Sunday, October 24, 2010

Just so you know...

... this whole law school thing is taking up all of my time. This is me NOT cooking... Instead, this is me eating the risotto Adam made for dinner:

and looking very tired... because civ. pro. makes me very tired.

The end.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pozole Rojo

One thing I forgot to add during that last post: Marcela Valladolid totally stole my cooking show. (Mexican Made Easy!). Whatever, Marcela. Just because your name is more Spanish than mine and you wear cute clothes and actually lived in Mexico and probably speak native Spanish and went to Ritz Escoffier in Paris doesn't mean you're better than me.

Well, maybe it does a little.

But I still have my family recipes. And I think my aunts would agree that even though their niece is super annoying for occasionally responding to their Spanish conversations IN ENGLISH (...gringa), at least she can cook.

(In my defense, everyone speaks really fast. I can't think at warp speed in Spanish!)

So, how about pozole for a Sunday dinner?

Some of my favorite memories as a child involve eating pozole at my aunt's house with my cousins. She'd literally make enough for 20 people and I can remember fishing around in a giant pot for pieces of meat that didn't look like pork feet. (...gringa.)

(In my defense again, my mom says she would NEVER make pozole with pig feet. She thinks it's weird too even though she grew up on that kind of meat. So there. DECISION AFFIRMED.)

My aunt sent me her pozole recipe and specified a few things:

1) you must use pork espinazo (spine), trositos (small pieces of meat, usually shoulder), and patitas (feet).
2) you must use Jaunitas brand hominy
3) you must use Las Palmas Brand red sauce.

I broke the first cardinal rule of pozole. I only used shoulder because I didn't feel like driving to the next town over to find a carniceria that sold espinazo or patitas. (Although I probably would have left the patitas out to tell you the truth.) I live in a town where there are no carnicerias. Or Mexican people. (Just kidding.) (Mostly.)

So, in case you don't know much else about pozole besides the three primary ingredients I just specified, pozole is a stew that tends to be a special occasion dish. My uncles would probably tell you that it cures hangovers too. En serio. And my mom would tell you that it cures the flu. Like many Mexican dishes, it simmers for a good part of the afternoon, until the meat is tender and the flavors are just right.

Hey mom, how long do you think it's going to take for the pozole to be done?

It's done when it's done, Andrea.

That's the kind of dish this is. Take your time. Your house will smell like my aunt's house, and that is a very very good thing.

Pozole Rojo
Serves 6
You can make pozole with different sauces: red (rojo) as I did here, green (verde), or blanco (white) with no sauce. Make sure you include plenty of toppings to go around the table--they are an essential part of the dish.

• 1 lb. pork spine, 1.5 lbs pork shoulder cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces, and 1 pig's foot cut in half (ask the butcher); alternatively 2.5 lbs pork shoulder cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
• 1 small onion, sliced
• 1 19-oz can of Las Palmas enchilada salsa (I used spicy--try medium or mild if you aren't sure); alternatively, you can make your own red sauce like I did for the Carne Deshebrada post
• 2 28-oz cans Juanita's hominy, drained and rinsed
• 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
• 1 tablespoon oregano
• 5 cups water of beef broth
• salt and pepper to taste
• vegetable oil

• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 3 limes cut into wedges
• 3 cups sliced cabbage
• 6 radishes, thinly sliced
• 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
• tortillas

Preheat a large pot to medium high and pour in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Brown meat on each side for about 5-7 minutes.

Once meat is browned, pour the salsa, 5 cups of water or broth, onion, garlic and oregano in pot. Simmer over low heat for 2-3 hours, or until meat is ropey and tender.

Add the hominy and continue to simmer for 20 minutes longer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with toppings.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


I helped my mother make flan all the time when I was little. Our family recipe: Royal Flan!

I told you my mom doesn't bake. That's what Pan Queso* Lady on the beach is for!

Yes--as I have affectionately named her, "Pan Queso Lady." At the beach near my mother's home is a women who sells flan, cheesecake and pies. I love her. So much. The first thing I do when visiting my mom in Mexico is track down Pan Queso Lady so I can enjoy a slice of flan or pie while tanning on the beach.

You stuff your face while tanning in a swimsuit?

That is correct and I'm not sorry.

