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Pozole Verde a.k.a Pozolillo

Pozole-Verde_Pozolillo_ingredients~Yes,-more-please!

Pozole is a soup usually made with hominy, pork meat, spices and fresh garnishes that create a wonderful one bowl meal warm soup. Let’s say Pozole Is kind of the Mexican Pho. There are a couple of variations upon regions and availability of ingredients, red chiles , green tomatillos and poblanos, or just garlic and onion. There’s even not so traditional versions using chicken or turkey to make the soup a little lighter and healthier; even vegetarian versions using button mushrooms instead of meat, in my opinion all equally delicious in its own way.

Another variation on this dish would be the fresher version also known as ‘Pozolillo’, that uses fresh white corn in the cob kernels like in Michoacan and Guerrero. Which is the version I prepared.

The hominy used in Pozole is freshly made from dry kernels that are transformed into ‘nixtamal’ this process involves soaking the dry corn kernels  in water and limestone to burn and cook the skin. It is an intense preparation more commonly used in the South of Mexico, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Michoacan, Guerrero, State of Mexico and Distrito Federal. While in the norther mexican states like Sonora, Monterrey, Chihuahua, the proximity with the border has a not so preferred commodity, hominy on a can which to my taste is hard to equal the good flavor from the freshly made.

 Despite the regionalism, Pozole is a classic soup among mexican families, every family has its own recipe and a style; whether is white, red or green, a grandma, sister, mom or aunt who makes it; It is always a great comforting meal that brings family and friends together.

In my family, My Grandma, from my father’s side is my Pozole Guru. She will start to cook the Pozole two days in advance by soaking the dry corn-nixtamal with a bit of lime stone to lose the skins on the kernels, rinse it infinite times and slow cook it for a couple of hours. Grandma Mago used pork shoulder and very meaty pork cuts. Her Pozole was white, meaning she would not add any chiles to tint and flavor the broth, the flavor came from the cosmic union of the extremely well prepared artisanal hominy, tender pork, garlic and onion. Amazing, simply amazing.

On the other side of my family, the Pozole Guru is my Aunt Paloma, she makes the BEST Red Pozole. Absolutely delicious, she uses also pork and red chiles like ancho and guajillo which are very mild chiles that flavor the broth transforming it in this aromatic and savory broth you almost want to use a straw to drink it. Scrumptious.

As you can see I have a mayor task here, So far I’ve cooked both Pozole styles, white and red, I love them equally. And yes, it is the cook hand, what we call “sazon” that makes a dish your dish and the only way to exceed at it is practice,  practice and more practice my little grasshopper.

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This time I’m attempted to recreate a Pozole Verde or Pozolillo. First time I had this green gem soup was at a friend’s house she was from Michoacan. I inmediatelly fell in love.
This Pozole Verde is made with white corn kernels instead of hominy and uses tomatillo, serrano and poblano peppers to flavor the broth. What is so special about it? the broth in this Pozole Verde It’s light, fragrant, almost has a herbaceous flavor, and the green tomatillo adds a bit of a thickness to the broth without making it heavy to the palette. The corn kernels make this Pozole a great fresh taste, really unique and very achievable if you lack of a mexican Grandma, Aunt or good quality hominy.

In this recipe, I used sweet corn. Why? Well, Ian is more familiar with the corn flavor than with the hominy. Not a lot of people likes hominy and I strongly believe is because what they have tried is from a can. So what you do? What did I do?..I used what I had freshest available. This week I ran into a good corn sale at the market, it was fresh and tasted sweet, juicy and crunchy good enough to make it into a soup.
Now, I know some people will crucify-me about using sweet yellow corn but, I have to say that the variation came out tasting really good.
Do your best with what you have, use what is freshest available to you, if you find white corn this will be my first option, and if you prefer Hominy, I will encourage you to find “Rancho Gordo hominy”.
This Rancho Gordo California farm grows heirloom beans and grains, the quality and flavor resembles a lot of the hominy you can find in Mexico. Sometimes I can find them at Whole foods or Traders Joe’s. If you plan ahead of time, order them on-line. absolutely divine. http://www.ranchogordo.com/index.htm

Last option will be Juanita’s Mexican style hominy. Yes this particular brand has the best texture, and 3 ingredients, water, hominy, lime stone. Making it the best option. If can is the only option you have, this will taste good.

