Comfort food to boost your mood…iViva México!

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photo 3 photo 2 (2)Mexican!

Food…

Love…

Comfort…

Culture…

 

In my experience, Mexican food elicits the most definitive reaction from people.  A typical response from my fellow co-workers prior to a tasting I organized at work was, “I love Mexican food” or “I will eat the heck out of some enchiladas, don’t dare me” or “I love guacamole,” all with a toothy grin and a lingering look of euphoria in their eyes.

General consensus from family, friends, co-workers, friends of friends, etc is that it is quick, easy, filling and makes you feel happy.  Once devoured, the rice, tortilla and bean begin to expand.  A miniscule bead of sweat forms along your hairline, both from over indulgence and for those adventurous Minnesotans, el fuego or spice. It may be Tabasco, pico de gallo or a family favorite, Scorned Woman. Yes, it is a hot sauce and it is HOT with a very beautiful flavor and I highly recommend it. Great with eggs.  (Consume with caution)

Mexican food is a beautiful thing and has evolved over the years from hamburger hard shell taco night to tamale pie, tinga de pollo (chicken tinga) and sopa de tortilla (tortilla soup).

For me, it has always been a comfort food.  The nasal euphoria of fresh cut onion, garlic and cilantro fills my kitchen along with the thick aroma of meat stewing in dried chiles. I lose myself in Mexican cooking. At times I believe I am in a trance, then, I end up with a delicious and memorable soup. It’s magic I tell you.

Tamales take a whole day, but I am never too exhausted to eat at least 3 when they finally come leaping out of the steamer onto a plate full of frijoles borrachos (drunken beans) and Elote (Mexican street corn). My next blog will be from a class I taught on Mexican food as well as a tasting I did for my co-workers based solely on ingredients purchased from Trader Joe’s. They do not sell dried chiles! It was a challenging adventure.

Today, I am in desperate need of a bowl of homemade tortilla soup. Tortilla soup is my go to when feeling sick, cold, down or just really hungry for Mexican soul food.

My brother loves to eat this as though it will never be made again and I need to buy him his own bag of tortilla chips. (see photo below) I love him dearly and I know he will always and forever love Mexican. To you my brother, I love you. iViva México!

Señorita Tijerina’s Sopa de Tortilla con Pollo

(recipe first published 6/26/2014 on http://www.senoritatijerina.com)

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 lb. chicken thigh
1 T canola oil or other high heat oil (not coconut, too much flavor)
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
8 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade, no salt)
2 T cumin
2 T paprika
1 T celery salt
3 T Kosher salt
1-2 chipotles in adobo sauce
2 dried guajillo peppers, seeds removed (may want to use gloves)
1 dried ancho pepper, seeds removed (may want to use gloves)
Tortilla chips
Sour cream
Queso Fresco
Avocado
Cilantro
Lime

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large dutch oven and sauté onion until translucent
  2. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute
  3. Add 2 T stock, cumin, paprika, celery salt and Kosher salt, stir 1 minute
  4. Add 6 cups stock, bring to a boil and add dried peppers and chipotles in adobo sauce, these are very spicy as are the dried peppers, so use sparingly, start with 1 and taste after simmering for 2 minutes
  5. Reduce heat to medium high and simmer until chiles are re-hydrated 10-12 minutes
  6. Remove chiles, onion and garlic with a mini strainer and pureé with 1 T of broth
  7. Add chicken to dutch oven and boil over medium high heat 6-8 minutes
  8. Add pureé mixture to chicken in broth and reduce heat to low
  9. Remove from heat
  10. Season to taste with salt and additional chipotle

Serve with crema (sour cream), queso fresco (mozzarella works as a replacement), avocado, freshly chopped cilantro, lime juice and chips

Enjoy!

Señorita Tijerina

“Whatever it is you are searching for, I hope you can eat it.”

www.senoritatijerina.com

@senoritatijerin

A picnic in the park. Love. Culture. Determination.

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imageRe-creating a picnic I have had in another country is impossible, the setting, the company or the events surrounding.  The food, however; very possible.

Now, I was in my early twenties when I left on an adventure of a lifetime and took the giant leap to study abroad through the University of Minnesota’s Global Studies program. Travel to Spain and earn college credit. I had been taking Spanish since the 6th grade albeit not doing well, having Mexican blood fueled a fire within me to educate myself so that I would learn the language of my father’s family even though I had not grown up with him or around the language or culture. I was determined to speak it, live it and understand.  Once in Spain, within two weeks I was on the phone begging my mom to come home. Yup. She said no. Culture shock hit hard. Immediately soothed by sweet jamón Serrano, salty lonchas de queso Manchego (slices of Manchego cheese), pan fresca (fresh bread), a glass of Rioja and an extremely handsome Spaniard named Carlos.

