Tag Archives: mexican

Menudo Rojo

This is the kind of dish that evokes strong opinions, at least where I live. There are devoted lovers of menudo, and there are avid haters. (Obviously, I’m of the former group, or I wouldn’t be posting a recipe.) Rarely do I meet someone who is on the fence. When faced with a steaming, spicy, filling, healing stew (some say it’s a hangover cure), with a mountain of tortillas to enjoy alongside, why would anyone despise this dish? Most of the time, it has to do with tripe. Tripe is scary, gross, or otherwise unthinkable to some. It’s not a “normal” cut of meat in my part of the world, so it’s frowned upon and shunned in favor of the fancier cuts. My opinion? That we should cozy up to tripe – give tripe a chance!

What is tripe? Tripe is made from the first three chambers of an animal’s stomach (usually beef). The type most commonly found in Latin markets and most commonly used in menudo is honeycomb tripe, which comes from the third chamber. You will most likely find it already thoroughly cleaned, so it will look white, have a honeycomb texture, and should have very little odor to it, if any at all. (Sometimes you might find a grayish version – this type needs to be rinsed well and boiled for a while to remove any grittiness.) The advantages to tripe? If you’re into nose-to-tail eating, tripe will definitely need to be considered. (I’m in favor of sustainable eating. Shouldn’t be throwing away perfectly good parts just because they’re not steaks or roasts. Sometimes, the offal is the true delicacy.) It’s a good, inexpensive source of animal protein – it sells for a fraction of the price of other cuts of beef. Most of the time, all that cleaning is done for you at the butcher, so it is not extremely difficult to prepare. It also adds a lovely textural contrast to soups – simmered long enough, it becomes slightly chewy, but also giving and soft. It is not strongly flavored, and is more apt to take on the flavors added in a recipe than imparting its own. It is a key component in menudo, one of the more popular Mexican soups available.

Menudo is traditionally enjoyed for breakfast, often on New Years’ Day, but can be enjoyed on just about any weekend morning. Imagine a large bowl, filled with chili-spiced pork broth, bits of pork and tripe, hominy, laced with lime juice, and garnished with onion, cilantro, and fresh chiles. You pick up a fresh corn tortilla, roll it up, and dip a bit in the soup, and enjoy. Spoonful after spoonful opens your weary eyes with a spicy kick, and your whole body warms and is awakened. If you’re like me, that heat, complimented by the fresh lime and cilantro, is an addictive, delicious combination.  It’s an amazing thing when salty, fiery, meaty, and piquant flavors combine – it’s almost an explosion that knocks you back, but keeps you coming back for more. You might decide that this should become a regular meal in your rotation, especially in chilly months. (Of course, I could enjoy menudo any time of year!) For me, this is a comfort food – the warmth that the soup gives my body brings a sense of calm and happiness. Why that is, I’m not sure. I just know this is good stuff.

If you’ve been shy about tripe before, give it a try in menudo. Cut it into small, manageable bits, so that you can enjoy bite-sized morsels without feeling overwhelmed. You might find that you enjoy this new nose-to-tail eating thing, and feel better for it. Menudo will cure what ails you!

Menudo Rojo, adapted from Diana Kennedy’s The Art of Mexican Cooking

1 ½ lbs honeycomb tripe, rinsed well and cut into 1-inch squares

2 pigs feet (trotters), halved

1 large yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled

8 peppercorns

2 t kosher salt, or to taste

2 t Mexican oregano

4 quarts water

4 dried ancho chiles

3 dried guajillo chiles

1 large Hatch chile (or Anaheim or poblano), roasted, peeled, and chopped (can substitute canned green chiles)

1 15-oz can white hominy, drained

1 t ground cumin

To serve:

Dried oregano

Limes

Chopped onions

Chopped cilantro

Corn tortillas

Place the tripe, pigs feet, onion, garlic, peppercorns, salt, oregano, and water in a large stockpot or soup pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, or until the tripe and foot are tender but not too soft.

Meanwhile, remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and toast on a dry skillet for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Pour enough water to cover, and allow to simmer at a low heat, soaking the chiles.

Remove the pigs feet from the pot and set aside. When cool enough to touch, remove the fleshy parts and either tear into small pieces or chop, and return to pot. Add the hominy and Hatch chile to the pot.

