Chile Relleno Soup

Have you ever tried Chile Relleno? This Mexican dish is one of my faves- a poblano chile pepper stuffed with a white cheese, dipped in a fluffy egg batter then lightly fried.

While recently surfing the net, I came across a variation of this dish- Chile Relleno Soup. Gotta try this!, I said to myself. This is a creamy soup with roasted chopped poblano peppers and topped with a layer of melted cheese. And don’t think I’ve forgotten the batter-fried chile pepper in the recipe- you’ll find it resting under the layer of cheese, ready to be eaten. Yum, this looks like a luscious French Onion Soup with a Mexican twist. I wonder what Julia Child would think?

P.S. I’d really love it if you’d like my Facebook page! Any likes and shares are always appreciated!

The Method

First, the poblano peppers are roasted in the oven until the skins blister and turn black (careful not to burn them).

The blistered skin is then peeled and the chiles are chopped up and placed in the creamy soup mixture. One chile is coated in the fluffy egg mixture and then lightly fried in oil.

This fried chile is then placed on top of the creamy soup, ready for the melted cheese to be placed on top.

And here it is- Chile Relleno Soup.

Chile Relleno Soup
Serves 4
A creamy, cheesy soup topped with a golden-fried poblano chile.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 5 poblano chiles
  2. 2 tbsps olive oil
  3. 1 onion, chopped
  4. 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  5. ¼ cup coriander (cilantro) chopped
  6. ¼ cup flour
  7. 2 cups chicken stock
  8. 1 cup heavy cream
  9. 1 cup milk
  10. Salt to taste
  11. ½ cup shredded Jack cheese
Chile Relleno Topping
  1. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  2. 2 eggs, separated
  3. 1 tbsp flour
  4. 1 tbsp baking soda
  5. 1/2 cup shredded jack cheese
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven broiler to 400 F. Brush the poblano chile peppers with a little olive oil, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place under the broiler for 3-4 minutes. Turn the chiles and broil the other side for the same amount of time. The skin should blister and turn black, however be careful to not burn. Remove from the oven and place the chiles in a sealable plastic bag for about 15 minutes to soften the skin.
  2. Over medium heat, fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft; add the chopped coriander and flour and continue to heat for several more minutes. Add the chicken stock, heavy cream, milk and salt to taste.
  3. Remove the chiles from the bag and carefully peel off the blistered skin, cut off the top and remove the seeds. Chop up four of the chiles and set the fifth one aside for the chile relleno topping. Add the chopped chiles to the sauce and let simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce thickens. Add the ½ cup shredded jack cheese and stir until fully melted.
  4. While the sauce simmers, prepare the chile relleno topping. Cut the remaining chile in half; this will give you two larger pieces of chile that will later be placed on top of the soup.
  5. Separate the egg whites and yolks from the two eggs. Whip the egg whites with electric beaters until stiff peaks form. Add the flour and continue to beat for another minute. In a separate bowl, add the egg yolks to the baking powder and whip together slightly using a fork. Now fold the beaten egg whites into the egg yolks; the mixture should be light and airy.
  6. Heat the ½ cup oil in a fry pan over high heat. Dust each of the remaining chile halves with flour, then dip them into the egg mixture, fully coating them. Add to the cooking oil and fry about 1-2 minutes on each side until golden.
  7. Serve the soup into individual bowls, top with a piece of the fried chile relleno and extra shredded cheese. Place the bowls under the broiler for several minutes until the cheese turns golden, then serve.
Notes
  1. You could also substitute an Anaheim chile for the poblano chile.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/
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Chicken Mole Poblano

 

Mole 10

Living in San Diego part of the year, I have been spoiled with the variety of fresh and dried chili peppers that are sold in supermarkets, including the sweet and smoky ancho chile and the red fruity guajillo, both used in making the tasty Mexican dish, Chicken Mole Poblano.

This dish produces a rich reddish-brown sauce filled with spices, chilies, nuts and a hint of chocolate. Legend has it that the dish was invented at the convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla, Mexico. When the nuns heard that the archbishop was going to visit the convent, they panicked and ‘threw together’ bits and pieces of whatever they could find: chili peppers, bread, spices, nuts and even chocolate. This sounds like it could be called an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ sort of dish.