The last time I stuffed my face with flan on the beach in Mexico, I thought to myself, I could probably make this. And as it turns out, I can. I am 100% sure that you can, as well.

Flan is a traditional Latin caramel custard that bakes crustless and in a pie dish. Pan Queso Lady sells hers by the slice in a pool of caramel sauce. Chocoflan one-ups regular flan by adding a layer of moist chocolate cake to the dessert.

Caramel, custard, chocolate cake: take that Pan Queso Lady!

(Just kidding please don't ever stop selling baked goods on the beach, Pan Queso Lady.)

It looks so complicated to make, but trust me, the method for chocoflan is very straight forward. I searched far and wide for a good recipe, and found one that is moderately easy and fairly traditional. I know there are a lot of steps, but that is no reason to shy away from chocoflan! I promise, the results are worth every single second it takes.

Adapted from Marcela Valladolid via
serves 10
What caught my eye about this recipe, in addition to its relative ease, is its use of buttermilk in the chocolate cake layer. Buttermilk has long been the secret weapon in my mother-in-law's chocolate cake as it produces extremely moist results. Make your life easier by measuring all your ingredients and prepping your baking pan before embarking on this culinary journey.

You will need:
• 12-cup capacity Bundt pan
• a roasting pan large enough to hold the Bundt pan
• Softened butter, to coat pan
• 1/2cup store bought cajeta, dolce de leche, or caramel sauce

For the cake:
• 10 tablespoons butter, room temperature
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 egg, room temperature
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/3 cup cocoa powder
• 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

For the flan:
• 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
• 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
• 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
• 3 eggs
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For garnish:
• 1/4 cup cajeta or caramel sauce
• 1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans

Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Thoroughly coat your Bundt pan with butter, then coat the bottom with 1/4 cup cajeta. Place the Bundt pan in a large roasting pan. (The roasting pan will serve as a water bath during baking.)

For the cake: Add the butter and sugar to a bowl and using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, beat until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa in a medium bowl. Beat 1/3 of the flour mixture, and 1/2 of the buttermilk into the egg mixture. Repeat, ending with the flour mixture. Blend until well incorporated.

For the flan: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, cream cheese, eggs and vanilla. Blend on high for 30 seconds.

Scoop the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan and spreading evenly. Slowly pour the flan mixture over the cake batter.

Cover with foil and add about 1-inch of hot water to the roasting pan.

Note: Don't worry about the cake layer being on the bottom of the Budt pan. The two batters will flip while baking so that when you invert your dessert onto a platter, the flan layer will be on top and the chocolate cake will be on the bottom, just as in my first pictures. If you have no idea what I'm talking about right now, just continue on with the recipe.

Carefully slide the pan into the oven, and bake approximately 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the surface of the cake is firm to the touch, or an inserted toothpick comes out clean. OVEN TIMES WILL VARY! Begin checking your flan with a toothpick at the 1 hour mark and continue to do so every 10-15 minutes until a toothpick, is indeed, clean when removed from your cake. Once the cake is done, carefully remove from the water bath and cool completely to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Invert a large, rimmed serving platter over the Bundt pan, grasp tightly together, giggle a little and flip over. Remove the pan and scrape any remaining cajeta or caramel sauce from the pan onto the cake. I add an extra 1/4 cup of the caramel once the cake is inverted for garnish. You may also add the chopped pecans to the top the cake at this stage, if desired.

Flan is traditionally served chilled, but I think it tastes just as yummy at room temperature!

*"Pan queso" refers to
cheesecake in Spanish, or at least it does in my family.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I love you, Larb

No, not lard. Not lard, everyone. Don't make that face... I'm trying to help you!

If you love Thai food you might know all about larb.

Ground meat--turkey, pork , chicken, beef or sometimes fish--in a savory citrusy fish sauce dressing typically served with sticky rice and sometimes eaten in lettuce cups. And hey, remember ceviche de soya made with reconstituted soya meat? You can substitute soya meat for ground pork, etc. and make this dish vegetarian. Vegan, even. There is no lard in this recipe. Now you know.

I saw Giada De Laurentiis make this recipe as a quick, weeknight alternative to take-out Thai larb and decided to give it a go. Believe it or not, it is just as good, if not better than any larb I've had in a Thai restaurant. Adam sure thinks so.