Remove the soaking chiles from the water and place in a blender along with the cumin. Ladle about a cup of the simmering broth from the pot into the blender, and puree until very smooth. (Add additional broth if necessary) Pour chile puree into the simmering pot and stir in. Allow to cook for about 2 hours (or more) a low simmer. Season with additional salt as necessary.

Serve in large bowls, with oregano, limes, onions, cilantro, and tortillas at the table for each guest to customize their own bowl.

Serves 8.

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Filed under breakfast, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Soups

Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program: Pace Picante Sauce and Enchilada Sauce

What do you do when Foodbuzz gives you Pace Picante sauce? Make enchiladas, of course!

As a Featured Publisher and a member of the Tastemaker program at Foodbuzz, I periodically get opportunities to receive free samples of delicious food from various vendors. Previously, I received a huge box of avocados (one of my most favorite fruits ever) and made ice cream with some of my bounty. Most of the time, I don’t participate – there aren’t a lot of products out there that I can eat. But when Foodbuzz announced they were giving away free Pace Picante sauce to members of the Tastemaker program, I was on board. While I love to make homemade salsa, I am already extremely low on our supply from the summer (only 1 jar left!), and wouldn’t dare use it for enchilada sauce. And while I could make enchilada sauce from scratch (as I’ve done here and here), it was a weeknight when I made these, and the Pace Picante sauce streamlined the process considerably.

While the photo may not represent just how tasty these were (enchiladas are not exactly the most photogenic of all foods), let me assure you – they were quite delicious. Let me let you in on another little secret – these enchiladas were completely grain-free as well! That’s right – no tortillas. See, I can tolerate corn from time to time, but generally, I try to avoid it. (Yes, those are corn tortilla chips you see gracing the plate. That’s mostly decoration for me, although I might have snuck a bite.) What do I use instead? Egg crepes! Carol over at Simply…Gluten-Free has a recipe. Honestly though, you barely need the recipe – these are so easy. I made up a bunch, and gently rolled them around a filling, and place them in the baking dish, just like you would any other enchiladas. This time, my filling was a mixture of leftover cooked chicken, a bit of enchilada sauce, and sauteed spinach – but you can use anything. I’ve previously filled them with cooked chicken and a bit of leftover butternut squash puree. (That was so delicious, by the way!) It might sound odd, but these are just as satisfying as any tortilla-based enchilada. Just roll them up, place in a baking dish, spoon some sauce over, and bake for about 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. Dinner is served!

Pace Picante Enchilada Sauce

1 16oz jar Pace Picante sauce (your choice – hot, medium, or mild. I used mild for this sauce)

1 t ground chipotle chile powder

2 t ground cumin

1 1/2 c water

Blend all ingredients together. Spoon over enchiladas as desired.

A big thanks to Foodbuzz for the opportunity!

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian

Gluten-Free Holiday: Christmas and Hanukkah Favorites – Tamales

It’s week 4 of Gluten-Free Holiday and this week’s theme is Christmas and Hanukkah Favorites – specifically, entrees and side dishes. Hanukkah is already in full swing, and Christmas is just weeks away. Diane over at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang is hosting this week, and is sharing this amazing recipe for chipolatas. Seriously, they make my mouth water just looking at them. And of course, in our Gluten-Free Holiday style, there are more amazing gluten-free cookbooks to win.

One copy of Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found The Food That Loves Me Back…And You Can Too by Shauna James Ahern.

And one copy of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, also by Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern.

One copy of Sweet Freedom by Ricki Heller,

And three e-book trios, each including one copy of Sweet Freedom, one copy of Desserts Without Compromise, and one copy of Anti-Candida Feast Ebook, all by Ricki Heller of Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

My submission for this week’s theme is something that I look forward to every holiday season – tamales. While I don’t always make my own, I have found that they’re not all that difficult to make. (They are time-consuming, however.) But it’s great fun, and you’ll be rewarded with a lovely, spicy, flavorful treat.

Many times, we will get together with my husband’s side of the family on Christmas Eve. Rather than a fancy, sit-down Christmas dinner, we instead enjoy a casual, but generous spread of various snack foods, ranging from the ever-famous cheese dip to cookies and cake. In the past few years, we’ve brought tamales to our celebration, and they’re always a huge hit. With a bit of salsa, bottled hot sauce, or even unadorned, they are the perfect way to ring in the season. I highly suggest you try to make tamales once – it’s a fun experience, and you’ll be rewarded with delicious treats and smiles from all.

