Thursday, February 26, 2015

Queso Fresco y Cebolla Verde Huevos con Salsa de Jalapeño y Tomate






     Cheese Eggs Are A Favorite In Any Language! 
     The presentation of today's breakfast entrée will turn some heads.  The crispy flour tortillas are great for scooping up the cheese eggs and jalapeño sauce.  Traditionally, steamed corn tortillas are served with breakfast, but crispy wheat flour tortillas are nice too.
     This recipe is easy to make.  It does take good cooking skills to not let cheese eggs stick to the bottom of a pan.  When Queso Fresco is used, the cheese will only soften.  Queso Fresco eggs will usually not stick to the pan, because this fresh cheese has a fairly low fat content.  Queso Fresco is like fresh mozzarella that is not stretched.  The flavor of this cheese is mild and milky tasting.
     
     Jalapeño Tomato Sauce: 
     This recipe yields about 1 cup of sauce!
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1 clove of chopped garlic.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped onion.
     Add 1 chopped green jalapeño pepper.
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color. 
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of canned crushed peeled tomato.  (California or Spanish tomatoes are best for this recipe.)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till the flavors meld and the sauce becomes a medium thin consistency.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.  
     
     Platanos: 
     This skin on a plantain banana should be black!
     If the fried plantains turn out dark looking, do not worry.  That is the nature of this fruit.  Sometimes plantains become soft while they are a golden color, but most times the finish color will be dark reddish brown.
     Step 1:  Heat 4" of vegetable frying oil to 360º in a high sided pot.
     Step 2:  Cut a few large bite size pieces of ripe plantain banana.  (About 1 to 2 inches long.)
     Step 3:  Place the plantain pieces in the hot oil.
     Fry the plantains till they are caramelized on all sides.
     Set the fried plantains on wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off the excess oil.
     Keep the fried plantains warm on a stove top.
     
     Wheat Flour Tostadas:  
     Tostada translates to toast.  In Mexico, crispy golden brown tortillas of any kind are toast!
     Cut two 6" flour tortillas in half.
     Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  
     Pan fry each of the tortilla halves on both sides, till they are crispy golden brown.  (Add oil as necessary.)
     Place the fried tortilla halves on a wire screen roasting rack to drain off any excess oil.
     Sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on the tortillas.
     
     Queso Fresco y Cebolla Verde Huevos: 
     Queso Fresco will not completely melts.  This cheese will usually only soften.  
     Step 1:  Whisk 3 large eggs and 1 tablespoon of cream together in a mixing bowl.
     Set the egg mixture aside aside.
     Step 2:  Chop 3 ounces of queso fresco and set it aside.  (Mexican Fresh Cheese)
     Step 3:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the eggs mixture.
     Use a rubber spatula to scramble the eggs, till they are halfway cooked and still runny.
     Step 4:  Add the chopped queso fresco.
     Add 1 bias sliced green onion. 
     Scramble the eggs till they are cooked firm.  The fresh cheese will soften by the time the eggs are plated. 
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     
     Queso Fresco y Cebolla Verde Huevos con Salsa de Jalapeño y Tomate:  
     Mound the cheese eggs on the center of a plate, so they are thick enough to support the crisp tostadas.
     Spoon a generous amount of the Jalapeño Tomato Sauce on the plate around the eggs.
     Place the fried plantains on the plate.
     Insert the crispy tortilla halves into the eggs, so the tortillas stand vertically.  
     Sprinkle 1 bias sliced green onion over the sauce and eggs.

     Everyone likes good cheese eggs.  Especially Mexican cheese eggs!  

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Grilled Manchego Cheese & Chile Padrón Egg Breakfast Sandwich with Roast Beef







     A Nice Route 66 Diner Style Breakfast Sandwich!
     Breakfast sandwiches are the favorite choice for people who are on the go first thing in the morning.  Wrapping a breakfast sandwich in a napkin and jumping in the car, then munching away while stuck in a morning rush hour traffic jam is commuter dining at its best.  
     Making a breakfast sandwich at home does not take much time and the quality will be much better than a breakfast sandwich at a fast food joint.  Making a breakfast sandwich at home before leaving for the job is a good way to avoid the frustration of waiting for breakfast behind a long line of cars at the drive-thru, then discovering that the cashier totally fouled up the order.  As everybody knows, fast food usually is not fast.  It always seems like when a customer is in a hurry, that is the time when anything that can possibly go wrong at a fast food joint, certainly will go wrong.  