This is not an everyday sort of dish, but is usually reserved for special occasions such as birthdays. Some cooks use up to 30 ingredients for their Mole Poblano and spend all day making it. Some have added plantains, tomatillos and even toasted pumpkin seeds to their Poblano dish.  But that sounds a bit over the top for me: I use about 15 ingredients and it takes me about 45 minutes to make the sauce and another 1 hour for the cooking.

To be honest, some people are turned off by the thick brown color of the sauce, but I can’t help licking the spoon as I make this dish. And sshhh, (don’t tell anyone) I use a little peanut butter in my recipe instead of ground peanuts. I learned this recipe tip from a Mexican restaurant in Borrego Springs, California.

To make the mole sauce, the tomatoes are first roasted in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes, then the white cores are removed. Next, the ancho and guajillo dried chilies are toasted for a few minutes on the stove top, then soaked in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes to re-hydrate. You could also used chili powders for this dish but the taste would not be the same.

These ingredients are then added to a blender along with onions, garlic, jalapeno pepper, raisins and piece of stale bread. The seasonings, Mexican chocolate and peanut butter are then added and the sauce and chicken pieces are finally baked together in the oven.

Be sure and adjust the seasoning as you go; if you like your food spicy, add a few more chilies to the dish. If you find the Mexican chocolate a bit bitter, then add a dash of sugar. And you don’t need to wait for a visit from the archbishop to serve this dish- your family and friends should love it too!

Chicken pieces covered with mole sauce, ready for baking in the oven.

 

5.0 from 4 reviews
Chicken Mole Polblano
Author: 
Recipe type: Lunch or dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A classic Mexican dish- chicken pieces covered in a rich brown sauce made with chilies, spices, Mexican chocolate and peanut butter.
Ingredients
  • Main Ingredients:
  • 4 -5 pieces of chicken thighs, bone in
  • 2 Tbsps. olive oil
  • Sauce:
  • 2 Ancho Chiles, dried
  • 2 Guajillo Chiles, dried
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3 large tomatoes, roasted
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • ¼ cup raisins, heated and ‘plumped up’
  • 1 piece of stale bread or baguette
  • 1 tbsp dried coriander
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of cloves
  • 40 grams Mexican chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Chicken stock (enough to cover the chicken pieces)
  • Garnish:
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • Parsley sprigs
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat broiler oven to 400 F. Slice tomatoes in half, place on baking tray lined with parchment paper, sprinkle pieces with olive oil and salt. Place on top oven rack and roast for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes soften and some juices start to appear in the tray. Be careful not to burn the tomatoes. Remove from oven and set aside. (Note: you could also add a few tomatillos to the roasting pan if you wish).
  2. To prepare the Ancho and Guajillo dried chilies: place them on a dry fry pan over medium-high heat and press down with a spatula for one minute until they soften and start to change color, turn the chilies over and press down for one more minute. Remove from heat, cut the chilies open and remove the seeds. Chop roughly into pieces.
  3. Place the chilies in 1 cup of very hot water to soften, let soak for 10 – 15 minutes.
  4. Chop the onion, garlic pieces, and jalapeno pepper. Heat some olive oil in a fry pan over medium high heat, place the ingredients in the fry pan and heat for several minutes until soft. Remove from pan; heat the raisins in the pan for several minutes until they ‘plump up.’
  5. In a blender, add the roasted tomatoes, the chilies along with the soaking liquid, onions, garlic, jalapeno pepper , raisins and bread. Blend for several minutes until the sauce is smooth.
  6. Transfer the sauce to a sauce pan. Add the dried coriander, cinnamon, cloves, peanut butter and Mexican chocolate. Stir over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens a bit. Add salt to taste. Add a pinch of sugar if you prefer the sauce a little sweeter. Set aside.
  7. Brown the chicken pieces: first remove any excess skin from the chicken thighs and sprinkle salt on both sides of the chicken. Place several tablespoons of oil in a fry pan; over medium high heat, brown the chicken pieces on both sides for several minutes. Let drain on some kitchen paper.
  8. Place the chicken pieces in a casserole dish or Dutch oven, cover the pieces with the Mole sauce. Add a splash of chicken stock to ‘moisten’ the mixture.
  9. Bake for about one hour until the chicken becomes tender.
  10. Place on individual serving plates. Top with some toasted sesame seeds and a few parsley sprigs.

