We have been very silent since the middle of last week as we had lots of meetings in town last Thursday and Friday and we had a very successful wine course on Saturday. Sunday we totally collapsed from the back and forth driving between here and the center of Mexico City we had business. With a drive of between 2-3 hours each way we were exhausted from the ordeal. Sunday we totally collapsed and I prepared some hamburgers with some nice ground beef we had bought on the way back from the course Saturday night. It was as complicated as I could manage in the condition I was.
I like my hamburgers nice and juicy and well flavored. Depending of my mood I used different ingredients and on Sunday it was a combination of ground beef, rum, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, dried onions, some chipotle-based seasoning, and some sesame oil. The recipe is easy you first put the meat in a bowl, put the ingredients on top, and then with your hand you make a big mess like my Chinese cooking teacher used to say.
Once the mess is made I like to hand-form thick patties and it made a lot more than Normita and I could eat in one sitting. I individually wrapped the patties and froze them so that we can enjoy some nice burgers in the coming weeks with even less effort than I did Sunday.
I went outside to cook the hamburgers on the barbecue, and of course the barbecue was barely hot when it started raining. When I finished cooking them I ran inside and we had a great meal, but with all the excitement I only remember to take a picture of the final product when only crumbs remained. Too bad… It will be for next time…
Today when I went to prepare the meal I found some unexpected ingredients for the marinade in the back of the refrigerator. A while back Normita had bought a bottle of Torito and we only had a few little sips and it has sat unused in there. Torito is an alcoholic drink typical of Veracruz, a state in the east of the country on the Golf of Mexico coast. It is a cream of peanuts, and I quickly thought of doing something like a cross between Thai and Mexican food. Torito is very sweet so I needed to cut that to make it palatable with the fish. I also found some tamarind pulp and some fresh limes so I made a mixture of Torito with tamarind pulp and lime juice. It lacked salt and chile to balance the flavor so I added some soy sauce and some chile paste until I got a satisfactory mixture. I then put my 2 pieces of fish filet in the marinade and refrigerated for 15-20 minutes while I finished preparing the rest of the meal.
I had found some large potatoes while searching for ingredients for the marinade and decided to grill them with the fish. I sliced them, and then sprinkled some salt, pepper, oregano, and olive oil on them. I like to grill them on high heat until slightly burned. They get a great flavor like that.
We had some frozen vegetables as a second side dish, simply heated in the microwave with a bit of butter, salt, pepper, and herbes de provence on top. I grilled the fish directly on the barbecue with the potatoes and the meal turned out surprisingly tasty. I served a little bit of the reserved marinade on the fish as a light tangy sauce.
After I wrote the previous post about inspiration I hit the kitchen directly to prepare the tomato salad as I wanted it to cool down a bit once prepared and it could do so while I took my shower. I looked into the larder and found 4 small tomatoes that were good, a small bag of olives and I collected other assorted ingredients including some fresh basil from the plant growing wildly in Normita’s office. Starting with these ingredients I assembled the salad.
I have been doing those kinds of salads for over 25 years and I love the basic combination of tomatoes, basil, and olives. I normally prefer something like a Kalamata olives, but the only thing I found was a small bag of Spanish olive filled with peppers. They are overly salty so I rinsed them a few times in water to tame the saltiness. Assembling a salad like that is very easy, as you just make layers of ingredients starting with the thinly sliced tomatoes. Thus went it the tomatoes followed by cubed apples, sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, shredded Oaxaca cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, the fresh basil, ground coarse salt, a fresh grind of black pepper, some balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil.
You the build the salad layer by layer until you have no more tomatoes. The process is simple. The salad that it yields is very tasty and I like to return it to the refrigerator for a while so the flavors gets well blended and that it gets very cold. I like fresh tomatoes to be very cold. I remember in another life when I was young and handsome, that often during the hottest part of summer when I was working on afternoon shifts from 2pm to 7pm. Before I left for work I would prepare a similar salad to that one with Kalamata olives and feta cheese to keep with the Greek olives, and I would put it in the refrigerator and eat it when I returned home after work. By that time it was ice cold like I like it and the flavors were blended to perfection.
Once the salad was ready I put it in the refrigerator, did the dishes, and I then hit the showers. We sat down and relaxed a bit in front of an electric fan as it is still like a furnace in here. We had this cold refreshing and tasty salad and all of the problems of this stressful weeks we just went through just disappeared.
When we sat down to eat Normita reminded me that I had forgotten to put some walnuts in the salad, so I added a handful of them in each of our plates over the salad. It made a nice addition to the salad.
After lunch today, at the end of the afternoon and neighborhood friend came to visit us to chat a bit. In the past months we have been a bit reclusive as we are working all the time to prepare a lot of new project. It was nice for a change to sit down and relax and chat of other things. Luckily I had prepare two loaves of banana bread this morning as I had some leftover bananas and with the high heat we are experiencing they would not have lasted much longer.
Our neighbor’s husband came to join us a bit later and I prepare a pot of coffee and we enjoyed that with the bread while chatting. It was a relaxing late afternoon. early evening and changed our minds from our regular concerns.
