Monday, March 28, 2011

Pescado Adobado en Hojas de Maiz

Pescado Adobado en Hojas de Maiz Last weekend I moved onto the Fish & Shellfish section of the Authentic Mexican Cookbook. I made Cod marinated in a Mexican Adobo sauce and broiled in cornhusks. This is the first time I've used cornhusks for something other than tamales. I think it's the first time I've had Mexican Adobo too. I've had Filipino Adobo a few times and the only thing similar is that they both contain vinegar.

This recipe references the red chile marinade (Adobo) recipe from the Meat Preparations section of the cookbook. This can be made ahead of time and can actually sit in your fridge for many months because it contains vinegar, chiles and salt which are all used as natural preservatives. It says it takes a half hour to make but I disagree. It takes a while to remove seeds and toast all the peppers or maybe I'm just slow at doing that. The recipe contained 3 steps however I noticed the first step was not numbered. There is more than one edition of this cookbook, one would think mistakes like this would be fixed. It's not the first mistake I've found in the cookbook either.

I do like that most of the recipes have variations listed in the Cook's Notes section and decided to use the traditional variation listed for the Adobo. Instead of soaking the chiles in hot water after toasting them I ground them with the spices to make a chile powder. This makes a darker/stronger/spicier paste since none of the flavor is soaked out. There were also options of different chiles you could use. I had a couple of New Mexico Chiles leftover from another recipe so I put a few of those in along with some Anchos and Guajillos. I actually found the Guajillos at Mazatlan, a Mexican store in Monroe. I couldn't find these chiles at the regular grocery store. They seemed to have a pretty large selection of chiles at this place.

The prep time was listed as an hour if the Adobo was already made which I thought to be a pretty accurate time. I was glad for once I wasn't going to spend all day cooking like I have the past few weekends. It didn't take long for the fish to cook. There were two options for cooking, using a griddle or broiling. I went with the broiling option. The husks burned a little but the recipe mentioned they would. It really dried the husks out and made them brittle so they broke a little when I turned them so a couple had some of the juices come out but not too much. I garnished them with cilantro and fresh chopped onion and was supposed to serve them with lime wedges but just realized I forgot to include those. They were good but I'm thinking they would have been even better with a little fresh lime juice squeezed over the top.

Tres Chiles
Homemade Chile Powder Toasted Garlic
Fish Marinating in Adobo Paste Wrapping Fish in Cornhusks
Fish Broiled in Cornhusks

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mole Rojo con Pollo

Mole Rojo con Pollo Rich red mole with chicken is the English translation of this dish from Rick Bayless' Authentic Mexican Cookbook. This was yet another time consuming recipe. This time I started really early so not to chance eating at 9:00 at night again. I got the mole sauce done by around 3:00. All that was left to do was cook the chicken in the sauce for 25 minutes and it was done. Making the sauce did take several hours though. In case you aren't familiar with mole, it is a Mexican sauce containing chocolate and chiles. The most common brands of Mexican chocolate are Nestle Abuelita and the more traditional, Ibarra. I had some Ibarra in my cupboard though I've had it for a while and wasn't sure if it was still good. I didn't see an expiration date on it so I decided to use it. It didn't smell bad and I didn't get sick so it must be ok right? The chocolate comes in round disks which have indents that make 8 wedges like a pie. Each disk is individually wrapped so they probably last a long time that way.

There are a total of 25 ingredients in this recipe. I made a few substitutions and omissions. Three different peppers were recommended but there was an alternate version of the sauce that only uses one type of chile, the easy to find ancho, and is what I ended up making. I was not very successful in finding mulatos and pasillas. I checked out Mazatlan, one of the other Mexican stores in downtown Monroe, today and they seemed to have a bigger selection of dried chiles, I saw some pasillas there but don't remember seeing mulatos. I even found the chiles I was looking for to make adobo for next weekend's recipe. I used craisins instead of raisins just because I always have those on hand and didn't want to buy raisins. The plantain was optional so I omitted that thinking it would be hard to find but I saw some of those at the Mexican store today too.

