Food, Living, Mexico

Pork Belly Tacos

Christopher Columbus took 8 Iberian pigs with him on his 1493 voyage. After Hernan Cortes overthrew the Aztec empire in 1521 he traveled to Oaxaca and he brought pigs that were descended from the pigs Columbus brought to Cuba. Since then, the pig has been an important part of Mexican food culture. From tacos al pastor to cochinita pibil to lechon- there are many ways to cook a pig and it is almost always a feast for the senses.

While I love my pork slow-cooked, sometimes I just don’t have the time. So I have worked on finding a fast way to cook pork without losing the delicious flavor and pull away tenderness.

Here is my recipe for a fast cooked, yet tender pork.

Pork Belly Tacos

  • 1 pound (1/2 kilo) pork belly, leg, or shoulder with some fat attached
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 chipotle pepper from a can
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  1. Rub pork with minced garlic and salt.
  2. Heat oil in a deep pan or pot on medium-high.
  3. Sear pork until brown. Do not let the garlic burn. Add orange juice, chipotle, cumin and lime.
  4. Cover and turn heat to low-medium. Every 7 minutes turn pork over. After 45 minutes remove pork and slice thinly. pour left over liquid from the pot over top.
  5. Serve in tortillas topped with pico de gallo and salsa.

Provecho

Food, Living, Mexico

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde is perfect the perfect topping to almost any taco. The tangy tomatillos pair beautifully with pork, chicken and fish. This salsa recipe makes quite a bit but you can freeze half if you won’t use it all in the next week.

Salsa Verde:

2 garlic cloves

3 serrano chili peppers – check heat levels and use more or less depending on how hot you want to go

1 kilo (2.2 pounds) small green tomatillos, husks removed

3 cups water or chicken stock

1 cup cilantro

½ cup sour cream

Boil the garlic, chili peppers and tomatillos in the water or chicken stock until tomatillos darken in color but are still firm. Place garlic, chili peppers and tomatillos in a blender. Fill half way with water or chicken stock and blend. Add cilantro and blend. Let cool slightly and add sour cream and blend. Transfer to a pot and simmer on low until reaches desired thickness. Taste and add salt if needed.

For information on taking a cooking class with me, in-person in Huatulco, Mexico or online:

http://www.HuatulcoCookingClasses.com

chiles.chocolate@yahoo.com

Food, Living, Mexico, Uncategorized

Corn Bread Pudding with Poblano Cream

In last night’s online cooking class we made this sweet, yet savory, corn bread pudding with poblano chilies. I love this dish served with brunch or as a main served with salad. I originally came upon this recipe in a cookbook detailing Frida Kahlo’s favorite dishes.

For information about upcoming classes: http://www.HuatulcoCookingClasses.com Contact me to be added to our mailing list: chiles.chocolate@yahoo.com

Corn Bread Pudding

  • 4 tablespoons butter *half a stick *room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1.5 cups of corn kernels
  • 1/6 cup of milk
  • 1.5 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, separated

Mix butter and sugar together. Blend corn and milk in a blender. Mix flour, baking powder, salt and egg yolks together. Add corn/milk and sugar/butter. Mix well.

Beat remaining egg whites and when fluffy fold into corn batter. Pour into a oiled/buttered loaf pan. Bake at 175 C/ 350 F for 45 minutes.

Chiles in Cream

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 white onion sliced
  • 2 poblano chilies, roasted, seeded and peeled (If you cannot get poblanos you can use green peppers)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Sauté onion in butter on a medium heat for 10 minutes, add sliced poblanos and cream, turn heat to low and continue to sauté for 3-4 minutes.

Served corn bread pudding with poblano chilies in cream on top. Yum!

Food, Living, Mexico

Fish Taco Online Birthday Party

Since few people are traveling and getting together in person is not an option, I have been offering cooking classes online. This has been a challenging experience and also a lot more rewarding than I would have expected. I get to share my love of cooking and connect with people that otherwise I wouldn’t get to see.

A few days ago I was honored to be a part of an online birthday celebration for Leslie and her friends who are located in various parts of Canada and unable to see each other.

For more information about my online drop-in classes that are every Tuesday at 7pm CT or to book a private class for you and your friends:

http://www.HuatulcoCookingClasses.com chiles.chocolate@yahoo.com

 Menu for Online Cooking Class with Jane Bauer:
 Beer-battered fish tacos
 Street Corn Salad
 Chipotle Mayo
 Rum Horchata
  
 Recipes:
  
 Garlic oil- We call this ‘Heaven in a Jar’ at the cooking school
 1 cup vegetable oil 
 6 garlic cloves
 Mix in a blender until uniform. Keep in a jar and use with everything!
  
