Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sopes with Pulled Pork & Pico de Gallo

Sopes are golden, crispy little bowls of fried masa (corn flour) which hold any dreamy combination of beans, meat, cheese and salsa you fancy. For some ungodly, cruel reason, they are extremely difficult to find on Mexican menus in the Northwest. But, when done right, sopes make hand-made tortillas recoil in shame like the totally inferior corn cakes they are. Attention to quality ingredients makes all the difference on these. Honor the sope and do them right, with homemade salsa and cotija cheese. Ojala que my great-grandmother Mama Luisa, whose culinary prowess is the standard by which I measure myself, would be proud of me for these.

First, get the pork on the stove...

Pulled Pork Madrigal

Pork Shoulder bone-in - $7 (@1.99/lb)
Organic Orange - $.79
1 cup tomatillo salsa - $.98 (@1.99/jar)
1 cup water
1/4 cup white vinegar
olive oil
flour for dredging
salt y pepper to taste

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven or other heavy sturdy pot with a lid. Dry your pork with a paper towel and then dredge it in flour. When your oil is sizzling, brown your pork starting with the fatty side first. When your kitchen smells like bacon and your meat is a crispy brown on all sides, cut the orange in half, squeeze the juice into the pot and then nestle the orange halves next to the pork. Add the salsa, water and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to simmer. Cook for three hours or until you can gently nudge the meat apart with a fork. Pull the meat into a bowl, leaving the fat, bones and broth in the pot. Shred it, baby. Shred it.


Masa Harina (Corn Flour - I use the brand Maseca) $4.99
Chicken Broth
Vegetable Oil

You can shape your sopes ahead of time, but wait to fry them until everything else is ready and you want to eat. Follow the instructions on your flour to make masa as you would for tortillas, BUT, replace half the water with Chicken broth. This is important. You can make it vegetarian, but it won't be as flavorful. You could try vegetable broth,'ve been warned. Once you've mixed everything together, the dough should be soft and moist. If it cracks when you try to roll it into a ball, add more water tablespoon by tablespoon until it softens up. Let the dough sit for an hour covered by a moist towel.

Shape the dough into small balls the size of a golf ball. Flatten them with your palm then pinch the edges up to form a little bowl. Here's a picture of the finished sopes for your reference. As you can see, we're not talking a deep bowl, sopes are shaped more like a tart crust than anything else.

Once you've shaped your sopes, heat about half an inch of oil in a skillet. Throw in a pinch of salt to keep it from splattering and wait to fry your sopes until the oil is really hot. Test it by throwing in a small piece of masa. It should float and fry like crazy. Fry each side until it's golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.

Pico de Gallo

Four Vine Ripened Tomatoes $4 (@$2.98/lb)
Juice of 2 limes $1 (@$.50/lime)
1/2 sweet onion $.33
1/4 cup diced organic cilantro
1 jalapeno (seeded and finely diced)
SALT. Lots.

The best pico de gallo has perfectly diced components, plenty of lime and plenty of salt. If you've done the right work with your dice, all you need to do is combine your ingredients and let sit (or not- usually this doesn't last long in our house).

Sope Assembly

The only other things you'll need for sopes are:

Refried beans - $.99
Crumbled Cotija Cheese - $5 (@$9.99/lb)
Chopped Iceberg Lettuce - $.98 (Is it even possible to grow organic iceberg? Who knows, but baby lettuce or dark romaine won't do. Maybe greenleaf would be okay. We're going for a crisp, watery crunch to contrast w/ the hot, juicy pork.)

SO, take your hot, crispy sope and spread beans in a thin layer on the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle cheese, meat, lettuce and salsa IN THAT ORDER. Take a picture, post it on facebook to make your friends drool, then EAT it. Pair with Negro Modelo or fresh lime margarita.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nutmeg Crepes with Black Cherry Filling

Flash update:

Here's a yummy variation on the Blueberry Crepes I posted in January, Nutmeg Crepes with Black Cherry Filling. Follow the recipe for Blueberry Crepes, substituting cherries for blueberries and mixing a 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg into your batter before cooking.

