Thursday, April 30, 2015

Baja Taco de Chile Arbol Camarones

     A Baja Taco Stand Style Shrimp Taco!
     There are several traditional ways that tacos are cooked in Mexico and filling a "pre-manufactured store bought crunchy taco shell" with greasy ground beef is not one of them!  Today's Baja style Shrimp Taco recipe is a grilled taco.  The flour tortilla is first placed on a hot flat top grill.  The ingredients placed on the tortilla, then the tortilla is grilled crisp.  Grilled flour tortilla tacos like this are often sold to tourists in Baja California.  For the most part, flour tortillas are tourist food.

     Tacos de Camarones are a Baja California style gringo tourist trap treat.  Most visitors of Baja California come from California.  Shrimp Tacos do appeal to California tourists.  Avocado is almost always a featured ingredient on a Baja style Shrimp Taco.  Tomato Salsa is also preferred Baja California tourists.
     "Chile Arbol Molida" translates to ground dried Arbol Chile Peppers.  Chile Arbol has a classic Mexican chile pepper flavor that is in the upper end of the medium hot Scoville chile pepper heat range.  Chile Arbol is the perfect spicy pepper for flavoring a tourist trap shrimp taco, because the spicy heat causes cervesa sales to skyrocket!

     For today's recipe the taco garnishes must be prepared and ready before starting to grill the shrimp and the tortilla.  It only takes a few minutes for a tortilla to be grilled crisp and for the shrimp to be fully cooked.  The tortilla can be folded while it is hot, but once the tortilla cools, it will become brittle.  Grilled tacos are almost always folded on the flat grill, or in the pan, before being served.
     Tomato Salsa:
     This recipe yields 1 2/3 cups of salsa.
     There are many tomato salsa recipe variations.  Every cook adds their own touch!  This is a very mild tasting tomato salsa.
     Step 1:  Place 1 cup of diced tomato into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/3 cup of chopped onion.
     Add 1 thin sliced green onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro.
     Add 1/2 of a minced garlic clove.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced green serrano pepper.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of rice vinegar.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Step 2:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Chill the salsa for 5 minutes so the flavors meld.
     Chile Arbol Camarones:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 large taco.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Add 6 large peeled and deveined shrimp.  (Remove the tails.)
     Season the shrimp with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté the shrimp, till they are almost fully cooked.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground dried chile arbol.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Simmer and reduce till the liquid is almost evaporated and the chile arbol clings to the shrimp.
     Keep the shrimp warm on a stove top.
     Baja Taco de Camarones Arbol:
     This recipe yields 1 large Baja style taco.
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Pour 1/2 tablespoon of lard or vegetable oil on the griddle.
     Place a large 8" to 10" flour tortilla on the griddle.
     Grill the tortilla till it is a light golden color.
     Step 2:  Flip the tortilla over.
     Immediately sprinkle some grated queso fresco on the tortilla.
     Place a few thin avocado slices on the tortilla.
     Sprinkle some thin sliced endive lettuce or cabbage on the tortilla.
     Spoon a generous amount of tomato salsa on the tortilla.
     Place the arbol shrimp on one half of the tortilla.
     Step 3:  Use a spatula to fold the tortilla in half over the shrimp.
     Grill the taco on both sides, till the tortilla is crispy golden brown.
     Use the spatula to set the Baja taco de arbol camarones on a plate.
     Serve the taco with items like:
     - black beans
     - a dollop of sour cream
     - 1 thick slice of lime
     - endive lettuce leaves or thin sliced cabbage
     - yellow sunburst tomato halves
     - black olive halves
     - thin slices of green onion
     - hot sauce on the side       
     Baja California tourist trap beach food!  This is a tasty shrimp taco!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Barbecue Red Beans & Jalapeño Chicken Sausage

