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Monday, September 19, 2011

Baking Biscotti (Italian for Biscuit)

These twice cooked Italian cookies make for a good holiday gift. Traditionally biscotti are with almonds although pistacios are also frequently used. These hard crusty cookies in Italy are served morning or evening with a "una bella tazza di caffe".
Italian Biscotti Jars
These instructions are more for process preparation than as a recipe. Cookies are to be cooked on parchment paper on a doubled walled cookie sheet. (The double wall prevents burning and gives even results.) To get consistent results, pipe lines of dough in even adjacent rows, apart from each other. Use full circle pipe nozzle. Allow for expansion between rows as well at the ends. The rows may be 4-6 pipes wide necessary to make a biscotti 3-4 inches wide. Traditionally the cookies are long and thin.

Even though baked twice, the initial baking should be thorough. Once baked to a golden brown or to the point that a toothpick inserted comes back dry and clean, allow cookies to cool. Slice into 3/4 inch cookies with a sharp serrated knife. Separate to allow an even second baking and re-bake cut side down to drive out remaining moisture. Cool and store in air tight container.

Typical recipe for 100 cookies

1 Cup sweet butter
5 Eggs
4 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon of baking powder
1 Tablespoon baking soda (helps over come acid of lime juice)
2 Teaspoons vanilla
2 Cups chopped blanched almonds (page  )
2 Cups sugar
Zest of lime
1 Cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 Cup candied ginger, chopped finely

Bake 375 F for 20 minutes. Second baking, cut side down, 375 F 10-15 minutes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Flat Enchiladas Enchiladas Chatas in 3 minutes!

San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico
Flat (chatas) enchiladas are very popular in Sonoran Mexico, Arizona and New Mexico where they are also called enchiladas montadasor (mounted) and may be topped with one or more fried egg.  In this recipe, there is no frying, so these enchiladas are quicker and have fewer calories than the conventional rolled variety. Since these are cooked on their own plate, there are no pans to cleanup. This recipe works very well in the microwave but may be cooked in a 425 F oven until bubbly hot. (Use a potholder to grab the plate.) A great sauce will make a great enchiladas but it can be made a day, week, or months ahead of time and kept frozen until needed.

4 Tablespoons La Milpa Enchiladas Sauce (Chile Colorado), warmed
3 White corn tortillas
4 Tablespoons white melting cheese 50% each Monterey jack and queso fresco
Chopped iceberg lettuce with tomatoes slices, tossed in a vinaigrette
Chopped green onions
Chopped cilantro
Fried eggs if desired.

Assemble enchilada: Place 1 tablespoon of enchilada sauce on a microwave/oven safe plate and top with a tortilla. Spoon over tablespoon of enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with cheese and add next tortilla, add more sauce and cheese. Top with last tortilla, follow by another tablespoon of enchilada sauce then cheese. Microwave 3 minutes on high. (Alternately, preparre several servings and bake in 425 F oven. Let rest 1 minute then garnish plate with lettuce, tomatoes, and scallions, chopped cilantro, and optionally, fried eggs.

La Milpa Enchiladas Sauce (Chile Colorado)

La Milpa Enchiladas Sauce (Chile Colorado)
Traditional enchiladas are seasoned with chili pepper made from a variety of dried red chile peppers soaked or ground into a sauce with other spices. A mix of different chilies gives a better flavor.  It is important to cook the sauce until no graininess from chilies remains. I often include a dried chipotle pepper for smokiness. A rendered pork fat is more flavorful than plain lard. Do not use commercial chili powder as it usually has too much cumin.

2 Dried Ancho or pasilla chilies
1 dried aji amarillo chilies
Optionally, add 2 level teaspoons of hot New Mexico ground chile pow­der if you want a hotter sauce or 2 dried hot guajillo chili. Add additional arbor peppers if you want even more heat.
2 ½ Cups homemade chicken stock
2 Large clove of garlic or more if you like
3 Tablespoons rendered pork fat (manteca)
2 Tablespoons white all-purpose flour
Pinch of ground cumin
Optionally, pinch of ground Mexican oregano
¼ Cup cream or half-half
Pinch or two of sugar as required - see text

Break open chili pods discarding stems, internal tissues and membranes and seeds. (Optionally wash chilies, shake off excess water, and then toast in hot dry pan 30-45 seconds until fragrant.) Soak chili pods in hot water for 60 minutes until soft. Discard water. Place in blender with 2 ½ cups hot chicken stock and garlic. Add optional hot New Mexico ground chili powder if required. Process until very finely blended, maybe 2 full minutes. Strain results through a sieve using a wooden spoon and reserve sieved chili stock. Make a roux by blending 2 tablespoons of the pork fat and flour and cook it on low until it is a medium brown color. Remove from heat. Whisk in sieved chili stock, cumin and cook on stove over very low heat for 1 hours adding water or more chicken stock as needed. Taste the sauce for heat, and if not spicy enough, add more ground HOT chili powder. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Correct salt and add sugar and cream as required. The amount of sugar should not be per­ceptible and is used to just take any bitter edge off. Salt will also help moderate the bitter undertones. The cream serves to mellow the sauce.

1. Since this posting, I now have devloped a sauce based on an optimal blend of chiles - see my post for
Tex-Mex Enchilada Chilli Blend.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Wente’s Corn Madeleines

The Mexican assistant-chef at Wente Vineyard made these and gave the recipe to my mother at the same period in the 1970’s that pastry chef Dana Forkas worked her magic there.

Williams and Sonoma Non- Stick Pan
5 Tablespoons each of  white and yellow cornmeal
1 1/3 Cup A.P. Flour
¾ Teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoon sugar
2 Medium eggs
1 ¼ Cup buttermilk
½ Cup melted butter
½ Cup red peppers, seeded, minced
½ Cup onion, minced
½ Cup fresh corn kernels (from 1 ear), steamed 10 minutes

Preheat oven to 425 F. Prepare two greased madeleine pans. Combine and mix well dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients and then peppers, onion, and corn. Mix on low speed until uniformly well mixed. Pipe mixture into madeleine pans, filling the molds about 3/4 full. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges have browned. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a rack. Serve warm.