Saturday, April 16, 2016

Chile Ajo Cuzco Maiz Gigante

     Chile Pepper and Garlic Toasted Giant Cuzco Corn! 
     The first time that I published a Cuzco Maiz Gigante recipe article, the response was pretty good.  Many people have never heard of Cuzco Giant Maize.  Cuzco Giant Maize is an ancient breed of corn that was developed by a Cuzco civilization that predated the Incan empire.  
     Cuzco Maiz Gigante is first treated with calcified lime, then it is dried.  Corn that is boiled with calcified lime is usually called Hominy.  The lime does the same thing that ash does in the nixtamal process.  Boiling corn with ash, before drying and grinding, is how Masa Harina is made.  Masa Harina is the type of corn flour that is used to make tortillas.
     Treating corn with calcified lime or ash (cocoa plant ash) makes all the nutrients in corn easy to digest.  This process also makes corn more tender, which is essential for Giant Cuzco Corn that will be toasted.   
     The snack called Corn Nuts is made with Cuzco giant corn.  The only problem with Corn Nuts snacks is the corn kernels are very hard.  People that have had extensive dental work cannot eat anything that is rock hard and crunchy.  It is the cooking method used at the Corn Nuts factory that makes this snack so hard and crunchy.      
     Cuzco Maize Gigante is pan fried like popcorn, but only a minimal amount of oil is used, so the giant corn kernels simply toast in the pot till the hull is golden brown.  Once the giant corn kernels are toasted, they become starchy and tender.  Pan toasted Cuzco Maiz Gigante is not hard as a rock.  In fact the toasted giant corn kernels are pleasant to eat.
     Just because Giant Cuzco Corn kernels do not puff up like regular popcorn, it does not mean that these corn kernels do not pop when they are toasted in a pot.  Cuzco Giant Corn kernels sound like big firecrackers when they pop!  When a giant Cuzco corn kernel pops, it can travel over twenty feet through the air!  Placing a loose fitting lid or screen over the pot is necessary, so the Giant Cuzco Corn does not fly all over the kitchen.
     Peruvians are big fans of snack food.  Socializing while eating some snack food is a tradition in Peru.  Toasted Cuzco Maiz Gigante is a favorite snack and there are many flavors that are offered by Peruvian street food vendors.  Chile Garlic or Chile Lime are probably the two most popular snack food flavors from Mexico to South America.  If you like chile garlic flavored corn chips or popcorn, then today's Chile Garlic Toasted Giant Cuzco Corn snack will suit your fancy. 

     *This entire recipe yields 1 portion.  (About 1 1/3 cups of toasted Giant Cuzco Corn.)

     Chile Garlic Butter:
     This is a very highly seasoned butter.  The butter helps the spices to cling to the toasted corn kernels.    
     Step 1:  Place 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a small sauce pot over low heat.
     Simmer the butter till the milk fats and water evaporate.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Step 2:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Mild New Mexico Chile Powder.
     Add 1 pinch of ground Chile Ancho.
     Add 1 pinch of ground Chile Pequin.
     Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt.
     Stir the ingredients.
     Keep the chile garlic butter warm on a stove top for 5 minutes, so the flavors meld.
     Chile Ajo Cuzco Maiz Gigante:
     This recipe is the same as what is printed on the bag in the pictures above!  The recipe for fried toasted maiz Cuzco gigante has not changed since it was created in ancient times.
     Step 1:  Heat a tall sided pot over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 cup of Maiz Cuzco Gigante.
     Step 2:  Place a loose fitting lid or a screen over the pot.
     Shake the pot till all of the kernels pop and turn a golden brown toasted color.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Place the toasted Cuzco Giant Maize in a mixing bowl.
     Add just enough of the chile garlic butter, while tossing, to coat the toasted giant Cuzco maize kernels with flavor.
     Place the toasted Chile Ajo Cuzco Maiz Gigante in a shallow bowl and serve.  

     All I can say is that once a few kernels of Chile Garlic Toasted Cuzco Giant Corn are eaten, it is hard to put the bowl down without finishing off every last piece.  The flavor and texture is addictive! 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Roasted Cubanelle and Alfalfa Sprout Quesadilla with Roasted Cubanelle Salsa

