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Posts Tagged ‘Mexican’

I saw this vegetable at the farmers’ market and thought it was a pumpkin.  Turns out, it’s not a pumpkin.  It’s a red kobacha squash, also known as a sunshine squash.  The guy at the stand assured me it was delicious though, so I figured it would sub just fine in this recipe.  It’s also the closest thing to a Halloween recipe I’ve got.

If you buy one, a word of warning.  Sharpen your knives, clear your countertop, and summon  your inner Freddie Krueger.  This is quite a bit more difficult than cutting a sandwich in half.  By the grace of God, goddesses, Xenu, and the Flying Spagetti Monster, I got this thing cut open without stabbing myself or breaking everything in my kitchen.  I had a few near misses, but chopped it all up without incident

 This is the first Rick Bayless recipe I’ve ever made, and I’m definitely interested in trying more now.  This recipe was unusual.  I don’t usually cook vegan meals, so it was a nice change.  I served it over rice, making it also a gluten free meal, so this dish would be a great contribution to a potluck or buffet, if you have a lot of friends with various dietary restrictions.   The recipe took a while to prepare, so it’s not really a good weeknight meal, but it makes a ton of food, so your labors will be worth it.  The recipe says it serves four as a main course, but my husband and I ate it for dinner, then for lunch, and still had leftovers.  To mix things up a bit, we  the last of it as a taco filling, piling it on corn tortillas and topping them with cotija cheese – really, really good. 

Smoky Braised Mexican Pumpkin (or Squash)
Recipe by Rick Bayless, via Martha Stewart

Ingredients

Three to six 1/4-to-1/2- ounce stemmed, dried chipotle chiles, or canned chipotle chiles en adobo
3 large cloves garlic
5 medium (about 8 ounces) tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and halved
2 medium round, or 4 to 5 plum, ripe tomatoes, or one 15-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups sliced Swiss chard
1 teaspoon coarse salt
4 cups peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes fresh pumpkin, preferably from a 1 1/2-pound wedge cut from a tan or green Mexican pumpkin or a 2-pound pie pumpkin 
2 poblano peppers, cut into 1 inch chunks (not in the original recipe, but I had some and figured I’d use them)

Directions 

Make the salsa: If using dried chiles, preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add chiles and toast, turning frequently and pressing down with a flat spatula, until very aromatic, about 30 seconds.  Transfer chiles to a small bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit until chiles are rehydrated, for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even soaking.

Place garlic and tomatillos in the skillet. Toast, turning occasionally, until soft and blackened in some spots, 3 to 4 minutes for the tomatillos and about 5 minutes for the garlic. Transfer garlic, tomatillos, and their juices to the bowl of a food processor or jar of a blender.

Drain chiles, either from the soaking water or their canning liquid, and discard liquid. Add chiles to the tomatillos and process to a fine-textured puree. Set aside.

If you are using fresh tomatoes, the original recipe recommends cutting them up and roasting them in the oven for a few minutes.  I didn’t see the point, and just skipped that step.  I don’t think it makes a difference, and the recipe is complicated enough as is.

In a large heavy skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Saute onions until soft and translucent.  Add the stems of the chard and the diced poblanos, if you are using them.  Saute for about 5 minutes or so, until they start to soften.  Add the chard and a few tablespoons of water. (I used the water leftover from soaking my chipotles.)  Add the salsa and tomatoes and stir to combine.

To make this dish ahead of time, cover and refrigerate sauce for up to 2 days, then continue cooking as follows.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the diced pumpkin and squash evenly in a glass baking dish (the recipe said 9×9, but I had enough food for a 8×13).  Pour the chard mixture over the squash.   Cover baking dish with foil and bake until pumpkin is tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Dish can be cooled and refrigerated at this point, if desired, then continue cooking as followed when ready to serve.

To continue cooking, uncover dish and raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Continue baking until sauce has reduced slightly and top becomes crusty, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately, with rice, corn tortillas, or whatever you’d like.

 



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Back in May, I spent a weekend in Sonoma with some friends.  We rented a giant house in Guernville and relaxed for four days, drinking wine, lounging by the pool, driving around Healdsburg, and playing Taboo.  We took turns cooking and one night, a few of us teamed up for Mexican.  I made my sweet potato and chorizo tacos, my husband made the guacamole, and our friends made some amazing salsas, beans, and these incredible vegetarian tacos.

I’ve been craving those tacos ever since that night and finally got around to making them.  And you should too because they are awesome.  My proportions here are just rough estimates.  Use whatever you have on hand in whatever combo you like.

Corn, Poblano, and Mushroom Tacos
Recipe by my friends, Gabriel and Christina

Ingredients
a pound or so of cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
A few poblano peppers, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 ears of corn, shucked
A couple cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
A big splash of canola oil
Half an onion
a bunch of cilantro
lime
a bit of cotija cheese, to serve
tortillas (should make enough to fit on about 10 or so 6 inch tortillas)

Directions
Mince the onion and the cilantro.  Mix together with a big pinch of salt and the squeeze of a half of lime.  Stir and set aside.

In a wide skillet on medium, heat a bit of canola oil.  Add the red pepper flakes and garlic, stir for a minute or so.  Turn the skillet up to medium high, and add the peppers.  Saute for a few minutes, until they start to soften.  Add the mushrooms.  Saute for 5-8 minutes.  If the vegetables start to look dry and stick to the pan, add a small splash of water.


When the peppers and mushrooms are cooked, stir in the corn.  Saute until the corn is warmed through.

Spoon on to the tortillas and add a spoonful of the onion-cilantro mixture and a few crumbles of cotija cheese.

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I made this ages ago for a party but have had a busy few weeks and no time to post.  Better late than never, I guess!

