Photos – Fruits from the Orchard

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:

Here are the fruit 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.

Lucito

Photos – Omelette

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.

The diced salami and bacon and a bit of shredded Oaxaca cheese

I then diced a small zucchini, some mushrooms and a sweet red pepper.

The diced zucchini, mushrooms and 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 whipped eggs

The cooking then started buy sauteing bacon and salami until crisp.

The bacon and salami cooking

I then added the veggies and sauteed them until lightly cooked.

The veggies cooking with the bacon and salami

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 gratiné look.

The cooked omelette prior to plating

I split the omelette in half and plated it and we enjoyed a nice simple meal yet again…

The plated omelette ready to be eaten by us

Lucito

Photos – Pasta alla Carbonara

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.

Here is the bacon, salami, garlic, onions and asparagus cooking
The sauteed ingredients with the mushrooms added

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.

The dish almost ready prior to the addition of the eggs and cheeses

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.

The plated Pasta alla Carbonara with a generous grating of 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…

Lucito

Photos – Albondigas (Mexican Style Meatballs)

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 nice meatballs and Mexican rice we had today

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.

Lucito

How not to cook suadero

I finally managed to cook those pieces of suadero on the barbecue earlier today. My aim was to have something nice and very tender to eat, but it did not turn out as planned. The meat became very though and chewy from the dry cooking, even though it had marinated for 2 days. The main reason is that the meat has a membrane that just tenses up and that was too thick to crisp well. Also the texture of the meat once cooked was not as expected. It looked like something like arrachera, bavette, or flank which has long fibers, but it really does not. I should have inspected it better before marinating it, but since I was too tired at the time it is my lost.

The taste was fantastic as the cut of meat is very tasty and with the added flavoring of the marinate it tasted very good. The meal looked great, and the side dishes were perfect for it. If it was not for the chewiness of the meat it would have been a great meal. Here is a look at the plated dish.

The plated poor man arrachera

Looking back at it I should have slow cooked it over moist eat or cooked it until it was very crisp. The stringy texture would probably go either way. I will see what I can do if I buy some again. I was tempted by the cheap price, and I got what I paid for. A big contrast with the nice pork we bought cheaply at the same place as it turned out great.

Since my motto is to learn something new each day, then I will not go to bed stupid tonight as I learned how not too cook suadero! Like in science there are no bad experiments in cooking, just some that yield unexpected results. No I have to go take something for the heartburn…

Lucito

Daily Express – Poor man arrachera (suadero)

Today we will have some nice looking meat we bought yesterday morning and that has been marinating in the refrigerator since yesterday afternoon. I was looking for something tasty and cheap as I had a craving for arrachera, but they only had marinated stuff at a fairly high price for the area. Without knowing if their marinade was any good I did not want to take a chance. I found a package of something called “suadero” that looked somewhat similar to arrachera meat, but thinner and lighter in color. The meat looked very tasty and to close the deal it was very cheap.

I decided to marinate it overnight in a marinade I have been using for over 25 years. I think I saw something similar in Gourmet magazine back in those days, and it was used to marinate butterflied legs of lamb. This is one of my all time favorite recipe and I will post it in its entirety whenever I have a special occasion to thaw that nice leg of lamb I have in the freezer. I wanted to do it last weekend, but the people we wanted to invite could not make it. It’s our lost and their lost if they miss the occasion we finely prepare it.

Going back the the meat, I researched on the internet and there are not real consensus on what really suadero is in Mexican cuisine. It is described as a thin juicy cut of meat from the breast of the cow, and depending of what you read it can also be from everywhere else including pigs. I need to ask the butcher next time where is suadero came from. The texture is somewhat similar to arrachera but thinner, and to me it looks like the thin muscle covering over the cow’s ribs as there are similar thin muscles on both pork and lamb ribs. I will stick to that definition until I am proven wrong…

The way I marinated it is very very tasty and it normally tenderizes the meat to the consistency of butter. Let’s see if it works as planned on that meat… You start with some onions, jalapeños, fresh ginger, and garlic cloves.