Fish Tacos
White fish filet such as mahi-mahi or any other firm fish like marlin, swordfish, sea bass, cod cut into strips 1-inch in width by 2.5 inches in length
Salt and pepper
Pour a generous helping of Heaven in a Jar over filets and massage them with your hand.
  
 Beer Batter
 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose wheat flour
 ½ teaspoon of oregano
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 1 bottle of beer
  
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and pour in beer in a gentle stream while mixing with a plastic spatula until the batter has the consistency of pancake batter. 
  
Frying: Heat 3 cm of vegetable oil in a pan. When oil is hot, place a strip of fish into beer batter and then into oil, fry until golden. Place fried fish on a paper towel to de-grease. Place fried fish onto a corn tortilla, top with shredded purple cabbage, grated carrot and cilantro. Garnish with cream and/or chipotle mayonnaise.
Mix and knead  with your hands until the dough is smooth and  homogenous. It should be soft but not sticky, like  soft  Play-Doh;  if   necessary,  adjust  the  texture with  more  water  or  masa  harina.
 
 Chipotle  Mayonnaise
 2 chipotle chiles (from a can)
 1 cup of mayonnaise
 1/4 cup orange juice. 
 Place all ingredients in a blender and mix. Taste and adjust. 
 Too spicy? Add more mayo
 Too smokey? Add more juice
 Not spicy enough? Add more chipotle
  
 Street Corn Salad
 4 cups corn (about 5 ears), cut from the cob- canned corn is fine!
 1 tbsp olive oil
 1/2 small red onion finely chopped
 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
 6 green onions chopped
 1 jalapeno pepper diced
 1/2 avocado chopped
 4 tablespoons lime juice (from about 2 limes)
 1/2 teaspoon cumin ground
 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
 1/4 teaspoon black pepper ground
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 2 tablespoons sour cream (or yogurt)
 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
 1/2 cup feta crumbled
  
 Mix all ingredients and serve!
  
 Rum Horchata
 1 cup of rice
 1 liter of water
 Cinnamon
 Vanilla
 Simple syrup or sugar
 Rum 
  
Soak rice in water for about an hour. Blend well so rice breaks down. Pass through a sieve. Add cinnamon and vanilla to your taste. Serve over ice and your rum of choice.
  
 Provecho!
   

Food, Living

The love of good food

“The main facts in human life are five: birth, food, sleep, love and death.”  

E.M. Forster

This is my editorial from the August 2019 issue of the magazine The Eye.

http://www.TheEyeHuatulco.com

It’s our annual food issue! This month our writers explore lesser known ingredients and share their experiences of new food in new places. If you know me in person you know how important food is to me. I embrace the ethos that the best way to learn about a culture is through it’s food. So when I want to learn about people I ask ‘what are you eating?’

I just got back from a foodcation where I baked croissants in Paris and drank Pouilly Fume in the Loire Valley with a vintner whose family has been making wine for generations. I eased into long afternoon lunches of foie gras, leeks and red wine. Instead of post-meal siestas I took my cues from Paris’ best flaneurs and sat by the fountain in the Tuileries Garden people watching and enjoying the spectacle that is Paris.

Next I went to Delhi, India, where the chaos could not have been more different from the refined precision of Paris. I made butter chicken with chef Neha Gupta (www.saffronpalate.com) and while we made rotis we discussed what it is like to be women in business. This was especially interesting as very few women work in restaurants or hotels in India and the chance to interact with women was limited. Later in my journey, in Rishikesh, I was invited to join a home cook, Rashmi, while she prepared a feast of lentils and rice that was mouth-watering. It was an honor to be invited into her home and to participate in her everyday life.

There are many similarities between Indian and Mexican attitudes towards food as well a crossover of ingredients. Both cultures have a welcoming spirit and there is always enough to feed unexpected guests- the more the merrier. Ingredients seem to expand as you cook them and a small bag of groceries miraculously makes enough to feed a crowd.

While you may not be able to coordinate your own foodcation to Paris and India, you can have one right at home. Get together with friends, cook, explore new cuisines and new ingredients- invite the neighbors you never speak to over for paella or curry or tacos. Expand your palate and you will expand your circle of friends and knowledge of other cultures.

Happy eating and cooking!

Jane

Food, Living, Mexico

About the Pig… Happy Chinese New Year!

Took a bit of a hiatus on reposting my editor’s letters from our magazine, The Eye, but hoping to catch up in 2019:) Every January we theme the issue based on the upcoming Chinese New Year. For more great articles check out http://www.theeyehuatulco.com

If you love Mexico then you will love our content!