     Today's breakfast sandwich is very easy to make and relatively few ingredients are needed.  Sometimes making a breakfast sandwich with just a few select uncomplicated ingredients is better than making a breakfast sandwich with everything but the kitchen sink.  
     No extra garnishes or sandwich spreads are needed when making a grilled cheese sandwich.  The melted cheese does all the talking!  Mexican Manchego Cheese cannot be compared to a classic Manchego from Spain.  Mexican style Manchego basically is a cheese that really is its own unique thing.  Mexican Manchego has a pale tannish yellow tint and it has a high fat content.  Mexican Manchego cheese melts quickly and the flavor is very mellow. 
     Roast beef is rarely thought of as being a breakfast meat.  Roast beef gives today's breakfast sandwich a hearty appealing flavor.  One thing that I have noticed during my chef career is that guys seem to like really like beef for breakfast.  About nine times out of ten, it is a guy who orders Steak & Eggs at a restaurant.  Women seem to order beef for breakfast less frequently.  

     Padrón Chile Pepper originally came from South America.  After the Colombian Exchange, Padrón Peppers were introduced to Spain.  These peppers are used extensively in tapas cuisine.  Chile Padrón are wrinkly, curved, thin walled peppers and no two look alike.   
     Eating Padrón Chile Peppers is like playing Russian Roulette.  For the most part, Padrón peppers have a very mild chile pepper heat, but about one out of every ten Chile Padrón is very spicy hot.  When serving Padrón Peppers to guests who prefer mild flavors, it is best to taste a small bit of the Chile Padrón before using it in a recipe.     
     
     This entire recipe yields 1 sandwich!  To make this breakfast sandwich the right way, every item has to be cooked and finished at the same time.

     Chile Padrón Fried Egg:  
     Step 1:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 thin sliced green chile padrón.
     Sauté till the chile pepper starts to become tender.
     Step 2:  Add 1 large egg.
     Break the yolk.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Pan fry the chile padrón egg, till it is fully cooked on both sides.  (over hard)     
     Keep the egg warm on a stove top.

     Grilled Manchego Cheese & Chile Padrón Egg Breakfast Sandwich with Roast Beef:
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Brush 2 slices of whole grain bread with melted unsalted butter.
     Place the bread on the grill.
     Immediately place 1 or 2 thin slices of Mexican Manchego cheese on the bread.
     Step 2:  Brush an empty space on the griddle with melted unsalted butter.
     Place 3 ounces of deli style thin sliced roast beef on the griddle.
     Grill the roast beef till it is warmed up.
     Step 3:  Place the roast beef on one half of the sandwich.
     Place the chile padrón egg on top of the roast beef.
     Finish grilling the sandwich, so it is toasted to a golden brown color.
     Step 4:  Place the sandwich halves together and set the sandwich on a cutting board.
     Cut the breakfast sandwich in half.
     Place the Roast Beef and Chile Padrón Egg Grilled Manchego Cheese Breakfast Sandwich on a plate.  
     Garnish with an Italian parsley sprig.

     Nothing fancy.  Just a few ingredients that taste good together! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Kansas City Strip Steak with New Mexico Chile & Holland Pepper Marmalade ~ Boulangère Potatoes









     A Southwestern Style Marmalade For Steak!
     Sirloin Strip Steak is the most popular steak served in restaurants.  T-Bone steaks steaks happen to be the all time most popular steak, because they look so good sizzling away on a backyard chargrill.  Both of these types of steak cuts come from the beef loin section. 
     Porterhouse steaks are cut closer to the leg end of the short loin, so the tenderloin piece on the steak is large.  T-Bones are cut close to the middle of the short loin, so the tenderloin piece on the steak is much smaller. 

     The short loin section is where Sirloin Strip Steaks are cut from.  The classic "T" shape bone is not a feature on sirloin strip steaks.  The bone is narrow and it is sawn through, so it looks like half of a letter "T."  
     When the piece of bone is attached sirloin loin strip steak or short loin steak, then this cut of beef can be called a Kansas City Strip Steak.  If the bone is removed, then a sirloin strip steak is called a NY Strip or a Club Steak.  

