Thursday, August 26, 2010

Don Cuevas' Deli Ranch

It must be the weather or creeping old age, or both. I've had a craving for the deli foods of my childhood, like kosher dill pickles, smoked brisket and knishes. Challah, with poppyseeds.
Not to mention Black Radish Salad. Normally, these things are unobtainable here, unless you make them yourself.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Atole de Grano: Anicillo Verde y Rodillas Rojas

Since our first visit to Pátzcuaro, in 1991, we have become fond of Atole de Grano. To me, it represents the quintessence of simple Michoacán cooking.

Late one peaceful and quiet night, we were sitting in the Plaza Grande contemplating the past events of the day; just a couple of guys, an atole vendedora and us.

With little idea of what it was, we ordered two bowls. The cheap pottery bowls held a hot broth of corn kernels, slightly thickened with masa and subtly flavored with anise. We were offered minced chiles and a cut limes to season the soup. An “elotito” or cob-ette of corn was included at no extra cost.

It was soothing to the soul as well as the stomach. There’s neither meat or fat in atole de grano.

Friday, August 06, 2010

A Farewell Feast With Friends

Last week, two of our ex-neighbors made a lightning visit back to our area.
While we said goodbye to our former neighbors, we also welcomed a new neighbor to the rancho.

Doña Cuevas and I prepared a special comida for the occasion.

This was the menu.
August 4, 2010

Guacamole, totopos (contributed)
Trozos de pepinos, limón.

Caldo de Hongos Silvestres al Chipotle, (made with "Lobster" mushrooms.)
Salsa de hierbabuena y chile piquín. (This salsa was overlooked by most of us, and though it was good, it was unnecessary.)

Arroz “Jasmín” blanco.

Guatape  or "Huatape") Verde de Camarones. (Fresh shrimp in a complex, richly herbal sauce with hints of anise.)

Pan telera de leña, from Panadería La Espiga.

Limonada fresca con agua mineral.
Vino blanco demi-seco. (contributed)

Postre: Pan de elote fresco con tres moras, azules, frambuesas y zarzas; Crema y natillas caseras.

I'd seen a recipe and a photo for the Guatape de Camarones, in the book, "MEXICO The Beautiful Cookbook". It's a sort of shrimp stew, with a base of pureed herbs and whole, briefly cooked whole shrimp. The recipe isn't difficult, in spite of ambiguous directions. Later, I received more recipes from our amiga Nora Cristina Ceccopieri, of the amazingly prolific Mexican food blog, ¿Gusta Usted?

Shirley Ashley photo

The Caldo de Hongos Silvestres I'd prepared earlier, after buying nearly a kilo of Trompa de Puerco hongos in front of the Pátzcuaro mercado. In the U.S. these are known as Lobster Mushrooms. They are actually two, symbiotic fungi. The red-orange "skin" is actually a second fungus growing on the main body. These were the best I'd ever seen, clean and generally free of spoilage and insect holes. They still do require a close inspection and removal of a few bad spots. I took extensive liberties with the basic recipe below.

Lobster Mushrooms (Wikipedia Commons)

Shirley Ashley photo

For the dessert, I wanted a corn based sweet cake, something like we'd enjoyed at Las Mercedes in Guanajuato the year before. I found an excellent recipe on, by Karen Hursh Graber, who also was kind enough to clear up some doubts I had. The pan de elote, made mostly of freshly pureed corn off the cob, and some sugar, to which I added a bit of milk, a couple of eggs and a little flour, although the latter is said to be unnecessary. I baked them in cupcake tins lined with cupcake papers, and to insure their removal, sprayed the inside of each cup with PAM.

The panecitos de elote were made a day in advance. (In fact, they removed much more easily after an overnight rest in a container.)

Over the panecitos de elote I spooned thawed, slightly sweetened frozen 3-berry mixed, from Costco. It 's an outstanding product. Only a little sweetening was needed.

The desserts were finished with Natillas, which, as "Boiled Custard", sounds much less appealing. A little crema (creme fraîche) swirled in was probably gilding the lily.

Panecitos de elote on berries

More berries atop the panecitos, plus natillas y crema

Recipes and interpretations below.

Caldo de Hongos Silvestres:
Wild Mushroom Broth
This is a basic recipe, to which may be added squash blossoms, cooked fava beans or shredded chicken. Some suggested mushrooms to use in the broth are coral mushrooms (rumeria rubripermanens), field mushrooms (agaricus campestrus) and ceps (boletus edulis.) Using chipotle chiles will give the broth a smoky flavor; using serranos will provide a fresh, piquant taste.