Editor’s Letter January 2019:

“Always remember, a cat looks down on man, a dog looks up to man, but a pig will look man right in the eye and see his equal.”

― Winston S. Churchill

I am really enamored with the idea of raising a pig. I would feed it green apples and then I would make bacon. There was a couple from Texas in my cooking class a few years ago and they told me that it was a rite of passage for their daughters to raise and slaughter a pig. While I love the idea of this I know that when the time came, I would falter and end up with a pet pig rather than pork belly.

Salt, air, time and quality pigs are the secrets to producing mouth-watering jamon serrano. I had heard of a man near San Jose del Pacifico who was curing ham and could not wait to try it. As I made the four-hour drive from Huatulco, I swapped the heat and humidity for crisp air and pine trees, adding layers of clothing as the car climbed from sea level to 10,000 feet to San Mateo Rio Hondo. 

Emiliano, originally from Spain, is making some of the most sought-after cured products in Mexico and he counts several Michelin starred restaurants as his customers. 

The adobe house nestled on a hillside, at the end of a narrow muddy path, is a bit of a trek to find. In the main house is a kitchen with a long table set up with marinated local mushrooms, quality olive oil and thick crusty bread.  A fire burns low in a fireplace, helping to cure the dozen or so hams that hang from the ceiling. 

We started with a tasting of jamon serrano, blood sausages and sobresada. Sobresada is a sausage made of ground pork and paprika that requires certain weather conditions – high humidity and mild cold. The sobresada was served on toast with local honey – it was fantastic and I have thought of it many times since I took that first bite. We washed down these culinary delights with a Spanish vino tinto. 

Out back is a rustic setup of pig pens. There were a couple of pigs in each spacious pen and several different varieties. The pigs came out to say “hi” as they sniffed my fingers, I wondered if they knew I had just been gorging on their cousins. The pigs are slaughtered at about 14 months old after subsisting on a diet of pine cones. They are hung in front of the fireplace to cure for about 18 months. 

Happy Year of the Pig! Make it a good one! Eat, drink, be merry and follow the adventures!

Jane

Food, Living

My Chicago Top 3!

Just spent a chilly four days in the Windy City enjoying it’s diverse food options, walking along the river and strolling through world-class museums housing everything from miniature rooms that have inspired director Wes Anderson to George Seurat’s well-known A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. Sadly, both the Garage Vintage Sale and the Cubs/Cardinals game I had gotten tickets for were postponed due to bad weather. I love heights and there is no shortage of ‘Bird’s Eye Views’ in Chicago- from riding the ferris wheel at Navy Pier to having a cocktail on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building. My Chicago Top 3 however are the experiences that most surprised me- things I didn’t know I would enjoy so much from reading a guide book and the experiences I would travel back to do again!

1. The Lincoln Hotel30962508_10160268303765243_1999029709_o

When I am planning a trip I often put off booking the hotel until the last minute as I seem to have a hard time committing to accommodations- even if it is just for one night. What if I am missing out on somewhere better?

I waffled a bit before settling on The Lincoln as the pictures showed a retro-style hotel that I was worried it would be just old. Plus, did I want to be in Lincoln Park? Despite my initial ambivalence I was thrilled with this hotel! The furnishings were retro-style but not old- just super fashionable. My room was more like a small apartment with a sitting room, two full bathrooms and three windows. One with a fabulous view of Lake Michigan and the others facing attractive city scenes. I luxuriated in the Citrus and Sandalwood Jonathon Adler toiletries in my spacious bubble bath.

The hotel also boosts many options for snacking. Elaine’s Coffee Call for your morning fix and The Kennison, an elegant restaurant where I had flavorful risotto made with carolina gold rice, preserved citrus artichoke and pecorino. If that wasn’t enough to make me love this place I decided to check out the rooftop bar, J.Parker (named after Lincoln’s bodyguard) where I was greeted by a crowd of fashionably dressed people enjoying elegant late-night cocktails. The Lincoln Hotel was much cooler than me- but it welcomed me with open arms and wouldn’t stay anywhere else in Chicago!

2. Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College30772012_10160268303870243_1652799066_o

This free museum was one of the highlights of my trip. Amazing photography beautiful curated to provoke thought and get your creative juices flowing. The exhibition I saw was In Their Own Form which illuminated the myriad ways blackness might hope to exist without the imposition of oppression, racism and stereotypes ever-present in Western cultures, mediated through Afro-futurist themes including time-travel and escapism.  Stunning!