     The Daily Beans!
     Barbecue Beans are a favorite side dish for summertime backyard cookouts.  Few cooks make this side dish with Red Beans.  Red Beans are great for making Barbecue Beans, because they are plump and the retain their shape if they are not overcooked.
     The best Barbecue Beans are made with a homemade BBQ sauce, rather than store bought sauce.  Barbecue Beans should not taste extra sweet, like Boston Baked Beans.  Barbecue beans should have a balanced sweet and spicy BBQ sauce flavor.
     I found some Spicy Jalapeño Chicken Sausages at the market the other day.  Usually people serve barbecue beans with grilled hot dogs or something like Texas style BBQ Beef Brisket.  Spicy Jalapeño Chicken Sausages almost taste like they were created specifically for barbecue beans.  The flavor combination is tasty!
     Red Beans:
     This recipe yields 4 servings!
     Step 1:  Soak 3 cups of dried red beans in water overnight in a refrigerator.
     Drain the water off of the red beans.
     Rinse the red beans under cold running water.
     Step 2:  Place the red beans in a pot.
     Add enough water to cover the beans with 2" of extra liquid.
     Place the pot over high heat.
     Bring the beans to a boil for 17 minutes.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 strip of smoked bacon.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 2 pinches of black pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of cider vinegar.
     Step 4:  Cover the pot with a lid.
     Gently simmer the beans, till they become tender.
     Step 5:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Remove the slice of smoked bacon.
     Let the beans cool to room temperature.
     Chill the beans till they are needed.
     BBQ Red Beans:
     This recipe yields 4 servings!
     Step 1:  Drain the liquid off of the prepared red beans.
     Rinse the beans under cold running water.
     Set the beans aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 3 cups of water.
     Add 1/2 cup of brown sugar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce.
     Add 3 tablespoons of tomato paste.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of dijon mustard.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of ancho chile powder.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chile guajillo powder.
     Add 2 to 3 pinches of cayenne pepper.  (to taste)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.
     Add 2 teaspoons of onion powder.
     Add 1 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Stir till the ingredients combine.
     Step 3:  Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add the rinsed cooked red beans.
     Gently stir the beans and barbecue sauce together.  (Be careful not to mash any of the tender beans!)
     Simmer and reduce, till the sauce is a medium thin consistency that easily clings to the beans.
     Step 5:  Keep the Barbecue Red Beans warm over very low heat.  Add a splash of water if the sauce becomes too thick.
     Barbecue Red Beans with Jalapeño Chicken Sausage: 
     This recipe yields 1 serving.
     Step 1:  Heat a ribbed cast iron grill or a chargrill to medium heat.
     Grill 2 Jalapeño Chicken Sausages, till grill marks appear.
     *For the chargrill method, just continue grilling the sausages over moderate heat till they are fully cooked.
     *For the indoor cast iron ribbed grill method, place the grilled jalapeño chicken sausages on a roasting pan.  Roast the sausages in a 300ºF oven, till they are fully cooked.  
     Step 2:  Ladle the barbecue red beans into a shallow bowl or casserole dish.
     Place the jalapeño chicken sausages on top of the beans.
     No garnish is necessary!
     The barbecue red beans have a nice old fashioned western barbecue flavor!  The mixture of chile is in the mild spicy range.  This is a nice bowl of Daily Beans!

Huevos en Enchiladas Aztecas con Arroz Azafrán, Refritos Lentejas Rojas y Queso Asadero

     Eggs on Aztec Style Enchiladas with Saffron Rice, Refried Red Lentils and Asadero Cheese!
     Today's Mexican street vendor style breakfast recipe is nothing fancy, but the flavors are nice.  Aztec style enchiladas are corn tortillas that are dipped in a chile pepper sauce.  Aztec Enchiladas often accompany meats on entrée platters.  Sometimes they are placed on a plate as a bed for eggs or grilled meat.  
     Dried Lentil Beans can be fully cooked and turned into refritos in less than 45 minutes, from start to finish.  Lentil Bean Refritos have a very rich flavor and they are a nice accompaniment.  There are a few types of lentils and they are usually identified by their color.  Red Lentils were used in today's recipe.  Red Lentils can be found in Mediterranean and Indian food markets.           

