Chocolate Coconut Pecan Susuwataris

Chocolate-Coconut-Pecan-Susuwataris_Homemade-candy_Halloween!-booh!

 

Susuwataris are my favorite creatures from the Japanese film creator, producer, screenwriter, animator, author, and Magna artist Hayao Miyasaki. He is one of my favorite people in the world (area); his imagination, and ability to create amazing stories from common daily situations always amazes me.  If you have not seen his movies please do yourself a favor and watch them all. To name a few of my favorite movies from Hayao Miyasaki-Studio Ghilbli: Castle in the sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Poco Rosso, Spirited away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, Princess Mononoke, to name a few.

Now, what are Black soots, Dust bunnies aka Susuwataris? In the first movie, Spirited Away, they appeared as lil workers in a boiler room. They have arms, legs and inquisitive eyes. They make a squeaky murmuring sounds when excited, and dissolve into powder (soot) if crushed. They are the cleansers of evil spirits.

They also appeared in the movie My Neighbor Totoro playing the role of dust balls in an abandoned house, where the main characters were moving. Susuwataris in this movie are mainly an optical illusion caused by moving quickly from light into darkness. Like the same effect at night when you turn the lights on your bedroom to go to sleep, if you quickly look into the corners, you might me able to see them. Despite their appearance, Susuwataris are good creatures in the movie, mainly they make sure that the family that is moving into the new house is composed of good people. And everybody knows that good people makes their own candy for Halloween… hehehe

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Grilled Lamb and Autumn Chimichurri

Grilled-Lamb-Chops-with-Fall-Herbs-Chimichuri_Yes,-more-please!

This recipe is one from our grill. It was inspired by that fire kiss char flavor one gets from cooking over coals. Francis Mallmann, one of my culinary heroes, discovered his true culinary craft in his birthplace, Argentina. He embraced his roots, and cooks from the primal force: Fire. Taming this element is what he does best, his instincts and knowledge based on French disciplinary techniques gives him the perfect alibi to be one with fire. It’s his passion, intuition, and adventurousness that make him the king of char. I had the opportunity to meet him at the presentation of his book “Seven Fires” here in Austin, Texas. Its a cookbook I can recommend to anyone who wants to explore and understand open fire cooking.

It wasn’t until I tried his technique on my own little grill that I experienced Mallmann’s big flavor world. Besides discovering and loving the char flavor, one of my favorite recipes from his book is the Chimichurri. It is made, gaucho style with fresh herbs married to the extra virgin olive oil and a salt solution called salmuera. This kind of chimichurri is not the one that resembles pesto, the herbs are finely chopped transforming the oil and brine into a magical loose herbed infusion in which you can taste all the herbs in harmony and discord at the same time.

Fall-Herbs-Chimichuri_chopped-Herbs_Rosemary,-Thyme,-Oregano

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Mariana’s Pipian Verde

Mariana's-Pipian-Verde_Pumpkin-seeds_Yes,-more-please!

One of the most iconic and traditional Mexican dishes, Mole Poblano, gets all the fame and glory, but what about the rest of the Moles? There are at least another 7 moles from Oaxaca, imagine that is just one state… equally delicious, easier, different chiles and seeds combinations, seasonal, upon what is available in different regions and Grandmas’, Moms’, and Aunts’ taste. Each family has their own traditions, style and way to prepare them. Which one is more authentic?.. The one that is more you-er than you. I do not like to refer to a dish as authentic, I believe its more about tradition. Unless we go authenticating Grandmas, Moms and Aunts out there…unless it’s a Picasso painting.

Tradition is what a dish should reflect. The way and manner it was prepared in your family, at a place in time and history that has carry on within. That’s what resonates more with a recipe, like that yellowish piece of paper that has butter spots and crunchy edges, you can barely read from your grandmas handwriting, and that you have slightly adapted because of personal preferences but its done and evokes you memories and flavors that ground you, and hold a spot in your family history.

Mariana's-Pipian-Verde_ingredients

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Bonanza Bowl

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One Zucchini, one sweet potato, 1/3 of avocado, 11 cherry tomatoes, some spinach, the heel of a red onion and 2 pieces left from different cabbages, that was what I had in my fridge.
It happens to every fridge. These lonely rangers, the forgotten vegetables that get a little sad and tired looking. You really do not have a plan for them but you know you better eat them before you reload your fridge. All this bits and ends not enough for a complete recipe, you know how it feels when you have potatoes, but not butter, you have pasta but no sauce, or garlic but not oil sometimes your cooking just gets stuck. Some times you have to shake up your fridge and pantry to see what comes out of it.