 

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Chili and Cheese Nachos Platter

 

After the marathon effort of my last Famous Chocolate Nutella Babka post, I thought I would do something simpler this time- hence my recipe for Chili and Cheese Nacho Platter. I was able to use some leftover chili con carne for this recipe, plus some other ingredients that I already had on hand. The only thing I had to buy was the tortilla chips!

This makes a great appetizer for guests that drop by or could even be turned into a main meal. My husband asked me to add a fried egg on top of his serving and he considered that to be his dinner!

The amount of ingredients you use for this recipe depends on the size of your serving dish, hence I have left some of the measurements ‘open.’ This dish requires layering the tortilla chips with the chili and cheese, then finishing off with the salsa, avocado, cilantro and sour cream on top. Feel free to add your other favorite ingredients to this dish as well.

Note: To cook and serve my Nachos dish, I used a Comal, a flat griddle used in Mexico to cook tortillas and prepare food.

Chili and Cheese Nacho Platter
Serves 4
Tortilla chips layered with chili and cheese and topped with salsa and other goodies!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
2 min
Total Time
17 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
2 min
Total Time
17 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 13-oz bag of tortilla chips
  2. 1 ½ - 2 cups chili
  3. 4 cups coarsely shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  4. Fresh salsa mixture (diced tomatoes, red onion, coriander, lime juice)
  5. Spring onion
  6. 1 avocado, sliced
  7. 1 fire-roasted red pepper, sliced
  8. Pickled sweet peppers (optional)
  9. Hot sauce and sour cream
  10. Chopped cilantro (coriander) for garnish
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F (200 C). Lightly oil a round baking sheet (I used a Comal). Spread ½ of the tortilla chips on the baking sheet, then top with ½ each of the chili and shredded cheese. Repeat the layering with the remaining tortilla chips, chili and cheese. Bake for several minutes until the cheese melts.
  2. Remove from oven and top with some of the fresh salsa, diced spring onion, pickled peppers and fire-roasted red pepper and sliced avocado. Sprinkle some hot sauce and chopped cilantro around the platter, and then place a dab of sour cream in the middle.
  3. To make a main meal of it, fry several eggs in a fry pan, then place on top of the Nacho Platter.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

 

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Flaky Mexican Empanadas

Since I had some dough left over from my previous post Dutch Apple Pie, I decided to make some Mexican Empanadas. These empanadas are flaky, tender and full of flavor- you can use them as a main course, an accompaniment at breakfast time, or for a snack  when you open the fridge bleary-eyed at 1:00 am looking for something to eat.

‘Empanada’ comes from the Spanish word empanar which means ‘coated in bread’, but I think of them as being like a ‘turnover.’ Originating in Spain, empanadas are now served in many countries, including Argentina, India, Indonesia and the Philippines. Even Australia  has its own version of an empanada with its meat and vegetable-filled pasty. Imagine my embarrassment when I first came to Australia in 1979 and asked for a pastie- I was quickly told that the correct pronunciation is pah-stie!

I’m calling my recipe a ‘Mexican empanada’ because I’ve used ingredients such as Mexican pork (or beef) chorizo, jalapeño peppers, cumin and Mexican chili powder. Mexican pork chorizo is different than Spanish chorizo since it is sold raw in a casing and must be cooked before eating.

Mexican Pork Chorizo

The Process

To assemble the empanada, first roll-out 50 grams (3 tbsps) of dough into a small circle, then place several tablespoons of the meat filling in the middle of the circle.

Next, fold the dough in half, neaten-up the raw edges using a knife and then press the raw edges together firmly. Crimp the ends of the dough either using the tines of a fork or ‘fluting’ the ends like a pie crust.

Or, maybe you are brave enough to try the repulgue technique, which is so pretty:

Finally, brush each empanada with an egg wash and bake at 420 F (215 C) until golden in color. And please let me know how your empanadas turn out- I am dying to know!

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog- you give me inspiration to keep on going to explore the fascinating world of food!

