Radish party

Radish party
del noche de los rabanos, Oaxaca

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sopa de Pollo con Chirmol y Tortilla

Guatemalan Style Sopa de Pollo con Tortilla de Maiz y Chirmol

This chicken soup is both light and filled with flavors. Super easy to make and perfect for rainy days.

To make this, I had some leftover chicken breast that I had pan sauteed with some salt, pepper and cumin in olive oil. I chopped it into bit sized pieces and set it aside.

Next, I took half of a big white onion (diced) and let it sweat in the stock pot with a little olive oil. Make sure to stir often. You do not want to caramelize, just soften. I then added in several cloves of garlic, diced.

After about five minutes, I added in the chicken and enough water to cover. I brought it to a high simmer and added bite sized pieces of celery and a good dose of cumin, salt, and pepper. I then covered it and lowered heat to a low simmer for 20 minutes- or about how long it took to run to the store to get the limes, cilantro and tomatoes I had forgotten to buy.

by the time I returned, the water reduced some. I added 1 can of Goya black beans (though home-made would have been better, but that's another day of work). I was sure to rinse the beans well first and drain as I didn't want the thick sodium packed juice involved. I added more water to cover and more cumin and salt (to taste). Then, a good few dashes of hot sauce and a splash of beer. I used a Hefeweizen, but really anything on the lighter side works to round out the base. I then squeezed a big lime into the pot.

I then chopped up about a handful of cilantro and added it to the pot. Again, I brought it back up to a simmer and left it uncovered to bring the water down.

Meanwhile, I worked on the chirmol. In Honduras, it is called chismol, but in Guate I always saw it written as chirmol. Basically, I chopped roma tomatoes and another handful of cilantro. I then tossed it with the juice of half of a lime and added salt and pepper. I can eat this stuff by itself it is so amazing.

When the soup was closed to finish, I began heating up the tortillas. I bought the soft white corn tortillas because, again, making the tortillas is a few hour process. And besides, the store bought ones aren't so bad, at least in our area where there is a large immigrant population.

When I was ready to eat, I prepped the last, most amazing ingredient...aguacate- avocado. mmm.  I wanted nice think slices to add to the top.

To serve: I poured the soup in the bowl, careful to meet a good food to broth ratio. I then added the chirmol and some avocado to the top and ate it with the corn tortillas in each bite. I like to put the avocade, chirmol and tortillas on the side and add each to the dish as needed while I eat.


Ingredients breakdown  (makes about 5 servings)

2 smallish chicken breasts, sauteed and seasoned in advance
1 can Goya black beans, rinsed well and drained
1/2 bunch of cilantro
2+ roma tomatoes (depeding on how much chirmol you want)
1/2 white onion
1-2 avocados (to add to top as you eat)
1 large stalk of celery
lots of ground cumin
salt to taste
pepper to taste
hot sauce to taste
splash of a wheat bear or other ale
soft corn tortillas

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Central Am Inspired Enchilada Salad

In Central America much of our diet includes beans, tortillas and avacado. One dish that is especially popular is enchilada. These are not the goo covered cheesy hot concotions of US Mexican retaurants. Instead an enchilada is made with a tostada (a crunchy corn tortilla) topped with beans, cheese, and either lettuce or raw cabbage, hot sauce and maybe some aguacate (the name for avocado down here). 

While visiting the US, I needed something "familiar" to my current daily diet and whipped up this for lunch. It is mestizo in nature- a little Central American and a little US flavored. 

  • Crispy corn tortillas
  • Mixed greens or shredded cabbage
  • Aguacate or Haas avacado- whatever is avail near you
  • Good hot sauce (not tobasco) if you like spicy
  • Frijoles volteados. I prefer tehse to the gross refried beans of the Old el Paso type. Personally I love the Natura 's or Ducal that you can find in the "Mexican"section of the US supermarket: 
  • 1 Tomato (I love hierloom or anything with real flavor), diced
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 jalepeño, seeded and diced if desired
  • Cilantro, if desired
  • Lay out your greens on a plate. 
  • Add slices of the aguacate/avacado. I like to leave the pit in so if I don't use all of it, I can wrap and save it for a few days. 
  • In a small bowl, mix together a diced tomato, diced red onion and the jalepeño and some chopped cilantro (if using). You just made a version of pico de gallo! Congratulations! 
  • Cut lime in half and squeeze into tomato mix. Stir and add salt and pepper to taste
  • With your hands, crunch up the corn tortillas to bite sized pieces and sprinkle onto greens
  • Heat the bean in a pot or microwave. You can add cheese and/or hot sauce if you like. 
  • Scoop beans onto greens and chips
  • Scoop the pico de gallo onto the salad. 
  • Squeeze the rest of the lime onto the salad. 
  • Enjoy! Buen provecho! 

Lentil Burgers- Can be vegan and gluten free!

Lentil Veggie Burger Recipe
I adapted this from Naturally Vegetarian Recipes.
You can make this Vegan and gluten free and be creative with toppings.

