Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sasquatch Huarache! ~ Puerco Carne Asada y Refritos Negros










     A Bigfoot Huarache!  
     A Sope is a thick Masa Harina tortilla that is as thick as a pancake.  A Sope is about 3" to 5" in diameter.  Sope can be pressed flat like a pancake or the top can be slightly dished out with a rim around the border, so the Sope can hold more toppings.  Sope are usually cooked on a dry griddle or they are pan fried.
     There are several Sope variations.  A stuffed Sope is called a Gordita.  One of the most popular variations is a large Sope that is shaped like a traditional Huarache (Mexican Sandle).  A Huarache is usually topped with refried beans, a choice of meat, antojitos garnishes and Queso Cotija.  
     The size of an average Huarache at a taqueria compares to a Size 10 Shoe and it is usually about 9" to 10" long.  The toppings are piled high, so a standard size Huarache is a filling meal.
     Trendy restaurants usually offer a few gimmick food items, especially if the restaurant is in a tourist area.  Gimmick food items often have a catchy name that is designed to draw attention.  Some gimmick food items are designed to be an extra large portion that presents a challenge for a customer to conquer.
     Today's Sasquatch Huarache definitely is a gimmick food item that presents a big challenge to conquer!  A Sasquatch is not called Bigfoot for no reason at all.  These mysterious giants of the forest reportedly grow to well over 7 feet tall and they weigh over 400 pounds.  Plaster casts of Bigfoot tracks show that these creatures have gigantic feet, so a Sasquatch Huarache would have to be really big!  
     A giant Sasquatch Huarache is a good item for a promotional eating challenge, especially if it topped off with some fiery hot sauce.  A fearless customer would need a big appetite to conquer a Sasquatch Huarache eating challenge, just to win a free restaurant logo t-shirt or a pair of Bigfoot size sandals.  A big Sasquatch Huarache is also a nice item for guests to share at a table.  Today's Sasquatch Huarache is big enough for 2 to 4 guests to share.           
     A Sasquatch Huarache can be topped with any kind of Mexican style taco meat and it is big enough to be made with several kinds of meat toppings.  Puerco Carne Asada is a nice choice.  Puerco Carne Asada is prepared like regular Carne Asada (Beef Asada).  The pork meat is highly seasoned with ground mild red chile peppers, salt, spice and garlic, then it is chilled for 2 to 4 hours, so the spice flavors penetrate the meat.  The chile pepper spiced pork meat is then roasted on a grill or in an oven.  The finished Puerco Carne Asada is tender and full of great flavor.

     Habanero Hot Sauce:
     Habanero Hot Sauce is option for those who enjoy spicy hot food.  If mild flavors are preferred, then skip over this recipe.  Follow this link to the recipe in this website:
     • Habanero Sauce

     Frijoles Negros Refritos:
     Canned Refried Black Beans are a nice convenience.  Canned Refried Black Beans just need to be gently warmed in a sauce pot with a small amount of water. 
     Refritos Negros that are made from scratch are always best.  Follow the link to the recipe in this website if fresh Refritos Negros are preferred.
     • Frijoles Negros  

     Puerco Carne Asada:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups.  (Enough for 1 Sasquatch Huarache Gigante!)
     Puerco Carne Asada is traditionally slow roasted on a chargrill set to a moderate temperature.
     Step 1:  Select a 14 ounce cut of boneless pork shoulder.
     Cut the pork shoulder section into wide cutlets that are about 1" thick.
     Step 2:  Place the thick pork shoulder cutlets in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Toss the ingredients together till the pork meat is lightly coated.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground anatto.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Ancho Chile Powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.
     Step 4:  Toss the ingredients together.
     Rub the spices onto the pork shoulder pieces.
     Step 5:  Place the spiced pork in a container.  
     Chill in a refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours.
     Step 6:  Heat a chargrill (or a cast iron ribbed griddle) to a medium/medium low temperature.
     Place the spiced thick pork cutlets on the grill.
     Slowly chargrill till the pork is fully cooked and the spices turn dark brown.
     Step 7:  Place the Puerco Carne Asada cutlets on a cutting board.
     Chop the Puerco Carne Asada into small pieces and place them in a ceramic container.
     Keep the Puerco Carne Asada warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Guacamole:
     This recipe yields about 2/3 cup.  
     No sour cream is needed in this guacamole!  It tastes amazingly crisp and fresh without sour cream.
     Step 1:  Place the fruit pulp of 1 medium size ripe avocado in a mixing bowl.  (About 1/2 cup)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped green onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped tomato.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped cilantro.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced seeded green jalapeño.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.  (about 2 pinches)
     Step 2:  Mash and mix the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Place the guacamole in a container.
     Chill for at least 10 minutes before serving.