I used chicken one of my favorite chickens from Smith & Smith Farms, I know chicken again!!! well I do not mind when the quality of it is so good In fact, every other weekend I’ve been buying a whole chicken from this farms, there are so good I crave chicken!.. ridiculous I know…

Any how, easy recipe, one pot wonder, it keeps really well, I have not attempted to make this Pozole Verde on a crock pot, I see no reason why not you could use it. Please, if you do, let me know how it goes.
Keep warm and EAT your SOUP, do not lick the bowl, use a straw!.

Pozole-Verde_Pozolillo~Yes,-more-please!

Pozole Verde a.k.a. Pozolillo

Serves 4 Mexicans 6-8 Green coats.

8 cups /2Lt. chicken stock
3.5-4 lbs. Whole chicken or the meat of a roasted chicken shredded.
6-8 ears of white corn preferable or yellow corn de-kernel
2lbs green tomatillos.
3 poblano peppers remove seeds and deveined.
2-3 serrano peppers
1 large bunch cilantro
½ teaspoon mexican dry oregano
1 medium white onion
1 small head of garlic
2 teaspoons Sea Salt.

Garnish with:

Iceberg Lettuce shredded
Radishes
White Onion finely chopped
1-2 Lime wedges
Mexican Crema
Avocado
Corn Tostadas

Salsa toasted chile de Arbol:

1/4 cup Corn, Sunflower or Vegetable oil
14-20 Dry chiles de Arbol- (remove stems, include seeds)
1-2 medium garlic cloves
1 pinch of sea salt.

Toast in Oil about 14-20 dry red chile de arbol, until they have this mahogany dark color, remove from heat, add 2 garlic cloves cut in half and a good pinch of sea salt. Blend all this until a coarse puree. Add a dash of dis paste when ready to eat.The heat in this sauce-paste is mild, due to the toasting of the chiles, it makes it smoky and mild heat.

Preparation:

If you are using the whole chicken:

1. In a large pot add 8 cups of water ½ medium onion, ½ teaspoon oregano, ½ head of garlic ½ bunch of cilantro, 2 bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme, 2 carrots, 1 sprig of celery, 2 teaspoons sea salt. Add the whole chicken, skin on, cut in pieces, for faster cooking. Bring to a slow simmer; with a ladle remove the white foam that forms as it cooks. Cook for about 35-45 minutes. Until chicken is tender.
2. Once the chicken is cooked, Remove the chicken, herbs, onion, garlic, sieve the broth.
3. Let the chicken to cool down until riches a comfortable temperature to remove the skin and shred the chicken meat. Set aside.

If you are using a Roasted Chicken:

1. Remove skin from roasted chicken and shred. Save the chicken carcasses and set aside.
2. In a large pot add 8 cups of chicken stock, ½ onion, ½ teaspoon oregano, ½ head of garlic ½ bunch of cilantro, 1-2 teaspoon salt and the chicken carcasses from the roasted chicken. Bring to a slow simmer; with a ladle remove the white foam that forms as it cooks. Cook for about 20-25 minutes. Until chicken is tender.
3. Once the chicken broth is seasoned and cooked, Remove the chicken carcasses, herbs, onion, garlic. sieve.

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4. Remove the tomatillo husk, wash them and cut in halves. Cut poblano peppers in half remove the green veins, and seeds. In a blender add the tomatillos, poblano peppers, the other ½ onion, 3-4 garlic cloves, the other ½ bunch cilantro, salt, 2-3 serrano peppers. Add one serrano at a time and taste in between blending so you can measure how spicy it is. The serranos in this recipe are used to add flavor not spice, they act like black pepper. Add a little of the chicken broth from the pot to help blend all this. Blend until is pureed.
5. On a large deep pot add 1 tablespoon sunflower oil until oil is hot. Add the tomatillo blended sauce to the oil and cook for 5 minutes (careful it will splatter). Now that the sauce is sautéed, add the 8 cups of chicken stock, along with corn kernels. Bring to a slow simmer. Cook for about 25-35 minutes.The broth will change color from emerald green to a bright sage green. At this point taste to adjust for salt. Add your shredded chicken to warm through.

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7. Serve piping hot and garnish with shredded lettuce, chopped onions, slices of radishes, squeeze of lime and a dollop of crema. Enjoy!

Pozole-Verde_Pozolillo-Warm-delicious-soup!~Yes,-more-please!

Pozole Verde~Yes, more please!

 

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Chicken Tortilla Soup “Mariana Style”

Chicken-Tortilla-Soup-'mariana-style'`Yes,-more-please!