Total Prep Time: ~30 Minutes 
Total Waiting-for-things-to-cook-or-sit-time ~4 hours:  (1.5h to soak lentils, ~50 mins to let lentils simmer, 1/2 hour to cool mixture, 10 min to cook patties) ~ Servings: 5 hamburger bun sized patties
 ~Nutrition Data, 54g Serving (burger only):194 cal, 23g carb, 8g fat, 294 mg sodium, 9g fiber, 10g protein, low Cholesterol, good source Vit E, Thiamin, Folate, Magnesium. Estimated glycemic load 7

 * 1 cup brown lentils
 * 2 cups water
 * Optional: 1 unsalted vegan veggie bouillon cube (I used a chicken one as I had no veggie, so mine was not totally veggie friendly)
 * Olive oil for cooking
 * ~1/4-1/2 red onion, chopped
 * 3 cloves diced garlic
 * 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger OR 1 1/2 tsp dried ginger
 * 1 medium sized finely chopped carrot
 * 1 tsp cardamon (or cumin)
 * 3 tsp ground sage
 * salt to taste
 * black pepper to taste
 * splash of worchester sauce
 * 1/2 cup quick oats (like 1 min. oatmeal), lightly chopped
 * 1 crust of stale integral bread (leave out if gluten free and use more oats), finely chopped

 1. Soak lentils in hot water in a pot for 1.5 hours
 2. Drain
 3. Add 2 cups of water, plus optional veggie cube or bay leaf, add sage
 4. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 1/2+ hour until tender
 5. Add cadamon or cumin, salt and pepper, worchester, and ginger. Add the finely chopped carrot. Remove lid and turn heat up to medium, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the remaining liquid has been absorbed. Some liquid is ok as it will bond to the oats.
 6. Meanwhile, chop the onion and garlic, sautee in olive oil until onions are almost carmelized.
 7. Place onions and garlic in a large container and let cool. Add the chopped oats and mix together.
 8. When lentils are tender, mash lentils with a potato masher, stick blender or fork.
 9. Mix lentils in with oats and onion mix. Add the bread crumbs (if using). Pat down into a small loaf. Let cool for about 1/2 hour. You can put in the refrigerator for part of this time if the mixture has cooled enough. 
10. Heat the pan on med-hi and drizzle with olive oil. Swirl to coat.
 11. With a spoon, scoop the mixture into your hand and make a ball. Form into a patty. Mine tend to be larger (to fit a hamburger bun) so they only made 5. If it seems not quite stiff, add a little more oats and-or dry bread crumbs. If too crumbly, add more water.
 12. Do a test patty to see how long you need to cook each side. I found that it was under 3 mins per side. The outside should be a little crispy.
 13. If you are not vegan, add some cheese once the patty is flipped. If you are not celiac, grill or toast the buns.
 14. Add your toppings. We went traditional mayo, mustard ketchup, but you can be classier.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dinner for One...or more if you wish :)

Since moving to Central America, I have learned to make many things out of necessity: bagels, bread, and especially soups. In the States I took for granted things like Campbell's Soup (way back before I learned to really cook), and Trader Joe's (for quick easy lunches). Tomato soup has always been a comfort food, so it is of course on the top of my list. However, it isn't for everyone, and John would often rather pass on soups in general, but especially tomato. So, I often have made what I call "Soups for One" for a quick dinner. Here are two of my recent favorites. Note that you can always double up on this if you want leftovers or to invite a friend.

Image from: cookingweekends.blogspot.com
Chunky Tomato Love

Mince two cloves of garlic and begin sauteing in pan with a pat of butter or margarine.
Finely chop ¼ of a white onion and toss in with the garlic until they sweat.

Tomatoes- (For fast and easy soup, I don't even bother with steaming and peeling) Take about 4 medium sized roma tomatoes and chop into small bits; Add to the pot. Cook over Med High.
Chop up a half a handful of fresh cilantro and add to the mix.

Let all of this saute together, stirring every minute or so. After about 3 minutes, stir and add a cup of water for more broth (really I just eyeball it).

Add a dash or two of hot sauce (We love the D'Olancho hot sauce that we still have our Honduran friends bring us, but choose your favorite. You can also substitute for some powdered Chile Coban; or just let it be as is).

Let all this simmer for about 10 minutes and you are ready to eat!

Variation of Tomato Love- Creamy

Follow the same steps as above, but instead of water, add milk and turn to lower heat to avoid scalding. You should also a another pat of butter, margarine, or mantequilla for creaminess.

Mushroom and Scallion Soup

This soup resulted from having only odds and ends, an upset stomach, and a desire for comfort; This proved to be a kick-ass light meal that healed my tummy, my stuffy nose, and my soul. Also, it is vegan and veggie friendly if you sub sesame oil for the margarine.

First, chop 4-5 oyster mushrooms into bite-sized pieces.
Next, slice 1 and ½ green onions into about ½ centimeter pieces.

Mince ½ a clove of garlic.

