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I am finally catching up with work enough to start posting regularly. It has been a hectic last week and to get back into the heart of things here is a nice recipe that I have adapted from one of Normita’s. It is simple to make and is a great addition to the holiday table. I noticed that when it is freshly baked it has a tendency to be a little dry, but if you wrap the cake in aluminum foil for 3-4 days it ripens to perfection. If you want an extra special version you could soak a piece of clean cheesecloth with a few tbs of Grand Marnier and wrap the cake first in the soaked cheesecloth before wrapping in foil. To bring this to the next level you could also inject a small quantity of Grand Marnier all over the cake with a basting syringe on a daily basis for 4-5 days before serving. This will yield a very flavorful alternative to fruit cakes that people will actually eat.

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sodium bicarbonate
2 tbs butter melted
1 egg, beaten
2 tbs finely chopped orange zest
2 tbs Grand Marnier or orange liqueur
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup chopped candied walnuts (nuez grapiñada)
1/2 cup golden raisins soaked in 3 tbs of dark rum

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Grease a bread pan (~9"X5"X3")
3. Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well with a large spoon
4. In a large measuring cup or bowl mix the melted butter, the egg, the orange zest and juice, and the Grand Marnier
5. Add the soaked raisins and the nuts to the dry ingredients and mix well with your spoon
6. Add the remainder of the rum from the raisins, if any, to the liquid ingredients
7. Add the liquid ingredient to the large bowl and slowly incorporate them well with your spoon, but do not mix to the point of a smooth batter
8. Pour the mix into your prepared bread pan
9. Cook in the middle of the oven for about 60 to 70 minutes when a toothpick inserted into the middle will come out dry and clean
10. Take out of the oven and let cool for 15 minutes
11. Demold and let the bread cool on a rack until it reaches room temperature
12. For best results, wrap the bread in aluminum foil and let ripen for 3-4 days at room temperature

Lucito

A few days ago I mentioned that one should never prepare a new recipe for a special occasion unless you have tried it before, or you have enough time to do something else or correct the recipe before the guests arrive. I had told you that I had written a new recipe for the occasion, but that I was planning to do the recipe a day ahead just in case, and also to save cooking time as tomorrow we will have company all day. Our Padrino, Kurtito, is coming to visit us from Austria and he will be arriving at the airport in some hours, so I wanted to get the bulk of the cooking out of the way today. I baked some orange bread, some Aztec chocolate puddings, made a salad dressing, and prepared the new lentil soup recipe. The soup has about 5 minutes of cooking left and it is stunning. We had a lot of fresh herbs and spices leftover from other cooking earlier in the week and I wanted to use them all, so the results are a very earthy pungent soup. The house smells wonderful and I just tasted a small bowl of it and I think that our guests will enjoy it a lot. I know I just did…

As usual I cannot leave alone a recipe as written. I wrote it 2 days ago and I have already made some changes as I was preparing it for the first time. The recipe bellow is the version that is now making me very hungry just by its smell. I hope that you will try it, and let me know if you like it. Now I have to go get ready for the trip to the airport in heavy traffic.

Ingredients

8 cups chicken stock (can be made with powder)
1 cup dried lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 medium leek finely chopped
2 carrots, diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbs chopped parsley
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp chopped basil
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tbs chopped fresh ginger
1 tbs curry powder
2 bay leaves
2 drops vanilla extract
6 ounces chorizo sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 ounces smoked bacon cut into small cubes
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
2 tbs cooking sherry
Brandy
Fresh limes
 
Preparation

1. Put olive oil and butter in a large soup pot. Heat over a high fire until butter is melted.
2. Sauté the leek, bacon, and chorizo until the leek takes on color. (~10 minutes)
3. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for a few minutes more.
4. Add the carrots, spices, and herbs and mix well with the ingredients already cooking.
5. Add the chicken stock and cooking sherry.
6. Stir in the lentils.
7. Bring to boil over high heat, and then simmer on medium/low fire for 45 minutes until the lentil are cooked stirring occasionally.
8. Put a tbs of brandy in the bowls in which you will serve the soup.
9. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lime on top.