     The loin section muscles are not used by cattle too much, so the beef is naturally tender from intramuscular fat marbling.  USDA Prime Grade Beef has the most marbling and there are many inspection standards that include sex, health and age.  Prime Grade Beef is the best and it can be found in good butcher shops.
     USDA Choice Grade Beef has the second highest percentage of marbling and there are less restrictions on sex and age.  A good USDA Choice Grade Beef Steak can be almost equally as a nice USDA Prime Grade steak.  A lower quality USDA Choice Grade steak at the worst will be a little bit tough, because there is minimal intramuscular fat marbling.  
     USDA Select Grade Beef is not worth considering when seeking a great steak, because is is really just an institutional grade of beef.  USDA Choice Steaks are sometimes marketed at bargain price chain restaurants or American diner style restaurants.  Grocery stores that specialize in family style bulk purchase food do sell USDA Select Grade Beef for dirt cheep prices.  When feeding a large family for low price, USDA Select Beef Steaks are a good deal, but the steaks will need to be marinated so they are not tough and chewy.

     Many steak connoisseurs prefer steaks with the bone attached, because of the flavor it adds.   There is far less shrinkage when the bone is attached.  
     When plating a Kansas City Strip Steak, the steak should be placed on the plate so the bone is farthest from the customer.  A boneless NY Strip Strip Steak is presented with the fat cap side farthest from the customer.  Since the fat on KC Strip Steak faces the customer, the fat cap must be trimmed and presentable.  Classically, the fat cap must be trimmed to about a 1/4" to 3/8" thickness.  Any gristle on the wide end should be trimmed off, unless the steak would be disfigured by doing so.  

     Marmalade steak accompaniments have been popular for at least 30 years.  Dried pectin or liquid pectin can be used to make marmalade.  
     A fresh pectin can be made by repeatedly simmering and reducing pureed apples and onions.  The pectin rich broth can be strained or the pectin puree can be used as is.  I chose to retain the fresh pectin puree in today's marmalade to give it more body.

     New Mexico Chile Peppers vary from mild to medium hot on the Scoville heat range scale.  New Mexico Chiles have a bold classic southwestern chile pepper flavor.  Holland Pepper is another name for sweet yellow bell pepper.  The combination of sweet Holland Pepper and bold New Mexico Chile Pepper creates an interesting marmalade flavor for steak.

     New Mexico Chile & Holland Pepper Marmalade:
     This recipe yields about 1/2 cup or enough for 2 to 3 steaks!  
     This marmalade has a semi translucent thick body, because the fresh pectin was not strained.   
     Step 1:  Place 1/3 cup of finely chopped onion in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1/3 cup of chopped peeled and cored apple.
     Add 1/4 cup of sugar.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of ground New Mexico chile pepper.
     Add enough water to cover the ingredients.
     Place the sauce pot over medium heat.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the liquid by half.
     Step 3:  Add enough water to cover the ingredients.
     Simmer and reduce the liquid, till most of the liquid evaporates.
     Repeat this step one more time.  The Ingredients should be very soft after the third reduction.
     Step 4:  Press the flavored pectin mixture through a small gauge wire mesh strainer into a second sauce pot.  
     Place the sauce pot over low heat.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of cider vinegar.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest.
     Add 1 small pinch of allspice.
     Step 5:  Simmer the liquid, till the puree reduces to a medium thick jam consistency.
     Step 6:  Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Add 1/3 cup of sweet yellow bell pepper that is cut into thin strips that are about 2" long.  
     Step 7:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Slowly simmer and reduce, till the marmalade returns to a medium thick jam consistency and the Holland Pepper strips are tender.
     Keep the marmalade warm on a stove top or chill it for later use.  If the chilled marmalade becomes too thick after it gels, then warm the marmalade with a few teaspoons of water before serving.

     Pommes De Terre Boulangère:  
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     French baker style potatoes!  This boulangere potato was a favorite potato du jour at a yacht club that I worked in.  Thyme adds a nice flavor.
     Step 1:  Cut a peeled 6 ounce russet potato into thin slices.  (About 3/16" thick)
     Overlap the potato slices in row on a small high sided baking pan or casserole dish.
     Add enough light chicken stock to the pan, so the liquid is halfway up the sides of the potatoes.
     Add 1 tablespoon of small chopped onion.
     Drizzle 1 tablespoon of melted unsalted butter over the potatoes.
     Season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of thyme over the potatoes.
     Step 2:  Bake in a 350º oven, till the potatoes become fully cooked and light golden brown highlights appear.
     Keep the pommes de terre boulangère warm on a stove top.