Read my tamales recipe here. And don’t forget to visit The W.H.O.L.E. Gang and link up your favorite recipes for Christmas and Hanukkah entrees or side dishes, and enter for a chance to win some amazing cookbooks!

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pork

Daring Cooks: Food Preservation and Fresh Tomato Salsa

 The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

The recipes John suggested to make and preserve were apple butter and a tomato bruschetta. I contemplated making apple butter, but as both of these recipes were for things that usually top bread or toast – something that is a rarity in our household – I opted for something that would be more popular and useful for our family in the coming months. When I visited the farmers market and scored a huge cardboard box full of “sauce-ready” (meaning less-than-perfect) tomatoes for $10, the deal was sealed. I was going to can salsa.

I have prepared salsa many times on the fly for meals during the summer months. With fresh tomatoes, jalapenos, and herbs, how could I not? But when winter comes, I’m forced to buy jars of salsa from the grocery. While I’ve found some decent brands, nothing compares to salsa made with ingredients at the peak of freshness. I have not spent a great deal of time canning in the past (I’ve made pickles and jam, but that’s about it), but I had the general process down, so I got started.

First step was roasting some of the vegetables. While it’s not mandatory to do so, roasting the veggies gives the salsa more depth and an oh-so-subtle sweetness. This took a while, as I had a lot of tomatoes. But the blitz in the food processor was easy (gotta love food processors!), and then my attention was turned to canning the salsa. And of course, the best part – listening to the cooling jars for that satisfying “pop” of the lids, ensuring that my jars were sealed and I was successful!

This recipe is for a large quantity of salsa (it makes about a gallon!), but of course you can cut it back to suit your needs, and of course, you don’t have to can it. It’s excellent eaten as soon as it’s made. Of course, if you do choose to can, you’ll have that satisfaction of knowing that in the gray, chilly days of February, you can open a jar and taste the freshness of summer all over again.

Fresh Tomato Salsa

25-30 large tomatoes

22-25 garlic cloves, unpeeled

7 large yellow onions, cut in half and unpeeled

10 hot chiles, such as jalapenos or serranos

Juice of 2 large limes

1/3 c cilantro, chopped

1 t ground cumin

1/2 t ground chipotle chile powder

2-3 t salt (to taste)

Preheat the broiler in the oven and place the top rack about 6-8 inches below the burner. Line rimmed baking sheets with foil. Place tomatoes, garlic cloves, halved onions, and peppers on the baking sheets and broil, turning as necessary, until skins are blackened and tomatoes and peppers are soft. Remove and allow to cool. (You will likely have to do this in batches) Remove skins from garlic cloves and onions, and remove skins and seeds from jalapenos. Place vegetables in food processor and process until no large chunks remain. (If you like a chunkier salsa, you might like to pre-chop the vegetables so that you don’t have to process in the food processor so long. We like a thinner salsa, so I just let it nearly puree the vegetables.) You will likely have to process salsa in batches as well. Place in a large bowl and add in cilantro, lime juice, and spices. Stir and taste. Add salt as needed and stir.

To can: Heat clean jars and new lids in simmering water for at least 10 minutes (this will prevent the jars from breaking and will help to sterilize the jars). Prepare the canning pot by bringing water to a near-boil. Remove the jars from the water and fill the jars with salsa, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. Clean rims of jars well and add lids. Screw the threaded lids on the jar until fingertip tight. Lower the jars into the canning pot and make sure they are covered by the water by at least an inch or two. Bring the water to a boil and process for 12 minutes. Remove and place jars on a towel on the counter. Allow to sit and come to room temperature for 12 hours. You might hear the lids pop – this is a good thing. Check the jars to ensure they sealed properly – the lid should be concave in the center. Remove the threaded part of the lid and attempt to lift by just the lid – you should be able to lift without the lid coming off. If the lid comes off, then reprocess or refrigerate and use within a week or two.

Makes about 8 pint-sized jars of salsa.

This post is linked to Real Food Weekly.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

End of Summer Peach Salsa

I am honored to say that I am guest blogging over at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free today. Come on over and check out this super-fast peach salsa and celebrate fresh summer produce before it’s gone!

