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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Recipes

RECIPE: Chipotle Meatballs

To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, how about Mexican-style meatballs?

Meatballs in Chipotle Chile Sauce with Wisconsin Queso Fresco Cheese. Make them small for an appetizer, or bigger for a main course. Serve them with rice and pinto or black beans; or make a Cinco de Mayo meatball sub.

This recipe serves four 4 as main course, 10-12 as appetizers.

RECIPE: MEATBALLS IN CHIPOTLE CHILE SAUCE

Ingredients

For The Meatballs

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 3/4 cup Wisconsin Cotija or Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
  • 1/2 large white onion, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  •    

    chipotle-meatballs-wmmb-230

    Chipotle meatballs. Photo courtesy WisDairy.com.

  • 2 slices coarse white bread, crust removed and soaked in 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    For The Sauce

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) chipotle salsa
  • 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 sprig mint (or pinch ground dried mint)
  • 1 cup queso fresco cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Garnish: cilantro, mint and queso fresco, as desired.
  •  

    queso-fresco-cut-230

    Queso fresco, made in Wisconsin—America’s largest cheese-producing state. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the meatball ingredients in bowl, using your hands. Refrigerate for one hour.

    2. SHAPE the meatballs in the desired size: larger for main course, smaller for appetizer.

    3. MAKE the sauce: Add the cinnamon to the chile salsa. Heat oil until quite hot (but not smoking) in a heavy, deep skillet. Add the salsa and “fry” until thick (it will splatter; consider a splatter screen).

    4. ADD the broth and bring to boil. Stir in the mint. Add the meatballs. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until meatballs are done.

    5. GARNISH each serving with crumbled queso fresco, cilantro and additional mint, asdesired.
     
    WHAT IS QUESO FRESCO

    Queso fresco is one of the most commonly-used cheeses for cooking in Latin America. It’s a soft, mild cheese similar to ricotta in that it’s made from curds. Cultures and rennet are added to pasteurized milk to create the curds, which are scooped into molds, then drained briefly.

     

    The resulting queso fresco is crumbly, with a mild and salty flavor and a slightly “grainy” texture. It is often sprinkled over foods, and when heated, it will melt.

    Queso fresco is most often used crumbled, as a topping for everything from salads to soups to enchiladas, and is melted in quesadillas and casseroles.

    Queso fresco should not be confused with queso blanco fresco, although the latter is similar. Queso blanco fresco is a fresh cheese that is made by direct acidification (not cultures and rennet) and pressed into blocks. It consequently has a firm texture and softens but does not melt: It can be sliced for pan-frying.

    The different types of Hispanic cheeses.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: National Shrimp Scampi Day

    scampi-epicureanbutter-230

    Shrimp Scampi, in garlic lemon butter. Photo courtesy Epicurean butter.

     

    Today is National Shrimp Scampi Day. In our youth, it was one of the most popular recipes at Italian restaurants, often served atop a plate of linguine.

    The recipe can be quite simple: shrimp sautéed in garlic lemon butter. This recipe is a bit more elaborate, adding a topping of Parmesan and bread crumbs. Feel free to use the simpler version, and eliminate the cheese, bread crumbs and the broiler.

    Prep time, including the broiled topping, is 20 minutes. Serve with a light-bodied white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

    RECIPE: SHRIMP SCAMPI

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese*
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs*
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley or tarragon
  • 1 box angel hair, linguine or other ribbon pasta†
  •  
    *If you prefer the dish without the broiled topping, omit these ingredients.
     
    †Instead of pasta, you can serve the dish with rice or other grain, or with a side of mixed vegetables.

     

    Preparation

    1. COOK the pasta according to package instructions.

    2. SAUTÉ the garlic in the butter and oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, until fragrant. Add the shrimp, lemon juice, pepper and oregano; cook and stir until shrimp turn pink. Sprinkle with cheese, bread crumbs and parsley.

    3. MOVE the skillet to the broiler, 6 inches from the heat. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

    4. SERVE atop the pasta.
     
    WHY IS IT CALLED SHRIMP SCAMPI?

    If you know Italian, you know that the word for shrimp is scampi. So why is the dish called, essentially, Shrimp Shrimp?