In this global world we are living, what is authentic anyway?…

I think as I get to know more people from different backgrounds, cities, expatriates, cultures, beliefs, culinary eccentrics, purist, creators; the more I conclude that authenticity is not a place, a language, a heritage, a culture, or a belief.
I think authenticity comes from within. Who you are at this right moment, in this place and at this time; and the one that you want to become…. that’s authenticity for me.

It reminds me of a monolog phrase in the movie “All about my mother” from Almodovar’s
and one of the characters in the movie quotes the following:
“… because you are more authentic the more you resemble what you’ve dreamed of being” – “La Agrado’s” monologue (All About My Mother) Almodovar.

And you are wondering what does this has to do with tortilla soup?,
In the culinary world, I’ve always questioned myself about  what is considered an authentic dish? Perhaps it is the dish that resembles more to the people who created it?
For example, If you are from Mexico; is the soup that your grandma prepares more authentic, than my grandma’s soup?.. No, I really don’t think so.
I believe you embrace the flavors that make you happy and satisfy, that make you re- create a memory a flavor, an aroma and you create the soup you want to eat and share with your loved ones… It will be hard to imagine Mexican grandmas cooking for the authenticity sake! I believe you can cook along the way with tradition and make it your own with a few touches.

In this Chicken Tortilla Soup, I wanted to evoke the aromas, textures, flavors, freshness, from the cooking style in Guadalajara, Jalisco the city I’m originally from. This soup re-creates a little memory of my home city, easy on the condiments and full of flavor…
I hope you like the soup as much as I do. So let’s cook!. Enjoy.

Chicken-Tortilla-Soup-'mariana-style'ingredients

Chicken Tortilla Soup “Mariana Style”

Serves 4-6

For the chicken stock:

1 whole chicken 3.5-4 lbs. I’m in love with the chickens from Smith & Smith Farms
1 medium size with onion
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 roma tomato
1 head of garlic
3-4 sprigs of thyme
2-3 sprigs of fresh oregano
1 teaspoon dry epazote or mint
1 tablespoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 ears of corn- cut the corn of the cob
(my preference is white corn if I can find it, but yellow is ok too)

For the sauce:

2-3 dry Pasilla chiles slightly toasted
4-6 dry Guajillo chiles slightly toasted
1-2 dry Arbol Chiles slightly toasted
4 Roma tomatoes
¼ piece of onion
1 garlic clove
4 tablespoons of corn or sunflower Oil
Salt and pepper.

4-5 cups Chicken stock previously made… or the best option you have available.

Garnish with

8-10 Corn Tortillas cut into 1/2-1/4” wide strips.
½ to ¾ cup Canola Oil

1 ripe avocado, cut in slices or cubes
1 cup queso fresco crumbled
½ cup Mexican style crema or Creme fraiche
½ cup diced onion
2-3 Limes
2-4 dry Arbol Chiles toasted with a little bit of oil, until they look dark. (see photo below)

 

Preparation:

1. Start by preparing your chicken stock on a 7-8 qt pot. Place the whole chicken and add all the stock ingredients, add water enough to cover the chicken. Bring to boil and then lower down the heat to a slow simmer cover with a lid and cook for about 45 minutes.

Chicken-Tortilla-Soup-'mariana-style'

2. Mean time slightly toast your chillies on a pan, small comal or cast iron pan.
3. In a small pot boil the toasted chillies and the tomatoes.
4. Once they are soft, place the chillies, tomatoes, onion & garlic into a blender or food processor and puree.
5. Using a strainer, strain the chilli puree to eliminate the seeds and pieces of skin. (see picture below)

Chicken-Tortilla-Soup-'mariana-style'how-to-make-the-broth

6. Cut and Fry the tortilla strips. Once fried place them on a plate with a paper towel to remove the oil excess. Sprinkle with salt while they’re warm.

Chicken-Tortilla-Soup'Mariana-Style'-frying-tortilla-strips
7. Check on your chicken stock, the broth should look translucent, no foam on the top, vegetables soft and onion translucent, chicken fork tender. If it is done remove at least 4 cups of chicken stock and strain. Take out the chicken, place it on a bowl and cover with some aluminum foil wait a bit until ready to handle, remove the skin and shred the chicken.
I usually use about ½ a chicken to serve 4. you can save the rest for tomorrow’s enchiladas…hehehe
8. In a medium size pot add 4 tablespoon of canola, or sunflower oil, once is rippling hot add your chilli-tomato puree, and cook the sauce in medium low for about 4-5 minutes.
9. Add chicken stock, and corn kernels season with salt and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
10. Taste the soup for salt and paper.

