Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Huitlacoche pick of the season, NOW!

The last couple of days during my wanderings at the mercado, I have seen the most abundant crop of Huitlacoche that I have ever seen in my years of bumbling around the mercado.

Last year I took some guests to peruse the market and there was only a few ears displayed by the Indian ladies.

Today I would guess that about 75 % of the private vendors had great assortments of the fungus.

When people look at it, the first reaction is eeeechh.

Funny they don't do that when looking at a Portabello or Oyster Mushrooms, so why the disdain?
Well maybe because they haven't tasted it.

What I usually do is make a sauce or dish with the FUNGUS and not tell them what it looks like, only after I will bring out a ear with it on.

Varied response.

Don't do that unless you know the people real well or are willing to loose a friend or two.

I usually will ask beforehand if the people that are going to feast on this delight, enjoy truffles.
If they say yes, then it's a no brainer. If they say no, then I ask them if they like mushrooms.

So far, I have only had one meltdown. Same person didn't like Stake Tartare, and Escargots.......

This is a easy recipe for a great filling. I usually will make it as an appetizer and make a nice corn or cream sauce depending on what flavors I want to feature.

To make the filling.
Add 3 or 4 tablespoons olive oil to a medium size skillet over medium heat.
Toss in the onions and sweat until translucent. Add the garlic.
Add the chopped huitlacoche, combine and add the crema or ricotta cheese.
Let simmer for about 5 minutes season with salt and pepper.
Set aside.

Stuff you will need.

3 -4 TBS olive oil
1/2 cup chopped white onion
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced.
1 1/2 cup of chopped Huitlacoche.
(canned is available if need be)
2 TBS finely chopped epazote, (leaves only)
pinch of thyme
1/4 to 1/3 cup of Mexican Crema

For the Crepes

4 eggs
3 cups milk
420 grams of flour
1 small stick of butter
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon honey

Combine the above ingredients, (reserve 1/3 of the butter for the skillet) in a blender and whirl away for about 1 minute. Let rest for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile back at the stove, get your best non stick 10 inch skillet
Take a small ladle full and spead on the hot skillet, turn the skillet so that the batter evenly coats, Put back on burner and wait about a minute or until the edges start crisping up or browning.
With a silicon spatula, or if you are a seasoned cook, you fingers, you quicly flip it and let it finish cooking on the other side, usually about 45 seconds.
Hold the crepes in a warm oven until all are done,
When ready fill with the filling, top with sauce and enjoy!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pavo Con Pulque

My first experience with Pulque was about 10 years ago, driving between Guadalajara and Morelia. At one of the Autopista toll stations we would get inundated with several roadside vendors running along side the car with some kind of wicker bottle of "stuff".
One time we pulled over to use the restroom or to take the dogs for a walk and this guy came over to sell me some Pulque.

What the hell is Pulque?

It is an juice from the Maguey plant that is combine with some fruits and left to ferment. It has a very noticeable pungent ( nice word for it ) odor or smell......

Depending on which fruit is used, commonly pineapple, strawberries and prickly pears are used with the slimy sap from the plant, then left to ferment and sugars are added and your have

Cooking with Pulque is more like marinading with a wine or combine sauce where you use an alcohol liquor.

There are lot of stuff that you can cook with, this recipe uses Duck, but you could substitute the old other plain bird the chicken, for Pulque con Pollo.

The trick to this dish is the sauce, so the duck has the delicate taste and texture, but the sauce give it the extra flavor and is a little time consuming but worth the effort!

The Pulque adds a distinct and delicate nuance to the dish. Try it you may like it!

Pulque is a concoction that goes back to pre Columbian times and can be compared to moonshine or other home made booze.

To start:
Take the whole duck and place breast down in a baking dish. Season with Salt and Pepper, cover with pork lard, garlic and onions, the bay leaves and some of the thyme. Add water to cover the duck and put into a 350 F oven and cover with foil.

After about one hour, remove the foil and turn the duck over so that the other side gets exposed.
Cover with foil and return to the oven for one more hour. During the last 15 minutes remove the foil.

After 2 hours, remove and let cool, discard the water and fat, I usually will put it in another pot and stick it in the refrigerator so it solidifies, which make the disposal easier.

Carefully remove the bones with leaving the meat intact. Set aside.

Now make a Roux. Melt the butter in a 4 qt saucepan, and flour and stir incorporating the flour, on medium heat, be sure and keep stirring so the flour will not burn, when a light brown add some caldo de pollo about one teaspoon, incorporate and set aside.
To assemble the sauce

Take half of the duck bones and cover with water, bring to a boil in a sauce pan. Add the celery and carrot along with the onions, cook for about 30 minutes on medium. This will make a nice broth.

Take the remaining bones, vegetables and the cut tomato and place into a regular pan, do not use a non stick pan since the items will not caramelize properly. Place into a hot oven, until well browned but not burned 450-500 degrees.The will stick to the pan and form a fond. Remove from the oven, put on medium flame, add the Pulque and scrape the bits from the pan and squeeze the vegetables, to emit their juices. Reduce by half.

Add the broth and strain. Then add the liquid to the roux, to combine. Heat, season to taste, and cover the duck on individual servings with the sauce.

You can serve this with white rice, so that it will absorb the sauce.