The basic ingredients of the marinade (onions, ginger, garlic, jalapeños)

You roughly chop those and place them in a blender and add some olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, salt and pepper. You liquefy the whole mess and marinate the meat overnight or better yet a few days in the refrigerator.

the first piece of suadero in the marinade waiting to be covered by the second one
Both pieces of suadero marinating and getting more tender by the second (we hope)

Later this afternoon, about an hour before we are ready to eat, I will take the meat out of the refrigerator. I will grill the meat on the gas barbecue and baste it slowly will all the marinade. I will also prepare some oven roasted baby potatoes with herbs and olive oil, and grilled some marinated fresh asparagus that for some strange reason have been on sale for about 4 times less than the normal price at the local Walmart. I guess that I am the only one in the area that buys them and they dropped the price dramatically. Their loss and my gain…

I will take some pictures when we actually prepare the meal, and I will post the results later today or tomorrow… Wish us luck…

BTW, the banana bread from yesterday we had for breakfast this morning turned out to be heavenly!!!

Lucito

Recipe – Lucito’s banana bread

A bit after the holiday season this year Normita was in the mood for something different for breakfast one weekend. We used to occasionally buy some bran muffins at the local supermarket when we were grocery shopping to eat for breakfast when we returned home. As everything happening in Mexico in the past few year, things are going down dramatically in quality and prices are increasing just as dramatically. I’ve noticed in the past few months at our local Walmart that baked goods have gone up as much as 50% and the size of the items has been reduced by about one third. Quality is also a lot worse than before.

Due to all of the above we stopped buying most baked goods there, but the craving for something nice remained. Ages ago I used to bake a tropical banana bread with lots of rum inside that the girls at my dental clinic at the time used to enjoy a lot. The recipe is probably in storage up in Canada with most of our things, so that weekend I decided to improvise something. Since baking at very high altitude like where we live (close to 9000 feet) things can be a bit tricky at first, so by trial over the next few weeks I adjusted the recipe until it yields great results all the time. For those who live at saner altitudes adjust the recipe accordingly by adding a bit more baking powder and sugar, and reducing the liquids.

It is something very easy to make and I normally prepare a batch when I get up early in the morning and then bake it slowly. Since we normally have breakfast late around 10am or so, we have some nice warm bread just out of the oven at that time. I had been planning to bake one for the last 3-4 days, but each day we were doing something in the morning that prevented me to do so. Tomorrow morning is our normal house chores morning so I decided to bake one this afternoon while I was in the kitchen preparing other things so that tomorrow and most of the rest of the week we will have some nice banana bread for breakfast.

It is a very easy recipe to make. You start by mixing the dry ingredient together in a big bowl with a spoon.

The dry ingredients all mixed up

You then prepare the wet ingredients in another bowl and mix them well with a spoon.

The wet ingredients well mixed

You then pour the wet ingredients in the dry ingredient and mix well with a spatula and when everything is well incorporated you fold in the garnish.

The ingredients well mixed
The garnishes, in this case raisins and wallnuts, are folded in

That’s it! You then butter a bread mold, pour in the batter and bake in the oven. It is THAT easy!

A well buttered bread mold
The batter poured in the bread mold
The bread baking in the oven

The resulting bread is nice moist and heavy and the richness of the ingredient and the bite of the various alcohol makes it most importantly very tasty. It is a great way to start a day first with a nice fresh grapefruit which are in season and very cheap here these days, followed by a nice piece of moist banana bread with a great cup of very strong coffee. I am drooling just thinking about tomorrow morning’s breakfast.

A nice loaf of banana bread just out of the oven!

Recipe

Dry Ingredients

1 cup flour
1 cup lightly crushed Bran Flakes type cereals
1 cup oat bran
1/3 cup sugar substitute (low calorie fruit sugar)
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground dry ginger
3 tbs caramelized sesame seeds

Wet Ingredients

2 mashed bananas
1/2 cup milk
2 tbs margarine
3 beaten eggs
2 tbs honey
1 tbs vanilla
2 tbs orange liqueur
4 tbs rum
2 tbs coffee liqueur

Garnishes

2 handfuls raisins
2-3 handfuls had crushed walnuts

Preparation

1. Mix the dry ingredients together with a spoon in a large bowl
2. Combine wet ingredients and mix them well in another bowl
3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix with a large spatula
4. Add nuts and raising and fold them in with the spatula
5. Pour in a buttered loaf pan
6. Bake at 350F for 1 hour 15 minute to 1 hour 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry

Lucito

Photos – Pork curry

I did not post the pictures yesterday because I could not get the digital camera to connect to the graphics computer last night and I was too lazy to even simply reboot the system to see if it would help, let alone actually diagnose the problem. Everything is fine today so I assume that it was just a transient glitch, though the camera is starting to show its age and is starting to act strange at time.