     Marinaded Onion Garnish:
     This recipe yields about 1/3 cup.
     Step 1:  Place 1/3 cup of thin sliced onion strips in a mixing bowl.     
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of fresh lime zest.
     Step 2:  Toss the ingredients together.
     Set the marinated onions aside for 5 minutes, so the flavors meld.

     Sasquatch Huarache:
     This recipe yields 1 Giant Bigfoot Size Huarache!  
     Yellow Masa Harina or White Masa Harina can be used to make the Sope Dough.  
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of Masa Harina (Nixtamal Corn Flour) in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 1 pinch of black pepper.
     Mix the dry ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Measure 1 1/2 cups of hot tap water.  (About 120ºF)
     Slowly ddd a little bit of water at a time to the dry corn flour mixture, while stirring with a spoon to make a stiff semi dry dough.
     *The dough will be dry and crumbly at this point.
     Step 3:  Add 1 teaspoon of melted lard or vegetable oil while kneading.
     Slowly add 1 tablespoon of water at a time while kneading, till the dough is smooth and pliable.  (About 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup.)
     *The finished Sope Dough should be able to hold its shape and no cracks should appear on the surface when the dough is squeezed.  
     Step 4:  Form the Sope Dough into a thick oval shape.
     Place the oval shaped dough on a countertop that is wiped with a thin film of oil.
     Use your hands to flatten the dough into an extra large Huarache Sandal shape that is about 1/4" to 3/8" thick.  (The shaped dough will look like a Size 14 to Size 16 Sandal!)
     Step 5:  Use a long cake spatula to loosen the shaped Huarache from the countertop.
     Carefully slide the big Huarache onto a flat baking pan.
     Set the pan with the Huarache aside 
     Step 6:  Heat a large seasoned cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Spread about 1/4 cup of vegetable oil (or lard) on the griddle.
     Step 7:  Carefully slide the giant Huarache onto the griddle
     Grill the Huarache till golden brown highlights appear on the bottom half.
     Step 8:  Use a long wide spatula (or pizza paddle) to flip the big Huarache.
     Grill till a few golden brown highlights appear on the second side of the big Huarache.
     Step 9:  Carefully use a long wide spatula to slide the finished Sasquatch Huarache onto a large oval shape serving platter.
     Keep the Huarache warm on a stove top.       

     Sasquatch Huarache! ~ Puerco Carne Asada y Refritos Negros:
     This recipe yields 1 giant Bigfoot Huarache entrée that can be shared by 2 to 4 guests. 
     Cotija Cheese is a nice tasting sharp cheese that easily crumbles.  Queso Cotija is a traditional topping for Huaraches.  
     To avoid a messy plate, the huarache can be assembled on a pan or cutting board and then slid onto a serving platter.
     Diced tomato can be sprinkled over the huarache, but none was used in this recipe.  The only tomatoes available when I made this huarache were awful looking unripe GMO tomatoes that were way overpriced, so they were not an option.   
     Step 1:  Place the large oval serving platter with the Sasquatch Huarache on a countertop.
     Spread a thin layer of Refritos Negros over the big Huarache.  (About 1 1/2 to 2 cups.)
     Place 1 1/2 cups of the prepared Puerco Carne Asada evenly on the Refritos Negros.  
     Step 2:  Sprinkle about 1 1/3 cups of thin sliced Savoy Cabbage on the Huarache.  
     Sprinkle 1 1/4 cups of crumbled Queso Cotija on the cabbage.
     Step 4:  Sprinkle these ingredients on the Huarache:
     - 1/2 cup of diced mixed red bell pepper and green bell pepper. 
     - 1/4 cup of diced seeded Green Jalapeño Pepper over the Huarache.
     - 1/4 cup of diced tomato.
     - 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro.  
     Step 5:  Paint a few streaks of Habanero Sauce or your favorite Mexican Style Hot Sauce on the huarache.  Optional)
     Step 6:  Garnish the serving platter with these items:
     - A 1/2 cup portion of Guacamole on a bed of Savoy Cabbage leaf.
     - The reserved Marinated Onions.
     - 3 or 4 thick slices of lime.  
     