Begin sauteeing all of the above with a pat of margarine/butter or sub in sesame oil (I don't have any or I would have used it).
If you have fresh ginger (I did not at the time), mince about 1cm of it it and add to the pot.
Otherwise, you should add a good shake of powdered ginger shortly, but we will get to that.
As soon as the garlic gets almost brown, add about 2 cups of water. Sprinkle in the powdered ginger, salt and pepper to taste, and a sprinkle of cumin.
Next, add 3tsps of soy sauce (mine was some homemade soy sauce from a friend, so you may want to use a low-sodium choice).
Stir it all up, cover, and let cook for about 8-10 minutes. Enjoy!

Desayunos Tipicos (Typical Breakfasts) and Variations

Of all the meals in the day, breakfast is a high priority for me, especially on weekends. But the great thing about breakfast is that you can eat it anytime of day. So, I've decided to start this blog with some fun variations on the desayunos tipicos that we have had in Honduras and Guatemala.
The all time favorite of both John and I are baleadas. Baleadas are a specialty of Honduras and originate from the Garifuna people of the coast. They are basically a large pancake like flour tortilla filled with eggs, crema (mantequilla), beans, then you can choose to throw in chorizo, avacado, cheese, and hot sauce.
In Honduras, baleadas are made fresh (por supuesto), but you can also choose to do this recipe with store bought flour tortillas (use large ones).
If you don't want the hassle of a homemade tortilla, scroll down for the Quick N Easy Variation.

The Tortilla

We'll start with the traditional flour recipe as taught to me by Profe Breve in Juticalpa. There are many ways to make a baleada tortilla, but these have turned out the best for me.
Note that measurements are approximate as no one I've met down here really uses measuring devices.
Begin with about 2 cups of flour.
Add about 2tsp of salt and 2tsp of baking powder and mix it in with your hands.
Then add about a tablespoon of sugar (or less if you want them less sweet).Mix in.
(Our friends in Hondo use manteca which can be either vegetable lard or just lard. I am afraid of that, so let's use margarine instead. We can't really afford butter down here as it is an import.)
So, cube about 4tbs of margarine (which should be at room temperature) and mix into the flour with your fingers.
Slowly stir in with a fork about 1 1/2 c. of water. You don't want it to be too watered down or too dry. Just barely sticky.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until it is firm. Let it rest for about 20 minutes.
Pull off the dough and roll into small balls- about the size of a golf ball. This should make 15-20 tortillas depending on how big you have shaped them. Let them rest again for about 20 minutes.
Now for the tricky part.
To shape the tortilla, it is usually done by a method of patting it between two hands; however, for a beginner, this is ridiculously difficult unless you have someone showing you. So, what I recommend, is get out a round plate that is about 6" or more (depending on the size you want your tortilla). Oil up the plate and smooth out the tortilla to the shape of the plate.
Next, you want to put the tortilla onto a REALLY hot pan. Here we use a comal (usually a metal or clay round dish that goes over a hot wood fire). However, at home you can put it in your frying pan.
It should start to puff up and bubble. Flip it with your fingers, carefully, so it is lightly browned on both sides.
Then put in on a plate and cover with a cloth while you do the rest.
And now, the good stuff.
The Stuffing

If you are making your own tortillas, you should get your chorizo started while the dough is rising. Chorizo here usually comes in fun little links wrapped with string. I go for the spicy and squish it out of its wrapping so that it looks like ground sausage. Then, sautee.
If you want to skip the sausage, go for the eggs and beans.
My way of making eggs for the baleada is simple, but yummy. This is for about 2-3 baleadas, so double if you need to.
First, mince 2 garlic cloves.
Next,  whisk together 4 eggs, a splash of milk and a shake of paprika. Add salt and pepper.
Sautee the garlic on med-high heat, but be careful not to let it burn.
Pour in the eggs. Make small slits with the spatula as it cooks to let the wet egg flow down.
Once the bottom is brown, you can fold it over omlette style to let it finish cooking.
The beans for baleadas are traditionally red beans, not black. If you don't know how to make beans, you will soon as John and I will post our favorite bean making styles. However, you can always sub in premade refried beans.
If you have whole beans, put them into the pan, and smash them in the pan. I have a handy round wooden pestle that is about the diameter of the palm of my hand that I use. You can add a little water to them so they can adhere. You want about two spoonfuls to put into each baleada.
The cheese we usually use here is locally made. My favorites are the soft, salty cheeses or the quesillo which is sort of like mozzarella. However, you can use whatever is your favorite for where you live. Cheddar may overwhelm the dish though.
Filling the Tortillas
If you are using homemade tortillas, sprinkle into the middle the cheese, spoon on top the beans, eggs, and chorizo if using it.  Then, if you are in Latin America or can find it in a local store, mantequilla is an amazing addition, along with your favorite hot sauce.

Quick-N-Easy Method
Our variation on this recipe is using the store bought flour tortilla, filling it with your choice of eggs, beans, and cheese, then folding it over and pan frying it. Add in some sliced aguacate for some extra flavor.

Next up... fritadas and empanadas!