     Refritos Lentejas Rojas:
     This recipe yields 3 to 3 accompanying portions of refried red lentils!
     Red Lentils are more popular in in the old world than they are in Mexico.  Lentils are closer to being peas than beans.  Brown Lentils do have a strong flavor.  Red Lentils are much milder tasting.  
     Red Lentils do not need to be soaked overnight and it does not take much cooking time for them to become tender.   Fans of refried beans always prefer freshly made refritos.  Red Lentil refritos are a nice choice for breakfast, because is takes less than 45 minutes to make them from scratch!
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/3 cups of red lentils in a sauce pot.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1 garlic clove.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced epazote.
     Add 2 tablespoons of lard or vegetable oil.
     Add 1/2 cup of pork broth or chicken broth.
     Add enough water to cover the lentils 1" of extra liquid.
     Step 2:  Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil for 17 minutes.  Add water if necessary.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer till the lentils are very tender.   Only add water only if the level of liquid falls below the lentils.
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat and let the lentils cool to room temperature.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of Mexican Oregano.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground New Mexico Chile Powder.
     Step 5:  Use a blending wand or food processor to puree the lentil mixture.
     Step 6:  Return the pureed lentils to the sauce pot over very low heat.
     Reheat the refried lentils.  (If the refried lentils are too thin, simmer and reduce till the lentils become a medium thick consistency.  Add water if the lentils are too thick.)
     Keep the refritos lentejas rojas warm over very low heat.

     Chile Colorado:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/3 cups of thin chile colorado sauce.
     Any combination of dried red chile peppers can be used to make chile colorado.  Mild chile peepers are a good choice for breakfast.  Tomato is optional, but it is often added.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 garlic clove.
     Add 3 tablespoons of tomato puree.
     Add 2 cups of water.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 seeded chile guajillo.
     Add 1 seeded mild New Mexico chile pepper.
     Add 1 seeded chile ancho.  
     Simmer till the peppers are tender.
     Step 2:  Allow the liquid to cool to room temperature.
     Use a blending wand, food processor or blender to puree the sauce.
     Step 3:  Return the sauce to a sauce pot over low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a thin chile sauce consistency.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.  Add water if the sauce becomes too thick. 
     Saffron Rice:
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/2 cups of light chicken broth in a sauce pot.
     Add 1 pinch of Spanish Saffron or 3 pinches of Safflower Saffron.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
     Step 2:  Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat.
     Add 3/4 cup of long grain white rice.
     As soon as the liquid returns to a boil, reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Step 3:  Simmer and steam the rice for 20 minutes.
     Keep the rice warm over a stove top.

     Huevos en Enchiladas Aztecas con Arroz Azafrán, Refritos Lentejas Rojas y Queso Asadero:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     The original Aztec enchiladas were corn tortillas that were dipped in chile pepper sauce.  The original enchiladas were not stuffed.  This style of enchilada is served as an accompaniment for many Mexican entrees.  
     Aztec enchiladas are sometimes placed on a plate as a bed for a beef steak or featured ingredient.  Chilaquiles are made the same way.  After dipping the tortilla in the hot chile colorado sauce, the enchilada must be quickly placed on the plate and folded, before the tortilla becomes so soft that it falls apart.
     Step 1:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 or 2 whisked large eggs.
     Pan fry the eggs like a plain omelette, till the eggs are cooked firm on the bottom half.
     Flip the eggs.
     Sauté till the eggs are fully cooked.
     Step 2:  Place the plain omelette on a cutting board.
     Cut the egg into wide strips.
     Step 3:  Dip 3 small corn tortillas (5" wide tortillas), one at a time, in the chile colorado sauce and immediately fold them in half on one side of a plate.  Overlap the enchiladas to create a bed for the eggs.  
     Spoon some extra chile colorado sauce over the enchiladas.  
     Step 4:  Use a custard cup mold to place a portion of saffron rice on the plate.
     Place a portion of the refried red lentils on the plate.
     Step 5:  Fan the egg strips across the enchiladas.
     Sprinkle a little bit of grated Asadero Cheese over everything on the plate except the rice.
     Reheat the plate in a 300ºF oven for about 1 minute, till the ingredients become piping hot and the cheese softens.  (Queso asadero melts very quickly.)
     Step 6:  Place the plate on a countertop.
     Garnish the eggs with a few roasted chile poblano strips.
     Garnish with a cilantro sprig or parsley sprig.
     Serve with sour cream, guacamole and hot sauce on the side. 