Bonus Substitution Fix: Plain Yogurt Cream Dollop

I didn't have sour cream in my fridge to make this:

Cream Dollop:

Whip these ingredients together with an electric whisk or mixer:

4 ounces cream cheese $1 (@$2 per 8 ounce package)
1/2 cup sour cream $.56 (@$2.25 per 16 ounce container)
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup sugar

So I substituted the 1/2 cup of sour cream with plain Nancy's Low Fat Yogurt. It was runnier - so less a dollop, more a sauce - but tangy, providing a nice balance to the sweet cherries. Minicrat tried to eat the whole bowl herself and would have succeeded if I didn't snap out of my stove zone to snatch it away from her just in time.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mexican Pad Thai w/ Cilantro Lime Slaw

Arriba! Three weeks off the blog sauce due to flupocalypse but I am BACK. I'm only slightly embarassed to say I did a little happy dance in the kitchen when this recipe came together on the plate. The tangy, crunchy slaw stands in for the mung bean sprouts, shredded carrots and lime wedge served with traditional pad thai. The spicy, sweet mole sauce is so effortlessly delicious with noodles, you'll think twice before eating mole in a taco ever again.

An added bonus is that I've perfected a quick, scratch Mole Sauce that you can use for this or other recipes. You'll never need Dona Maria again.

Cilantro Lime Cabbage Slaw

1/2 head Organic Red Cabbage, finely shredded - $1.12 (@ $1.29/lb)
Juice of 1 Lime - $.39
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon chopped Cilantro - $.10 (@$.59/bunch)
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Total: $1.61

Mix Ingredients and set aside while you cook the noodles. The lime and salt will soften the cabbage while you cook the rest of dinner.

Spicy Mole Pad Thai w/ Tofu

3 dried Pasilla Chiles $1 -(@$2/package of 5 or 6)
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons Canola Oil
1 cup Organic Raisins $.50 - (@$3.49/lb)
10 Coriander Seeds
1/2 cup almond slivers $.50 - ($6.99/lb)
1 round Mexican Chocolate $.66 - (@ $3.99/package of 6)
1 tablespoon Natural Chunky Peanut Butter ($1.79/jar @ Trader Joe's)
1 cup broth (vegetable, chicken, whatev.) $.50 - (@ $2/quart)
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (for garnish)
1 package Softened Thai Rice Sticks (follow directions on the package) $3.99
1 package Organic Firm Tofu $1.69
Boiled water

Total: $8.84
(Not including staples)

Serious mole sauce takes hours to prepare. This is my short-cut version that is just as delicious. Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in both a large saucepan or wok (big enough to hold your noodles) and another tablespoon in a small saucepan.

In the wok, fry your dried chiles, turning frequently, until they puff up and you can smell them. When done, plop them into a bowl and smother them with boiling water. Keep the Chiles submerged by weighing them down with a plate. Don't wash the wok. You'll use the oil from the chiles to fry your tofu. (or chicken or turkey if you want to)

In your small saucepan, mix and fry the raisins, garlic, and coriander seeds. Don't let them burn! You'll know they're done when the raisins puff up into little balls. When the raisins are done, add the almonds, gently toasting them. Finally, add the broth, some salt, chocolate and peanut butter and let simmer until your Pasilla chiles are done softening in water.

Split the chiles open, pull out the seeds and stems and add the flesh of the chile to the simmering chocolate mixture. Simmer for five minutes. Transfer the sauce to a blender, or use a hand held blender to puree the whole mess. It doesn't have to be super smooth. Put the sauce back on the stove while you cook the tofu and noodles.

Throw your drained, cubed tofu into the wok, searing off all the sides. Add another tablespoon of oil if you need to. Add the softened rice noodles to the wok and pour the mole sauce over the noodles. Toss the noodles and tofu until the mole is distributed evenly and the noodles are the desired texture.

Serve with a side of slaw and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Green Chile Carnitas

This is a quick dinner I made one night when I was pressed for time and craving protein. The meat turned out so delicious I think I actually cried a little when my husband got to the leftovers before I did (In my defense, it had been a really loooong day).

There is a special cut of pork that is used for carnitas that is delicious but super fatty. Instead, I used a leftover pork loin and they turned out lean and lovely.

Quick Green Chile Carnitas

1 Pork Loin $6 (@4.99/lb) If available at your Supermarket, Organic Pork can be had for $8.99/lb
1 Jar Green Salsa $1.99 - $3.29 (Herdez or Trader Joe's Green Salsa are good)
1 cup vegetable broth $.50 (@$2/quart)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Total: $8.49 to $17.28

Rub your uncooked roast with a little salt and pepper. In a stew pot, heat your olive oil until it smokes. Sear off each side of the pork until it's browned and smells like bacon. Lower heat to simmer and add the green salsa and broth. Cover and let stew for an hour or more until the meat falls apart in the pot:

Serve in a warm corn tortilla or eat it by itself with black beans and a green vegetable!