    According to Lidia Bastianich’s Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen,” in Italy scampi are actually langoustines, small, lobster-like crustaceans with pale pink shells. In Italy, they are popularly sautéed with olive oil, garlic, onion and white wine.

     

    SONY DSC

    Shrimp Scampi. Photo courtesy Babble.com.

     

    Italian-American cooks substituted the available equivalent, shrimp, but kept both names, ostensibly to indicate that the dish was made from shrimp, not langoustine.

    This recipe was adapted from Taste Of Home.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Mexican Fiesta Won Tons

    fiesta-won-tons-davidvenableQVC-230

    Some fusion fare from QVC’s David Venable.

     

    Here’s some fusion food for Cinco de Mayo from QVC’s Chef David Venable. You can make the wontons ahead of time and freeze them until you’re ready to fry and serve.

    “These little wontons are such a unique way to incorporate all those Tex-Mex flavors you love in one cute package,” says David. “Cheesy, gooey and tangy, they’re the perfect treats to go with your Margaritas.”

    David’s fusion is to serve a queso dipping sauce with the crunchy Chinese fried wontons.

    RECIPE: MEXICAN FIESTA WONTONS

    Ingredients For The Wontons

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 8 ounces lean ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup canned green chiles, diced
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons enchilada sauce
  • 22-24 wonton wrappers
  •  
    For The Cheese Dipping Sauce

  • 1 can petite (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with sweet onions, well drained
  • 1/4 cup canned green chilies, diced
  • 1 package (16 ounces) Velveeta cheese, chopped into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1/4 cup Corona beer
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the wontons: Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Place the ground beef into the pan, sprinkle with the salt and cook until no longer pink, about 5–7 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan, drain any excess fat and place into a bowl. Set aside.

    2. ADD the other teaspoon of oil to the pan; then add the onions, peppers and chiles, and cook until tender, about 3–4 minutes. Place the meat back into the pan with the cooked vegetables and add the enchilada sauce. Cook for 2 more minutes, or until the sauce is fully absorbed. Scoop the mixture into a bowl. Refrigerate until completely cooled.

    3. ASSEMBLE the wontons: Brush the edges of each wrapper with water, and one by one, place 1 tablespoon of the meat filling into each. Fold the wonton in half to form a triangle and seal the edges. Brush the tips of the triangles with a little more water to join them together, and press to bind. Freeze the stuffed wontons until you’re ready to fry.

    4. PREPARE the cheese sauce: Place the petite diced tomatoes and chopped chiles into a 3-quart sauce pot and cook over medium heat for 3–5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the chopped Velveeta cheese, enchilada sauce and beer and cook, constantly stirring, until the cheese is completely melted. Place the dip into a warm serving vessel and serve. When ready to serve…

    5. PREHEAT a deep fryer to 350°F. Place the wontons into the deep fryer in batches and cook for 4–5 minutes, flipping them halfway through, until golden brown.

     
    Find more of David Venable’s recipes at QVC.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Margarita Chile Cheesecake Bars

    You can make this recipe in a baking pan and cut traditional bars, or make them in individual glass ramekins, jars or custard cups for an especially nice presentation.

    The recipe is from Melissa’s The Great Pepper Cookbook, the ultimate guide to choosing and cooking with peppers.

    RECIPE: MARGARITA CHILE CHEESECAKE BARS

    Ingredients For 16 Bars Or 8 Four-Ounce Custard Cups/Jars

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) salted butter, chopped
  • 6 dried cascabel chile peppers (about 1/2 cup), stems and seeds removed, ground
  • 3/4 cup non-alcoholic Margarita cocktail mix
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons lime zest
  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • Garnishes: whipped cream, lime wheels or peel curls, dash of ground cascabel chile
  •    

    margarita-cheesecake-cups-melissas-230

    Margarita Chile Cheesecake for Cinco de MayoPhoto courtesy Melissa’s.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Place the graham cracker crumbs, butter and chile in a food processor; pulse until coarse and crumbly, about 2 minutes.

    2. TRANSFER the graham cracker mixture to a 13 x 9-inch baking dish and press to evenly cover the bottom of dish. Bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Cool.