Flaky Mexican Empanadas
Yields 12
A flaky and flavorful Mexican 'turnover'- also known as an Empanada
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For the filling
  1. 1-2 tbsps oil
  2. 1 lb lean beef
  3. ¼ lb Mexican pork (or beef) chorizo
  4. ½ onion, diced
  5. 2 garlic cloves
  6. ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  7. jalapeño or red chili pepper, diced
  8. 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Splash of cumin
  11. Splash of Mexican chili powder
For the dough
  1. 2 1/2 cups (300 g) white flour
  2. 11 tbsps (150 g) cold butter, cubed
  3. 1 1/2 eggs
  4. 2 - 3 tbsp. cold water
For the egg wash
  1. 1 egg combined with splash of water
To prepare the empanada filling
  1. Over medium-high heat, cook the chopped onion, garlic, red bell pepper and jalapeno pepper in oil until the veggies turn soft and translucent (2-3 minutes). Add the lean beef and Mexican pork (or beef) chorizo and fry until brown. The chorizo is rather fatty so the mixture will turn rather liquid and ‘bubbly.’ Add the can of diced tomatoes and season with salt, cumin and Mexican chili powder- adjust the seasoning to suit your taste. Let cool completely before adding the filling to the prepared dough.
To prepare the dough
  1. Place flour in large bowl. Add cold butter cubes and rub mixture with palms and finger tips until mixture resembles fine sand. Alternatively, place flour and butter in food processor bowl and pulse until mixture resembles texture of fine sand.
  2. Add 1 1/2 eggs and stir until mixture starts to form a ball. If required, add 2-3 tbsps. of ice cold water and mix until dough hangs together in firm ball shape.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times until it forms a firm ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 15 minutes.
To assemble the empanadas
  1. Remove dough from fridge and divide into balls weighing about 50 grams (3 tbsps) each. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out each ball into a circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Add 2-3 tbsps of the filling into the center of each dough circle, fold the dough in half then press the bottom edges of the dough together with your fingers. Crimp the bottom edges together using the tines of a fork or fluting the edges as you would do in making a pie.
  2. Brush each empanada with the egg wash and bake at 420 F (215 C) for 20 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown. Serve warm with a little tomato sauce or salsa on the side.
Notes
  1. If you can't find Mexican pork (or beef) chorizo in your supermarket, substitute regular pork (or beef) and increase the amount of cumin and Mexican chili powder seasoning in the recipe.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Mini Chicken Enchilada Bake

Arriving back last week from tropical Darwin to our home in chilly Adelaide (see my post Darwin Chili Mud Crab), I was ready for something hot and spicy- what better way than to whip up some mini Chicken Enchiladas!

The tomato sauce for the enchiladas is spiced with chili, cumin, Mexican chili powder, corn and an optional splash of white wine. Already I can feel (taste) the heat!

I filled the enchiladas with shredded chicken breast: I normally think chicken breast is too dry for my taste, however after I poached it in water for several minutes, the meat was nice and tender. I used mini-tortillas since they are ‘cute’ and easy to handle.

Mini enchiladas ready to go into the oven

A friend of mine once said that she doesn’t cook Mexican-inspired food at home since “there are already so many Mexican restaurants and fast-food places around.” But it’s ‘game on’ for me- I’ll take the heat anytime!

P.S. I’d love it if you’d ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day! 

Mini Chicken Enchilada Bake
Serves 8
Easy chicken enchiladas made with mini tortillas
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
For the sauce
  1. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  2. 2 garlic cloves, diced
  3. 1 long red or green chili, chopped
  4. 1 tsp cumin
  5. 1 tsp Mexican chili powder
  6. 1 small can of corn
  7. Splash of white wine (optional)
  8. 1 can (14 oz or 400 g) diced tomatoes
For the chicken mixture
  1. 2 cups (280 g) shredded cooked chicken breast
  2. 1/2 cup (115 g) sour cream
  3. 2-3 tbsp of the sauce (from above)
  4. 1 cup grated extra tasty cheddar cheese
  5. 1 fire roasted red pepper (from jar), diced
  6. Salt to taste
  7. 8 mini tortillas
For the garnish
  1. 1 sliced avocado
  2. 1 spring onion, sliced
  3. Coriander (cilantro)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C). Add a little olive oil to a fry pan and sauté the onion, garlic and chili over medium-high heat until soft. Add the cumin, Mexican chili powder, can of diced tomatoes, corn and splash of white wine (optional); reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until thickened and set aside.
  2. Prepare the shredded cooked chicken breast (see Notes below). In a medium-sized bowl, combine the chicken meat, sour cream, 2-3 tbsps. of the sauce, cheddar cheese and chopped fire-roasted red pepper. Add salt to taste.
  3. Place each mini-tortilla onto a flat surface and top with several tablespoons of chicken mixture. Roll up each tortilla and place seam-down into a rectangular baking dish. Add the sauce and then top with the cheddar cheese. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the enchiladas turn golden and are cooked through. To serve, add the sliced spring (green) onion, avocado slices and coriander.
Notes
  1. To cook my chicken breast meat, I first chopped the breast up into 3-4 pieces, then poached the meat for 6-7 minutes in a saucepan filled with water, several pieces of crushed garlic and a splash of white wine and some chicken stock. This made the meat tender and flavorful.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Esquites – Mexican street food at its best!