     Kansas City Strip Steak:
     Step 1:  Select a 12 to 14 ounce Short Loin Steak (Strip Steak) that has the piece of bone attached.  (A Kansas City Strip Steak always has the bone attached.)  
     Trim the fat cap, so it is about 1/4" to 3/8" thick.
     Brush the steak with vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter.
     Season the steak with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:   Heat a char grill or cast iron ribbed griddle to medium/medium high heat.
     Cook the steak to the steak to the preferred finish temperature.  (The steak in the pictures was cooked very rare.  Always flip the steak in a way that creates cross-check grill marks.)
     Step 3:  Place the steak on a wire screen roasting rack and let it rest for about 1 minute.
     
     Presentation:  
     Place the grilled steak on a plate, so the bone is toward the center of the plate.
     Use a slotted spoon to place the boulangere potatoes on the plate.
     Place a vegetable of your choice on the plate.  (Carrots are always a good choice!)
     Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs.
     Place a portion of the New Mexico Chile & Holland Pepper Marmalade on top of the steak.  (About 2 to 3 tablespoons)
     Garnish the marmalade with a small mint sprig.

     This is a nice summer season backyard chargrill party entrée!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Jamon y Refritos Frittata con Queso Oaxaca Jalapeño Crema







     Viva la Breakfast!
     Many restaurants that serve breakfast, miss out on the crowd of people who want more than just plain old worn out "middle of the road" food in the morning.  Most fine dining restaurants do not even have the word breakfast in their vocabulary, so elegant breakfast food is relatively uncommon in this modern age.  Relatively few casual restaurants offer creative breakfast food options.  This simply should not be the case.
     As a chef, I liked running a restaurant kitchen during Sunday brunches.  Weekend brunch menu items should have some creative flare to them and no breakfast food should be boring.  To me, a restaurant that serves the same old tired breakfast menu over and over again is not the place to go.
     Personally, I want great gourmet creative food for breakfast.  Many members of the dining public feel the same way.  This is why I write so many new breakfast recipes.
     Many of the breakfast recipes I write are just ideas for good flavor combinations that are set into motion.  There is nothing new about the individual ingredients in today's recipe, but putting them all together as a frittata is something that not every cook would think of doing, especially when sleepy eyed early in the morning.  Today's Mexican style frittata has a nice looking composed presentation and it is delicious!

    *This entire recipe yields 1 frittata!

     Refritos:
     Here is a link to the refritos recipe in this website:  
     • Refried Pinto Beans ~ Refritos!
     Home made refritos are the best, if you have the time to make them.  Some brands of canned refritos are better than others.  Quality canned refried beans made with oil instead of lard are an option.  If you want the old traditional flavor, then chose the refritos that are made with lard.

     Heat about 1 cup of  refried beans with a splash of water over very low heat in a sauce pot.
     Season the refried beans with sea salt if necessary.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Keep the refritos warm over very low heat.

     Queso Oaxaca Jalapeño Crema:
     This a simple reduction sauce that is easy to make for breakfast.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 3/4 cup of cream.
     Add 1 thin sliced small green jalapeño pepper.  (Remove the seeds if a mild flavor is preferred.)
     Step 2:  Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a thin sauce consistency that can barely coat the back of a spoon.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of grated Oaxaca cheese, while stirring.
     Stir till the cheese melts into the sauce.
     Step 4:  Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a medium thin consistency that easily coats a spoon.
     Season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Keep the jalapeño cheese sauce warm over very low heat.

     Jamon y Refritos Frittata con Queso Oaxaca Jalapeño Crema:
     Frittata presentations are almost always composed.  Composed means placing the items on a frittata in an organize way the creates eye appeal.
     Step 1:  Heat a non stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 3 whisked large eggs.
     Allow the eggs to cook flat without stirring.
     When the bottom half of the frittata is cooked firm, remove the pan from the heat.  The eggs should still be uncooked and runny on top.
     Step 2:  Place a few thin sliced ham strips on the uncooked egg on the frittata.  (About 3 ounces)
     Place a few thin sliced mixed red and green bell pepper strips on the frittata.
     Place a few julienne sliced onions on the frittata.
     Step 3:  Place the frittata and pan in a 325ºF oven.
     When eggs become fully cooked on the top of the frittata, remove the pan from the oven.
     Step 4:  Mound 3/4 cup of shredded lettuce on the center of the frittata.
     Place 3 to 3 tablespoons of diced tomato on the lettuce.
     Sprinle some sliced green onion on the tomato.
     Spoon 6 or 7 dollops of the warm refried beans on the border of the frittata around the lettuce.
     Spoon the Queso Oaxaca Jalapeño Crema sauce over each dollop of refried beans.

     This is a tasty and filling frittata for a chilly day!

