Saturday, January 31, 2015

Refritos Colorados and Cheddar Nacho Sauce with Heirloom Hopi Blue Tortilla Chips

     Southwestern Style Chips n' Dip!
     Today's recipe is a chip and dip style nacho platter that is perfect for a Super Bowl Sunday.  A platter like this is also great for a sunset sangria party.  

     Gourmet exotic beans have become a recent food trend.  Red beans are not exactly exotic, but they are an old time favorite.  Red Beans are great for making refritos.  Red beans translate to Frijoles Colorados in Spanish.  

     Ever since GMO corn came into the picture, consumers have become aware of why modified food has been banned in many foreign countries.  Studies show that GMO food poses a health risk and an environmental threat.  American consumer protection is not always what it should be, so smart consumers trust their own judgement when deciding what is not safe to eat.  
     Savvy shoppers trust organic food.  Heirloom seed or natural hybrid seed grain is non GMO.  Because of corporate payola in America, it is against the law to label GMO products or state that a product is non GMO.  There are ways to get around this law, as can be seen in the picture of the bag of Hopi Blue Corn Tortilla Chips.  Stating that a product's origin was from a farm that is a member of the Non GMO Project Organization is a way to bypass the GMO labeling laws. 
     By public demand, non GMO labeling does take place, in one way or another.  Non GMO product labeling is currently done in subtle ways.  Understanding the lingo and definitions of key words on food labels is more important now than ever before, especially as far as snack food is concerned.  

     Red Beans:
     This recipe yields about 2 1/3 cups of beans!
     Step 1:  Soak 1 1/2 cups of dried red beans in water overnight in a refrigerator.
     Drain off the soaking water and rinse the black beans under cold running water.
     Step 2:  Place the red beans in a sauce pot.
     Add 1 cup of chicken broth or pork 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 pinch of Mexican oregano.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced epazote.
     Step 3:  Bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat for 17 minutes.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Simmer the beans, till they become tender.  Add water as necessary to keep the beans covered with 1/2" of liquid.
     Step 5:  Simmer and reduce the liquid, till the level of liquid becomes slightly lower than the beans.
     Keep the red beans warm over low heat.

     Refritos Colorados:
     This recipe yields about 2 3/4 cups. 
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of pre-cooked red beans and the red bean simmering juice in a sauce pot over low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of lard or vegetable oil.
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
     Add 1 pinch of paprika.
     Add 2 pinches of ground chile ancho.
     Add 1 pinch of ground chile pequin.
     Simmer for 10 minutes, till the flavors combine. 
     Step 2:  The beans can be pureed with an electric blending wand, a food processor or they can be mashed by hand with a potato masher.  Mash and puree the beans till they become smooth.
     Step 3:  Return the mashed beans to the sauce pot.
     Adjust the consistency.  The refritos colorados should be thick enough to cling to 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, while stirring occasionally.
     Step 4:  Simmer over very low heat and stir often for about 10 minutes.  Be sure that the refritos colorados do not scorch on the bottom of the pan.
     Taste the refritos colorados and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper if necessary.
     Keep the refritos colorados warm over very low heat.  Add water if the refritos become too thick.

    Cheddar Cheese Nacho Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 2 1/4 cups of sauce.  Any extra sauce can be used to make other recipes or more nachos!
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while stirring with a whisk, to create a roux.
     Cook the roux, while stirring, till it is well combined and it becomes a white color.
     Step 2:  Add about 2 1/2 cups of milk, while whisking.
     Stir till the sauce occasionally as it heats and thicken to a very thin sauce consistency.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of achiote paste.
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Stir the sauce.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce till it becomes a thin cream sauce consistency.
     Step 4:  Add 1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese while stirring with a whisk.
     Stir till the cheese melts into the sauce.
     Keep the nacho cheese sauce warm over very low heat.
     Stir occasionally.  Add milk if the sauce becomes too thick.

     Refritos Colorados and Cheddar Nacho Sauce with Heirloom Hopi Blue Tortilla Chips:
     Mound about a 1 1/3 cup portion of the refritos colorados on the center of a 8" wide shallow casserole dish.
     Pour the cheddar nacho sauce around the refritos.
     Sprinkle thin bias sliced green onion slivers over the dip.
     Garnish with 2 pickled chile guero.  (yellow chile caribe)
     Garnish with a cilantro sprig or a curly leaf parsley sprig.
     Line a serving platter with paper doilies.
     Place the casserole dish of dip on the center of the platter.
     Place some organic heirloom Hopi blue corn tortilla chips on the platter.
     Dip dip and dip!  This is a nice casual southwestern snack food platter! 