Lucito

Hola amigos, this time I came out with a very Mexican recipe "Mole Poblano". Mole is one of the most important dishes in my country, you can find it prepared in many different ways depending on the region it is prepared. It is a type of aromatic sauce in which different foods are cooked and it can be red, black, green, etc. This particular Mole comes from Puebla. The city of Puebla is a beautiful colonial town located 132 km from Mexico City by the federal highways 150D and 190 in the State of Puebla, Mexico. If you want to know more about them, please follow these links:

Mexico City: http://www.tourbymexico.com/df/df.htm
State of Puebla: http://www.tourbymexico.com/puebla/puebla.htm
Town of Puebla: http://www.tourbymexico.com/puebla/puebla/puebla.htm
Puebla: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puebla
 
Here is the recipe:
 
Mole Poblano with turkey (optionally with chicken)
 
Ingredients

Mole
1/2 cup, plus 2 tbs of vegetable oil
1/2 pound of chili anchos deveined and seeded
2 pounds of chili pasilla deveined and seeded
3/4 pounds of chili mulatos deveined and seeded
5 chilies chipotle in adobo (or to taste)
1 1/2 pounds of tomatoes
1 medium onion finely diced
10 cloves of garlic
1/3 pound of peeled almonds
1/4 pound of peeled peanuts
8 cloves
1 tsp of black pepper
1 2" piece of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of anise seeds
1/4 pound of seedless raisins
1/5 pound of bitter cooking chocolate
1 tsp of sugar
2 tbs of salt, or to taste
½ cup of sesame seeds

Turkey
9 pound turkey cut in pieces
16 cups of water
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 of an onion peeled
1 tbs of salt

Preparation

1. In a large cast iron pot, put the turkey, the water, the garlic, the onion and the salt. Set fire to high.
2. When it starts to boil cover it and lower heat to medium and cooks for one hour or until the meat is well cooked.
3. Remove the meat from turkey and save the broth.
4. Put 2 tbs of oil in a pan, add the chilies anchos, pasillas, and mulatos and sauté them for a few minutes.
5. Put them in a pot with water and let them soak during 30 minutes.
6. Take out the chilies from the water and mix them in a blender. Reserve them.
7. Sauté the chilies chipotle and the tomatoes in the same pan.
8. Peel the tomatoes and mix them in a blender with the chipotle. Reserve them.
9. In the same oil where the chilies were fried, fry the diced onion and the garlic during 2 or 3 minutes, until they become transparent.
10. Take them out and mix them in the blender. Reserve them.
11. Fry the almonds during 5 minutes in the same oil, then add the peanuts, the cloves, the black pepper, the cinnamon and the anis seeds and fry them for 3 minutes more.
12. Mix these with the raisins in the blender and reserve them.
13. Heat the rest of the oil in your cast iron pot. Add all the reserved ingredients cook them during 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
14. Add the chocolate and the sugar without stopping the stirring.
15. When the mixture boils add 4 cups of the turkey broth.
16. Cover the pot and cook it on a low fire during 20 minutes.
17. Add the salt and taste the seasoning and adjust. If the Mole is very tick add more turkey broth.
18. Add the pieces of turkey, cover the pot, and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.
19. Meanwhile roast the sesame seeds in a small pan on medium heat until they are well toasted and acquire a golden color.
20. Once the turkey is heated through, serve it with a sprinkling the sesame seeds and a generous amount of Mole.
 
Enjoy it!
 
Normita

A week and a half ago we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. For the occasion I prepared a special meal and we decided to celebrate the occasion alone together and renew our vows in a nice ceremony we designed. Normita had told me that she wanted some cream soup to start the meal, so I designed a special recipe that we tried for the first time that afternoon. It was both stunning and filling. We each had a solid bowl of it and then we were so stuffed that we barely touched the main course. I would recommend that this soup be served in smaller portions than a lighter soup. It makes a great starter for a late autumn meal when you want to bundle up in front of the fireplace and relax.

