Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chorizo

Chorizo SausageLast weekend I made chorizo using Rick Bayless' recipe in Authentic Mexican. There are tons of spices in chorizo, 10 of them in this recipe, and luckily I had them all and didn't have to buy any. The only thing I really had to buy was the pork. Safeway had a buy one get one free sale so I got a couple of pork roasts and put one in the freezer. I'm making some pulled pork in the slow cooker as I type with what's left of the roast I didn't use for the chorizo.

I didn't have a meat grinder for this but have a Kitchen Aid mixer so I ordered the KitchenAid Food Grinder, Sausage Stuffer, and Citrus Juicer and is even what Rick uses for grinding meat too. I have a recipe picked out from the Huevos (eggs) section of the cookbook that I will be making this weekend.

Stuffing the sausage in casings is optional and actually not needed for the recipe I'm going to make but I'm going to stuff some of it just for fun. I had to go to a butcher shop in order to find the casings. I checked at a few grocery stores and they didn't have any available. I got a couple of yards for less than $2 so I'll be doing some sausage stuffing this weekend too.

I will say, chorizo isn't the most attractive thing to look at.

Dried Ancho Chiles Ancho Seeds
Chorizo Spices
Pork Fat Chile Paste
Grinding Pork

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pozole Verde

Pozole VerdeI was going to put the English name in the title of my blog posts and the Spanish version here but it just seemed wrong in this case. I've had pozole many times and calling it soup just didn't seem right plus the name is long. Pork, Chicken and Hominy soup with Ground Pumpkinseeds is the actual title of the recipe in the Authentic Mexican Cookbook. I've actually never had the verde (green) version of this soup before though. I've always had red which is also in the cookbook but I wanted to try something different so I went with this one.

The main ingredient in any pozole is the hominy which is made from dried corn kernels which are soaked and cooked for a long time to make them soft. You can use canned hominy which makes this much quicker to make and probably easier to find than dried corn, but I always opt to use the dried corn and make my own hominy. There's a few Mexican stores nearby making it pretty easy to find. Rick Bayless says to cook the dried corn with cal, a lime mixture; I've never done it before and wasn't really sure where to find it or what the purpose was, so I skipped that part. I later found out the reasoning for doing this is to easily remove the hard corn kernels. Since I didn't do this the kernels stayed on the corn and the hominy wasn't as pleasant to eat.

There were two other ingredients in the recipe I wasn't very successful in finding but some easy to find alternatives were provided. One was ashoshoco leaves which I couldn't even find in a Google search so am not sure it's even spelled correctly in the recipe. Hoja Santa was one possible alternative that can be used in it's place but couldn't find that either so I used the third alternative which was fennel which I love and am looking forward to braising the bulb for dinner later this week. The other ingredient I couldn't find was epazote; I used parsley for a substitute.

I made a big batch since I had extra meat and corn and a 23 quart pot. Unfortunately, I didn't get extra tomatillos and peppers so it didn't come out as green and spicy as I would have liked, it was very mild but still good. Rick provided several condiment options that you can add to the soup when it's served but I didn't use all of them. I chose to use red onion, oregano, avocados and limes.

Pozole takes pretty much all day to make, especially if you don't use the canned hominy so it was a late dinner. Luckily there were lots of leftovers. It freezes well so I put some away for bringing to work and for heating up when I'm too lazy and don't feel like making anything for dinner.
Dried Corn Chicken and Pork Pieces
Peeled Tomatillos Boiling Tomatillos
Raw and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Big Pot
Condiments

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Clean Start

CLEAN START CookbookI had the privilege of meeting Terry Walters, author of CLEAN FOOD and her newest book, CLEAN START. Bonnevivante hosted an event and many foodies from around the Seattle area came to chat with Terry and learn more about her philosophy of food. I recognized a few faces from other events I've been to and got to meet a lot of new ones too.

She's all about healthy eating and has put together these cookbooks with lots of tasty recipes. We got to sample three of her gluten free dips: carrot cashew miso spread, shallot fig spread, and spicy black bean dip. All three were great but my fav was the shallot fig spread. I'm hoping my new fig tree will produce some fruit this year to try making some of this spread. We also snacked on brownies that were unlike any brownie I've ever had before. I never imagine brownies as being something healthy and good for you but these are and they taste good too! Maple syrup is used as the sweetener as well as various fruits. Brown teff flour is used instead of AP flour. I won't give away all the secret ingredients but they were surprisingly good.