Spicy Southwestern Veal Chili Mac with Queso Cotija and Roasted Poblano

     Chili Mac!  
     There are as many chili mac variations as there is chili recipes.  Beans or no beans.  The choice of meat.  Ground meat or meaty chunks.  Spicy or mild.  Green chiles or dried red chiles.  Cheese or no cheese.
     Basically, chili mac was created with the idea of feeding a lot of people for a low price.  Adding macaroni to chili will fill a belly up quick.  This is why chili mac is a working man's favorite.  
     Many construction workers and laborers keep chili mac on their weekly dinner menu option list, because this meal is easy to make, especially if canned goods are used.  Not everybody has time to cook a meal from scratch, especially when on the road or when contracted to work out of town at a remote outdoor construction site location.  I have seen construction workers make chili mac in one pan with a can of tomatoes, a can of chili, some ground beef and macaroni noodles.  Even when made with items of convenience, chili mac is an appealing meal, because it is cheap, hearty and it has a bold western flavor.

     Today's chili mac recipe has a bold southwestern desert flavor that is in the medium spicy hot Scoville range.  Like any chile pepper recipe, the spicy heat can be adjusted by selecting milder or hotter chile peppers.  
     For a mild flavor, chile ancho, chile guajillo, mild New Mexico chiles and Spanish Paprika are good choices.  These kind of peppers are the base southwestern chile pepper flavor in most southwestern recipes.  If a spicy hot chili mac hits the spot, then adding some chile arbol, chile pequin, chile morita, chipotle or habanero peppers to the mixture will crank up the level of spicy heat.

     Serving chili mac in a restaurant is not unheard of.  Old fashioned truck stop diner restaurants and Route 66 style diners often offer simple home style food specials of the day, like chili mac.  The better southwestern diners dress up the presentation of special du jour items, in order to boost customer satisfaction.  Garnishing a good bowl of chili mac with cilantro, crumbled Mexican cotija cheese and roasted poblano strips does boost the appeal and it makes the chili mac worthy of being served in a fancy modern diner.  

     *This entire recipe yields 1 large dinner portion or 2 medium size lunch portions of chili mac!   

     Chile Preparation:
     This chili mac is medium spicy hot.  The hot spicy flavor can be adjusted by varying the amount of chilie morita (smoked red Chihuahua Red Jalapeno) and chile arbol.  The rest of the chiles are very mild.    
     Step 1:  Soak these dried chile peppers in water over night in a refrigerator:
     - 1 guajillo chile
     - 1 chile morita
     - 1 ancho chile
     - 3 to 4 chile arbol
     Step 2:  Remove the peppers from the soaking liquid.
     Slice each of the reconstituted chile peppers in half lengthwise. 
     Remove the stems.
     Rinse the seeds out of the split chiles with cold running water.
     Step 3:  Set the soaked and seeded chile peppers on a cutting board.
     Chop the chile mixture and set it aside.

     Roasted Poblano Pepper:
     Either roast 1 whole chile poblano over an open flame or in an oven, till the skin turns brownish black.
     Allow the chile to cool to room temperature. 
     Split the roasted poblano in half and remove the stem.
     Rinse the seeds and black skin off of the chile poblano.
     Cut the roasted poblano into long strips.
     Set the roasted poblano strips aside.      
     Spicy Southwestern Veal Chili Mac:
     Chili Mac is usually made in a short amount of time and the chili does not need to simmer all day.  Chili Mac can be made in one pan, but it does turn out better if the macaroni is cooked separately.  The chili mac sauce should not be too thick before adding the noodles, because the macaroni will soak up some of the liquid in the pan as it simmers.
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Add 8 ounces of ground veal.
     Add 1/3 cup of finely chopped onion.
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Add 1 finely chopped seeded small green jalapeño pepper.
     Stir the ground veal as it cooks and break up any clumps into tiny pieces.
     Sauté till the ground veal becomes fully cooked and lightly browned.
     Step 2:  Sprinkle a tiny amount of maza harina (Nixtamal Corn Flour) on the excess grease in the pan while stirring.  The maza harina will combine with the grease to form a rustic pan roux.  (About 2 to 3 teaspoons is plenty.)
     Step 3:  Add 1 1/2 cups beef broth.
     Add 1 cup of canned diced tomato and a proportion of the juices.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of tomato paste.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped red bell pepper.
     Add the reserved chopped soaked and seeded chile peppers.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1 pinch of Mexican oregano.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced epazote.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Spanish paprika.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of achiote paste.
     Step 4:  Stir the chili and bring it to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer the chili for 45 minutes to one hour.
     Stir the chili occasionally as the liquid reduces to a thin sauce consistency.  Add water if the chile becomes too thick.
     Step 6:  Cook 1 portion of macaroni pasta in salted boiling water over high heat.
     When the pasta becomes al dente, drain off the water.
     Step 7:  Add the macaroni to the chili mixture in the pan.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Simmer the chili mac for 10 minutes before serving.  The sauce should be thin and it should be able cling to the macaroni. 
     Keep the chili mac warm over very low heat.
     Spicy Southwestern Veal Chili Mac with Queso Cotija and Roasted Poblano: 
     Place a generous portion of the Spicy Southwestern Veal Chili Mac in a shallow stew bowl or pasta bowl.
     Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of crumbled queso cotija over the chili mac.
     Place the roasted poblano strips on the center of the chili mac.
     Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