     Wow!  A tasty giant Sasquatch Huarache!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Mole Poblano Pollo y Pepitas







     Chicken in a Classic Puebla Mole Sauce!
     Mole Paste is a Pre-Columbian native preparation that is featured in modern Mexican cuisine.  Mole Pastes originated in several regions of Mexico and they were commonly used in Aztec cuisine.  The process of using a mortar and pestle to grind a complex mixture of ingredients was prevalent in ancient Mexican culture.  The fine ground Mole Pastes could be stored for a long time and they were often used as a trade commodity.  
     The process of grinding ingredients into a Mole Paste is labor intensive.  Many traditional native Mole Pastes required two days of steady grinding with a mortar and pestle.  Obviously the amount of labor involved placed a great value on Mole Paste.  
    In modern times, a special heavy duty stainless steel grinder is used to make Mole Paste.  These machines have strong motors that enable the grinding process to go smoothly with no break downs.  If the same Mole Paste was to be made with a food processor appliance, the motor would burn out because a traditional Mole Paste is so dense.  Even the most powerful restaurant grade food processors are not strong enough to make a traditional Mole Paste.  A heavy duty steel meat grinder will grind the Mole Paste ingredients, but the finished texture will be far too coarse.  
    Some chefs make a liquid puree style Mole Sauce with water and the long list of Mole ingredients.  This can be done with a food processor and the sauce will resemble a Mole Sauce that is made with reconstituted dense paste.  Looks are deceiving, because a Mole Sauce made the liquid puree method does not have the deep rich flavor profile that a traditional reconstituted Mole Paste Sauce has.  The reason why has to do with molecular gastronomy.  Ingredients that are finely ground under pressure will readily adhere to each other on a molecular level and this causes a thorough combining of natural flavins, flavoproteins, oxidants and tannins.  On a molecular level, the nature of the individual Mole ingredients meld together as one, when the ingredients are ground under pressure with a mortar and pestle.  Temperature also contributes to how flavors combine on a molecular level.  A ground Mole Paste will retain sharper flavor profiles than a boiling puree sauce that is made with Mole ingredients.  The oxidation that occurs throughout the grinding process and aging of the Mole Paste also increases complex flavor enhancement on a molecular level.  To sum it all up, a reconstituted traditional Mole Sauce made with a Mole Paste product tastes better than a boiling liquid puree sauce that is made with Mole ingredients!  
     Mole Paste contains a high proportion of finely ground seeds.  Pine Nuts and Calabaza Seeds are the most common in a traditional Mole Paste.  In modern times, sesame seeds often take the place of native seeds.  A seed or nut paste of any kind will readily absorb large amounts of liquid.  This is why a little bit of Mole Paste goes a long way.  One tablespoon of Mole Paste will yield about 1/2 cup of rich tasting Mole Sauce, so be careful not to add too much Mole Paste to a recipe or by the time the thick sauce is thinned with extra water the yield may end up being a gallon or more!
     There are several kinds of regional Mexican Mole Pastes.  Rojo, Pipian, Poblano, Verde and Oaxacan are the most common.  Today's recipe requires Poblano Mole Paste, which is often just labeled as Mole Paste in American food markets.  Poblano Mole Paste is a Puebla style Mole that is made with a combination of about 30 ingredients, which include several kinds of dried chile pepper, nuts, seeds, local herbs and roasted cocoa beans.  Poblano Mole id a deep reddish brown color and as one can imagine, the flavor is very complex.
     In Pre-Columbian times, Morel Mushrooms were sometimes added to the list of Mole Paste ingredients.  Medicinal herbs and psychoactive seeds were sometimes part of the mixture too.  The study of traditional Mole Paste is an interesting topic that can be talked about for hours.  Tasting a traditional Mole Paste Sauce inspires thoughts of how great Pre-Columbian native cuisines must have been.  Fortunately, many ancient recipes survived in their original form after European colonization, so many of the Mesoamerican culinary traditions live on in modern Mexican cuisine.
 
