Took a break due to being "under the weather" which caused me to not think about cooking and instead concentrate on chicken soup and like dishes that although good for you, don't offer much in the way of taste or sophistication, but then when you're not feeling 100%, all you need is nourishment and comfort and not necessarily "sophistication"..... in any case, much better now and so is the need for menu planning and food preparation; had to make a quick trip to my local butcher, baker and vegetable market and once again load up to be able to prepare good food for my once again hungry group.
Should also mention that our neighbor "Goyo" (aka Popocatepetl Volcano) started the week off by emitting "exhalations" once again. He had been pretty quiet for a while yet we're back to the usual routine of seeing Goyo with his ever present steam clouds..... no tremors, just steam.... so it's fine.
Puebla began the week with glorious sunshine streaming in the windows, giving my Kitty plenty of opportunities to sunbathe and nap amongst the sunbeams, while a cool breeze airs out the house, taking the aromas of my busy kitchen towards the back terrace, precisely where my neighbors kitchen is located and plays "guess today's menu".... she'll let me know what she thinks once I see her later and we'll see how good she is at guessing today. Actually, her record is about 30% and while enthusiastic, most of the time she has no idea what "our weird food choices are", except when I stick to Poblano food, but we have fun with the guessing game anyway.
It's the middle of July and in Puebla this means that it's "Chile" season (this lasts until September) which can only mean ONE thing: Chiles en Nogada! One of the main dishes that this region is known for and a major claim to fame as far as Mexican Cooking goes. I used to have "Chile Sundays" in my restaurant in Puerto Vallarta and the Las Vegas one too, adding Chiles Rellenos to this as well, and I can report that it was always well received and we were always busy. You can drive around town and see banners all over heralding the arrival and availability of these popular dishes.... now the trick is to find "the best Chiles", yet every time we go out and try and find some good places to eat great Mexican Food, it's still hit and miss, but fortunately there are hundreds of choices out there and plenty of time to continue our search.
Thinking about "Chiles" reminded me of a variation to the regular Chile Relleno which is usually a plain cheese filling, but known for a variety of fillings like: "Picadillo" (ground beef or pork with onion, tomato, raisins, almonds, biznaga (a type of candied cactus), green olives, sweet red pepper, apples, etc.), tuna salad, chicken salad, chorizo and potatoes, rice with corn, ground pork and veggies and more.... here is an easy and very tasty filling to try next time you decide on making these:
CHILES RELLENOS DE ELOTE Y QUESO- (Corn and cheese filling):
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tbl butter
2 cups corn kernels (can be any kind)
2 Epazote sprigs, leaves only, chopped fine
salt & pepper to taste
4 chiles (can be roasted Poblanos or dried Anchos that have been seeded and cleaned)
1 cup shredded melting cheese (Chihuahua, Manchego, Asadero, etc.)
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup water
oil for frying
Put butter in a pan and fry the onion, add the corn, Epazote and water and fry until the liquid is consumed. Turn off heat. Open the chiles carefully so they don't break and are left whole for filling. Stuff the chiles with the corn mix and cheese.
Whip the egg whites until stiff, then add the yolks and incorporate carefully. Put oil in pan on med-high heat. Llightly flour the chiles and shake off excess, then cover with the egg mix and fry in hot oil until golden then set on a paper covered plate.
Can be served with a light tomato sauce or dry.
NOTE: You should also try the fillings I mentioned for the chiles as stuffing for other vessels. You can try filling the following:
- Tomatoes, cut the top slightly, hollow out to fill
- Zuchinnis, both the round and long versions, cut tops off and hollow out with a spoon to fill
- Yams and Potatoes, cut and hollow out
- Whole Onions, you'll be surprised how great these are! Hollow out carefully...
All these get put in a baking pan, oven at 350 degrees with a little water on the bottom; bake until they feel tender. You can also top with a breadcrumb/butter, crushed potato chip or Parmessan topping. Enjoy a different side dish for a change!
These fillings can also be used in Quesadillas, Sopes, Tostadas, Tortas, Empanadas, Cemitas..... so you can have a filling or two in the fridge and have on hand for a very quick meal or snack anytime!
Here is a very common treat in Mexico "Panques de Elote" (Little Corn Cakes) which are easy to make and great to share!
2 cups of corn kernels, any kind
2 cups condensed milk
2 sticks butter, melted and room temp
Put corn in the blender and process. Add milk and eggs and mix until well blended. Add the melted butter and blend again.
Be sure to grease and flour the mold you will use for these. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place your corn mix into the prepared mold, leaving space for expansion so only fill half way.
Bake for 45 min or so or until they are done, test with a toothpick in the center.
And last but not least, I noticed some ripe bananas (I like them green....) so here's the best recipe I've used for years and years for "Banana Bread"..... easy, quick and you won't believe how good this is! I've also changed the fruit around to mango, peaches, prunes, cherries, plums, dried fruit, etc. I've also added all kinds of nuts like almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts, etc. so it's really versatile and forgiving if you don't have the exact ingredients..... try it!
BANANA BREAD -
1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup (about 2-3) ripe bananas
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of Nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour pan well. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cream the shortening, add the sugar gradually and continue beating until fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well. Start adding the flour, a little at a time, alternating with the mashed bananas and beating after each addition until smooth. Stir in the cinnamon and nutmeg.
Put the mix into the prepared pan (preferably a loaf pan) and bake for about 60-70 min until done. Check with a knife inserted in the center and comes out clean.
NOTE: This comes out great when toasted in a pan too! Top with cream cheese, whipped cream, ice cream or powdered sugar.
As you can see I will be busy in the kitchen and although these are easy dishes, my guys will certainly appreciate the change, as I will. Hope your family will too.
PS.- Sorry about not posting food pictures (I do have them) but I decided to clean my disk drive by moving a lot of my images and big files to another server (Photobucket for instance) and free up some of my disk space and now I'm having a heck of a time figuring out their links! But never fear, I am pretty obstinate and will keep at it until I figure this out..... Instead I posted some images I kept of some of Ricardo's paintings so at least you have some pretty pictures to look at while I wrangle with my software..... Talk later........