firmly to extract as much of the rice flavor as possible.

Add 1 cup of water and stir in your desired amount of sugar, mix until the sugar is dissolved. Taste, and adjust sweetness, if necessary. If the consistency is too thick, add additional water. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. Stir before pouring.  Serve over ice with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon on top.

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Camarones en Crema De Chipotle (Shrimp in Chipotle Cream Sauce)

As mentioned in my previous post, I fell in love with this dish while at Fonda San Miguel in Austin. It is a simple, but very delicious dish, full of smokey, spicy flavor. Though it is made with heavy cream, it is actually, surprisingly, very light. This is a very impressive dish that will ‘wow ‘your spouse or dinner guests and it can easily be made in about 15 minutes with little ingredients needed.

After savoring each and every bite while at Fonda San Miguel, I feel like I had a fairly good idea on how to recreate the dish, I am sure there are some variations that could be taken but I feel like I got the general concept. If I remember correctly, there wasn’t bell pepper in the original, but I thought the color and slight crunch would be a nice addition. Additionally, I suppose if you are worried about fat or calories, you could go with half and half or just use half milk and half heavy cream or something like sour cream, etc. I personally feel that as long as you aren’t consuming heavy cream multiple times throughout the week, one meal with a bit of it, isn’t bad for you and certainly won’t tip the scale. Everything in moderation. The original was also made with chives instead of scallions, but I had scallions on-hand from a stir-fry I made last week and I sometimes prefer that bigger burst of flavor.

I love the smokey heat from chipotles and a little really goes a long way. In this dish I don’t even add a whole chipotle pepper. I open the can and use approximately 1 tablespoon of just the adobo sauce, you’d be surprised how much kick just the sauce has, plus it always has bits of the pepper and little chunks of onion. If you like a bit less heat, start with 1/2 a tablespoon (or even less) and add from there. The creaminess is a really nice compliment to the heat from the chipotles.

This dish is a really great week-night dinner that feels so luxurious and special. If you have surprise or short-notice dinner guests, this dish will knock-their socks off both in flavor and in heat and they’ll think you slaved and planned over it for much longer than 15 minutes.

Camarones en Crema De Chipotle (Shrimp in Chipotle Cream Sauce)
serves 2
Inspired by Fonda San Miguel

1/2 lb (approximately 16-20) large peeled and deveined raw gulf shrimp (if you are unable to get gulf shrimp, go with whatever your preference, we had tiger shrimp)
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 organic bell pepper (red, orange or yellow), diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup organic heavy cream
1 tablespoon adobe sauce from canned chipotles (you can use more of less depending on how spicy you want it, I don’t even bother using any of the peppers, as the sauce gives a really nice smokey heat on its own)
1 small handful fresh cilantro, chopped roughly
2 scallions, thinly sliced
fresh lime juice

If your shrimp are/were frozen, be sure they are thoroughly thawed, pat shrimp dry with a paper towel. Place the shrimp on a single layer on a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat, add the garlic and bell pepper, stirring often until the peppers are soft and begin to brown a bit. Add the shrimp and watch it carefully, it will cook quickly. Cook 1 minute on the first side, flip over and cook another minute or so on the other side, until nearly fully cooked. Add the heavy cream and adobo sauce, whisk quickly to fully combine. Lower the heat to a low-medium , stirring the sauce often, it will begin to thicken. Cook only about 2-3 minutes until thick and warmed through. Be mindful not to cook much longer, you don’t want to overcook the shrimp or they will be rubbery. Turn off the heat and add in half of the cilantro and sliced scallions, stir to combine.

Serve over white rice and top with the remaining cilantro and scallions, give a squeeze of fresh lime juice over top, if you wish.

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Pickled Hot Peppers

It’s nearing the end of the gardening season and one of my favorite things to do this time of year, is grab the last of the peppers from their plants and make a few quick jars of pickled hot peppers. They are great on salads, in eggs, Mexican dishes, etc. This recipe is for simple refrigerator pickled peppers as opposed to a preserved, canned version that can be stored on the shelf for many months. Honestly, I prefer making them this way, since I never make a large amount of them and I hate all the work involved in canning. Besides, these don’t last long in our house anyway. Pickled peppers like this are good for quite a few weeks, under refrigeration. If you would like them to last longer, follow these canning instructions and guidelines.  Use can use this same brine mixture to pickle other vegetables like carrots, cauliflower, beets, fennel, green beans and so much more.