He set the table too. One spoon and a plate. Pretty good, huh?

So go ahead and try making larb at home on a Monday night like we always do. It isn't as complicated as many Thai dishes. It isn't like curry, for example, which requires 10 million ingredients. You can't mess it up, guys.

Closely adapted from Giada De Laurentiis via
serves 4
Adam thinks larb made with pork tastes best. On most nights, however, we try to cut down on fat by using ground turkey or chicken. If you do choose a leaner meat, keep in mind that you may need a little more oil to help it brown. Also, this recipe calls for lemongrass. Most Asian markets carry it (I actually found mine at Whole Foods) but if you absolutely cannot find any, go ahead and leave it out. This is supposed to be easy Monday night cooking, right? The lemongrass rounds this dish out and certainly makes the larb more delicious, but by no means does it make the dish. The fish sauce, however, does. Don't even think about leaving that out! It may smell weird out of the bottle, but trust me, it will all taste very yummy in the end.

• 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, from about 5 limes
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from 1 large lemon
• 2 tablespoons fish sauce
• 2 tablespoons honey

• 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
• 1/2 red onion, diced
• 3 shallots, thinly sliced
• 1 (4-inch) piece lemongrass, minced (about 1/4 cup)
• 1 Thai chile, such as prik kee noo, or 1 serrano chile, stemmed and thinly sliced
• Kosher salt
• 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey, pork, chicken beef, or reconstituted soy meat
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated


Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lemon juice, fish sauce and honey. Set aside.

Larb: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, shallots, lemongrass, chile, and salt, to taste. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey and season with salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat and vegetables are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the dressing to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the mint. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spoon the turkey mixture onto the lettuce leaves and arrange on a serving platter. Serve with sticky rice or plain white rice.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili and Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

I am SO behind in posting recipes! But guess what? I can get back to catching up and cooking now... We have a house. In our home country. And all of our kitchen appliances are out of storage.

Like the slow cooker.

And the ice cream maker.

I am a huge sucker for kitchen appliances. And since I'm starting law school in just a couple of weeks, you'll probably see a ton more slow cooker recipes from me. It's a super convenient appliance, especially if you aren't home all day and don't have time to get dinner started. (Yes, Kate, I turned our conversation into a blog post!) This chili recipe is as easy as dropping ingredients in the pot and turning it on, and what's better is that you can use up any leftover vegetables you have in the fridge, and the rest of the ingredients can sit in the pantry. Many a day has this been my go-to recipe when we're pressed for time or are too lazy to go shopping.

I bought Adam the ice cream maker as a birthday present when we were dating knowing full well that we'd probably get married and I'd get to use it too. It worked out exactly the way I planned!

And we actually use it quite a bit (when it isn't locked away in storage). Ice cream is one of those foods where it's easy to get fun and creative. Our greatest ice cream hits? Coffee toffee, browned butter pecan, and now fresh strawberry. But I can't take all the credit for making such yummy strawberry ice-cream; we happened to pick out really delicious strawberries from a farm stand that day and I think it made all the difference.

Here's the deal. If you have neither a slow cooker nor an ice cream maker, it's okay. You can come over to my house and eat homemade ice cream and you can stew the chili in a pot over the stove.

It's good to be in our own home in our own country. Get ready for law-school-wife-Andrea to take over this blog. Things might get really interesting!

Vegetarian Chili
Serves 4
I began making this recipe way back when I started cooking solo (i.e., in college without my mom). It started out as a Rachael Ray recipe and morphed and changed in my kitchen over the years... But that's the great thing about chili, right? It's so easy to make it your own. I'm going to give you a starter recipe that is great as is, and then some recommendations on other spices and veggies you might consider adding depending on who's coming to dinner and your own personal level of heat tolerance. We like our chili super hot, but if my in-laws were coming to dinner, for example, I might focus on making this recipe more smoky (extra cumin or smoked paprika, maybe) than hot in my mouth. Comprende? Just keep tasting your chili as you add the spices and you should be good to go.