Terry talked about food sensitivities and how her daughter was sensitive to almost everything when she was little and it was tough to adjust at first and after a while was even able to reintroduce many of the foods she was sensitive to without a problem after a year or so. I asked more about how you find out what foods you are sensitive to and it turns out all it takes is a blood test. I'm kind of curious what foods I might have a sensitivity to. I know there is at least one or two things but I haven't been able to pin down what they are. I'm not sure how much this test costs but I am curious about it. I might have to look more into it and see about getting that done so I can avoid those foods. She says there isn't any one diet that will work for everyone, everyone's body is different and each one may have different needs and I agree with that 100%. There are vitamins and things that everyone needs but as far as what type of foods is right for each person may be different and it seems a good place to start would be to get one of these food sensitivity tests done.

She talked a bit about her first cookbook that she self published which was mostly a collection of recipes that she used for teaching cooking classes. She spent more time talking about her new cookbook, CLEAN START. I really like how it's organized. The recipes are categorized by the four seasons: spring, summer, fall and winter. The pictures in the cookbook are fabulous and there are a lot of them. They were done by Gentl & Hyers with available light, not with studio lighting and the pages are nice and thick. I can't wait to start trying some of the recipes. I just started my Authentic Mexican Cookbook project but as soon as I'm done going through that cookbook there's a good chance this will be my next project. I might not be able to wait that long to try out a couple of the recipes though.

Foodies Terry Walters

Monday, February 07, 2011

Shredded Beef Salad with Avocado and Chile Chipotle

Salpicon de Res PoblanoI'm past the tortilla making section of the Authentic Mexican cookbook and am now getting into the meat of the cookbook. This section is appetizers and salads (entremeses y ensaladas). It's a relatively short section of only 8 recipes so will probably only do one recipe from this section for this project. It didn't take me long to decide on which recipe to try. Beef, avocado and chipotle sounded like a winner to me. In Spanish, this recipe is called Salpicón de Res Poblano.

This was one recipe I wish had a picture to go along with it so I knew how the presentation is supposed to look. I'm not sure I did it quite right. Some of the ingredients were a little difficult to find and had to improvise. Crap, just as I am typing this I just realized I forgot one of the ingredients. I got feta as a substitute for queso fresco which I couldn't find but forgot to even put it on the salad. Luckily I still have a bit left over so I'll have to try it on some leftovers. the recipe also called for canned chipotles and all I could find were canned chipotles in adobo sauce.

The beef was cooked with some vegetables and herbs. The recipe said to discard the liquid the beef was cooked in and I gasped. I wouldn't think of throwing away that beautiful broth so I put it in the freezer to use later with soup or something. I garnished the plates with lime wedges for squeezing over the salad which I thought was a nice addition that wasn't in the recipe.

Even though I'm not sure I plated it quite right and forgot the cheese, it was still tasty and I'm glad I made a little extra so I have leftovers for tonight!

Boiling Beef Brisket Shredded Beef
Baby Potatoes
Shredded Beef Salad with Avocado and Chile Chipotle

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Tortillas - Corn

corn tortillasAfter making flour tortillas last week, I thought I'd go ahead and make some corn tortillas this week. Despite having made flour tortillas countless times growing up, I have never made corn tortillas nor has my mom which is surprising. Corn tortillas are best made with a Cast Iron Tortilla Press . Most are made of cast iron and are relatively inexpensive.

The dough or masa is made with only two ingredients, corn masa flour and warm water. It doesn't get any easier than that. They only thing is getting the consistency right. If it's too wet it will be sticky and if it's too dry the tortillas will crack so you want the dough to be pretty wet but just dry enough that it won't stick to your hands when you kneed it.

It might take a few tries to get the size of the ball just right, kind of like a waffle iron. Put too much and it will spill out the sides. You also have to be careful how hard you press the dough because if you press too hard the tortilla will be thinner on one side.

I didn't realize you need two griddle pans (low heat and high heat) to make these. I'm not sure if it's a trick Rick Bayless uses to make them or if this is a common way but I followed his instructions in the Authentic Mexican Cookbook. I used a cast iron one on the higher heat and a nonstick one on low heat. You first need to cook one side on the low heat and then transfer to the high heat and cook both sides. I cooked them long enough so they started to brown which I'm not sure was right or not. You don't see any browning on the store bought corn tortillas. They ended up turning out just fine and tasted great with the enchiladas I made so I guess the browning was fine. I didn't use any particular recipe for the enchiladas. I basically stuffed them with taco meat mixed with some tomato sauce and then covered them in red enchilada sauce, topped with cheese and baked them for about 25 minutes. Mark enjoyed them so much he had seconds.
Masa Ball
Tortilla Pressing
Corn Tortilla Stack
Enchiladas