Chilaquiles

Aug 16 2010 Published by under Food

This is a Mexican delicacy which has its mystic in its simplicity. You have three main ingredients, corn tortillas, salsa, and cheese. From this starting point, you can make infinite variations adding other ingredients such as chicken, beans, onions, or by changing the main salsa type. I will show you my recipe for the basic dish, and you can get creative afterwards.

Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles

Many people debate whether Chilaquiles should be soft or crunchy. Personally I like them more on the crunchy side, but my wife prefers them softer. The trick to getting crunchy Chilaquiles is starting up with fried corn tortillas. If they sell them like this in your store you will skip a step. If not you can fry them yourself. Don’t be tempted to use Tostitos, or Doritos or similar chips since they will not withstand the cooking process and you will end up with something that resembles mashed potatoes. You need real corn tortilla chips for Chilaquiles. It is also a good idea to make your favorite salsa ahead of time before starting the dish.

For Red Salsa for Chilaquiles

3 Tomatoes
1/2 Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Serrano Chile (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
Pinch of Salt

Add all the ingredients to a blender. You can omit or add more chile according to your spicy tolerance. Add a 1/4 Cup of water. Blend until all the ingredients make a purée. The salsa will be bright red. Add to a frying pan. Turn the heat up to high heat and cook for 5 minutes or until the salsa changes from bright red to a darker richer color and the sauce becomes thicker. Let it rest for a while. Salsa tastes better when rested. You could even make the salsa the day before. Variations – You can experiment with other varieties of chiles, such as the jalapeño, chipotle, or serrano. You can also try the salsa with green tomatoes instead of red.

For Chilaquiles

4 Cups of Fried Corn Tortillas Chips or about 15 Corn Tortillas
Red Salsa for Chilaquiles (recipe above)
1 Cup Grated Mozzarella Cheese or Monterrey Jack Cheese
1/2 Cup Diced Onion
1 Cup Cooked Shredded Chicken Breast
Sour Cream (optional)
3 Tbsp of Olive Oil

Add the Olive Oil to a large Frying Pan on medium high heat. Start by cooking the diced onion until it is translucent. If you don’t have Fried Tortilla Chips, you can make the cutting regular corn tortillas into 1 Inch Squares (or strips) and fry them up until the become hard and crunchy. Add the Fried Tortilla Chips to the frying pan and mix in 1 Cup of Salsa. Cook for 3 minutes. The tortillas chips will start to get soft. You can add as much Salsa until you reach the desired Chilaquiles tenderness. Be careful to add Salsa slowly and in small amounts. Too much Salsa you will end up with soggy mess. Serve in plates, and top with chicken and cheese. Variations – My wife likes to add a spoonful of sour cream on the top. I also like to add a layer of fried beans on the bottom.

4 responses so far

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Jul 05 2010 Published by under Food

One of my favorite salads of all time, the Caesar Salad. If you have ordered one in a restaurant, it is one of those dishes that the chef walks up with the cart and makes a show of the preparation. It is a wonderful thing to see. The magic of this dish is the flavor complexity accomplished with the ingredient’s simplicity.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Many people mistakingly believe that this salad was invented in the Caesar Palace. This common misconception is wrong. It was invented by an Italian-Mexican in Tijuana named Caesar Cardini. Another topic of debate surrounding this dish is one is the use of anchovies. The original recipes contained no anchovies according to its creator. For my preference I can go either way, depending if I want a stronger taste or a much lighter taste. It is customary to serve the romaine lettuce leaves whole, because originally the dish was meant to be served as bar finger food. The addition of grilled chicken is one of those variations that work very well with the dish.

For Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

2 Chicken Breast
1 Teaspoon Oregano
Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves
2 Limes
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
4 Anchovies (optional)
4 Heads Romaine Lettuce
Croutons
Parmesan Cheese
Salt
Black Pepper

Flatten the chicken breast with a kitchen hammer. Marinate the chicken breast with a dash of salt, a dash pepper, and oregano. Brush both sides with a little olive oil. Cook in a frying pan on high heat until golden brown on one side. Turn over, and cook until the other side is golden brown. Cover in aluminum foil and let them rest. In a bowl mash the garlic cloves and 1/2 teaspoon of salt until you form a uniform paste. If you are going to add the optional anchovies, blend into the paste at this moment. Add the juice of 2 limes, an egg and the worcestershire sauce. Mix. Slowly mix in 1/2 cup of olive oil. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Mix until the caesar dressing is emulsified. Slice the chicken breast into 1/2 inch pieces. Wash the heads of lettuce. Shred the lettuce into small 1 inch pieces. Add the lettuce to the plate. Add 2 to 4 Tablespoons of caesar dressing per plate. Add the chicken pieces. Grate parmesan cheese over the salad. Add the croutons. Optional – you can leave the lettuce leaves intact and serve them as finger foods.

One response so far

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

Jun 21 2010 Published by under Food

Spaghetti alla Bolognese could be quite simply Italy’s best know pasta dish. What is interesting about this is that this dish does not exist in Italy, since it is an American creation. In Bologna, you will find that they serve Ragu alla Bolognese, which resembles the meat sauce, but they will never serve over spaghetti. They will only serve it tagliatelle, which is a thicker pasta that is simillar to fetuccine.

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

As with the Americanization of many other favorite foods, this is a recipe that I have enjoyed since I was young. For me it doesn’t matter if they do not serve it in Italy, and even if the original idea has been changed around it still makes for a wonderful dish. I usually do not like to take shortcuts in my recipes, but for this one I will make an exception. I will use ready made spaghetti sauce. Since we are already breaking with the Bolognese tradition, lets Americanize this with full force. It also saves like 3 to 4 hours in making a real ragu. So in keeping with a new tradition, please enjoy my recipe for Spaghetti alla Bolognese.

For Spaghetti alla Bolognese

8 Ounces of Spaghetti pasta
1/2 Pound of Ground Beef
1 Cup of Spaghetti Sauce (Ragu brand is the one I use)
1/2 Cup Diced Onion
1/2 Teaspoon Oregano
1/2 Teaspoon Marjoram
1/4 Teaspoon of Black Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese

In a large stock pot, add 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta an cook for 10 minutes. Drain the pasta n a colander. While the pasta was cooking, add the olive oil to a 12 inch frying pan and set to medium heat. Dice the onion in a 1/4 inch dice. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook for 1 minute. Add the ground beef and cook until the meat is brown, and the onions are semi transparent. Add the oregano, marjoram, salt, and black pepper and let it cook for 30 seconds and longer and you will burn the spices. Add the spaghetti sauces and about 1/4 cup of water. Cook until the sauce reduces a little. Serve the pasta in the plates, and top with the cooked spaghetti sauce. Garnish with as much grated parmesan as you like. Optional – Some people like to salt the water in which the pasta cooks, since it gives a better flavor and reduces the time water requires to boil. If you want to salt the water add 2 Tablespoons of salt to the stock pot water before adding the pasta to cook.

6 responses so far

Greek Salad with Soft Goat’s Milk Cheese

Jun 08 2010 Published by under Food

When its summer time, you want to be outside. You want food that tastes refreshing and that does not weigh you down. Today I am making Greek Salad with Soft Goat’s Milk Cheese. It is a very refreshing salad, with a strong blend of flavors from the cheese, onion and garlic.

Greek Salad with Soft Goat's Milk Cheese

Greek Salad with Soft Goat's Milk Cheese

This is a simple dish to do, and I cant be created in at very short notice. The cheese I am using is a Soft Goat’s Milk Cheese, which should not be confused with Feta Cheese. It has a cream like consistency with an acidic taste. This balances all the flavors out , just like in my Apple Pecan Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette.

For the Salad
1 Head of Romaine Lettuce
1/2 Cucumber
10 Cherry Tomatos
1/4 Red Onion
1/4 Cup of Kalamata Olives
1/2 Cup of Salad Dressing

Wash the lettuce. Cut into small Pieces.  Serve directly in the plates. Peel and slice half a cucumber. Layer the cucumber over the lettuce. Dice 1/4 of red onions. Add over the cucumbers. Cut the Cherry Tomatoes in half. Add over the onions. Add the Kalamata Olives and the Goat’s Milk Cheese. Add 2 or 3 Tablespoons of  the salad dressing per plate.

