Monday, March 19, 2012

Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding)

There are TONS of recipes for making Capirotada, every family, household, or individual seems to have a different style of making it, different ingredients they add, etc. BUT the element I've noticed present in ALL of them is SUGAR, CINNAMON, CLOVES, and sometype of cheese and of course hard toasted bread that sucks up the syrup and becomes tender, the rest can vary greatly. It is popular around Lent for Catholic Mexicans, and well whoever grew up with this dish.

This is my grandmother's recipe (from my mother's side her name is Leonor) her and her family are from Guadalajara (Jalisco), Mexico, and of Spanish descent. This recipe is my grandmother's grandmother's recipe so it's probably been in my family since 1800's, over time the addition of condensed milk is my mother's idea, and she uses it to replace part of the sugar in the recipe and for extra richness, my grandmother uses evaporated milk in place of the heavy cream because it is almost always stocked in our pantry, but I'm sure in the old day's it was heavy cream :)

I noticed a lot of people use a simple syrup with just piloncillo, water, cinnamon and cloves, it's a dark watery syrup, that the bread is soaked in, but my families way of making it we always add whole milk, and cream and such making it more decadent and giving it more body... we layer it with a fresh tender cows milk cheese called "Queso Fresco" the variety we use is very tender for this dish, it also includes in between the layers ripe plantains, pecans, and raisins.

For some using cheese in a dessert may sound weird, but it's really common, Cubans pair Gouda or other types of white cheeses with sweet fruit compotes, marmalade's, and fruit pastes, in Spain a fresh cheese called "mato" is paired with honey and walnuts and called "mato y mel", or I've seen french cheese platters with raisin type bread, fresh fruit, etc. so it's not really an odd concept, at least not to me and many others. HOWEVER ...

and it is a BIG HOWEVER there's one thing that even left me saying what the &*#$ when I was learning to make this... my grandmother adds a piece of onion, and fresh tomato that she later strains out pf the syrup, I mean well I know they both have some sugars/ sweet components to them, but it is odd, trust me though they don't over power the dish AT ALL, they add a very subtle flavor but it doesn't taste like tomato or onion just adds a special note, I know it sounds weird but give it a try, and if it really freaks you out, I'm sure you can leave it out and still get a delicious result. I really thought my grandma had lost her bonkers but I googled around and found some recipes include the onion and tomato in their syrup and it works.

Main Ingredients:

-1 1/2 lbs french bread or bolillo bread or "birote"
-about 1 cup pecans (more or less as needed you'll see later)
-2 large plantains (frying bananas)
-raisins about 1 cup (depends how much you want)
-1/2 lb. fresh cows milk cheese/ "Queso Fresco" (a type of fresh soft cows milk cheese)
-butter (to grease baking dish)
-corn tortillas (as needed to line up baking dish or vessel)

Ingredients for syrup:
-1 liter/ 4 cups whole milk
-2 14 oz. cans of evaporated milk or heavy cream (about 4 cups if using heavy cream)
-2 14 oz cans of water (use the evaporated milk to measure it out)
-1 can of sweetened condensed milk (optional replace it with 1 large cone of piloncillo or 1 cup dark brown sugar if you don't have it or want to use it)
-2 large cones of "Piloncillo" (cones of unrefined solid cane sugar, you can use dark brown sugar if you don't have it, the equivalent of 2 cups to replace it)
-3 cinnamon sticks
-4 cloves
-1/2 onion chopped into big chunks
-1 large tomato cut into chunks

(1) Mix all syrup ingredients (milk, evaporated milk, water, 1/2 onion, tomato, cinnamon, cloves, and piloncillo along with condensed milk if using) in a large pot, stir occasionally and bring to a boil (takes awhile to get there) , lower heat to low and allow to simmer uncovered for 5- 10 minutes, turn off heat.