Esquites

I was recently introduced to Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad) by my daughter who was visiting from New York. One evening, she agreed to make a side dish for dinner, and while I was preparing the salmon for the main course, I couldn’t help but be wowed by the colorful corn salad she was preparing.

Esquites are kernals of corn slathered with mayonnaise, crumbled cheese, lemon juice, chili powder and cilantro – usually served in cups by Mexican street vendors. “Spicy, crunchy, creamy” are words that can be used to best describe this dish. It worked perfectly with my salmon, but would also be great as a side for a barbeque.

You can use either fresh or frozen corn for this dish, but I can tell you right up front that using fresh corn is the best. I like to char my corn a bit as I cook in on the stovetop, however you can just cook it normally.

For part of the year, I live very close to the Mexican border, in fact, so close that if I’m not careful heading south on the freeway, I might wind up crossing over into Tijuana! Due to my love of Mexican food, I recently took a tour of various Tijuana street food vendors- I tasted tacos stuffed with mariscos (sea food), tostadas topped with ceviche, tortas stuffed with cheese and finely sliced roast beef (and even ice cream served at a shop next to a Sam’s Club) but no Esquites! However, it doesn’t matter since I am now able to make my own!

Interviewing an owner of a Tijuana street food outlet: “What, no esquites for sale?”

 

 

 

 

 

Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad)
Serves 4
A spicy, crunch and creamy corn salad- from south of the border!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups corn, fresh or frozen
  2. 2 tbsp cooking oil
  3. 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  4. 1-2 garlic cloves, diced
  5. ½ cup scallion greens (green part of spring onions)
  6. Juice from 1 lime
  7. ½ jalapeno, seeded and diced
  8. ½ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  9. 2 oz cotija cheese (or feta cheese)
  10. 2 tsp chili powder, to taste
  11. chili flakes, to taste
  12. salt to taste
Instructions
  1. If using fresh corn, remove the corn kernels from the cobs (using about 4 cobs). Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the corn kernels and stir occasionally until the corn turns golden brown or slightly charred. Alternatively, prepare frozen corn according to directions on package.
  2. Transfer corn to a large bowl, add remaining ingredients and adjust seasoning according to taste. Garnish with a slice of lime and several pieces of whole cilantro (coriander). Serve warm or cold.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Pulled Pork Casserole with Barbeque Whiskey Sauce

Jack Daniels can come anytime to my house for dinner, especially when he makes an appearance in my homemade barbeque sauce.

I’ve often thought that store-bought barbeque sauces were a bit too sweet and ‘sticky’, so I thought I’d experiment with making my own. Some recipes for barbeque sauce use molasses and others use brown sugar: I tried both and thought that the molasses works the best. I’m not normally a fan of whiskey, but adding a splash of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Liqueur gave my sauce a nice down-home southern taste. The Hickory Smoke flavoring is optional in the recipe, but I’d recommend buying it if you want that nice smoky hickory taste. (I bought mine online at The Spice House).

This pulled-pork casserole recipe is versatile since you could use it as filling for Pulled Pork Sliders or even as filling for Pork Tacos. I served my casserole in several small cast iron skillets: I think Jack Daniels would have been pleased!