For the Salad Dressing
4 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons of Red Wine Vinegar
2 Teaspoons of Oregano
2 Cloves of Garlic
1/2 Teaspoon of Black Pepper
Kosher Salt

Finely mince the cloves of garlic. Add the garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, and black pepper to a small mix bowl. Mix until you have incorporated all the ingredients. Add  kosher salt according to your taste.

No responses yet

Crepes

Jun 03 2010 Published by under Food

Crepes are the original pancake but much thinner. They were largely forgotten in favor of the much thicker pancakes you enjoy today. They were reintroduced by the French with the famous Crepes Suzette. This dish is served with much flare as it usually prepared in front of dinning guest. The end of the preparation, the crepes suzette is set on fire to flame the alcohol and sugars. When this dish was invented this happened by accident.

Creamed Mushroom Crepes

Creamed Mushroom Crepes

Crepes are a very versatile dish. You can serve them with sweet or savory fillings. There are endless combination that can be made. This can make crepes the main dish, a breakfast item or a dessert. Today I am making Creamed Mushroom Crepes, and it is going to be my breakfast.

For Crepes

1 Cup of Flour
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Water
2 Eggs
3 Tablespoons of Butter
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt

Mix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Leave the batter to rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Heat butter in non-stick pan. Pour two tablespoons of batter into the pan. Quickly rotate the pan in a circular motion to spread the batter all over the pan. If the batter is too thick, add a little more milk. Cook until the bottom side is golden brown. Carefully flip the crepe with a spatula. Cook until the second side is golden brown.

You can fill the crepes with all types of fillings. Here are sum suggestions:

Strawberry Marmalade
Penut butter and Bananas
Apple Sauce
Fresh Fruits and Cottage Cheese
Chocolate
Ice Cream
Cajeta
Ham and Spinach
Ham and Cheese
Creamed Mushroom

For Creamed Mushroom Filling

1/2 Large Onion
1 Cup of Mushrooms
3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon of Butter
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Cup of Cream
1 Teaspoon of Tarragon
1/2 Teaspoon of Thyme

Heat the butter and the oil in a saute pan. Dice the onion. Add to the pan and cook the onion until transparent, but not browned. Add the mushrooms to the pan, cook until soft. Add the finely minced garlic, cream, tarragon and thyme and cook on low heat for 1 minute. Salt according to taste. Serve over the crepes.

One response so far

Fire Roasted Red Tomato Hummus

May 19 2010 Published by under Food

Hummus is a very popular Middle Eastern spread made from chickpeas and tahini. It is used as a dip for pita bread or vegetables. It can be a side order or sauce to a main course. I personally use it as a spread my everyday sandwiches, instead of using mayonnaise. It is much healthier since hummus is a good source of Iron, Vitamin C, Folic Acid. It is also high in Fiber. Even though you can buy hummus in any store nowadays, the hummus they sell is not as nutritious. I prefer to make my own.

Fire Roasted Red Tomato Hummus

Fire Roasted Red Tomato Hummus

There are two way to make hummus. You can use dried chickpeas and take about a day to make the recipe, or you can use canned chickpeas and take several minutes. The longer method takes better, but for most cooks don’t have the time. I also do a variant of hummus that includes garlic and fire roasted tomatoes. I love the smoke flavor that is achieved by the fire roasted tomatoes and the bite from the garlic.