     Chile pepper food is not only spicy tasting.  Chile peppers are highly nutritious and they offer many health benefits.  A big bowl of Spicy Southwestern Veal Chili Mac with Queso Cotija and Roasted Poblano is some spicy feel good food!

Buffalo Sliders with Queso Oaxaca, Roasted Chile Poblano and Sweet Potato Shoe String Fries

     Gourmet American Bison Sliders!
     Buffalo (American Bison) is a symbol of old west and they were nearly sent to extinction via an eradication program back in the late 1800's.  Buffalo now are free range herd animals that are raised on ranches.  There are also some Native American tribes out west that raise and market buffalo on tribal territory.
     Organic and drug free is what free range Buffalo meat is all about.  The meat is very lean and the buffalo burgers need to be cooked rare to medium rare or they will become very dry.  The flavor is milder than deer, yet stronger than beef.  I feel good, clean and strong after eating buffalo.  The sensation is healthier than the feeling that I get after eating modern drug raised and force fattened beef.  

     I really noticed the difference of how clean free range buffalo meat was while I was on chemotherapy a few years ago.  I became hypersensitive to all food additives.  One drink of alcohol would have killed me back then.  Having one diet soda, actually caused me to spend 3 days in a hospital.
     I was supposed to be on a high protein diet and vegetables could not be digested due to the beneficial enzymes and bacteria in my digestive tract being wiped out by the strong medicine.  I ate lots of yogurt, baked chicken and beef.  I noticed that after eating chicken and beef I felt like crap while on chemo.
     A neighbor who was Shawnee Native American suggested free range buffalo and free range game birds for my high protein protein diet while on chemo.  I gave the wild game a try and I felt much better after eating meals made with natural wild game.
     Now that I am fully recovered and no longer hypersensitive to food additives, I still occasionally enjoy a meal made with buffalo meat.  Buffalo may cost more than beef, but it is worth the price.  Buffalo does taste very nice!  
     Focaccia Slider Rolls:
     Follow this link to the focaccia dough recipe:
     • Three Southwestern Focaccia Flavors! ... Garlic and Bermuda Onion - Southwestern Chile Honey - Cilantro and Garlic
     To shape focaccia slider rolls, cut walnut size dough portions of the focaccia dough.
     Place the dough portions on a parchment paper lined baking pan and space them about 3" apart from each other.
     Brush the rolls with olive oil, then sprinkle sea salt and coarse back pepper on the dough portions.  (optional)
     Let the dough rise and proof.
     Bake the slider rolls in a 425ºF oven, till they become a very light tan color.
     Roasted Chile Poblano:
     The chile can be roasted over an open flame too.
     Step 1:  Lightly brush 1 whole poblano pepper with vegetable oil.
     Place the poblano on a roasting pan.
     Roast the poblano in a 350ºF oven, till the skin turns black.
     Allow the pepper to cool to room temperature.
     Step 2:  Remove the stem from the pepper and split the pepper open.
     Peel the skin off of the poblano pepper, while rinsing under cold running water.  Remove the seeds and pulp.
     Step 3:  Cut a 3 long strips of roasted poblano that are about 1/4" wide.  (Save the rest of the roasted poblano for another recipe.)
     Set the poblano strips aside.

