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Integrale Milanese “Mexicana”

25 May Integrale Milanese "Mexicana"

For those of you who read my blog, you know that one of my all-time favorite ingredients is saffron. This delicious, but expensive, spice has a unique one-two culinary punch. It has a wonderful hay-like, flowery-honey flavor when used correctly, and it brings a very unique yellow color to whatever it’s cooked with.  I use it whenever I get the chance to use it in rice, chicken, or seafood dishes. Shortly after I won the 4thAnnual Marx Foods Morel Blogger Recipe Challenge, I jumped at the chance to enter another Marx Foods challenge, the Marx Foods Integrale Gauntlet. The Gauntlet is a 3 round challenge with the star being Integrale Rice!

Integrale Milanese "Mexicana"

Integrale Milanese “Mexicana”

Integrale rice is an Italian brown rice that is  really not a separate variety of risotto rice, but rather a way of processing the grain so that the rice maintains its raw fiber shell, vitamin B1, B5, B6, proteins and minerals. It is incredibly healthy and only grown and harvested by organic means.

Integrale Rice

Integrale Rice

It has a slightly nutty taste and a firmer texture that enhances the “bite” of your risotto! Since this is a contest sponsored by Marx Foods, they kindly sent out 1 kilo of this amazing Integrale rice to use in my recipe!

When I approached the planning of  my dish for the contest, I knew that I wanted to use saffron, I really thought that it would complement the nutty flavor of the brown rice, but I wanted to add my own twist, using the Mexican flavors that I love as well.  In my mind, I had visions of two different dishes, Risotto Milanese and Paella. Risotto Milanese being a classically rich risotto, made with bone marrow, Parmesan cheese, and of course saffron; and Paella Valencia, the mother of all rice dishes in Spain, made with Spanish Chorizo, seafood, chicken, roasted red peppers, paprika, and finally, of course, the saffron. So, doing a bit of simulation in my head (as all engineers do from time to time), I  would use the basic concept of Risotto Milanese and add tequila in place of the white wine, and mix in a bit of the essence of Paella Valencia, somewhat deconstructed, using fresh Mexican chorizo instead of the Spanish chorizo. So what place does Tequila have in a risotto you may ask? I believe that alcohol  opens up the rice and prepares it to absorb the liquids introduced into the risotto. So why not use Tequila, and using Añejo Tequila would give the risotto another unique dimension of sweet,  “oak-y-ness” flavor once the harsh alcohol cooks off.  I would finish off the risotto with a mantecatura of butter and Manchego cheese. Manchego differs from Parmigiano-Reggiano in that it is made from sheep’s milk rather than cow’s milk. The cheese has a well developed, creamy flavor, with a distinctive, but not t0o overwhelming tangy aftertaste that is characteristic of sheep’s milk. It is the mother of all Spanish cheeses, it just sings “Marry me” to the saffron!

So I set about making the chorizo fresh on Monday night. I have a standard recipe that I learned some time ago in Mexico. I also prepared my chicken stock on Monday as well.  Having given some time for the chorizo to “cure” a few days to enhance its flavors, it was time to get dirty and get to the challenge! Risotto, once the technique is mastered, is a wonderful way to start a meal, or a stunning side to accompany any protein. Just a sidebar on Integrale rice. It is a slightly different beast, because of the raw grain shell. It takes a bit more stock and a bit more time to cook. I had to use about a cup more stock and I added about 10 minutes of cooking time to get it perfectly al dente. With some constant attention, a bit of pampering, and a shot or two of Don Julio, in about 30 minutes you have a deliciously rich risotto that will be sure to bless any table! Now I call on everyone to support us and go out and vote for this dish on May 30th!

Integrale Milanese "Mexicana"

Integrale Milanese “Mexicana”

 

 

Integrale Milanese “Mexicana”

  • 1 ½ cups of Integrale Rice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2  medium yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup Tequila Añejo
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra vigin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon saffon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ lb. Mexican Chorizo
  • ¼ cup Manchego Cheese
  • 5 cups Chicken Broth
  1. Place the 5 cups of broth  in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  2. Add the saffron to the broth and keep very warm.
  3. Meanwhile, take the chorizo and heat over medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
  4. Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Once it is hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, but not browning!
  6. Add the rice and stir with your Girariso to combine.
  7. Add the Tequila and cook until it is completely absorbed.
  8. Start adding the stock about 1 cup at a time and stirring constantly until each cup of stock is completely absorbed before adding the next. After 4 cups of stock have been added, start tasting the rice (or about 20 minutes)
  9. When the rice is al dente, remove from heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the cheese and stir vigorously.
  10. Plate the risotto and sprinkle with the chorizo. Garnish with fresh parsley or fresh oregano.
  11. SERVE IMMEDIATELY!
Integrale Milanese "Mexicana"

Integrale Milanese “Mexicana”

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Caldo de Camarón

12 Apr Caldo de Camarron

Can any two words be more delicious than Shrimp Soup? Now take that simply delicious shrimp soup and add a little Mexican flavor and you have the classic Caldo de Camarón.