This is the kind of Non-recipe that saves you. Sometimes if your fridge feels like this, its contagious and you’ll find that your Pantry has the same dilemma. But when your cooking bulb goes on, this bits and ends can be transformed on a blink of an eye and will turn into, perhaps the best dinner of the week.

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Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad

Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad_ingredients_Yes, more please!

Sweet peppers are what you can find at the markets in Austin, Texas right now. Beautiful varieties, colorful, different shapes and sizes. Perhaps one or two sassy ones among the bunch, but mostly they are fleshy, sweet and flavorful.

For me, grilling these kind of sweet peppers bring the best flavors in them. The sweet mild flesh with the charred pieces of skin are what inspired me to make this salad. We love to grill at this time of the year when it does not feel like you are grilling your self over, September its a better Grilling Time for us.

Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad_Grilling-Sweet-peppers

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Carne en su Jugo Jalisco Style

Carne-en-su-Jugo-_Jalisco-Style_Yes,-more-please!

This recipe is dear to my heart. A traditional dish from the city I was born: Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico. It brings me lots of memories from my Mom’s cooking. You see my Mom is not an avid cook; but the dishes she prepared for my brother and I when we where little, where always prepared in a delicious manner, and well seasoned with love. This is one of my Mom’s best dishes for sure.

Now, how can something so simple and humble as a combination of beans, meat, and a simple broth can be so darned good? I do not know, but once you make sense out of this combination of ingredients that seems to want to be a guisado, but is not a guisado, and wants to be a soup, but its not a soup, once you prepare it, you will understand why I like it so much.

What is not to like about thinly sliced juicy meat, flavored with a little bacon, simmering in its own juices, along with fresh cooked beans and their broth, some herbs, chile and tomatillos? The result it is far better than it reads, or than it looks. It is a loose stew. Perfect for the transitional weather, when you almost want it to be Fall or Winter but its not there yet. And of course it is a must make dish on a rainy or cold weather day. Easy to prepare, one pot situation.

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Hibiscus Mint Fruit Punch

Hibiscus-Fruit-Punch_SVETIA_Yes,-more-please!

While growing up, Hibiscus-Jamaica agua fresca was often the drink of choice to refresh on a Summery day.  I remember my mom and grandma buying the dry flowers in bulk. Hibiscus-flor de Jamaica or Roselle should not be confused by the ornamental hibiscus plants, these ruby red flowers come from a different plant scientific name Hibiscus sabdariffa which are dried and used in many preparations, from sweet to savory dishes. The flavor profile of this Hibiscus is highly acidic, almost citrus like. It contains high doses of vitamin C and a unique flowery citrus flavor that is just right for refreshing drinks and tames the thirst on hot summer days. For me, growing up in Mexico, Agua fresca de Jamaica was my “cool”aid.

Hibiscus-Fruit-Punch_dry-hibiscus-tea

With this in mind and thinking of something refreshing and fun to drink, I thought of making a fruit punch, or the good Sister of Sangria. This Hibiscus Mint Fruit Punch  just got loaded with lots of fresh fruit, and SVETIA sweetener which makes this Fruit punch the good sister of Sangria, or the healthiest Agua Fresca!

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Black Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos

Black-Sesame-Seared-Ahi-Tuna-Taco-Party

I’ve been craving Fish Tacos. But not any kind of Fish Taco, I mean Ensenada, Baja California Mexico Fish Tacos. The real deal. These “the” original fish tacos are often imitated, and sad to say but rarely duplicated. How can something so simple in principle, can be so hard to replicate? I really believe its all in the ingredients and the particular sazon of the cook. Have you ever tried the authentic Baja tacos?… If not, please do. Tale says that the Baja tacos were created by the street stand “Tacos El Fenix” in Ensenada Baja California, Mexico. What is so special about a Baja taco? Well, let me describe it. Imagine a tempura-like battered piece of the freshest morning pacific caught white flesh flaky fish, on a Mexican corn tortilla, light mayo-crema, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, and a spoonful of spicy green or red spicy salsa and a squeeze of lime. The bite is ethereal, crunchy, tender, fresh, savory, acid, spicy your tastebuds go on ecstasy.
I have not eaten Baja Fish Tacos in almost 10 years!, would you believe that?…No?, me neither.

Recreating a craving from a memory of flavor could be a little daunting. I did not want to even attempt to relay into my 10-year taste buds memories to try to replicate these unique Baja tacos.

So I opted for a 360 degree of separation alternative recipe to tease and ease up my Fish Taco craving. I made these Black Sesame Seared Tuna Tacos. Sometimes my taste buds act in mischievous ways. On these tacos, I opted to seared Ahi Tuna steaks covered in Black sesame seeds instead of the deep frying battered fish.

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