Ingredients

4 tbs butter
1 tbs sunflower oil
1 1/2 cup salted cashews
1 large leek cleaned and chopped
2 cups chicken stock (can be made from powder)
1/4 cup sweet cooking sherry
1 cup milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 Oz brandy
Salt and Pepper to taste
Chopped chives for garnish

Preparation

1. Put butter and oil in a pot and melt
2. Add chopped leek and cashew and cook covered until the leek in nice and golden (~10 minutes)
3. Add 1 Oz of the brandy and carefully light to flambé
4. Once the flames die down add the chicken stock, the milk, and the cooking sherry and simmer for 20 minutes
5. Once the cashews are nice and tender purée the soup in a blender until very smooth
6. Strain the soup back into your cleaned pot and add the heavy cream and the rest of the brandy
7. Fold the cream in and add salt and pepper to taste
8. Simmer for a few minutes more
9. Serve with chopped chives as garnish on top of the soup

Lucito

This time I am going to share with you a nice recipe, this one is very popular at the Canadian Embassy in Mexico, somebody passed it to me but do not tell this to the creator of the recipe:

Ingredients
1/2 cup of cold water
1 1/2 envelope of gelatin
1 cup of chicken stock (can be made with powder)
1/2 cup of cream
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/4 pound of cream cheese
1 cup of chopped cilantro (coriander)
1 clove of garlic
1/2 of a large onion
1 1/2 chili jalapeños
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
1. Dissolve the gelatin in the cup of cold water.
2. Blend the rest of the ingredients in an electric blender or food processor.
3. Heat the gelatin and mix with the blended ingredients.
4. Pour In an antiadherent mold and let cool for one hour.
5. Refrigerate 3-4 hours or overnight.
6. Serve with crackers. 

Normita.

There are some recipes that are born from combinations of favorites with a twist. Some years back we used to make ‘Penne alla Vodka’ pretty regularly and liked the tangy burn that the vodka brought to a simple pasta dish. When we moved to Mexico, to work with local flavors, we tried it with some tequila with tasty results. More recently we were doing, once in a while, some pasta with spinach and blue cheese and one day I added some tequila to yield fantastic results. It is one of those dishes that can be made in less than half an hour for some very fancy results with minimal efforts. The perfect dish for a Friday night when you are not going out after work and want something to eat that is a little more upscale but without the fuss of preparation. To save you the effort of washing and removing the stems of the spinach, you can pick up a bag of washed baby spinach and cut the most time-consuming part of the recipe. Paired with a robust red like a Madiran to hold it’s own against the strong flavors it is a stunning meal that is both quick and easy to prepare. If you want to treat yourself warm us some nice thick-crust rustic bread and some nice butter mixed fresh basil and all of your worries will go away. The ultimate comfort food.

Ingredients

Pasta
1/2 pound dried pasta of your choice
3 quarts water
1 tbs coarse salt
1/2 pound spinach well washed, stemmed and chopped if large

Sauce
2 tbs butter
1/4 pound blue cheese
2 oz tequila
2 tbs pine nuts toasted and finely chopped
Salt and white pepper to taste
Freshly grated parmesan cheese for garnish

Preparation
1. In a large pot put water and salt and bring to boil at high eat.
2. When the water is boiling, reduce heat and put the pasta in it and cook according to the package until tender.
3. When the pasta is almost ready put the spinach in and blanch for 30 seconds until wilted.
4. Drain the water from the pot return it to the fire with the pasta leaving a few tablespoons of the cooking water.
5. Put the butter, the blue cheese, the pine nuts, and the tequila on the pasta and stir until melted and well incorporated.
6. Serve topped with a white pepper and some grated parmesan.

A few weeks ago we were exploring the surrounding areas of the new ‘Colonia’, or neighborhood, where we recently moved to and we found a ‘Mercado’ not too far from where we now live. Those ‘Mercados’ are the permanent versions of the street markets or ‘tianguis’ which are normally setup on fixed days on blocked sections of streets. Most ‘Colonias’ have them once of twice a week. They are great sources for fresh produce, chicken, meat, seafood, and everything else from clothing to pirated DVDs. On that day we found some very nice large shrimps with heads on (15-20 count to a pound) at a decent price and we picked up half a kilo for the main meal of the day, which here means the ‘Comida’ which is normally taken at 2-3pm. Since we had been shopping all day, when we returned home we were too exhausted to do anything too involved in the kitchen, so I decided to prepare the shrimps very simply. I decided to sauté them in a neutral oil with just a bit of ‘Chile Guajillo’ and chopped garlic. The ‘Guajillos’ are medium-sized dried red chilies with a very nice deep flavor and very mild in spiciness. They should be available in most Hispanic grocery stores. They give a nice red tinge to the food and a wonderful flavor. We paired the shrimps with a simple pilaf rice and we had the meal ready in about 30-40 minutes. The only bottle of wine we had was a crisp cheap sauvignon blanc from Chile and it proved to be a nice match to the wonderful dish.