Taquitos de Parra








     Mexican-Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves!
     There have been several times in the last few hundred years when Lebanese immigrants settled in Mexico.  Some Lebanese people moved to Mexico by choice and others moved there to escape from the Ottoman occupation of Lebanon.
     There are a few large communities of Lebanese immigrants in the Puebla region of Mexico.  Lebanese cuisine influences can be seen in many local Puebla recipes.  Today's Stuffed Grape Leaves recipe is a prime example.  The name of the recipe is a Mexican Spanish descriptive translation that kind of compares the stuffed grape leaves to Taquitos, which are small thin cylinder shaped stuffed tortillas.  The word "Parra" refers to "vine or grave vine."  "Taquitos de Parra" roughly translates to "Grape Vine Leaf Taquitos."
     Lamb is the first choice of meat for stuffed grape leaves, but beef is used too.  I made these taquitos de parra with ground beef.  Middle Eastern spices were not always available in Mexico, so Lebanese immigrants adapted local herbs and spices to their cuisine.
 
     Taquitos de Parra:
     This recipe yields about 12 stuffed grape leaves!
     Pickled grape leaves can be found in some grocery stores, but a better selection can be found in Mediterranean food markets.
     Step 1:  Soak 1/2 cup of basmati rice in water for 1 hour.
     Rinse the rice under cold running water, till the water is clear and not milky.
     Step 2:  Place the rice in a sauce pot.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer the rice, till it is about 3/4 cooked.  (About 10 to 12 minutes.)
     Step 3:  Use a strainer to drain off the excess water.
     Step 4:  Place the partially cooked basmati rice in a mixing bowl.
     Add 4 ounces of lean ground beef or ground lamb.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of allspice.
     Add 1 pinch of cinnamon or 1/4 teaspoon of cannella.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ancho chile powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon garlic paste.
     Mix the stuffing ingredients together.
     Step 5:  Rinse about 12 pickled grape leaves under cold water.
     Place the grape leaves side by side on a cutting board.
     Cut  thin "V" shaped slices around the tough stem end and remove the thick stem piece from each grape leaf.
     Step 6:  Place a small portion of the stuffing on each grape leaf.  (about 2 to 3 tablespoons)
     Fold the sides of each leaf over the stuffing and roll the grape leaves into sealed cylinder shaped rolls.  The stuffing should be completely sealed inside the leaf.
     Step 7:  Place the stuffed grape leaves side by side, in a row, in a n oven proof casserole dish.
     Drizzle 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil over the stuffed grape leaves.
     Place several thin slices of lemon on top of the stuffed grape leaves.
     Place a few grape leaves over the stuffed grape leaves and lemon to shield them from the heat of the oven.  (Use any damaged grape leaves for this step.)
     Add a small splash of water to the casserole dish.  (About 1/4 cup of water is plenty.)
     Place a lid on the casserole dish.
     Step 8:  Bake the stuffed grape leaves slowly in a 300º oven for about 20 to 25 minutes.
     Step 9:  Remove the casserole dish from the oven.
     Use a spatula to transfer Taquitos de Parra to a serving plate.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
 
     Taquitos de parra are a very nice afternoon appetizer that are nice to share with guests.  This unique Mexican-Lebanese mezze certainly is a conversation starter!  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Smoked Bacon, Green Chile and Oaxaca Cheese Frittata








     A Tasty Mild Chile Pepper Frittata!
     Green chile peppers taste nice with smoked bacon.  A mixture of mild green chiles and green bell pepper gives this omelette a mild spicy flavor.  Oaxaca Cheese is a milky fresh cheese that compares to mozzarella.  Milky fresh Oaxaca Cheese adds a comfortable soothing flavor that buffers the mild chile pepper heat.

     Most frittatas are made with three eggs or more.  I usually makes frittatas with only 2 eggs for photo examples.  This is because I am not as physically active as I should be while going to college full time, so cutting back the caloric intake is necessary.  A two egg frittata is thin and light on the tummy.  If a hearty frittata is preferred, then 3 eggs will do the trick.

     Omelette and frittata entrees are not just for breakfast.  They are also nice when served as an evening meal.  When I was cooking in Philadelphia, nearly every restaurant offered creative dinner omelets on the menu.  When sold at dinner menu prices, a fancy omelette can yield extreme profits.  At home, a dinner omelette or frittata can help to stretch the budget.  Today's frittata recipe costs less than $2.00 to make!
 