     Frijoles Negros Refritos:
     Canned Refried Black Beans are a nice convenience.  Canned Refried Black Beans just need to be gently warmed in a sauce pot with a small amount of water. 
     Refritos Negros that are made from scratch are always best.  Follow the link to the recipe in this website if fresh Refritos Negros are preferred.
     • Frijoles Negros

     Escabeche:
     This recipe yields about 2/3 cup.  (2 small portions)
     Escabeche is a marinated vegetable accompaniment.
     Step 1:  Place 1/3 cup of sliced carrot in a mixing bowl.  (3/16" thick)
     Add 1/5 cup of sliced onion strips.
     Add 1/5 cup of sliced green jalapeño pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped cilantro.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 3:  Toss the ingredients together.
     Place the escabeche in a container.
     Chill for at least 20 minutes and stir occasionally.
 
     Mexican Rice:
     This recipe yields 2 portions.  (About 1 1/2 cups.)
     This Mexican rice recipe variation is a bit on the bland side, because it is meant to accompany the strong flavor of the garlic sauce!
     Step 1:  Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 of a cup of long grain white rice.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground anatto or achiote paste.
     Add 1 tablespoon of tomato puree.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Add 1 pinch of coriander.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil.
     Step 3:  Return the liquid to a boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Let the rice simmer and steam for almost 20 minutes.
     When the rice is becomes tender and the liquid is absorbed, remove the pot from the heat.
     Keep the rice warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Yuca Root:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Cut a 3" long section of yuca root that is about 2 1/2" thick.
     Use a paring knife the peel off the skin.
     Step 2:  Place the piece of yuca a small sauce pot.
     Add enough water to cover the yuca root.
     Bring the water to a boil over medium high heat.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer till the yuca is tender.
     Step 4:  Drain off the water and leave the yuca in the sauce pot.
     Use a fork to split the yuca open lengthwise.
     Remove the hard stem core from the center of the yuca root.
     Step 5:  Place the pot over very low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of water or chicken broth.
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Baste the yuca with the melted butter sauce.
     Keep the yuca warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Stewed Tomatillos:
     This recipe yields about 1/2 cup.  (1 portion)
     This is not salsa verde!  This recipe is simply stewed tomatillos.
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of tomatillos wedges in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1/4 cup of chicken broth.
     Add enough water to barely cover the tomatillo wedges.
     Add 1 clove of chopped garlic.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro leaves.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Place the sauce pot over medium heat.
     Bring the ingredients to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
     Simmer and reduce till the tomatillos are very tender and most of the liquid evaporates.
     Keep the stewed tomatillos warm over very low heat.

     Mole Poblano Pollo y Pepitas:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Jars or tubs of Mole Poblano Paste are available at Mexican food markets and some grocery stores.  Sometimes this Poblano Mole Paste is just labeled with only the word "Mole."  Read the label and if Cocoa or Chocolate is listed in the ingredients and it is a deep reddish brown color, then it is the correct Mole Paste Product.
     Poblano Mole Paste is so dense, that it will be necessary to warm the container in a pot of water over low heat just so a portion can be scooped out.      
     Step 1:  Select an 8 to 10 ounce chicken breast section that has the ribs and bones attached.
     Remove the skin and trim off any excess fat.
     Cut a few scored slashes through the meat across the width of the chicken breast section.  Each cut should go all the way through the meat to the bones.  The slashes should be parallel to each other and spaced about 1/2" apart.
     Step 2:  Place the scored chicken breast on a small roasting pan with the bone side facing down.
     Drizzle 1 tablespoon of blended olive oil over the chicken.
     Lightly season the chicken breast with sea salt.
     Step 3:  Place the pan in a 300ºF oven.
     Roast till the chicken is almost fully cooked.  (About 3/4 done.)
     Remove the pan from the oven and set the chicken breast aside.
     Step 4:  Place 3 tablespoons of Poblano Mole Paste in a small sauté pan.
     Add 2 cups of water.
     Place the pan over low heat.
     Stir with a whisk till the liquid warms and the Poblano Mole Paste dissolves.
     Bring the Poblano Mole Sauce to a gentle simmer.
     *The Mole Sauce will be very thin at this time.
     Step 5:  Place the partially roasted chicken breast section in the mole sauce with the meat side facing down.
     Gently simmer the chicken breast section in the sauce.  Turn the chicken breast over occasionally, so the sauce flavors the entire chicken breast.
     Allow the sauce to simmer and reduce to a medium thin consistency that can easily cling to the chicken.
     *After reducing, there should be about 3/4 cup to 1 cup of sauce in the pan. 
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the Mole Poblano Chicken Breast on the front half of a plate with bone side facing down.
     Spoon about 1/3 cup of the Poblano Mole Sauce over the chicken and onto the plate.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of Pepitas (toasted calabaza seeds) over the chicken.
     Step 7:  Place these vegetable garnishes on the back half of the plate:
     - 1 small portion of Escabeche on a bed of romaine lettuce.
     - 1 portion of Mexican Rice.
     - 1 portion of Frijoles Negros Refritos.
     - 1 portion of Stewed Tomatillos.
     - Place 1 portion of Buttered Yuca on top of the Stewed Tomatillos.
     Garnish with cilantro sprigs.
     Serve any extra Mole Poblano Sauce in a ramekin on the side.
 