Pulled Pork Casserole with Barbeque Whiskey Sauce
Serves 8
A taste of southern whiskey in this Barbeque sauce makes this a winner!
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For the Barbeque Whiskey Sauce
  1. 2 cups tomato purée
  2. 1 cup molasses
  3. 1 tbsp onion powder
  4. 1 tbsp garlic powder
  5. 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  6. Splash of Cardamom
  7. ½ tbsp. ground chipotle powder or chili powder
  8. ½ cup distilled vinegar
  9. 3 tbsp Ketchup
  10. ½ cup Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Liqueur
  11. Hickory Smoke flavoring (optional)
  12. Salt to taste
To cook the pork
  1. 1 pork shoulder
  2. ½ onion roughly chopped
  3. 2 garlic cloves
  4. 1 cinnamon stick
  5. 1-2 tbsp salt
  6. Enough water to cover the pork
For the pork casserole
  1. Shredded pork
  2. ½ cup from the cooking liquid (from above)
  3. 1 can pinto beans
  4. Barbeque sauce to taste
  5. 1 potato, peeled and sliced thinly
  6. Chopped parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F (200 C). Place the pork shoulder, onion, garlic cloves, cinnamon stick and salt in a large pot or Dutch oven; add enough water to cover the pork, cover and let simmer for 2-3 hours until the meat falls off the bone.
  2. While the pork is cooking, make the Barbeque sauce. Combine all ingredients; continually taste the sauce as you add the ingredients and adjust the seasoning, as required. (For instance, I like my sauce a bit spicy, so I added more of the ground Chipotle pepper).
  3. Remove the meat from the pot and let cool. Strain the cooking liquid and set aside.
  4. Using a fork, shred the pork. Place the shredded pork, beans and ½ cup of the strained cooking liquid into a casserole dish and add enough of the Barbeque sauce to taste (about ½ - 1 cup, depending on the amount of the pork).
  5. Slice the potato into thin slices; cook in boiling salted water for several minutes until the slices start to soften. Add 4-5 potato slices on top of ingredients in the casserole dish, brush with a little melted butter and bake for about 15 minutes until the potato slices start to brown. Sprinkle some chopped parsley on top and serve.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Southwest Corn Pudding

 

Corn Pudding 2

On a recent trip to Borrego Springs in the California desert, I was inspired to try some rustic Southwestern cooking. ‘Southwest cuisine’ is a blend of Spanish, Mexican and Native American food and is popular in New Mexico, California, Arizona and Utah. It is similar to Mexican cuisine and is known for its use of spices, such as chile peppers.

Although this recipe is called ‘Corn Pudding’ it is not a sweet dish. Creamed corn is blended with cream, eggs, cheese and green chiles to form a firm pudding. This dish pairs beautifully with chilli con carne or any other spicy meat dish.

Some corn pudding recipes call for white flour, but I think that yellow cornmeal gives a richer texture. I’ve used one can of creamed corn for my recipe, but you can use a can of ordinary corn or fresh corn, if desired.

Corn Pudding (1 of 1) (1 of 1)

 

Here are some photos from my recent trip to Borrego Springs, located in the Anza Borrego desert in California. The brilliant sunrises and sunsets, the red mountains jutting up from the desert floor, the feeling of solitude within the vast expanse of the desert, all gave me inspiration to try conjuring up some new Southwest recipes.

 Borrego 1 (2)Borrego 2Borrego 4Borrego 5

 

Southwest Corn Pudding
Serves 6
A creamy corn pudding beautifully paired with chili or any spicy meat dish
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Ingredients
  1. ¾ cup yellow cornmeal or polenta
  2. 1 tsp baking powder
  3. ½ tsp salt
  4. Pinch of ground black pepper
  5. 1 (15-ounce) can creamed corn or regular corn
  6. ½ cup chopped green onions (spring onions)
  7. ½ cup roasted red bell pepper, diced
  8. 1 roasted green or red chile, peeled, seeded and diced
  9. 1 cup cheddar cheese
  10. 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  11. ½ cup melted butter
  12. 1 cup heavy cream
  13. 2 eggs, beaten
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F (180 C).
  2. Lightly brush the inside of a Dutch oven or casserole dish with melted butter or vegetable oil.
  3. Combine the cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  4. In order to roast the green or red chile pepper, slice it in half and remove the seeds. Rub the skin with olive oil and bake in oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the skin blisters. Remove from oven and let cool; peel the skin off and dice into small pieces.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the corn, green onions, roasted red bell pepper, diced chile and cheeses. Stir in the dry ingredients, then add the melted butter, cream and eggs and mix well.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the Dutch oven or casserole dish, cover and bake for around 30 minutes. Remove the cover from the dish and let bake for another 10 – 15 minutes until the mixture firms and turns golden on top. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Notes
  1. You can use a can of ordinary corn instead of creamed corn, if desired.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

 

 

 

Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico – land of food and wine!

 

Finca food Pulpos Baja California- where have you been?

Growing up in Chula Vista, California near the Mexican border, my family and I frequently went camping in Ensenada, Baja California. After my father retired and bought a little trailer cabana in Ensenada, Mexico became a second home for us. However, about 15 years ago, everything changed. The frequent violence and kidnappings caused by the drug cartels caused our family and friends to say, “No, you can’t go to Mexico anymore, it’s too dangerous.” As a result, we sealed Mexico off from our minds.

