Monday, February 20, 2012

Should have sworn off tamales...

I love my church. I love the Guadalupanas. I love tamales. I dont love the Guadalupanas tamales.

Off to soak hojas, prepare the masa, and make a few dozen of my own.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Makeshift Albondigas Wows Husband...Story at 11.

First of all, I want to say that in my last blog post, I swore off tamales until Easter. I guess I lied. I have had a few at my favorite Mexican deli a few times since then, but I took the full plunge back into tamale paradise today. The "Guadalupanas" were selling them after mass in the church parking lot tonight. We came home with a dozen and are planning on eating them tomorrow morning with scrambled eggs and beans that I have cooking as I type. Turns out I cant wait for major holidays to enjoy tamales, and apparently I never truly get tired of them.

Back to albondigas.

Hubs says in the store the other day that he really wants something with hominy in it. Pozole, he says, because he knows I wont eat menudo. Just cant do it folks. No offense to you die hard menudo fans, and none to you "I only eat my grandma's menudo" purists either. Its just not my thing.

So we buy a can of hominy. A big can. A really big can.

We also bought a hundred dollars worth of other things, but no meat other than some ground turkey, a package of bacon and a small package of pepperoni for my persistent first born who refuses to eat anything else. Its the first week of lent this week, which means two meatless days. I saw no reason to buy a ton of meat considering where we are in the liturgical calendar.

I should have considered the request for something with hominy, however. Oh yeah, the request from my husband who very rarely ever requests anything more than "whatever you want" for dinner. Whoops.

So last night he brings up the hominy. I say that I would love to make him something with it, but I only bought ground turkey.


I suggest albondigas (meatball soup) with hominy instead of whatever other veggies I would typically add. He responds "sounds amazing, but make it spicy." I think I can handle that!

Here is how it came together:

One package ground turkey (1.25 pounds)
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 cup raw white rice
1 TBSP Mexican oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs ( I used panko)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients until mixed well. Form into ping pong ball sized meatballs. Sear in soup pot in approximately four tablespoons oil over medium heat. one a nice toasty color is developed, add two small cans (or one large can as I did) of tomato sauce. Follow with about 2 quarts of water, 3 bay leaves, 1 tbsp mexican oregano, 1/2 of an onion cut into rings, 2 jalapenos, pinch of crushed red pepper, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste, and dash of cumin. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn heat to low. Simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Test broth for flavor...Mine always needs salt at this point. Season as needed, then add 4 cups of hominy. Heat until hominy is hot. Dont overcook as it makes the hominy squishy (My husbands advice.)

Ladle soup into bowls, top with fresh chopped cilantro, and serve with hot tortillas.

The result? A really tasty hearty broth with some pretty decent meatballs. They definately dont taste like the ground beef ones I usually make, but I really like the color they are. Aesthetically speaking, they are much prettier. Better for you too, I am sure. It was also surprisingly spicy. Usually my husband drowns everything in hot sauce...but I noticed he was hot sauce free tonight. I must have done something right. The hominy was as nice addition. It has such a mellow flavor that is reminicent of corn masa, so it really blends well. The cilantro at the end freshens up the dish, and the bay leaf is crucial for depth. Before I start to sound too sophisticated, I should say that I only wished I had an orange fanta to compliment our meal. Beverage pairings are important you know.

The beauty of Mexican food is its simplicity. Having a few ingredients on hand can turn just about anything into a tasty mexican meal. Even ground turkey. It worked well tonight, but dont count on ground turkey tamales any time soon. ;)

Friday, January 13, 2012

In Guera's Kitchen Lately 1/13/12

So its been two weeks. I didn’t intend to take a break so soon after vowing to keep this blog up and running…but Christmas/New Years has a way of making you really tired of talking about food. Especially Mexican food if you live in our house. I wont want another tamal until Easter.

Also, I have been crazy busy. Lucky for my blogging aspirations, I have been busy partially because of food. Our kids are in 4H, and I am the leader of the cooking class. Last weekend, we had our “Festive Food Faire”, complete with an optional “Iron Chef Competition”. The kids in our club decided before I did that we were participating and yours truly would be the coach of one of the teams.

It sounded harmless at first. Secret ingredient, two hours to cook it, and parents/coaches cant touch…only coach from the sidelines. I can do that! What you don't consider, however, is that there are no sinks, you are cooking outside, and you have to haul in everything you might possibly need for any given situation.

I can do that? I think?

I was told last year the ingredient was whole chickens. The year before? Buffalo. I hoped we would be so lucky. I pondered packing up my entire pantry…planning for any and every meat they could throw our way…and it was far too draining to even think about. It was at this point that I made a decision. There is only one type of food that can be made from just about any kind of meat, can be made quickly and easily with just a few ingredients, and could be cooked on hot rocks if necessary. Mexican Food. Bonus points for the fact that I had everything on hand and didn’t have to grocery shop for a one day cook-off! La Guera began planning.