     Sweet Potato Shoestring Fries:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Peel a 6 to 8 ounce piece of sweet potato.
     Cut the sweet potato lengthwise into 1/8" to 3/16" wide slices.
     Stack the thin slices.
     Cut lengthwise into thin strips that are about 1/8" to 3/16" wide.
     Step 2:  Heat some vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF.  The oil should be abou 6" deep.
     Fry the sweet potato shoestring fries in small batches to reduce foaming.  Fry each batch till the shoestrings are crisp.
     Step 3:  Use a fryer net to remove the fries from the hot oil.
     Place the fries on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil. 
     Sprinkle sea salt on the sweet potato shoestring fries.
     Keep the fries warm on a stove top.

     Buffalo Sliders with Oaxaca Queso and Roasted Chile Poblano:
     Buffalo should be cooked no more than medium rare to medium or the lean meat will be tough.  The buffalo sliders in the pictures were cooked rare.
     Step 1:  Cut 3 focaccia slider rolls in half.
     Brush the rolls with olive oil.
     Grill the tops and bottoms of the mini buns on a griddle over medium/medium low heat, till they are toasted.
     Step 2:  Spread a small amount of mayonnaise or a spread sauce of your choice on the slider buns.
     Place a small piece of lettuce and a thin slice of plum tomato on the bottom half of each slider roll.
     Place the slider set-ups on a plate and set it aside.
     Step 3:  Use a ring mold to form 3 mini buffalo slider patties that are about as wide as the slider rolls.  Each buffalo slider patty should weigh about 2  to 2 1/2 ounces.
     Season the buffalo slider patties with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 4:  Heat cast iron griddle or skillet over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of belended olive oil.
     Cook the buffalo sliders on both sides till they are browned and rare to medium rare.
     Step 5:  Immediately place small thin slices of Oaxaca Cheese on top of the sliders, so it will soften and melt as the meat finishes cooking.
     Cook the buffalo sliders, till they are medium rare to medium and the cheese softens.
     Place the buffalo sliders on top of the reserved garnished slider set-up rolls on the plate.
     Curl each roasted poblano strip and place one roasted poblano strip on top of each slider.
     Set the sliders on a plate and lean the slider roll tops against the buffalo sliders.
     Place lettuce leafs on the plate as a bed.
     Mound a generous pile of crispy sweet potato shoe string fries on the lettuce.
     These sliders have a mild uncomplicated southwestern flavor that does not overwhelm the taste of the American Bison patties!

The Texas Tornado ~ A Texas Style Breakfast Patty Melt

     Everything Is Big In Texas!  
     A package of ground Black Angus beef from a grocery store does not have to be used to make the same old boring burger or same old lasagna or same old anything!  Why not create a new recipe and give it a legendary name!  
     For a couple of days I have been casually looking at regional and international famous burger recipes on the internet.  Occasionally, I like to feature a famous regional burger creation.  One thing that I noticed while browsing regional burger recipes was that there were almost no breakfast style patty melt sandwiches to be found.  A bell went off!  Good idea!  
     I did notice a huge Texas style lunch patty melt that was made with Texas Toast.  It looked okay, but it seemed to miss the mark of qualifying for a breakfast sandwich in a lot of ways.  The thought of thick Texas Toast was what led to creating today's breakfast sandwich recipe.

     A Texas style patty melt would be best with a spicy patty melt spread sauce, so I made one.  I chose to drown the patty melt with milk gravy, like Mexican Torta Ahogadas style.  Now the breakfast patty melt became a knife and fork meal.  
     Texas style milk gravy has a nice black pepper flavor.  A fried egg on top seemed like a better idea than sandwiching it in the middle with the burger patty.  Mild roasted red bell pepper and chile poblano are not too spicy for breakfast, so they were used as a garnish.   
     All in all, today's Texas style breakfast patty melt turned out to be pretty tasty.  The name of this breakfast patty melt creation is derived from the height and the white color of the milk gravy.  "The White Tornado" is a common descriptive phrase.  Since this sandwich was intended to be made Texas style, "Texas Tornado" seemed like a better choice. 

     *This entire recipe yields 1 Texas Tornado!

     Milk Gravy:
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring, to make a roux.
     Stir till the roux becomes a white color.
     Step 2:  Add 1 3/4 cups of milk, while stirring.
     Add sea salt and coarse ground black pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground sage.
     Stir occasionally as the milk gravy heats and thickens to a very thin soup consistency.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the gravy, till it becomes a medium thin cream sauce consistency.
     Keep the milk gravy warm over very low heat.  Add milk, if the gravy becomes too thick.

