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.

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Baked Beans

Jun 09 2010 Published by under Food

A great accompaniment to any dish, beans have been regarded a staple in our everyday cooking. If cooked properly, beans can also be a main course. Baked beans is a curious name for the dish, because most baked beans are simmered in low heat, and are not baked. The name comes from the frontier days, where they were left in a dutch oven for several hours to cook slowly over a fireplace. Before the fast food restaurants, baked beans were the original fast food for early settlers.

Baked Beans

Baked Beans

Nutrition-wise, Baked beans are great source of many essential nutrients and vitamins. They are a good source of protein, and are naturally low fat. They have very high amounts of phosphorous, fiber, and folic acid. There is always a discussion that if you cook beans with salt, they will not soften. I believe this to be false. I hope you enjoy my recipe for Baked Beans.

For Baked Beans

2 Cups of Pinto or Navy Beans
3/4 Cups of Chopped Carrots
1/2 Cups of Diced Onion
1/2 Cup of Celery
4 Cups of Chicken Broth
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Tablespoon of Salt
Fresh Parsley
Black Pepper

Leave the beans soaking in a large pot filled with 6 cups water overnight. Remove anything that floats. Drain. Add the chicken broth to the stock pot, and add the beans. Bring to a boil. After it is boiling adjust the temperature to a simmer. Add the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, parsley, and the salt. Cook for 2 hours, or until the beans are tender. Grind black pepper, and add more salt if needed.

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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.

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New England Clam Chowder

Jun 02 2010 Published by under Food

Every time I have this chowder, I am reminded of the ocean. Clam Chowder has silky taste of the cream blended with the potatoes that is accentuated by the salty sea flavor of the clams. When I make this chowder my whole kitchen smells like I am just blocks away from the beach.

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder is probably the world’s most recognized chowder. Chowders are usually considered soups. This is because commercial chowders you buy in restaurants are thin, flavorless and laking all heartiness. I believe that chowders are much more than a soup, a chowder is a complete meal.  A homemade hearty clam chowder can be served as the main course and none of my guests will leave with an empty stomach.

For New England Clam Chowder

4 Lbs Small Cherrystone Clams
1 Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
3 Large Potatoes
5 Strips of Bacon
2 Tablespoons of Butter
1 Stalk of Celery
1 Teaspoon of Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
2 Cups of Cream
2 Tablespoons of Black Pepper
Parsley
Croutons

Wash the clams from dirt and mud. In a steamer, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the clams to the steamer and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the clams. The water will now contain clam juice. Reserver the clam juice for later. Remove the meat from the clams, discarding any unopened clams. Dice the bacon in a 1/4 inch die. Melt the butter in a large stock pot. Add the diced bacon. Cook until the bacon is crisp and brown. Meanwhile, dice  the onion into a 1/2 inch die. Cut the celery into 1/4 inch pieces. Remove all the fat from the cooking of the bacon and butter only leaving 1 Tablespoon. Add the onions and celery with the bacon, and cook until the onions are transparent. Peel the potatoes. Dice the potatoes into a 1/2 die. Add the clam juice, potatoes, thyme and the bay leaf. Cook for 10 on boiling or until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy. Remove from heat. Dice the clam meat. Add the cream and diced clam meat into the pot. Add the black pepper. Let it cool down and serve with garnish of celery and croutons.

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Mini Pizzas

May 24 2010 Published by under Food

Sometimes you want a pizza fast. Sometimes you just want a single serving of pizza. Sometimes everyone wants a different flavor of pizza. My mini pizzas solve all of these problems. I have tried all types of pizzas dough, both made from scratch and store bought, and nothing tastes better than this. It is a crunchy thin crust that you can enjoy with your favorite toppings. My kid approves of his cheese only mini pizzas, and even prefers them to any delivery pizzas. The best part is that you can have a pizza in about 7 minutes.

Peperoni pizza, Cheese pizzas, Hawaiian Pizza, Pepperoni Mushroom Pizza

Mini Pizzas

When I was developing the recipe I wanted something that came out really fast. The fastest way to cook anything in your kitchen is using the microwave. The problem with using the microwave to cook pizzas is that you get a soggy result. The better way to get a crunchy pizza is to use the oven. This takes time, 15 to 20 minutes at least plus some time to preheat. After some trial and error I discovered that the best method was to combine both techniques to achieve both speed and crunch. I use thin pita bread for the pizza crust. When buying the pita bread make sure you get the thin one, and not the thicker type. You can vary the cooking times in order to get a softer or crispier pizza.

