Sunday, July 10, 2005


These are little puffed, fried tortillas w/ chicken & pickled onions -- delicious & authentically Yucatecan.

Chicken-In Yucatan they would use a whole chicken, but I often do this with chicken parts. (It's better if you can grill it, but not neccessary.) Frugal cooks in Yucatan would use the chicken stock for a 1st course soup, serve the chicken as a main course, and then use the leftover chicken in the evening for salbutes. (You can use a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket if you don't have the time for this.)

2 tbl olive oil
1/2 onion, whole
1 garlic clove, whole
2 sprigs of cilantro
1 chile xcatic (chile guero) (Just use a really mild fresh chile) - whole
salt & pepper
canned chicken stock or water to cover
1 whole chicken or your favorite chicken parts

1 block of recado rojo
enough vinegar to make a paste

Saute in olive oil until lightly brown the onion & garlic. Add the cilantro & chile, saute a minute. Add chicken & water to cover, a little salt & pepper. Bring just to the boil and immediately turn down the heat to a bare simmer. Simmer til almost done-7 minutes for breasts, 10 for dark meat, 30 minutes for a whole chicken. Let cool in stock.

Mix recado rojo and vinegar to make a paste. When chicken is cool, remove from stock and pat dry. Cover chicken with paste and grill over medium heat or bake in a 350 oven for 5-15 minutes more or until done. Let cool and shred.

Pickled onions
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
Red wine vinegar, enough to cover onions
Heat red wine vinegar w/ a 1/4 tsp of mexican oregano til just boiling. Pour over onions & let sit at least 1/2 hour.

Hot "Sauce"
1 chile habanero
juice of 1/2 lime & 1/4 orange

Stick the chile on the end of a fork and grill til it begins to get some brown spots. (DON'T INHALE THE FUMES). Place in a small bowl & slice open. Add lime & orange juice and let sit for 1/2 hour. The longer it sits, the hotter it gets. A couple of drops on anything will give it plenty of heat.

Salbutes-If you can get fresh masa, definitely use that--just follow the recipe for forming the balls.

Masa harina
1/4 cup flour
boiling water
Crisco for frying
Tools-a tortilla press, damp tea towels

Follow the measurements and instructions from the masa harina package, but substitute the flour for a 1/4 cup of the masa harina and use boiling water. When cool enough to handle form into a big ball and cover w/ a damp tea towel. Begin make ping pong sized balls with the dough, transferring them to another bowl also covered with a damp tea towel.

Pressing & frying - Heat about a 1/2 inch of crisco in a iron skillet until it glazes but doesn't smoke. Use two pieces of heavy plastic wrap, one on each side of the press, to keep the dough from sticking. Don't press these out as thin as tortillas, they need to be at least 1/8 inch thick.
Slide the salbute into the hot fat and immediately begin spooning the hot fat over the top of the salbute. When puffed, turn and brown the other side. Remove to a paper towel lined baking sheet or rack. (When the rack is full, move to the oven to keep warm). Continue frying until you have about 3 per person.

To Serve
Place some shredded chicken on a salbute, add some pickled onions & a small slice of avocado. Pass the hot sauce.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Tacos or Tostadas

These taste just like what we used to eat in Sisal. If you fry the tortillas you can make tostadas, but don't hesitate to use the already fried tostada shells that are available in the supermarket. They will make your life much easier. You don't have to serve this with guacamole.  We always just put thin slices of fresh avocado on top, but it is really good with the guacamole.

Serves 4

La carne
1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
2 big garlic cloves, chopped
Handful of coriander stems, chopped
1/2 tsp each cumin, coriander
1/4 tsp each oregano, chile powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup Rotel ot 1/2 cup Goya Sofrito
1-2 tbl red wine vinegar
1/2 Cup stuffed green olives chopped, or 1/4 cup of capers

Saute sofrito with onions, garlic and coriander stems. Add the meat and continue sauteing. Add all the spices.  Continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the vinegar and cook for a couple more minutes. Taste & correct the seasonings.

Frijol colado
Recook previously prepared black beans. (See recipe on blog). Cook until thick. Use stick blender to puree or if you don't have one, just mash well with the back of a spoon.

1 large avocado, mashed with the back of a fork
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime & 1/4 orange *
2-3 tbl chopped cilantro
1 tsp chopped, pickled jalapeno
salt, pepper, & pinch of sugar

Mash the avocado with the fork. Add the citrus juices and all other ingredients. Taste & correct seasonings.

Xni Pec - This is Yucatan's answer to pico de gallo. It means dog's nose in Maya because it will make your nose wet when you eat it.
1 small cucumber, seeded and chopped
1/2-1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 c chopped cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime & 1/4 orange *
1 habanero chile, seeded & chopped **
salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, taste & correct seasonings.

*In Yucatan they would use sour orange which is unavailable here. A mixture of lime and orange juices tastes really similar, but it should be balanced, not too sour. You may need to add more lime or orange juice.

** I use a knife and fork to chop the habanero. Don't touch the inside of it with your bare hands and if you do, don't touch your face, mouth, eyes or any other delicate areas. Wash your hands several times.

If you don't have a tortilla keeper (looks like a little styrofoam ice bucket), just put a tea towel on a plate ready to receive the hot tortillas.

Buy a good brand of corn tortillas. Heat an iron skillet or two til it's blazing hot. Put the tortilla in the dry skillet. Wait til it begins to puff a little, then turn. It should puff up some more and have some brown, toasted spots on each side. Place on the towel lined plate & cover w/ the end of the towel. Repeat til you have heated about 3 tortillas per person.