Pickled Hot Peppers
Adapted from David Lebovitz which was adapted from Michael Symon’s Live to Cook

1 pound fresh hot peppers, washed (I used a combination of banana, hungarian wax and jalapeño peppers)
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups white distilled vinegar
3 tablespoons raw cane sugar
3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons black peppercorns

1. You can leave the peppers whole if you’d like, just stab each pepper a few times, or you can slice them in rings, which I prefer. I just remove the tops and slice them into thin rings. I leave the seeds in, as both Mark and I love spicy. Place them in a large glass preserving jar or two smaller jars.

2. In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the other ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.

3. Remove from heat and pour the brine over the peppers. Place the lid on the jar and let cool. Once cool, refrigerate for at least a week before using, if possible. (You can use them sooner, but it is well worth the wait to let them sit)

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Mexican Frittata

Andrea and I decided on a whim to whip up this Mexican Frittata the last morning we were all together at the beach house and I have to say, I am super impressed with how it came out for completely winging it. I really love cooking for people, I could have stayed at the beach house another week and just continued to cook, enjoy that view and relax. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible, we leave again in a few days for Seattle, then Chicago. I guess we will have to just make this a yearly trip, then.

My measurements are not exact on some of this, we were trying to use up a lot of the food we had on hand from the week at the beach. I only used half of a green pepper and 11 eggs, because that’s what we had. You can definitely improvise with frittatas, use what you have on hand and get creative. There really are no wrong ingredients. Frittatas are a great way to make breakfast for a large group of people with very little effort. For us, it was a great way to put a lot of the fresh leftover ingredients to good use. I had some ground pork breakfast sausage from Sojourner Farms that I really wanted to make something with, so we came up with the idea to do a Mexican inspired frittata.

Later that same day, we took a trip out to Sojourner to pick up our chickens for the rest of the season, it was so awesome to be able to show our friends the farm where a lot of the food they ate over the week came from and introduce them to the man who grows it all. We even got to meet and pet a bunch of the pigs. Pierre took us around and we really got to spend some quality time on the land. I really cannot recommend enough that you find a pasture-raised farm close by you, that you truly love, that raises safe, healthy and natural animals. Sojourner Farms has pasture-raised chickens, pork, beef and eggs, he also raises bees and makes honey. We are so lucky that it is a short trip to get there and we are rewarded with supporting a sustainable farmer who raises his animals from birth to market and has a great love not only for his practice and the animals, but also for the land he raises them on. It is so important to see where your food comes from and how it is raised. Find a grass-fed farm near you using Eat Wild

Sam and Black at Sojourner Farms

This is Sam and Black from Sojourner Farms, they are huge lovable adults used for breeding.

Mexican Frittata
serves 8

3/4 lb ground breakfast sausage, I use pastured-raised, antibiotic and hormone free, pork breakfast sausage from Sojourner Farms
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 small yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons butter
12 fresh farm eggs, I use brown eggs from Painted Meadows Farms
1 cup mexican blend cheeses, grated (Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Colby, etc)
1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes
2 or 3 scallions, sliced thinly
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Heat large oven-safe non-stick skillet (or cast iron skillet) over medium heat until hot, add sausage and cook until browned. Remove the sausage from the pan and drain off most of the liquid, leave a bit and add olive oil. Once hot again, add garlic and shallot, cook and stir until tender. Add in green pepper, zucchini, squash and red pepper flakes, stir and sauté until tender, about 5-10 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid. Whisk eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the sausage and butter to the vegetable mixture in the skillet, allow the butter to melt. Add the beaten eggs to the skillet, fold gently to combine. Allow the eggs to begin to set. With a spatula, lift up an edge of the frittata and tilt the skillet to allow the uncooked mixture to flow to the bottom of the pan. Continue to lift until the egg on top is barely runny. Top the frittata with the halved cherry tomatoes, sprinkle with grated cheese and slide the skillet into the oven. Bake the frittata until it is firm to the touch, about 5-10 minutes. Slide the frittata out of the pan onto a serving platter, top with red pepper flakes, sliced scallions, chopped cilantro and a bit of kosher salt, cut into 8 wedges. We served a bit of salsa verde on the side.

