Mexican

Mexican Sopa dde Elote

Mexican Sopa dde Elote

 

Sopa de Elote is a Mexican corn soup that has many faces ranging from a modest broth based soup to a thick rich creamy soup gilded with molten cheeses and assorted garnishes. keeping in mind it is the corn that is the star ingredient here, shop for the freshest locally grown organic sweet corn you can find and let that be your guide. The remaining ingredients needed are more or less rudimentary and easily found in most local markets.

While you are cooking this soup a  heady combination of flavors and aromas will reaffirm the enduring appeal of truly traditional Mexican cookery.

 

Mexican Sopa de Elote         makes 3 quarts

Mexican Sopa de Elote

Mexican Sopa de Elote

 

Ideally, cooking the chicken and making a stock the day before you plan to make the soup lightens the time spent in the kitchen the following day.

Before you even begin to cook, remove the husks and corn silk from 4 ears of fresh sweetcorn corn and discard them. Then cut the kernels off the cob into a deep bowl. Scrape each cob with the back of a knife to extract the sweet milk from the cobs. Reserve the cobs that you will be using later, and cover the bowl with the kernels and scrapings and refrigerate as they will be added to the soup the following day.

Ingredients for chicken and stock

  • 1 whole chicken
  • water to generously cover the chicken
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, skin removed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into three pieces each
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 cilantro ( coriander) roots, crushed
  • 4 reserved corn cobs

Rinse the chicken and place it in a large stock pot. Add enough water to generously cover the chicken. Place the pot on the stove top over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to a low simmer.

Add the salt, vinegar, peppercorns, diced onions, carrots, bay leaves, cilantro roots, and the reserved scraped corn cobs. Give the pot a good stir and cook the chicken at a simmer for 35 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. Skim off any foam and fat that forms on the surface and discard.

Remove the chicken from the pot and set the chicken and the stock aside to cool.

Fish out the carrot pieces in the stock pot, place them in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate.

Once the chicken has cooled enough to handle, pull the meat off the bones in generous chunks and place them in a bowl. Leaving the chicken in larger pieces will give the soup a more substantial profile and tenderer meat when reheated. Cover the pulled chicken with cling film and refrigerate.

Put all the chicken bones back into the pot of stock and return the pot to the heat. Bring the contents to a low boil and cook until the stock is reduced by a third. Once again, skim off any foam and fat that forms on the surface and discard.

Remove the pot from the heat and set aside to cool for 20 minutes or so. Then strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a large container and set aside to cool to room temperature. Discard the bones and solids after straining the stock.

Once the stock is cooled, cover the container and refrigerate overnight.

The following morning skim off the fat that has solidified on the surface of the stock and save for another use or discard it.

Ingredients for the soup

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 celery rib, finely diced
  • 4 garlic, cloves, minced
  • 2 large gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 quarts prepared chicken stock
  • 5 jalapeno chiles, seeded, quartered, and flash fried
  • 2 cups home cooked pinto beans (or canned), drained
  • reserved cooked diced carrots
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram  or oregano leaves
  • sea salt to taste
    fresh lime wedges
  • 1 pint crema (sour cream thinned slightly with whole milk)
  • sprigs fresh coriander leaves
  • corn tortilla chips (pictured, blue corn chips)
  • ground red chile as a final seasoning (optional)

Place 3 tablespoons olive oil in a stock pot set over medium heat.When the oil is nearly smoking until the oil dd the onions and celery and lower the heat to medium low and saute, stirring now and again, until the onions and celery are very soft and translucent, about, 10 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook another 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small fry pan. When smoking hot add the quartered jalapeno chiles, skin side down in the pan and flash fry until the skin is blistered. Flip the chiles and fry another minute or so. Remove the chiles from the pan and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle pull off the blistered skin and discard. Then dice the chiles and set aside.

Add 3 quarts of reheated stock to the sauteed onion, celery, garlic mixture. Once the stock begins to boil, add the diced potatoes and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat. Using an immersion blender (or blender) puree the contents of the pot until smooth and creamy.