     A mild tasting simple antojitos style southwestern breakfast!  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Flautas de Pollo

     Chicken Flautas!
     I grew up in a California Mexican restaurant that my step grandfather managed.  Taquitos were my favorite snack as a kid!  Taquitos are thin rolled fried corn tortilla tubes stuffed with meat.  Flautas are almost like taquitos.  Flautas are a little bit bigger than taquitos and they often are made with wheat flour tortillas.  Flautas are filled with spicy shredded or chopped meat and served with sauces.  Fresh fried crispy flautas are some fun Mexican food!

     Flautas de Pollo:
     This recipe yields 3 flautas.
     Step 1:  Place 10 ounces of boneless trimmed chicken breast in a sauce pot.
     Cover the chicken with water.
     Add 1/3 cup of coarsely chopped onion.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped green bell pepper.
     Add 2 chopped garlic cloves.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ground chile guajillo.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ground ancho chile powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 or 2 pinches of ground chile arbol.  (medium spicy hot)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add black pepper and sea salt.
     Step 2:  Bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer, till the chicken breast meat is tender enough to be shredded.
     Step 3:  Remove the chicken breast from the pot.
     Allow the chicken to cool.
     Shred the chicken meat.
     *The poaching broth can be saved and used for flavoring rice, to make a soup or it can be reduced to make a sauce.
     Step 4:  Divide the chicken meat into 3 equal portions.
     Place the shredded chicken across the middle of a 6" to 7" wide flour tortilla.
     Roll the tortilla into a tight cylinder shape.
     Moisten the edge of the tortilla with water to help seal it shut.
     Make a total of 3 chicken flautas.
     Step 5:  Heat about 4" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF.
     Pick up one flauta with metal tongs, so the tongs hold the edge of the rolled tortilla shut, so it will not unroll or open up when it starts to fry.
     Fry the flauta while holding it with the tongs, till the flauta becomes crisp enough to not unravel and it remains in a cylinder shape.
     Repeat these frying steps with each flauta.
     Step 6:  When the flautas are fried to a crispy golden brown color, set them on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to remove any excess oil.

     Flautas de Pollo Presentation:
     Canned Mexican dark dried chile sauce and canned salsa verde are fine for this recipe.  Home made sauces are better.  I have published recipes for salsa verde and dried chile sauces if you wish to make your own. 
     Spoon some salsa verde on one half of a plate.
     Spoon some dark dried chile sauce on the other half of the plate.
     Place the chicken flautas on the sauces.
     Place a dollop of sour cream on each flauta.
     Garnish the sour cream with bias sliced green onion.

     Flautas and taquitos are usually served as an appetizer or a light meal.  The mild chile pepper flavored shredded chicken is moist and delicious!  Each bite of flauta has a crunch to it.  Flautas are fun to share! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Quinoa Rotini Estilio Azteca

     Aztec Style Quinoa Rotini Pasta with Smoked Turkey, Amaranth Greens and Heirloom Orange Amana Tomato ... en garlic, bermuda onion, coconut oil broth sauce with sweet mini red chile pepper and queso cotija!