The recipes in this cookbook seem to refer to other recipes quite often. They don't just refer to various sauces but actual steps within the recipe. Like if there are two mole recipes it will refer back to a previous mole recipe and says to follow steps 6-8 on page 243 for example. I find myself flipping through pages a lot and makes things more confusing. What is even more confusing is when an ingredient is mentioned in the instructions that isn't even listed in the ingredient list. This recipe called for peanuts but in the description they are referred to as almonds. In the recipe that is referred to, almonds were used. In my state of confusion I ended up forgetting all about the peanuts and ended up not using them. By the time I realized the recipe probably meant peanuts and not almonds it was too late to add them in. Other than that the recipe was followed pretty closely.

This is my 2nd or 3rd time quartering a whole chicken. It's really not too difficult though it would be a little easier if I had the proper knife for it. I really hate using my Shun knives for that. I need to get a butcher knife or something. Whole chickens are a lot less expensive than buying them already quartered so watch some youtube videos and do it yourself and save some money.

The mole sauced turned out a little more runny than I would like even though I simmered it longer than suggested to try and thicken it up more. The flavor was good though and I had a lot left over so I put it in a zip lock bag and have been using it on leftovers. Tonight I cut up some chicken and cooked it in the mole sauce and made chicken mole tacos. Don't think I've ever had those before but they were good.

Quartered Chicken
Mole Sauce
Chicken Mole

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ting Momo Sneak Peak

Tibetan CookingThree new Tom Douglas restaurants will be opening in Seattle very soon. I had the privilege of finding out about a sneak peak preview dinner shortly after it was announced and was able to get a reservation for me and Mark at one of them. The reservations seemed to fill up pretty fast. For $25 each we got to try 5 sample menu items from the new restaurant along with a glass of wine. The restaurant choices were Cuoco, an Italian pasta kitchen, Brave Horse Tavern, a bar with 26 taps and a pretzel oven and Ting Momo, a Tibetan dumpling cafe. It wasn't too difficult to choose between the three. Italian food doesn't always agree with me and a tavern didn't really sound all that exciting. So I chose the one that sounded most interesting and adventurous. I've had dumplings many times and have even made them a few times but have never had Tibetan dumplings or any kind of Tibetan food so wasn't sure what to expect. Chinese/Japanese dumplings are the only type I've ever had.

So we headed out to the Ballroom on Saturday and were about 10 minutes early. We walk in and it doesn't appear we are in the right place, looking at the crowd of beer guzzlers. It took a good couple of minutes to realize we should be at the Palace Ballroom in Belltown and not The Ballroom in Fremont. Oops. We hustle back to the car and fly down Aurora towards The Palace Ballroom. I jumped out of the car right at 6:00 to get seated while Mark finds parking. I walk in and the scenery isn't all too different than what we saw at The Ballroom. I ask about the Tom Douglas dinner and the girl confusedly walks away to ask someone. She comes back and points across the street to the Ballroom. It turns out I was in the Palace Kitchen. I forgot my phone in the car so I couldn't warn Mark but he figured it out.

It was only a few minutes after 6 by the time I got seated at one of the communal tables and found there were a lot of people that didn't show up on time. Shortly after sitting down, I was treated with a small cup of hot chai tea that was close to the size of a sake cup. The only chai tea I've really had has been at Tully's/Starbucks and is usually overly sweet. This chai tea was just the opposite and wasn't sweet at all. I'm guessing that's the way they drink it in Tibet but I could have used a little sugar in it.

Each seat had a menu with a 1-4 rating listed under each item as well as some lines to write your comments. I found it kind of hard to rate food from a culture I've never eaten before. Also at each chair was a plate with squares of some kind of pastry and 3 cups of different sauces. Nothing had been explained to us yet so I wasn't sure if we were supposed to be doing something with them like dipping the pastries in the sauce or what. I decided to leave everything alone and hope we would be given some direction on what to do with this stuff. I saw some people dipping fingers in the sauces to taste so I decided to do the same. The sauces were very flavorful. The one on the left was very spicy, the middle was very sweet and the right one salty. I could tell bland is not something that would be used to describe Tibetan food.

