Category Archives: Mexican

Sopa seca de Fideo y Camarones

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Fideos (vermicelli) are much loved in Mexico, where they form the basis of thick, delicious soups. Usually the soups are served as a first course, but our hearty shrimp version is a meal in a bowl.

The name “sopa seca de fideo” translates to “dry soup with noodles”. It’s not soup, it’s called a “dry soup” because the noodles absorb all of the wonderful rich stock, making the noodles taste more delicious than you can possibly imagine.

Although it can be made with straight noodles, I have found if easier to make fideo with the twirled angel hair nests. It’s pretty, and easier to serve that way, one nest per individual  serving.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 dried ancho or pasilla chiles*
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb. dried angel hair nests or vemicelli
1/4 cup olive  oil
One medium yellow onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1/2 cup crushed canned tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 quart chicken broth
1 pound (30 to 35 per lb.) peeled, deveined shrimp, tails left intact
Kosher salt, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

For Serving:
1/2 cup sour cream
Queso Fresco
Diced avocado

Directions:
Break stems off chiles and shake out seeds. In a small bowl, cover chiles with hot water and let stand until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and coarsely chop.

Brown the angle hair nests: Choose a frying pan with a lid in which the angel hair nests will all tightly fit in a single layer (about 9 or 10-inches wide, depending on the brand of angel hair nests you use). In the pan, heat the oil until shimmering hot. Working in batches, fry the vermicelli angel hair nests on both sides in the hot oil until golden brown in color. Remove from pan.

Sauté onions and garlic, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in chiles. Add tomatoes, cumin seeds and chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce heat to a simmer and cook angel hair nests in the broth. When broth is simmering, place the browned angel hair nests or vermicelli in a single layer in the pan, nestled into the broth. The nests should cover the whole pan. Turn them over in the broth so that they get moistened on all sides. Cover and cook until the vermicelli has soaked up the liquid, about 5 minutes.

If after 5 minutes the top of the vermicelli is dry, flip over the individual angel hair nests and cook a minute longer. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, spoon soup into wide, shallow bowls. Top each serving with a spoonful of sour cream and some avocado, if you like, and sprinkle with cilantro.

Cook’s Notes:
Vermicelli usually comes in 1 pound packages, so about 1/2 a package can be used for this recipe. If you cannot find angel hair nests at the market, you can make fideo with straight vermicelli pasta. Just break up the pasta in 3 to 4 inch long segments and cook the same way as you would the nests, browning them first in hot oil.

*Good dried chiles are soft, flexible, and smell a bit like prunes. Avoid hard, brittle specimens—they’re old and less flavorful.

How Hot Is Your Chile? To assess a chile’s heat, slice off its top through the ribs and seeds, where the heat-producing compound capsaicin is concentrated. Touch the slice to your tongue. If you want your food to be milder, split the chile and scrape out all or some of the ribs and seeds. If your skin is sensitive, wear kitchen gloves or hold the chiles with a fork—and don’t touch your eyes.

The trick to a great sopa seca de fideo is the chicken broth. If you do not have the time to make your own homemade chicken stock, you can easily use bouillon, boxed broth, and canned chicken stock. While bouillon and the boxes work in a pinch, nothing beats homemade stock for this recipe. It brings a richness that can’t be had any other way. So if you try it, I strongly urge you to use homemade stock!

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Coconut Braised Chicken

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This perfectly braised fragrant chicken stew is a cultural transformation of Asian, Central and South American ingredients—coconut, Mexican chorizo, cilantro and lime.

Serves  4

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons canola oil
3 whole chicken legs
3 chicken thighs
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ pound fresh Mexican chorizo, casings removed
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 dried chile de árbol, finely crushed
3 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 pound baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425° F.

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, heat the oil.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Working in 2 batches, brown the chicken over moderate heat, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer the chicken to a large plate, and set aside.

Add the chorizo and onion to the casserole or Dutch oven and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until the onion is translucent, cooking for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the ginger, garlic and chile and cook until fragrant, cooking for about 1 minute.

Add the coconut milk, potatoes and chicken to the casserole or Dutch oven and bring to a simmer.

Cover and braise in the oven for about 1 hour, until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the lime juice and butter. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.

To serve, spoon the braised chicken and potatoes into shallow bowls. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and serve with lime wedges.

Note:
This recipe was featured on the NBC TODAY Food Club webpage in November 2015.