     The deep rich flavor of Mole Poblano Chicken is delicious!  A Mexican entrée is usually a full plate of food that will not leave a guest hungry and today's recipe definitely yields one big healthy meal!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Spinach and Manchego Cheese Soufflé with Roasted Red Pepper Beurre Blanc










     A Tasty Southwestern Style Savory Soufflé!
     Manchego Cheese originated in La Mancha Spain.  Manchego is a sheep milk cheese that has a nice mellow sharp flavor that goes well with spinach.  In La Mancha, only a certain type of local sheep is used to make Manchego Cheese.  
     Queso Manchego is popular in Mexico too.  The quality of Mexican Manchego cheese can vary from commercial bulk quality to nicely crafted artisan quality.  The commercial bulk style Mexican Manchego shares few characteristics with authentic Spanish Manchego, but it is a nice cheese in its own right.  Commercial Mexican Manchego is most often used for cooking or melting and it is rarely featured on its own.  On the other hand, top quality artisan Mexican Manchego is best featured on a fine cheese platter.
     When making a Spinach Soufflé, two different paths can be taken.  One is to make a very smooth refined strained Béchamel spinach puree.  Only the essence and color of the spinach is in this style of elegant soufflé.  The second method is to add minced blanched spinach the Béchamel sauce, with no straining involved.  The spinach roughage texture is retained when using this method.  Today's Spinach Soufflé is made with the coarser method, so it is a bit more hearty than the refined style.
     When the spinach in a soufflé is discolored or brown, this means that the spinach was not prepared correctly.  The same technique that is used to prepare green herbs for an emulsion oil is used to prepare spinach for a soufflé.  The method involves quickly blanching the spinach boiling water for a few seconds, then shocking the blanched spinach in ice water.  When using this method, the bright green color of the spinach will be retained.  The Spinach Soufflé in the photo examples above is a natural green color that is a result of using the quick blanching and ice water shocking method.  No green food color was used at all.  Even after baking the soufflé for 20 minutes, the spinach still has a bright green color!
     The word soufflé basically means "puff up."  A soufflé can be made to puff up a little bit or a lot.  A soufflé can have a rich dense texture or it can be as light as a feather.  A soufflé can be moist or airy and slightly dry.  The surface of a soufflé can be thin and soft or it can be slightly crusty.  These characteristics can be intentionally achieved by varying the proportion of soft meringue, roux sauce base (or puree base) and the optional addition of egg yolk or an egg yolk liaison base mixture.  
     As a rule, the baking time and temperature is nearly the same for all soufflé recipes.  A soufflé is baked for 20 minutes in a 375ºF oven.   
     A parchment paper collar is usually not required if a soufflé ramekin is only filled 2/3 of the way from the top of the rim.  This amount of empty space allows the soufflé to rise and fill the ramekin.  A parchment paper collar is only necessary if a soufflé ramekin is filled to the rim with batter.  The collar will contain the soufflé, so it retains an even shape above the rim of the ramekin.  A high rising soufflé that has no parchment collar will flower.  A soufflé that flowers is usually criticized, but some soufflés benefit from an unrestrained flowering presentation. 
     The combination of ingredients for the Spinach and Manchego Soufflé in the photos above requires a medium thin béchamel combined with a medium consistency spinach puree, plus 1 egg yolk and a 2 egg white medium soft meringue.  The batter filled each mold just a little less than three quarters full.  The souffle was designed to rise enough to fill the ramekin or soufflé mold after it finished baking.  
     As an alternative presentation, a small portion of extra soufflé was place in a non-stick silicone baking mold.  After baking, the soufflé was quickly popped out of the silicone mold for a free standing presentation.  This is a unique way to present a soufflé and a fancy star shaped silicone baking mold adds even more eye appeal.   