But things are now changing again. Travel and wine magazines are gushing that Baja California is now one of the ‘food and wine capitals of the world.’ This is particularly true for the region called Valle de Guadalupe, located 1 1/2 hours from the U.S./Mexican border near Ensenada. Known for its porous soil and ideal climate, this area is ideal for growing grapes for wine cultivation. This region is also known for its Baja Med style of cooking, combining gourmet techniques with traditional Mexican dishes, while adding locally sourced ingredients such as olive oils, seafood and tomatoes.

Intrigued by the media frenzy, my husband and I decided to see for ourselves. Instead of going it alone, we joined the group, Club Tengo Hambre (meaning ‘I am hungry’ in Spanish) to guide us on the trip. CTH describes themselves as a ‘roving supper club’ and are experts in guiding small groups into Baja, California.

We met the group on the US side of the border in front of McDonalds (a good start to our culinary adventure!) and then walked across the border together. That was easy, no lines, just walking through a turnstile. However, I knew it would be a different matter returning to the US from the looks of the pedestrian line coming the other way- it must have been 1/4 mile long.  After crossing the border, a van awaited us to take us on our all-day trip south of the border. After passing around a bottle of Tequila for each of us to pour a tipple, we felt relaxed. I peered out the side windows of our van to see if I recognised the Tijuana that I used to know- the hovels were still there on the side of the hills, but were slowly being replaced by more modern housing. I heaved a sigh of relief, there were no bandits following us and no need to ride shotgun – we were safe.

Valle de Guadalupe

 As we approached the valley, it appeared to be rather dry with low scrub and various kinds of cactus. Most of the wineries ‘dry farm’ their crops, drawing water from reservoirs and wells, rather than relying on rainfall.

photo attributed to Sarah Gilbert of theguardian.com

Valle pix  Las Nubes Winery

Las Nubes

The first winery we visited was Las Nubes (“The Clouds”). This winery offered sweeping views of the valley and its thick stone walls, reminded me of a Tuscan farm house. Located on 75 acres, the winery grows 15 kinds of grapes, including sauvignon blanc, syrah and chardonnay. Most of the wines are named after clouds such as Cumulus, Nimbus and Nebbiolo, although the wine I chose was called Selección de Barricas, a young, red blend that includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Grenache and Syrah. 

Delicious full-bodied red wine Las-Nubes-bottles  Lovely views of the Guadalupe Valley at La NubesLas nubes 2  After several hours of wine tasting, we were ready to have our meal at the Finca Altozano restaurant. This is an outdoor restaurant in a rustic setting, owned by well-known Mexican chef, Javier Plascencia. Most of the food on the menu comes from local ingredients sourced from the Valle de Guadalupe and local seafood. The atmosphere is relaxed; you could easily believe you were having lunch in a ranch 60 years ago, with no nearby freeways roaring past to distract you. The open kitchen allows you to watch the meat being barbequed and the bread being baked in a wide-fired oven.

Finca Altozano open-air restaurant Finca Restaurant Quails being barbequed over wood fire Fire Roast at FincaOpen kitchen where you can watch the food being cooked Finca kitchen One of the house specialities is Pulpo del Pacifico, tender pieces of marinated octopus served with citrus, ginger, peanuts and cilantro. I normally don’t care for octopus, but these tender morcels were delicious. Pulpo VDG Another dish on the menu was Lengua des Res– ‘Such a beautiful name in Spanish,’ I said to myself. Only when the dish arrived at my table did I realise it was beef tongue, not something I’d ordinarily order for myself, but delicious none the less, served on top of a soft tortilla.

Lengua des Res Lengua To finish off our meal, we were served barbequed quail and shrimp- my mind is now made up- I’m definitely going to come back to this restaurant again!

 Clos de Tres Cantos Winery

The last winery we visited was Clos de Tres Cantos. The owners, Joaquin and Maria, started this winery with sustainability and regard for the local environment in mind. This is evident in the use of local materials in the winery’s buildings: the use of reclaimed wood and recycled bottles creates stunning architectural effects on the grounds.        

The exterior walls of this winery looked Mayan in appearance, while the interior looked almost like a chapel.

