We had bought a nice big chicken breast yesterday and decided at the last minute not to prepare it and use it today. Normita prepared her famous chicken noodle soup again and she cooked the chicken in it. We had that as a first course. We had some mole almendrado we had used a while back and that we had frozen the leftovers. We normally buy fresh mole paste at the market and we use it in a variety of way. Normita added the freshly cooked chicken after finely shredding it with her fingers and reheated it in the mole.
We had also bought some “chalupas” literally some “rowboats” yesterday. Chalupas are made with the same dough as corn tortillas and are shaped like little rowboats thus the name. They are about as thick as 3 tortillas and are normally handmade with a little rim. The ones we bought looked machine made evenly cut from a thick sheet of dough, instead of hand-formed. They are easy to prepare, you put a few tablespoons of oil in a hot pan, or a comal and fry the chalupas in the oil until golden and crisp. You place the fried chalupa after draining the oil on a paper towel on your plate and butter them with a nice layer of refried beans. You then add to it some of the mole with chicken, and you traditionally top them with some grated cheese. Since we did not have any cheese to grate, we topped them with a dollop of heavy cream.
They turned out to be very satisfying and like many traditional Mexican dishes that you eat with your hands they were also very messy to eat, but that is part of the fun of good Mexican food.
As mentioned earlier, today we had some simple ham and cheese sandwich. To make them tasty we added to the basic ham and cheese some fresh avocados, salt, pepper, and some great cooked chipotles from Veracruz that my mother in law had prepared and sent to us today via Normita’s sister. My mother in law Juanita is in town here, but the chipotles she uses are from Veracruz. They somewhat different than the chipotles normally available around here and have a more smoky flavor. Juanita cooks them with piloncillo (raw cane sugar cones) and some carrots and the results are very tasty. We have over a pound of them so we will use them a lot in the coming weeks. They make a great addition to many dishes and we used some pieces to spice up our sandwiches and some of the tasty cooking juices as a dressing.
The meal turned out great with the leftover salad and couscous from yesterday. The French roll we bought at a new supermarket we went this morning was surprisingly crusty and tasty. We will go back there next week as it was much better stocked than the local Wal-Mart and I even found the black peppercorns I had been looking for ages and some coriander seeds…
As mentioned earlier I cooked some very simply prepared thinly cut pork chops today. Here are some photos of the results.
You might have noticed in the past few weeks that I am posting a lot of quick recipes and dishes made with frozen ingredients and dried condiments. The reason is twofold.
First we are actively looking for a place to move where we could give all of our courses in-house instead of renting space for each course or series of course. So we are trying to go through our supplies and frozen reserves to make the move easier on us. To achieve this we are buying a lot less and using what we already have in stock.
Second, in the area where we are currently living the availability of many ingredients we consider staples that we normally count on having in every grocery stores and on a regular basis are no longer available. Due to the very hard economic downturn of the past 18 months here in Mexico, and the high devaluation of the peso, the major grocery stores in our area are not stocking things that are not sold on a regular basis. Since the area is one of lower socioeconomical status this means what is not part of the daily diet is difficult to get. Case in point I have been trying to find for the past month some simple black peppercorns as I ran out, and they are not on the shelf anymore. I will have to make a list of basic things we cannot get anymore in the area, and the next time we go in town proper I will go shop for them. It is a real pain…
Getting back to the task at hand, I was not sure today what I would be serving with the thawed pork chops. I did not want to spend much time in the kitchen so I made one of my favorites, a simple couscous that takes about 10 minutes to prepare. I used some of last reserves of precooked couscous, which reminds me I should be adding that also to the list of things we will need to buy when we next go to town.
Couscous is one of those things that makes a very satisfactory and very tasty side dish. It can be prepared in about 10 minutes if you use the precooked type and I plain love it. There are essentially 3 steps in preparing it. First, you boil some water and flavoring.
Second, when it starts boiling you just shut the burner and mix in the couscous.
Third, you put the lid on the pot and wait 5 minutes for the couscous to absorb the water. You then add some butter and mix it in and server. It cannot be simpler.
I had a craving for nuts today, so I prepare a walnut couscous that was simply stunning. Here is the recipe:
1 cup water
1 tsp herbes de Provence
1 tbs dried onions
1 tsp dried garlic
1 tbs hazelnut oil
1 tbs chicken broth powder
1 cup precooked couscous
1 handful of hand-crushed walnuts
1 tbs butter or margarine
1. Put the water, oil, onions, garlic, chicken broth powder and herbes de Provence in a small pot.
2. Bring the water to boil over high eat.
3. When it starts boiling shut the burner.
4. Add the couscous and nuts and stir them in.
5. Put the lid on the pot and let rest for 5 minutes until the water is all absorbed.
6. Add the butter and mix in, then serve.
The pasta I finally chose for today’s meal was spaghetti rigati. I cooked it to a perfect al dente, and with the heated sauce the meal turned out very good yet again. We relaxed a bit during the meal while watching a bit of TV, and now we are back at work for a few hours.
The meal turned out exactly as I wanted. Very easy to prepare, as the sauce was from my private frozen stash, and also very tasty as the sauce was perfect as usual and the pasta was cooked like we like it. A great meal to end a great weekend.