     Tasty Cubanelle Chile Peppers!  
     I rarely use one ingredient for two items on a plate.  When featuring a mild Cubanelle Pepper in an entrée, it may be best to use the same pepper in an accompanying salsa, rather than attempt to select a different chile pepper to create a complimentary flavor.  This is because Cubanelle Peppers have a unique flavor of their own.    
     Roasted Cubanelle:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 quesadilla and 1 portion of salsa.
     Step 1:  Lightly brush 1 large Cubanelle Pepper (or 2 medium size Cubanelle Peppers) with blended olive oil.  
     Place the Cubanelle on a roasting pan.  
     Roast the pepper in a 350ºF oven till the skin lightly caramelizes and becomes wrinkled.  
     Step 2:  Remove the stem and split the roasted pepper open.
    Wash the skin and seeds off of the pepper under cold running water.  (Use your fingers to rub the loose roasted pepper skin off.)  
     Step 3:  Dice the pepper.
     Set the diced roasted Cubanelle Pepper aside in a bowl. 
     Roasted Cubanelle Salsa: 
     This recipe yields 1 portion of salsa.  (About 2/3 cup)
     Step 1:  Place 1/3 of the roasted Cubanelle Pepper in a small mixing bowl.  (Reserve the rest of the roasted Cubanelle Pepper for the quesadilla recipe.)
     Add 1/2 cup of chopped plum tomato.  
     Add 1 chopped green onion. 
     Add 1 tablespoon of small chopped Bermuda Onion.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped cilantro.
     Step 2:  Add 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add sea salt and black pepper. 
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of red serrano chile pepper sauce (or Mexican style mild red hot sauce). 
     Step 3:  Toss the ingredients together.
     Set the salsa aside for 5 minutes so the flavors meld.
     Roasted Cubanelle and Alfalfa Sprout Quesadilla:
     This recipe yields 1 medium size quesadilla.
     Step 1:  Heat a wide cast iron griddle (or wide sauté pan) over medium/medium low heat.
     Season the griddle with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or lard.
     Step 2:  Place a 12" flour tortilla on the oiled griddle.
     Immediately sprinkle a thin layer of mixed grated Cheddar and Monterey Jack Cheese on the tortilla.  (About 3/4 cup)
     Sprinkle the reserved chopped roasted Cubanelle Pepper on the cheese. 
     Sprinkle a thin layer of alfalfa sprouts on the quesadilla.  (About 2/3 cup of loose alfalfa sprouts.)
     Step 3:  Grill the quesadilla till the tortilla is crispy and light golden brown.
     Use a long spatula to fold the tortilla in half.  
     Step 4:  Place the quesadilla on a cutting board.  
     Cut the quesadilla into 4 pie shaped pieces. 
     Roasted Cubanelle and Alfalfa Sprout Quesadilla with Roasted Cubanelle Salsa:
     Place the quesadilla slices on a plate, a small portion of the back half of the plate is left bare.
     Place a small bed of shredded lettuce on the open spot on the plate
     Place a portion of the Roasted Cubanelle Salsa salsa on top of the lettuce.  
     Place a dollop of sour cream next to the quesadilla.
     Garnish the sour cream with black olive slices. 
     Quesadillas are a nice snack or light meal.  The alfalfa sprouts add a nice healthy flavor!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Chile Lime Chicken Tostadas

     Fancy Tostadas!
     Mexican food is not only great hot weather food, it is also the healthiest cuisine that that there is.  The reason why is because so many fresh ingredients are used.
     Tostada translates to "toast."  Tortillas are the bread of Mexico and Tostada refers to a toasted tortilla.  Tostadas can be toasted on a griddle skillet or in an oven.  In the old days before fast food style Mexican food came into the picture, traditional Tostadas were nearly always made with corn tortillas.  Now Tostadas are most often made with flour tortillas.  Honestly,corn tortilla Tostadas do taste much better, because plain wheat flour tortillas taste rather bland.
     Today's Chile Lime Chicken Tostadas have a refreshing flavor.  Tostadas do not have to be garnished with everything but the kitchen sink.  Placing a few antojitos style toppings on the side allows guests to add the extra toppings that they prefer.  
     Chile Lime Chicken Tostadas:
     This recipe yields 2 medium size (6") tostadas.
     Step 1:  Season a 6 to 8 ounce boneless chicken breast with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of ancho chile powder over the chicken.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of ground chile arbol over the chicken.  (optional for spicy heat)
     Rub the spices onto the chicken.
     Chill the chicken in a refrigerator for 1 hour, so the spice flavor penetrates.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 teasspoons of blended olive oil.
     Sauté the chicken on both sides till it is halfway cooked.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat
     Add 3/4 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Simmer and reduce till the chicken is fully cooked and only about 2 tablespoons of liquid remain.  The chicken should be coated with a thin lime flavored chile jus.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Place the chicken breast on a cutting board.  Leave the pan juices in the sauté pan over very low heat.
     Slice the chicken breast into thin slices.
     Return the chicken slices to remaining chili lime jus in the pan.
     Keep the chile lime chicken warm on a stove top.
     Step 5:  Heat a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat. 
     Lightly brush the griddle with vegetable oil.
     Grill 2  medium size flour tortillas (about 6" wide tortillas), till they are toasted crisp on and golden brown highlights appear on both sides.
     Set the tostadas aside.
     Step 5:  Heat about 3/4 cup of refried beans in a small sauce pot with a small splash of water over low heat.  (Quality canned refried beans are okay, but homemade refritos are better.  There is a refritos recipe in this website.)
     Spread a thin layer of the refried beans on the tostadas.
     Step 6:  Sprinkle about 2 to 3 tablespoons of grated Queso Chihuahua on each tostada.
     Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped tomato on each tostada.
     Step 7:  Arrange the slices of chili lime chicken on each tostada, so they point out from center.
     Place a thin slice of green jalapeño on the tostada between the chicken pieces.
     Step 8:  Place the tostadas on a baking pan.
     Bake in a 350ºF till the toppings are warm and the cheese begins to melt.
     Step 1:  Place 2 romaine lettuce leaves on a plate.
     Place a small mound of shredded lettuce on the center of the plate.
     Garnish the shredded lettuce with 2 to 3 tablespoons of chopped tomato.
     Place a dollop of sour cream on the mounded garnish.
     Garnish the sour cream with a black olive.
     Step 2:  Place the 2 Chile Lime Chicken Tostadas on the plate.
     Garnish the tostadas with sliced lime curls.
     This is a nice light tostada for spring and summer!