All photographs and content are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

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Spatchcock Roasted Cornish Hen in a Hibiscus Rose Petal Sauce

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This recipe is adapted from  an earlier posting “Quail in  Rose Petal Sauce” It is an absolute delicacy, revealing flavors you may never have experienced before. In this recipe,  the combination of the anise, roses, and chestnuts alone is sufficient to offer this dish absolute distinction.  I added my own twist with the addition of dried hibiscus flowers and some left over blood orange syrup  from another recipe.

I could not find any fresh quail, so I opted for Cornish game hens, one is a perfect serving for two if you like to share.  I used the spatchcock technique.

A spatchcock is a historical term for a culled immature male chicken, but increasingly denotes a preparation technique. The spatchcock, also known as “spattlecock”, is poultry or game that has been prepared for roasting or grilling by removing the backbone, and sometimes the sternum of the bird and flattening it out before cooking. The preparation of a bird in such a manner for cooking may also be known as butterflying the bird. The term “spatchcock” is used when the backbone is removed, whether or not the sternum is removed. Removing the sternum allows the bird to be flattened more fully.

Spatchcocking a chicken allows the bird to be flattened allowing the meat to cook more quickly and thoroughly. Don’t be intimidated by the name. There are several on-line tutorials giving you a  this step-by-step guide to help you master this kitchen skill and have any type of poultry roasting in no time.

 

Serves 4

Ingredients:
For the Cornish Hens:
4 Cornish game hens
1/2 Tablespoon dried thyme
1/2  dried sage
8-10 sprigs fresh marjoram sprigs
1 teaspoon  salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil

For the Hibiscus Rose Petal Sauce:
10-12 fresh chestnuts
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced fine
1 teaspoon  ground anise seeds or  whole star of anise
10 edible roses with slightly open blooms, petals only,
10 dried hibiscus flowers
2 plums, peeled, pitted and chopped, or raspberries
1 cup chicken stock
2 Tablespoons fine quality honey
1/4 cup blood orange syrup (optional)
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Directions:
For the Cornish Hens:
Preheat the oven to 375 ° F.

Using a pair of good kitchen shears, take the Cornish game hens and cut alongside the backbone (from tail to neck).  In a small bowl, mix together the thyme, sage, salt and pepper.  Rub the  oil all over the hen  Rub the herb mixture all over the hen.  Scatter the marjoram sprigs all over the bottom of a baking dish.  Place the seasoned hen, skin up, on top of the marjoram sprigs.  Wrap foil around the wingtips.  Roast for about 45 minutes or until the leg bone feels loose when you tug on it.

For the Rose Petal Sauce:
Using a sharp paring knife slit an “X” into the flat side of the chestnuts. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Using a large saucepan, bring a quart of water to a boil and drop in the chestnuts. Boil, uncovered, for about 20 minutes and drain. Set aside to cool. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel the shells and the thin, papery “pellicle” away from the “meat” of the chestnut. Put them aside.

Melt the butter in a skillet, using it to sauté the garlic and anise seed until they are lightly browned. Add the hibiscus and rose petals and chopped plum and continue sautéing for a minute or two.

Place in a blender the petal mixture with honey, salt, pepper, and the cooked chestnuts. Puree in the blender while slowly adding 1 cup of chicken stock.

Strain the puree into a skillet, add the blood orange syrup (if using) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring constantly.

Reheat the sauce. Add the hens to the sauce, making sure they are all covered completely. Cook and stir for about three minutes.

Serve with a plain white rice to absorb the fragrant sauce, if desired.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Quail in Rose Petal Sauce

 

In   Laura Esquivel’s Novel,  Like Water for Chocolate, the reader is introduced to this recipe in Chapter 3, where the love sick character Tita, who is a cook, prepared an elaborate dish with a rose, a token of love, given to her secretly by her lover Pedro. She calls the dish “quail in rose petal sauce”. At the dinner table, the meal receives an ecstatic response from Tita’s family members, especially Pedro, who always compliments Tita’s cooking. However, a more curious affect is observed in Gertrudis, her younger sister, not long after eating the dish, who begins “to feel an intense heat pulsing through her limbs.” It appears that the meal serves as a powerful aphrodisiac for Gertrudis, arousing in her an insatiable desire. This turbulent emotion pulses through Gertrudis and on to Pedro. Tita herself goes through a sort of out-of-body experience. Throughout the dinner, Tita and Pedro stare at each other, entranced.

