Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year's End Restaurant Rumors

Now that El Día de Los Inocentes is behind us, I can safely pass on the rumor I heard the day before yesterday.

A well placed source informed me that the operator of the Gran Hotel Restaurant in Pátzcuaro would be reopening the Cha Cha Cha Restaurant on Calle Buena Vista before long.

It's unclear at this point whether the CCC name would be retained or changed.

This could be a welcome development, as the CCC space is a great setting, and the food at the present Gran Hotel is good.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Highlights of a Holiday Feast

Old friends and new gathered at the Hacienda Cuevas for a Christmas feast. I will touch on some of the highlights of that meal. I'll indicate with strikeouts which items changed and what took their place.

This was the draft menu, which of course changed in the making.

Christmas Dinner 2009

Assorted botanas, from Eduardo and Rosalba.

Chipotle Apricot Cream Cheese Spread with crackers and tostadas.

Sweet Pepper Cups with dip and sticks of carrot and jícama, from Barbara.

Baked Nutted Bread Dressing.

Assorted Fruit Platter, yogurt dressing. Chocolate Covered Strawberries, by Geni

Ensalada Rosaura with vinaigreta y aderezo de aguacate.
(Mexico-The Beautiful Cookbook)

Pierna de Cerdo Adobada con su jugo. (unfortunately, all the jugo/jus evaporated in the roasting. I ended up making a semi-ersatz brown gravy from a jar of Knorr-Suiza Demi Glacé powder. Not bad, but neither the greatest.)

(The Pierna, weighing in raw at 5.80 kilos (almost 13 pounds, and the smallest we could find at Costco.), using recipes from various sources, notably Mexico-The Beautiful Cookbook. It marinated over night, covered with a spicy adobo, then roasted for 5 1/2 hours. The results were good, but the flavor of the adobo didn't come through as I'd hoped.)

Cheese Grits Souffle Passed over for a fruited curried rice pilaf. The Cheese Grits Souffle was just too last minute, and I had doubts about the recipe balance.

Baked Sweet Potatoes, Apples and Cranberries, from Shirley and Ernie.

Green Beans with sweet red pepper, contributed by Barbara.

Dinner rolls and butter

Chilled Sparkling Cider

Sodas (No one partook.)

Assorted wines and beer. No one drank beer, but the pierna was basted with Cerveza Noche Buena.

Pecan Pie, by Geni
Pumpkin Pie
Whipped cream.


A few photos...uncredited photos are by Don Cuevas.

Photo by Ernest Ashley

The mysterious Don Cuevas holds Ensalada Rosaura.
Photo by Ernie, modified by Don Cuevas.

Pierna before...

Pierna after...
Photo by Geni Certain

The "Spread". Photo by Geni Certain

Pumpkin Pie, by your blog host.

Pecan Pie, by Geni. (Photo also.)
Ginger Whipped Cream

I may get energized to write some details of the cooking. I won't promise.

Don Cuevas

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

To all who come to this blog; Followers, Friends, Browsers and Wanderers:
We wish you a Feliz Navidad and Próspero Año Nuevo 2010, of peace and contentment. May your new year bring many great meals with family and friends.
Don y Doña Cuevas

Snowy Egrets in Pines

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Two of Pátzcuaro's New Restaurants

We have now eaten twice at El Rincón del Buen Sazón, located on the Glorieta Tangaxuan, across from Bodega Aurerrá. Here is my review of the first visit, about a month ago. Sorry; I have no photos.

In a recent email, Pablo Kundzin sent me a tip about a new restaurant, El Rincón del Buen Sazón, at the glorieta in Pátzcuaro, across from Bodega Aurrerá. He wrote that the food was good, the portions generous and the prices reasonable. It's in the same building formerly occupied by a not-so-great seafood house, later by the Bodega construction office. The carved wooden door says "Los Fresnos", although I don't recall a restaurant of that name. There's parking to the side, and paved street parking around the corner on Calle Nueces. We actually parked at La Bodega, but risked our limbs and lives crossng Avenida de Las Américas/Lázaro Cárdenas.

After procrastinating a a couple of weeks, three of us dined there yesterday. I can confirm Pablo's opinions by saying that this restaurant is a very good addition to Pátzcuaro's restaurants, and all of us would recommend it for meat lovers. The interior is attractive and colorful, but not fancy. The seats are of molded plastic. The tables have colorful tablecloths. All was neat and well arranged.

At one-thirty in the afternoon, we were the only customers and one waiter. He greeted us and we chose a table. Soon after bringing us the two-sided, plastic laminated menus, he brought us a four compartment pottery server of three distinctive salsas and crisp totopos. A small plate also held delicious frijoles refritos, warm and sprinkled with queso fresco.
We ordered drinks, one Coca, a Cerveza Bohemia, and for me, a "Fantasma" o "Cubana", which turned out to be a particularly tasty variant of Michelada, seasoned with Jugo Maggi and more.

The menu has an ample selection of meat dishes and steak cuts to please most any taste.
Us two hombres ordered Ribeye steaks and my wife ordered Alambre de Arrachera. All were priced at $80 MXN or less!

The Entradas (appetizers/starters) menu included Queso Fundido, Choriqueso and Champiqueso.
We also asked for an entrada of "Champiqueso", but it did not come until the main courses arrived. If there was a weak spot in the dinner, it was the champiqueso. It was a bowl of canned sliced mushrooms, covered in a difficult to penetrate cap of melted white cheese. I would have preferred having the mushrooms enveloped in hotter, melted cheese. But it wasn't bad; just not that good. With all the other food, the Champiqueso was superfluous.

I'd been wondering what sides, if any, the dinners would include, and I was very pleasantly surprised when they arrived with attractive accompaniments.

The steaks were not thick, like in a U.S. steakhouse*; yet nowhere as thin as the typical carne asada we've had elsewhere in Mexico. They looked great, anointed with a jugo or jus. They tasted great, too. On the same plate was a small piece of very tasty grilled chorizo, a couple of cebolletas asadas, a grilled chile Húngaro (a long, pale green and deceptively innocuous looking pepper.), and some halves of papas chicas, bearing silly little squiggles of mayonesa. On the side was a small dressed salad of cucumber, tomato and lettuce. There was a basket of warm tortillas, hechas a mano.

The steaks were reasonably tender. I'd eaten so much of the frijoles, that mine was too much to finish, so at the end of our meal, our waiter wrapped it para llevar.
Doña Cuevas' Alambres de Arrachera was something like a plate of rich fajitas, covered with melted cheese, and accompanied by more of the delicious frijoles.