(2) Meanwhile, get several deep- baking dishes, we used 1 large one, one medium one, and 1 small one (we just kept layering and making until we ran out of syrup, my grandmother didn't really measure it was all approximated). Get the baking dishes you are using, and brush heavily all over with melted butter (put ALOT!) and line it with corn tortillas, including the edges (you'll have to cut some in half) that way line the sides with it.
(3) Now that you have your dishes/ mold/ vessel ready (greased and with a layer of corn tortillas) add 1 layer of the toasted hard bread, grab the syrup mixture and ladel it with a strainer over the bread slices, so you don't get any of the solids in the syrup, ladel it little by little over bread NOT all of it, just moisten the bread slightly.

(4) Springle with raisins, pecans, fresh cheese crumbled, and plantain slices. Add another layer of bread and ladel some of the syrup over it with a st, and sprinkle again with raisins, pecans, fresh cheese, plantain slices, and finally add the the other layer and sprinkle with the raisins, fresh cheese, plantain slices, etc. ladel syrup again

Basically you are making layers, the amount of layers you have depends on how deep your vessel/ dish is.
(5) When your done with all your layers, and stuff, the remaining syrup ladel it over your bread pudding dishes MAKING sure to strain it (you don't want to bite into a clove, or piece of cinnamon or worse a tomato or onion... lol.)

(6) Bake covered in an oven for 40 minutes, at 350 degrees, then uncover and allow to bake an additional 10 minutes.
Turn off heat, remove and allow to cool down.

(1) The bread we used was already hard, it was already toasted, fried, etc. during this time of the year you find it in any of the Mexican/ Latin groceries stores here in LA/ Southern California. They sell 1 lbs. bags, if you don't live in an area where it is readily available, simply buy a large loaf of good french bread, slice it into thick pieces, and let it stay out over night so it turns hard and stale, then toast in a pan by frying all sides with some oil. or rub it with butter and bake it. It makes for more work though...

(2) This can be done on stove top, use a deep thick pot, make your layers, cover over high heat, then lower heat to very low and leave it 20- 25 minutes, then remove from heat and let it rest. This is usually done in a clay pot. I used an oven. Originally my grandma said her family would make it in large clay pots over a fire outdoors, with a large heavy comal (type of griddle) over it with a wood fire happening on it it would heat the top and bottom. I have no clue how to do it like that though...

(3) This makes a pretty large amount feel free to cut the recipe in 1/2, it's not really a recipe that needs measuring to be honest, like you taste the syrup if you want it sweeter well you add more sugar, etc. the raisins, pecans, cheese, plantain you add as much or as little as you like, if you don't like some of them well omit it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mole Colorado Oaxaqueño (Reddish Mole, Oaxaca-style)

This is another type of "mole" (mo-lay) type sauce a marriage of chiles, spices, chocolate, and some type of nut. The sauce from this mole is red due to the tomatoes, guajillo peppers, and slight reddishness of dried ancho chiles and the optional small dried red peppers. The sauce is slightly sweet, spicy, savory, velvety and rich.

I learned to make this dish/ got this recipe from one of my fellow blogging buddies, Nora from Tamaulipas, Mexico she was a wonderful blog dedicated to Mexican cooking called "Gusta Usted" where she posted this wonderful red- Oaxacan mole (Oaxaca, Mexico is known for their 7 variations of mole sauces red, colorado, yellow, black, green, & chichilo).

I found it pretty appealing as she used my mom's favorite dried pepper (the guajillo chile) and we were planning on making some turkey in "chile colorado" (a type of red sauce) I noticed that the base of this recipe is the same as the "chile colorado" sauce I make so I thought why not take it a step further and transform it into a mole, and I don't regret it at all :)

Ingredients for stock:

-3- 4 lbs turkey meat (neck, breast, thighs, etc. pork, chicken, or rabbit can easily be used as well)
-1 onion
-1/2 head garlic
-1 teaspoonful of oregano
-2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
-salt and black pepper to taste
-water (enough to submerge everything)

