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Mexican Bolillos Crusty Rolls

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How to make Mexican BolillopanfrancesMany years ago, long before the internet era, my dear college friend Alma sent me an important letter. I could feel her excitement for the little surprise she was sending in that letter. It had two recipes, one for the famous sweet bread (“conchas”), and the other for the bolillos. She described how she spent an entire Saturday at her neighborhood bakery learning how to make them and wanted to share the recipes with me, knowing how much I enjoyed cooking. At the beginning when I started to work with this recipe my bread was a mess, but throughout the years, with practice and tweaking the recipes, I finally have a bread that resembles the one sold in Mexico. I still have to keep practicing with it, since it’s not that easy to make a bread exactly like those sold in bakeries in a home oven without the commercial flours and enhancers, but the texture, smell, and even the crunchy sound is there.
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Chicken Mole Enchiladas/Enmoladas de Pollo

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Enmoladas15aA couple of months ago, I was interviewed by fellow food blogger Meghan, from the blog Cake ’n’ Knife. Among other questions, she asked me what my ultimate favorite meal was. I didn't even think twice in answering that Mole is my most favorite dish of all time (my mouth’s watering just from thinking about it right now). Why, you might ask? I guess it’s its combination of sweet and spicy flavors, but that’s not the only thing that makes it special. It’s what this dish represents in Mexican culture. When someone says that we’re going to have mole for lunch, you know that it’s for a special occasion like a birthday, wedding, graduation, etc. It is truly an extraordinary meal.

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Veracruz Style Red Snapper/Huachinango a la Veracruzana

Red Snapper Veracruz1a
Veracruz is one of the most beautiful states in Mexico (as I mentioned here); it is full of magnificent sceneries and places full of adventure. For those looking to immerse themselves in a unique culinary experience, each region of Veracruz has it’s own gastronomy with something different to offer. When you visit Veracruz, your feast will start in the north with some zacahuil and bocoles, continue to the fried fish and seafood soups from Tuxpan (right in the middle of the state, at the seaside), and after that to the mouth-watering “tamalitos de chanchamito” in Coatzacoalcos, finally ending with the tasty adobada meat from Minatitlan in the south. This is just the tip of the iceberg of all that you can find in Veracruz. The enchiladas from the Huasteca region, the aromatic coffee from Cordoba, the elegant and exquisite mole xiqueño made in Xico, Veracruz - the list goes on and on…
Veracruz Collage
Veracruz is not just the name of the state, but also the name of the main port in the state. Known as the “Heroic Port of Veracruz”, it has so many things to offer to the visitor. Veracruz has beaches, mountains, and some of the most diverse climates. Some of the above photos are courtesy of The Government of The State of Veracruz, you can visit their website to learn more about Veracruz. HERE

4 SERVINGS
INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 Whole Red Snapper, cleaned and scaled. About 2 to 2/12 pounds in weight.
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice.
  • 2 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped, white onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes or 1 1/2 pound of tomatoes, finely chopped.
  • 1 small bunch of flat parsley, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup).
  • 2 fresh branches of thyme
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 cup of Pimiento Stuffed Olive, whole or sliced.
  • 1 Tablespoon small capers, rinse.
  • 1/4 cup raisins (Optional see note bellow)*
  • 4 Pickled Jalapenos peppers thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry with wine **
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Warm Mexican White Rice to serve.
Red Snapper Veracruz2b
NOTES:
  • You can use Red Snapper, Tilapia or Bass filets instead, if you prefer them to the whole fish. It will require less cooking time.
  • Not everyone uses raisins, you can decide not to use them.
  • I am using Pickled Jalapeño peppers since they are easier to find outside Mexico, but if you can find pickled Guero pepper, use them instead.
  • Again, the white wine is a personal preference in our family, since it enhances the salsa flavor. If you decide not to use it, your salsa will still taste good.
DIRECTIONS:
Red Snapper Veracruz3b
  1. Season the fish with salt, pepper and lime juice inside and out. Set aside.
  2. In a large ovenproof frying pan, heat the oil in on medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until transparent. Your frying pan has to be big enough to fit the fish. If you do not have a large enough oven-proof frying pan, then have a large baking dish ready to bake the fish there. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes or chopped tomatoes to the frying pan and cook for a about 8 minutes. Add the herbs. Keep cooking for 4 more minutes or until sauce is cooked.Red Snapper Veracruz7a
  5. If using the dry white wine, add it while the tomatoes sauce is cooking.Red Snapper Veracruz4b
  6. Before adding the red snapper, add the pickled jalapeños, raisins, olives and capers and cook until the flavors combine, about 4 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
  7. To bake the fish, add some sauce to the bottom of the baking dish, then place the fish and cover it with the rest of the sauce; bake for about 30 minutes or more.  The fish meat should flake when you insert a fork.  (If you want to cook it using the stove-top method, place the fish into the frying pan and cover with some of the sauce. Place a lid and simmer until fish is cooked.). The cooking time will depend on the size of the fish.
Serve in a large serving plate covered with the sauce.