*When la cuenta came, it was pleasantly modest. We'd had three complete dinners, 2 Cocas, 2 Cervezas Bohemia, 1 Fantasma/Michelada, and a Champiqueso; for about $300 MXN.

We hope that El Rincón del Buen Sazón thrives. It's worthy of repeated visits, if the food and service continue as good as they were yesterday.

We noted also that they serve very reasonably priced breakfasts.

We returned yesterday with two friends. Although the restaurant was busy with a private Christmas party, the service was reasonably attentive.
This time, we ordered a choriqueso with our drinks. It arrived quickly enough, and was better than the champiqueso of the previous visit, but not something I'd make a point of ordering again.

Our amiga ordered  Arrachera, which looked good and came with one small papa chica and a roasted pale green chile. My wife again had the luscious Alambres de Arrachera, basically a plate of fajita meat with peppers, onions and melted cheese over all.

Nosotros los hombres both ordered the intriguing and inexpensive "Tapaditos a la Diabla", which turned out to be a few thin but o.k. slices of beef in a creamy, slightly picante sauce. It looked meager but I, at least, got full with the numerous handmade tortillas, the frijoles, totopos (they were a bit hard) and the outstanding salsas in the 4 compartmented salsera. I'd specifically rate the Tapaditos as "not bad, but not worth ordering again."

With soft drinks and a Cubana/fantasma (highly recommended), the bill was in the neighborhood of $320 MXN. Plus tip, of course.

Tancho ratings:
Food *** out of a possible 5
Service ***
Price $ (inexpensive)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bad Day In Morelia

Early this morning, we received emails linking to newspaper articles online covering two grenade attacks in Morelia yesterday afternoon. Five are reported wounded, mostly civilians, as well as police personnel, including a woman seven months pregnant who was delivered of a child by a caesarian. The attacks apparently took place near a secondary school near the Governor's Mansion and near area known as Tres Puentes, in the western part of the city.

Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. No deaths are so far reported, although several victims are in serious condition.

See these links to online newspapers:

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Hotel Casino Restaurant, Morelia

Restaurante Lu

We'd recently read very enthusiastic commentaries on the reinvented Casino Hotel Restaurant in Morelia. It is now Restaurante Lu, after Lucero Soto Arriaga, the woman chef who took command of the kitchen two years ago is said to have presented a fresh vision of the cuisine, hearkening back to indigenous foods.

Alhough I'm very dubious when it comes to upscale restaurants, three of us decided to go to comida there last Thursday. I was not ready to commit myself to spending $215 MXN for the tasting menus, one of which was churipo con corundas, another of antojitos típicos, including a pig's foot tostada. I simply can't bring myself to spend so much money on foods that are commonly available and inexpensive elsewhere.

I decided to have Filete de Pescado en Salsa de Guajillos y Naranja, wrapped in Hoja Santa. I'd enjoyed this very dish there a few years ago, before the advent of the present chef.

Our amiga ordered Filete de Pescado envuelto de Coco.

My wife requested Mole de Cacahuate con Pollo.

The ladies shared a pitcher of limonada, and I ordered a copa of vino blanco Semillón. ($60)

The waiter brought a basket of breads, consisting of small and quite tasteless white rolls, and the intriguing tamales de harina. The latter reminded me of Chinese steamed bread, and the dark salsa picante on the table perked up their otherwise bland taste.

The drinks arrived, and the limonada was o.k., but needed further stirring for sweetening. That is not unusual in Mexican restaurants.
The glass of wine was a bit on the skimpy side, but otherwise pleasant.

My wife's salad of fruits was attractive and very good, she reports. The cute cap on top was a Parmesan rice (?) crust.

When our main courses came, two were of minimalist plating and modest portions. The third was more generous in portion. (Which see.)

My fish was accompanied by no more than a tiny mound of fine grained, overcooked rice. The sauce was not bad, although too sweet. The guajillo component was nearly undetectable.The fish itself was bland (I suspect it was tilapia) and its texture somewhat soft. I enjoyed the hoja santa leaf. I preferred the version of this dish I'd had a few years ago at El Primer Piso, in Pátzcuaro.

Our friend's filete de pescado en coco lay alone on the plate, except, again, for a little mound of sticky rice. She said it was good, but it was lonely.

What was missing were some vegetables, or a little salad, or something to fill out the platter. Our friend requested a salad and her wish was granted. It was nice little salad garnished with candied flores de jamaica.

My wife's Mole de Cacahuate con Pollo was very good, and generous in portion. It was flanked by a novel scoop of "chocolate ice cream" atop one of those sticky rice platforms and capped with a tostada doily.

We decided to have dessert and coffee elsewhere.
Our bill was around $620 MXN

Based on a single visit, I grant, I'd hesitate to eat there again. The presentations are adorable, bordering on precious, but the basic food leaves something to be desired in quality and especially, the price/value ratio is uneven.

Attention, Tancho:
Food *** out of a possible 5
Service *** out of a possible 5
Price $$$ whatever this indicates.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

When Mexico Hands You Limones...

...Make Limonada.

A favorite pastime on Mexico expat forums is to endlessly whine about the unavailability of certain products to which we were accustomed al otro lado. The gamut of longed for unavailable Gringo Stuff ranges from crunchy peanut butter, yellow lemons, and cornmeal; through high thread count cotton sheets, good kitchen knives and three-way light bulbs.

Not too surprisingly, some expats find what they're looking for after a little research. Others are destined to live out their retirement in frustrated longing.

Now all of us have our special wants, including me. Thanks to the generosity of friends, I have a good supply of cornmeal, stone ground grits and powdered buttermilk schlepped over the border to our home. We ourselves have brought back special Asian condiments, Licorice Twizzlers and proper Reeses' Peanut Butter Cups snuggled—not smuggled— into our luggage. There's no denying our origins and the desires that arise from them.

A recent frustration is that not long ago it was possible to buy Sharp Aged Cheddar Cheese at Costco. Several months ago, the relatively economical Kirkland brand disappeared, leaving only the Cheddar Suave (Mild). Then the super aged Cabot Cheddar appeared in the deli case. It cost about $145 MXN for about 12 or 14 ounces. That price was insupportable, until the craving for sharp cheddar overcame reluctance to spend so much.
The Cabot Cheddar was so intense and concentrated a flavor, that a small slice would satisfy.

Now it also has disappeared from the Costco inventory. So, I recently bought Kirkland Cheddar Suave. When I tasted it, I was pleasantly surprised how good it was. It had more sabor than I recalled from previous purchases.