Before lunch today we enjoyed a nice relaxing drink. It was a takeoff on a regular screwdriver, normally simply vodka and orange juice. The temperature was very hot in the house and I did not feel like having something too sweet like a huge glass of fresh fruit juice. I decided to first prepare “agua de frutas” a typical Mexican drink that literally translates to “fruit water”. It is normally made with many different types of fruits namely pineapple or guayaba or orange or lime or even hibiscus flowers (jamaica). The fruits are normally juices or “blenderized”, and a large jar is filled about one third full with the juice. A bit of sugar is added for flavor and to cut the acidity or tartness depending on the fruit and water is added to fill the jar. This makes a light refreshing water that is drunk with the meal.
I did press some of the citrus fruits I collected this morning from our trees and then added a bit of fructose and filled the jar with water. To make the drink I put ice cubes in a tall glass, a healthy shot of vodka, and filled the glass with the citrus fruit water. It make a nice tart refreshing drink that helped us cool down. I am glad that the fruit bowl is still mostly full and that the trees outside are loaded with a lot more fruits. I think that since the hot season is starting we will enjoy this nice refreshing drink regularly.
We spent the morning outside today as we normally do. Every morning starts with me sweeping the front of the house to remove the accumulated dirt and leaves, and Normita waters all the plants and trees around the house.
When we moved here about 3 years ago the place had not been maintained in ages and the trees were not producing any fruits. We planted a lot of flowers in large pots in front of the house and created a flower garden the first year we lived here, but it took some time for the trees to start producing as the area is very dry and the trees were planted here with no regard to if they can thrive or not. Last year we had a great crop and we were mostly self-sufficient in fruits from June to December. This year the trees are loaded and we are already eating fresh fruits and we should be good until the end of the year if things goes well. It is a lot of hard work as the area is mostly desert and we only have water from the street for a few hours each morning. We need to do all the garden work early when there is still water. We have big water tanks for the house, but we do not want to use that for garden work. Whenever we have our own place I want to plant a big vegetable and herb garden for the kitchen, lots of fruit trees, and also some vines so that I can start making my own wines again with my own grapes… one day…
While we were working around the house I collected a bunch of citrus fruits and some of the first peaches of the season. Here they are in the sink waiting to be washed:
We had the peaches for breakfast with the last of the grapefruits we have bought last week, but they were still a bit acid so we will wait a few more days or weeks for them to mature. The trees are loaded with them and it will be a great crop this year. The boyz will be happy as they normally eat everything that falls off the trees. I saw Bacchus looking up at the peach tree near the kitchen door this morning as it he was trying to hypnotize the tree to drop a few peaches for him. I think it worked as later I heard him munching on some stones from the peaches. The peaches only last a quick bite with him as he just crushes everything including the stone in one fell swoop.
With the citrus that includes some mandarins, some sour oranges, some limes, and some “limas” (a round sweet yellow citrus from Yucatan that seems to be a cross between a lime and some sweet citrus). With them we will shortly make a nice tropical fruit punch to relax after a long day of work. I will let you know later how it turns up.
I ended up finding a lot of things to put in the omelette and it turned out great. Since the mishap with the suadero earlier this week, thinks have improved dramatically and every meal was simple and just perfect. I hope that the trends continue…
I started by dicing the bacon and salami like yesterday and shredded a bit of Oaxaca cheese.
I then diced a small zucchini, some mushrooms and a sweet red pepper.
Then it was time for 4 eggs some dried onions and oregano, a splash of sesame oil, a tablespoon of heavy cream, and some salt and pepper. I whipped them until light and fluffy.
The cooking then started buy sauteing bacon and salami until crisp.
I then added the veggies and sauteed them until lightly cooked.
Then it was time for the eggs and then the Oaxaca cheese. I cooked the eggs until they were set and had a nice brown crust on the underside. As the pan was smaller and the omelette was thick, at that time the top was still not totally set. Like I normally do in those occasions, I used my trusty kitchen torch and set the top of the omelette with it and gave it a nice gratinÃ© look.
I split the omelette in half and plated it and we enjoyed a nice simple meal yet again…
As mentioned earlier this afternoon I was planning to make some form of carbonara, but I was not sure exactly what and how I would make it. Finally it turned out more traditional than I thought, but with a twist. I did find a bit of Parmesan in the back of the refrigerator and with that and most leftover ingredients I also found I made a nice pasta that turned out stunning. We like it so much that we had some seconds, and the boyz will enjoy the leftovers tonight with their meals.
The process, like most of what I cook during the week, was simple and fast. While the pasta was cooking, some miniature tortiglionis, I simply sauteed some diced thick bacon and salami until golden. I added some finely diced garlic and onions with some fresh asparagus and mushrooms with a splash of olive oil.
I drained the pasta once it was cooked and then added it to the rest of the ingredients. I tossed it around still on high heat then took it of the burner.
I then mixed 2 eggs with the leftover Parmesan and mozzarella I found and poured the mixture in the pasta and rapidly blended it well so it did not turn into an omelet. I served it topped with a bit more Parmesan and a generous grating of fresh black pepper.
We were very happy with the results which turned out great and light enough to be enjoyed on a hot day like today. Now I have to plan something to do tomorrow with that other leftover piece of bacon and the little bit of salami left…
Like I mentioned earlier today, we have had those yummy meatballs that Normita made yesterday, again today. They were even better today as the sauce was much thicker and tasty. Like many types of dishes, this gets better with a day or two of age. Here is a quick picture I took…
The only problem I have is now I have to start thinking about what we will eat tomorrow. It never stops and I am sure I will think of something in time especially when the hunger starts in the evening.