Caldo de Camarón

Caldo de Camarón

Among all the tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, and tamales, Mexico also has a very large repertoire of soups, especially seafood based soups. Among those is the classic Caldo de Camarón. This hearty, slightly spicy soup is built upon a base of chile guajillo, a delicious shrimp broth, chunks of potatoes and carrots, and finished with fresh peeled shrimp. Luckily, I was able to find some fresh native shrimp at the local fishmonger, so this was a welcome treat to our Easter Sunday brunch!

In Mexico, this soup is often given complimentary in many restaurants, served in little shot glasses! It is a very delicious way to welcome you to their restaurant…

So as you welcome those special guests to your table, just remember to serve it very hot and always have fresh limes ready to be squeezed in the soup!

Buen Provecho!!!

Caldo de Camarón

  • 4 Red Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 8-10 Chile Guajillo
  • 1.0 lbs. Shrimp.
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  1. Peel and devein shrimp under cold running water, reserving peels and shrimp separately; set shrimp aside.
  2. Take shells, the onion, 2 cloves of unpeeled garlic, and ½ tsp of salt put in a stockpot and add about 3 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30-40 minutes.
  3. Strain broth and put liquid back into a stockpot and keep warm.
  4. Toast the chiles on a comal and then soak in hot water for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the stems and seeds and place in a blender with 1 clove of garlic, a peel of onion, and about 2 cups of soaking liquid. Blend to a puree.
  5. In another stockpot, heat about a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat, Strain the puree over the oil and then simmer for 8 to 10 minutes over medium-high heat, allowing the puree to season and thicken.
  6. Add the shrimp broth that you had set aside, add the carrots, potatoes.
  7. Bring broth back to a simmer, and simmer  for 5 minutes.
  8. Turn heat to high, add shrimp, bring to a boil, and simmer briefly until shrimp are done.
  9. Add the chopped cilantro and add salt to taste.
  10. Ladle soup into large soup bowls, and serve with lime wedges.

    Caldo de Camarron

    Caldo de Camarron

Rosca de Reyes

3 Jan Rosca de Reyes

Rosca de Reyes, or the “Kings Bread” is a wonderful tradition I have inherited from my wife’s family.  In Mexico, they do not celebrate Christmas the same way that we Gringos are accustomed. They do not have a Santa Claus and 8 tiny reindeer, or stockings and Black Friday. The children usually receive gifts from Los Reyes, the three Magi that followed the stars and travelled to receive Jesus in Bethlehem.  As the Three Kings arrived bearing gifts to Jesus, so too do the children receive gifts from the wise men on January 6th, the Día de Los Reyes.  As with most holidays in Mexico, there is also a traditional food associated with the day, and the Rosca is the food for Día de Los Reyes.  A Rosca is a wonderful sweet bread in the shape of a ring  that is usually baked with a porcelain or plastic baby Jesus inside. They say that the baby Jesus baked into the bread symbolizes the birth of Jesus in hiding from Herod the puppet King of Israel, but to me it is also means that I have to make tamales should my piece have the Baby Jesus inside it!

Living way up here in the Great White North of Maine, there is no place to buy a traditional Rosca, so as with most foods Mexican, I have to make it myself. I searched and searched for a recipe that would be equal to the Rosca that my mother-in-law would bring from La Panaderia Huesteca in Mexico City, which would be filled with cream cheese and walnuts and topped with citron peel, limon, and biznaga (candied cactus).  But not being very successful in finding a similar recipe, I settled on one from the legendary Diana Kennedy, I also used ALL organic ingredients (including the dried fruits), kosher salt, spring water, and added orange zest, walnuts, and golden raisins to the dough.  One important note is to make sure that ALL ingredients are at room temperature.  I learned this the hard way, when my first attempt failed to rise due to the yeast not activating correctly!

What came from this recipe was a delicious bread that can be served with Atole, Chocolate Abuelita, coffee, or just a simple glass of milk on Día de Los Reyes, so enjoy!

