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.
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…
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.