     Queso Manchego Béchamel:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/4 cups of medium thin Manchego Cheese Sauce.  
     The plain béchamel is made with no onion pique.  
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour while constantly stirring to make a roux.  (The roux should look shiny, not caky.)
     Constantly stir till the roux cooks to a white color, with very little hazelnut aroma.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of milk while whisking.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Stir as the sauce heats and thickens to a very thin sauce consistency.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can barely coat a spoon.
     *The volume will be a about 1 1/4 cups.
     Step 4:  Add 1/3 cup of grated Mexican Manchego Cheese while stirring.
     Stir till the cheese melts into the sauce.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency that easily coats a spoon.
     *The finished volume will be about 1 1/4 cups.   
     Step 5:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature.  (68ºF to 70ªF)

     Spinach Puree:
     This recipe yields about 1/3 cup.
     When measuring the spinach, pack the leaves in a measuring cup, but do not pack them extra tight. 
     Step 1:  Boil 2 quarts of salted water in a pot over medium high heat.
     Step 2:  Place 2 1/4 cups of baby spinach leaves in a large strainer.  (A strainer with a long handle is best.)
     Briefly dip the spinach in the boiling water 2 to 3 times, till the spinach leaves barely wilt.  (About 5 seconds is all it takes.)
     Step 3:  Immediately place the strainer net and wilted spinach in a container of ice water.
     Cool the spinach quickly.
     Drain the water off of the spinach.
     Squeeze the excess water out of the spinach by hand.
     Step 4:  Place the cooled blanched spinach leaves on a cutting board.
     Mince the spinach till it resembles a coarse puree.
     Place the Spinach Puree in a container.

     Spinach Queso Manchego Béchamel:
     This recipe yields a little less than 1 2/3 cups.   
     Step 1: Add 1/3 cup of the prepared spinach puree to the container of 1 1/4 cups of Queso Manchego Béchamel.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  *This step is optional.  Pureeing the spinach cheese sauce mixture will create a refined texture.  
     Use an emersion blender or food processor to puree the sauce to a smooth texture.
     Return the sauce to the container and set the sauce aside.  
     
     Spinach and Manchego Cheese Soufflé:
     This recipe yields enough soufflé batter for a 2 cup capacity soufflé ramekin.  There will be enough extra batter leftover for 1 1/2 cup capacity silicone baking mold!  
     Step 1:  Lightly brush a 4" wide soufflé ramekin (1 3/4 cup to 2 cup capacity) with melted unsalted butter.  
     Very lightly dust the buttered coated ramekin with flour and shake out any excess.
     Set the ramekin aside.
     Step 2:  Separate the whites and yolks of 2 large eggs.  Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl and place the yolks in a separate container. 
     Step 3:  Add 1 of the egg yolks to the Spinach Queso Manchego Béchamel while whisking.
     Place the Spinach Queso Manchego Béchamel with egg yolk liaison in a second mixing bowl and set it aside.  (Save the extra egg yolk for another recipe.)
     Step 4:  Briskly whisk the 2 egg whites in the first mixing bowl till medium soft peaks appear.  (Do not whisk the egg whites too tight!)
     Step 5:  Gently fold the egg white meringue into the Spinach Queso Manchego Béchamel and egg yolk soufflé base mixture.  
     *Fold 1/3 of the meringue into the mixture at a time.  The mixture should be barely combined!
     Step 6:  Place enough of the soufflé mixture into the prepared soufflé ramekin, so it is 3/4 full.  
     *Place the extra soufflé batter in a lightly buttered 1 1/2 cup capacity fancy silicone baking mold, but only fill it till the mold is 3/4 full.   
     Step 7:  Place the soufflé ramekin and silicone mold on a roasting pan.
     Bake undisturbed in a 375ºF oven for 20 minutes.
     *The Roasted Red Bell Pepper Cumin Beurre Blanc can be made while the soufflés bake!