3 months later I was on the phone begging to stay. My parents did come visit me while I “learned” the language over Semana Santa right after I was released from the hospital for having my appendix only minutes from bursting. Most of it was blocked from my memory. We spent several days wandering, exploring, and eating while having a blast. The best memory I have was when the three of us took a flight to Barcelona from Madrid, I was in school in Toledo about 45 minutes from Madrid. We took a train to Figueres to tour La Casa de Salvador Dalí. Amazingly creepy, wonderfully disturbing man, he was. Afterwards, we purchased several mouth-watering meats, fresh cheese, wine and bread and sat in a park nearby waiting for the train back to Barcelona. It was beautiful and perfect. That adventure has made my current life all the more full love and magic.image

Recently the Lake Harriet bandshell played The Princess Bride outdoors. #1 favorite movie. A Spanish picnic was re-born. Jámon Serrano, Queso Manchego, Anejo y Ibérico, fresh bread, dark chocolate and many other sweet and savory additions. Mostly purchased from the local Trader Joe’s, thank you TJ’s. I was in a state of los recuerdos de España (Spanish memories). Smiling, eating and thinking of el Último de la Fila. An 80’s Spanish band. They’re pretty good.

On that note, ¡Buen Provecho!

Señorita Tijerina

“Whatever it is you are looking for, I hope you can eat it.”

http://wp.me/p4pMxj-2a

@senoritatijerin

From the “Edge of the wilderness”…Smoked fish

Growing up I remember the many trips up north to grandma’s house in the Northeastern portion of MN so rightly named, “Edge of the Wilderness” Big Fork, MN to be exact and within the Chippewa National Forest. I remember the long drives and in particular the part where each and every one of us would get sick due to the “windy road”. No, not wind with air, but twisty with curves. Although we did open the windows to see if that helped. Oh man there was nothing any of us could do, but hold on tight and listen to our parents tell us to “stare out the window and breathe”. Never helped, it was inevitable one, if not all of us were green in the face. In the end, it was definitely worth it. A favorite memory of mine, unlike the aforementioned, was reaching the dirt road that lead directly to grandma’s house, several miles long, beautiful scenery. Describing or photos would not do it justice. It was breathtaking. Another not so favorite memory of mine was when my step-dad thought it would be a good idea to teach me to drive (when I was 6 or 7) in this big ‘ol rickety truck down the dirt road and he told me to “grab the wheel” and I did and then we hit a tree. Not my favorite memory. Going up to grandma’s we did a lot of crazy things as kids. ATV’s, guns, mouse traps and small animals included, even large ones’ like beavers and bears had a run in with us a few times. Oh no, we did not hurt them. I don’t think. I may have blocked it from my memory.
The smell of grandma’s house always hit me just as we could see the dome house approaching. It was the smell of a wood burning stove, the woods, the cedar sauna and to me smoked fish. It must have been the combination, but to this day when I smell smoked fish my mind immediately snaps a photo of Grandma Mary’s dome house. Smoked fish is a favorite of my family and when we can get it we devour it. Right out of the newspaper is ideal, but sometimes we cheat and it just might come on foam wrapped in plastic. Hey! I am just sayin’. As I have grown older and traveled much around the state of MN exploring I have come to love the smoked fish from Kendall’s Fish house along the scenic byway headed through Duluth towards Two Harbors. They have never failed me and I have always recommended them to anyone up in that area. Their smoked salmon is to salivate for and their smoked trout is divine with crackers and bit of, that’s right, Tabasco or just simply plain right out of that day’s local newspaper.
I hadn’t been able to get smoked fish lately that I am head over heels for, until we had a tasting at work and someone made a smoked trout dish that almost made me cry. I will ask her permission to post the recipe and get back to you, but until then I have not been able to stop making dishes with it. Guess what? It comes in a tin can. I know! I couldn’t believe it. It is the smoked trout in oil found at Trader Joe’s, http://www.traderjoes.com about $3 a can and most certainly worth every penny.
I submitted a recipe in a http://www.food52.com recipe contest for favorite breakfast meals and posted this (Trout Hash) as it is one of my new favorites that I wish I could eat everyday. Enjoy.

