As I was making yet another recipe out of my cookbook, it occurred to me that I should photograph what I’m cooking and add it to the Facebook page and website. So I’m on it! Living in Baja forces me to eliminate short cuts when cooking. For example, it’s easy to buy canned chiles, both poblano and anaheim stateside. Here I buy fresh poblanos, roast them, sweat them, peel them and then chop them. A whole lot more labor, but it’s all fresh. And organic. And local. The poblanos are grown right here. The only thing I cheated on today was the salsa. Why? Because I can buy homemade salsa in any little tienda in Todos Santos and it’s delish!!! I already spent two hours in the kitchen. No can deny me one little cheat, right?! I have made the salsas many times myself. I just don’t feel the need to stand in my kitchen for another few hours today!!!!
Zesty Relleno Bites
An old friend of mine from La Bufadora, Vee, gave me the original recipe for these relleno bites. It’s one of those recipes everyone took turns tinkering with, so it just kept on evolving. It even continued to evolve after Baja Magic came out. This is my current favorite version! Beware, however. It’s one of those super yummy appetizers that tend to disappear before the chef even has a chance to have one single bite! Makes a 9 x 13 pan.
- 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (set aside ½ cup for topping)
- 4 cups shredded Chihuahua or jack cheese (set aside ½ cup for topping)
- 12 fresh poblano or 12 fresh Anaheim chiles, blistered and peeled, or 3 – 7 ounce cans diced green chiles (mild)
- 5 eggs, well beaten
- 5 tbsp flour
- 1 – 10 ounce can evaporated milk (not sweetened!)
- 1½ cups salsa verde (Salsa section)
Using fresh chiles
If you have a gas stove, lay the chiles over the open flame and char skins well, turning with tongs frequently until they’re uniformly blackened and stop snapping. The more charred they are, the easier it is to remove the skins. If you have an electric stove, place chiles in a large skillet on high heat. Turn frequently as above. Remove chiles to plastic bag, close it and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove from bag, place in ice-cold water and remove the stems, skins, veins and seeds.
Using canned chiles
Simply spread on a paper towel and pat dry.
Dice the chiles. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. Layer half the chiles and half the remaining cheese. Repeat for a total of two layers. (Sometimes I make this in two skinny pans and only do one layer. That way I can make twiceas many squares using the same ingredients. They seem to last longerthis way!) Add flour and milk to eggs. Blend well. Pour over chiles and cheese. At this point, the dish can be refrigerated up to 24 hours.
Bake at 350° for an hour. Remove from oven, top with salsa verde and remaining cheese and bake an additional 15 minutes. Cool until warm, cut into one-inch squares, serve and watch them disappear! (Reheated leftovers are great for breakfast.)
Albondigas, or Mexican Meatball Soup is a robust, tasty soup that can be served alone as a meal or as a first course. It’s delicious and as typically Mexican as tortillas and beans. This recipe came from my mother’s collection. In the late ‘60s, as my dad was finishing up construction on our family’s “dream house,” she flew off to Guadalajara, San Miguel de Allende and Mexico City with my Aunt Joan. The purpose of their trip was to decorate the new house. They had a major blast together, traipsing all over the place hunting up beautiful, finely crafted furniture, ordering custom handmade rugs and ferreting out folk art from all the different regions of Mexico. My mom’s main goal was to find a hand-carved front door from the mission era. She found one, all right. In San Miguel de Allende. And she had it shipped home, along with the rest of her purchases. My parents don’t own that dream house anymore, but I do know that the Mexican door still graces the house where I spent my teenage years. And … guess who ended up with the best of the folk art? My mom claimed that she combined a hastily scribbled list of ingredients (in Spanish of course) given her and Joan by a waiter in the El Presidente Hotel dining room in Mexico City on that trip with a recipe she conned from a waiter at Caesar’s in Tijuana to come up with this soup. If she was telling the truth, then this soup is a hybrid from two internationally famous, historic Mexican restaurants. She modified it some herself, so that it’s easier to make. Try it. You’re guaranteed to love it! So will everyone else. Serves eight.
- 2 quarts beef broth
- 1 – 1 pound 12 ounce can tomato purée
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp basil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup salsa fresca (Salsa section)
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 cup cooked white rice
- 1 tsp seasoned salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 6 corn tortillas, cut in thin strips and fried
In Dutch oven, place beef broth, puréed tomatoes, half the onion and garlic, spices and salsa. Heat to boiling on high, then cover and reduce heat to low. In large bowl, mix ground beef with cooked rice, the remaining onion and garlic, salt and pepper. Form into one inch round meatballs. Add meatballs to broth and simmer for no more than one hour. Add the fried tortilla strips to garnish each bowl of soup. This soup may be kept in the refrigerator several days or part of it may be frozen for later use.