Return the pot to the heat and add he beans, reserved diced carrots, marjoram or oregano, diced flash fried jalapenos, and the reserved fresh corn kernels. Cook for another 15 minutes. Be sure to stir frequently so soup does not scorch on the bottom of the pot. Taste and add salt as needed.

When you are nearly ready to serve, add the pulled chicken to the soup. Allow the soup to come to a very low simmer and cook for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serving

Ladle the soup into individual bowls, mounding the chicken in the center. Garnished with fresh cilantro sprigs and serve.

Place a bowl of crema on the table along with a bowl of corn tortilla chips which can be added to the soup. Include a plate of fresh lime wedges, and a  small container of ground red chile for those who want to crank up the heat  bit. 

Guacamole is always a nice accompaniment along with the corn tortilla chips as well. 

This soup freezes beautifully and always nice to have on hand for a last minute meal on demand.

Buen provecho!

With Cinco de Mayo fiestas well underway north and south of the Mexican border, it is Mexican food that is at the center of all the celebrations and, of course, Mexican beer and margaritas as well. So why not make a zesty margarita pie as a final flourish for the celebrations.

The recipe that follows mirrors a classic margarita made with freshly squeezed lime juice, a good silver/blanco tequila, triple sec, sugar or agave syrup, and crystallized flaked salt. These very same ingredients provide the essential flavors for a sensational chilled sweet sour margarita confection with just a hint of green earthiness from the tequila and a crisp salty after note.

Margarita Pie

Margarita Pie

As popular as a pretzel crust seems to be for a margarita pie these days, I have to say I favor a classic sweet pastry crust for this pie which allows the flavors of the margarita lime curd to take center stage. Served chilled, this pie is as bedazzling and refreshing as an icy margarita on the rocks would be on a hot summer evening in the tropics.

Margarita Pie

Margarita Pie

Margarita Pie

Needed: 1 10 inch pie dish

Crust:

  • sweet pastry dough
  • butter for brushing
  • crystallized salt

Use your favorite sweet pastry dough recipe and chill the dough for several hours before you intend to roll it out.

Roll out the dough and place it in the pie dish. Even out the edges. Transfer to the the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 f/ 180 c

Melt a small amount of butter. Remove the chilled pie shell from the refrigerator and lightly brush the entire surface of the dough with melted butter.

Then evenly press salt flakes onto the outer rim of the dough.

Line the inner surface of the dough with baking parchment and trim off excess paper so the salt studded surface of the rim of the pie is exposed. Place pie wights (or dried beans) into the parchment lined pie dough and transfer to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until the salted edges are lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and, using a spoon, remove the weights and set them aside to cool. Remove the parchment and return the pie shell to the oven and bake another 12 minutes, or until the interior crust is lightly colored and dry.

Remove from the oven, place on a cooling rack, and cool to room temperature. You can then refrigerate the crust.

Margarita Pie Curd Filling

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons silver tequila
  • 1 tablespoon triple sec (or other orange liquer)
  • 3 oz chilled butter, cut into small pieces

Combine the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lime juice, tequila, and tipple sec in a non-reactive stainless bowl.
Gently whisk until the ingredients are well combined.

Place the bowl over a pot of hot, but not boiling, water and gently whisk continuously until the mixture thickens and mounds onto itself.

Promptly remove the bowl from the heat and scatter the butter over the surface. Stir with the whisk until the butter has completely melted and is mixed evenly into the curd.

Remove the chilled crust from the refrigerator and, using a silicone spatula, spoon the curd into the pie shell. Spread the curd evenly and return the pie to the refrigerator to chill.

Sour Cream Topping:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

Preheat the oven to 400 f/ 200c

Combine the sour cream, sugar and lime juice in a bowl and stir until well combined.

Remove the chilled pie from the refrigerator and spoon the sour cream mixture over the surface of the lime curd. Giggle the pie to even out the surface and place in the oven and bake for or 5 minutes.