For Fire Roasted Red Tomato Hummus

1 Cup Dried Chickpeas or a 15 Oz Canned Chickpeas
2 Fresh Tomatoes or a 15 Oz Fire Roasted Canned Tomatoes.
1 Minced Clove of Garlic
2 Tablespoons of Tahini
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon of Ground Cumin
1 Lime
Paprika
Salt

If you are using canned chickpeas you may skip ahead.  First you have to clean the dried chickpeas from dirt and rocks they might have. Wash the chickpeas several times until the water is clean. Let soak in water overnight. Be sure to change the water at least once. The chickpeas will be double in size the next day. Wash them again. Add them to a large boiling pot. Cover them with water and bring to a boil. Cook them for 1 and 1/2 hours or until the chickpeas are really soft. Be sure not to add salt to the water or the chickpeas will turn out hard. Drain the chickpeas but reserve the cooking water. Put the prepared or canned chickpeas into a food processor, but reserve some for the garnish. Put the fresh tomatoes into a toaster oven an toast them until the skin is dark with blacken spots. You can also use ready made fire roasted canned tomatoes. Dice the tomatoes and add to the food processor. Add the garlic, tahini, olive oil, lime and cumin to food processor.  Blend into a smooth paste. Add some of the reserve cooking water until you have the desired constancy. Some people prefer a thick dip and some prefer a softer one. Salt the dip according to taste. Place the hummus in a serving bowl. Add a dash of paprika. Place the reserved chickpeas as garnish. Server with vegetables, pita bread, or use as a sandwich spread. You can do a more traditional hummus omitting the tomatoes, garlic, and the cumin.

One response so far

Apple Pecan Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

May 13 2010 Published by under Food

This salad is a recent invention of mine that combines ingredients of several other salads that I like. It draws its main inspiration from the famous Waldrof Salad. I use three different lettuces to give it variety of color and texture. The romaine lettuce to add to the salad’s crispiness which is further magnified by the apples and the walnuts. Red and green loose-leaf lettuce give the salad some contrast in color, and make it a sweeter, softer flavor that blends perfectly with the honey and the ash covered goat cheese.

apple pecan salad

Apple Pecan Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Instead of using grapes, like in the traditional Waldrof salad , I preffer raisins. I also omit the mayonnaise dressing in favor of a Honey Mustard Vinaigrette. To top it all up I sprinkle some chopped walnuts, and ash covered goat cheese to give it some tang. Overall I could say that this salad is a very fresh take on contrasting flavors and textures. It is crisp,soft, tangy and sweet all at once. If there is an ingredient that brings the whole salad together it is the pecans. The pecans server as an earthly flavoring that stands in middle ground to balance the crisp from the soft, and the tangy from the sweet. It is crisp,soft, tangy and sweet all at once.

Per request of my readers, I will post the recipe. If you enjoy it please leave me a comment in the bottom of this post.

For the salad
2 cups of Romain Lettuce
2 cups of Red Loose-Leaf Lettuce
2 cups of Green Loose-Leaf Lettuce
1/3 cup of Raisins
1/4 cup of Pecans
3 Apples
3 0z Soft Goat Cheese (ash covered optional)

Wash and disinfect the three types of lettuce. A good tip is to wash the lettuce in ice cold water to give the salad more crispiness. Rinse off the water. Hand shred the lettuce to bite size pieces and add to a big bowl. Peel and core the apples, and cut them up into 3/4 of an inch pieces. Add the apples to the bowl. Chop the pecans in half or into quarters depending on your preference and add to the bowl. Finally add the raisins to the bowl and toss the salad to mix all the ingredients. Serve into plates. Make sure to have good portions of all the ingredients. Add the goat cheese in small slices to the served plates and drizzle with the honey mustard vinaigrette according to your own taste.

For the Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
1/4 cup of Honey
3 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar  (Cider or Red Wine Vinegar can substitute)
1 clove of garlic (optional to taste)
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
3 Tablespoons of Virgin Olive Oil
1 pinch Kosher Salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
(to taste)

Add the honey to a medium size mixing bowl. Add the vinegar and the mustard and whisk until fully integrated. Finely mince the clove of garlic. I would say that the garlic is optional because some people do not enjoy it.  Add the kosher salt and grind some black pepper to the mixture. Whisk it once more. Continue whisking and slowly add the olive oil. You can vary the amount according to the thickness you want for the salad dressing. If you add more oil it will become thinner. If you prefer a thick dressing add less. Same goes for the honey. If you prefer it sweeter add more honey. The final result should be an emulsion that does not separate.

One response so far