     Roasted Red Pepper Beurre Blanc:
     This recipe yields about 1/3 cup.  (2 to 3 portions)
     Step 1:  Cut 3 ounces of chilled unsalted butter into 1/2 teaspoon size butter pats.
     Place the butter pats in a container.
     Chill the butter pats till they are needed later in the recipe.is needed for this recipe.
     Step 2:  Place 1/4 teaspoon of cumin in a small dry sauce pot.
     Place the pot over medium low heat.
     Shake the pan constantly till the cumin becomes aromatic.  (About 20 seconds.)
     Step 3:  Add 3/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped shallot.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt.
     Add 1 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns.
     Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce the till only 3 tablespoons of liquid remains.
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Pour the reduced wine mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a second small sauce pot.
     Step 5:  Place the sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced roasted red bell pepper.
     Simmer and reduce till only 1 1/2 tablespoons of liquid remains.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the pot on a warm stove top.
     Set the chilled butter pats next to the hot sauce pot.
     Step 7:  Add 1 chilled butter pat at a time while constantly whisking, till the sauce becomes a creamy looking thin butter sauce emulsion. 
     Step 8:  Place the Roasted Red Pepper Beurre Blanc in a ceramic cup.
     Keep it warm on a stove top or in a 90ºF bain marie.
     Stir the beurre blanc occasionally, so the emulsion does not break.

     Spinach and Manchego Cheese Soufflé with Roasted Red Pepper Beurre Blanc:
     This recipe describes 2 different soufflé presentations.
     Ramekin Presentation:  Gently remove the 2 finished soufflés from the oven.    
     Place the soufflé ramekin on a doily lined serving platter. 
     Press a spoonful of the Roasted Red Pepper Beurre Blanc into the top of the Spinach and Manchego Cheese Soufflé shortly after it is served.
     Silicone Baking Mold Presentation:  Place a dry pastry towel or oven mitt over one hand.
     Invert the silicone mold and Spinach and Manchego Cheese Soufflé onto the covered hand and remove the silicone mold.
     Place an upside down plate over the soufflé in hand and invert the plate and soufflé together as one, so the soufflé sits on the plate right side up!
     Spoon the Roasted Red Pepper Beurre Blanc over the edge of the soufflé and onto the plate.
     Garnish with an Itallian Parsley sprig.  

     Viola!  Two ways to serve the same soufflé!  The Roasted Red Pepper Beurre Blanc compliments the savory flavor of the Spinach and Manchego Cheese Soufflé!  

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Frijoles Negros Refritos Tostadas





     Traditional Tostadas!
     Back when I was a little kid, tagging along with a relative that managed a fine Mexican restaurant in Southern California was a good learning experience.  Not only did I learn how to cook Mexican food, I learned a few good managerial skills that came in handy later in my career.  California Mexican food was different back in those days.  When compared to modern fast food style Mexican antojitos, the old fashioned California style was much more authentic.  Tostadas were always made with corn tortillas and using flour tortillas was something that only fast food restaurants did.  
     Today's Tostadas recipe is a basic old California style corn tortilla recipe.  Pinto Bean Refritos were the standard back in the old days, but Black Bean Refritos add a nice touch.  Refried Black Beans have a rich satisfying flavor that is perfect for simple Tostadas.  When considering the Tostada ingredients, the fresh vegetable garnishes and accompaniments, it is easy to see why Mexican food actually the healthiest cuisine in the world!

     Frijoles Negros:
     This recipe yields about 3 1/3 cups
     Step 1:  Soak 1 1/2 cups of dried black beans in water overnight in a refrigerator.
     Drain off the soaking water and rinse the black beans under cold running water.
     Check for stones or discolored beans.
     Step 2:  Place the soaked black beans in a wide sauce pot.
     Add 1 cup of chicken broth.
     Add enough water to cover the beans with 2" of extra liquid.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of cider vinegar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or lard.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced epazote.
     Step 3:  Bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat.
     Boil for 17 minutes.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.  (Season lightly.)
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer the beans till they become tender.  Add water as necessary to keep the beans covered with 1" of extra liquid.
     Step 5:  Remove the lid.
     Simmer and reduce till the level of liquid becomes slightly lower than the beans.
     Keep the black beans warm over low heat or chill them for later use.