Yesterday’s curry turned out even better than I had thought and the meat was extremely tender and juicy. I had asked Normita how she wanted the curry and she had requested on the medium side, and it turned out that I aimed for that, but ended up more on the medium-hot side. Actually before I knew Normita, and then moved to Mexico I probably would have said it was extremely hot and probably inedible to me at the time, but now my taste has changed and I got accustomed to eat chiles and it was perfect for my taste and Normita devoured her plate so I guess it was good for her too.

I started with part of that nice piece of pork thigh we bought last week. Before freezing it I had cut it in 3 and froze each piece individually. Here is one of those pieces.

A nice juicy piece of pork thigh

I cut it in small cubes so it can cook a tad quicker as it was getting late and then I floured the pieces in a mixture of flour, garlic salt, onion powder, cumin and curcuma.

Cubed pork thigh
Floured pork cubes

I then quickly chopped a piece of leftover onion, some garlic cloves, and ginger. I sauteed the onion in plenty of olive oil and then added the garlic and ginger. Once the onions had taken a bit of color I added the floured pork cubes and browned them.

Some onion, ginger, and garlic
The pork cubes browning with the onions, garlic, and ginger

Once the pork was well browned I added a few cups of beef stock, so salt, pepper, cumin, curcuma, lots of curry powder, and some chili paste. I stirred everything together and let it simmer for about 30 minutes while I prepared some simple steamed rice.

Simmering pork curry

I very simply plated the dish with some rice at the bottom and a nice portion of curry on top. It was simply heavenly!

Plated pork curry on steamed rice

Lucito

Photos – Normita’s chicken soup and taquitos dorados de pollo

We just finished eating a short time ago and the meal was both very satisfying and very tasty. Normita’s chicken soup had its normal effect of settling our stomachs and relaxing us. Something very needed this week. It is so effective it should be sold in every pharmacy…

Normita's World Famous Chicken Soup - A cure for all ailments

The tacos and accompanying sauce were also very satisfying and we both left the table well fed and in a better mood. What more do you want from a good meal? Now it’s back to work and we both hope to be very productive tonight!

The corn tortillas pre-heating on the comal
Normita preparing the chicken tacos
The tacos cooking on the comal
The plated tacos, one with a bit of homemade salsa and heavy cream inside

Lucito

Daily Express – Dorado breaded in Corn Flakes

Today’s day is only marginally going better than yesterday’s, but I prepared a decent meal anyways. I was not sure what the fish I thawed yesterday was, as I have the bad habit of putting stuff in zipper bags and then freezing them and trying to rely on my memory to know what it is. It does not work and I really need to make an effort to start systematically labeling things with content and freeze date as opposed to only occasionally do it.

It turned out to be one of the last pieces of local “dorado” (mahi-mahi) from the over 1 meter fish we bought some months ago. At the same time we also bought a few large “huachinango” (red snapper). We are now down to our last few packs, so we need to plan another trip to the central fish market. The two pieces in the pack were from the tail tip of the filet and not well cut to cook as a whole.

Yesterday I had though of baking them in a tomato sauce, but today I was pressed for time and I wanted something quicker to prepare and something that gives a satisfying crunch when eating, as everybody knows that crunchy food is fun food. I decided to cut the pieces in small chunks, then bread them quickly with some savory breading.

I prepared a quick bound breading with first some flour mixed with garlic salt, herbes de Provence, citric chile powder and white pepper to lightly flour the pieces. I them passed them through a wash with eggs mixed with a bit of sesame oil, salsa “Maggi”, and heavy cream. Then I completed the bound breading with some hand-crushed Corn Flakes.

Dorado breaded in Corn Flakes

I pan-fried the fish in a few tablespoons of soy oil and it yielded incredibly crunchy pieces of fish with a moist juicy interior. I served it with the leftover sweet potato purée from 2 days ago. It turned out to be an very quick and easy meal to prepare that was very satisfying and very tasty.

The plated Dorado ready to serve

Lucito