     Mexican Health Cuisine
     The healthiest cuisine in the world happens to be Mexican cuisine.  This is a well known fact.  Las Vegas Le Cordon Bleu culinary arts instructors make this point clear, when health cuisine topics are taught in the classroom.  The reason why Mexico holds the world's healthiest food title is because so many fresh vegetables are used in this cuisine.  Not only is it because fresh vegetables are part of the Mexican culinary program, it is the types of fresh vegetables that really counts.

     Avocado, tomato, beans, maize, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, squash and chile peppers are some of the basic Mexican cuisine vegetables and these items are highly nutritious.  Amaranth Greens, tomatillos, paddle cactus and calabaza are just a few of the items that many cooks outside of Mexico have become familiar with in recent years.

     Three of the most nutritious super grains are amaranth, nixtamal corn and quinoa.  These grains have been used in Mexican cuisine for thousands of years.  Many people associate quinoa with South American cultures, but this grain was also a main staple in Aztec cuisine.

     Amaranth plants produce a healthy nut grain and the greens are highly nutritious.  Amaranth Greens were popular in Aztec cuisine.  Amaranth Nut Grain was so highly prized by the Aztecs that many ritual ceremonies were dedicated to this grain.
     The Aztecs coated amaranth nuts with honey and formed the sticky seeds into the shape of a human deity.  They ceremoniously placed the amaranth deity figure on an alter.  At some point during the ritual, the human deity figure made out of of amaranth seed symbolically became a sacrificial offering, which was eaten by participants in the ceremony.

     The Spanish conquistadors witnessed the Aztec amaranth seed ceremonies.  The amaranth seed human deity figures looked so lifelike, that many of the Spanish thought that a real human sacrifice was taking place.  Regardless of whether they thought this was real or not, the Spanish viewed this ceremony as being a pagan event.
     The Spanish Inquisition involved stamping out every culture that practiced paganism, by converting the practitioners to Catholicism and Christianity.  The Spanish Inquisition not only took place in Europe, it also took place in the Americas.  The Aztec culture was viewed as being a pagan culture.  When the Spanish saw the Aztec amaranth ceremonies and noticed how much the Aztec culture depended upon amaranth nut grain, the Spanish enacted an amaranth eradication policy.
     Spanish law made the consumption and possession of amaranth illegal.  The Spanish amaranth eradication program involved chopping off the hands of any Aztec that possessed amaranth nut seed.

     Needless to say, for a long time after the Spanish banished amaranth, the consumption of amaranth was minimal.  There were no more vast fields of amaranth being grown for many years.  Even after the Mexican revolution, amaranth for the most part was still taboo.
     It was not until recent times that amaranth farming and consumption resumed on a wide scale.  Now that amaranth is featured as a highly nutritious plant by many health authorities, the popularity of amaranth now increases everyday.

     I first started cooking amaranth a few years ago.  I messed around with using amaranth grain flour to make biscuit recipes.  After eating the first two amaranth flour biscuits, I immediately noticed that I felt a lot stronger than I did when eating biscuits made with wheat flour.  I also noticed that I did not get hungry again for nearly a full day.  Those amaranth biscuits were perfect for going on an all day hike up the local mountains near Las Vegas.  Amaranth biscuits will "pump you up!" 

     Amaranth greens are more nutritious than spinach and many other common greens.  Amaranth Greens cook as quickly as spinach, so these greens should be added late in a recipe.
     Fresh amaranth greens are a summer season vegetable.  Amaranth Greens are usually called "Pigweed" in southern states and at food markets in the southwest.  Fresh amaranth greens are not usually stocked at common grocery stores, but they can be found in Mexican food markets throughout the southwest.  I purchased the bunch of pigweed in the photo above at the Cardenas Market in Las Vegas.  It was labeled as pigweed in this market.
     In the Caribbean, amaranth greens are called "Callaloo."  Cans of callaloo can be found at Caribbean food markets and at international food markets in America.  Many health food markets also now stock frozen amaranth greens.