     Smoked Bacon, Green Chile and Oaxaca Cheese Frittata:
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 strips of smoked bacon that are small chopped.
     Stir and sauté the smoked bacon, till it is brown and crispy.
     Drain the grease off of the bacon bits and set them aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Add 1/3 cup of chopped green bell pepper.
     Add 1 thin sliced green jalapeño pepper.
     Add 1 sliced green onion.
     Sauté till the peppers become cooked al dente.
     Step 3:  Add 2 tablespoons of chopped roasted poblano pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped cilantro leaves.
     Return the crispy smoked bacon bits to the pan.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Briefly sauté for a few seconds to heat the roasted poblano pepper.
     Remove the pan from the heat and keep it warm on a stove top.
     Step 4:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
     Add 2 whisked eggs.
     Use a spatula to even the edges of the frittata.
     When the bottom of the frittata becomes cooked firm, remove the pan from the heat.  The eggs on the top half will still be uncooked.
     Step 5:  Sprinkle the smoked bacon and green pepper mixture on the top of the frittata.
     Try to arrange the thin slices of jalapeño around the border of the frittata, so it looks nice.
     Sprinkle some grated Queso Oaxaca over the frittata.
     Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt and black pepper over the frittata.
     Sprinkle a few pinches of fine plain bread crumbs over the frittata.
     Step 6:  Place the frittata pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the cheese melts and the eggs on top half of the frittata are fully cooked.  (Try not to brown the cheese!)
     Step 7:  Remove the frittata from the oven.
     Carefully slide the frittata onto a serving plate.
     Place a dollop of sour cream on the center of the frittata.
     Garnish the sour cream with cilantro leaves.
 
     A two egg frittata looks like a large plate of food, but the eggs are as thin as a sheet of pasta!  Less eggs means much more flavor from the toppings.  

Pozole









     Aztec Pozole!
     Pozole is one of the most famous recipes of them all.  Nearly every Mexican restaurant has pozole on the menu.  Just about every cook in the southwest knows how to cook pozole.  Pozole is classic Aztec comida!  

     Outside of the southwest and Mexico region, folks with chile pepper knowledge run fewer and farther between.  Just because a soup or stew has a red chile pepper color, it does not necessarily mean that the soup or stew is spicy hot.  A mixture of mild Mexican dried chile peppers gives pozole a unique robust hearty flavor.  In fact, the mild chile pepper mixture is downright savory tasting!
     Chile Pasilla is a dried fresh Chile Chilaca.  Pasilla has a unique earthy robust flavor with mild tobacco overtones.  Pasilla is a mildly spicy chile.  Chile Puya is a long narrow chile that is mildly spicy and it has rich fruit flavor overtones.  Both of these chiles give Pozole its rich savory flavor.  
     Chile Arbol is a medium hot chile and it spices up the Pozole.  New Mexico Chile adds a classic southwestern cuisine flavor.  Chile Ancho gives the pozole a mild raison flavor and a classic deep dark chile pepper flavor.  
     Guajillo Chile is a favorite for making Chile Colorado Sauce.  Chile Guajillo is a mild chile that has a savory classic Mexican chile pepper flavor.  
     Put all these peppers together and you will have one very nice tasting pozole!

     Pozole has its origins in pre-Aztec cultures, but the Aztecs made this entree famous.  Pozole is always made with lime treated corn that is called hominy.  Just like with nixtamalization, hominy corn makes the nutrients in corn easily available for digestion.
     The meat in the original Aztec pozole is what made pozole famous.  Originally, pozole was a ritual food.  Captive enemies of the Aztecs were sacrificed and their flesh was turned into pozole.  Everybody in the ritual ate a small portion of the captive enemy as a bowl of pozole.  The idea was to experience the spirit of the captive enemy and gain insight into the enemy culture.
     The Spanish explorers wrote about Aztec pozole and they mentioned how enemies of the Aztecs were sacrificed and eaten in some kind of a stew.  Of course this practice was frowned upon by the Spanish.

     After hogs were introduced to the Americas, the official meat for making pozole became pork.  According to food experts, pork tastes like human flesh.  The old Aztec pozole recipe actually did not need to be modified, so it could be adapted for pork.  
     Pozole can be made with any kind of meat or fish.  There are vegetarian versions of pozole too.  Pozole made from captive prisoners is not made very often these days, but the old Aztec pozole ritual beliefs still do exist.  
     If a chef states that their own recipe is the original pozole recipe, then just laugh and ask who did they cook!  If the chef has no clue as to what in meant by the question, then the chef really does not know what pozole was originally all about!  
     One thing is for sure, naive enemies of the Aztecs that planned to venture into Aztec territory probably heard these words from fellow tribal members:  "So, you are planning to do a raid in Aztec territory, huh?  You really must have a thing for being the featured meat in pozole!"  