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I am an avocado addict, I love them. They are great chopped up in salads, spread on toast, or just plain with some salt and a spoon. I wish I lived in a climate where I could have an avocado tree in my yard. This guacamole is my go to Summer time snack, especially with a side of freshly made pico de gallo. The avocados are looking great at the super market right now and they are a good price.

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Guacamole

3 ripe avocados
1/2 of a red onion, minced
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced (I use just 1 if it is a large clove)
1-2 jalapeños, stems, seeds and veins removed, diced finely
juice from 1-2 limes
2 green onions, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
kosher salt
pepper
*In the summer time when the tomatoes are perfect and ripe, I chop up the meat from one or two tomatoes (squeezing out the extra pulp and seeds) and include it. This is how I prefer my guacamole, but the tomatoes just aren’t there quite yet, so I left it out this time

Cut avocados in half. Remove the seed. Run your knife through the avocados and scoop out away the chunks from the peel, put in a mixing bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, and mash with a fork. Leave as chunky as you’d like. Taste, then season to taste with salt and pepper, add more lime juice if needed. Serve immediately fresh corn tortilla chips or raw veggies like carrots and celery.

This recipe can be changed around to your taste, if you don’t like spicy omit the jalapeños and go with just a green bell pepper. Sometimes if I have red bell peppers on hand, I will add those for the color.

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I find buying things just for the sake of a holiday to be silly, I don’t do it. I’d rather give something to someone I love because it reminds me of them, no matter what the day. Being that today was Mother’s Day, I decided that my gift to my mom would be to cook for her. We all get together at my parent’s house every Sunday and have a delicious dinner together, so I offered early in the week to be the one to do the cooking this week.

We were very lucky growing up, my parents always had a home cooked meal prepared for us for dinner every night, we would all sit down at the end of the day and have dinner together. Whether it was my mom cooking something in the crock pot or my dad concocting some random recipe, it was always there, it was always homemade and it always made with love.  I am realizing now as an adult what an amazing gift that was, and just how lucky we were. I know this is where my love to cook comes from and why I love that feeling you get when you are able to share something you’ve made from scratch with the people you love the most. This meal was even better than me just cooking it alone for everyone, because we made it together and hung out all afternoon in the kitchen. My dad helped grill the veggies, made his famous Spanish rice and some delicious margaritas to go with the meal. My mom cooked the corn tortillas as I was pressing them and she helped assemble the enchiladas.  My sister, Dana, hung out and kept us all company (I swear I will get you cooking Dana). My husband, Mark, and my nephew, Noah, watched movies, rough housed and played cars in the living room. A fun family day. Though we missed my sister, Vicky, her boyfriend, Nick, and my lovely niece, Teagan.

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There are a few different elements to this recipe and they will all be in this post. I will post a separate entry for my guacamole, which we enjoyed as a side.

I started preparing the meal the day prior by soaking the beans for the slow cooked black beans, which I wanted to have a ton of flavor since they would be the main element of the enchiladas. I also grabbed a plain rotisserie chicken at the grocery store this morning since I knew my dad wouldn’t go for an entirely vegetarian meal, being the typical “meat and potatoes” guy and my older sister, Dana, doesn’t like beans. There really are so many ways you can make these enchiladas, adding different vegetables like zucchini, spinach or mushrooms, and different proteins like tofu or various meats, you can even go just cheese. The sky is the limit. This was what I thought sounded the best, so this is what I went with. They really turned out great. The enchilada sauce had so much flavor, I can’t believe I ever bought canned enchilada sauce in the past, this was so easy. The beans had a delicious smokey, slow cooked flavor that you won’t find in any can of black beans on the shelf at the grocery store. Definitely worth the extra time.

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Slow cooked black beans
Adapted from Recipes for Health, New York Times, March 2009

1 pound dry organic black beans, washed and picked over
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3 whole chipotles, dried
kosher salt

Soak the beans in the water for at least six hours. Keep them in the refrigerator if you are soaking for a long time in hot weather.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot and add the onion, stirring until it begins to soften. Add two cloves of the minced garlic. Cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the beans and soaking water. Be sure the beans are covered by at least 1 inch of water, add more if necessary and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and skim off any foam that rises. Cover and simmer one hour.