To serve put everything on the table & dig in.

To make tostadas:
A few hours before serving remove the tortillas from the package & spread out to dry. Then heat a 1/2 inch of Crisco in an iron skillet and fry the tortillas til brown & crisp on both sides. As they are done, remove to a paper towel lined rack or cookie sheet.

Spread each tostada w/ a little bit of the frijol colado. Place a little meat, guacamole & xni pec on each one. Arrange on a platter and serve. (These will not be hot, but they will be delicious.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Ginger-Mango Flank Steak with Fennel Slaw from Emeril

This recipe comes from Live. My sister recommended it and it is fabulous. Next time I wouldn't make a special trip for fennel and black sesame seeds. You can make the slaw with cabbage or not at all. Also, the salad would be delicious with oranges rather than tomatoes. I would not add chili paste to the mango puree and add it to the barbeque sause so that there was more of a contrast between the barbeque sauce and the mango puree. I like my flank steak rare so I grilled it 3 minutes per side.

I made this the other night with drained, canned peaches instead of mango. It was great! A wonderful substitution when there are no ripe mangoes available. I served this with the slaw (made with cabbage) and brown rice and omitted the salad with vinaigrette.

1 tablespoon chili garlic paste recommended: Sambal)
1 tablespoon lemon zest (preferably organic)
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup ponzu (citrus seasoned soy sauce)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound flank steak
1 teaspoon canola oil
Ginger Mango Barbeque Sauce, recipe follows
Fennel Slaw, recipe follows
Radicchio, romaine, frisee or mixed baby greens, for serving
Your favorite vinaigrette, for salad
Sliced red onion, tomato and avocado, for serving, optional

Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a bowl and mix well. Place steak in a plastic storage bag, add the marinade, remove as much air as possible and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat grill pan over medium-high heat. Remove steak from marinade bag and remove as much of the marinade as possible. Reserve 1/2 cup marinade for barbeque sauce. Season the steak with kosher salt and pepper. Brush grill pan lightly with canola oil, grill steak for 2 1/2 minutes, rotate on same side 45 degrees (to create grill marks) and grill for another 2 1/2 minutes. Flip steak and cook for an additional 5 minutes on the other side, rotating 45 degrees after 2 1/2 minutes. Remove from grill pan and allow the steak to rest for 10 minutes under a foil tent. Slice steak against the grain as thinly as possible.

To serve, toss salad and optional red onion, tomato and avocado with vinaigrette of your choice and arrange on a serving platter. Place a heap of fennel slaw in the center of salad, then place sliced meat around the sides (I fold the sliced meat in a slight V shape to show as much of the caramelization of the outside of the meat). Drizzle meat with barbeque sauce and mango puree carefully ensuring that the sauce gets onto the salad greens and slaw (use more barbeque sauce than mango puree).

Ginger-Mango Barbeque Sauce:
2 ripe mangoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped or one can drained peaches, chopped
1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chili garlic paste (recommended: Sambal)
1/2 cup marinade reserved from flank steak

Puree mangos in a blender. Add rice wine vinegar and chili garlic paste and blend until all ingredients are incorporated (the color should be a bright orange-red). Bring marinade to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and reduce to about half (about 10 minutes over medium-low heat). The sauce can be strained at this point to remove the bits of garlic and ginger (the flavor is slightly less intense but it makes for a nicer presentation). Add about half of the mango puree (approximately 2/3 cup) and cook for another 2 minutes. Set aside.

Save the other half of the mango puree for garnish.

Fennel Slaw:
1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon lemon zest (preferably organic)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 large fennel bulbs
Black sesame seeds, for garnish

Place lemon juice in a bowl and whisk in olive oil to create an emulsion. Add honey, zest, salt and pepper and whisk until combined; set aside.

Slice fennel very thinly with a mandolin. Combine fennel and dressing and set aside until ready to serve. Re-season with salt and pepper, to taste, and sprinkle with black sesame

Friday, July 01, 2005

Greek style grilled pork w/ orzo & spicy tomato sauce

This is my husband's favorite dish from Jim's Place East in Memphis. It's not their recipe, but pretty close.

Serves 4

1 pork tenderloin, sliced diagonally into about 1/2" thick slices
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbl dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Place everything in a zip-lock bag and marinate for 1-4 hours. Bring to room temperature before grilling. Grill over high flame, 3 minutes, turn, and grill 2 more minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, covered.

To serve place a spoonful of orzo in the middle of the plate. Put a stripe of tomato sauce down the middle. Place 2 slices of pork around the orzo. Serve w/ a tossed salad.


1/2 onion, chopped
1 tbl olive oil
1 tbl butter
3 cups chicken stock
1 pinch saffron
1 1/2 cup orzo
salt & pepper to taste

Heat chicken stock in microwave w/ saffron, about 5 minutes. Heat butter & olive oil over medium heat. Add onion & saute til translucent. Add orzo and saute 3-4 minutes more. Add stock, salt ,and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover & cook 10 minutes. Turn off heat & let stand 10 more minutes.

Spicy tomato sauce

1 tsp olive oil
1/4 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 can tomato sauce
salt & black pepper

Saute onion & garlic in oil w/ red pepper flakes. Add tomato sauce and simmer 5 minutes. Season w/ salt & black pepper to taste. Be careful w/ the salt as most tomato sauces already have enough.