What can you do? After living here more than four years, isn't it time we adapted better? Accept that we're not living in the United States, but in the provincial state of Michoacán, México?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Huevos Poblanos: another version

I was just browsing through one of my favorite Mexican cookbooks, "Mexico—The Beautiful Cookbook", when I spotted a recipe for Omelette Con Queso Y Salsa De Poblano.

This is a richer, and more elegant version of the dish. Strangely, it's simpler than mine. Serves 1.
Paraphrased from the book:

It calls for 1/3 cup chopped chile poblano. (I'll assume it's roasted and peeled beforehand.)
1/3 cup thick cream (creme fraiche or Mexican crema.)
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper.
2 eggs
1 tbsp butter.
1/4 cup grated queso manchego* or Jack or medium cheddar cheese.)

*Note that Mexican queso manchego is not like the dry, sharp mature Manchego Español, but softer and very mild.

In a blender, puree the chiles with the cream. Add salt to taste and heat the sauce in a small an over medium heat. Set aside.

Add 1/2 tsp salt and the pepper to the eggs, and beat lightly.

Melt the butter in a small skillet. When it is hot, add the eggs. When the edge of the eggs can be lifted easily, place the cheese on one side, roll up and cook until the cheese begins to melt. If the eggs start to brown, lower the heat.

Place on a plate and cover with the chile cream.

Note: recipe can be tripled or quadrupled. The omelets can be made in advance, covered with the poblana sauce, and baked in a preheated (375F/190C oven.

I don't have an image of this simple but rich dish, but I can give you a photo of the bookcover.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Zi-Wha Eats? Part 2

I'm frustrated and disgusted, because the several hundred words I wrote in a draft yesterday afternoon were not saved. Maybe it's a "hint" that I could do better this time. I'm saving this as I go to TextEdit, so I don't lose it to Blogger's vagaries.

I'm going to try to be more concise this time around. Our other eating experiences in Zihuatanejo can be divided into two categories: more or less forgettable; and memorable.

In the first category was a lunch at Salvador's on Calle Adelita: two cocteles de camarones, $55 each; an order of tasty sopes de frijoles (3 count), $70; an order of ordinary French Fries, a beer and a good limonada.

The cocteles de camarones were of the style we'd had two years previous at El Burro Borracho, on Playa Troncones. It's a cup of seasoned ketchup with diced tomatoes, chopped onion and shrimp. The shrimp is drowned in so much ketchup that you can hardly taste them. I plan to ask in the future how the cocteles are prepared.
Our bill was $119 pesos, but written as $290. My wife caught the error, and the waiter quietly corrected it.

That same Wednesday night, the touted Nardo's seafood at the town end of Adelita was not open, so we went to La Rana René, almost directly beneath our hotel. The waiter was a bit over eager, pushing us to get our order in before the larger party seated on the beach. We succumbed and one of us chose the Pulpos and the other the Huauchinango Al Mojo de Ajo. The octopus was o.k. although at first seeming too salty. The large red snapper was fine, although I've had better even inland at Mariscos La Güera in Pátzcuaro.
We shared a pitcher of limonada, and our bill was in the vicinity of 235 pesos.

We did eat at two places worthy of mention. The first was the justly famed Tamales y Atoles "Any", in Zihuatanejo centro. The service and the food quailty were both superior, although I was surprised to find prices higher than expected. After all, it's located decidedly in la Zona Turística. Some English is spoken.

I enjoyed a very good, generous, spicy Mole de Olla, $100 pesos. La Esposa had a well made Consomé de Pollo $60 or $70, I forget, loaded with vegetables, rice and shredded chicken. There were good salsas and hearty handmade, blue corn tortillas. A couple of decent cafe de ollas, and we were satisfied. We would return there when in Zihua again.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Huevos Poblanos "Hacienda Don Cuevas"

While writing about our Zihuatanejo breakfast experiences, I decided to make what I consider a proper version of Huevos Poblanos.
Several points:
• I have no idea if this is an "authentic" recipe. I don't care; it's simple and it's good.
• I realize that making a dish in the leisure of one's one kitchen is a different thing than trying to get the orders out in a busy restaurant.
• This is the most basic version of the dish that I could make. I've added some options for those who who prefer to embellish.

Ingredients and method.
Time: 15-20 minutes, not including preparing the chile.
Serves 4
1 chile Poblano, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced. Do this first; in fact, it can be done a day in advance, and refrigerated.

2 Tbsps butter
4 Tbsps chopped white onion
Cook together, just until onion becomes transparent.

2 Tbsps flour. Add to butter and onion; cook on low heat until bubbly but not brown.

2 cups of cold milk
1 1/2 tsps Knorr-Suiza Caldo de Pollo en Polvo
1/4 tsp ground white pepper

Whisk over low heat, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens.
Taste for seasoning. Salt as needed; a dash of White Wine Worcestershire Sauce (optional)

Add the diced chile Poblano. (Thanks to observant reader "Anonymous")

Off heat, add:
1 heaping Tbsps sour cream (optional)
(Sauce may be pureed with a stick blender, but it's an unnecessary refinement.)
Set aside and keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat 4 large tostadas or tortillas de maíz, OR toast English muffins, if you want to Anglicize this dish.

Poach eggs, 2 per serving, or as desired. We prefer the eggs with soft yolks.

Plating: place two tostadas, or tortillas, or two halves of toasted English muffin on each plate. Coat breadstuff with Salsa Poblana.
Place eggs on sauce. Lightly nap eggs with remaining sauce.
Cilantro, finely chopped (optional), as a garnish.
Suggested serving with avocado and tomato slices.

¡Aquí tienes!

Zi-Wha Eats? Part 1

Zihuatanejo offers visitors eating options from very cheap to very high end. Call me codo if you wish, but I prefer not to risk my retirement income pesos on high cost, resort area restaurants with a fusion cuisine and a view. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised that prices in Zihua tends to be more expensive than for similar fare elsewhere. This is especially true in the well trodden tourist corridors.

The evening of our arrival, we walked a few blocks to Rufo's Grill, on Calle Adelita at the corner of Calle Remedios.

It's a pleasant little place, under a palapa roof. The focus of attention is the charcoal grill in the backyard kitchen, which gives off enticing aromas. Fresh fish, either mahi-mahi or tuna was the catches of the day, but since BBQ ribs were on the menu as well as Chuleta (pork chop) al Pastor, we chose those.