    3. COMBINE the Margarita mix in a bowl combine with the sugar, cornstarch, zest and cream cheese. Whisk in the eggs until completely incorporated. Pour over the crust; bake until top browns slightly, about 30 minutes.

    4. COOL completely in the pan and cut into 16 bars, Top with whipped cream, lime wheels or peel curls and extra ground chile.

    To Make In Ramekins Or Jars

    You can make eight individual four-ounce portions.

    1. MAKE the crust as instructed above. Place 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of crust in each jar and press down. Do not pre-bake.

    2. MAKE the filling as instructed above, but fill each jar leaving a 1/2 inch space from the top.

    3. PLACE the jars on a cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until set. Remove from the oven, cool completely and top with the garnishes.

     

    cascabel-230

    Cascabel chiles. Photo courtesy Angelina’s Gourmet.

     

    ABOUT CASCABEL CHILES

    Cascabels are large round chiles, which ripen to a bright red, dark red or brownish red. It has moderate heat.

    The name means “rattle,” which refers to the sound the seeds make when a dried chile is shaken, as well as the round shape.

    You can substitue ancho, chipotle or guajillo chiles.

    Check out the different chile types in our Chile Glossary

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Homemade Soft Pretzels

    homemade-pretzels-ws-230

    Bake a batch for National Pretzel Day. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    April 26th is National Pretzel Day. Bake a batch of delicious soft pretzels and serve with grainy mustard and beer.

    This recipe is courtesy Williams-Sonoma. See more photos of the process.

    Find more delicious recipes at WilliamsSonoma.com.
     
    RECIPE: SOFT PRETZELS

    Ingredients For 12 Large Pretzels

  • 1 cup warm water (110°F)
  • 1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 3-1/4 cups (16 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup (2-1/2 ounces) baking soda
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling
  • Grainy mustard for serving (you can substitute Dijon)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STIR together in the bowl of a stand mixer the warm water, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

    2. ADD the olive oil, flour and salt. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough on medium-low speed until smooth, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled, about 1 hour.

     

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F with the rack placed in the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and brush the parchment with oil. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, then cut it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope about 18 inches long. Position each rope positioned horizontally.

    4. BRING the 2 ends of the rope up and toward the center as if forming an oval. Cross one end over the other, and press each end into the bottom of the oval to create a pretzel shape. Place the pretzels on the prepared pan.

    5. FILL a large, wide saucepan with 7 cups of water. Stir in the baking soda, and bring to a boil. Gently drop 2 or 3 pretzels at a time into the boiling water (be careful not to overcrowd them). Boil for just under 1 minute, turning once with a large slotted spoon or spatula. Return the boiled pretzels to the baking sheet, spacing them evenly, top side up.

    6. SPRINKLE the pretzels with coarse salt. Bake until beautifully browned, about 10 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through. Serve warm with big spoonfuls of grainy mustard.

     

    homemade-pretzels-mustard-ws--230

    BYOB and dig in! Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     
    GRAINY MUSTARD & MUSTARD HISTORY

    The origins of mustard are lost to history, but it is a Northern Hemisphere plant, the seeds of which have been found in Stone Age settlements.

  • Egyptians tossed the seeds onto their food, and sent King Tut to the great beyond with a good supply in his tomb.
  • The Sumerians ground it into a paste and mixed it with verjus, the juice of unriped grapes.
  • Wealthy Greeks and Romans ground mustard seeds and mixed them with wine at the table.
  •  
    Cultivated for thousands of years, mustard was the primary spice known to Europeans before the advent of the Asian spice trade. Westerners had mustard long before pepper, which originated in India. Once trade routes were established, ancient people from India to Egypt to Rome chewed mustard seeds with their meat for seasoning.

    Our word mustard comes from the Middle English mustarde, meaning condiment; which in turn comes from the Old French mostarde. Mosto derives from the Latin mustum, the word for grape must, or young, unfermented wine, which was the liquid mixed with ground mustard seed by French monks who made the condiment. The monks’ word for mustard was mustum ardens, meaning burning wine.

    By the 1400s, mustard-making had spread through Europe; each region made its own style.