We were allowed to take side dishes. We could bring whatever we wanted, as long as we finished our two dishes in under two hours, and the theme ingredient was the centerpiece of the dish. The kids all came to my house the night before. We made beans, rice, cilantro dressing (think pollo loco), homemade flour tortillas, and packed everything up for the next day. My biggest fear was that they would give us lamb. I don’t like lamb, so I never cook it. I was prepared, however. If they had given us lamb, we were going to grind it up, and make lamb burgers al pastor style. I had pineapple just in case.

The big reveal relieved us. Pork Roast. We can do that! The catch? Pear-apples had to be used in one of the two dishes.

Here is what we came up with:

Dish one: Cheese and bbq-d pork quesadillas (on homemade flour tortillas mind you!) with a pear-apple/jalapeno sauce inside. The sauce was simply peeled and cored pear apples, jalapenos, a bit of lemon juice, and salt. The kids cooked it down a bit on a camp stove, and then put a pat of butter in to make it creamy. We put a little on the side for dipping. We served it with an organic greens and cilantro salad with dyed and fried corn tortilla bits and cilantro dressing.

Dish two: The rest of the roast was boiled down in onion, salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder, and cumin in my cast iron dutch oven on a camp stove. We cooked it down in water until it was easily sliced (about 1.5 hours). We then chopped this ( picadillo style) and soaked it quickly in the same spices used to cook it, and fried it up in a bit of lard. We then took bolillos, spread some mayo and a sun dried tomato spread one of the kids made from scratch, and grilled them on the bbq. Inside the grilled bolillos went the meat, cilantro salad greens that were leftover from our first dish, and a fresh salsa they whipped up in my food processor. We called them "taco truck tortas" and served them with homemade beans and rice.

Every year, the judges take a little of the plate for tasting, and then send the rest out for everyone to sample. We knew we were doing well when our plates came out empty.

The verdict? We took first place, and had a blast. One judge said we got bonus points just for knowing what a torta was, lol! I guess when La Guera is your coach, you don't have a choice but to learn a thing or two about taco truck cuisine. I was grateful for a great team of kids that soaked up everything I had to teach them. They did great.

Yeah, I'm still sick of tamales, and I haven't made a single Mexican dish in about a week, but I never tire of sharing Mexican recipes and flavors. I have beans soaking today, so I guess we are back on track.

It’s all good, as long as it's not lamb.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

In Guera's Kitchen this weekend: 12/29/11

I say weekend because the hubs is starting this holiday weekend early! He rarely ever takes time off so this is a big treat for us. To celebrate, I am making several yummy things to eat off of for the next four days or so.

Tonight, I am soaking pinto beans to make "frijoles borrachos" tomorrow. This translates to "drunken beans". Put simply, they are pinto beans, soaked, cooked until tender, and then stewed with jalapeno, onion, and tomatoes that have been sauteed in lard. Lots of fresh cilantro makes this pot of beans extra yummy. A few cups of beer makes them drunken.

They are really good WITH beer, by the way...or after too much of it.

Go here to see a really easy, basic recipe.

Also on the cooking agenda this weekend is tamales. More tamales. I have already made about 12 dozen this season, and will probably only do another six-ten tomorrow. It all depends on how much meat I get out of my chicken. :) I am out of pork, which is my favorite meat for tamales but I had a chicken in the freezer that will make some pretty tasty tamales del pollo. I am trying to compile my tamale recipe, but its easier said than done. There is a certain element of instinct and practice that goes into preparing tamales, and I cant simply include those aspects in a written recipe.

With New Years Eve coming, I will also be making some bunuelos. If you havent eaten bunuelos before, let me be the first to tell you how sorry I am. Then let me tell you that they are too good to have never eaten before. They are the yummiest fried cinnamon and sugar coated treat next to churros. (Churros are awfully hard to beat!)Bunuelos are a traditional New Years treat, so we will not be missing out on making this recipe like we do every year. :)If you look here, you will find just one of many versions of bunuelos. This, like many "latin" recipes varies by region, so each one may be a bit different from the next. One cook might serve them simply dusted with cinnamon sugar while another might make a caramel type syrup to drizzle over them. Put simply, a dough is made, fried, and tossed in cinnamon sugar. Essentially, what you end up with is a Mexican fritter. I have only seen them rolled out flat and circular (like a flour tortilla), but the recipe above is formed into little balls before cooking. I like this idea for serving purposes. I think the kids will enjoy the bite-size appeal.