  • 2 tablespoons corn oil
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobado, sliced, or 2 minced fresh Serrano chiles (Chipotles only-DC)
  • 1 ½- 2 lbs. assorted wild mushrooms (In our soup, all were Trompas de Puercos-DC)
  • 2 quarts chicken stock (I used a crustacan soup base-DC)
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh epazote
  • (I added carrots, finely diced, and about 3 cups, grabanzos and their liquid, cooked from dried, two jitomates asados y pelados, plus a few small tiny white potatoes, already cooked, that I had on hand. They were cut in half.-DC)

Heat the corn oil in a large stockpot, add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is wilted. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until they render their liquid.
Add the chicken stock and epazote and bring to a boil. Serve immediately.
Serves 8.
Ms. Hursh Graber's recipe for Pan de Elote is here Isthmus- Style Corn Bread: Pan de Elote del Istmo

Huatape (or "Guatape") Verde de Camarones
3 chiles poblanos, seeds and membranes removed
1 chile serrano, minced, optional.
4 tomates verdes, husks removed. (I believe that the quantity should be at least doubled. -DC)
2 cups fresh parsley leaves, packed
3 small leaves hoja santa (I had dried ones but I also used one bunch of anicillo, washed, coarsely chopped green part only)
4 cups water (Better to use the shells and loose heads of shrimp to make a caldo)
1/4 cup olive oil or lard
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespons cornstarch, suspended in a little water (A small ball of masa, size of a golfball  would be better.)
salt and white pepper.
Cilantro or fresh epazote, optional, chopped.

1 kilo of medium to large shrimp, with heads intact.

Peel the bodies of the shrimp, leaving the tails and heads when possible.
Use the shrimp shells and seasonings to taste to make a shrimp stock. The addition of several dried shrimp will enhance the taste.
Strain and reserve.

In a blender or food processor, working in batches, grind the chiles, tomatillos, parsley and herbs.
The original recipe says "Strain", but that leaves you with nothing but green broth. Instead, blend thoroughly and reserve.

In a deep pot, heat oil and add the chopped onion and the garlic. Saute 
until transparent. Add the puree, bring to a boil, thicken with the cornstarch or the masa. Rectify the seasoning.

Add the partially peeled shrimp and stir gently, simmering the few minutes until the shrimp are cooked. Add the optional chopped cilantro and/or epazote.

Serve with white rice. Oven warmed teleras are also good for sopping up the sauce.

UPDATE: We reheated and ate the leftovers of the huatape yesterday evening, and I concluded that it was to thick and aggressively herbal a sauce. So, if I do it again, I'll be looking for a lighter approach. For one, I'd skip the anicillo. Two, I'd use some epazote. The cilantro is probably unnecessary.
A lighter version of Huatape. From the Internet

 Mi amiga, Nora Cris wrote:


200 g de camarón seco mediano
6 tazas de agua
Camarones chicos frescos pelados. Medio kilo más o menos
¾ de taza de harina o masa de maíz (90 gramos)
1 taza de caldo o agua extra
3 jitomates
1 chile guajillo desvenado, asado y hervido
1 chile pasilla Ídem.
Un trozo de cebolla 60 g asada
2 dientes de ajo asados
2 ramas de epazote
½ cucharadita de cominos
Knorr caldo de camarón o de pollo al gusto

Cuece los camarones secos en 6 tazas de agua hasta que el caldo tenga sabor del camarón. Saca los camarones y quítales la cabeza y la cola.

Licua los jitomates y chiles guajillos con la cebolla, ajo, chiles, pimienta y comino.

Fríe esta salsa en una cacerola de 2 litros de capacidad hasta que se haga “chinita” y el aceite salga a la superficie.

Añade el caldo y cuando esté hirviendo añade todos los camarones y rectifica la sazón, agrega el concentrado de camarón o de pollo; a fuego lento, agrega de poquito en poquito, la masa desleída en una taza de caldo o de agua fría, meneando para que no se hagan bolas. Debe quedar espesito.

Por último ponle las ramas de epazote y sírvelo muy caliente.

NOTA: Si lo quieres verde, omite el tomate, sustituye los chiles guajillo y pasilla por chile poblano asado y se muele con una rama de epazote fresca y chile verde si quieres que pique.