I was inspired by an Epicurious recipe for a corn and tomato bruschetta, though I changed it up quite a bit to make it more like a salsa.  It really worked.  It was light and summery and fresh.  Epicurious suggests serving it over burgers or quesadillas.  I think it would be nice over grilled fish as well.

Grilled Tomato and Corn Salsa
Loosely adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients

2 large ear of yellow corn, husked
1 small red onion (about 6 ounces), peeled, halved through root end
Olive oil (for grilling)
1 1/2 pounds medium tomatoes (such as cluster or vine-ripened; something firm and not watery, about 5)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika*
pinch of cayenne, optional

Directions

Prepare grill (medium heat).  Brush corn and onion with oil; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place corn, onion halves, and tomatoes on grill. Cook until corn is charred, onion is just tender, and tomato skins are blistered and loose, turning often, about 12 minutes for tomatoes and 15 minutes for corn and onion. Transfer to foil-lined baking sheet and cool.

The recipe then recommends coring the tomatoes, halving, and squeezing out the juices and seeds before giving them a coarse chop.  This made a huge mess, and frankly, I’m not convinced it was worth it. I think a better approach would be to core the tomatoes and dice.  Then grab them loosely and give them a little shake over a sink to get out the excess liquid.  I can’t vouch for this approach since I didn’t try it, but suffice it to say, I don’t think having a bit of extra tomato innards in the salsa is a bad thing, so if it makes things easier, give it a try.   Whatever you do, put the tomatoes into a bowl.

Cut the corn kernels from cob and toss in with the tomatoes.  Dice the onion and add that too.   Mix in garlic, lime juice, paprika, and a splash of olive oil.  Toss in a pinch of cayenne if you want a bit of heat.   Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The dish can be made a few hours in advance and the leftovers held up alright overnight in the fridge.

I served it up with tortilla chips and a big bowl of my super delicious guacamole.

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Last night was a late night.  We were out celebrating friends’ engagement and I woke up this morning starving.  Granola and yogurt didn’t really cut it, so when I was at the farmers’ market, I went a little crazy.  In my mad frenzy to find things to make the hunger go away, I grabbed some tortillas from Primavera and some raw milk cheddar from Spring Hill Farms.  Primavera makes these amazing white cheddar and pumpkin tamales, so I wanted to try to recreate that flavor.  And I knew from my chorizo and sweet potato tacos that their tortillas were delicious. I had  half a butternut squash in the fridge left over from the coleslaw, so my lunch was sounding pretty good in my head.  Some good looking avocados and citrus fruit were out, so those went into my backpack as well.

To make the quesadillas, I just roasted some 1 inch cubes of butternut squash, tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper, at 425 for about 25 minutes.  Mashed that up and spread it on a tortilla.  Topped it with some grated cheese and another tortilla and cooked it up in a skillet for a few minutes on each side.

For the salad, I diced an avocado and segmented a pink grapefruit and a blood orange.  Toss those up with a bit of salt and pepper, and lunch was ready.

 

When I was finally able to eat it, I was a happy, happy girl.

 

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One of the biggest perks about moving to the west coast is the good Mexican food.  I actually don’t understand how Chipotle is even profitable in this state, when the local taco trucks and burrito joints are so vastly superior. 

As part of my evolution into a taco snob, I have sworn off those yellow boxed taco kits, with the stale corn shells, baggies of sauce, and that weird spice packet.  My taco kit looks like this:

On the left, handmade soft corn tortillas, from Primavera, in Sonoma.  On the right, chorizo from Fatted Calf, located in Napa and made from happy, organic, local pigs.   Both were purchased at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market.

So my local meal as part of the Dark Days challenge this week was tacos.  Because the chorizo was quite pricey, I mixed it with some sweet potatoes to stretch it a little farther.  The sweetness of the potatoes complimented the spice and the starchiness worked really well with the fat.  On the side, a quick citrus and radish salad made from local Persian limes, satsuma mandarins, radishes, and pomegranate seeds.  I mixed them together and sprinkled them all with a bit of salt and a bit of sugar.

Chorizo and Sweet Potato Tacos
Ingredients

8 oz Mexican chorizo (the raw, loose kind, not the Spanish, smoked and cured kind)
2-3 sweet potatoes, diced into small chunks, about 3/4 of an inch
Peppers – I used a couple small sweet chiles, almost like baby gypsy peppers, finely minced.  If you want something spicier, toss in a jalapeno or serrano.
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
Half of a medium onion, chopped
A bunch of cilantro
A lemon or a lime
Corn tortillas (recipe should make about 8-10 tacos)

Directions
Combine the onion and cilantro with a generous sprinkling of salt.   I used a mortar and pestle to pound them together.  If you don’t have one, you can whiz them in the food processor, or just chop them together, and maybe press on them a bit with a fork to release some of their oils.  Add to a bowl and hit off with a squirt of lime juice and a bit of zest.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, warm a bit of olive oil – a tablespoon or so.  Add the sweet potatoes and saute for 5-10 minutes until soft.  If they start to stick, don’t add more oil.  Just add a quarter cup of water or so, as needed.  Basically, you want them cooked before you add the chorizo, since that will cook quickly.  But you don’t want to use a lot of oil because the chorizo is fatty.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, add the garlic and peppers.  Saute for about a minute.

Add the chorizo to the sweet potato mixture, breaking it up with your wooden spoon.  Cook for a few minutes until the chorizo is thoroughly cooked.  If it starts to dry out or stick, add a splash or two of water.

To serve, warm up the tortillas and fill with a couple spoonfuls of the chorizo-potato mixture.   Top with the onion-cilantro mixture and serve.

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