Tom eventually came to the front of the room and introduced the head chef of Ting Momo, Deyki Thonden, her husband, and several other people that have been instrumental in getting the restaurant up and running. Deyki talked a bit about her story, how she and her family had walked for months to get out of Tibet. It sounded like she had a very difficult childhood but since moving to Seattle she has been working for Tom though not cooking much Tibetan food. She will be living her dream when Ting Momo opens and she is able to cook nothing but Tibetan food.

We soon discovered what the plate of pastry dough in front of us was for. We would be making dumplings ourselves. I'm not sure if the other two restaurant sneak peaks got to do any hands on stuff like this so we got a little cooking lesson in how to make Tibetan dumplings. Deyki showed us how to make several different shaped dumplings. I never knew there were so many different ways to make them. It was a little difficult to make t hem because the pastry dough was starting to harden and kept cracking. A little cup of water was provided to moisten the dough which did help. We didn't get to eat the dumplings we made but were served 5 different types of dumplings. Momo - made with yak, Samo - one made with pork and one with potato, Tingmo - made with eggplant, and Ghasel - made with lamb and potato. We were also served a soup with hand pulled noodles. The sauces weren't the only things that had such strong spicy flavors. Everything we ate seemed to have a lot of spices in it and enjoyed most everything we were served. It wasn't a large meal; I didn't walk away stuffed, but it was enough.

Not only were we served wine but we also got a bottle of Tibetan beer. Unfortunately I'm not a beer drinker but I did have a sip just to try it. Mark ended up drinking my bottle and I had some of his wine.

Ting Momo will be opening in April in South Lake Union on Terry Ave between Thomas and Harrison. It will be more a to go type place than a sit down place but there will be a few tables. It's only supposed to be open for a few hours during lunch but they will occasionally be offering a Tibetan dinner by reservation only. Also note this is believed to be the only traditional Tibetan restaurant in Seattle. Didn't realize how rare/hard to find Tibetan food is.

Ting Momo Tasting Menu
Lhasa Tibetan Beer
Tom Douglas with Ting Momo Chef Deyki Thonden and Husband
Tibetan Cooking Making Momos
DIY Dumplings
Yak Filled Momo Pork and Veg Samos
Spicy Eggplant Tingmo

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nuevo Leon Style Tamales

Nuevo Leon Style Pork TamalesThese tamales were made from a recipe in Rick Bayless' Authentic Mexican Cookbook and based on Velázquez de León's Cocina de Nuevo León, located in Northeastern Mexico. I'm not sure what makes these tamales different than any other.

As suggested, I substituted New Mexico chiles in place of cascabeles norteños since I couldn't find those. These also have ancho chiles as well which are probably the easiest dried chiles to find. This is probably only the second time I've made tamales from scratch with no help from my mom though I've helped her make them many times growing up.

I had originally planned on making a double batch but I forgot how long these take to make even though the cookbook timing says it only takes 2 3/4 hours. It must have taken about 3.5 hours just to prepare them and an 1.5 hours of steaming. I used my vegetable steamer which is the perfect size for making tamales. I think my mom always used a pressure cooker to make hers. I had a little sauce leftover too since I only ended up making one batch of masa dough and added some over the top of the tamales for a little more spice. We ended up having a late dinner, not eating till about 9:00 and I only ended up making one batch but had some meat leftover that I'll probably use to make pork tacos.

I was a little disappointed at the lack of spice in the meat. I was expecting a lot more spice than there was. I can only guess that soaking the chiles in hot water probably drained a lot of flavor out of the chiles. I much preferred the chipotle pork tamales I made last year. I just realized it was March of last year that I made tamales too. Maybe I'll make this into an annual tradition. There are a couple of other tamale recipes in the cookbook that I may give a try but I probably won't be going back to this one.

Toasted New Mexico and Ancho Chiles
Pork Tamale Stuffing Tamale Prep
Tamale Filled Steamer

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Enchiladas Verdes

Enchiladas VerdesI've made enchiladas several times but can't remember ever making green chile (verde) enchiladas before now. I've never even bought a tomatillo before starting this Authentic Mexican cookbook project. It seems to be a main ingredient in any green chile recipe along with either seranos or jalapenos. I've use jalapenos a lot and have even grown them in my garden but have not had much experience with seranos. Most of the recipe I've come across in the cookbook have given the option of using one or the other so I've been using serranos for the past couple. I like spicy so I used one more serrano than the recipe called for and boy was it spicy. It wasn't so spicy that it was inedible but it was getting close.