     Texas Style Spice Patty Melt Spread:
     Place 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely minced canned chipotle en adobo.
     Mix the ingredients together and set the sauce aside.
     Grilled Onions:
     Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/3 cup of diced onion.
     Sauté till the onions become lightly caramelized.
     Drain off any excess butter.
     Keep the grilled onions warm in a container on a stove top.

     Grilled Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Roasted Chile Poblano:
     Roast peel and seed your own fresh peppers or use canned whole roasted peppers.  Either is fine!
     Heat a small sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/3 cup of mixed roasted red bell pepper strips and roasted chile poblano strips.
     Gently sauté till the peppers are warm.
     Keep the peppers warm on a stove top.
     Texas Toast Patty Melt:
     Step 1:  Cut 2 thick slices of soft French bread.  The bread slices should be 1" thick to qualify as Texas Toast!
     Step 2:  Place 5 ounces of ground Angus Beef on a cutting board and press it into oval patty shape, that is about the same shape as the bread slices.
     Season the patty with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 3:  Heat a griddle or sauté pan over medium heat.
     Grill the Angus Beef burger patty on both sides, till it is cooked to the preferred finish temperature.  (Medium to well done is best for a patty melt.)
     Keep the burger patty warm on the stove top. 
     Step 4:  Heat a griddle or large sauté pan over medium/medium low heat. 
     Brush the one side of the 2 thick slices of bread with melted unsalted butter.
     Place the buttered bread slices in the pan.   
     Place a few thin slices of Monterey Jack Cheese on each slice of bread.
     Spread a thin layer of the Texas Style Patty Melt Spread Sauce on the cheese on both slices of bread.
     Place the burger patty on one of the bread slices.
     Place the warm grilled onions on the other slice.
     Grill the bread, till it becomes toasted to a golden brown color.
     Step 5:  Flip the onion half of the sandwich on top of the burger half of the sandwich.
     Set the patty melt on a dish on a stove top and keep it warm.

     Fried Egg:
     Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 pat of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 egg.
     Cook the egg to your preference.  (Sunny side up looks nice.)
     Remove the pan from the heat.

     Texas Tornado Breakfast Patty Melt:
     Pour a portion of the milk gravy on a plate as a bed for the patty melt.
     Place the patty melt on the milk gravy.
     Place the egg on top of the patty melt.
     Pour some milk gravy partially over the egg and patty melt.
     Place the warm roasted peppers on top of the patty melt.
     Garnish with a curly leaf parsley sprig.
     Serve this breakfast sandwich with a steak knife and a fork.
     Serve with home fries on the side.  (optional)
     Viola!  The big bad Texas Tornado!  I do not suggest eating this Texas style breakfast patty melt creation on a regular basis, unless there is a cardiac care facility nearby! 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Desayuno Sincronizada con Huevos

     A Breakfast Version Of The Gringo Turista Favorite! 
     Sincronizada is a Mexican antojitos that is usually made for American or European tourists.  Sincronizada is a grilled ham and cheese quesadilla.  Basically, Sincronizada is a Mexican style grilled ham and cheese sandwich.
     When I modified the sincronizada recipe to make a breakfast version, all that I added was 1 scrambled egg!  Smoked ham increases the flavor.  A whole wheat flour tortilla was top choice, because it appeals to health minded gringo turistas!
     A Desayuno Sincronizada can be garnished with standard street food style garnishes, like lettuce, salsa verde, hot sauce, lime wedges, sour cream and guacamole.  Honestly, standard antojitos garnishes really do get old after a while, especially when some antojitos restaurants garnish every plate of food with the same items.
     Keeping the garnish simple is traditional taquerias do best.  Let the featured food speak for itself, instead of smothering the food with every garnish but the kitchen sink!  The Desayuno Sincronizada in the photos was simply garnished with mild tomato salsa.  The presentation has a clean look that creates eye appeal.

     Mild Tomato Salsa:
     This recipe yields about 2/3 cup.
     Place 1/2 cup of small diced tomato in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of thin sliced white section of 1 green onion.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chiffonade sliced cilantro leaves.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of finely chopped seeded green jalapeño pepper.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Set the salsa aside for 5 minutes, so the flavors meld.