The trio of three table salsas and a dish of chiles was pretty good. The flour tortillas were o.k. (Noted that almost every place we samples (well, not that many, it's true.) had flour tortillas, not corn.) There was a dab of passable guacamole and a dab of ordinary frijoles on the plate. I asked to have my frijoles swapped out for French Fries, which were good.

The ribs were succulent but few in number, although the pork chop was large and meaty. The grilled vegetables on the side were good, although the carrot chunks were still raw.

We had a beer and a couple of limonadas. Overall, a pleasant meal, but needing a bit more attention to the sides. I don't have a note on cost, but I do recall that the chuleta was $95 and the costillas perhaps $70 (all costs in pesos.) The total may have been under $350.
Rufo's Grill is open only in the evening. In the morning, it's the simple Patio Mexica, whose breakfasts we did not try.

We went a second time to Rufo's on Thursday night. I had a decent cheeseburger and fries for $40 and Doña Cuevas a Grilled Vegetable Plate. I should say that we make that at home fairly often, so our standards are high. The Rufo's version, in our opinion, is overpriced at $85. It's a few slices of grilled zucchini (the best part), some sweet red pepper (o.k.), a slice of undercooked eggplant, and no seasoning whatsoever. It's a dish that cries out for some pesto, or aiolí. We got olive oil and vinegar at the table.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pátzcuaro's Best Eats?


While playing around with
Google Maps, I started a custom map. On it, I added locations and descriptions of some of my favorite places to eat in the Pátzcuaro area. The list is short, but I hope to add more places worth of attention. Maybe later, I will highlight them in some detail.

See the embedded map for my picks.

View Pátzcuaro's Best Eats in a larger map.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Other Blog???

Yes! I have another blog! Actually, there is yet a third blog, supposedly on travel, but it hasn't been updated in over three years. It might be merged with Surviving La Vida Buena, as soon as I figure out how to do that.

I'm gratified to have 27 registered Followers of My Mexican Kitchen.
However, my other blog, Surviving La Vida Buena, has only 2.

So in the interest of raising awareness of my other blog, which has occasional musings on the expat life in Mexico, a few posts on technology from an avid user's viewpoint, and any other topics which might interest me, I commend you to have a look at Surviving La Vida Buena.

I just posted on Google Earth's amazing Street View capabilities, coming soon to a major city near you.

 Don Cuevas

Black Magic Radish

The Black Radishes arrived in stealth by night, then at daybreak, sought cover in a nest of verduras to the side of the puesto de Los Padilla in the mercado de Pátzcuaro.

These rarely seen, dark and mysterious vegetables are a special delight for some of us whose heritage is from the eastern side of Europe. They look something like an anarchist's bomb from the reign of the Tsars.

We were shopping for vegetables and fruits in the mercado yesterday and I was surprised to find two large black radish roots other than at Los Padilla. When I asked the Señora how much, she pointed  to the larger and said, "Cincuenta pesos", and the smaller, "Treinta." I felt that was a little high, so we passed them up.

As we were winding up our marketing, we stopped by los Padilla to see what special items they might have.

From El Mercado de Pátzcuaro 6/5/09 4:28 PM
Los Padilla, Arturo y Sra. Rosa.

Whle I waited as they served other customers, my eye caught the two black radishes hidden to the side of the stand, under a cover of acelgas  (chard) or some similar verduras.
Arturo asked only $20 MXN for a substantial black radish, a very good price. It weighed perhaps 500 grams.

Soon after we arrived home, I started to prepare a version of my Mom's Black Radish Salad.

Given the unusual size of the specimen, I hard cooked 4 eggs, 2 more than usual. When they were cool, I first washed, peeled and disinfected the radish. The skin was unusually coarse and almost scaly, evoking mental images of black iguanas.


I then cut it into pieces that would fit down the feed tube of our Cuisinart food processor. I set up a coarse shredding disk in the processor.

I cleaned one small onion and peeled the hardcooked eggs. It's an easy task to run the sections of black radish, the eggs and the onion through the shredding disk. The contents were then transferred to a large mixing bowl. (On reflection, it might have been somewhat better to first shred he eggs, the onion, then the radish; which would serve to better clean the shredding plate. Also, the hardcooked eggs shred better when chilled.)
Salt and freshly ground pepper were applied to taste.

Now, we come to a fork in the culinary road. Traditionally, rendered chicken fat cooked down slowly with onions is lightly applied to the salad and tossed in. As we don't have schmaltz und grebenes on hand, I used olive oil. It's less interesting but healthier. One could use toasted Oriental sesame oil to good effect, I think.

It seemed lacking in pungency, so I took the radical step of reconstituting some wasabi in a little water, letting it repose 5 minutes to develop "heat", then blended it into the salad.

Taste again: a few drops of lime juice or white wine vinegar, perhaps, and it's ready to eat. We served it to ourselves on romaine leaves flanked by strips of sweet orange pepper.

Here's another blog's essay on Black Radish: Weird Vegetables.

And this Black Radish Beer is a German style dark beer, but I hope that it doesn't really contain black radish. That would be too weird.

(There's also a Jewish-Eastern European conserve of black radish and ¿honey? which I must investigate. It's not this recipe by Mimi Sheraton, for a long keeping conserve. It definitely has honey in it.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Southern Comfort: Country Sausage Gravy

The recipe for this is open to many variations, depending on custom and individual taste. What I'm saying, is don't expect much in the way of precise amounts or hand-holding.

For enough gravy to serve 4 to 6 people, you'll need about 8 tablespoons of meat drippings, either from cooking off a pound of Country Sausage, augmented, if necessary, with some bacon fat or butter. Lately I've been using a little butter, with good results. Set the crumbled, cooked Country Sausage aside while you do the roux.

Heat the fat in a large skillet (iron if possible) while slowly heating a quart/liter of milk in a separate pot.

Sprinkle in the flour and mash it around to get a nice paste. Cook slowly until it's bubbly, about 5 minutes, and remove from the heat. (It won't look too nice.)

Add the roux to the pot of heated milk by tablespoonsful, whisking continually. Use all the roux. Keep some milk on hand in case this gets too thick.

You must stir or whisk nearly constantly.(You can do this while the biscuits are baking.) Keep the heat fairly low, just under medium, and it will gradually thicken. Do not allow it to boil.

Add the cooked, crumbled sausage meat, stir and heat a few minutes.
Taste for seasoning. Now, after the highly seasoned sausage has been added to the gravy, is the right time to adjust for salt and pepper. Customarily, it's well peppered.