• 1 medium yellow skinned onion, chopped
• 1 cup of chopped carrots
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
• 1 1/2 cups pale beer or vegetable stock
• 1 (14- ounce) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
• 1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed (goodbye extra sodium)
• 1 (14-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 cup fat free vegetarian refried beans
• 1-2 chipotles en adobo
• 1 tablespoon ground cumin
• 2 tablespoons chili powder ( I really like Valle del Sol from Whole Foods)
• freshly ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon coarse salt

If you were me, you might also add:
• Several dashes of jalapeño based hot sauce
• 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
• 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

Other vegetables options:
• bell peppers
• celery
• zucchini
• corn
• or anything in your fridge you'd like to use up

Toppings and Bottomings for serving:
• 8 ounces (2 cups shredded or crumbled) cheese: I use Cotija (my favorite), but spicy monterey jack or smoked cheddar would be delicious too
• Chopped cilantro
• Mexican Crema or Sour Cream
• Blue and red corn tortilla chips or black bean tortilla chips, for dipping
• Baked or boiled potatoes--Adam's personal favorite
• Corn bread or muffins
• Extra hot sauce for the table

Stir all ingredients (except toppings and bottomings) together in the pot of a slow cooker. Turn slow cooker to low and simmer 6-8 hours.

If you don't have a slow cooker, you may simmer the chili a large pot on top of the stove for a minimum of one hour. Keep in mind however that the longer this chili stews, the more it's flavors will marry and the more delicious it will be by dinner time.

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream
Adapted from and Williams Sonoma Mastering: Frozen Desserts
Make sure you choose really fresh and delicious strawberries for this recipe.

• 3 cups half-and-half
• 6 egg yolks
• 1 cup sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 2 cups sliced strawberries
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Puree 3/4 cup of the strawberries in a blender or a food processor.

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the half-and-half until steam begins to rise from the surface, 4 to 5 minutes.

In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt until blended. Gradually (VERY VERY gradually so that you don't get scrambled eggs) add the hot half-and-half, whisking constantly until fully incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a clean saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 8 to 10 minutes; do not allow the custard to boil.

Pour the custard and the pureed strawberries through a fine-mesh sieve set over a clean bowl and stir in the sliced strawberries and vanilla. Nestle the bowl in a larger one filled halfway with ice and water and cool the custard to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Bread

I'm still here. And we're FINALLY moving this weekend so hopefully I'll be able to get back into a more steady routine of blogging! Hooray!

In the meantime, I thought I'd share this

because my lovely second mama, Carrie requested it. Moist, yummy, banana walnut quick bread made slightly healthier with whole wheat flour and less sugar. You can even swap the oil for apple sauce to make the recipe lower in fat. Good deal, right?

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Bread
adapted from
serves 12
Whole wheat pastry flour is great for cakes and breads as it yields a lighter and fluffier result than regular whole wheat flour. You can substitute whole wheat flour in this recipe if you'd like, but be prepared for a more coarse and dense cake texture.

1/3 cup vegetable oil OR 1/3 cup applesauce for lower fat
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas
1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, beat oil, brown sugar and honey together. Add eggs, and mix well. Stir in bananas and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt. Add baking soda to hot water, stir to mix, and then add to batter. Blend in chopped nuts. (You may save a few nuts to sprinkle over the top of batter if you'd like.) Spread batter into greased 9x5 inch loaf pan.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 1/2 hour before slicing.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Salted Caramel Candy Bars for my BFFA

My friend Jenny is studying for her medical boards and was in absolute need of some salted caramel candy bars. Because doctors (and soon-to-be doctors) need treats too, guys.

And let me tell you something about Jenny. She is practically my sister. We’ve been friends since 3rd grade. We were each other’s maids-of-honor. We’ve seen each other through some pretty rough times. We’ve seen each other through some pretty awesome times too. And she sent me cookies to my dorm during my first (lonely) year of college, so I’m merely returning the favor.

And let me tell you something else about Jenny. She has a salt-tooth. Just like me. If you ever met Jenny and me for happy hour, you’d probably walk in to find the two of us sipping extra-dirty vodka martinis with four or five olives. In fact, forget the vodka. We'd probably just be sipping brine.

So salted caramel candy bars seemed just perfect. Yes, these are Betty’s cookies (I have her on speed-dial), but with a salty twist. My inspiration came from one of my all time favorite places in the world for ice cream—Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco. They sell a super popular salted caramel flavor and it is beyond delicious. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, I suggest you give it a try!