Smoked Trout Hash
Serves: 4

Ingredients
• 2-3 sweet potato, peeled, diced cut into 1/2″ cubes
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 tablespoon large shallot, peeled and diced
• 2 cloves garlic, diced
• 1 can trout in oil (Trader Joe’s, smoked trout in oil)
• 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons capers
• 2 green onion, diced, green only
Method
1. In a sauté pan over medium heat add 1/2 T of oil and the sweet potato, sauté until sweet potato is tender 6-8 minutes
2. Add shallot and garlic and continue to sauté for another 3 minutes
3. Add trout and oil from trout into the sauté pan and stir
4. Let sit for about 4 minutes until it begins to brown and becomes crisp and then flip
5. Let this side sit for an additional 4 minutes until brown and crisp, then add salt, fresh ground pepper and capers and stir
6. Let both sides crisp up once more only about 2 minutes per side and then add in green onion and serve
7. Add additional salt to taste, serve with toast

“Whatever it is you are searching for, I hope you can eat it”

Señorita Tijerina
@senoritatijerin
http://www.senoritatijerina.com

 

 

 

 

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The Mellow Mallow

It snowed April 29th, 2014 and I can’t wait to go camping.  I know you are reading this going, “oh that silly girl, she is going to say something funny to make a joke about people camping in snow,” but no, no I am not.  Just as soon as I can see 2 days of sunshine, warm air and no snow or rain, I am going camping.  Campfire 2014Camping means several things to me; fun times, planning the food, breathtaking fires, the painstaking hunt for kindling, uninterrupted family time, meaning my brothers and I can joke about the dumb things we have done in our lives and not get defensive, anymore, which brings us closer together, nature, or as you and I like to call it mosquitoes, hiking, shooting sta…”what? You saw one? I blinked”, smoke, “black rabbit, black rabbit, black rabbit”, campfire hair (smell, look and feel) the lulling sounds of the night as I snuggle into the sack, only to wake up either freezing cold and sore from shivering or so hot I have forgotten I am camping and panic and then there are S’mores, delicious little dirty, messy morsels of chocolate, marshmallow and graham.  My memory gives way to Kraft Jet-Puffed marshmallows and Hershey’s chocolate rectangles between two Nabisco Honey Maid graham crackers.

I have only met one person in my life that has ever made marshmallows from scratch. She was a culinary artist I worked with for several years and incorporated booze and powdered peanut butter.  She made them using gelatin, so I thought that was how they had always been made. Nope.photo 2

According to the National Confectioner’s Association http://www.candyusa.com, the first marshmallow was derived from the mallow plant (Athaea officinalis), a plant that is native to marshes. Get it? Marsh mallow.  Candy companies have now replaced the mallow with gelatin, which is how I was able to spend the afternoon making marshmallows. To think what was once only suitable for royalty, Americans now consume over 90 million pounds per year, or 1,125 full 18-wheelers.  90 million pounds!

I began my marshmallowy, gooey, sugary adventure.

Quick Facts:
• Mallow plants were used by doctors to soothe sore throats in the early 1800’s.
• At one point in time it took 27 hours to create one Peep. Today, it takes about six minutes. Technological advances… (ACA, 2014)
• The Girl Scout Handbook published the first S’more recipe in 1927. (ACA, 2014)
• Powdered peanut butter is the process by which the hydrogenated fat is removed from the peanut and then ground into a fine powder adding in sugar and salt. (PB2.com)

Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste Marshmallows
Yield: 24 1” marshmallowsMarshmallows

Ingredients
• 1/2 cup powdered sugar
• 1/2 cup cornstarch
• Cooking spray, for coating the baking pan
• 2 ¼ ounce packets unflavored gelatin, powdered
• ½ cup + 1/4 cup cold water
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup light corn syrup
• 1/8 teaspoon salt (I used my kumquat and ginger infused salt)
• 1 large egg white
• 2 teaspoons Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean paste
Method
1. Sift powdered sugar and cornstarch into a bowl, set aside
2. Coat an 8.5×11” baking pan, set aside
3. Empty gelatin packets into a mixing bowl and pour 1/4 cup water directly over it to let is soften
4. In a heavy bottom saucepan cook sugar, corn syrup, 1/2 cup of cold water and salt over low heat
5. Using a wooden spoon, stir until sugar is dissolved
6. Increase heat to medium high and boil mixture, DO NOT STIR
7. Let sit until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 10 minutes
a. If you cook it too long the sugar will begin to harden, learning the hard way my first batch produced spider webs of sugar from pan to spoon to shirt to floor to arm to hair…
8. Remove from heat and pour sugar over the gelatin mixture directly into the mixing bowl, stir until gelatin is dissolvedphoto 1 (2)
9. Gradually whip to high speed until thick and double in volume
10. In a separate bowl, beat egg white until it holds stiff peaks (see photo)Egg White - Stiff
11. Add egg white and vanilla bean paste to mixing bowl and continue to whip another 1 minute or until just combined
12. Pour mixture into baking pan
13. Sift 1/2 cup powdered sugar mixture over marshmallow
14. Allow to cool, uncovered, until firm, at least three hoursphoto 1 (5)
15. Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan
16. Dust a work surface with a thin layer of the remaining powdered sugar mixture
17. Invert onto the surface and cut into whatever sizes you desire ( This is where I actually rolled it up like a jelly roll and wrapped in plastic wrap until I used it for my dessert)
“Whatever it is you are looking for, I hope you can eat it.”