It is now past 9pm here and it is still over 90F in the office. Outside it is around 70F, but even with wind no fresh air is entering. The chicken salad we hate earlier was just what was needed on such a hot day. It is a bit cooler in front of the house, but not by much. We enjoyed the nice light salad and even have a bit left for tomorrow. We will see what we will recycle then…
In our new found quest for everything leftovers I thought that we would have a leftover free day today as we bought a roasted chicken, but of course when we started to prepare the sandwiches we ended up as usual using a lot of odds and ends we found around the kitchen. First the bread, then Normita found some leftovers pickled chiles in the refrigerator and I found some pickled ergh… pickle slices… We also found an avocado and some cheese slices. so we had some nice sandwiches on small French rolls with cheese, roasted chicken, a touch of mayo, avocado, pickles for me, and chiles for Normita. They turned out great.
When we arrived home I noticed that the roasted chicken was “Ranchero” flavored. Since Ranchero roughly means farmer or ranch owner, I was hoping the the flavor was not sweat and dust, or worse sweat and manure… Luckily it was neither and it tasted to me like any supermarket roasted chicken I ever ate.
As mentioned multiple times we finally manage to have our nice steak as we both had the energy and the weather cooperated for a change and I could cook on the barbecue outside as the wind was only moderate. I quickly marinated some zucchinis cut in medium thick slices.
Prior to that I had prepared some nice baked potatoes and maintained them hot in a low oven while I prepare the rest. About 15 minutes before cooking, I took the steaks out and simply salted them and put some Montreal-style steak seasoning on them. Strangely enough I was raised in Montreal and when I was young you never saw that stuff in the supermarkets. Now I live in Mexico and you can see that stuff all over the place. Go figure… I prefer a simple dry seasoning to my steaks and never use things like oil either on the meat or on the grill. I cook the steaks at very high temperature with the barbecue lid closed, and that has worked for me for over 30 years, so I stick with what works.
I grilled the steak to around medium-cooked for Normita as she likes her meat dead, and to blue for me as I like my meat with a nice crust outside and with the inside at body temperature. If it does not go moo when I stick my fork in, it is perfect for me. We enjoyed the meat as it was extremely juicy and very tasty. Next time we go to town to do some shopping we will definitely buy another side of New York.
In our long quest to reuse all leftovers and not leave anything uneaten, this morning we prepared a nice breakfast make mostly with leftover ingredients from last week. We had 4 of those chalupas we used with the mole last week and a bit of refried beans and spicy tomato salsa that Normita made last week. We decided to use all of that to make a nice tasty breakfast. As with most of these things the effort is minimal and the result very rewarding.
We started with the chalupas that we fried on both sides in a pan with a few tablespoons of oil. Once nice and crisp we buttered them directly in the pan with the beans, then added a bit of salsa and some shredded bits of Oaxaca cheese. You keep cooking them until the cheese melts and you end up with a savory Mexican breakfast pizza. We enjoyed them with a nice strong cup of coffee and we shared a huge grapefruit afterward. Too bad they are all gone…
I started eating and found them so good that I rushed to the office to get the camera to record the event before they were all gone…
As mentioned earlier, last weekend was so hectic that I did not even had a chance to post the Daily Express. We were planning to relax and in the end we ended up rushing to the point that we forgot we even had to eat. It was late in the day Saturday when we realized that we were both extremely hungry and that we had not even thought about what to prepare. After a few minutes of quick thinking about what we had in the refrigerator, I decided to prepare a quick Capellini Alfredo. The very thin spaghetti like pasta in combination with an ersatz Americanized version of the original fettuccine with butter and cheese sauce was very satisfactory and very quick to prepare.
Since I had a few leftover hot dog buns form the day before I got an idea to make some garlic buns and to used the prepared garlic butter to make the Alfredo sauce. I made the garlic butter with a large clove of garlic and some fresh basil from the plant that is growing so nicely in Normita’s office. It was dying over the winter when it was in the living room, and since we moved it there has been thriving.
Starting with a basic garlic and basil butter I prepared the buns and then disinfected some romaine lettuce to make a nice fresh green salad. I boiled the capelettis and when ready, which only took a few minutes as they are so fine, I drained the pasta and in the same pot added the garlic butter, a bit of milk and heavy cream, salt, and pepper and brought that to a slow simmer. Once simmering I added some fresh Parmesan and when that was well melted and incorporated added the cooked pasta and tossed it in the butter and cheese sauce. We served it with a bit more Parmesan and a fresh grating of black pepper for toppings. It was just great and took almost no time at all to prepare.
In continuation of our stressful week today we had the leftovers from yesterday which were partly leftovers from some weeks back that we had frozen. As a first course we had the leftover chicken soup from yesterday that, as usual, was tastier on the second day. We did another quick Mexican dish with the leftover mole from yesterday which had the leftover shredded chicken cooked to make the soup yesterday.
That’s a lot of accumulated leftovers. We made some enchiladas that are essentially tortillas dipped in a chile sauce. You start with some nice corn tortillas, in our case we used some JalapeÃ±o tortillas we bought Tuesday. You normally fry them in oil, but we just cooked them on the comal until nice and crisp.
When the tortillas are nice and crisp, you just dip them in the chile sauce and fold them in half. In our case we dipped them in the mole and chicken from yesterday.
Once you have placed your folded tortillas on the plate you ladle more of your sauce over them.
Traditionally like yesterday’s chalupas the enchiladas are served topped with grated cheese, and like yesterday we did not have cheese so we used a dollop of heavy cream on them.
The meal was very tasty as usual and took a grand total of 10 to 15 minutes to prepare. Now we need to really think about what we will have tomorrow as we ran out of easily accessible leftovers and we will need to actually cook something.