Serve hot, in a gravy bowl, and let your guests dip their own to ladle onto split, hot biscuits. If serving just for yourself, skip the gravy bowl and just dish it up as you like.

Here's an image from another website.
It's the best B & G image I've found in my brief search. May yours look as good.

Southern Comfort: Angel Biscuits

I admit, I really hate writing out recipes on the blog. But since I more or less promised recipes for Angel Biscuits and Country Sausage Gravy, I'm going to try to get this over in one long and one short post, so I can return to my more typical fanciful food flights.

Angel Biscuits (Adapted from The Complete Book of Breads, by Bernard Clayton.)

A really great thing about these biscuits is that you make up the dough in advance and refrigerate it. The author claims you can do so up to 4 or 5 days, but I've never taken it past 3. The tangy buttermilk plus yeast fermentation increases its sour power with each hour. I believe that there would be a point of diminished leavening potential after 3 days.

• 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour (Mexican equivalent; Celestial or Sello Rojo Tradicional)
• 1 package dry yeast (about 2 teaspoons)
• 1 tablespoon baking powder (Royal)
• 1 teaspoon baking soda (Bicarbonato de sodio)
• 3 tablespoons of sugar (I've cut that sometimes to only 2. The fll quantity is needed, in my opinion, for a prolonged, cold fermentation.)
• 1 teaspoon salt (May be increased to 1 1/2 tsps)
Blend the above ingredients well.
Cut in with a pastry blender, two table knives or finger tips:
• 3/4 cup shortening. Bernard Clayton says "lard preferred", but I typically use a half cup of "Cristal Manteca vegetal" and a 1/3 cup of Kirkland butter. I avoid hard, semi-crystalline shortenings such as "Inka". The particles should be about the size of grains of rice. But if you have a few slightly larger, don't worry.

•• Two cups of buttermilk, slightly warmed.
Here's the catch. Buttermilk is almost impossible to find in Mexico, so substitutions must be found. Various have been tried: a little vinegar in milk works fairly well; Activia Natural might do, but you'll need to reduce the sugar in the dry ingredients.
Yoghurt natural, sin azúcar could work if thinned out a bit.
I haven't tried Jocoque Libanés. It's also very expensive.

The best liquid buttermilk replacer is SACO dry cultured buttermilk. Pack some into your luggage when coming to Mexico from El Norte, or ask your friends to bring some. (Once the canister is opened, store the remainder in a tightly enclosed container to keep out moisture and to prevent lumping.)

Let's say you lucked out and got some SACO.
Use 4 tablespoons for every cup of water in the dough. SACO must be well mixed with very warm water to combine without lumps. An alternate way is to blend it well with the dry ingredients, then use somewhat warm water to combine the dry ingredients into a rather wet dough. The warm water is also useful in activating the yeast.

Mix the ingredients just until blended. Place in a Pam-sprayed bowl or better, a Pam-sprayed large plastic bag. Close, leaving some room for expansion, and refrigerate, at least overnight. Twenty-four to thirty-six hours is about optimum, IMO.

Baking Day
Preheat oven to 400º F or 205º C.
Get a couple of ungreased cookie sheets, a rolling pin and a small (2 inch or so) biscuit cutter. Mine is an old Vienna Sausage can with one end removed and a few vent holes punched into the other side. (My kinfolk brought it on their mule drawn wagon when they crossed the Cumberland Gap on their way to the State of Arkansaw.)

Flour your work surface well, and take the damp dough out of the bag or bowl. Flatten it to a rough rectagle, and pat or roll out, then fold in thirds. Repeat this at least once, up to three times. (This is why the dough was mixed wet.)

With the rolling pin, roll out the dough sheet to 1/2 inch thick. Lift it and give it a little shake to allow it to shrink back. Reroll if necessary to 1/2 inch. These biscuits will rise mightily.

With a lightly floured cutter, cut straight down, without twisting, and place each biscuit on the cookie sheet with about 2 inch spacing. (Unlike regular biscuits, these bake better if not too close together.)

You may, if you like, lightly brush the tops with melted butter, but it's not really necessary.

Place in the oven for about 15 to 17 minutes, or until the tops are nicely browned. (Here's where a good oven thermometer pays its way. Your kilometraje wil vary with your oven and your elevation above sea level)

Pull one open to be sure the interior is fully baked.
Serve warm with butter, syrup, molasses, honey, jam or Country Sausage Gravy. (Recipe up next.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Southern Comfort: Spicy Country Sausage

One of my favorite food books is the long out-of-print, Better Than Store-Bought, by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie. More than a cookbook, it's a collection of recipes for specialty foods that are not only better than store bought, but for many of us living in México, unobtainable in any store. Thus, it's the first source to which I turn when I need a recipe for special jams, mustards, English Muffins, and in this instance, sausages.

I have adapted their excellent recipe for Spicy Country Sausage (page 6) to local conditions and our tastes. I've also increased the quantity to a kilogram of meat. If you are going to the effort to do this, you might as well make enough to freeze some. You may do so as well, as you wish.

First of all, speak with your butcher and ask for un kilo de carne de cerdo molida, con grasa. The fat is necessary to make juicy and savory sausage. About 20% fat is about a good starting point. Get the pork ground freshly to your order, as you watch. If your butcher won't do that, get another butcher.

If you have a meatgrinder, you may buy the meat in chunks, cut into pieces that will fit your grinder. Apply the seasoning and leave in the fridge overnight, well-covered. Next day, grind and mix. (It's always best to be very conservative when seasoning. You can always add more later.)

Now, the recipe. Make this as soon as possible upon arriving at your kitchen. In other words, don't stash the ground pork in the fridge for 3 days, then start making the sausage.

I'm highlighting Mexican substitutions in red.
Place the ground pork in a large mixing bowl.

In a spice grinder or a molcajete, grind the following:
• 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (more to taste later) Sal fina del Mar.
• 2 teaspoons leaf sage, crumbled. Salvia
• I usually add some crumbled thyme. Tomillo.
• 1/3 teaspoon whole black pepper. Pimienta Negra.
1 to 3 small hot dried chiles, or chile flakes. Chile Piquín or similar.
Grind these spices to a medium grain, and sprinkle over the ground pork.

(I always add about 2 teaspoons of granuated sugar to a kilo of pork, to give it that good ol' Tennessee Pride kind of taste.)

Mix well with cleanwashed hands until the seasonings are thoroughly blended.
Now, you must sample this to check for seasoning. Please, don't eat this raw. It not only could be very bad for your health, it won't taste right, either.