For a Mini Pizza:

1 Pita Bread
2 Tablespoons Spaghetti Sauce
1/4 Cup Mozzarella Cheese
1 Dash Herb of Provence (optional)
Toppings

Place pita bread flat on a board. Add the spaghetti sauce. Distribute sauce all over the pitta bread with a spoon, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge. Add the cheese over all the spaghetti sauce. Add the toppings.  Make sure you do not add a lot of toppings or they will not cook well. You should be able to see some of the cheese.Put a dash of Herbs of Provence all over the pizza to give better flavor. Cook in the microwave for 2 minutes or until the cheese starts to melt. Cook in the toaster oven on 425 F for 5 minutes, or toast on high about two or three times. When you see the pita starting to brown, your pizza is done. Slice with a pizza cutter. *** The cooking times are for my microwave, and toaster oven. You might need to experiment on yours to see what is the appropriate time on your own equipment. The microwave time also varies when making more than one at a time. Basically microwave untilthe cheese melts. Bake or toast it until the crust browns.

Topping Suggestions:
Pepperoni Cheese
Cheese Only
Pepperoni Mushroom
Pineapple Ham (Hawaiian Pizza)
Bell Pepper, Olives, Tomatoes, Onion (Veggie Pizza)
Cooked Bacon, Ham, Pepperoni (All Meat Pizza)
Cheese Basil Tomatoes (Margarita Pizza)

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Taco Bell Tostadas

May 18 2010 Published by under Food

If there is one restaurant you will never find in Mexico, it is Taco Bell. There have been two attempts to open franchises in Mexico, and both attempts have failed. The reason for this is that nothing in Taco Bell’s menu resembles Mexican Food. Even though you will see that a Taco Bell has menu many choices, it is usually the same prepared ground meat as the main ingredient. The difference in the menu items is the meat enclosure that can be a hard corn shell, a soft flour tortilla, or a corn basket.

Taco Bell Tostadas

Taco Bell Tostadas

The first time I took my family to Taco Bell I told them not to think about tacos, but to think about deluxe prepared nachos. With that introduction they knew what to expect and surprisingly they enjoyed the meal. I personally like the prepared ground beef that is the basis for most of Taco Bell’s menu.  Even though I know it is a badly Americanized version of a Mexican dish, the same could be said about fast-food Pizza. If you remember the old chihuahua commercials, you know that “Yo quiero Taco Bell.”  After several experiments to find a decent substitute recipe for the ground beef I came with the following. Notice that in the picture I used tostadas which are the same thing as taco shells but flat.

For the Prepared Ground Beef

1 Lb Ground Beef
1/4 Cup Flour
1/2 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon of Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon of Garlic Powder
1/2 Cup of water.

Mix the ground beef, flour, chili powder, paprika, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder in a bowl. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. In a large frying pan, add the meat and the water. Cook over medium heat until the ground beef is cooked throughly and browned.

For the Fillings and Shells

1/2 Cup Diced Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Diced Onions
1/2 Cup Red Bell Peppers
1 Cup of Lettuce
1 Cup  Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Can of Baked Beans
Sour Cream
Salsa

12 Tostadas or Taco Shells or Soft Tortillas

Scoop the meat into the Taco Shells. Add Tomatoes, Onions, Lettuce, Red Bell Peppers, Beans and Cheddar Cheese according to personal preference. Add a dollop of cream on top. If you want to spice it up add a spoonful of Salsa. You can use tostadas, or soft flour tortillas to make different types of tacos. If you are throwing a party, you can even use nachos chips and make Deluxe Prepared Nachos with the same ingredients.

5 responses so far

Meat Pie

May 11 2010 Published by under Food

This meat pie  is a variation on a dish my grandmother used to make. It is one loved by all my family. We call it “empanadas árabes.” The variation is that empanadas are usually a single serving small meat pie. I prefer to make a large meat pie which tastes the same and it is easier to serve.

Meat Pie

Meat Pie

The filling consists on ground beef being sautéd to golden brown to intensify the flavor, and then cooked over tomatoes, caramelized onions, and white wine. It is the white wine that gives this dish its special taste and aroma. It all goes inside a flaky dough crust and sent in to the oven to bake. Even though it is very hot in the summer to do this kind of baking, the taste of the dish is worth it.

Dedicated to the loving memory of my Grandmother Salma.

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