     Pozole should have plenty of pork and hominy in the broth, just like what is shown in the pictures above.  Pozole is usually served with a wide variety of garnishes.  I tend to prefer pre-colombian garnishes for pazole.  Adding a few Spanish origin ingredients like cumin and coriander is okay, but those flavors should barely be tasted.  Lime and sour cream are also Spanish garnishes.  Avocado is a classic complimentary garnish in Aztec cuisine and it almost always accompanies pozole.  Roasted poblano and tomato are good classic Aztec garnishes too.  

     Pozole:
     This recipe yields 2 small portions or 1 large portion of pozole!
     Step 1:  Select a pork shoulder joint that has plenty of meat attached to the bone.  The entire shoulder joint piece may weigh 2 pounds, but there may only be about 8 to 10 ounces of meat attached to the bone.   
     Step 2:  Rub the pork shoulder section with:
     - sea salt
     - black pepper
     - 1 tablespoon of New Mexico Chile Powder
     - 1 teaspoon of onion powder 
     - 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
     Place the seasoned pork shoulder section on a roasting pan.
     Add a splash of water.
     Slowly roast the pork shoulder in a 300º oven, till it is fully cooked.  
     Remove the pan from the oven.
     Step 3:  Place the pork shoulders in a pot.
     Deglaze the roasting pan and add the drippings.
     Add enough water to cover the pork shoulder.  (about 4 cups) 
     Step 4:  Add 1 pinch of Mexican oregano.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of ground chile pasilla.
     Add 1 seeded chile guajillo.
     Add 2 seeded chile puya.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ground chile ancho.
     Add 1 seeded chile arbol.
     Add 1/3 cup of chopped onion.
     Add 1 chopped green onion.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced epazote.
     Step 5:  Place the pot over low heat.
     Simmer till the chiles become very soft and tender.  (About 2 hours.)
     Add water as necessary.
     Step 6:  Remove the pot from the heat and let the ingredients cool.
     Remove the pork shoulder section from the pot and let it cool.  
     Cut the meat off of the bones.
     Cut the pork meat into small cube shape bite size pieces and set the diced pork aside.
     Step 7:  Use an electric puree wand or a food processor to puree the chile peppers in the pozole broth.
     Step 8:  Return the pozole broth to a pot over low heat.
     Add the pork shoulder meat pieces.
     Add 1 1/3 cups of hominy corn.
     Adjust the salt and pepper seasoning.
     Simmer and reduce the broth, till the broth becomes very rich looking.  The finished volume should be 2 3/4 cups.     

     Presentation:  
     Step 1:  Place the pozole in a deep soup bowl.
     Use a spoon to mound the hominy and pork on one side of the bowl so the solid ingredients are above the broth.
     Step 2:  Garnish the pozole with thin avocado slices.
     Garnish the avocado with roasted red bell pepper strips.
     Garnish the pozole with a cilantro or Italian parsley sprig.
     Step 3:  Place the bowl of pozole on a serving plate.
     Garnish the plate with Mexican condiments of your choice.  Roasted chile poblano, diced tomato and sliced green onion are good choices.
     Place a small ramekin of hot sauce on the plate.
     Serve with a stack of steamed small corn tortillas.

     Honestly, pozole is one of the simplest yet greatest tasting traditional Mexican entrees that there is!  Just close your eyes and pretend that you are eating your captured enemies, for that good old traditional Aztec fine dining experience!  

The Californian Sandwich ~ with Purple Potato Salad & Wax Bean Salad









     The First Health Cuisine Sandwich
     The Californian was very popular in the late 1970's.  People associated California cuisine with health food back then.  In fact, the Californian sandwich was one of the first health cuisine items offered on restaurant menus.
     Nearly 40 years ago, any entrée that was named "Californian" had avocado, sprouts, tomato, cheddar or jack cheese and a light meat like chicken or turkey in the list of ingredients.  If a customer asked for a Californian Omelette or Californian Sandwich anywhere in America, the customer got a chef's creation that featured these classic California health cuisine ingredients.

     The Californian Sandwich was originally marketed at trendy American diner restaurants and cafés in the late 1970's and early 1980's.  Famous chef's were doing classic cuisine back then and there was no such thing as a television food network.  California health cuisine was the best selling cuisine at that time and European chefs were influenced by this trend.
     So few healthy food items were offered on restaurant menus back in the late 1970's, that all a chef had to do was to create a food item that had the basic stereotypical California health food ingredients and good sales numbers were guaranteed.  The best selling items were the California Omelette and the Californian Sandwich.  The ingredients were easy to identify, so customers readily gobbled these food creations up!