Tomorrow I'll post a break from the meat with a double dose of Tofu Chard Stir-fry and Broccoli Rice & Lentils.

Mexican Chocolate Brownies With Tangerine Cream Cheese Frosting

Ummmm, yeah. These brownies taste as ridiculously good as you think they do. Daddycrat, after spending a day at home alone with them told me, "Darling, love of my life, unless you want me to double in size and grow some sexy man boobs you can never make those brownies again." Consider yourself warned.

Mexican Chocolate Brownies with Tangerine Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I made mine from cocoa powder, sugar & butter $2.99/10 ounce container)
2 eggs $.40 - (@$2.50/dozen)
1/4 milk $.07
1/2 stick butter melted $.50 (@$3.99/package of four)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour (I used half corn/half sweet rice for gluten-free)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Total: $3.96 (not including staples)

Preheat oven to 400. Grease a square pan with butter.
Mix flour and baking soda. Set aside. Melt chocolate in a double burner. Add butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Mix until melted, remove from heat. Separately whisk eggs in a bowl. Slowly whisk the eggs into the chocolate mixture, then the milk, then the flour. Pour into greased pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until it's solid in the middle.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/2 package cream cheese $1 (@$2 per 8 ounce package)
1/2 stick butter $.50 (@$3.99/package of four)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated tangerine (or orange) zest

Total: $1.50 (not including staples)

Mix softened cream cheese and butter with electric mixture until smooth. Add vanilla. Mix. Add powdered sugar mixing bit by bit until the frosting has the amount of sweetness you like. You don't have to use all the sugar if you don't want to. Finish by mixing in the tangerine zest.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Recipe for Humble Pie

While some Senators congratulated themselves for trimming Food Stamps and Teachers' salaries from the federal stimulus package, the New York Times style section published the heartbreaking and tragic story of New York banking execs now forced to live on $500,000 a year. What does a pay cut mean for these poor souls? Cover your child's eyes, close the curtains and prepare yourself for something dreadful. As the writer warns, "The cold hard math can be cruel." Bwwwahhh!

Firstly, taxes are a bitch:

Like those taxes. If a person is married with two children, the weekly deductions on a $500,000 salary are: federal taxes, $2,645; Social Security, $596; Medicare, $139; state taxes, $682; and city, $372, bringing the weekly take-home to $5,180, or about $269,000 a year, said Martin Cohen, a Manhattan accountant.

Parents will have to help their children with their homework:

Not every bank executive has school-age children, but for those who do, offspring can be expensive. In addition to paying tuition, “You’re not going to get through private school without tutoring a kid,” said Sandy Bass, the editor of Private School Insider, a newsletter that covers private schools in the New York City area. One hour of tutoring once a week is $125. “That’s the low end,” she said. “The higher end is 150, 175.” SAT tutors are about $250 an hour. Total cost for 30 weeks of regular tutoring: $3,750.

Like California's Furloughed State workers, these execs will learn the art of "Staycations":

Barbara Corcoran, a real estate executive, said that most well-to-do families take at least two vacations a year, a winter trip to the sun and a spring trip to the ski slopes.

Total minimum cost: $16,000.

The personal trainer has to be fired:

A personal trainer at $80 an hour three times a week comes to about $12,000 a year.

GASP! Some women will be forced to wear the same $15,000 cocktail dress, twice:

The work in the gym pays off when one must don a formal gown for a charity gala. “Going to those parties,” said David Patrick Columbia, who is the editor of the New York Social Diary (, “a woman can spend $10,000 or $15,000 on a dress. If she goes to three or four of those a year, she’s not going to wear the same dress.”

Meanwhile, here's a list of things some other rich people thought were too wasteful to include in the Federal Stimulus package:

• $98 million for school nutrition (school lunch programs - for those pesky poor kids)

• $1 billion for Head Start/Early Start (for those pesky poor pre-schoolers)

• $5.8 billion for Health Prevention Activity (nutrition and exercise programs for low-income kids and families who can't afford personal trainers)

• $600 million for Title I (Provides funding to low income schools so they can hire teachers to teach kids who can't afford tutors to get them into college)

• $16 billion for school construction (For those pesky schools in poor neighorhoods that are falling down/poisoning their students)

• $3.5 billion for higher education construction (For those pesky state schools churning out the future of America)

So, rather than engage in the uncouth practice of class warfare, I'll do my part to help the poor banking execs in New York get through this very "difficult" time. I offer this recipe::