     Today's Recipe
     The rotini pasta is made with quinoa flour.  Quinoa flour pastas can be found in nearly every modern grocery store.
     Smoked turkey lunch meat is almost always artificially flavored.  Smoked turkey legs are a better option.  The smoked turkey leg meat has to be carefully pulled off of the thick inedible tendons by hand.  If a knife is used, care must be taken to make sure that no pieces of sharp tendons are in the meat.
     Orange Amana Heirloom Tomatoes have a sweet fruity tomato flavor.  Orange Amana Tomatoes are pretty easy to find at grocery stores that stock organic produce.

     *This entire recipe yields 1 pasta entree!

     Smoked Turkey Leg Preparation:
     Select plump smoked turkey leg.
     Remove the skin, tendons, cartilage and bone.  Place these scrap items in a sauce pot and set it aside.
     Cut the smoked turkey leg meat into bite size pieces.
     Chill the turkey meat till it is needed.
     About 4 to 5 ounces of smoked turkey leg meat will be needed for today's recipe.

     Smoked Turkey Broth:
     Add enough water to the sauce pot turkey bones, skin and scraps to cover the ingredients with 1" of extra liquid.
     Place the pot over medium low heat and bring the broth to a gentle simmer.
     Simmer for about 1 hour.  Add water as necessary.
     After the broth has a rich flavor, simmer and reduce the broth till is about 2 cups in volume.
     Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer and set it aside.
     *Skimming off the grease is optional, because the fat contains plenty of flavor.  

     Quinoa Rotini:  
     Cook 1 large portion of Quinoa Rotini in boiling water over high heat.
     When the pasta is cooked just a little softer than al dente, place the pot under cold running water and gradually cool the pasta.
     Drain the water off the pasta and set it aside.

     Quinoa Rotini Estilio Azteca:
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.
     Add 2 crushed cloves of garlic.
     Sauté till the garlic turns a light golden brown color.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 cup of small chopped bermuda onion.
     Add 2 tablespoons of small chopped sweet mini red bell pepper.
     Add 4 to 5 ounces of the reserved smoked turkey leg meat.
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color and a few light brown highlights appear on the turkey pieces.
     Step 3:  Add 6 to 8 small Heirloom Amana Orange Tomato wedges.
     Briefly sauté till the tomato just starts to cook.
     Step 4:  Add 2 1/2 cups of loosely packed amaranth leaves and thin amaranth top shoots.
     Briefly sauté, til the amaranth greens start to wilt.
     Step 5:  Add the reserved 2 cups smoked turkey broth.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of rubbed Mexican Oregano.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced mint leaves.
     Add 1 pinch of ancho chile powder.
     Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 2 pinches of minced epazote.
     Step 6:  Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add 1 cup of rinsed canned or pre-cooked pinto beans.
     Add the reserved prepared quinoa rotini pasta.
     Bring the liquid back to a gentle boil, while occasionally tossing the ingredients together.
     Simmer and reduce the thin sauce, till the thin sauce starts to cling to the pasta.  By now the pasta should be hot.
     Remove the pan from the heat.

     Mexican Queso Cotija is a fresh cows milk curd cheese,  This cheese will not melt!  The crumbled cotija will stay intact and it adds a nice mild flavor.  
     The Aztecs did make cheese with milk from domesticated canines, so cheese is acceptable in this Aztec theme recipe!
     Use a large serving spoon to mound the Quinoa Rotini Estilio Azteca in a large pasta bowl.  Try to expose some of each of the ingredients on the surface.
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of crumbled Queso Cotija over the pasta.
     Garnish the pasta with a mint sprig.

    This pasta tastes awesome and it is a very healthy meal!  