Ingredients for sauce:
-2 dried ancho chiles (remove stem, and cut open, discard seeds, and veins set aside)
-8 dried guajillos or chile california or dried new mexican chiles (remove stems, split open discard seeds & stems)
-small handful chile japones or chile de arbol (optional only if you want to make it spicy)
-2-3 medium sized tomatoes
-1/2 an onion
-2 cloves garlic
-1 stick of cinnamon
-2-3 cloves
-1 tsp ground cumin
-freshly ground black pepper to taste
-1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
-1 corn tortilla
-1 thick slice of french bread or 1/2 a bolillo or other bread (preferably stale or hard)
-1 tablet of Mexican chocolate
-salt and sugar to taste
-olive oil or lard (for best flavor) or you can use any neutral flavored oil (like canola)
(1) Wash your meat, drain, add to a pot together with onion, garlic, oregano, salt, bouillon powder, and enough water to cover well. Bring to a boil, skim off any thick brown foam if it forms, leave covered for 2 hours or until tender.
(2) Okay now while meat is boiling prep all your ingredients (by having them on hand), heat a medium shallow pan over medium high heat, toast the sesame seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns and if using whole cumin seeds toast those too. When the sesame seeds change color dump all that in the blender.
(3) Now add oil to the pan about 1/4 cup or more, and lightly fry all the chiles like for 30 seconds removing them and adding them to the blender.

(4) Quickly fry your piece of bread and the corn tortilla, remove and add to the blender.

(5) Now heat more oil in that pan if necessary and start sauteeing your onions, and garlic in that oil until they looked somewhat caramelized, and your tomatoes without the seed and fleshy part touching the oil let it fry a bit, add the chocolate and fry everything stirring constantly. Dump that mixture into the blender.
(6) When everything is in blender, add about 2 or more cups stock enough to liquify & liquify everything (start on low setting then work your way up to the higher setting, little by little to get everything really liquidied/ pureed) you can add more stock if it's having to much difficulty (I hope you have a good blender lol.)
(7) Heat a large pot that's lightly oiled
and add the blended mixture (you can choose to strain it through a strainer, I didn't my blender really blended it really well) quickly cover, and bring to a rolling bubble, cover, and then lower heat and stir occasionally for 6 minutes. Add more stock to thin it out little by little (depends how thick you want your sauce) add your meat pieces
and let it simmer over medium uncovered 10- 20 minutes to thicken and the meat get's the flavor (sometimes for these types of sauces I'll have the meat seperate, and just ladel the sauce over, I do that when I make huge batches but with this small batch it was fine)
(8) Remove from heat and serve :)

Please Note:
(1) I used turkey because my grandmother from my moms side loves turkey, specially the neck and gizzards, so I made it using neck, gizzard, and some of the bones with meat, along with a large breast that I chunked. However I MUCH rather make it with chicken or pork (specially pork spareribs, which is one of my favorite cuts of the pig)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Frijoles de la Olla Con Chochoyotes (Beans with Masa Dumplings)

My grandmother came from my mothers side came not so long ago to visit us from Texas, so that's why I been dishing out lots of Mexican dishes & posts lately :) hope whoever is reading them is enjoying lol.

Anyways what are "Chochoyotes" they are dumplings made out pre-dominantly of corn masa (masa harina) & tastey pork fat with salt to taste. They are rolled into balls, an indentation is made on them with your thumb or whatever, and added to soups or stews. They taste like a dense tamale.

These things called "Chochoyotes" are something fairly new to me, my mother, grandmother and other family friends had no clue such a thing existed (even though they're Mexican) the reason is that Mexican Cuisine can vary A LOT and be very regional depending where your from, I learned about these from a woman who shared her way of making these dumplings who's family is originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, those dumplings are popular in that area's cuisine, so yup that's how I learned them :) the recipe that was shared involved squash blossoms, sometype of chile colorado all cooked together with these dumplings, so I was like "oh I'm sure it'll be good in a pot of soupy pinto or black beans) and thus came this recipe, plus I saw a newspaper article where someone made black beans with some sort of masa dumplings as well.