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Kids in the Kitchen: Gluten-Free Churros

I called Matt last week, pressing him, trying to figure out what he decided to make for his upcoming turn in the kitchen. Churros, he said. Most kids don’t ask for churros – and it surprised me that he considered such a thing. I’ve only made churros once, as an experiment, and they didn’t exactly turn out all that well. And those were with wheat flour. These would have to be gluten-free churros. This would definitely be an experiment again. I said yes. We hung up the phone, and I immediately started searching for gluten-free pate a choux recipes.

Pate a choux (pronounced paht ah shoo) is a cooked pastry dough that is used for many of the most elegant of pastries – profiteroles, eclairs, crullers, gougeres, and yes, churros. While I’ve experimented with gluten-free baking, I haven’t spent much effort in other pastries, so this was definitely outside of my comfort zone. Good thing I had Shauna at Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef to rescue me. She posted a pate a choux recipe back in 2006. I love when I can stumble upon gluten-free recipes that are kitchen-tested, and I know her recipes are.

But wait. What are churros, you ask? Churros are possibly one of the best sweet treats in the world. Originally from Spain, but also popular among Latin American cultures, churros are fried dough strips, often sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, and many times, served with chocolate dipping sauce. Here in Texas, I’ve had versions with cajeta, a caramel sauce, injected in the center. Heaven.

We opted to go the easy route, and just sprinkle our churros with cinnamon and sugar. I followed Shauna’s recipe pretty closely, not wanting to become too experimental in unknown territory. Once the pate a choux was ready, we scooped it into a pastry bag with the end snipped off (I tried to use my star tip, but the resulting churros were way too skinny). We piped lengths of dough into hot oil, a few at a time, and fried for a few minutes until browned. Matt invited his friend over to help, and so we took turns piping the dough into the oil, and Matt and his friend sugared the churros as they were cool enough to touch. (They thoroughly enjoyed that part!)

Verdict? Better than my previous gluten-filled attempt. I would still like for them to be crispier than they were, but the kids gobbled them up. I have a feeling this won’t be the last of churro-making at the Tasty Eats household.

Gluten-Free Churros, adapted from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

32 oz canola oil

1/2 c water

1/2 stick unsalted butter

2 T sugar

1/8 t salt

1/4 c white rice flour

2 T sweet rice flour

2 T tapioca flour

3 large eggs

1/2 t vanilla extract

1/2 c sugar

1/2 t ground cinnamon

Place oil in a large heavy pot and heat to 360 degrees.

Meanwhile, place the water, butter, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. As soon as butter is melted, mix in the gluten-free flours, stirring with a wooden spoon, until ingredients are incorporated together. A crust will develop in the bottom of the pan. Don’t worry – this is supposed to happen. When the mixture is ready, it will become a ball of dough, pulling away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat.

Place the dough in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. With the mixer running, add one egg. Let the mixer run until the egg has been incorporated into the dough. Add the next egg and mix until it has been incorporated. Repeat with the third egg. Add the vanilla and stir. (You can opt to do this by hand as well, if you don’t have a mixer.)

The dough will be soft, but not runny. Place in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip (or do as we did, and just snip off the end). Pipe dough into the hot oil, making each churro about 5 inches long. Allow to brown in the oil for a minute or two, and flip over to brown the other side. When browned, remove with a slotted spoon or skimmer and place on paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining dough.

In a shallow bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Dredge churros in sugar mixture. Serve warm.

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Filed under Baked goods, breakfast, Desserts, Gluten-Free

Turkey Enchiladas

Yes, it’s another “leftover turkey” post. Not because I have that much turkey. (I might after Thanksgiving though – and if I do, I’ll happily make these again.) I’m sharing this post with you because they’re that good. Honestly, they are good any time of year, with just about any filling. Leftover chicken? Great. Ground beef, turkey, pork, chicken? Awesome. Beans and cheese? Wonderful. In fact, I make a version of these throughout the year using ground beef or turkey and a can of black beans. The beauty of the recipe is that it’s flexible. I like flexible.

I’ve posted enchiladas here before. (and here.) And while those are both good recipes, (I’ve since subbed in corn tortillas to make them gluten-free. Besides, corn tortillas are just better in my opinion.) I have worked throughout the year to improve upon them. Specifically, I’ve worked to improve the enchilada sauce. Why? Because I can’t leave well enough alone. I always have to improve, experiment, and explore flavors. I wanted an enchilada sauce that intrigued the taste buds with a wonderful depth of flavor and a nice heat – not too hot. Finally, I have found it. I think. At least, for now.

