Category Archives: Food

Happy Bastille Day! Cherry Clafoutis recipe

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It is cherry season, and I love to make a clafoutis for dessert. This one is very low calorie, about 4-5 WW Pts. Plus, I think.  I posted it in 2003, but have changed it a bit, doubling the custard.

Clafoutis

1 pound cherries, with or without pits

2 tablespoons kirschwasser, brandy, or lemon juice

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

6 tablespoons flour* or flour alternative

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 ½ cups skim milk

4 eggs

grated rind of one half of a lemon

2 pinches of nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1. Remove stems from cherries.  You may also remove the pits, if desired (Traditional French cooks usually leave the pits in. They say it adds flavor). Toss the cherries with powdered sugar and kirschwasser and set aside for at least 2 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a Pyrex dish (I have an 8 inch square white porcelain dish with high sides that I love to use – whatever size lets the custard come up over most of the cherries) with cooking spray.

3. In a bowl, pour the flour and granulated sugar, and stir together.

4. Pour in milk and whisk until thoroughly blended.

5. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, and then add lemon rind, nutmeg, and vanilla.

6. Pour liquid off of cherries (If it is a liqueur, and if you like, you may make this liquid part of the 1 ½ cups of milk – just add less milk).

7. Scatter cherries evenly on bottom of cooking dish.

8. Pour egg and milk mixture over cherries and cook for 30-45 minutes, or until brown and puffed.

9. Chill in the refrigerator. The clafoutis will deflate after it is removed from the oven. Serve cold.

Servings: 8

Notes: I have a bottle of Pineau des Charentes, a fortified wine from Poitiers, France, and I usually soak my cherries in that.

*I also have made the recipe gluten-free by substituting the flour for masa de harina, a corn product.  Almond flour might also be good.

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Farmers Market Friday

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Friday, on the way home from work, I stopped by the Buford Highway Farmers Market.  It’s my favorite thing to do, and I was making good time, so I decided to make a detour.  The only thing is that I usually spend at least an hour and a half there – I could easily spend more time, but I try to limit it.

When you enter, the first thing you see is the produce.  I wandered around, looking at all of the fruit – fresh guava, horn melon, mangoes… I settled on a pound of strawberries for $1.49. I also bought some red seedless grapes and HUGE Red Delicious apples for my husband.  The only “unusual” fruit I got was a variety of apple called Prince.

Then, I spied the rhubarb. I have never had rhubarb before.  I guess it’s not a big thing in my family, or in Louisiana, or Texas.  It was $3.99 a pound, but I was feeling adventurous, so I grabbed a fistful that came to just over a pound and a half. I used them to make a rhubarb crisp – gluten free. I just followed the recipe and replaced the flour with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour Mix.

Last Christmas, I roasted my own beets, and made an Ensalada de Nochebuena from a recipe by the Homesick Texan.  I found not one, but three different varieties of beet, with greens intact, and bought them.  The were regular beets ($1.79), golden beets ($2.49) and Candy Striped beets ($2.39).  I have to admit it was the Candy Striped beets that sold me. Who can resist cooking with three colors of beets? Not I.  So far, I have roasted the beets and cleaned the greens. I will probably saute the greens in garlic and shallots and olive oil. Two side dishes in one veggie.

In produce, I also picked up herbs: sage, tarragon, oregano, mint, Italian parsley, and cilantro.  I plan on chopping them up and freezing them. I want to buy mini ice cube trays to freeze them in.  I have still not forgiven Trader Joe’s for not offering ALL of the Dorot frozen herb trays at their store.  I have heard claims of people finding them in regular supermarkets, but I have not had that luck yet.

Then, I went to the meat department. Now, there are a plethora of meats to choose from.  I almost got some marinated quail, but they were advertised a “spicy”, so I passed. Instead, I perused the beef “offal” aisle, and espied something called “beef cheeks” (in Spanish, cachete).  There was a meat clerk nearby, so I asked him “Como se cocina? (How does one cook this?).  He explained that it is usually boiled (or simmered) in a pot of water for a long time – 2 to 3 hours. So then I asked him, “Usted sabe que es un ‘slow cooker’?” 😉

My original plan was to cook it in the slow cooker, but I found a recipe for Barbacoa Beef Cheek Tacos.  So they have been marinating overnight, and I’m about to brown them in my oddly shaped Dutch oven and braise them in the over for 3 hours. Thank goodness I bought fresh tortillas while I was there.  Next time, I may make Beef Bourguignon – I got 1.67 pounds for $3.74, so I want to work with it some more if this barbacoa works out.