Stuff you will need:

One large or two small ducks
1/2 lb lard
one onion cut into 8 pieces
1 head of garlic cut into half.
4 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme

For the Roux
1 1/2 oz butter
1 1/2 oz flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chicken dry caldo

For the sauce
1/2 leek in pieces, washed and cleaned
2 stalk of celery chopped
1 carrot diced
1 large onion chopped
1 large tomato chopped

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Quick and easy Talapia with tomatoes

We have a few "fresh" seafood places in Patzcuaro, one is on the Periferico and it sells both fresh and frozen shrimp and fish. They also have frozen Talapia which is a pretty common cheap fish in Mexico.
This recipe uses everything that is easy found locally and pretty much everywhere.

To start,
Add olive oil to a pan , heat to medium heat, and toss in the onions and fennel, stir on heat for about 6 or 7 minutes until the onions are translucent.
Stir in tomatoes, garbanzos, grated lemon, olives, cumin,turmeric, paprika, salt and pepper.
Bring to a simmer, lay the talapia fillets over the vegetables, cover and let cook for about 10 minutes, half way through carefully turn the fish over once.
I usually make a couscous or pasta like orzo to use with this dish. You could even use rice.

Stuff you will need:

1TBS Olive Oil
1/2 of a medium white onions chopped fine.
1 head fennel, without stalks. sliced thin.
1 14 oz of stewed tomatoes
1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, or you could use fresh
1 1/2 Tbs freshly ground lemon zest.
1/2 cup pitted black olives, chopped.
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumino
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, if using regular table salt, reduce by 40%
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 tbs fresh chopped parsley (Italian preferable)
Couscous, Orzo or Rice.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Beef Tongue or Easy Lengua

When you first mention beef tongue, lots of people's response is oooooh yuk!

It is probably safe to say that those people have never had a really good taco made from lengua!

Why is it so disgusting for so many people?
The taste that it has, is really good. Besides being my favorite taco choice, I will make it about 5 or 6 times a year to use for tacos or thinly sliced on a nice bagel or bun, some slivered red onion a little mayo, yuuum!

Here is a simple way to make it!

Buy a nice sized tongue that will fit into your pot.

Make a brine of Kosher salt and water. 1 CUP Kosher salt to 2 quarts of water. Soak for about 3 hours. Drain and remove, meanwhile,

Bring your pot to a low boil, add the onion, garlic and salt and spices.

Place the tongue in the water, and return to a low boil. During the next 2 hours go ahead and skim off any foam that may rise to the top.

After about 2 hours, keep at a low simmer. Be sure the meat is covered with water at all times.

Halfway through you can also turn the meat so the previously expose top is now in the bottom.
After 3 hours, remove the tongue.

At this point you can either make it for use as slicing meat or continue for making it in a sauce.

Once the tongue is cool enough to handle, take a sharp knife and remove the skin from the meat.

If you take your time you will not remove too much of the tender meat underneath the outer skin.

Once done, clean up the end, usually you will just cut about 1/2 inch and it will expose the non fat tender meat. Slice thinly and enjoy.

( some people prefer to strip off the skin, you will have to use pliers in order to grab it, I find just trimming it off much easier)

To make the sauce.

Either degrease the broth, remove the onions and stuff strain. I will usually remove all the large stuff floating in the pot with a spider, and put the pot in the fridge. The next day I can remove the fat with a fork or spatula.
Take the broth and reserve about 4 cups, place into a sauce pan, in the pan add 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, one small onion, 1 TBS vinegar, and a slice of day old bread. Cook for about 15 minutes until reduced about 1/2, process with a stick blender or in your blender, season the sauce with salt and pepper (salt if needed)

The broth is now degreased, take the tongue and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Place into a baking dish and overlap the tongue meat in the pan, take the broth and pour in on top of the meat, place into a hot oven 350 or so, for about a half hour.

To serve, place on plate or shallow bowl, top with chopped cilantro and chopped white onions.
A dash of your favorite hot sauce is also nice.


Stuff you will need:

One Beef Tongue 2.5 to 3 lbs.
1 large white onion quartered
1 carrot cut into 1/2 inch rounds
3 Bay leaves
1 TBS peppercorns
1 1/2 cup Kosher Salt

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oatmeal Raisin Cooking Day

It's currently 64 and a light rain is attacking the tile outside. Perfect weather for some cookies....No?
Here is a simple but tasty recipe for Oatmeal cookies. This recipe was one that I got while at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco about 20 years ago. I am sure that there are tons of recipes, this one always was good and people seemed to enjoy the end result. (at least that what they said)

Using more oatmeal than normal it brings a more chewy texture and nut like flavor.
Oven to 375,

Then while it is heating up, in a Kitchenaid or similar mixer toss in the ingredients first starting with the butter, then brown sugar. Since this recipe has come out I have substituted Splenda* Brown sugar mix, this allows me to have an extra cookie or two without overdoing my diet.....

Process until well blended, add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla and incorporate all.
Sloooooowly add the flour mixture, then the oats and raisins. Add the cinnamon and allspice and process for another minute.

On baking sheets, place some parchment paper or just butter or grease the sheets. Again I prefer parchment paper, saves on the calories.....

Drop by the tablespoon, or if the dough is a tad heavier I usually flour my hands, use a wooden spoon to grab a glop of dough and roll it like a meatball in my hands and then place it on the sheet. This allows for more even cookie flow, and you always want even cookie flow......it's a Zen thing!

Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes depending on your oven and rack placement. You want them just lightly browned.

Cool on wire racks. eat one, save the rest or give them away so you don't eat all of them the same day!


Stuff that you will knead......

1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar*
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (Get the real stuff not imitation!)
2 Cups quick cooking rolled oats
1 Cup raisins (Be sure and break them apart so they are not big clusters of raisins)

Makes about 3 dozen 2 1/2 inch cookies or 18 3 inch ones......


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