-1 lb. pinto, flor de mayo, peruvian, or black beans (either one of those are suitable I used Pinto this time)
-1/2 a large onion
-2 cloves garlic
-1 serrano chile (optional I use it sometimes gives a peppery taste)
-a small bunch of epazote (optional I know it's hard to come by for some people, but if you live in Southern California you'll find it at any Mexican store)

Ingredients for dumplings:
-1 1/2 cups maseca (masa harina)
-about 1 cup or more of water (you'll add it slowly and see how much you need)
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/4 cup of lard (best if it's "asiento" which is the bottom part of the pot when rendering lard with all the pork rind powder, but lard can be used)

Ingredients to serve/ garnish: (you don't have to use all of them, just what you like, I always have to have the tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro. the rest I use them if I have it on hand)
-a small bowl of chopped tomatoes
-a small bowl of chopped onions
-a small bowl of chopped green chili peppers (jalapeno or serrano)
-1 small bowl of chopped cilantro
-chopped avocado in a bowl
-cubes a fresh cheese queso fresco
-mexican cream

Directions for dumplings:
(1) Add maseca, and salt to a bowl, stram in water a little at a time, running your hands in circular motion DO NOT PRESS the dough just swoosh it around, when it forms crumbly and a little moist, begin to press together until you get a compact dough.
(2) Add melted lard, and work the dough 4-5 minutes until everything is well married.
(3) Make little balls out of it, not to little like umm a tiny gulf ball & make an endentation with your thumb or index finger.
(4) Arrange in a plate, cover with damp cloth until ready to use.
Directions for beans and the rest of the stuff:
(1) Wash and rinse beans, bring to a boil together with water, onion, and garlic (enough water to submerge them 2 inches or more), cover lower heat and allow to cook about 1 1/2- 2 hours til tender (that's how long my beans took, you can soak em overnight if you'd like, or cook them the same day it works for me)

(2) When beans are tender add salt to taste (I use about 2 teaspoons) remove onion and garlic throw away, and add epazote if using,
the masa dumplings,
bring to a boil and allow to boil over medium covered about 5-7 minutes. Turn off heat and remove from heat. DO NOT. I REPEAT DO NOT allow the masa dumplings to boil to long they will disintegrate into the beans and you'll get a gruel. It'll be terrible (it's happened to me before it isn't the first time I've cooked this I learn from trial and error lol.) oh and remove the epazote/ discard
(3) Serve in a shallow bowl, and add any of the toppings/ garnishes, mix up and enjoy :)
(1) For those that may get a panic attack from using some lard in cooking, feel free to use extra-virgin olive oil, or some other type of oil, but it won't be as tastey ;)

(2) And please please please heed my word do not let these dumplings cook too long in your pot of beans they WILL start breaking and be mush.

(3) It wouldn't hurt to boil the beans with some pork ribs or pork neck bones but that'll be another story or post ;)

(4) If your short on time, or intimidated to make the dumpling dough from scratch, but fresh prepared masa from a Mexican super market (the kind used to make tortillas not tamales) and use about 2 cups of that, and add 1/4 cup lard and salt to taste and work that dough a bit and well you know the rest.

... y oye tengan quidado porque despues de comerse un platazo de esto se van a tirar unos bombasos asi que mejor ir a la casa de tu peor enemigo despues de comer esto ja ja j/k.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mole Negro Oaxaqueño (Black Mole, Oaxaca-style)

Like I've said in previous posts, mole is a type of complex Mexican sauce TYPICALLY involves spices, dried chiles, & chocolate. It's prepared with either chicken, pork, rabbit, or turkey. You can think of it as a type of "Mexican curry" and it's not pronounced like the animal "mole" it's pronounced "mo-lay" haha cuz if it was mole as in the animal that name would sound kinda gross...

There are TONS of variations and types (black, yellow, white, green, poblano, manchamanteles, almendrado, chichilo, rojo, coloradito, de olla, etc. all with a variety of ways to prepare them and recipes that vary from cook to cook) the most popular Mole sauce is "Mole Poblano" that's what most people are familiar with in the states and popular through out Mexico. The provinces most well known for their Mole is the state of Oaxaca as well as Puebla, yup yup.