I hope your holiday weekend is a safe and happy one...and tasty too. ;)

Prospero Ano Nuevo! (Goodness I need to figure out how to type the tilde on this computer!)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pan Dulce

Pan Dulce = Sweet bread

Best eaten with coffee, and best if fresh. Nothing worse than cold, stale pan dulce.

I will get a recipe up later, but for now, here is a pic of some that was made for our "Las Posadas" celebration on Friday night. More on that later too.

In Guera's Kitchen today: 12/27/11

We are just about tamale'd out. I could eat them for days, but the hubs has had just about enough of them. We had a tamalada (a gathering of friends and/or family with the sole objective being cranking out tamales)this week that consisted of me, and one other person. She happens to be the 17 year old daughter of a dear friend, and just for the sake of painting a picture, she is Japanese-American. There we were, a white girl and an asian girl, making tamales. We did a pretty amazing job I might add. She also proved herself to be quite the pan dulce making prodigy. I will post pics soon.

I do have a few tamales left in the fridge, but out of fear that the husband would boycott and eat captain crunch, I need to come up with something different for tonight. I have a pound of ground beef, some beans from the other night, and plenty of other ingredients to make something tasty.

Tonight it will be a hearty soup/stew made from the ground beef, a spicy red sauce and cubed potatoes. Simply translated, "carne molida con papas".

I will make a small batch of fideo to go with the beans, and will serve it with flour tortillas because I am out of corn torts. (abbreviation for tortillas that we use in our house). I prefer to serve soups with corn tortillas, but really, the hubs wont care what we scoop it with...I just know he wont be using his spoon much. ;)

Here is the recipe for the carne molida con papas:

Cook meat over medium heat until cooked through. Season with salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, and a little chili powder. Add one can of tomato sauce, one sliced jalapeno, and about a quart of water to the pan/pot. (I will use a cast iron dutch oven). Add about four medium peeled and cubed potatoes to the mix. Season again with a bit more salt, pepper, garlic, and cumin. Add one or two bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn to low heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes until potatoes are tender. If a thicker broth is preferred, remove the lid and continue to cook on low until it thickens to your desired consistency. Remove the bay leaves before eating.

Now onto the fideo:

What is fideo? Its an alternative starch to rice. It cooks faster, its easier to make, and its very very cheap. It is just vermicelli noodles (which are much cheaper in the mexican food aisle!), chicken stock (or water and bullion), tomato sauce, and a dash of seasoning.

Brown the bag of noodles in a bit of oil until toasty brown. Add half a can of tomato sauce, a can of chicken stock (or two cups of water and some bullion), salt, pepper, garlic, and perhpas cumin if you desire, and stir. Go easy on the cumin...its strong stuff. Too much and your food smells like B.O.! Stir, turn heat to low and cook about 8 minutes until tender and kind of creamy. Use more liquid if you want it to be more "soupy". Sometimes we eat this on the side of our main dish, and sometimes we mix it right into our soup or whole boiled pinto beans.

I will serve this meal with a simple lettuce salad tossed with diced tomato, a bit of chopped cilantro,salt and pepper, and lemon juice.

I will make a batch of iced tea with this meal, and we will be set. I will post a picture of the finished product once I actually accomplish it. :)


I'm going to do, really.

I have had a few partially successful blog ideas, but have never followed through on them. I really enjoy cooking Mexican food more than any other, so I am not sure why I started this and then pretended it didnt exist. Perhaps I will make it my New Year's Resolution this year...Share the Mexican food cooking wisdom with the world. (Or at least the world that doesnt already have it.)

So here goes: White Country Girl marries Hispanic Boy, moves to the mountains, lives a somewhat backwoods lifestyle, but manages to incorporate Mexican tradition and cuisine into daily life. White country girl then starts a blog in an effort to share her really oddball life with anyone that cares to pay attention.

It is bound to work. Surely someone will be intrigued by a homesteading, homeschooling, Catholic, traditional housewife who makes tamales and tortillas from scratch, sips abuelita chocolate while eating empanadas, and watches Extreme Couponers. The fact that she is blonde makes it even funnier. She does, however, speak spanish which comes in handy when she is the only white girl in her church parish. She raises rabbits for meat, grows a salsa garden every year, cans food, freezes leftovers, buys flour 50 pounds at a time, and celebrates most Mexican Holidays and honors popular feast days too. She teaches her kids food preservation, how to use medicinal herbs, and spanish too. She doesnt see any reason why she cant listen to Miranda Lambert while drinking a Corona. She doesnt think it is weird when she finds herself to be the only "guera" in the Mexican Market because darn it, she knows her way around, can order from the butcher in spanish, and rather enjoys that she can buy her prayer candles there too. She doesnt fit a mold, but she thinks that is boring anyway.

Thats one thing Mexican food should never be...boring.