    One of the earliest versions was grainy mustard, a more casual name for what is known as old-style or old-fashioned mustard, and moutarde à l’ancienne in French.

    Grainy mustard is prepared from a base of mixed mustard seeds, verjus or white wine, spices and herbs. The ingredients are ground coarsely in order to leave the seeds whole.

    Grainy mustard has a dark color and a slightly milder flavor than other mustards. It has a slightly sweet taste, making it a good accompaniment for rustic foods like sausages or country-style pates and cornichons. It can be mixed with melted garlic butter and fresh thyme to create a sauce to drizzle over fish, and many other creative preparations.

    Here’s more on the history of mustard and the different types of mustard.

     
    *Today, white wine and verjus are used to make some mustard varieties; vinegars are used to make most others.

      

    Comments

    CINCO DE MAYO: Chocolate Churros Recipe

    Add cocoa powder to make chocolate churros. Photo courtesy MommieCooks.com.

     

    A churro is a fried-dough pastry snack, typically made from choux pastry (pâte à choux). While churros are most often found on the dessert menus at Mexican restaurants, served with chocolate dipping sauce, their origin may be far away from Mexico.

    One theory says that churros were brought to Europe from Ming Dynasty China by the Portuguese. Another theory is that churros were created by Spanish shepherds, easy to make and fry over an open fire in the mountains.

    Beyond Mexico and the rest of Latin America, they are popular in France, the Philippines, Portugal, the Southwestern United States and Spain. Depending on region, they can be longer and thinner or shorter and thicker.

    Ed Engoron, co-founder of Choclatique gourmet chocolates and author of Choclatique: Simply Elegant Desserts, sent us his recipe for chocolate churros.

    “This is my favorite Mexican fast food dessert and it’s perfect for a Cinco de Mayo celebration,” says Ed. “They are a common street food and can also be found at fairs and carnivals in both America and Mexico.

     
    “In recent years many vendors have resorted to frozen churros, choosing to just fry them off. I think my freshly made version presented here is far better than frozen. I made them even more delectable with the addition of Choclatique Rouge Unsweetened Cocoa Powder to give it a light chocolate flavor (and Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate for the drizzle).

    “Fried chocolate-how bad could it be?”

    Prep time is 10 minutes, fry time is 30 minutes.
     
    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE CHURROS

    Ingredients For 24 Churros

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup margarine (not butter)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  •  

    Preparation

    1. STIR together the sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a separate bowl; set aside.

    2. PREHEAT the oil to 360°F in a heavy deep skillet or deep-fryer (use a kitchen thermometer). The oil should be at least 1-1/2 inches deep. While the oil is heating…

    3. HEAT the water and margarine to a rolling boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the flour/cocoa mixture. Reduce the heat to low and stir vigorously until the mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and beat in the eggs one at a time.

    4. SPOON the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Carefully squeeze out 4-inch long strips of dough directly into the hot oil. Fry 3 or 4 strips at a time, until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove from hot oil to drain on paper towels. Roll each of the churros in the cinnamon-sugar mixture while still hot.

     

    chopped-chocolate-nothinbutfoods-230

    Chop a quality chocolate bar to make the chocolate sauce. Photo courtesy Nothin But Foods.

     
    *Note that if the oil isn’t hot enough, the churros will be greasy. If the oil is hotter than 460°, they will not get fully cooked on the inside. So be sure to use a thermometer!
     
    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE

    Ingredients

  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon white vegetable shortening
  • Optional garnish: fresh seasonal berries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the chocolate and shortening in a small resealable freezer bag. Microwave on HIGH for about 30 seconds until chocolate is melted. Massage the chocolate and shortening together in the bag.

    2. SNIP off corner and drizzle over the fried churros in cinnamon-sugar.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Use Miso Paste

    sweet-white-miso-crumbsandtales-230

    White miso paste, also called mild or sweet
    miso. Photo courtesy CrumbsAndTales.com.
    Try their recipe for carrot, miso and ginger
    salad dressing.

     

    Almost everyone who has been to a Japanese restaurant has had miso soup. But today’s tip includes other things to do with miso (MEE-zoe).

    Thanks to the popularity of miso, you can find at least one type of miso paste in many supermarkets and all natural foods stores (Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, for example).