Dripping with rose-scented sweat, Gertrudis goes to the wooden shower stall in the backyard to cool off. Her body gives off so much heat that the wooden walls of the shower stall burst into flames—and so do her clothes.Running outside, the naked Gertudis is suddenly swooped up by one of Pancho Villa’s men, who charges into her backyard on horseback.

“Without slowing his gallop, so as not to waste a moment, he leaned over, put his arm around her waist, and lifted her onto the horse in front of him, face to face, and carried her away.”

The escape of Gertrudis serves as a foil to Tita’s stifled passion. The intensity of the former’s reaction to the meal serves to communicate the potency of the passion that the latter possesses but is unable to express directly. With her primary form of expression limited to food, Tita takes the illicit token of love from Pedro and returns the gift, transforming it into a meal filled with lust. The manner in which Gertrudis is affected by the food and later swept away on a galloping horse is clearly fantastical, and the vivid imagery like the the pink sweat and powerful aroma only exemplifies the novel’s magical realism.

To  be carried away so gallantly,  in a moment of passion………..is magic!

And with that being said, this would be the perfect dish to make for someone you love, especially for a romantic dinner for Valentine’s Day.

Enjoy!

 

Serves 2

Ingredients:
4 quail (or 6 doves or 2 Cornish Hens)
3 Tablespoons butter
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup dry sherry
6 peeled chestnuts (boiled, roasted, or canned)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup red prickly pear fruit puree (or substitute raspberries or red plums)
1 Tablespoon honey
¼ cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
14 teaspoons rosewater
Petals of 6 fresh, organic red roses (optional garnish)

 

Directions:

Heat the serving platter in an oven set to low. Rinse the quail and pat dry. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and lightly brown the birds on all sides. Add sherry and salt and pepper to the quail. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Turn the quail, cover, and cook another 10 minutes. Remove the quail when done to your liking and place on a heated platter.

Combine the remaining ingredients with pan juices, transfer to a blender, and puree until smooth. Pour the sauce into a small pan and simmer 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper, and/or honey. Pour the sauce over the quail on the heated platter.  Sprinkle with the rose petals, for garnish, and serve hot.

Cook’s Notes:
The original recipe for this dish calls for rose petals, but you don’t want to use petals from conventional flower shop roses—those are treated with fungicides. Still, if you have some organically grown roses in your backyard, or know where to buy them, feel free to use them to garnish the finished dish.

If you cannot find any rose petals, 3 bags of  Tazo Passion Hibiscus Tea is a great alternative to use as well.

You can find rosewater at local Middle Eastern stores.

The original recipe calls for cactus. In this version red prickly pear fruit puree or juice is used and can be found at most health food stores—or substitute frozen raspberries or even use 2 large red plums that have been pitted and skinned, for the red prickly pear.

If you have a dove hunter in the family, try this with dove instead of quail. In fact, doves may be an even more romantic choice, if you don’t mind picking a little birdshot from your teeth. Cornish hens also work well, as a substitute for the protein in this dish.

 

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Crispy Potato, Duck and Chorizo Tacos

Crispy potato and chorizo are a classic taco combination—and I added just one more ingredient- duck breast, that elevated this taco to the next level. The ideal potato and chorizo taco should be deeply browned and flavorful, each crisp cube of potato coated in a thin layer of bright red fat packed with spicy, meaty flavor. The chorizo itself should have a range of textures from tender and moist to crisp. It’s a very straight-forward process to get there, but it does take a bit of time.

To get the perfectly crispy cooked potatoes, par-cook your potatoes in vinegar-spiked water. This technique will help the potatoes in achieving that  extra crispness when subsequently fried in hot fat in a cast iron skillet.

For the best results, use fresh chorizo. In cooking chorizo, just when you think it is past point of being done, cook the meat just a little bit longer, browning it to a deep dark almost black color, but not brunt. The chorizo will be  crisper, better browned,  and much more tastier in the end.

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Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Kosher salt, to taste
1 Tablespoon white vinegar

One 8-ounce D’Artagnan Rohan Duck Breast in Southwest-Style Marinade (click here for the resource)

6 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound fresh Mexican chorizo
12 to 16 warm soft corn tortillas, for serving
cojita or goat cheese, for serving
1 white onion, minced, for serving
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for serving
Homemade or store-bought salsa verde, for serving
2 limes cut into 8 wedges each, for serving

DIRECTIONS:

For the Potatoes:
Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Add vinegar and 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until potatoes are just cooked through, about 5 minutes after coming to a boil. Drain potatoes and let rest over sink until mostly dry.