I wandered the Asian, Philippine, and Indonesian aisles for a while, but only picked up a small can of Massaman Curry Paste (89 cents) and a packet of Instant Miso Soup Individual packets in Clam flavor (8 servings for $1.49). I just had a big bowl of Miso Soup using two of the little pouches – I added shrimp, rice noodles, a sliced boiled egg, and garnished it with cilantro.  Not bad!

Finally I picked up some snack food and candy oddities to share with my students. I bought some Indonesian tamarind candy – I have one student from Indonesia, and the most of the rest of my classes are from Mexico and Latin America.  They also enjoy tamarind, so I thought this would show something their cultures have in common. Then, I bought a bag of , which will surely be vile to everyone EXCEPT my Indonesian student. I also have two African and one Nepalese student, and that will just probably be a new experience for them.

Okay, my beef cheek barbacoa is slow cooking, and I need to go and get some avocado and red onions to go with it.  Can’t wait to see how it comes out!  The rhubarb crisp was sure great, as were the beets.

Smoky Margarita Syrup

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I ran out of my last batch of smoky tea syrup and did not take notes when I made it.  So, today, I’m making some more.  I made regular margaritas yesterday and found them less tasty (okay, sweet.) than my new regular.

So, I have all of the ingredients handy, and I did write my measurements down:

First, start with the chile water:

Put the three chile peppers in a pan with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat off and let the chile peppers “steep” for a whle – you may smush the chile peppers with a wooden spoon if you like.

Strain the chiles into a receptacle to catch the chile water.  You may save the chiles for another use. Check the measurements and add more water if necessary to bring the amount to 3 cups again.

Next, use the chile water to steep your tea:

Return the chile water to the pot and bring to a light boil again.  Place tea bags in pot and steep for a while.

Add:

  • 1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Penzey’s smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. Penzey’s ground red chipotle
  • a dash of cinnamon (okay, that may not be necessary)

Strain the mixture one more time and add the following while the water is still hot:

  • 2 cups sugar (1 cup white and 1 cup brown) – I ran out of white sugar.

I strained it one last time, adding a paper towel to my strainer to sift out most of the grains of spice.

Transfer to a glass or plastic bottle or container and keep in the refrigerator. Keeps in the refrigerator for over a month.

It looks sort of like this...Here is the first try-out:

Pour the ingredients (except the lime wedge) over ice into a cocktail shaker.  Shake well, then pour into a glass with crushed or chipped ice cubes.  Garnish with lime wedge.

Now, ordinarily, this is also supposed to include Mezcal, but I didn’t buy any this time.  I have to say that this is pretty good – I could taste the chipotle only in the concentrated syrup.  I didn’t think that the drink itself was spicy in a bad way.

Pay de Pastor (Mexican Shepherd’s Pie)

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I am stuck at home on the fourth snow day of 2011 in Georgia.  A record, at least, in my lifetime…  Lucky for me, I have a well-stocked kitchen.  So, I have been cooking quite a bit.  Here is a recipe I whipped up last night.  Now, I know that some sticklers are going to get me for calling this a Shepherd’s Pie (Pay is Spanglish and pronounced “pie” BTW) because it uses turkey (and a little bit of beef because I thought it needed more meat), but that’s okay.

One caveat:  This is my best attempt to write down what I did to make the casserole last night.  I did not measure all of the spice ingredients, so you can monkey with that at will.  Also, you may make any meat, veggie, or cheese substitute you want!  I used the Old El Paso enchilada sauce because it is gluten-free (many enchilada sauces are NOT).

Pay de Pastor: Mexican Shepherd’s Pie with Sour Cream and Green Chile Mashed Potato Topping

Vegetable Filling:

1 onion
2 shallots
4 celery stalks
1 orange or yellow bell pepper
1/3 to 1/2 cup baby carrots
1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Fire-Roasted Corn
2 cubes Dorot Chopped Garlic Cubes
3 – 4 cubes Dorot Chopped Cilantro
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil

Chop onion, shallots, celery, bell pepper, and carrots to small dice. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on the stove. Put all of the vegetables in the pan and add the garlic, cilantro, and cumin.  Saute until vegetables are soft, then add roasted corn. Blend corn with vegetables until defrosted.  Put the vegetables aside in a bowl and wipe out pan.