     Desayuno Sincronizada con Huevos: 
     This recipe yields 1 Desayuno Sincronizada.
     The original Sincronizada was made with Swiss Cheese.  Queso Oaxaca or Monterey Jack Cheese are also good cheese choices if a southwestern flavor is preferred.
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron griddle or wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat for later in the recipe.
     Step 2:  Heat a small non-stick saute pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 whisked large egg.
     Scramble the egg, till it is fully cooked, yet soft.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 3:  Place 1 large whole wheat flour tortilla flat on a counter top.  (10" wide tortilla)
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 ounces of grated Monterey Jack Cheese over 1/2 of the tortilla.
     Place 2 to 3 ounces of thin sliced smoked ham on the cheese.
     Spread the scrambled egg over the ham.
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 ounces of Monterey Jack Cheese over the egg and ham.
     Fold the bare tortilla half over the top of the egg, smoked ham and cheese half of the tortilla.
     Step 4:  Pour about 1 ounce of vegetable oil on the preheated griddle or sauté pan.
     Place the Desayuno Sincronizada on the oiled griddle.
     Grill the Desayuno Sincronizada, till it is crispy golden brown on both sides.
     Place the Desayuno Sincronizada on a cutting board.
     Cut the Desayuno Sincronizada into 4 pie shape pieces.
     Place the Desayuno Sincronizada on a plate, so it looks like a 4 pointed star pattern.
     Mound a generous portion of the Mild Tomato Salsa in the middle of the Sincronizada star pattern.
     Sprinkle thin bias sliced green onion top on the plate.
     Garnish the salsa with a cilantro sprig or Italian Parsley sprig.

    Desayuno Sincronizada is a Mexican tourist trap style breakfast antojitos that is worth trying! 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Beef Chimichangas

     Flour tortilla Chimichangas originated in Cal-Mex and Tex-Mex cuisine.  Corn tortilla Chimichanga versions were part of Mexican cuisine long before Tex-Mex cuisine came to be, but the Mexican corn tortilla versions were not called Chimichangas.
     Chimichangas are fried burritos that are stuffed with meat.  Chimichangas are usually finished by topping them with cheese and baking them in an oven.  No melted cheese topping on a Chimichanga is correct too.  Chimichangas are rarely served with sauces or salsas on the plate.  Salsas are usually offered on the side.

     There is a large selection of fillings for chimichangas.  The most popular fillings are beef and pork.  The chimichanga filling for this recipe is beef that is slowly simmered with a variety of dried chiles.  Some chefs call this cooking style adobo.
     Mexican adobo style has a few loose definitions, but the chief components are chile peppers with a small amount of vinegar.  Asado style involves marinating and grilling, but the grilled meat can then be slow simmered like adobo if the cut of meat is tough.  The beef is simmered for so long, that it easily breaks into shredded chunks.  The deep dried chile flavor is thoroughly infused with the beef.