I had so many saucepans and frying pans going, I think all my burners were covered. One for the poached chicken, one for the chile sauce, one for the shredded chicken and one for the oil for frying the tortillas. There were a lot of dirty dishes to clean after this meal.

I didn't use homemade corn tortillas for the enchiladas and the recipe recommend store bought anyway. I'm not sure why. Maybe homemade ones are too fragile and tear easier. That's the only reason I could think of. I was happy with the way they turned out though. Just a tad spicier than I'd like but still happy with it. Luckily Mark likes spicy too. He was happy to have some of the leftovers to take home.

Chicken Poaching Prep Shredded Chicken
Tomatillos and Seranos
Tomatillo Chile Sauce
Enchilada Prep

Monday, March 07, 2011

Chaquehue Recipe

Bowl of ChaquehueIt had probably been over 10 years since I've had or made Chaquehue. It's eaten as a hot cereal, similar to cream of wheat, made with blue cornmeal. I always liked the color of it, a pastel purple. How could you not like eating something purple? I grew up on this stuff and always had a hard time finding blue corn meal locally and never really thought of getting it online. There's a few Mexican stores near me and none of them seem to carry it. My Grandma came to my rescue this past Christmas and sent me some from Colorado where you can find it pretty easily at most grocery stores.

I had no idea how to spell it and still don't really. When I Googled what I thought it might be there weren't very many results and I saw a few other spellings for it too so who knows how it's really spelled. I've also seen it spelled Chaquewe and Sakewe. It's pronounced shaw que weh

I was later informed via Flickr and Facebook that Bob's Red Mill has a blue cornmeal that you can probably find at Whole Foods and other grocery stores around town. I've only ever made it using the kind pictured below that's usually found in Mexican stores. So after I run out, I may give Red Mill brand a try and see if it tastes the same. Several people were curious about the recipe so I decided to measure out the ingredients over the weekend so I can post a recipe. I've never measured the ingredients before, I usually just throw it all together.

4 cups Cold Water
1 cup blue cornmeal
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
Salt to taste

Serving Size: 3-4 servings


1. Add cold water and blue cornmeal to a sauce pan.
2. Stir together with a wisk until boiling. (The mixture will thicken as it comes to a boil.)
3. Add milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt and wisk until combined and serve hot.

You can use less sugar and/or milk if you like but these are the measurements I used last weekend and I wouldn't use much more sugar or milk than what I have above. You can add a little at a time until it's the thickness and sweetness you like.

Chaquewe aka Chaquehue Harina de Atole

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Huevos con Chorizo

Chorizo Sausage Huevos = eggs and chorizo = Mexican sausage. I made the sausage the previous weekend and it's been sitting in my fridge waiting to be used. I picked up some sausage casings on Friday from Bill the Butcher in Redmond. Casing the sausage is optional but I got a sausage stuffing attachment so I wanted to try it out. Stuffing sausage isn't something I've ever done before. It wasn't difficult but it would have been if I didn't have Mark assisting. He pushed the sausage into the machine while I took care of filling the casings as the sausage came out. We let them hang for a couple of days to dry downstairs in the laundry room and they were all ready for us to eat by Sunday morning for breakfast.

The Huevos con Chorizo recipe I chose was from the eggs section of the Authentic Mexican cookbook. There weren't too many recipes to choose from in this section but I chose this one because I wanted to try my hand at making some chorizo so it actually took two weekends to prepare for making the recipe since the chorizo was homemade.The recipe requires uncased sausage so I had to remove the casings anyway. I haven't really seen any recipes that call for chorizo with the casing on. I guess it's just a way of keeping it all together since it is rather mushy. Even though the course grinder attachment was used, the mix of spices and vinegar must really break down the meat quite a bit. I got to say chorizo isn't the most attractive meat but it certainly doesn't lack in flavor. There's almost more spices in it than there is meat. Still have a little bit of chorizo left over but haven't decided what to make with it yet.

Sausage Casing
Kitchen Aid Sausage Stuffer Casing Chorizo Sausage
Dry Cured Chorizo
Egg and Chorizo