Meat Filling:

1 pkg. ground turkey (19.2 oz.)
1 angus burger patty (5.3 oz.)
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

Put the ground turkey and beef patty together in a bowl and mix the meat together. Heat the oil in the large skillet and saute the meat until lightly brown.  Pour the contents of the skillet through a strainer and return to the pan.

Gravy:

1 pasilla chile
1 guajillo chile
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 can Old El Paso mild enchilada sauce
1/4 – 1/3 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. Don Julio Cumin/Pepper blend
1 tsp. Penzey’s Ground Red Chipotle Chile Pepper
1 tsp. Penzey’s Smoked Spanish paprika
2 – 3 cubes Dorot Chopped Cilantro
2 cubes Dorot Chopped Garlic

Soak the chile peppers in a bowl until soft.  Discard the stem, seeds, and veins of the chiles and slice into smaller pieces.  Place the chiles in a blender with the tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, and some chicken broth and puree ingredients. Pour contents of blender over the meat in the skillet (use some more chicken broth to get the rest of the sauce out if necessary).

Mix the sauce and the meat and add spices as needed.  I added Don Julio cumin/pepper powder, chipotle powder, and smoked paprika.  I also added the enchilada sauce as an afterthought, but it could be added to the blender gravy if desired.

Add the vegetables to the meat mixture in the skillet or in a large bowl and mix them together.  Spread mixture in an 11 by 17 lasagna pan or clear baking dish.  Set aside while you are making the mashed potato topping.

Mashed Potato Topping:

3 large baking potatoes, peeled
1/3 cup light Sour Cream
1 small can chopped green chiles
1 7 oz. package Kraft 2% fat shredded Mexican Cheese blend

Chop the potatoes into approximately equal chunks – about 1 to 1 1/2 inches.  Put cut potatoes into a pot and cover with water.  Allow the water to come to a boil, then cook potatoes until they are able to be broken apart by a fork.

Strain the water out and return the potatoes to the pot.  Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes part-way.  Then, add sour cream and can of green chiles and mash until smooth.  Add half the package of shredded cheese to the potatoes and blend the mixture.

Spread the mashed potato mixture on top of the meat and vegetable mixture.  Place in a pre-heated oven (about 375 degrees), and bake for about 30 minutes.  Take the pan out and sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top of the casserole.  Return to oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly an casserole is heated through.

Remove from oven and allow the casserole to settle before slicing.  Serve with additional sour cream and salsa.

Two great meals in the Oaxaca area

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Yesterday, as part of our “Arts and Crafts Week” here at the NEH Summer Institute on Mesoamerican Culture, we went to the town of Teotitlan del Valle.  There, Lynn Stevens, a distinguished professor of Anthropology and Ethnic Studies who lived and studied the weavers in Teotitlan.  She even learned how to speak Zapotec while she lived there!  Just for our visit, the family she lived with gathered and made a big lunch for us at their compound.

One of the things we did while we were there was to go out into the milpa, the cornfield.  There, corn (maize), beans and squash are grown at the same time (I had thought they were rotated by season or year).   The corn provides a stalk for the beans to climb on, and the squash is planted between the rows to keep the ground covered and the weeds out.  While we were out there, one of the men pulled up a weed and told me to taste it.  He said that this weed was going to be a part of the soup we were going to eat shortly.

Here is a milpa

We went back to the compound, where we were given a demonstration of dying wool using natural colorings.  Then, we sat down to long tables and prepared to eat.  It is a tradition to toast the meal with mezcal shots, and we also had agua de jamaica (hibiscus flower drink) to drink.  As promised, the soup was served to us first.

I found out later that the herb used in the soup was called chepil (or chipil) and it was very good.  Here is the info on it from a website on Mexican culinary herbs:

Chepil or chipil crotalaria longirostrata:  An important ingredient in Oaxacan cooking, probably because of its drought resistance, the tiny leaves are tucked into the famous tamales de chepil and their green bean-like flavor adds a delicious touch to white rice.