These bars are layered with an oatmeal crumb bottom, a couple cups of chocolate chips and walnuts, a layer of salted caramel, another layer of the oatmeal crumb mix, and finished off with a healthy sprinkling of some good quality salt. Don’t worry, they won’t taste overly salty: you’ll take a bite, a little salt will stay on your lips, and it’ll only intensify the buttery caramel and super-sweet cookie and chocolate layers. Think salty like, chocolate-dipped-pretzels salty, only better.

See that yummy salt?

I say it all the time--salt makes everything taste more like itself, which is to say, it makes everything taste better. No, that isn’t an excuse for my salt addiction. Okay, maybe it is, but it doesn’t make that statement any less true.

Oh yeah. I know I said I was going to recreate my mom’s dishes from my trip, and I still will. Don’t worry, guys, I won’t forget!

Salted Caramel Candy Bars
Adapted from
Make sure you use a good quality salt for this recipe. Kosher and fleur de sel will work well; I used pink Himalayan salt. Just don’t use iodized. The flavor is too harsh for these cookies.

Caramel filling:
1 bag (14 ounces) caramels
1/3 cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

Crumb Bottom and topping:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus ¼-1/2 teaspoon for sprinkling over bars
1 egg
1 cup butter or margarine, softened

Chocolate nut layer:
1 package (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
1 cup chopped walnuts or dry-roasted peanuts

Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches.

For the salted caramel:
Heat caramels and milk in 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until smooth.Add salt and vanilla.

For the crumb bottom and topping:
Stir together flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and egg in large bowl. Stir in butter with fork until mixture is crumbly. Press half of the crumbly mixture in pan. Bake 10 minutes.

Sprinkle chocolate chips and walnuts over baked layer.

Drizzle with caramel mixture. Sprinkle with remaining crumbly mixture and ¼-1/2 teaspoon of salt, depending on how bold you care to go! (I used around a third of a teaspoon.) Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 30 minutes. Loosen edges from sides of pan; cool completely. For 54 bars, cut into 9 rows by 6 rows.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies and the Mama-land

I've made these brownies three times since my last blog post.

And yes, I know it’s been awhile. About that…

So much has been going on. Stressful things, fun things, happy things, scary things… The scary/stressful are long gone now, so let’s talk about some of the other stuff.

I went to Mexico to visit my mom and took a total of two, count em, TWO pictures on my iPhone over Mother’s Day. Adam also took one of me at a palapa-covered restaurant to make a third. These are them:

Buenos dias. I'll take two of everything.

How's that for a nice day?

My friend Dan, with a mango and his iPhone.

Guys, I was too busy eating cotija cheese and onion enchiladas, fresh seafood, and carnasa tacos to stop and take pictures. Also, I drank a lot of piña coladas… They were made with fresh pineapple and coconut—how could I not?

Oh I love the motherland for so many reasons. My mama is there, and I love my mama. Everything tastes so darn good. (It’s true. I constantly annoy my friends/hubby with squinty eeehh-I-don’t-think-so faces when they invite me to Mexican restaurants in LA. Most of them will never be good enough. Don’t get me started…) And I LOVE the weather. What can I say? My ancestors worshipped the sun.

And as excited as I was to see my mom and reunite with her cooking, she asked me to bake her something “yaammi-yaammi” before coming to her house.

I am the designated baker in my family, and that is A-OK with me.

So I baked peanut butter brownies because I had made them twice before my trip and they were a SMASH hit with my brother and my friends. And trust me guys, my brother would tell me if something I baked wasn’t top-notch. (And he has.)

Guess where I got this recipe? … Surprise! Betty Crocker, again. Yeah. I have trouble branching out once I’ve found a source of baking recipes I can trust.

Stay tuned for next time when I attempt to replicate my mom’s salsa and her cotija onion enchiladas! (I wish I had a cooking show.) But for now, make these brownies for your mom. Or yourself. My mother, the cooking guru that she is, ran around our beach village sharing them with her neighbors. They even kindly dismissed that hint of an American accent I can’t ever seem to kick, they were so impressed. That should tell you something.