Monday, April 20, 2015

French Toast, Maple Sausage & Sunny Egg Breakfast Stack with Chile Ancho Blue Agave Nectar

     A Simple Breakfast Stack With A Touch Of Southwestern Flavor!
     Eggs are often served on top French Toast in American diner style restaurants.  Simple breakfast stack presentations are also fairly common at casual restaurants these days.
     Maple Sausage is featured in today's recipe.  Not many breakfast restaurants in the southwest offer maple flavored sausage.  Chorizo tends to be the most popular breakfast sausage in this region
     Only in the southwest will you find a breakfast syrup that is flavored with mild ancho chile powder.  Ancho chile flavored raw blue agave nectar goes well with the vanilla cinnamon flavor of the French Toast and the maple flavored sausage.
     Many people cannot imagine that a mild chile pepper flavor would compliment the flavor of maple, but it does.  There actually are a few maple flavor hot sauce products that are marketed by specialty hot sauce companies.  The flavor combination is nice!

     Chile Ancho Blue Agave Nectar:
     This recipe yields about 1 cup.
     Agave nectar is thick and it should be thinned out a little bit when turned into a flavored breakfast syrup.
     Place 1/2 cup of water in a sauce pot over low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of ground ancho chile powder.
     Add 6 ounces of organic raw blue agave nectar.
     Simmer and reduce, till the agave nectar is a thin syrup consistency.
     Keep the Chile Ancho Agave Nectar warm over very low heat.

     Maple Sausage Patty:
     The yield is 1 large patty.
     Step 1:  Place 4 ounces of uncased bulk maple sausage on a cutting board.
     Use a 4” wide ring mold to form a sausage patty.
     Step 2:  Heat a cast iron griddle or sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil or 1 pat of butter.
     Add the maple sausage patty.
     Grill the sausage patty on both sides, till it is lightly browned and fully cooked.
     Keep the maple sausage patty warm on a stove top.

     French Toast:
     This recipe yields 1 Portion.
     Step 1:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 3 1/2 ounces of milk.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
     Add 1 pinch of cinnamon.
     Whisk the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Cut 2 thick slices of French Boule Loaf Bread.  (Trim the crust off of the bread, if the crust has a chewy texture.)
     Heat a non-stick griddle or seasoned cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Spread 1 1/2 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter on the griddle.
     Step 3:  Dip both sides of the bread slices in the French Toast batter and immediately place them in the hot griddle.
     When light brown highlights appear on the bottom half of the French Toast, flip the toast.
     Cook till light brown highlights appear.  (Add a little more butter if the pan becomes dry.)
     Keep the French Toast warm on a stove top.

     French Toast, Maple Sausage & Sunny Egg Breakfast Stack with Chile Ancho Blue Agave Nectar:
     Cook 1 large egg any style that is preferred.  (Sunny side up looks nice on a stack.)
     Stack the 2 slices of French toast on the middle of a plate.
     Pour a generous amount of the chile ancho blue agave nectar over the French Toast and onto the plate.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of powder sugar over the dry edges of the French Toast.
     Place the maple sausage patty on top of the French Toast.
     Place the egg on top of the sausage patty.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of ancho chile powder across the egg.

     The flavors of this simple stack naturally go well together!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chipotle Marinated Porterhouse Steak with Roasted Cumin Cilantro Butter

     A Decadent Classic Southwestern Style Porterhouse Steak! 
     The light marinade for this porterhouse steak has a delicate smoked jalapeno flavor.  No gourmand likes to see a fine steak ruined with a heavy strong marinade.  A light marinade with a hint of flavor is best because the porterhouse steak's flavor is the main attraction!

    The NAMP Meat Buyers Guide is a reference book that is relatively expensive, but it is the ultimate book for meat product identification and quality standards.  Every great chef, professional butcher, restaurant manager and great backyard chargrill champion owns this book!  The NAMP Meat Buyers Guide is worth its weight in gold when identifying quality standards and when purchasing quality meats.