The sopa de chepil was served with squash blossom quesadillas made with freshly made tortillas.  The soup itself seemed to be a broth (chicken?) with chilis and corn masa.  There was cut up squash and chepil leaves in the soup as well.  I thought it was great.

chepil in the wild

Following the soup was chicken in mole negro, accompanied by white rice.  The mole sauce was great and I ate all of mine.  Dessert was a strange regional dish called nicuatole.  It’s basically, in the words of a colleague, “corn jello”.  I had a version at one of the local restaurants that had a very smoky taste, but apparently this is not usual.  The nicuatole served in Teotitlan del Valle was made from blue corn and had a thin layer of red dye on the top (the dye came from cochineal beetles – the same red dye used to color the wool for the rugs.)

The next day, we had a very interesting talk on corn by Marietta Bernstorff of the MAMAZ (Mujeres Artistas y el Maíz) Collective.  She had gotten together a group of women artists who have made art related to corn and its importance in the cycle of life.  There is a wide variety of artwork in their shows, including photography, collage, installations and multi-media works.  They are very concerned in protecting the traditional varieties of corn indigenous to Mexico.

Nicuatole, or "corn jello"

Then, we went to Itanoní, a restaurant in Oaxaca City that specializes in native corn from the Oaxaca area.  We had a tasting menu that consisted of: quesadillas made with blue or white corn, memelas with beans and queso fresco, and chalupas.  Next time I go, I will need to try their agua fresca made with lime juice and mint (or the one with lime juice and parsley…).

Zapotec Ratatouille

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Before I came to Mexico, I made some (okay, a lot.  OKAY, TOO MUCH!) ratatouille in my crock pot.  Until we got tired of it, it was a good way to get our veggies in during the summer.  I am not always good about eating vegetables, and it’s nice to have some around to just heap in a bowl and run through the microwave.  With Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese on top, it was a meal.

There are a lot of recipes for ratatouille, but I definitely wanted to try and make it in the crock pot.  According to my computer, I either used this recipe or this one.  Because I live so close to the awesome and exotic Buford Highway Farmers’ Market, I had in the back of my mind an idea.  The idea was to make a ratatouille using vegetables and spices that come from Mexico.  I brainstormed:  Onion, Mexican zucchini, yellow squash, corn, poblano peppers, chayote, nopales, tomatillos… and I was going to use maybe epazote, dried chilies, cumin, Mexican oregano, and salsa verde to kick it up a bit.

I did a bit of searching on the internet, and of course, there are no new ideas under the sun, so I found a recipe for something called Mayan Ratatouille.  It is from Mario Martinez of A. J.’s Fine Foods in Phoenix, Arizona.  It is on several websites, so since I gave them credit, I will put it here:

Mayan Ratatouille

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 1 large Spanish onion, peeled, cored & coarsely chopped
  • 2 chayotes (also known as cho-cho or mirliton), halved, seeded & coarsely chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, seeded & coarsely chopped
  • 2 Arbol chilies, seeded & coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. achiote paste
  • 1 Turkish Bay leaf
  • 1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise & sliced
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded & diced (substitute canned diced tomatoes if desired)
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. dried epazote or 2 sprigs fresh
  • ¼ cup salad olives with pimento (or chopped pimento-stuffed green olives)
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper or hot sauce to taste

Preparation:

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat until hot, but not smoking. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until lightly browned. Add the chayote, peppers, achiote and bay leaf and sauté another 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini, tomato, paprika, cumin, and epazote and cook, stirring often, for 3-5 minutes.

Add all remaining ingredients except for the cilantro, mix well, lower heat to low and cook another 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat, mix in the cilantro, and season to taste with salt and pepper or hot sauce. Serves 6-8.