     The first time that I made a Grilled Californian Sandwich as a pro cook was at a fancy diner style restaurant in Philadelphia back in 1979.  That sandwich was so popular that the restaurant offered an omelette and a gourmet burger that featured the basic California health cuisine ingredients.
     Later, I worked in a French bakery in Philadelphia early in the early 1980's.  The bakery was a franchise of a famous bakery in Paris.  One of our most popular baguette sandwiches was an item called the Californian.  The French baguette was made like a sub sandwich and it had the same ingredients as this Californian Grilled Sandwich.  Obviously the French company realized the sales potential of California style food.
      After that bakery job, I moved to Florida and started working as a lunch sous chef in French cafés.  When I ran the California Sandwich as a lunch special du jour, it outsold every other item on the menu.  The Californian Sandwich literally was a gold mine!

     In all honesty, I lived in California and hardly anybody there eats stuff like a Californian Sandwich!  Mexican food is healthy and it is more popular than any other cuisine in California.  The Californian Sandwich was basically designed to appeal to those who lived outside of California and the design capitalized on the first health cuisine trend.
     The Californian Sandwich was a great success and it is here to stay.  The recipe is standardized, just like a BLT and every American chef knows what ingredients to select when the word Californian is spoken.  The Californian once was and still is a good selling grilled sandwich!

     Purple Potato Salad:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Boil 5 to 6 ounces of Peruvian Purple Potatoes, till they are fully cooked but not mushy.
     Cool the potatoes under cold running water.
     Peel the potatoes.  (It is easy to peel them by dragging the back of a paring knife over the skin.  The thin skin is easily scraped off.)
     Cut the potatoes into large diced cube shaped pieces.
     Step 2:  Place the diced potatoes in a mixing bowl.
     Add l/2 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sweet pickle relish.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped green onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped bermuda onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of fine chopped celery.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 3:  Add just enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together.  (About 2 tablespoons)
     Mix the ingredients by gently stirring.
     Chill the purple potato salad to 41ºF in a refrigerator.

     Wax Bean Salad:
     This recipe yields 1 portions.
     Step 1:  Steam or boil 1 handful of wax beans, till they are cooked al dente.  (About 1 cup in volume.)
     Cool the wax beans under cold running water.
     Trim the ends off of the wax beans.
     Slice the beans into bite size pieces.
     Step 2:  Place the wax bean pieces in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of petite thin red bell pepper strips.
     Add 2 tablespoons of petite thin sliced bermuda onion strips.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of red wine vinegar.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Step 3:  Toss the ingredients together.
     Chill the wax bean salad before serving.

     Californian Grilled Sandwich:
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich.
     Step 1:  Butterfly cut a 4 to 5 ounce chicken breast, so it is thin and flat.  (This will make the chicken breast cook evenly.)
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of blended olive oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the butterflied chicken breast.
     Season the chicken with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté the chicken breast on both sides, till it is fully cooked.
     Step 3:  Place the chicken breast on a cutting board.
     Bias slice the chicken breast into thin wide strips.
     Step 4:  Heat a griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Brush one side of two pieces of bread with melted unsalted butter.  (Rye, whole wheat or  sourdough bread are good choices.)
     Place the bread on the griddle.
     Place a few thin slices of Monterey Jack Cheese on the bread.
     Place the chicken strips on one of the slices of bread.
     Place a few thin slices of tomato on the chicken.
     Set a few thin slices of avocado on the tomato slices.
     Place a layer alfalfa sprouts or broccoli sprouts on the other piece of bread.
     Step 5:  When the bread is toasted golden brown and the cheese has melted, set the broccoli sprout half of the sandwich on top of the other half of the sandwich.
     Step 6:  Place the sandwich on a cutting board.
     Cut the sandwich in half and set the two halves on a plate.
     Use a ring mold to place a portion of the purple potato salad on the plate.
     Place a portion of the wax bean salad on the plate.
     Garnish with a dill pickle spear.

     The flavor of a Californian sandwich has a healthy garden fresh vegetable theme!  The purple potato salad adds pretty color to this plate.  Wax bean salad is a classic picnic style accompaniment.  When that plain old grilled cheese sandwich gets to be a bit boring, a Californian Grilled Sandwich will liven things up!