Hasta luego, amigos.

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies
adapted from
Feel free to substitute all chocolate chips for the peanut butter or butterscotch chips. If you'd like, save a couple extra chips to sprinkle over the top of the brownie batter before baking for a prettier presentation. Also, these brownies need to cool completely before cutting or else they tend to fall apart. Lastly, this recipe doubles very well baked in a 9x13 inch pan. Brownies will be thicker and will require a slightly longer bake time, so keep an eye on them for doneness.

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 tablespoons milk
2 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used Jiff brand and doubled Betty's amount of peanut butter successfully)
1/3 cup peanut butter chips, or butterscotch chips
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease square pan, 9x9x2 inches. Mix sugars, butter, milk and eggs in medium bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt.

Divide batter in half (about 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons for each half). Stir peanut butter and peanut butter chips into 1 half. Stir cocoa and chocolate chips into remaining half.

Spoon chocolate batter into pan in 8 mounds, checkerboard style. Spoon peanut butter batter between mounds of chocolate batter. Gently swirl through batters with knife for marbled design.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely about 1 hour. For 16 brownies, cut into 4 rows by 4 rows.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

¡Huaraches! ¡Sopes! ¡Sin grasa! ¡Sin colesterol!

Perhaps you already have an idea what a huarache is from the carne deshebrada post. If you've ever had a sope, you might even have a better shot at guessing what I'm referring to.*

Sope, pictured above


The sope (as in, "Too bad my mother didn't wash my mouth out with a soh-peh instead of a bar of soap") and the huarache are actually cousins--both are shaped and fried masa dough topped with an assortment of fillings and sold on street corners across Mexico. (ON STREET CORNERS. And we eat hot dogs in America. We'd lose big time in a street-food competition.) Huaraches, however, are shaped like huaraches, while sopes are shaped like round little boats with raised edges. They both taste especially good with fillings like grilled shrimp, refried beans and crumbled cotija, potato and chorizo, and carne deshebrada en salsa roja.

There is a man in the town where my mom lives who sells "¡HUARACHES! ¡SOPES! ¡SIN COLESTEROL! ¡SIN GRASA!"

That is, "Huaraches! Sopes! Fat free! Cholesterol free!"

Yeah I know. I wish he was telling the truth too... but he's not. (Sorry if this post title totally got your hopes up.) The huaraches and sopes he sells are freshly fried and dripping in melted panela cheese. That dude, by the way (or that güey, depending on where you're from) has been selling those in the same spot since I was a little girl and still looks the same. The colesterol and grasa have apparently made him ageless.

Since huaraches and sopes are so closely related, I went ahead and made both tonight. I decided to keep things simple (and vegetarian) by making refried bean and cotija huaraches and sopes, but feel free to experiment with other fillings like carnitas or carne deshebrada en salsa roja.

Refried Bean Huaraches and Sopes
makes 8 sopes or 8 huaraches
The main difference between sope/ huarache dough and the dough for plain tortillas is the addition of baking powder.

Dough for Huaraches or Sopes:
• 2 cups masa harina
• 1 3/4 cups of water
• pinch of salt
• 1 teaspoon of baking powder
• vegetable oil for frying (if you want to be strictly traditional, use lard)

Huarache and Sope Toppings/Fillings:
• grated Panela Cheese or Crumbled Cotija Cheese
• hot refried beans
• pico de gallo or fresh chopped tomatoes
• salsa of your choice
• crema
• guacamole
• shredded lettuce
• Tapatio

For Huaraches:
I made medium sized huaraches tonight--the same as the ones the huarache man in my mom's home-town makes. I have, however, seen huaraches the size of my 7 foot tall brother's feet. As long as you maintain the huarache shape, feel free to experiment with size.

Mix together all dough ingredients, except oil or lard. Knead until thoroughly combined.
Cut dough in half, and divide each dough half into 4 portions. Form each small piece into torpedo shaped logs, about 3 inches long by 1 inch wide. Using the palm of your hand, flatten each log slightly.

Place each log between two pieces of plastic wrap (like we did when we made tortillas) and roll using a rolling pin into ovals, roughly 8 inches long and 4 inches wide.