So, here I am in Oaxaca, with markets all over the place.  I sent my husband to the local equivalent of the WalMart here – interesting that they have a Sam’s Club, but no WalMart – with a translated list of ingredients.  The ones he was not able to find, I made up at the big market called Benito Juarez.  This afternoon, I chopped and chopped, and here is what I have so far:

Zapotec Ratatouille

Ingredients:

  • 2 Mexican zucchini
  • 2 chayote squash (also called mirlitons)
  • 1/2 pound of chopped cactus paddles (nopales)
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 1/2 to 2 poblano peppers
  • 3 – 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tequila or mezcal
  • 1 – 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh epazote
  • 2 – 3 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs of Mexican oregano (1 tsp. crushed)
  • 1 – 2 tsp. of paprika (I sort of over-poured…)
  • 2 – 210 gram cans of Herdez salsa verde
  • 1 – 210 gram box of La Costena tomato puree
  • 1 ancho chili pepper

1.  First, crush and dice the cloves of garlic.  Then, chop up the poblano peppers and onions into a dice.  Pour olive oil in to a pan and sautee until fragrant and softened.  Add Tequila or mezcal and let it boil for a bit…

2. While you are doing the cutting, cut up the tomatoes, zucchini, chayote, and nopales (I bought my nopales already chopped).  I added the tomatoes first, then cumin and let it simmer for a while.

3.  I added a can of salsa verde to the mix, stirred a bit, then dumped the rest of the vegetables in.  They needed to cook until they are soft.

4.  Now is when I start to randomly add herbs and spices.  Epazote has a bit of an anise/licorice taste.  I chopped that up, added some parsley, then another can of Herdez, and the tomato puree.

5.  Finally, I soaked the ancho chiles in boiling water.  Then, after they were soft, I put some of the liquid in a blender, added the chiles, some cumin, and a clove of garlic and some tequila.  I used it as a marinade for the chicken I made, and then added the leftovers to the ratatouille.

Okay, so it’s not that scientific.  Obviously, I am not ready to write a cookbook yet…  But play around with it and let me know what you come up with.

Tlayudas in Atlanta

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This summer, I will be going to Oaxaca. I am excited about all of the new and different things I might eat.  Last time I was there – 7 years ago – I sampled huitlacoche (corn fungus) and chapulines (roasted grasshoppers).  They were okay…  The chapulines were served with tortillas and guacamole.  Alas, my guacamole ran out before I finished my grasshoppers and I am afraid I left some in my bowl.  I don’t remember exactly how the huitlacoche was served, but I think it might have been canned – it was pretty much black liquid…  One thing I DO remember is that my father and my husband did not try them.

Since then, I have learned of tlayudasTlayudas, (from Wikipedia) sometimes erroneously spelled Clayudas, are a part of Mexican cuisine, consisting of a big, crunchy tortilla  covered with a spread of refried beans, asiento (unrefined pork lard), lettuce or cabbage, chapulines (grasshoppers), meat (usually shredded chicken, beef tenderloin or pork), Oaxaca cheese or other cheese, and salsa. They are a popular antojito  (snack food) originating in Oaxaca, particularly around Oaxaca City, and are also available throughout larger Mexican cities, such as Mexico City, Puebla, or Guadalajara.

The restaurant I have been eyeing to try the tlayuda is about a 50 minute drive south of the airport in Jonesboro.  It’s called Taqueria La Oaxaquena. There are all sorts of rave reviews on it.  The second location I had read about was Cafeteria La Oaxaquena, which is much closer – in Smyrna.  It didn’t have the outstanding press of TLO, however.

When I mentioned these places to my husband, he said that he felt like he could wait until we got to Oaxaca to try Oaxacan food.  Well, that’s no fun!!!!  I also stressed to him that the tlayuda, also called a Oaxacan pizza, was made on a huge gluten-free crust of corn masa. (my husband is intolerant of wheat gluten and rarely eats real pizzas any more, unless they are made by a woman named Amy…)

On my way home last night I took the Buford Highway route.  Buford Highway is the “corridor of diversity” in our part of Atlanta, and foods of all nations can be found there.  As I was moving along slowly in traffic, the sign for Don Cabrito caught my eye.  Below the title it said “taqueria oaxaquena”.  I stopped and looked at it and decided to try it out.  Anyplace that served barbequed goat is my kind of place.

Tonight, while my husband was at choir practice, I decided to give it a try.  I was kind of skeptical, because in my earlier drive-by, the restaurant windows were decorated with the words “taqueria estilo guerrero y michoacan”.  Where was the Oaxaca?