Add the salt, remaining two cloves of minced garlic, cilantro and the whole chipotles. Continue to simmer another hour until the beans are soft and the broth is thick and fragrant. Taste. Add more salt to taste, add more garlic if it needs it. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator for the best flavor. Heat back up over medium heat before making the enchiladas.

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Enchilada Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 small jalapeno peppers, chopped
6 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
3 dried chipotles, whole
2 roasted red peppers, chopped
2 teaspoons salt

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan, add onion, garlic and jalapeno. Sauté, stirring until the vegetables begin to soften, about three minutes. Add tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, chipotles, roasted red peppers and salt, simmer on a low heat for at least 30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the tomatoes are very soft. Turn the heat off, remove the whole chipotles and add the sauce to a food processor, blend until smooth. Set aside.


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Black Bean Enchiladas
Serves 8-10

20 fresh homemade corn tortillas, prepared, cooked and ready to be eaten
(if you used store-bought corn tortillas, you will need to heat these up to make them less breakable)
slow cooked black beans, see recipe above (or if you must, canned black beans)
enchilada sauce, see recipe above
3 ears sweet corn, cooked thoroughly on the grill
2 bell peppers, roasted on the grill (red, orange, yellow or green), cut into strips
1 cup shredded queso blanco
1 cup shredded jack cheese
green onions
cilantro
sour cream
guacamole
shredded lettuce

Preheat your oven to 350° F

Prepare your corn tortillas, black beans and enchilada sauce ahead of time. Lightly coat the bottom of two 9″ x 13″ glass pans with the enchilada sauce, probably about 1/2 cup in each. Place a corn tortilla, flat in the palm of your hand (or on a flat surface) and put a spoonful of corn, black beans, a couple of peppers, and a sprinkling of each cheese in the tortilla, careful to not overfill it and to leave enough ingredients for the rest of the tortillas. Be sure to leave enough cheese to top the enchiladas as well. Carefully roll the tortilla up and place it with the open side down in the sauce lined pan. Repeat this with the rest. Because we made some with chicken and beans, some with just beans and some with just chicken, we marked them accordingly with toothpicks. You really can add anything to the filling of these, be creative. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and top with the remaining shredded queso blanco and jack cheese and chopped green onions and cilantro. Bake 25 – 30 minutes until the cheese is melted, browning and bubbling. Top with (or serve on the side) sour cream, lettuce, and/or guacamole or any other favorite garnishes.

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With love.

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There is nothing like a hearty weekend breakfast after a late night. After having two very late nights in a row prepping for and printing live at the Artists & Models Hallwalls fundraiser, I knew this was the perfect morning for hearty. This breakfast was more like a brunch since we slept in until almost 11am (which we never do), but I was craving a Mexican breakfast and that is what I made.

I would have preferred to have made my own ranchero sauce from scratch, but it just wasn’t happening this morning, so I went for the Sofrito sauce that I had in the pantry, I keep that on hand for Mexican rice and other things. You can also heat up any bottled or fresh salsa for the sauce, as well.

I made fresh corn tortillas yesterday morning and had some uncooked ones on hand and ready for this morning. I quick heated them up and kept them in the tortilla warmer while I prepped the beans, sauce and eggs.

Huevos Rancheros
Serves 2

4 corn tortillas

4 eggs
butter
1/2 can of refried beans (I like Eden Organic’s Low Sodium Spicy Refried Pinto Beans)
1 cup of Sofrito, salso or ranchero sauce. (I used Goya’s Sofrito)
salt
pepper
cilantro

Heat up the corn tortillas in a skillet over medium heat, keep in a tortilla warmer until ready to serve. Heat the refried beans and your sauce in the microwave or in small saucepans on the stove top. Melt a small amount of butter the skillet you used to heat the tortillas, over medium/high heat, crack your eggs into the pan. Salt and pepper the eggs and cook for 3-4 minutes until the white is solid, cook the yolk to your desired doneness. We like a bit of a runny yolk. Plate two tortillas per plate, put a thin layer of beans on the tortillas, place the eggs on top, spoon sauce over and top with cilantro.

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