    Miso is a paste made from soybeans and grains (typically barley or rice), koji (a fungus that serves as a fermenting agent) and sea salt. It can ferment from a short time (for mild homemade miso) to three years (for red miso). The result has the consistency of hummus.

    The fermentation produces an enzyme-rich, living food that contains many beneficial microorganisms. However, it also has a relatively high salt content.

    Miso should be refrigerated and added to cooked foods just before they are removed from the heat.

     

    TYPES OF MISO PASTE

    Different types of miso paste are available in Japanese markets (like Sunrise Mart in New York City). Natural food stores typically carry the three most common.

    The deeper the color, the higher the percentage of soybeans and the stronger the flavor.

  • White miso paste, shiromiso, is the most common form. It has just a small amount of soybeans; the majority ingredient is riceor barley. White miso is also called mild miso and sweet miso, and is used mostly in salad dressings and marinades. It is also incorporated into Japanese and vegan desserts.
  • Yellow miso paste is stronger than white miso. It is a combination of barley and rice, and the most versatile of the varieties, used for glazes, marinades and soups.
  • Red miso paste is the strongest, fermented the longest to a deep red or deep brown color, made from mostly soybeans. The more percentage of soybeans, the longer the fermentation and the deeper the color. It is used to add heartier flavors to vegetables asparagus, eggplant and kale; dips, sauces and spreads.
  •  
    WAYS TO USE MISO PASTE

    In Japan, miso soup is a culinary staple, whisked into dashi (stock) and enjoyed at any meal, starting with breakfast. It is also used to give an earthier flavor to noodle soups, such as ramen and udon.

    It is also used as a condiment/seasoning:

  • Braising meats, seafood (try miso-braised cod) and vegetables (try eggplant and mushrooms)
  • Compound butter: East meets West (how to make compound butter)
  • Dips and spreads: season with spices and use with crudités and rice crackers
  • Dressing: whisked into a dressing for salads and cooked vegetables
  • Grilling, as an overnight marinade and a glaze (coat corn on the cob, wrap in foil and grill)
  • Pickling, for a sweeter variety of vegetables pickles
  • Sauces: misoyaki is a variant of teriyaki
  •  

    Americans have incorporated miso into Western cuisine, from gravy to risotto and quich. For inspiration, pick up a book like The Miso Book: The Art of Cooking with Miso. It not only has many recipes, but shows you how to make your own miso paste from scratch.

    Start by making miso soup and salad dressing with the recipes below.

    RECIPE: EASY MISO DRESSING

    Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil (peanut, vegetable)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons white miso
  • 1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey or 1/4 teaspoon agave
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  •  

    miso-soup-2-sushiloungeNJ-230

    A familiar bowl of miso soup. Photo courtesy Sushi Lounge | NJ.

  • Optional additions: chili flakes/sriracha, grated fresh ginger, peanut butter
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK the ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Taste and add more honey or vinegar as you prefer.

    2. STORE leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.

     
    RECIPE: EASY MISO SOUP

    Ingredients

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant dashi granules*
  • 1/4 cup red miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried seaweed, reconstituted in water and drained
  • 1/2 cup cubed tofu
  • 2 tablespoons green onion, chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD the water into a pot and bring to a boil. Add the instant dashi; whisk to dissolve. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the tofu and seaweed. Simmer for 2 minutes. While the soup simmers…

    2. SPOON the miso paste into a bowl. Ladle 1/2 cup of the hot dashi broth into the bowl and whisk until the miso paste melts and is the mixture smooth.

    3. TURN off the heat and add the miso paste to the pot. Stir well. Taste the soup and whisk in another 1-2 tablespoons of miso paste as desired. Garnish with green onions and serve immediately.

     
    *This is the easy version; the soup will be ready in 10 minutes. When you have time, try a recipe that uses homemade dashi stock, made from fish and kelp. For quick recipes, dashi is also available in a bouillon cube format.

      

    Comments

    CINCO DE MAYO: Make Menudo, A Hearty Mexican Soup

    menudo-tripe-norecipes-230

    Menudo, a Mexican stew made with tripe
    (chuck roast can be substituted). Photo
    courtesy NoRecipes.com.