     Refritos Negros:
     This recipe yields about 2 1/3 cups.  
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of the cooked black beans and a proportion of the black bean simmering broth (about 1/2 cup) in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of lard or vegetable oil.
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
     Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground chile ancho.
     Simmer for 10 minutes so the flavors combine.
     Step 2:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Mash and puree the beans.
     *The beans can be pureed with an emersion blender, a food processor or they can be mashed by hand with a potato masher.  Mash and puree the beans till they become very smooth.
     Step 3:  Place the sauce pot of mashed beans over very low heat.
     Check the consistency.
     *The Refritos Negros should be thick enough to cling to a spoon, but not so thick that they stand tall when gathered with a spoon.  Adjust the consistency by adding water, if the refritos are too thick.  If the refritos negros are too thin, then simmer and reduce till they become thick.
     Step 4:  Gently simmer over very low heat and stir often for about 10 minutes.  Be sure that the refritos negros do not scorch on the bottom of the pan.
     Step 5:  Check the consistency again.  Adjust if necessary.
     Taste the refritos negros and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
     Keep the refritos negros warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.  

     Escabeche:
     This recipe yields about 2/3 cup.  (2 small portions)
     Escabeche is a marinated vegetable accompaniment.
     Step 1:  Place 1/3 cup of sliced carrot in a mixing bowl.  (3/16" thick)
     Add 1/5 cup of sliced onion strips.
     Add 1/5 cup of sliced green jalapeño pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped cilantro.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 3:  Toss the ingredients together.
     Place the escabeche in a container.
     Chill for at least 20 minutes and stir occasionally.

     Guacamole:
     This recipe yields about 2/3 cup.  (4 garnish portions)
     No sour cream is needed in this guacamole!  It tastes amazingly crisp and fresh without sour cream.
     Step 1:  Place the fruit pulp of 1 medium size ripe avocado in a mixing bowl.  (About 1/2 cup)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped green onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped tomato.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped cilantro.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced seeded green jalapeño.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.  (about 2 pinches)
     Step 2:  Mash and mix the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Place the guacamole in a container.
     Chill for at least 10 minutes before serving.

     Tomato Salsa:
     This recipe yields about 3/4 cup.  (4 small garnish portions)  
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of chopped tomato in a mixing bowl.
     Add 3 tablespoons of small chopped onion.
     Add 1 chopped green onion.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of minced seeded jalapeño.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped cilantro.
     Step 2:  Add 1 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.  (about 2 pinches)
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Place the salsa in a container.
     Chill the salsa for at least 10 minutes before serving.
     *Drain off any excess liquid before serving, if the salsa is used as a garnish.

     Frijoles Negros Refritos Tostadas:  
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.  (2 - 6" tostadas)  
     Step 1:  Heat a wide cast iron skillet (or sauté pan) over medium heat.
     Add enough vegetable oil, so the oil is about 1/4" deep.
     Pan fry 2 corn tortillas (6" diameter) on both sides till they are crisp.  (If necessary, use a spatula to press them flat.)
     Step 2:  Place the crisp fried tortillas on wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Step 3:  Spread a thin layer of warm refried black beans on top of each crisp tortilla.  (About 1/3 cup each.)
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of mixed grated cheddar cheese and grated Oaxaca Cheese on each tostada.
     Step 4:  Place the 2 tostadas on a sheet pan.
     Bake the tostadas in a 350ºF oven, till the cheese melts.  (Do not brown the cheese!)
     Step 5:  Sprinkle about 1/6 cup of shredded romaine lettuce on each tostada.
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of tomato salsa on the lettuce.
     Mound 3 tablespoons of guacamole on the center of each tostada.
     Place 1/2 tablespoon of sour cream on top of the guacamole on each tostada.
     Garnish the sour cream with green onion slices.
     Step 6:  Place the garnished tostadas on a plate.
     Place a bed of romaine leaves on the back half of the plate.
     Place about 1/4 cup of escabeche on the romaine.
     Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

     Old fashioned healthy tostadas!