Ingredients

3/4 pound large shrimps, shelled, deveined, and butterflied
2 ‘Chile Guajillos’ seeded cut into thin rings
2 small cloves of garlic chopped finely
1 tbs sunflower oil

Preparation

1. Remove the heads and shell the shrimps
2. Clean in a bowl of cold water and devein them, then deepen the incision to butterfly them
3. Pat dry on some paper towels
4. Heat a large frying pan or wok over high eat
5. Add the oil and quickly put the garlic and rings of chili
6. Stir 15 seconds and then add the shrimps
7. Let them sit for 30 seconds to take the eat then start stirring them with a wooden spatula more and more rapidly
8. Cook on both sides until tender and opaque, about 2-5 minutes total depending on the heat of you stove
9. Serve with the garlic and chilies rings on top

Finally I have managed to catch up with the world just in time for the weekend. Normita will be off on Monday so that it will be a nice long one for a change. I hope that we can manage to relax and enjoy life a bit. The following recipe is a very easy one to do, and it is one of our favorite to prepare when we are too lazy to seriously cook up a storm, but energetic enough not to be tempted to order out or walk to a restaurant for a bite. We normally prepare it with whatever fresh mushrooms we have in hand, or with a can of mushrooms if it is an emergency and we do not have anything else. The type of pasta to use is irrelevant and we have made it with about anything we have in the cupboard depending on what our mood was. Last Saturday we made it with tricolor eliches and three different types of mushrooms (button, cremini, and oyster) in equal quantities. It takes about half an hour to prepare, maybe a tad longer if your pasta is of a type that takes a while to cook. I normally prepare the sauce in the same pot I cooked the pasta, after I drained the pasta in a colander to save on washing dishes, but last weekend I wanted to try one of the new large pans, so I dirtied up the kitchen a bit more. We ended up enjoying the meal with a half decent bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Baja California, a local Mexican wine we found at the supermarket a few weeks back that was surprisingly decent for the price. If some of you are scared about the amount of chilies, do not worry, you do not have to eat them and we normally remove them before serving as well as the bay leaves. They are there just a few minutes to give some flavor to the sauce. Please try and enjoy this quick meal, and let us know if you liked it in the comments . Ingredients Pasta ½ pound dried pasta of your choice 3 quarts water 1 tbs coarse salt Sauce 1 tbs butter ½ tsp dried basil ½ tsp dried oregano ¼ tsp mustard powder 1 tsp brown sugar 2 cloves finely chopped garlic 5 thin red dried Italian chilies or chile de arbol 2 bay leaves 2 small or 1 large tomato roughly cubed ¾ pound roughly chopped fresh mushrooms 1 pound jar of Italian tomato sauce Salt and pepper to taste Freshly grated parmesan cheese for garnish Preparation 1. In a large pot put water and salt and bring to boil at high eat. 2. While the water is heating up chop the mushrooms roughly and reserve. 3. Place basil, oregano, mustard powder, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, and washed chilies in a small bowl. 4. When the water is boiling, reduce heat and put the pasta in it and cook according to the package until tender. 5. When the pasta is ready pour the entire pot in a large colander placed in the sink and return the pot to the fire. 6. Put the butter in the pot and when melted cook the mushrooms for 3-4 minutes until nice and juicy. 7. When the mushrooms are ready add the spices and tomatoes from the bowl and stir in thoroughly for a few minutes. 8.Add the jar of tomato sauce and bring to a simmer and when it is warmed through pour in the cooked pasta. 9. Gently fold the pasta until the sauce and mushrooms coats it well. 10. Serve after removing the chilies and bay leaves, and top with a grating of fresh pepper and some grated parmesan.

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