MEXICAN STYLE PASTA WITH TOMATO SAUCE, CHORIZO & FRESH CREAM
Pasta Seca con Jitomate, Chorizo y Crema
1 1/2 lbs ripe Roma tomatoes(about 6 to 8 tomatoes)
1 medium clove garlic
1/2 cup tomato cooking liquid
1/2 cup medium white onion, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 oz fresh, uncooked Mexican chorizo, casings removed and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp safflower or corn oil
8 oz dried spaghetti, angel hair or fettuccine, broken into smaller pieces
2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 to 2 tbsp sauce from canned chipotles in adobo, plus 1 whole canned chipotle chile for more heat (optional)
6 oz queso fresco, fresh cheese, farmer’s cheese, or a milde feta, crumbled
Mexican or Latin cream, as much as needed (!) or substitute for creme fraiche or sour cream
1 ripe Mexican avocado, halved, peeled, cut into slices
Place tomatoes and garlic in a medium saucepan. Add water to cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes are thoroughly cooked, they look mushy and the skins have started to come off.
Transfer the tomatoes, 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and garlic to a blender along with the onion, salt and pepper. Let cool slightly and puree until smooth.
Cook the chorizo in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes, until it has browned and crisped; use a wooden spoon or spatula to break it into smaller pieces as it cooks. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked chorizo to a bowl.
Add oil to the same skillet used to cook the chorizo, over medium-high heat. Add the spaghetti or fettuccine pieces and cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until the pasta changes color and starts to brown. Do not let it burn!!
Pour the tomato puree on the pasta. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce thickens and the color darkens to a deeper red. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and adobo sauce, plus a whole chipotle chile in adobo, if desired.
Mix well, cook uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring often to keep the pasta from sticking, until the pasta is cooked through and the tomato sauce has thickened considerably. Discard the bay leaves.
Add the chorizo and stir to incorporate. Divide among individual plates; serve hot, topped with crumbled cheese, fresh cream and avocado slices.
A Mexican brunch is the perfect way to ease into the weekend. What kinds of recipes are truly Mexican but truly inspired, too? This episode will look at what a late breakfast/early lunch in Mexico might look like, and what recipes you can prepare in your own home.
REFRIED BEAN AND CHEESE CHIMICHANGAS
Chimichangas de Frijoles con Queso
4 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
1 jalapeño or serrano chile, seeded and chopped (more or less to taste)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups refried beans
1/4 cup water
2 cups Mexican Manchego, Chihuahua, Monterey jack or light chedder, shredded
12 flour tortillas, medium size
Salsa of your choice
Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into a medium sized skillet set over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and let it cook 4 to 5 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add the chile, give it a couple stirs and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 15 to 30 seconds more. Incorporate refried beans along with 1/4 cup water and mix well. Let it cook and season for a couple minutes as you mash it all together. Turn off the heat.
In a comal or skillet set over medium-low heat, heat flour tortillas one at a time, about 15 seconds on each side, to soften so they won’t break when folded. Add about 2 heaping tablespoons each of refried beans and cheese near the edge of the tortilla, one at a time. Begin rolling as if making a chubby taco, after the first fold, tuck in both edges of the tortilla, continuing to roll to make a thick bundle. Flatten a bit with your hand.
Reheat remaining oil in the same saute pan or comal, over medium-low heat. Place chimichangas in batches and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until they achieve a lightly browned crust on both sides. You may also use more oil and deep-fry them over medium heat for less time, but I like the first option more…
Serve along the side of the Rabo de Mestiza eggs and spoon some of its sauce on top, or serve with the salsa of your choice.
PEPITO: STEAK & AVOCADO SANDWICH
Makes 4 to 6 generous tortas or sandwiches of about 4″ length
1 1/2 lbs flank steak
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/8 tsp black pepper
Pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
4 teleras, bolillos, petite baguettes, or baguettes sliced into 3 to 4 inches and cut in half
6 ounces Monterey jack cheese, muenster or mild cheddar
1 cup gucamole (see below)
1 cup refried beans (store bought or homemade)
Marinate the flank steak with the soy sauce, olive oil, Dijon mustard, garlic, rosemary and black pepper. You may marinate it anywhere from 1/2 hour to overnight in the refrigerator. Remove the meat from the refrigerator and sprinkle with salt when you are ready to cook it.
Preheat the grill pan or grill at medium-high heat. Once it is hot, place the meat and let it cook anywhere from 4 to 5 minutes per side, depending on how well done you want the meat. You can drizzle any extra marinade right over the top of the meat while it cooks. For medium, its closer to 4 minutes per side, for over medium, closer to 5 minutes per side. Remove the meat from the heat and place it on a cutting board. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes, slightly covered. Thinly slice across the grain.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Slice the baguettes, teleras or bolillos in half lengthwise and place in a baking sheet. Spread about 3 tablespoons of refried beans on the bottom half of each bread. Cover with about 3 to 4 tablespoons shredded cheese. Place in the oven and let the bread crisp and the cheese melt, for about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Top the pepitos with a generous amount of the thinly sliced meat and 3 to 4 tablespoons of the guacamole. Place the tops on top! Eat while hot.