My answer came when I walked in – posters everywhere of Oaxaca: the Guelaguetza, panoramic view of the zocalo, the whole thing was decorated Oaxaca-style.  And, sure enough, right there on the menu, were tlayudas.  The place is pretty good-sized, but I was the only customer, and there was only one waitress and one cook.  I ordered my tlayuda with goat – which is not traditional, but I had to have goat…

When it came out, it did not look like the tlayudas in pictures I had seen, which were served open-faced.  This one was folded over like a gigantic crepe – I mean GIGANTIC.  It must have been about 18 inches in diameter and was cut in half and served with a variety of sauces.  I tried a bite of the tortilla, and it was tough as leather.  I really did give it a good try, but ended up asking for some fresh corn tortillas to scoop up the big glops of melted cheese and goat (mixed with a little bit of beans and cabbage).  Then I ate that bit taco-style.

I packed up the rest to take home and when I got there, I peeled off the perishables (onion, avocado, and tomato) and stuffed the filling only in a storage container.  I fed a bit of the tortilla to my puppydog, then threw the rest away.

When I sat down to write this post, I did a little bit of research on the structure of the tlayuda and see that it can also be served folded over, so it’s not like they were doing it “wrong”.  I think that the masa dough was just overcooked or tough.  One of the articles I read said that some tlayuda stands make the tortillas ahead of time and then reheat them.  Maybe that was it.

I am willing to give it another chance.  At least the goat was good!

Three Kings Day is today

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I bought two rosca de reyes yesterday at the Buford Highway Farmers Market.  Today is Three Kings Day and also the first day back for the students.  I thought that I would treat them to a little celebration.  By the way, I may not have been looking in the right places in the past for rosca, because it now seems pretty easy to find.  This morning, when I went to get serving plates at WalMart, they had them too.  They were bigger than the ones I bought for the same price.

While looking around for juice boxes or something for the kids to drink with their cake, I made up my mind to make some atole to serve as well.  The tradition is to drink chocolate atole, called champurrado, with the cake.  I bought some packets to make rice atole, knowing that I would have to augment the chocolate factor, and add sugar as well.  When I got back to the internet, I found that I had all of the necessary ingredients at home to make atole with harina de masa.  I still needed milk.

Here are some links on atole, while I’m at it:

I worked on the atole for a while, using bowls, two different sized pots, a strainer (to get the broken cinnamon sticks out), and whisks and spoons.  I can’t really describe what I did, but I followed the package directions and kept adding Hershey’s cocoa, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon and vanilla and even a little more milk until I got something that was thick without being chocolate pudding.  Then I wondered how I was going to serve it hot at school…

I washed out an Igloo drink cooler and put it in there.  Then, my mother came up with the brilliant idea of using my slow cooker.  That’s what I did.  I brought it to school, poured the hot chocolate liquid in, and set it on high until it got hot, then turned it on low to keep warm until after lunch.  Worked like a charm.

We only ate one of the king cakes in class – there were two little babies in it.  That’s strange to me, because there is only one in a Louisiana or French cake.  I have another left over.  Maybe I’ll offer it up to the teachers, or maybe I will make bread pudding out of it.

Two years ago, I made bread pudding from pan de muertos.  I think I will do something similar with the king cake.  It already has candied fruit on the top. I may take that off and chop it up instead of putting in the ate candy as I did in the recipe below.

Bread of the Dead Pudding

1 pan de muertos (large) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8 large eggs
2 cups whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar and 1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup calvados (apple brandy) or dark rum
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup ate candy (or buy a brick of ate and cut into cubes)
1/2 cup raisins (I only had brown, but golden might be nice)

Preparation
Place bread cubes in 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Whisk eggs, whipping cream, milk, sugar, calvados, and vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. Pour over bread cubes (I used a square baking pan and was afraid it would overflow, so I used a 1/2 cup measure to add the custard a little at a time.  I worked out perfectly) Let stand 30 minutes, occasionally pressing bread into custard mixture. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake until pudding is set in center, about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm.

Happy Three Kings Day!

King Cake, anyone?

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roscas at the bakery

I am thinking about finding or making a king cake to bring to school on Wednesday.  It is Epiphany.  I remember well my different encounters with King Cake.  I am from Lafayette, Louisiana, so I have had all sorts of New Orleans style king cakes.  Being a gourmand, I have to admit that my favorite kind has always been one with as much cream cheese, fruit filling and icing as possible.