     Today's shredded beef and dried red chile adobo recipe is one that I learned when I was a kid at a great Southern California Mexican restaurant that my step grandfather managed.  I often tagged along with my step grandfather when he did his rounds.  The beef and red chile burrito was what I ate every time on each visit.  One day, My grandfather laughed and said "You eat those things every time you come in here!  You need to see how they are made!"
     The Mexican chef showed me the stuff that he used to make the beef filling.  Shredded beef was preferred over ground beef in the old days.  I had a thing for hot chile peppers even when I was a kid, so remembering the mixture of chiles was easy!
     I grew up in the kitchen of one of the most famous Southern California Mexican restaurants of them all and that was where my interest in being a chef began.  Blame it all on the red chile beef burritos!
     Beef Chimichanga Filling:
     This recipe yields enough for 2 medium size Chimichangas.  
     This recipe is medium high on the the spicy heat scale, but the chile pepper heat can be toned down where noted in the recipe.  If extra spicy hot is preferred, add 1 crushed seeded ghost pepper.
     Top Round Steaks can be notoriously tough, so they are perfect for adobo style cooking.
     Step 1:  Heat wide sauce pot over medium heat.  (The pot should be just a little wider than the beef steak.)
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of lard or vegetable olive oil.
     Add a 10 ounce beef top round steak that is about 1" thick.
     Sear the beef, till it becomes thoroughly browned on both sides.
     Step 2:  Remove the beef from the pot and place and drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the the excess grease.
     Step 3:  Place the pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 chopped garlic clove.
     Add 1/3 cup of chopped onion.
     Sauté till the garlic is aromatic.
     Step 4:  Return the seared beef to the pot.
     Add enough water to cover the steak with 1" of extra liquid.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground anatto.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin.
     Add 5 crushed dried crushed chile pequin.  (Optional for a spicy hot flavor.)
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of pasilla chile powder.
     Add 1 chopped seeded dried guajillo chile.
     Add 1 chopped seeded dried chipotle chile.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ancho chile powder.
     Add 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar.
     Step 5:  Bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Cover the sauce pot with a lid.
     Slowly simmer the beef and chiles for at least 2 hours.  Add water as necessary to keep the beef covered with liquid.
     Step 6:  After the beef is cooked tender enough to easily shred, remove the from the pot and set it aside in a bowl to cool.
     Use a blending wand, blender or food processor to coarsely puree the chile pepper broth.
     Place the puree broth back in the sauce pot.  
     Shred the beef into coarse small pieces.
     Step 7:  Add the shredded beef to the puree chile broth in the pot.
     Add 1/4 cup of coarsely chopped cilantro.
     Place the pot over low heat.  (Do not place a lid on the pot.)
     Simmer and reduce till almost all of the liquid has evaporated.  The beef should be moist, but not wet.  Stir the pot occasionally, so the ingredients do not scorch.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Keep the beef chimichanga filling warm on a stove top.
     Beef Chimichangas:
     Step 1:  Place 2 large flour tortillas on a cutting board.  (10"- 12" diameter tortillas yield medium size chimichangas.)
     Place equal amounts of the beef chimichanga filling on each of the tortillas.
     Fold the side edges of the tortilla over the meat filling.
     Roll and fold the tortillas so the filling is completely enclosed within the tortilla.  The chimichangas should be look rectangular flattened cylinder shape.
     Step 2:  Place enough vegetable frying oil or lard in a deep braising pan or deep cast iron skillet, so the oil is 1/2" deep.
     Heat the oil to to 360º.
     Use tongs to grasp a chimichanga, so the tongs pinch the open seam shut on the chimichanga.
     Set the chimpichangas in the pan with the open seam facing down in the pan.
     Fry the seam side of the chimichanga, till it becomes stiff and it will not unravel.
     Use tongs to flip the chimichanga over.
     Pan fry each chimichanga on both sides, till it becomes a light golden brown color and till the tortilla becomes crisp.
     Step 3:  Place the 2 chimichangas on a baking pan.
     Place a generous amount of grated Mexican melting cheese on top of each chimichanga.  (About 2 ounces.  Queso Chihuahua, Queso Asadero and Queso Oaxaca are good choices.)
     Bake the chimichangas in a 325º oven, till the cheese melts.  (Do not let the cheese brown!  For Mexican cuisine, cheese is only melted.)
     Chimichangas can be served plain with sauce on the side or with beans and garnishes.
     Use a spatula to place the chimichangas on a plate.
     Place some black beans or refritos on the plate.
     Place a dollop of sour cream on the plate.
     Garnish the plate with:
     - lettuce leaf
     - yellow sunburst tomatoes
     - black olives
     - thin sliced green onion
     - green serrano pepper slices
     - lime slices.
     Garnish the chimichangas with a couple of cilantro sprigs.
     Serve with hot sauce or salsa verde on the side.

     Viola!  Old fashioned robust tasting Beef Chimichangas!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mexican Rice Tostada with Tomato Corn Salsa and Roasted Red Jalapeño

     Mexican cuisine is rated as the healthiest food that there is!  Basically the reason why is that so many fresh vegetables are used to make Mexican cuisine entrées.
     Tostada translates to toast.  Tostadas always used to be made with corn tortillas up till the early 1970's.  Flour tortillas are now the standard at most restaurants.  Honestly, corn tortilla tostadas do have a better flavor, especially when they are fried on a grill with oil till crisp.
     Most modern Mexican fast food shops barely toast the tortilla for a tostada.  Low quality chain restaurants serve a tostada tortilla that is more like an old dried out crunchy cracker than a fresh toasted tortilla.  Many restaurant chefs simply prepare too much food ahead of time to ease production and an example of the result is old stale tasting toasted tortillas that have no character at all.
     A Mexican restaurant that my step grandfather managed in the 1960's was the number one best Mexican restaurant in California.  The cooks prepared corn tortillas for tostadas by pan grilling and toasting to a crisp tan color to order.  That was more than 30 years ago.  A tostada tortilla has a much more appealing flavor when it is toasted to order!  It is the little things like this that add up to make a Mexican restaurant number one in an entire region.