Makes over a cup
2 ripe Mexican avocados, halved, pit removed, meat scooped out and mashed
3 scallions, about 2 tbsp, rinsed, tops removed, white and light green parts thinly sliced
2 tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro leaves, optional
3 tbsp jalapeno or serrano chile, more or less to taste, minced (seeding is optional)
2 tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
Salt to taste
Gently mix ingredients in a bowl or molcajete and serve. It can be prepared up to 12 hours in advance if covered and stored in the refrigerator.
It takes three ingredients, plus any extra topping that you fancy, 8 minutes in the toaster or oven and you get one of the most comforting foods I have eaten since I can remember: Molletes.
One of the most popular Mexican anytime antojitos or cravings, that can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch, a hearty afternoon snack or dinner. It used to be a standard option for breakfast or dinner at my house growing up in Mexico City, just as quesadillas were. But I also used to crave Molletes from my school cafeteria.
So yes, even if I had some at home in the morning, I would have more for lunch at school…
Continue reading Molletes with Pico: No Way not to Fall in Love
Oaxaca-style Mushroom and Cheese Quesadillas
Quesadillas de Hongos con Queso Estilo Oaxaca
1 tbsp safflower or corn oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup white onion, chopped
1 chile serrano, or jalapeño, finely chopped (seeding optional)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lb fresh mushrooms, white or baby bello, or any that you prefer, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh epazote leaves, chopped, optional
2 tsp kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1 cup Oaxaca cheese, shredded (also good with mozzarella, muenster or monterey jack)
Corn tortillas, store bought or homemade
Salsa of your choice
Heat the oil and butter in a large sauté pan, set over medium-high heat. When butter starts to sizzle, add white onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the serrano chile and chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, for about a minute.
Incorporate the thinly sliced mushrooms and cook them for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Their juices will begin to come out and after a couple minutes they will begin to dry out. When they do, mix in the epazote leaves if using, and salt, stir and cook for another minute. The mushroom mix should be moist, not wet or too dry, which will be perfect for filling the quesadillas.
Heat the tortillas on a hot comal or dry skillet over medium heat for about 20 seconds. Place a tablespoon or two of the mushroom mix and a tablespoon or two of the shredded cheese (depending on how chubby you want them!) on the center of each tortilla. Fold it as if it were a turnover and press down. Cook for about 2 minutes per side, until cheese is completely melted and tortillas have begun to crisp a bit on the outside.
Serve with a side of a salsa of your choice.
Quesadillas–the perfect marriage of heaven and earth, where the basic, simple tortilla meets the ecstasy of cheese. If you can find the right cheese, that is… So, where do you find great Mexican cheeses in the US? If you can’t find Oaxaca Cheese or Manchego, what can you use instead? What about Monterey Jack or Cheddar as a substitute?
In this episode I interview the fabulous Joe Yonan (who just came out with an equally fabulous cookbook!), who gives us a lot of cheesy advise.
Would it shock you to know that you don’t technically need to stuff cheese inside for it to qualify as an authentic Mexican quesadilla?
Ham and Cheese Sincronizadas with Flour Tortillas
Sincronizadas de Jamon con Queso
12 flour tortillas
Safflower or corn oil, optional
8 oz Chihuahua, Oaxaca, Monterey Jack, Muenster, or melty cheese of your choice
6 to 12 thin slices ham or turkey
Mexican avocado slices, optional
Salsa of your choice
Heat a non-stick sauté pan or a comal over medium heat. Place a couple flour tortillas, many as will fit in the pan or comal, top with a generous amount of shredded cheese and one or two slices of ham or turkey. Cover with a second flour tortilla.
Heat until the flour tortillas in the bottom become lightly toasted and cheese starts melting. With the help of a spatula, flip them to the other side and let it heat and crisp a bit. I like to wait until the cheese oozes out, browns and crisps a little! Transfer to a plate and slice in half or quarters.
Serve with a salsa of your choice and slices of ripe avocado on the side.
Oaxaca cheese is a mild tasting, gently salty, stringy white cheese with a deliciously chewy, full and filling bite. It is made in the same way as Mozzarella cheese. In fact, they taste very similar! Once the curds are formed, they are heated in water, stirred, and heated in water again. Throughout the process, as they are heated and stirred, they are made into very long threads that are pulled once and then again, until the desired consistency is achieved. Then the long threads are wrapped into balls.
In Mexico, and recently in some places abroad as well, you can find freshly made Oaxaca cheese, as it is usually found in small town and open air markets. You can also find commercially processed Oaxaca cheese in grocery stores, but the flavor and consistency changes considerably from the fresh ones.
Continue reading Oaxaca Cheese
Queso Fresco, which translates to Fresh Cheese, can be found throughout Mexico with slightly different variations. It is also called Queso de Pueblo, Queso de Rancho and sometimes just Queso Blanco. In some small towns it may be found sold wrapped in banana leaves and if you are lucky, in the small baskets where they are sometimes made.
It generally comes in rounds. Though it appears to be firm and can hold its shape nicely when cut into sticks or squares, it is very soft and crumbles easily. It is used in many ways, such as a side to guacamole and salsas, crumbled on top of hundreds of antojos like tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, refried beans and even soups. I also love it diced or crumbled in salads. Possibilities are endless.
Continue reading Queso Fresco