Make a very small patty and slowly fry it in a small skillet. When it's fully cooked, taste it. It may need more salt or other seasoning. If so, go back to the mixing bowl and add more seasoning in very small amounts, then cook another tiny patty.
Note that the flavor will change once the sausage meat is refrigerated over night. I think it becomes milder.

Now, for Don Cueva's Secret Tip: The mixture may seem dryish, in spite of its fat content. To remedy that, I often add apple juice, just enough to loosen up the sausage a bit. The apple juice also tends to smooth out some of the more picante highlights and wed all into a state of blissful harmony.

We pack the sausage meat into small Zip-Loc bags, about 5-6 ounces each, close well, and freeze them. If you plan on cooking some within a day, keep it in the fridge. You can, of course, form breakfast-sized patties, and freeze them with plastic film or waxed paper between.

My next recipe will tell how to make the ethereal Angel Biscuits. They need to be mixed one to two days before baking. This is very convenient  as most of the work is already done before the day of baking.

Stay Tuned.

(I was just browsing Google for this recipe, and, BEHOLD! an uncredited copy on CD Kitchen. I'm not too surprised, as this sort of rampant copying is rife on the Web. If you decide to use their servings quantity widget, beware that increasing the spice proportionately to the meat may result in an inedibly overspiced sausage meat.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Southern Comfort: Biscuits and Gravy

Although I am not a son of the South, I spent 44 years in the border state of Missouri and in the deeper South state of Arkansas. Those years shaped my taste for Southern comfort foods, such as grits, country ham and especially, biscuits and sausage gravy.

                      Photo courtesy of Geni Certain

The first time biscuits and gravy and I met was in a cheap cafe in Waynesville, Missouri, near Fort Leonard Wood. My buddy, a true son of the rural South, and I were between activities on an extended caving weekend. We stopped in the early morning hours (in my opinion, 4 to 7 a.m. is the time to experience small town cafes  and truck stops at their best. Guys in gimme caps are being served endless cups of coffee from bottomless pots while fine greasy aromas of hash brown potatoes and bacon waft from the kitchen pass-through.

At that time, I'd no idea what biscuits and gravy (hereafter, "B&G") was. To me, a son of the South side of Brooklyn, "gravy" was a brown sauce that went on pot roast or roast beef.

At the urging of my caving buddy, I ordered the B&G. When it arrived, I was somewhat startled by the gravy. It was a thick, not very attractive white sauce, studded with bits of country sausage. The biscuits, (a "drop" version of which my Mom used to make from Bisquick, here were of lower profile, and when split open, revealed a more open textured crumb. The taste was tangy with buttermilk. It was all a bit odd, but palatable, and certainly a lot easier to eat than my first bowl of menudo, years later, in a trackside cafe in Lordsburg, NM. (Note the sneaky reference to Mexican food, thus validating my blog's title.)

Over the years, and many caving trips later, my taste for B&G grew fitfully. Some restaurants make the worst imaginable grease-based wallpaper paste gravy and leaden biscuits. That usually occurred around midnight, when B&G are unofficially out of season.

Eventually, I learned how to make this true Southern delicacy at home. B&G has become a favorite dish for when we have guests to breakfast. Although it's a simple dish, my interpretation depends greatly on high quality ingredients. There are three principal components:
• Homemade Country Sausage
• Angel Biscuits (AKA Double Leavened Biscuits)
• A proper gravy, based on a flour and meat drippings roux, properly cooked.

First, I'll issue the usual Disclaimer:
This Is Not Health Food. It contains mostly carbohydrates and  fat, with a reasonably healthful diluent of milk. It will meet all your cholesterol needs for the near future. You really don't need bacon, ham or additional sausage with this meal. But some have had those additions, and lived, at least for a few more years.

I'll be giving detailed recipes in the next installment, God willing.
Watch for updates.

 Don Cuevas

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Grilled Pizza Confidential

Lately, seems like nearly every other with it food blog does grilled pizza.
It's been covered thoroughly on cooking sites as well as blogs.
I'd been tempted to do this, but it seemed daunting. So many things could go wrong. My confidence was shaky.

Fortunately, my blogging buddy, Constantino, has had experience with this technique, and was present to help and give good tips. Most of all, he gave me confidence to proceed. (And two good bottles of wine to go with our lunch.)
(By the way, Constantino doesn't look a bit like the old guy represented in his avatar.)

The problem with baking pizza in our Mexican GE gas oven is that it just doesn't get hot enough to consistently brown the bottom of the crust and quickly cook the toppings. I do use 16 inch, dark colored perforated pizza pans and occasionally get a decent crust bottom, but it's unreliable.

What I'd read about grilled pizza was that you are almost guaranteed a crisped, brown bottom crust. There are, however great differences in the technique from that of oven pizza.

•Basically, the grilled pizza crust is parcooked on one side, turned, toppings added to the cooked side, then finished at somewhat lower heat to amalgamate.
•Different heat zones are required for optimum results.
•Because the pizza is not assembled all at once, but in stages, it's inportant to have all ingredients ready and close by.
•A major doubt in my mind was how to keep the raw dough from sticking to the searingly hot grill bars. Some videos on the Web advise stretching out the dough round on a heavily oiled baking sheet. This turned out to be unnecessary for us. A light brushing of olive oil was all that was needed.
•Constantino gave good advice when he said to slide the half cooked pizza bottom off the heat in order to assemble the toppings. As we lack a proper pizza peel, I used a rimless cookie sheet. That worked quite well for transfers. This halts the cooking of the underside and gives you breathing space in which to assemble.
•Details are important. I'd sliced the cheese into thin strips, but it melted slowly. If I'd shredded it, it would have worked better.
•It's best to use few topping ingredients, and they must all be precooked (except for the cheese) because of the short baking/grilling time.
(One website used simmering, cooked pizza sauce, but that was unacceptable to me. Pizza sauce, IMO, should be uncooked. Mine was a simplified version of my standard, and at ambient temperature.)

In the end, the two pizzas we made were somewhat irregular in shape. One had a scorched bottom, but still tasty. Both were very good eating. Now, with restored confidence, I'd do it again some time.

With great restraint, I'd confined my creative urges to making two kinds of pizza; a Margherita; tomato sauce, cheese and lots of fresh basil.
The other was Bacon and Caramelized Onion, sauce and cheese.
They both were very tasty, had characterful, crisp yet chewy crusts, infused with a little smoke, plus savory toppings. What more could you ask for?

