Saturday, April 28, 2007

Quick Bites: Caldo Tlapeño; Beets, Beans, and Bread Pudding

(I've slowed down a bit posting here, as we were away for 9 days, and our cooking "audience" had dwindled to one.)
But yesterday, I made a few things, an old favorite, Caldo Tlapeño; Susan also roasted beets, cooked acelgas (chard) and green beans, and I've got some eggplants and sweet peppers lined up for the next project. (She has a forte in vegetable cooking.) Small beets, roasted with a little olive oil and coarse sea salt, are unbeetable for deep concentrated flavor. We had hardly ever done this before. I even ate a section without peeling it.

The Caldo Tlalpeño in the linked photo is a bit on the heavy side. This time, I made a smaller quantity, starting with slowly simmering chicken stock out of bony parts, including the feet and the menuditos. I used onion, garlic, bay leaf, sea salt, epazote and black peppercorns, with one, dried chile chipotle for seasoning. After straining it, I had 3 liters, which I refrigerated over night.

Next day, I degreased it and passed it through a finer strainer. It wasn't gelatinous as I'd hoped, but it tasted good. I brought the stock to a boil and cooked one large, deboned chicken breast at a simmer for 15 minutes, then turned off the heat and let it sit, covered, for 45 minutes. Removed the breast to cool before shredding. (This breast was so large that it could be the basis of two soups, or one soup and some enchiladas de pollo or other antojitos.

I'd already cooked 2 cups of garbanzos and had them on hand. A cup of finely chopped carrots, a cup of onion, and two more cloves of garlic were sauteed in a little vegetable oil, then 6 cups of the stock, plus two, slivered chiles chipotles en adobo
were added. A bit more epazote also.

The garbanzos and all of their cooking liquid were added.

Meanwhile, I finely diced one ripe round tomato, and set it aside. Then, 1/2 cup of cleaned, disinfected cilantro, stripped of its stems. One half cup green medium hot chiles. Serranos were called for, but I used chilacas. One small avocado, peeled and cut into medium slices.

To the side, in a separate pot, I cooked rice for a total of 3 cups.

When the soup had simmered long enough to get the carrots tender, I set up the bowls for service.
A small portion of shredded chicken breast, about 1/2 cup; a small scoop of hot rice; chopped tomatoes; a couple of ladlesful of soup, being sure to distribute the garbanzos. Then, the finishing touches: cilantro, avocado, and at table, we passed the Tostadas Charras (an effective simplification of the original tiritas de tortillas fritas), and the ubiquitous limón sections.

Later, for dessert, I made Bread Pudding out of some staling mildly sourdough bread we'd bought in the Panadería El Maple in San Miguel de Allende. The pudding was composed from odds and ends we had in the fridge, such as a dried fruit compote, about 1 cup of homemade "condensed milk" from an experiment, a can of evaporated milk, 1 cup of whole milk, 1/3 cup of white sugar, 5 whole eggs, some vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. I'd also lightly buttered each of the 6 large slices of sourdough on one side. All in a large earthenware baking dish, lightly sprayed with PAM.
I gave the mixture 5 minutes or so to soak, covered it with heavy aluminum foil, and set it into a 300-350º F oven. It was done in 55 minutes. I removed the foil for the last 8 minutes of baking. There were a few traces of scorch on the bottom, but it didn't detract from the custardy deliciousness. Next time, I'd try to set up a lower container of water to prevent the scorch.