Promptly remove from the oven, cool for 5 minutes, and return the pie to the refrigerator to chill.

Lime garnish:

  • 2 seedless thin skinned limes, sliced into paper thin rounds
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water

Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a wide saute pan. Cook until the liquid is bubbling, thick, and clear. Add the lime slices and cook for 3 minutes. Then remove the pan from the heat and let the lime slices rest in the syrup until completely cool. Remove the slices to a rack to drain off excess syrup.

Remove the pie from the refrigerator and carefully arrange the lime rounds over the surface of the pie.

Cover the pie with cling film and refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Serving:

About 20 minutes before serving transfer the refrigerated pie to the freezer and chill for 15 to 20 minutes. This final chill gives this pie a crisp icy sensation when served. 

Slice using  a very sharp knife dipped into water for each slice made.

Molettes

Molettes

 

Molletes are a must have for a quick breakfast or a snack on the run just about anywhere in Mexico.

The Mollete is an antequera round bread from the Andalusian region of southern Spain. There the mollete is sliced into halves, spread with with butter or lard, and topped with savory meats and cheeses. The Spanish took the  molette with them to the new world where the Mexicans adapted the idea and made it their own. Molletes are in essence  Mexico’s bruscetta. Usually associated with northern Mexico but molletes are popular throughout the country.

Mxican molettes are made with crusty oval shaped bollilos, also known as pan Frances, that were introduced to Mexico by French Emperor Maxmillion’s cooks. Maxmillio’s reign was short lived. He was executed in 1866, but the Bollilos went on to become Mexico’s favorite bread and sold in panaderieas throughout the country.

Mexican molletes are so easy to make. Slice a bolillo in half lengthwise, butter the cut side and toast until golden brown. Top with refried beans, scatter grated cheese over the top and return to the oven until the cheese has melted. Serve with a salsa fresca and your done.

If the thought of cooking dried beans is putting you off by all means use canned refried beans instead. I have fond memories perfectly delicious canned refried beans on numerous camping trips.

You are probably thinking to yourself, it’s just beans on toast, so what’s the big deal?” Well, you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. This is an addictive taste of Mexico you are going to be making again and again, and again I promise you.

 

Molletes:  serves 4

  • 4 bolillos or other oval shaped crusty rolls, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 1 garlic clove peeled
  • 2 cups refried beans (click here for recipe), or canned
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheese; a Mexican cheese if available, or provolone,or Monterrey Jack
  • salsa fresca (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375 f/ 190 c

Slice the bolillos lengthwise and place them on a baking tray cut side facing upward. Spread butter evenly over the cut side surfaces and transfer the baking tray to the oven and bake until the surface is a light golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove the tray from the oven and rub the garlic clove over the toasted surface. Discard the remaining garlic.

Spread the refried beans over the bollilos generously and top with shredded cheese.

Turn the broiler on in the oven and move the oven rack to the upper position. Place the tray of molletes under the broiler and broil until the cheese is melted and lightly colored.

Serve at once with a spicy salsa fresca 

 

Salasa Fresca with Roasted Radishes  makes about 2 cups

This is a a favorite Salas Fresca with a hint of smoky flavor and earthy heat from the radishes.

Salsa Fresca with roasted Radishes

Salsa Fresca with roasted Radishes

Prepare the salsa at least an hour before serving and chill.

  • 6 radishes, flame roasted
  • 2-3 jalapeno chiles, flame roasted
  • 1 medium size onion flame roasted
  • 4 tomatoes, flame roasted
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste

Heat up an outdoor grill or place a grill rack over a gas burner on the stove top.

Place the radishes, jalapenos, onion, and tomatoes over the hottest part of the grill, or flame on the stove top, and grill all until the skin is charred and blistered on all sides. Transfer to a large bowl and cover with cling film and set aside to sweat.

Once cool enough to handle rub or peel away the charred skin of all.

Slice the radishes and then dice and transfer to a non-reactive bowl.