Mayan influence with the architecture

IMG_7507

 Inside the Winery- almost like a chapelProcessed with VSCOcam with c2 presetStunning effects created with recycled wine bottles

IMG_7499As our group travelled the 1 1/2 hours back towards the US border, I was apprehensive; how long would we have to wait to cross the border- one hour? two hours? It was getting dark and I wasn’t looking forward to standing in line for two hours. The wait turned out to be 1 hour 15 minutes to cross the pedestrian border and go through customs. This was not too bad but I noted with envy that those people who had Sentri passes were able to march right up to the front of the line (I’m definitely applying for one of those passes for the next time). 

All in all, was it an enjoyable experience? Yes! Club Tengo Hambre were excellent tour leaders and I’d highly recommend them. The best thing, though, was being able to re-visit Mexico again and to see how it has blossomed with its food and wine offerings. Next time you find yourself saying “Tengo Hambre” (I’m hungry), be sure to plan a trip to the Valle de Guadalupe in Baja, California!

 

 

 

 

Albóndigas Mexican Meatballs

Mexican Meatballs (1 of 1) (1 of 1)

I’m so embarrassed! I was in the midst of photographing these Mexican Meatballs when my camera shutter button jammed. I was stuck- no more pictures! I was worried that my meatballs would go stale on me, so I drove 17 miles to a camera repair shop, only to be told that my camera worked fine. I just needed to recharge the camera batteries! That was one of those embarrassing moments that I’d like to forget.

Now back to the Mexican Meatballs. ‘Albóndigas’ means ‘meatballs’ in Spanish and are a popular Spanish tapas dish. The thing that makes them Mexican Meatballs is the addition of a chipotle chile in the sauce. Chipotles are smoked jalapeno peppers and they give a nice smoky taste to the dish. I’ve used chipotles in several other of my dishes: Smoky Chipotle Chicken with Chorizo and Smoky Chipotle Eggs Baked in a Skillet. You can find chipotles in various supermarkets (particularly in Southern California) or in Mexican specialty markets.

To make the meatballs, you combine minced beef and pork together with diced onion, breadcrumbs, egg, cumin and oregano. After browning the meatballs, the mouth watering sauce or ‘soup’ is made with diced tomatoes, a chipotle pepper, beef stock and seasonings. It’s enough to make you want to grab that nearby piece of bread and sop up the juices.

Words to describe this dish would be ‘spicy, delicious, appetizing, inviting, tasty, delectable and toothsome’… oh hell, I’m running out of words here. But be sure and have your camera batteries charged before photographing this dish!

 Mexican Meatballs (2 of 2) (1 of 1)

 

Albóndigas Mexican Meatballs
Serves 6
Spicy meatballs served in a mouth watering chipotle sauce
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For the Mexican Meatballs
  1. 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  2. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  3. 1/2 lb ground beef
  4. 1/2 lb ground pork
  5. 3 tbsp. Mexican beef or pork chorizo (optional)
  6. 1/4 cup ground breadcrumbs
  7. 1 raw egg
  8. 1 tsp ground cumin
  9. 1/2 tsp oregano
  10. 1 tsp salt
For the sauce/soup
  1. 1 small onion, diced
  2. 2 cloves garlic, diced
  3. 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, chopped
  4. 1/4 tsp cumin
  5. 2 cups beef stock
  6. 1 can chopped tomatoes
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. juice from 1 lime
To serve
  1. 1 - 2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced
  2. cooked white rice
For the meatballs
  1. Sauté the chopped onions and garlic in olive or vegetable oil for several minutes until soft.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the raw beef, pork and Mexican chorizo, breadcrumbs, raw egg, cooked onions and garlic, cumin, oregano and salt.
  3. Form the mixture into meatballs about 1 - 1.5 inches wide and brown for several minutes over medium heat for several minutes. Set aside.
For the sauce/soup
  1. In a large skillet or casserole dish, sauté the chopped onions and garlic in olive or vegetable oil until soft. Add the chopped chipotle chile, cumin, beef stock, diced tomatoes, salt and lime juice to the pan. Stir over medium heat for several minutes.
  2. Add the browned meatballs to the pan, cover and let simmer for at least 10 minutes until the meat is thoroughly cooked. Serve over rice and garnish with chopped coriander.
Notes
  1. Adjust the amount of cumin and chipotle chile according to your personal taste. The addition of the 3 tbsp. of Mexican chorizo to the meatballs is optional- I added the chorizo to give the meat more flavour.
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