Cook's Note: Huaraches may be made up to this point up to 2 hours ahead of serving. Store between pieces of wax paper and cover lightly with a damp paper towel in the fridge.

Heat a large cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat and add enough shortening or lard to coat the bottom of the pan. Place a huarache in the pan and cook for 1 and a half minutes until the bottom is golden. Flip over, and allow the bottom side to cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until golden. Remove huarache from pan and allow to drain on paper towels.

Top with cheese, pico de gallo, salsa, lettuce, crema, guacamole and hot sauce (if desired). Serve immediately.

For Sopes:
Mix together all dough ingredients, except oil or lard. Knead until thoroughly combined. Cut dough in half, divide each half into 4 portions. Form each piece into small balls.
Flatten each ball into a 3 inch circle using a rolling pin, the bottom of a plate or a tortilla press between 2 pieces of plastic wrap (like we did when we made tortillas). Fold sides up about 3/4 an inch. They don't have to be perfect! Prick the bottom of each sope lightly with a fork.

Heat about 1/4 of an inch of oil in a cast iron skillet to about 350 degrees. Fry sopes about 1 minute on each side, or until lightly crispy and slightly golden.

Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

Top with beans cheese, pico de gallo, salsa, lettuce, crema, guacamole and hot sauce (if desired). Serve immediately.

*To what I'm referring. This isn't an English lesson, but it will bother me for the rest of my life if you think I think it's okay to end a sentence with a preposition. I must, however, preserve the colloquial effect of my blog, and I can't do this without occasionally splitting infinitives, using comma splices, forming passive verb sentences (with or without subjects) and ending sentences in prepositions. You understand, right? And you also understand that I have obsessive tendencies that prevent me from letting things like this go, right? Good. I feel a lot better now.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Carne Deshebrada en Salsa Roja

I know that's a mouthful if you don't speak Spanish, so let me break it down. Carne deshebrada en salsa roja simply means shredded beef in red sauce. It isn't especially difficult to make (as most traditional Mexican dishes are not in my opinion) but it does require a lot of time. The recipe calls for a tough cut of meat that stews for hours until it becomes tender and ropey. The cooked beef is then shredded and mixed with a homemade red sauce that might consist of beef stock, onions, garlic and dried california or guajillo chiles. (This is exactly the way my mother makes it.) Depending on where else you may find it in Mexico (and depending on whose native Mexican mother you consult) carne deshebrada might even be served without the red sauce, making it taste more like a spicy, shredded American pot roast.

Think of it as common comfort food. People in Mexico eat carne deshebrada at all times of the day (how's that for a morning hangover cure?) over rice, in sopes, burritos, tacos, on huaraches, or simply with a side of tortillas and beans. I can guarantee you won't ever find a taqueria in Mexico without carne deshebrada on the menu, just as any self-respecting LA taco truck wouldn't be caught dead without this staple either.

Wait, are you still hung up over me saying " on huaraches" (wah-rah-chehs) before? Because if you think that word translates into "leather sandals," you'd be right.

I'm not trying to imply that the beef is so good you can serve it on a leather sandal, although this statement probably isn't untrue (I haven't tried that combo yet to say for sure)... Huaraches in relation to Mexican street food refer to something else entirely.

But that's a whole other story. I'm going to save the huaraches post for next time.

Today, it's all about carne deshebrada--a basic but important Mexican dish that warrants its own post. Learn how to make carne deshebrada en salsa roja and you'll be adding one of the most versatile Mexican recipes to your culinary repertoire.

Carne Deshebrada en Salsa Roja
You will need a food processor or a blender to make the red sauce.
serves 4-6
1.5 pounds of flank steak or brisket
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1.5 ounces dried California or guajillo chiles (guajillos are spicier), seeded and stemmed, and soaked in hot water to rehydrate for 20 to 30 minutes
1/2 a small onion, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups of beef cooking liquid
salt and pepper to taste

For the Beef:
In a large pot, add enough water to cover the beef, garlic, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender and ropey.
Drain beef, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid, and place on a large platter. Once the beef is cool enough to touch, use the tines of a fork to shred into small pieces.
Strain reserved cooking liquid and skim fat off the top.