When I was living in France, I got turned on to the galette des rois, which is a puff pastry confection with frangipane inside.  Frangipane is a type of almond paste – coarser and more natural than marzipan.  I think it is also put in almond croissants.

When I came to Georgia, I had a great time sharing the king cake tradition with my students and friends.  I even would go all the way to New Orleans for Mardi Gras “just” to bring back kings cakes for my high school French students.  I know, the sacrifices we teachers have to make…  The most notable year was when I transported the aforementioned loaded cakes home and forgot to keep them horizontal.  Can I just say that we had a major collapse on our hands?

I used to have dinner parties in January, and I was so excited to find a bakery in Atlanta that made the frangipane filled cakes.  They were more expensive, so I was loathe to get those for my 6th graders that I taught at the time.  But I did buy a couple for one of my dinner parties.  My French friend clucked disapprovingly at my addition of a raspberry coulis, but I thought it went very well with the cake.

I only recently became familiar with the Mexican version of the king cake, called a rosca de reyes.  It is a relatively plain concoction – a yeast bread with fruit and maybe some nuts that is garnished with candied fruit.  I just happened to be driving home one January 6th when I passed a panaderia in Marietta.  They were making hundreds of roscas, and they were selling like, um, well – hotcakes.

I purchased a couple – one to share with my colleagues at school and a smaller one for my students.  I think they were pretty expensive:  $20 for the small one and $30 for the larger one.  Before I went home that night, for some reason I stopped by my favorite taqueria to have a couple of tacos de lengua.  I happened to mention to the proprietor that I had snagged these cakes on the other side of town, and she ended up buying one from me.

I was looking for recipes online and found this little group forum invitation.  You may go to the website, but here is the deal:

How to participate:
Please read and follow the instructions below. King Cake 2009

  • Bake or buy a King Cake, take pictures (if possible) and blog about the cake and your family tradition and don’t forget to mention who was the “crowned” king
  • Please link back to this announcement in your post, and eventually to the roundup.
  • Fill in the form below and your post will be listed in the roundup.
  • Last day of submission is January 8

If you click on the link to the right and look at last year’s contributors, you will see that there are all sorts of cake traditions for Epiphany.  I just read that even panettone – that Italian fruitcake that is on sale now everywhere – has been used for king’s cake as well.

Here are some more:  The Bolo Rei – from Portugal, the Tortell from Catalonia, Vasilopita from Greece, Banitsa from Bulgaria, etc.

Maybe I’ll make my old cheap stand-by.  One year, I purchased cans and cans of pop and serve cinnamon rolls.  It was easy:  I just opened up the cans, separated the rolls, and arranged them in circles or ovals – just like a real king’s cake.  I made some extra icing and either colored the icing green, purple, and yellow (Mardi Gras colors) or used sprinkles in those colors on white icing.  It was pretty good, too.  I just waited to hide the token or baby until after the cakes were done.

Hey, I just found a similar recipe from Sandra Lee of Semi-Homemade!   Here is another using crescent rolls and a filling…  I did NOT, however, find and “easy” rosca de reyes recipe.  Hmph.

My New Year’s Day Menu

Standard

Okay, I gave a little thought to our New Year’s Day menu – since I was able to stop by an open Publix after I went to see New Moon.  I already had two pork tenderloins (next time I buy from Costco, I am going to open the little vacuum sealed packages of two and separate the loins out), but I had no greens and no black-eyed peas.

I didn’t even try to find fresh black-eyed peas – 5:00 PM on New Year’s Eve is not the time to be picky!  I got two cans of the Publix brand.  I was able to get my hands on the last bag of Glory brand Collard Greens, and I was set.  Here is what I fixed:

First, I made the Cornbread.   I used this recipe from Celiac.com.   It calls for ground corn meal (I used the Bob’s Red Mill Medium Ground Corn Meal that has been in my freezer for a while) and masa harina (or, Harina de Masa – I used Maseca) as a flour substitute.  I didn’t have any buttermilk, so I substituted SaCo Cultured Buttermilk Blend (I checked the ingredients, and they look to be gluten-free).