Rosca de Reyes

Fresh from the Oven!

Rosca de Reyes

(From The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy)

The Sponge:

  • 450 g unbleached organic bread flour
  • 15 g salt
  • 60 g organic sugar
  • 10 g yeast
  • 3 eggs
  • 145 g water

The Dough:

  • The Sponge.
  • 450 g unbleached organic bread flour
  • 60 g water
  • 8 egg yolks
  • Zest of one orange
  • 225 g organic sugar
  • 200 g organic unsalted butter, softened
  • 110 g Golden Raisins
  • 100 g chopped walnuts

For the Top of the Rosca:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • melted butter (organic of course!)
  • organic sugar
  • Dried or candied fruits (I used dried Kiwi, Mango, Papaya, Fig but I first soaked them in hot water for 10 minutes and drained them before placing on top. This helps prevent them from burning during baking.)

Method:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, combine all of the sponge ingredients. Mix for about 10-12 minutes.
  2. Remove the dough hook, cover the mixing bowl, and allow the sponge to ferment until doubled, about 2 hours.
  3. With your sponge already in the mixing bowl add the dough flour, egg yolks, water, orange zest, and the sugar. Mix with the dough hook on low speed until combined, about 4 minutes.
  4. Continue mixing for an additional 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add the butter and mix at low speed for a minute or two, then at medium speed until the butter is fully incorporated into the dough.
  6. Turn the mixer back to low speed and add the raisins and the walnuts and mix until they are just incorporated.
  7. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and ferment for 2 hours at room temperature.
  8. Turn the dough into a lightly floured counter. Divide it in two pieces and shape each piece into a tight ball and let rest, covered, for 20 minutes.
  9. Take two pieces of parchment paper and place a ball of dough on each sheet.
  10. For each loaf, make a hole in the center of the ball, and with floured hands, gently stretch the dough into a ring shape and lift the ring using the parchment paper and place on two baking sheets.
  11. Proof, covered, for about 3 hours, until almost doubled.
  12. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F.
  13. Before baking, decorate the top with fruit and brush the dough and fruit with the egg yolk.

    Proofing

    Ready for the oven!

  14. Bake for 15 minutes, until browned. Remove the loaf from oven, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar, and return to the oven for another 6 minutes. The internal temperature should be at least 190F.
  15. Cool on a wire rack.

    Cooling

    Cooling on the rack

New England Clambake

16 Oct
New England Clambake

The Steampot

Fall is a great time of the year in New England. The Great Northern Forest’s leaves are all turning to there reds, browns, and deep purples. The air is turning crisp and dry, the smells are all changing. You want to know what I think of when I think of fall? I think of a clambake! When I was growing up, my father used to throw his annual clambake in October. I remember taking all those hundreds of littleneck clams that he would get at the fish market, scrubbing each one and soaking them in a tub full of cold water and corn meal. While those clams were soaking, we would spend an hour or so shucking the fresh corn that we had picked up from a local farm in Chardon, Ohio. After a good soaking, we would spend all morning bagging 12 clams each into individual cheesecloth bags.

My father would place all these bags in a giant steamer pot, all bunched together in a circle around a cheesecloth bag of aromatics (carrot, celery, garlic, onion, bay leaves). After placing the clams he would place sweet potatoes, the corn, and on top of all this he would place fresh chicken seasoned simply with salt and pepper. He would toss in 2 sticks of butter, and finally place one potato on top. He would always tell me that when that potato was done, the bake was ready. We would then carry the pot over to the firepit, place it on top of the grate covering the pit and let it steam away. Just about 10 minutes before the bake was done, he would throw the frozen king crab legs in the top of the bake.

We would wait with anticipation for the bake to be ready for us to eat. When that one potato was all tender,  he would take the pot off the fire and place it on the cold bricks to the side. He would then take a pitcher and fill it with the hot broth at the bottom of the steamer. The broth was by now a delicious blend of chicken juices, clam juices, vegetable juices, crab juices, butter, and garlic. He would then take the chicken off the top and finish it off on the grill, putting a nice char on the outside of the chicken. By now, my mother had brought in our take, which consisted of one dozen clams each, one sweet potato, one corn on the cob, and one steaming cup of broth.

I hope that this has made you as hungry for a fresh steamed, New England clambake as it has made me.  While you are at it, go get yourself a nicely chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio or a maybe a Argentinian Torrontes to go with this feast!