For the Sauce:
Place the rehydrated chiles, garlic, 1/2 onion, and 1 cup of cooking liquid in a food processor or blender until the sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Clean and dry the same pan used to simmer the beef. Heat vegetable oil in pan over medium-high heat and slowly (and carefully!) add red sauce. Simmer about 5 minutes and add the last 1/2 cup of cooking stock. Stir to combine and add shredded beef to sauce. Simmer until beef is heated through.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chocolate Pudding, but don't tell anyone it's made from tofu

Unless they're like me and think it's awesome that something so delicious could be remotely good for you. But here's the thing, a lot of people (uh like my dad or dad-in-law) would probably complain about this pudding before eating it if they knew its primary ingredient was tofu.

Better just to feed it to them, let them ooh and aah over how yummy it is, and THEN drop the tofu bomb.

Sorry parents. This is what you get for raising your children in California.

This pudding sets to a thick and silky consistency--some say it's more like mousse, but I think it's a little too dense to call it that. Creamy dark chocolate pots? Tofu pudding mousse? Vegan chocolate pudding cups? ... It doesn't matter. Just eat it. It tastes good.

Tofu Chocolate Pudding
Adapted from Alton Brown via
serves 6
I've seen this recipe done many ways, using the same ratio of chocolate chips to tofu. This happens to be Alton Brown's recipe with a few modifications: I reduced the coffee liqueur from 1/3 cup down to 3 tablespoons (everyone complained last time that the alcohol flavor was overpowering) and made individual pudding cups instead of one entire pie. If you happen to be in a pie mood, feel free to pour this filling into the pie crust of your choice.

• 2 cups good quality chocolate chips--semi-sweet or 60% cocoa, or a mix of both
• 3 tablespoons coffee liqueur
• 1 block silken tofu
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 tablespoon honey (Note: if you want to make this recipe 100% Vegan, replace honey with 1 tablespoon of refined sugar.)
• fresh fruit and chocolate curls for serving, optional

Place a small metal bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. Melt the chocolate and coffee liqueur in the bowl. Stir in vanilla.

Combine the tofu, chocolate mixture, and honey in a blender jar or food processor. Liquefy until smooth.

Pour the filling into 6 4-oz molds and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until the filling is set.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fideo--Mexican Spaghetti?

Kind of. When I'd ask my mom for spaghetti growing up, this is what I got.

I'm pretty sure I went through half my life eating tons of Mexican dishes without knowing they were distinctly Mexican. Didn't your mom use leftover corned beef to make taquitos? No? Hm. That's weird.

(You should try that, by the way. If there's corned beef leftover in this house on Wednesday, I'll tell you how.)

No matter, though. Let's talk about fideo. It simply means "pasta" in Spanish, and in Mexico it specifically refers to thin spaghetti-like pasta that's toasted and cooked in a very light and fragrant tomato sauce. According to my mother, there is only one way to make Fideo, and that's the right way.

So she probably wouldn't approve that I used chicken stock in place of chicken bouillon cubes in this recipe... I don't know. Those things kind of weird me out so I avoid them when I can. People in Mexico do like their bouillon cubes, though.

If you make this dish, you're in for some home-y (not homie) Mexican goodness. It's a simple meal, but it hits the spot every time.

serves 4
My mom would want you to know that adding shredded chicken to this dish makes it Fideo con Pollo, not Fideo... just in case you run into her and she tells you you did it wrong.

• 12 ounces fideo cortado (short fideo), fideo or vermicelli pasta
• 1 can (14 ounces) fire roasted chopped tomatoes
• 1-2 chopped chipotles en adobo, minced (optional)
• 1 cup chicken (or vegetable) stock
• 1 onion, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 teaspoon oregano
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• salt and pepper
• Queso Fresco for serving (suitable substitutes include feta or parmesan)
• 2 cups cooked shredded chicken or smoked turkey (optional)

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the noodles and onions, stirring constantly. If using regular fideo or vermicelli pasta, break the noodles up into short (3 inch) peices with a wooden spoon. Continue to fry noodles until most are golden brown in color. (It's okay--some will be dark brown.) Add the garlic.

Add the tomatoes, chipotle, chicken stock, cumin and oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed and noodles are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in chicken or turkey, if using, and continue to cook until heated through.

Serve with crumbed or grated queso fresco.
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