The only part of the procedure that needed to change in the recipe was to add the Buttermilk Blend (which is dry) to the dry ingredients.  Then I added the water to the eggs and stirred them up.

I decided to write down my recipe and procedure, since I substituted and didn’t use a cast iron pan.  Try it:  It is a good recipe – my mother found the original last year and used it to make a great cornbread dressing.

Corn Bread #2.1 (Gluten-Free)

2 cups cornmeal (Bob’s Red Mill Medium Ground)
1 cup Masa Harina (Mexican-style corn flour used for tortillas)
8 Tablespoons SaCo Cultured Buttermilk Blend (4 TBSP. per cup of water)
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups water
Canola oil spray for the glass pan

In one bowl, combine dry ingredients and cut in oil with a pastry blender (I used a fork). In another bowl, crack 3 eggs and beat with a fork.  Add 2 cups of water and beat with a fork until the eggs and water are mixed.  Then stir the egg mixture into the dry mixture and blend with the fork.

The original recipe calls for a cast iron pan, which I don’t have.  I used a glass pan, about 7 or 8 inches square.  I sprayed it with Canola spray and tried to melt butter in the bottom of the pan, but ended up dumping most of the butter out.

Bake at 425F degrees for 25 minutes, then turn and bake 15 minutes more or until done.

While the cornbread was baking, I made the Collard Greens.  I chopped and sauteed 1/2 red onion, 5 mini yellow bell peppers, 3 cloves of garlic, and 15-20 slices of Hormel Pepperoni (the Original kind – the Turkey is not gluten-free) in 1/4 cup of olive oil and a dollop of dark sesame oil.  When the veggies were soft, I added 4 cups of Organic Chicken Broth, 1/2 Tbsp. of Better than Bouillon Ham base, a couple of shots of balsamic vinaigrette and Wheat Free Tamari sauce.  After the liquid came to a boil, I added the bag of Glory Turnip Greens and tossed them in the liquid.  Then I lowered the heat and simmered the mixture until greens looked done.

Last night, I massaged the pork tenderloin with Williams-Sonoma Coffee and Spice Rub.  Then I added a little olive oil and lime juice and salt and rubbed that in as well.  I put it in the fridge overnight.  Today, I cooked the tenderloin in the oven – it only took about 20-25 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 425 degrees.

Since Williams-Sonoma seems to have discontinued this item (even with a recipe on their website that calls for it), I found someone on Recipezaar who made his own version:

Ancho Chile and Coffee Rub –

1 Tablespoon French Roast coffee beans
1 teaspoon dried ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds

To prepare the rub:  Place the ingredients in a heated heavy skillet.  Shake the mixture over the heat and allow to toast for 1 minute or until mixture begins to release a strong aroma.  Pour into a spice or coffee grinder and grind to a coarse powder.

Finally, I strained and dumped two cans black-eyed peas with a can of chopped tomatoes and mild green chiles, one cube each of Dorot garlic and cilantro, and a cup of chicken broth with some of the collard green drippings.

It all came out great and there are plenty of leftovers, since there are only two of us here.

The only New YAmbrosia: A New Year's Tradition?ear’s Meal traditional item that I compromised on was the Ambrosia Fruit Salad.  Ambrosia is a fruit salad made with orange sections, coconut, and maraschino cherries (some people add pineapple).  My family used to have it for dessert – whether we wanted it or not – becaus it represented happiness in the new year.  I didn’t want to make Ambrosia, mainly because my husband avoids oranges for his gastric reflux and I didn’t want to eat that much salad myself.  So I came upon a compromise.  My husband downloaded a song or two from the band Ambrosia.  Clever, huh?

Then, while I was looking up links on New Year’s traditional foods, I could find nothing about having ambrosia on New Year’s Day.  It was mentioned as a dessert item on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but none of the sites I found required it for a New Year’s meal. I didn’t find it under “lucky foods“, either.  When I mentioned this omission to my husband, however, he asserted that his family also ate it as a New Year’s tradition.  Does anyone else have an opinion?

Well, it sounds like my husband is dismantling the Christmas tree, so I guess that signals the end of the holiday season.  I still have two more days of vacation, then two days of inservice at school before the children come back.  They come back on Three Kings’ Day, so I may have to find a Rosca de los Reyes to serve.