Have you tried any of these recipes?

Have you tried any of these recipes? If you have, please leave a comment to let me know how it worked for you and if you suggest any changes!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Chochoyota a la Biznaga

This was a soup that I had at La Biznaga, in Oaxaca my first night in Mexico.  It isn't exotic, but it was delicious and I plan on experimenting with it as a base for many future meals.

  • 15 oz chicken broth, plus water
  • 1/4 cup masa, plus water (approx 3 Tbsp)
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dash of coriander
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  1.  Heat chicken broth over medium heat.  
  2. While broth is cooking, combine masa and water and form into tiny balls.
  3. Add balls to the broth and let boil 5 minutes.
  4. Add salt and coriander.
  5. Wash and chop watercress and add to the broth.
  6. Cook another five minutes.
  7. Add freshly ground black pepper upon serving.
May be garnished with avocado, rice, crushed red pepper, or with added shredded chicken.

Salsa and Quesadillas

C'mon.  Who needs a recipe for salsa or quesadillas?  I know, I know.  But both turned out FABULOUSLY.  So, why not?

  • 3 large tomatoes, on the vine, from your yard, or heirloom.  Flavorful.
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • corn tortillas
  • fresh mozarella
  • crushed red pepper or reconstituted ancho chilis
  • greek-style yogurt
  • 1 avocado
  • olive, canola, or sunflower oil

For the salsa:
  1. Cut three large tomatoes in half and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet.  Put in the oven at 375F for 20 - 25 minutes.
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine tomatoes, 4 cloves of garlic, a pinch or two of salt, and a dash of cumin.
  3. Blend.  
  4. Heat a frying pan.  Add 1 Tbsp oil and heat 30 seconds.  Add 1 corn tortilla.  Top with cheese and red pepper and another corn tortilla.  Press lightly and fry 2 minutes.
  5. Flip, and fry 3 minutes more.
  6. Flip one more time to get your very own personal favorite crispiness. 
  7. Remove to a plate and top with yogurt, salsa, and avocado.

Corn Tortillas

In an effort to make a meal from scratch/hot off the griddle/as fresh as can be like I had every day in Mexico, I decided to attempt to make my own corn tortillas.  The ones you can buy at the store here just never taste quite as good (though I WAS on vacation when I enjoyed those heavenly tortillas in Mexico - I don't know if that had anything to do with it). 

So, armed with a bag of masa, some wax paper and a rolling pin, I decided to get started.  [I did have a package of store-bought tortillas on hand so my meal wouldn't be ruined if my tortilla skills fell below par.]

The package directions said to mix 2 cups of masa with 1 1/4 cups of water.  No good.  Too dry.  Just keep adding water.  You need to do the mixing with your hands to get the right consistency too.  Once you've got it though, make 16 balls ready for pressing.

Placing the first ball on a sheet of wax paper, I covered it with another sheet of wax paper and applied my midwestern pie-crust rolling-pin skills to the ball.  No good.  It wasn't round; it wasn't uniform.  In the cooking class I took in Mexico, we used a tortilla press, so I got out a frying pan and tried that.  Finally, by tortilla #12, I had perfected the frying pan/rolling pin method of pressing tortillas.  It goes as follows:

1.  Place to-be-tortilla ball in the center of a sheet of wax paper.

2.  Cover with another similar sized piece of wax paper.

3.  Quickly and evenly, press down on the top piece of wax paper with a heavy frying pan.

4.  Rock back and forth and to each side while pressing into the frying pan with all your might.

5.  Use the rolling pin four strokes to 2 and 8 o'clock followed by four strokes to 10 and 4 o'clock.  Be careful to keep the pressure in the center of the tortilla so the sides do not end up too thin.

6.  Do this a few times, and apply the frying pan one more time.  Heat a dry griddle, heavy frying pan, or comal on the stovetop to medium - high.

7.  Lift the wax paper with the flattened tortilla nestled inside and flip over.  Remove the top (previously bottom) layer of wax paper.  Flip the tortilla into your hand and place on heated griddle, thick frying pan, or comal (though if you have a comal, you probably have a tortilla press and have no need of this post).

8.  After 10 seconds, flip the tortilla.  After 2 minutes, flip it again.  It might (if you're lucky) start to puff up.  After another 20 seconds or so remove it from the griddle/heavy bottomed frying pan/comal to a dishtowel, or tortilla warmer.

9.  Tah dah!

    These tortillas are a little thicker than the ones you're used to (unless you're really strong, in which case you can come over here and help me out), but they are excellent for open-faced tacos, quesadillas and dipping.

     If you want to be more authentic about it, it looks like this.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Tostada de tinga de zanahorias a la Jicara (en Oaxaca)

    Okay folks.  I've just come back from Mexico, where the food was fabulous and I have all sorts of renewed energy.  I was in Oaxaca - and at a place called Jicara, I had a tostada of carrot tinga with lentil humus, sour cream and Parmesan cheese.  Even though I took a cooking class there featuring much more traditional Oaxacan cuisine (post to follow), this was what was easiest to make in the U.S. with what I had on hand.

    What a perfect super-food
    Creative to boot!

    • lentils (approx 1 cup)
    • water
    • salt
    • garlic (1 clove)
    • corn tortillas
    • carrots (approx 1 cup)
    • chipotle chiles or peppers (in a can)
    • 1/2 medium onion
    • 1/2 medium roasted tomato
    • plain yogurt
    • Parmesan cheese
    1. Rinse, soak and cook the lentils, over medium heat in enough water to cover them, approx 45 minutes.
    2. Put one small tomato, or half of a medium tomato in the oven to roast (on foil on a cookie sheet at 375F for 25 minutes).
    3. When the lentils and tomato are nearing completion, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add olive oil and warm.  Add chopped onions and cook until transparent. 
    4. Grate carrots in food processor and add to onions in the pan.  Chop, grate, or process tomato and chiles and add to carrot mixture.  
    5. In a clean, dry pan, heat corn tortillas.  Top one tortilla with lentil mixture, carrot mixture, dabs of plain yogurt and grated Parmesan cheese.
    6. This is excellent with homemade salsa (while you're roasting tomatoes - why not?).

    The original.

    More traditionally, you could try making a chicken tinga.  Use one tomato, half a can of chipotle peppers, half an onion and two chicken breasts, boiled and shredded.

    It is fabulous topped with salsa, sour cream, and avocado.
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