Heat 4 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until lightly smoking. Add potatoes, shake to distribute around the pan, and cook, tossing and stirring occasionally until very crisp and golden brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.

For the Duck Breast:
With a knife, score the skin of the duck breast in a cross-hatch pattern, making the squares as small as possible without cutting into the meat. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.

Place in a hot skillet skin side down and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 8 minutes, while continuously draining off the rendered fat.

Flip over and cook for 4 minutes on the meat side. On a heated grill, finish cooking on the meat side for 4 minutes.

Cover the duck breast with foil to keep warm  and allow to rest rest for 10 minutes, then slice it very thinly across the grain. Cover again and set aside.

Drain fat from pan.

For the Chorizo:
Heat remaining oil in a medium non-stick or cast iron skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add chorizo and cook, stirring, until heated through. Continue cooking, stirring and tossing frequently, until all the liquid has evaporated, some fat breaks out, the chorizo starts sizzling, and eventually is quite dry and well-browned, about 15 minutes.

Transfer cooked  duck and chorizo to pan with potatoes. Toss to combine and season to taste with salt.

For the Tortillas:
Warm the tortillas with a little heat to make them soft and pliable.  Place the tortillas in a dry (no oil) stainless steel skillet over medium heat and cook them for about 30 seconds on each side.

Alternatively, you can also do away with the skillet and char the tortillas directly over the gas flames for a few seconds using tongs. These stove-top methods work best when the tortillas are very fresh.

Serve the meat and potato mixture immediately with tortillas, onions, cilantro, salsa, and limes on the side.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Chicken with Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole Sauce

Photo Credit: Williams-Sonoma, 2015

During October, the seasonal menu is filled with pumpkins and this classic Mexican sauce has a unique spin when combining pumpkin and almonds with cocoa, chiles, allspice berries, cloves and cinnamon. The mole sauce can be made ahead of time, and for a super-quick supper, simply combine the sauce with browned chicken thighs and then simmer. Dress up the dish with chunks of fresh pumpkin and crunchy pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds) to create a beautiful yet easy one-pot dish that will turn heads at an autumn dinner party.

Chicken with Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole Sauce
(Pollo con Mole de Chile Ancho y Calabaza)

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
For the Pumpkin Mole:
1/2 white onion, peeled, charred
6 garlic cloves, charred, peeled
3 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and opened
1/4 cup slivered almonds
5 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 whole allspice berries
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (about 1 3/4 cup)
3 cups chicken broth
Kosher, to taste
3 Tablespoons brown sugar, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon cocoa powder

Directions:
Place the onion and garlic in a baking sheet under the broiler. Char for 9 to 10 minutes, flipping once in between. Once they are soft and charred, remove from the heat. When the garlic is cool, peel.

In an already hot skillet or comal set over medium-low heat, toast the ancho chiles for about 15 to 20 seconds per side, until they brown and crisp without burning. Place toasted ancho chiles in a bowl covered with boiling water. Soak for 10 to 15 minutes until they are plumped up and rehydrated.

In the same skillet, toast the cloves and all spice until aromatic, about a minute. Remove from the heat. Toast the almonds and cinnamon, stirring often, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

Place the onion, garlic, chiles, 1/2 cup of chile soaking liquid, almonds, cloves, cinnamon and allspice in the blender and puree until smooth.

In a soup pot or casserole, heat the oil and pour the pureed mixture over medium heat. Add the salt, brown sugar and cocoa powder. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to help prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The color will darken considerably.

Add the pumpkin puree and chicken broth to the sauce. Stir well until the pumpkin puree has dissolved, it will have a silky consistency. Continue to cook for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. If using immediately set aside.

For the Chicken:
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound pumpkin or winter squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
15 ounces pumpkin ancho chile mole sauce
1 lemon, quartered
2 cinnamon sticks for garnish
2 Tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Directions:
In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the pumpkin and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin is slightly tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the pumpkin pieces to a plate and set aside.

Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. In the same pan, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and pour off the excess fat in the pan.

Return the chicken, skin side up, to the pan and add the simmer sauce. Return the pumpkin to the pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the pumpkin is tender, about 20 minutes.

Garnish with lemon quarters and cinnamon sticks. Sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds and cilantro and serve immediately.