Anyways today I want to share how I make "Mole Negro" I am VERY well known in my family for making a BOMB @$ delicious Mole Negro, I make it ONCE a year or ONCE every 2 years for special events (someones bday, my grandma from my Mexican side when she visits us, or holidays). Be warned it is fairly simple, BUT very very time consuming (give yourself 5 hours) that is the reason it is considered "special" the marriage of the smokey peppers, chocolate, sugar, sweet spices, nuts is unique but delicious they actually go very very well together... oh and one more WARNING PLEASE if you are making this don't get lazy along the way and try to rush it because you may ruin all your hard work... I tried to make this for one of my friends couple years ago (Travis) and was rushing while making it and trying to multi-task, I accidentally over charred the dried chiles in the oil because I was getting distracted trying to chop other stuff here and there, etc... and it made my whole batch of Mole BITTER T_T so please take your time and be careful with it okay.

Ingredients for the stock:

-4 1/2 lbs chicken (I used 2 large breasts, 5 drumsticks, and 2 thighs with leg skin on bone-in)
-1 large bell pepper
-1 onion
-6 cloves garlic
-2 medium tomatoes
-1 tsp. cumin
-1 tsp oregano
-1 tsp ground black pepper
-3 bay leaves
-4 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
-3 or more teaspoonfuls salt to taste
-water enough to cover all ingredients

Main Ingredients for the sauce:
-5 chiles chilhuacle negros (dried chile negro)
-5 chiles mulattos (dried mulatto chiles)
-5 chiles pasillas (dried pasilla chiles)
-5 chiles guajillo (dried guajillo chiles)
-2 chiles chipotles (dried chipotles or in adobo)
*****here's a picture, the one's on the far left are guajillos, followed by the beige one's those are chipotles, then the mulattos which are dark, followed by the chile negro, and lastly the chile pasilla or ancho they look similar to the mulatto chiles but have a black reddish tinge, the mulatto is completely black.***
-5 tomatillos (green tomatillos) halved
-3 roma tomatoes halved
-1 medium onion quartered
-8 cloves garlic peeled
-1 frying banana/ plantain ripe
-2 slices of bolillo or french bread or white bread
-1/2 cup black or white sesame seeds
-1 small handful of each almonds, pecans, and peanuts (optional you really don't need them at all, alot of people don't use them)
-1 handful raisins
-1 stick cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
-3 cloves
-1/2 tsp oregano
-1/2 tsp. thyme
-2- 3 bars/ round tablets of Mexican Chocolate (such as Ibarra chocolate, or Chocolate Abuelita)
-salt to taste
-sugar to taste (I use 1/8 of a cup)

Ingredients to make the mole black:
-1 corn tortillas turned into ashes (optional, you may not be able to do this because it needs to be outdoors CANNOT be done inside your home)
-the seeds and stems of the dried chilies turned into ashes((optional, you may not be able to do this because it needs to be outdoors CANNOT be done inside your home)

Directions for making the stock:
Wash chicken very well, rinse several times, drain, last rinse do it with salt, vinegar, water, rinse again and pat- dry.

Add chicken to a pot, cover with water, add all the stock ingredients (onion, garlic, bell pepper, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano)

Bring to a boil on high, lower heat, cover and simmer for about 1 hour. When done turn off heat.

Directions of the sauce: (do this while your stock is being made/ boiled)
Remove the stems and seeds from ALL the peppers, except chipotles. Set aside in a bowl.

Make sure you have all the ingredients for the sauce on hand, like have htem all on your kitchen counter ready to use. Gather everything you need.
(3) Heat a medium sized pan, add 1/3 cup lard, and 1/3 cup oil or all lard. The rest of the procedures are pretty much frying all the stuff your gonna use for your sauce.
(4) First fry your plantain slices, over medium high, about 3-4 minutes on each side, until caramelized, pull out of oil, drain, and set aside.
(5) Fry your cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, and if using your almonds, pecans, and peanuts when cinnamon stick opens and pops, remove everything you added set aside.
(6) Fry your raisins, less than 30 seconds set aside in large empty bowl, get your bowl of chiles and briefly about 20 seconds each, fry it in the oil, in batches, drain and set aside into another empty bowl you'll have on hand. (Don't panic at this point I bet the chiles are absorbing most of the oil that's fine you'll still have some left)

Fry the slices of bread until golden, and set aside.