Señorita Tijerina

Next up…Flourless Chocolate Cake Brownies with Marshmallow Toppingphoto 3

http://wp.me/p4pMxj-2a
@senoritatijerin

 

 

 

 

Kohlrabi’d My Taste Buds

Welcome back. Strolling through my local grocer the other week, yes strolling AND smiling. I take my sweet time. Some loathe to grocery shop (my mother), some don’t mind it, but I love it! I once thought about opening a business where I grocery shop for people. I very quickly realized, unless I had complete control of where I shopped, what they purchased and how to cook it, I would eventually Chef Ramsay myself out of a job. While strolling and smiling, I noticed a bulbous, green rooted, beet-like vegetable teetering off the produce shelf.
imageI went to tip it upright on the shelf and naturally the entire row of them came bowling down as though I were being video-taped on “good-efforts, failed”. As I put them back up, about 12, still wet from the “random” produce spray (Hey! Guy in the sky with the trigger finger, I am onto you), I noticed right away how heavy they were. I put them at about 2.5 pounds for 3 tied together and approximately 16″ tall to include the leafy greens. I looked up at the sign, Kohlrabi $3.99 a bunch. I placed a bunch in my cart prepared to learn, play, cook, eat and educate.  We have a few local farms who produce kohlrabi, The Long Siding Farm, organic, produces them for their CSA and local farmer’s markets. I know they are just one of several as I have seen kohlrabi at other farmer’s markets in the cities. http://www.localharvest.org or www3.mda.state.mn.us
I did attempt to locate an encyclopedia, say what?! I feel when researching, the internet is not always the answer, some of the best resources are old books and farmers. Not kidding.
I cut off the greens and let the kohlrabi sit in the refrigerator for 3 days. The greens are edible and full of nutritious stuff, but I didn’t eat them this time.
I cut one in half and to my extreme surprise it was very juicy. I could see the tough outer layer and peeled that away and sliced the rest into sticks.image It smelled sweet, root-like, earthy. It tasted of a cross between, a broccoli stem, a raw potato and jicama. Grainy in texture, but, again juicy. I know you have squishy face right now, but try it, bake it with some salt and ancho powder or your favorite spice mixture and fries it is. I also added sweet potato to that mix as I will eat the heck out of some sweet potato fries.
In my stroll through juggling at the store, slicing, tasting, baking and eating the kohlrabi, I like them best baked or in a soup.
The recipe I have below is baked with lot’s of love, kohlrabi ratatouille with mozzarella. imageI made it the evening it decided to snowstorm, April 3rd, 2014. Photo proof shown. For both the dinner and the snow. Enjoy!image

Quick Facts:
1. Introduced to Germany in the late 1950’s after it was developed in Northern Europe by crossing cabbage with white beet or turnip. Hence, the “green rooted, beet-like” quality I first observed. I felt a self win for recognizing this prior to any research.
2. German word, Kohl “cabbage”, Rabi “turnip”. (thank you Wikipedia and foodgeeks.com)
3. Germany provides over 40,000 tons to the world with help from a few other countries.
4. Same species as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens and brussel sprouts
5. They can be white (light green) or purple-ish.

“Kohlrabi Ratatouille – Señorita Tijerina-style”imageimage

Serves 4 or 12

Ingredients (think layers)
2 bulbs kohlrabi, peeled and thinly sliced into medallions
1 onion, diced
4 mini sweet bell peppers, sliced in half, seeded and stemmed
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
1 8oz package fresh mozzarella thinly sliced (or mozzarella you just made at home)
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (or fresh sauce you made at home)

Method
Pour 1/4 cup of sauce over bottom of 9×13 pan or muffin tin (12)
Begin the layering, kohlrabi, tomato, cheese, pepper, onion, garlic, cheese, kohlrabi
Pour remainder of sauce, 2 cups over top and add remaining cheese
I had leftover carrots in my crisper and I did what I always do, I placed them in the dish
Bake entire contents in a 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes or until you want to eat the cheese right off the top, but don’t knowing you will burn your entire face 🙂

Let cool 5 minutes, serve, eat and enjoy!image
If you want to fancy it up a bit you can top with fresh oregano or parsley.

“Whatever it is, I hope you can eat it!”

Best Regards,
Señorita Tijerina
@senoritatijerin