     Refried beans are usually spread over the toasted tortilla, but not always.  For some Mexican tostada recipes melted cheese takes the place of refritos.  Even guacamole can be spread on the tostada.  One simply has to picture a toasted tortilla as being what it is.  Toasted bread!  Then the toppings for a tostada are limitless!

     Mexican rice and Spanish rice are really just about the same thing and there are several recipe variations.  Some Mexican rice is made plain.  Fancy versions are often dressed up with items like roasted corn, black olives, peppers, beans or onions.   Anatto or achiote is usually what is used to give Mexican rice its orange color.  Saffron is sometimes used to color and flavor Spanish rice.

     Tomato Corn Salsa is a very refreshing salsa.  The corn must be freshly harvested for today's salsa recipe, because the corn is not roasted.  It only takes a few hours for the sugars in corn to turn into a starch, so the fresher the corn is, the sweeter it will taste.  As always, non GMO organic heirloom corn is best for any recipe.  All sweet corn in American grocery stores currently is GMO.

     Bright red ripe jalapeño peppers can be milder than green jalapeños, but not always.  Occasionally there is a very fiery jalapeño in the bunch.  Roasted red jalapeño has a robust pepper flavor and it is a nice tostada garnish.
     Roasted Red Jalapeño:
     Lightly brush 1 jalapeño pepper with a little bit of vegetable oil.
     Place the jalapeño on a roasting pan.
     Roast the jalapeño in a 350º degree oven, till caramelized brown highlights appear on the pepper.
     Remove the roasted jalapeño from the oven and keep it warm on a stove top.
     Mexican Rice: 
     This recipe yields enough rice for 2 medium size 8" tostadas.
     The rice is not destarched in this recipe.  
     Always use 2 parts water and 1 part rice when cooking rice.  That is the basic proportion. 
     Step 1:  Boil 1 cup of water in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1/2 cup of long grain white rice.
     Return the liquid to a boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of paprika.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground anatto.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ancho chile powder.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 tablespoons of tomato puree.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped onion.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped green bell pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Add 1 pinch of coriander.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Step 3:  Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer and steam the rice, till the water is absorbed and the rice becomes tender.
     Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil while stirring.
     Keep the rice warm on a stove top.

     Black Beans:
     Place 1/3 cup of rinsed pre-cooked or canned black beans in a sauce pot over low heat.
     Add 1/3 cup of water.
     Heat the black beans.
     Drain off the excess water.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lard or vegetable oil.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Keep the black beans warm on a stove top.
     Tomato Corn Salsa:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/3 cups!
     Step 1:  Cut 1/2 cup of corn kernels off of an ear of fresh sweet corn.
     Heat a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add the corn kernels.
     Add sea salt.
     Blanch the corn kernels for 1 minute.
     Drain off the water.
     Allow the corn to cool to room temperature.
     Step 2:  Place the blanched corn kernals in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 cup of small chopped tomato.
     Add 1/4 cup of small chopped onion.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped green onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped seeded green serrano pepper.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped green bell pepper.
     Add 1 clove of finely chopped garlic.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of finely chopped cilantro leaves.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Step 3:  Mix the ingredients together and set the salsa aside for 5 minutes.
     Queso Fresco and Mexican Rice Tostada:
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron griddle or a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Place an 8" to 10" flour tortilla or corn tortilla in the pan.
     Grill the tortilla on both sides, till it become crisp and toasted to a light tan color.
     Step 2:  Place the tostada on a sheet pan.
     Sprinkle some grated Queso Oaxaca over the tostada.
     Bake the tostada in a 350º oven till the cheese melts.
     Step 3:  Use a large spatula to place the tostada on a plate.
     Spread a layer of the Mexican rice over the melted cheese on the tostada.
     Sprinkle some thin shredded endive lettuce on the center of the tostada.
     Sprinkle a few black olive slices on the tostada.
     Sprinkle some of the reserved black beans on the tostada.
     Mound a few spoonfuls of the Tomato Corn Salsa on the lettuce on the center of the tostada.
     Sprinkle some thin sliced green onion on the tostada.
     Place the roasted red jalapeño pepper on top of the salsa.
     Serve with sour cream and Mexican style hot sauce on the side.
     This tostada is nice on its own as a light lunch or as an appetizer!