Now fry the onions, garlic, and tomatillos, do not stir constantly let them brown and caremelize, fry the tomatoes at the end. Set aside.
(9) Fry the sesame seeds briefly like 30 seconds until you hear a popping sounds, set aside.

Toast all the chile seeds until they smell a little bit and slightly change color. Set aside

More Directions for the sauce:
(1) Okay you have everything fried now, pretty simple just time consuming and make sure you don't burn anything... by now your stock should be made, get a medium pot, add your chiles & raisins, cover with the hot chicken stock, and bring to a boil for about 10- 20 minutes until tender.
(2) Now puree/ blend/ liquify EVERY single ingredients including spices EXCEPT chocolate for your sauce in a blender, using the chicken stock, do this in batches. Empty the contents into a very large pot or bowl. Set aside.

Now heat a large pot on the stove, when hot, strain the blended mole sauce ingredients through a strainer, adding stock to the strainer to help get it through (this is to get rid of any seeds or pulp, and hard spice pieces that didn't get liquified enough).
Bring to a boil, add chocolate tables, salt, and sugar to taste.

(4) Allow sauce to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes- 1 hour.

Directions to blacken sauce (optional I know it's a hassle but I did it, it makes a difference, and as opposed to what many think it won't make the sauce bitter TRUST ME)
Get 2 corn tortillas, and practically burn them until they can't even ignite on fire, turn it to ash, DO NOT do this indoors, the smoke will make your fire alarms go off, smell really bad, and make you choke and cough

The way I did it was I charred the tortillas until they can ignite on the stoves fire, then put it in a pot broken up, over medium high heat, covered the pot with it's lid, and wrapped the top around the lid with a WET very DAMP cloth towel, this is so the smoke doesn't get released into your house. DO this for about 10 minutes.

Carefully move it outside (I took it to my balcony) open it carefully not facing it, ITS hot be careful, allow smoke to go outside, and stir and see if it turned to ashes/ super black and can't ignite.

(4) If not repeat step... it's a bit tedious but work it. Now puree it/ blend it with the chicken stock and strain it into the mole pot.
Simmer additional time until mole darkens.
It won't make it bitter though TRUST, it's actually tasteless (I tasted the ash lol.) I don't know how healthy that is to do (probably not so much because of all the carcinogens) but I learned that technique from other people and it contributes to taste & supposibly makes it easy to digest the sauce.

More directions/ tips
Only use enough stock to puree the ingredients, you are not making soup, teh sauce should be like a loose gravey or regular gravey consistency. If it came out to soupy puree in blender about 1/2 cup of masa harina flour with some of the leftover stock, and thicken the mole with that.

Directions to serve:
Place a piece of chicken on your plate, that you have aside in the pot that it boiled in, ladel the mole sauce over it. Serve with whatever you'd like (Mexican red rice that you can make using leftover stock, refried beans, etc. or just warm corn tortillas) I served it with a Mexican yellow rice, fire roasted poblanos sauteed with onions in cream (chile en rajas con crema), and refried peruano beans.
P.S.I originally got the recipe many years ago from an online website called "Mole Pages" the URL was the website no longer exists, but it said it was from "Chile Pepper Magazine, Jan 95 couresy of Michael Bowers (" BUT I changed the recipe a bit but used it as a guide to get a good idea, and also learned from watching other cooks, and asking friends and relatives (I learned to fry all the sauce ingredients from my aunt Sylvia from San Antonio, Texas, and the making of the ashes from "Angrychrisjavi" from Dallas, Texas, she's one of my favorite youtube Mexican cooks. I also tweaked the quantities of ingredients and omitted and added some, and the results are very good, I get nothing but compliments for this mole and have also learned from trial and error :) It's my own but I want to give tribute to where I learned it from/ got the idea from :)

You will probably have leftover sauce, it freezes well, or you can cook any other meats and top it with the mole sauce, or sautee some onions, add beaten eggs to scramble, then add mole sauce to simmer YUM good breakfast with corn tortillas, or even poach eggs in the sauce... or you can eat a hot bowl of just the sauce with corn tortillas and beans... or use the mole sauce in place of the red enchilada sauce to make some "enmoladas" :)