Recipes? I like the pizza dough recipe in The Vegetarian Epicure, Book Two, by Anna Thomas. I reduced the yeast to 1 tsp, and let the dough rise slowly for three and a half hours, in our cool kitchen. I also used three tablespons of rye flour, which adds considerable flavor.

The pizza sauce recipe in the same book is also very good, but you may want to cut back or eliminate some of the many herbal seasonings. I used salt, freshly ground pepper, oregano and garlic, and less than 2 tsps balsamic vinegar. I did not use sugar. I spiked it with some red pepper flakes; just enough to perk up the flavor without causing mouth burn.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Death of GOURMET Magazine

I have just learned on the Get Stuffed Branch that Condé Nast Publishers have killed off the grand old GOURMET Magazine.

Here's what I wrote (edited for My Mexican Kitchen) on that discussion thread:
I was first exposed to Gourmet Magazine back in the 50's, when the murky covers seemed individually hand painted. I was introduced to what was then an enigmatic world. I remember one of the first issues we had had a cover painting of mushrooms under a glass dome. I wondered "Why would anybody do that?" Covers were usually drab, with what I thought of as a "European" feel. What did I know? I was a 10 or 12 year old kid.

There was a long running series, "Travels with Gramps", by Stephen Longstreet, that was fascinating and opinionated. I liked Gourmet best during the 80's. Later came Bon Appetit Magazine, which seemed to me an upstart of lower class, devoted to pink peppermint layer cakes on its covers. Later it got better.
Eventually I became disgusted with the whole lot, the pretentious excess, the upwardly mobile striving, the stinking perfume ads (thankfully, those have gone) and the thick pack of ads in the front of the magazine. I hadn't seriously read it in years. We jokingly called it "Grommet Magazine". Recently I read an article, on about the whole bloated Conde Nast expense account and staff perks system. Read that, and you'll understand better why they are sacrificing Gourmet. Cuts Meet a Culture of Spending At Conde Nast Truly serious cooks would gravitate to Cook's Illustrated, but I'm not quite that serious. Besides, the postal fees to Mexico are exorbitant.
Since the name of this blog is, My Mexican Kitchen", here's a cover of some tacos estilo Gourmet, from the 1960s. Drab, isn't it?

More GOURMET covers here. I'm saddened that I can't find the one of mushrooms under glass.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My First Baby Shower

Being a red-blooded American man, I'd never been to a baby shower before.

But, this is Mexico, and things are different. (Red-blooded Mexican hombres don't go to baby showers either.)

A week ago, Rosa, our friend down the road, invited us to the baby shower for her daughter Patricia. Patricia, also known as Pati, is one of the three lovely daughters we've met. (That's Pati, on the left, in a picture taken 3 years ago.) There are four attractive daughters. We haven't met any of the several sons.

The day was dreary and overcast, and a light rain was beginning as we drove down to the gate to the family property. We discovered we could drive in along a gravelled track closer to the house.

The rain put an end to the brief attempt at outdoor festivities, so we carried the tables and chairs indoors once again.

The house is humble, but it was filled with warmth and merriment. Preparations were underway to decorate the brick walled rooms with balloons. We were given handfuls of confetti with which to shower Pati, in a "surprise" welcome.

We were also given miniature party favors such as a baby rattle and a baby carriage to pin to our clothes. It gradually dawned on me that a game was underway, in which if you cross your feet or arms, the person noticing your blunder gets to claim your party favor.  It wasn't long that I lost mine to María de la Luz. She smiled with satisfaction.

Another, less subtle but more active game involved transferring a lime with a plastic spoon clenched in your teeth. This was very lively and ending with the semifinalists in a playoff involving how fast they could consume Coca Cola from a small baby bottle. (Fortunately, I'd been eliminated early on, so could not even come close to qualifying for the playoff.)

After the hilarious playoff between the finalists, another contest began: how fast could you diaper the grown "babies" lying on the blanket? My wife, Doña Cuevas, is a good sport, and volunteered to be a "baby".
In the end, the other "baby's" diaper fell off when she stood up, so my wife's team won.

Soon there was the opening of the many gifts, received with thanks by Pati and applause from the attendees.

We were then served a light meal of tostadas, one of Ensalada Rusa, the other of Carne Apache (we set ours of Carne Apache aside). There were refrescos and then cake and brownies, which I'd made.

At that point, night came upon us, and we drove back to "Centro" with several passengers, an Abuelita and her nietos. It was a good time, and just right to banish melancholy.

Invasion of the Giant Meatballs

Meatballs and spaghetti: what a standard cliché of Italian-American cooking.

Yes, it's truly a cliché, but I love a good culinary cliche, when it's well made.

Recently I was browsing through Jack Denton Scott and Maria Luisa Scott's classic work, The Complete Book of Pasta (William Morrow & Company, 1968), with photographs; not of food, but of Italy; by Samuel Chamberlain).

I found the recipe for Polpettone, or a giant meatball. In reality, it's a rounded meatloaf, browned in olive oil, then braised in tomato sauce in the oven. There are some chopped raisins in the recipe. Use them, they are hardly noticeable but add a special touch.

When I went to make it, I was challenged by how to turn the thing, so I compromised, and turned 3 pounds of ground beef and pork, and other ingredients into some 15 to 18 large, but not gigantic meatballs. Each weighed about 5 or 6 ounces.

For the recipe, I merged the one in the book with another I found at
The management of all this was somewhat complex. I first made a large batch of basil tomato sauce. I then mixed, formed and browned the meatballs. I used our largest roasting pan, sprayed with Pam, and a layer of sauce, then the browned meatballs. I covered the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil (do not let the foil touch the sauce) and baked them about 1 hour at 350º F. I later slowly reheated them, with more tomato sauce, for an hour and a half, before serving to our 4  delighted guests.

To start our meal, we had three antipasti: lighly marinated cooked carrot sticks, roasted sweet peppers with anchovies and capers, and funghi trifolati (in this version, nothing more than sauteed sliced mushrooms, garlic, white wine and parsley.) plus a large mixed green salad brought by our guest, B.

Alongside the large bowl of steaming meatballs and spaghetti was a dish of sauteed spinach and Italian mustard greens. Warm "French bread" from  a local supermarket bakery. (Oh, well. It was o.k.)


     Spinach and mustard greens.

We ended the meal with a really good apple pie, made by G. and ice cream, made by Holanda and coffee, brewed by me.

Here's a recipe for a really good Basil Tomato Sauce. It's simple and quick. You will need fresh basil. This comes from "The Classic Italian Cookbook", by Marcella Hazan, with my comments.