This sauce does not use tomatoes in it, as some Tex-Mex red sauces do. Instead, I have opted to use a number of various dried chiles as the base. I could wax poetic about my love for dried chiles. They store in my pantry quite well. They smell amazing. The flavor they contribute is far superior to any store-bought chile powder.  In my opinion, they are worth the extra time and effort to use them. I found quite a few varieties at Wal-Mart, but you can usually find the widest variety at a grocery that caters to the Latin American community. You can also find them online. In this sauce I used a combination of ancho, New Mexico, guajillo, pasilla, and chipotle peppers. You can certainly streamline and use fewer varieties, or change it up and use other chiles, but I enjoyed the combination – it added depth and complexity to the sauce.

Another note – when toasting the chiles, it’s probably a good idea to open a window or two. The aroma of the chiles can be overpowering – it makes me sneeze! Again, totally worth it – promise!

These aren’t quite authentic Mexican enchiladas, nor are they true Tex-Mex. I’d like to think I made a new “Tex-Mex” version, taking what I love best about both cuisines and interpreting it in this delicious version. Whatever they are, I hope you’ll agree that they are a wonderful way to enjoy your turkey leftovers!

3 dried chipotle chiles

5 dried guajillo chiles

3 dried New Mexico chiles

3 dried pasilla chiles

3 dried ancho chiles

2 T olive oil

1/2 onion, sliced (I used red, but you could use any variety)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

salt to taste

1 lb leftover turkey, shredded (can substitute chicken, browned ground beef/chicken/turkey, or additional beans)

1 t ground cumin

1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

4 oz cream cheese

2 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese (or a mix of cheddar and monterey jack)

salt and pepper to taste

Vegetable oil for shallow frying

12-16 corn tortillas

Cilantro and sour cream for garnish (optional)

Begin by removing the stems and seeds from the chiles. Tear the chiles into large pieces. Heat a non-stick skillet to medium heat (I used my trusty cast-iron skillet). Heat another medium saucepan full of water to a simmer. Place the chiles, skin-side up, a few at a time, on the dry skillet. Toast for about 10 seconds and remove and place in the saucepan. Repeat with remaining chiles, toasting in batches. Allow chiles to simmer in water for 20-30 minutes or until soft. (Make sure that the chiles are covered with the water. I usually use a spoon or a spatula to keep them submerged.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, bring a skillet to medium heat and add olive oil. When oil is shimmering, add onions and garlic. Saute for 10 minutes or until soft. If they start to brown, reduce heat a little.

Remove chiles from the soaking water with tongs and place in a blender, leaving the water in the pan. Add the onions and garlic, leaving as much of the oil in the skillet as possible, and add about 1 1/2 cups of the chile soaking liquid. Blend until smooth, adding more soaking liquid if needed. The sauce should resemble the consistency of canned tomato sauce. Pass the sauce through a fine-meshed sieve and discard the pulp. Pour the strained sauce back into the saucepan and place on low heat. Salt to taste.

Add the shredded turkey to the remaining oil in the skillet and reduce heat to medium-low. Season with cumin, and stir occasionally until heated. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the chile sauce into the shredded turkey, and add the beans, cream cheese, and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted. Salt and pepper to taste. (If you’re using ground meat instead, you can brown it in the oil, and follow the rest of these steps as written.)

In a small skillet, add enough frying oil to cover the bottom of the skillet by 1/2 inch.  Heat oil on medium heat until shimmering. Fry tortillas, one at a time, 7-10 seconds on each side of the tortilla. Lay tortillas on paper towels to drain. (This process helps make the tortillas pliable and less likely to tear and break when rolling.)

To assemble the enchiladas, dip a tortilla into the chile sauce and remove, allowing excess sauce to drip back into the saucepan. Place about 2-3 tablespoons of the shredded turkey mixture in a line down the center of the tortilla. Roll up the tortilla and place it seam-side down in a 13X9 baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Top with a bit more sauce down the center of the enchiladas, and sprinkle the shredded cheese over.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Garnish with cilantro and sour cream, if desired.

Serves 4-6.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I sincerely wish the best for you and your family this holiday. Be happy, safe, and enjoy the gifts of life. I am thankful for all of you! Without you, there would be no Tasty Eats At Home. Have a wonderful holiday.

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Filed under Gluten-Free, Main Dishes