     

    Chef Johnny Gnall’s mother grew up in Mexico City. She discovered her talent for cooking at a young age, and amassed recipes from friends and family while still a young girl.

    Her greatest teacher, however, was her nanny, Eulalia, a native Mexican. A tremendous source of knowledge on authentic Mexican cooking, many of Eulalia’s recipes dated back several hundred years. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, Johnny shares this one.

    “Menudo is a traditional Mexican soup made from tripe (cow stomach). It is very hearty and lore suggests it as a hangover cure. Foreign to most Americans, tripe is actually a lot better than it sounds. If cooked right, its flavor and texture become like that of great pot roast.

    “Buttery and velvety on your palate, the meat almost melts in your mouth and gives an unmistakable richness to the whole dish. If you’re still not convinced and the thought of stomach is a bit much (or your butcher doesn’t have any on hand), you can substitute chuck roast for a more American-friendly menudo.

    “Traditionally, you would use a casuela, a large earthenware pot; but any pot will do if you’re short on Mexican earthenware.”

    There is also an unrelated Philippine menudo, a stew made with sliced pork and calf’s liver in tomato sauce.

    RECIPE: MENUDO

    Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chuck roast or tripe
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled
  • 1 tablespoon each: marjoram, oregano and thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A few pinches of salt
  • 4 cups of Peruvian corn (maiz—see note below)
  •  
    For The Chile Sauce

  • 5 fresno chiles
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt to taste
  •  
    Garnishes

  • Chili powder
  • Chopped white onion
  • Lime wedges
  • Oregano
  • Salsa(s)
  •  
    Plus

  • Warm tortillas
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the bay leaf, garlic and onion in a piece of cheesecloth tied with kitchen twine, or other device for easy removal.

    2. DICE the beef into half-inch pieces and place in a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, herbs and salt and fill the pot the remainder of the way with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 4 hours, or until the meat is fall-apart tender. Then turn off the heat and remove the bay leaf, garlic and onion.

    3. BOIL the corn in a separate pot until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

    4. COOK the corn. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

    5. MAKE the chile sauce. Soak the chiles in hot water for 20 minutes. Then combine them in a blender with the other ingredients plus enough of the beef broth to keep things spinning with ease. Once blended, strain and add to the pot of beef. Simmer for 20 more minutes, then add the corn.

    6. SERVE with the garnishes on the side so people can add what they like. Add some warm tortillas into the mix and you are good to go!

     

    peruvian-corn-choclo-peruviandelights-230r

    This is maiz, also called choclo in Peru and Peruvian corn in the U.S. Photo courtesy PeruvianDelights.com.

     
    MORE ABOUT MENUDO

    In Mexico, there are regional variations, which have been brought to Mexican-American communities in the U.S.

    There’s annual Menudo Festival in Santa Maria, California, where you can feast on the different varieties. Here’s more about menudo.
     
    WHAT IS PERUVIAN CORN

    Most historians believe that maize was domesticated in the Tehuacan Valley of Mexico. Numerous varieties were cultivated by the Olmecs and Mayas. Corn had spread throughout Mesoamerica by 2500 B.C.E.

    In a region with so many varieties of corn, names evolved. The type of corn grown in the U.S. is called elote (ee-LO-tay). Peruvian-style corn, with giant white kernels, is called maiz (ma-EES).

    It is also called choclo in Peru (more than 30 varieties of corn are grown in every color and size imaginable). These jumbo kernels have a different texture than American corn varieties and are less sweet. They were first cultivated in Cusco, the city high in the Andes that was once the capital of the Inca empire.

    Choclo has been a staple of the Peruvian diet for thousands of years. It is used to make everything from tamales to soups and pastries.

    It can typically be found frozen or dried at Latin markets and online.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Poached Eggs On Vegetables

    poached-eggs-asstd-veg-ellarysgreensNYC-230

    Poached eggs atop a medley of sautéed vegetables. Photo courtesy Ellary’s Greens | NYC.

     

    When was the last time a plate of poached eggs looked this tempting?