Chicken-Tortilla-Soup-'mariana-style'_making-the-soup

11. Chop and prepare your garnishes

Chicken-Tortilla-Soup-'mariana-style'-Garnishes
12. Serve on a deep bowl place the shredded chicken 2 to 3 ladles of the chilli broth place a good handful of the fried tortilla strips, and garnish with the cream, crumble cheese, avocados, and some of the chile de arbol fresh or toasted with a little oil for more heat.

 

Chicken-Tortilla-Soup'Mariana-Style'-close-up

Chicken-Tortilla-Soup'Mariana-Style'-bowl~yes,-more-please!

Chicken-Tortilla-Soup'Mariana-Style'-ready-to-eat~yes,-more-please!

ENJOY!!!

Smith&smith-chicken I’m in love with the chickens from Smith & Smith Farms, it is a small family operated farm, they specialize in  pasture raised meats that are hormone and antibiotic free. They  raise Dorper Lambs, all different breeds of laying hens, Cornish Rock meat chickens, Red wattle hogs, and Broad Breasted White Turkeys. All of the animals on their farm are free range and roam around every where! They are all as happy as can be, and you can taste the happines when you cook them. Delicious!

If you live in Austin, check their website for hours and farmers markets locations at: http://smithandsmithfarms.webs.com

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Butterscotch Popcorn

Butterscotch-Popcorn~yes,-more-please!

Do you remember those little boxes with caramel popcorn and peanuts with the sailor and the little present inside?…Well, if you liked that kind of popcorn you are in my boat. Butterscotch popcorn is so easy to make, I can not believe that 4 ingredients taste so incredibly good… I need to warn you this is highly addictive… once you eat one you can’t stop… imagine what the caramel sugar and the butter do to the little fluffy and crunchy popcorn! It creates a light crunchy coat of sweet and nutty flavor. When you pop the little morsels in your mouth the crunchy sound hits your brain the glands on the side of your throat start cramping and your eyeballs are about to fall … Sweet, crunchy, nutty, buttery, salty, .. all your ultimate snack wishes come true in a single little morsel…

For this reason and every bodies sake I adjust the recipe for a moderate amount, it makes approximately 16 cups of popcorn. Do you think is to much? Wait until you try the first bite…
You should share it as soon it comes out from the bowl. It is ideal for a rainy sunday afternoon, movie night, and definitely will make good treats for halloween, or any other kid friendly celebration.

Butterscotch-Popcorn~yes-more-please_cones-and-cups

Butterscotch Popcorn with Roasted salted Peanuts

Yields 16 cups

½ cup of corn kernels
2 tablespoons of canola
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
½ cup roasted lightly salted peanuts
(you can change peanuts for pecans, cashews, almonds any nut you like!)

For the Butterscotch:

½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
½ cup butter

Directions:

1. Pour oil into a large pot and add popcorn. Heat over medium-high heat. place a fitting lid tight onto the pot but leave a little space on one side for steam to escape.
2. Pop the corn. And when the popping slows down turn off the heat. (you can use a kettle pot or microwave natural popcorn no salt no extra flavoring)
3. Pour popcorn into a large bowl and season with salt.
4. Add a layer of nuts over the popcorn, so when you poor your caramel they do not sink on the bottom of the bowl.

Butterscotch-Popcorn_whirley-pop-popper
5. In a shallow pan over medium high heat place the sugar in the center and water all around

6. Once the sugar is dissolved and start simmering start paying carefully attention to the color of the sugar. It needs to reach an amber golden color.

7. At this point add your pieces of butter and whisk.
Once that the foam goes away start whisking faster until you see that the sugar and butter fat is emulsified.

Butterscotch-Popcorn_-how-to-make-butterscotch

Butterscotch-Popcorn_-butter-up!8. Promptly add this mixture to the popcorn bowl and with the help of two rubber spatulas start mixing the popcorn until evenly coated.
9.Cool the popcorn for about 5-8 minutes until dry and crunchy. Shake the bowl to separate the popcorn.
10. Leftovers keep well for 4-5 days in a sealable  bag or air tight container…

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Butterscotch-Popcorn_cones-adn-cups

Have fun!