     A Porterhouse Steak is similar to a T-Bone Steak.  Both steaks come from the same section of beef.  Both steaks have a sirloin section on one side of the bone.  The difference is the amount of tenderloin (filet mignon) that is attached to the other side of the bone.
     Many chefs and butchers say the minimum tenderloin length along the bone should be 2 1/2" on a porterhouse.  That is not a bad minimum.  The porterhouse steak in the pictures above has a piece of tenderloin that runs more than 3" along the bone!
     The short loin steak side of the bone was very large and it was cut at the start of the gristle streak end of the sirloin section.  This is the most flavorful part of the sirloin strip section.  Any farther into this section would require perforating the gristle streak, so it will be tender and to prevent shrinkage.

     As far as the thickness of a porterhouse steak is concerned a 3/4" thick porterhouse is usually found at casual restaurants and it does not always cook evenly.  A 1" to 1 1/2" thick porterhouse is considered to be an individual size portion steak at old school steak houses.  A 2" to 2 1/2" thick porterhouse steak is usually shared by two guests.

     Porterhouse Steaks are considered by many people to be the undisputed king of steaks!  Cook the steak to your preference, but do not overcook the steak, because a Porterhouse is not cheap.
     A steak that has black charred highlights is okay for some, but dark black charred beef that is cooked at too high of a temperature has been proven to be carcinogenic.  Some prefer lightly browned steak and some prefer dark brown steak.  Black charring to the point of being carbon cinders is not a good thing.    

     Roasted Cumin Cilantro Butter: 
     This recipe yields enough compound butter for 2 to 4 steaks!  
     Step 1:  Heat a dry sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 teaspoons of ground cumin.
     Shake the pan constantly, till a strong aroma of cumin is released.
     Transfer the roasted cumin powder onto a plate to stop the roasting process.
     Step 2:  Place 2 ounces of chilled Unsalted Plugra Butter in a food processor.  (Plugra is the richest butter of them all!)
     Add the roasted cumin.
     Add tablespoons of minced cilantro.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt.
     Add 1 pinch of white pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of rice vinegar.
     Step 3:  Pulse the food processor till the compound butter is well blended and the butter creams to a pale yellow white color.
     Step 4:  Use a spatula to transfer the cilantro butter into a star tipped pastry bag.
     Step 5:  Line a small baking pan with parchment paper.
     Use the pastry bag to make a few butter pat swirls that weigh about 1/2 ounce to 3/4 ounce.
     Chill the butter swirls to 41ºF in a refrigerator, so the compound butter is solid and firm.

     Chipotle Marinated Porterhouse Steak:
     This recipe yields enough to marinate 1 average size porterhouse steak.
     Step 1:  Mix these ingredients together in a bowl:
     - 1 tablespoon of pureed canned chipotle en adobo
     - 1/2 cup of lager beer
     - one tablespoon of blended olive oil
     - sea salt and black pepper
     Step 2:  About 15 minutes before cooking the porterhouse steak, place the steak in a container.
     Pour the marinade over the steak.
     *Try not to marinate the porterhouse for more than 15 minutes, or discoloration of the meat will occur.

     Chipotle Marinated Porterhouse Steak with Roasted Cumin Cilantro Butter:
     The thicker a porterhouse is, the more times it must be flipped, so black charring does not occur.
     Chargrill Method:  Grill the porterhouse steak over a medium hot chargrill.  Mesquite charcoal is the best choice.
     Broiler Method:  Place the porterhouse on a roasting rack on a broiler pan and broil the steak under high heat.
     Step 1:  Cook the steak to whatever finish temperature is preferred.  (Medium Rare is the most popular temperature for a porterhouse steak.  (For medium rare a probe thermometer should read 130ºF to 140ºF degrees.)
     Step 2:  Place the finished porterhouse steak directly on a plate.
     Place the chilled swirl of roasted cumin cilantro butter on the steak while it is still hot.
     Serve with a vegetable and potato of your choice.
     *The steak in the pictures was served with mashed chive potatoes, brussel sprouts and buttered julienne sliced rutabaga & carrots.
     Garnish the plate with cilantro sprigs.

     This is a great tasting southwestern style porterhouse steak!