Provecho!

Mely

What is your favorite way to cook fish? 




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Mexican Hot Chocolate and Homemade Mexican Chocolate Mix

Mexican Hot Chocolate
If you’ve tried Mexican Hot Chocolate before, you know that it has a different texture than regular Hot Cocoa with milk. The Mexican Chocolate tablets found at supermarkets have a slightly grainy texture and float in the milk mixture of this drink. Cocoa beans are grown in the States of Chiapas, Tabasco and Oaxaca (even in Veracruz). I used to work in the State of Tabasco, in a region known as the Chontalpa. Here the hot and humid weather favors the production of cacao. Farmers go to work before dawn and come back home a little after noon. The heat is one of the reasons they prefer to work during the very early hours.
Harvesting-cacao-beans-in-mexico
Cacao Growers in Tabasco, Mexico. Photo Courtesy of "Gringo Loco"
There are several brands of Mexican Chocolate sold here in the States, with  “Abuelita” and “Ibarra” being the most common. In the southern states of Mexico, however, you can still buy local brands of chocolate made in an artisanal way, and the taste is different, of course. One of my old students sent me a care package that included a box of chocolate, from the brand “El Choco”. It tasted like those chocolates from the State of Oaxaca, which is also known for its chocolates. The ingredients in the box say: “Cocoa beans, milk, almonds, pecans, vanilla, milk and sugar.”
Since not everyone has access to Mexican Chocolate where they live, I decided to make my own mix and taste the results. I encourage you to try it yourself, I think you’ll love it. I even called the owner of the chocolate factory “El Choco” to make sure the ingredients were correct. Making your own mix adds more iron, calcium, antioxidants and fiber to your diet; I hope you’d rather give that to your kids than store-bought hot cocoa. You’ll find the recipe below, along with the recipe for the regular store-bought Mexican Chocolate.

SERVES 3 CUPS

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 1/2 Cups of milk
  • 1 3 oz. Mexican Chocolate Tablet like Abuelita or Ibarra, cut in pieces.
Mexican Hot chocolate8
NOTES: The chocolate package says to add 4 cups of milk for each 3oz. tablet but personally I find it a little weak if done that way.

Mexican Hot Chocolate frother
DIRECTIONS:
1. Place chopped chocolate and milk in a medium sized sauce pan and simmer for a few minutes over low heat. The chocolate will start to dissolve while you stir it.

2. Once the Chocolate has dissolved, you can froth the mix using a Mexican Molinillo or a hand held mixer to form a nice foam (being careful with the hot chocolate). You can also pour the mix into a blender (loosely covered) and mix to form the foam. Any way you mix it the chocolate will form a foam.  Serve and enjoy!
     Mexican Hot  Chocolate homemade mix
Now for the Homemade Mexican Chocolate Mix:
SERVES 2

INGREDIENTES:
  • 2 cups of cold milk
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of ground almonds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of ground pecans
  • About 1/2 inch of cinnamon stick or 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Sugar (or more to suit your own taste)
NOTES:
  • Try to use roasted or toasted almonds if possible. If you don’t find pecans and can only find almonds, that’s fine.
  • A fine quality cocoa powder will be a plus in taste. Play around with the ingredients until you find your own favorite mix.
DIRECTIONS:
Hotchocolate14
1. Place dry ingredients (ground pecans, almonds and cinnamon) along with the cocoa powder and sugar in a small bowl and mix well.  The above pictures show an option to grind the nuts using a spice grinder. In case you don’t have a spice grinder but have one of those power blenders like a Vitamix , then mix all the ingredients with the cold milk in the blender until everything is well grinded. Another option is to buy almond meal and skip the pecans.

2. Once you have your dry mix, place in a small saucepan with the cold milk and vanilla. Mix thoroughly with the cold milk to avoid forming any clumps, this is very important since the almond and pecans slightly thicken the mix.

3. Now, place the saucepan over a low heat and simmer, whisking constantly until it starts to boil. You can use the molinillo or an immersion blender to form the foam.  
Serve warm.
Provecho!

Mely

And if you want to enjoy the flavors of the Mexican Chocolate  in a Mexican Clay Cup please enter the Giveaway for 2 clay mugs, 1 package of Mexican Chocolate and 1 Mexican wooden Molinillo (frother). To enter go to this link HERE
HotChocolate16a







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