    On the brunch menu at Ellary’s Greens in New York City, the chef changes vegetables with the seasons and uses them as a base for poached eggs.

    If your thoughts are with weekend brunch or what to serve for Mother’s Day breakfast, adapt this idea from Chef Kurt Alexander.

    The photo shows more of a winter palate, with Brussels sprouts, fingerling potatoes, pattypan squash and sunchoke purée, garnished with fresh dill. You can switch these out for spring vegetables.

    We went to our farmers’ market and came back with asparagus (green, purple and white!), cardoons, fiddlehead ferns, garlic scapes, morel mushrooms and ramps—a veritable spring feast.

    At any supermarket, you can find broccoli, fennel, pea pods, snow peas, spring peas, Swiss chard and Vidalia onions—and maybe some fava beans or lima beans plus some halved grape tomatoes for color.

     
    ANOTHER TREAT: FARM-FRESH EGGS

    If you do hit the farmers market, bring back farm-fresh eggs. You’ll marvel at how much better they taste than factory-farm eggs that can be in storage for a while before they hit the supermarket shelf.

    We steamed our vegetables and then tossed them in parsley butter with lemon, known in French cuisine as beurre à la maître d’hôtel.
     
    HOW TO POACH EGGS

    1. FILL a large, deep saucepan with 2 inches of water. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium.

    2. BREAK 1 egg into small dish. Carefully slide the egg into the simmering water (bubbles should begin to break the surface of the water). Repeat with the remaining eggs. Poach the eggs for 3 to 5 minutes or until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken.

    3. CAREFULLY REMOVE the eggs with slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.

    If you’re not adept at poaching eggs, get an egg poacher insert. The uniform roundness it creates isn’t as eye-pleasing as a naturally-poached egg, but it beats the frustration of trying to harness meandering egg whites until you perfect the technique.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Mexican Haystacks

    Seeking something fun for Cinco de Mayo?

    A food haystack uses a starchy base (tortilla chips, saltines or rice), topped by a protein (beans, grated Cheddar cheese, taco-seasoned meat, and/or a vegetarian meat alternative), and fresh vegetables (shredded lettuce, tomatoes, olives, peppers). It is garnished with condiments (guacamole, sour cream, salsa).

    Mexican Haystacks are like a deconstructed tostada. The haystack ingredients are served individually and assembled on the plate by the person who will be eating it. There are other variations, like Hawaiian haystacks with ham and pineapple.

    Good for a crowd, the concept been popular for at least 60 years. According to Wikipedia, they are particularly popular among Seventh-day Adventists, Mennonites and Latter-Day Saints.

    You can assemble the haystacks and bring them to the table, or simply lay out the ingredients and have each person assemble their own haystack, using as little or as much of any particular ingredient.

    RECIPE: MEXICAN HAYSTACKS

    This recipe courtesy of Ginny Stevenson, adapted by Winner Dinners.
     
    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 package (1 ounce) taco seasoning mix
  • 1 can (16-ounces) refried beans
  • 1 bag tortilla chips or cooked, seasoned rice for base*
  • Grated Cheddar cheese
  • Grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sliced grape tomatoes
  • Sliced green onions
  • 1 can (2.2-ounces) sliced olives
  • 1 container (8 ounces) sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh salsa
  •  

    mexican-haystack-planet-rice-230

    Mexican Haystacks with a rice base. Photo courtesy WholeAndFree.Blogspot.com.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE all of the cheeses, vegetables, and toppings as directed, placing each item in its own small bowl. Store in the fridge while you prepare the beef and beans.

    2. PLACE the ground beef, taco seasoning mix and the amount of water indicated on the seasoning package into a skillet and cook them all together, until the meat is cooked and tender and most of the water has evaporated. While the beef is cooking…

    3. PLACE the refried beans in a microwave-safe bowl and heat.

    4. BRING ingredients to the table and assemble. Place a thin layer of refried beans on a plate and then sprinkle some tortilla chips over the beans. Add the remaining ingredients in whatever order you wish. A recommended order: beef, lettuce, Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, tomatoes, olives, green onions, guacamole, sour cream and salsa.
     
    *Even if you don’t use the tortilla chips for the base, you can serve them on the side.

      

    Comments

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