Out-of-Touch Elitist Humble Pie


4 Eggs - $.80 (@$2.50/dozen)
4 Medium Potatoes, thinly sliced -$1 (@ $3.69/5 lb bag
1 Onion, diced - $.66
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper or Red Pepper Flakes to Taste

Total Cost: $2.46

In a frying pan, cook onions in a few tablespoon olive oil until clear. Add sliced potatoes, salt and pepper, lower heat and cover until potatoes are soft. Scramble Eggs and pour over potatoes. Stir just enough to make sure egg has thoroughly infiltrated the potatoes. Cook uncovered like an omlet until the eggs are fluffy. No need to flip. Serve with shredded cheese, if you can afford it .

p.s. I also find it hilarious that the author of the NYTimes article cites a $45,000 Nanny as a legitimate expense when the whole premise of the article is that these families can barely survive on only the husband's lonely $500,000 income. Even full time stay-at-homes like Daddycrat need a break from the kids, but a full-time nanny? Please! Hilarious, and yet, infuriating.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chiles Rellenos

Okay Caryn, this one is for you! Chiles rellenos might just be the perfect food. I'm not talking about the limp, fried anahiem chile you sometimes find in burritos around Portland. These are dark, beautiful poblano peppers stuffed with melted cheese, fried in a fluffy light batter and practically smothered in a clove infused tomato sauce. Mmmm......

This recipe is complicated so I'm going to start with the sauce. I'll update with the cost totals tomorrow:

3 lbs Organic Roma Tomatoes $4.17 @ $1.39/lb at Safeway!
1 Organic Yellow Onion, diced $.66
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
6 whole black peppercorns
5 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 bayleaf

Preheat the oven to Broil. In a saucepan, saute your onion and garlic in a little olive oil. Line your washed tomatoes up on a broiling pan and roast them until the skins turn black and split like this:

When the tomatoes are cool enough, peel and seed the tomatoes, then add them to your onions and garlic. Lightly smoosh them with potato masher, then add the broth. Add the whole spices. I suppose you could put them in a little cheese cloth to make removal later easy...I just kept count and took them out at the end before I pureed the sauce because I like to exercise my brain that way. Turn the heat to low and let it simmer until you're done with the chiles.


6 Dark Green Poblano Peppers $1.99/lb (You want taught, shiny skin for your chiles. No wrinkled peppers, they aren't fresh)
4 Eggs
2 cups cheddar cheese cut into 2 inch skinny rectangles
Canola or Vegetable Oil for Frying
2 cups corn or wheat flour for dredging (I have to make a pitch for corn flour here. It gives it a much more interesting texture and taste than flour)

Preheat your oven to broil, again. Broil the chiles for about five minutes until the skin starts to blacken. Pull them out, turn them so another area is exposed. Broil again until blackened. Pull them out, rotate, etc. Until the skin all over the chile is blistering and black. The broiler MUST be hot when you do this or the chiles will cook but they won't roast, right? If you overcook your chiles, they'll be mushy. Mine were a little bit soft this time because I wandered off in the middle and let things get carried away.

In anycase, take them out when they look like this:

Now comes the sort of hard part.

Put the chiles in a plastic ziploc for about fifteen minutes. They'll steam themselves and the skins will separate. Gently take the chiles out and carefully peel the skin off. Don't worry if you can't get it all, just get what comes off easily. DON'T RUB YOUR EYES OR FACE at any point in this process.

Gingerly cut a slit down one side of the peeled chiles and remove the seeds and any membranes. The membranes are bright green threads that run down the inside of the chile. If you pull too hard, you can tear another hole in the pepper, so be careful. The seeds and membranes are where the chile's heat lives. Place a few pieces of cheese inside each chile. Set aside.

Heat your canola oil in a frying pan. You want the hot oil to be about a half inch deep. In a large bowl, whip the whole eggs (yolk and all) into a foam. You can test the oil by dropping a little dollop of egg foam in it. It should immediately puff up and brown. Prepare a plate with flour to dredge your chiles in.

Make some room on the counter by the stove for your chile assembly. You should have in this order: 1) Cheese Stuffed Chiles 2) Corn Flour Plate 3) Egg Foam 4)Hot sizzling oil 5) A Plate w/ Paper Towels or brown paper bag to absorb the excess oil from finished chiles.

Now, get ready to rumble.

Dredge the chile in the flour. Emmerse it in the egg foam. Pull it out, let the excess foam drip back in. Carefully plop the chile in the frying pan:

It will brown quickly, then flip it over or turn it to fry all the sides:

Let them rest:

Then smother them in your finished sauce:

Pour yourself a drink, take a bite and congratulate yourself on a job well done.