Fresh Basil and Tomato Sauce
For 4 persons. (Might as well double it, it freezes well.)
1 large bunch of fresh basil, small leaves preferred.
2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, seeded (I never bother!), drained (yes!), and coarsely chopped.
(I use Cidacos brand Spanish tomatoes. That's what we can get in Morelia. I use two large cans of tomates triturados and one can of tomates enteros, which I break up in the pan with a spoon.)

5 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine.
1/3 cup of olive oil, more if desired (she wrote). I think it's a bit excessive.)

Salt and freshly ground pepper.

1. Pull all the basil leaves from the stalks, rinse them briefly in cold water, and chop them. The yield should be 1 1/2 to 2 cups. (I actually had about half the required amount. The end result was delicious.)

2. Put the chopped basil, tomatoes, garlic the 1/3 cup olive oil. 1 tsp salt and pepper in an uncovered saucepan and cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Taste and correct for salt.
(O.k.; I added the chopped fresh basil toward the end of the cooking, to preserve its fresh flavor. O.k., I confess that I added a sprinkle of hot red pepper (chile quebrado) to give it a buzz. That's all.)

Please, do not cook this sauce for a long time. The tomatoes come out of the cans already cooked!
Please, do not add other herbs and spice, nor sugar, for God's sake! Keep it simple, and you will enjoy it.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A midsummer's day cookout

We got the grill out today and put it through its paces. It had been neglected for a long time. It performed admirably.
Our starter consisted of large, Grilled Bacon Wrapped Fresh Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese, made by our Geni and Larry. There was a reduced balsamic vinegar sauce for them, infused (very mildly) with chile ancho. These are truly lush.
One of our guests brought excellent tostadas of potato salad (big chunks), on which we drizzled chimichurrí rojo. There was also classic chimichurrí (green). Most of us preferred the red.
They were meant for the arrachera, but there was plenty, and they were tasty.
Also some fresh, crunchy, garlicky Health Salad, something like cole slaw.
Then, came the grilled vegs; sweet red peppers, cebolletas (knob onions), nopales (prickly pear catus pads, small zucchini cut lengthwise, and chiles largos* (pale, semi-picante long chiles. These were grilled by La Dama de La Parrilla, Doña Cuevas. Rather than re-marinate them, we simply gave them the lightest coating of vegetable oil.
*At least, I think that's what they were.
The meat was suposedly "arrachera", something like the meat used in fajitas, but our skilled butcher (at Carnicería La Sin Rival) skillfull cut an eye of round into arrachera-like form. After two days of marinating in garlic, lime juice, beer, orégano, olive oil, Maggi Jugo, Worcestershire Sauce (just a little) etc, it was near butter-tender.
We had warmed slices of sesame seeded baguettes, Mexican style, from the Bodega Aurrerá. Butter from Costco.
A huge salad of mixed greens of every description, including arugula, broccoletti, with white flowers. Many of the salad ingredients came from the Mercado Buen Provecho, Pátzcuaro's new specialty market. The dressing was a vinaigrette with fresh basil.
We drank Agua de Jamaica (cold hibiscus flower tea) with the meal. Sodas and beers were available.
Some of us started with Absolut Mandrin and Centenario Tequila. (Separately.)
Later, after a short walk, we had dessert, a warm deep dish peach cobbler, made with peaches from the tree of two of Geni and Larry. Some of us had mugs of Nescafé Decaf Sabor Intenso with dessert.
NEW! A few recipes!! Don't count on seeing many of these; this was a special occasion.)

Health Salad New Jersey Deli Style
Doctor the seasonings and proportions to your taste.
1 med head cabbage -- Coarsely shredded
3 carrots -- sliced thin
1 green pepper -- sliced thin.
2 cucumbers -- peeled and cubed. Seed them if the seeds are large and coarse.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 lg onion -- sliced thin
3/4 cups vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Half sour dill pickles, cut into thick slices.
Some of the pickle brine.
a garlic clove or two, finely sliced.
dry mustard to taste
ground black pepper
dillweed (opt)
Mix liquids. Add vegetables and let stand in fridge overnight.
1/2 cup Spanish sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar (I used a combination of Pepper Sherry and red wine vinegar.)
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons hot paprika
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (that, IMO, is too much cayenne. I subbed Pimentón de La Vera Agridulce, and a small piece of chile Manzano rojo, carefully seeded.)
4 cloves garlic, minced (A LOT of garlic. Pongalo como te gusta.)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin seeds
1 bay leaf, broken in half
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
(Note: I overlooked the garlic in the recipe, a terrible error or omission. So I added a TBSP of Vietnamese Crushed Chiles With Garlic Sauce. That did the trick.
(The sauce is somewhat thin, so I added about two TBSPS tomato paste.)
Combine in blender all of the ingredients and blend well, refrigerate. Keeps for 1 month. Use on chicken
to be grilled or barbequed.
Peach Cobbler
(From The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, by Marian Cunningham)
Peach Filling
7 cups of fresh peeled and stoned peaches, cut into sixths.
3/4 cup of sugar.
2 TBSPS lemon juice.
4 TBSPS butter, held back to dot on top.
(I also add 2 TBSPS cornstarch to restrain the juiciness.)
Biscuit Topping
1 cup of flour
2 TBSPS sugar
1/4 ts salt
2 tsps baking powder
4 TBSPS chilled butter
6 TBSPS milk
Glaze, optional:
2 TBSPS butter, melted
1 or 2 TBSPS sugar
(That is too much butter overall for me, so I apply a few TBSPS of milk to the top crust, then sugar it lightly, just before putting it into the oven)
Mix the peach slices with the sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch, if used. I also put a few drops of almond extract. Place mixture into a buttered 8"x8" or 9x9 baking dish.
Meanwhile, whisk or sift the dry biscuit ingredients in a separate bowl. Cut in the chilled butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the cold milk and lightly combine with a fork.
Roll out this dough on a lightly floured surface, and place over the peach mixture in the baking dish. Trim excess dough edges. These may be cut into decorative shapes if desired.
Meanwhile, brush the top of the raw crust with melted butter or milk. Stick on the decorative cut outs.
Cut a few slots into the crust. Place on a sheet of heavy aluminum foil large enough to catch any boilovers, (already on upper oven shelf.)
Bake approximately 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
Allow to cool 15 minutes before serving. Vanilla or peach ice cream, or half-and half, optional, for those who must have it.

Slideshow photos by Geni Certain. ¡Gracias!