Slice the jalapenos open lengthwise and remove the seeds and veins. Slice into thin strips and then dice, and add to the bowl.

Remove the outer layer of the onion, dice, and add to the bowl.

Slip the skin off the tomatoes and quarter them. Remove seeds, dice. and add to the bowl.

Add the chopped cilantro, lime juice, and salt and stir to combine. Taste and add more lime juice and salt if needed.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Red Sweetcorn Salsa Fresca on soft taco

Red Sweetcorn Salsa Fresca on soft taco

 

Siam red ruby sweet corn is once again showing up in the markets here in Chiang Mai. A real treat that reminds me of all the colorful native varieties of corn you find in markets all over Mexico. Yellow and blue corn are commonplace throughout the Americas these days, but there are as many as 60 colorful heirloom varieties of native Mexican corn that are still found in regional markets across the country. Unfortunately there is the looming threat of GMO conglomerates that are attempting to control seed distribution with exclusive patenting. This is a very contentious issue for farmers and consumers alike globally. Hopefully GMO conglomerates will be regulated and the patenting of seeds will be curtailed if heirloom seeds by right are to survive for future generations.

Siam Ruby Red Sweetcorn

Siam Ruby Red Sweetcorn

That said, having access to heirloom varieties of locally grown produce is every cooks ideal.
In this case I decided to make a simple salsa fresca that lets the crisp flavor and texture of the locally grown Siam Ruby Red sweetcorn shine while  pairing beautifully with  a variety of savory dishes.

 

Red Sweetcorn Salsa Fresca      makes about 2 cups

  • 2  ears red sweetcorn with husk intact (or other available variety)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, skin on
  • 2 plump jalapeno chiles
  • 2 vine ripe Roma tomatoes (or equal volume of ripe cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage leaves
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure mild red chile powder or paprika
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 ½ teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

 

I like to steam the corn undisturbed in the husk for about 15 minutes. The husk encasing the corn preserves the flavor of the corn and softens the kernels just enough so that they still retain a crunch and bust with flavor when eaten.

teaming Ruby Red Sweetcorn

Steaming Ruby Red Sweetcorn

I use a bamboo steamer, but any steaming arrangement will do. Cover and steam the corn for about 15 minutes, and then set aside to cool.

When the corn is cool enough to handle remove the husks and silk and discard. If you are using red corn you will notice some staining on your hands, but not to worry, the stains will wash off with soap and water.

With one hand holding the corn upright centered in a deep bowl, cut the kernels off the cob using a serrated knife in the other hand. The kernels tend to fly about, so the deeper the bowl the better for containing straying kernels.

Remove outer layer of the onion and cut into thick rounds. Place a dry skillet on the stove top over medium heat. Brush the onion rounds with a little oil and place in the skillet along with the garlic. Turn both the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are nicely colored on both sides and the garlic has softened. Set aside to cool.

When the onions and garlic are cool enough to handle dice the onions. Peel off the skin of the garlic and mince, and place both in the bowl with the corn.

Trim the tops off the jalapenos and quarter them lengthwise. Remove the seeds and discard. Cut into thin strips, dice the strips, and add to the bowl with the other ingredients.

If using Roma tomatoes, cut them in half, cut out the core and discard. Slice into strips, dice, and add to the bowl with the other ingredients.

If Roma tomatoes are not vine ripe, as is likely during the winter months, use cherry tomatoes instead, which will have a sweeter fresh flavor. Simply quarter and halve the quarters.

Coarsely grind the toasted cumin seeds and add to the bowl. Add the sage and several tablespoons of lime juice and give the ingredients a good stir. Then add the red chile powder, chopped cilantro, and salt. Toss until all the ingredients are well combined.

Taste and add more salt and lime juice to taste. Finally add the olive oil and fold into the salsa.

Cover and refrigerate the salsa until ready to serve.

Serving:

This salsa is ideal for tacos (as pictured), with grilled meat, fish, and poultry or as a garnish for soups, nachos, and of course with tostada chips along with your margaritas.

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