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Tomato Salad and Honey Jalapeño Corn Bread

Tomatoe-Salad-and-Honey-Jalapeño-Corn-Bread_heirloom-tomatoes

So I’ve being counting the days to tomato season, since is one of my favorite times of the year I’m in heaven. I live in Austin Texas and my mainly source of vegetables is a small urban farm call Boggy Creek, they open Wednesdays and Saturdays 8am-1pm two of the happiest days of my week. This year they have harvested: Heirlooms Cherokee Purple, Prudent Purple, Azoyscka, Oaxacan Jewel, Green Zebra, Regular Tomatoes ; Big read super fantastic, lemon boy, cherry and cherry gold tomatoes!!!…. This Farm resembles me a bit of my Mexico. The camaraderie, the beautiful freshly cut vegetables, and also and most important “seasonal produce”. Waiting for the seasons creates a momentum between the ingredient and me I crave them. I imagine new dishes and the expectation grows momentum. Cooking with ingredients at their peak of the season is just about the best you can hope for when you are creating a dish. Little preparation is required to enjoy them. I compare them to a string quartet, where everybody is supporting the first violin.This recipe is one of the many examples of this string quartet ensemble, where the Tomatoe has the solo part and its accompaniments make it shine… lets start cooking!

Tomatoe-Salad-and-Honey-Jalapeño-Corn-Bread_the-table-is-served!

Tomato Salad and Honey Jalapeño Corn Bread

Serves 4 – Prep time 10 min.

Use at least 3 different kinds of tomatoes, choose what ever look best to you at your farmer market.
For the salad I made I used:

1 Heirloom Oaxacan Jewels
1 Heirloom Cherokee purple
1 Big Red super fantastic
2 Green Zebra
10-12 Cherry tomatoes
Arugula
Fresh Goat cheese
Fresh sprig of Thyme
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to drizzle
about ½ teaspoon per plate of Rice Vinegar
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Directions:

Slice the  tomatoes a little less than ½ inch. Quarter the smaller tomatoes like the green zebras, half the cherry tomatoes. On a Large platter (or in 4 plates) place a light bed of arugula, and approximately one big slice of the heirloom, one slice of the Cherokee Purple, some quarters and halves of the little ones. Theres no rules, you can balance the plate as you like. Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil and ½ teaspoon of rice vinegar per plate, goat cheese crumbs, sea salt pepper and fresh thyme. Serve.

Tomatoe-Salad~-Yes-more-please

Honey Jalapeno Corn Bread

Adapted from : “Boggy Creek Farm recipe”

Tomatoe-Salad-and-Honey-Jalapeño-Corn-Bread_ingredients-for-baking

1 cup of Corn Meal (use the best kind you can find, organic and non-GMO is always preferable)
I used our local, Larry’s Fresh-ground Corn Meal
(Organic, non-GMO fresh Texas Dent Corn from Coyote Creek Organic Mill)
1 Tablespoon of Aluminum- free Baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 or 2 pinches of paprika
1 cup Milk (you can substitute almond, soy or rice milk)
1 egg
1 teaspoon of Honey (I used Local Texas Honey off course!)
2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.( you also can use Butter, Canola, Coconut Oil)
½ -1/3 of a cup fresh corn kernels
Thin slices of fresh Jalapeno Pepper.
– 2 extra teaspoons of Oil for Pan-

Directions:

Preheat the oven at 400* F degrees.

Measure all your Ingredients and Place a small 8” Cast Iron skillet in the oven to heat. Add the 2 teaspoon of Oil.
Combine all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients mixture into Dry mix. Stir until combined small lumps are allowed. Add fresh corn Kernels to the Mix.
Carefully using an oven mitt at all times, remove the pan from the oven and pour the batter into the hot skillet, quickly top the batter with the thin jalapeno slices,drizzle a little more honey, bake for about 20-25 minutes until a light golden top. Take the skillet to the table to serve warm with the salad.

Tomatoe-Salad-and-Honey-Jalapeño-Corn-Bread_steps for making corn bread

Tomatoe-Salad-and-Honey-Jalapeño-Corn-Bread_warm-and-delicious-corn-bread

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*Note: For the summer if you are grilling you can bake this on top of the grill just cover the pan with a lid, it will be fantastic and smokey. This meal will go so well with any light or amber beer. Take into consideration that you can substitute any herbs, I’m just in love with Tomatoes and Thyme, I think the aromatic lemony taste of the thyme goes perfect with tomatoes…. is my new fav! Enjoy.

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