3. Dinner at Everest30771494_10160268304115243_1736026688_o

OMG this meal made my top five meals of all time! It combined my love of heights and art- 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange-  and an original bronze statue by Ivo Soldini adorns each table instead of flowers. The service was anything but stuffy! From the hostess to the waiters, I felt like I was saying goodbye to friends when the meal was over. Some of the staff I had the pleasure of talking to have worked there for 15-20 years and, as a restaurant-owner myself, I know that this speaks volumes for the quality of the work ambiance.

Then the food… Pommery Brut champagne- crisp with hints of green apple, Maine lobster in butter and ginger, pasture milk-fed veal tenderloin, dessert was a plate with four different chocolate concoctions. The details were just as delicious- asparagus amuse-bouche, the bread was fabulous and some after dinner truffles to round out the meal were so good I thought I would cry.

Now to decide on where to go next!

Happy Travels and Adventurous Eating!

XO Jane

 

Food, Living, Mexico

New Food Magazine “Bite”!

Bite Cover 2Hi  ‘The Eye’ Readers!

I am so psyched to tell you about our new food magazine ‘Bite’!

‘The Eye’ just put out its 70th issue and over the years we have had such a great response to the articles which focus on real information by real people and not the puff-advertorial pieces we see in a lot of tourist-area magazines. We aim to explore the positive and often-overlooked aspects of Mexico and to enhance people’s appreciation of what a culturally-fascinating and beautiful place this country is.

While I love that every August is our Food Issue – one issue a year is hardly enough to even scratch the surface of all the interesting food happenings, customs, and traditions of Oaxaca.

‘Bite’ will be bigger, glossier, have restaurant listings with practical information such as hours of operation and whether they accept credit cards and delicious information about mouth-watering experiences you won’t want to miss!

Like ‘The Eye’, ‘Bite’ will be distributed for FREE in the best restaurants and hotels and of course, we will have an online version so you can keep up even when you aren’t on holiday.

Look for the Fall Edition of ‘Bite’ October 1st!

Cheers,

Jane Bauer

 

 

 

 

Food, Living

Coimbra, Portugal – An unexpected pleasure!

When I travel I am always looking for that one place that will beckon me to stop moving and stay a little longer.  It’s usually a small town, void of ‘hop-on hop-off’ buses or Michelin-rated restaurants, just something about the people that makes you slow down and pause. In Italy it was a place called Bevagna, in Mexico it was Mazunte and in Portugal it was Coimbra.

library-coimbra-interiorThe country’s former capital is home to the oldest university and has a mind-blowing library with an outstanding rare books collection, including several versions of The Bible form the 14th century.  One of the biggest “enemies” of the books is, apart from the humidity and temperature differences, the moths that feed on paper. The bookcases are made of oakwood which, apart from being extremely dense (making it difficult for the bugs to penetrate), has a scent that repels them. The books have yet another ally in this daily fight for conservation: the interior of this book temple houses a colony of bats which spend the night eating any insect that appears, thus freeing the books from their attack.

The Machado de Castro Museum was stunningly beautiful and while I usually tire quickly of religious art these pieces were so breathtaking that they seemed to transport you to another time, they beckoned silence and awe. The museum is built over a Roman crypt that you can visit- cool underground tunnels and arches.

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During my stay I had the privilege of participating in a private cooking workshop at the Escola de Hotelaria e Turismo. I inquired at my hotel and the owner went above and beyond in making this happen. I arrived at the school and was welcomed by the administrator and introduced to Chef Emanuel and his students Raquel and Rita. Chef explained the dishes we would be preparing; duck rice, octopus, bacaloa (cod), pork, Portuguese gazpacho, lemon rice pudding… just to name a few.  We worked in the commercial kitchen of the cooking school- all gleaming stainless steel and lots of space. The duck rice was phenomenal- rice that is cooked with duck stock and served with shredded roasted duck meat. The tender octopus was served with oven-roasted smashed potatoes and topped with a few splashes of olive oil and sea salt.  The rice pudding dessert was the perfect amount of sweetness and the creaminess contrasted perfectly with the bright lemon flavor. All served with delicious wine of course. Beyond the food, I loved the chance to talk with Raquel and Rita and to learn more about their lives in this region and what they hoped to do once they finished school.

Hands down this was the highlight of my journey!

Where to stay in Coimbra:  http://www.theluggagehostel.com/en/Utilities/Homepage.aspx

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Food, Living

Cooking Class in Marrakech

You may think you have never taken a cooking class but I bet you have. Maybe you didn’t learn to make gnocchi while you traveled through Italy or handmade tortillas in Mexico, but I am sure you have shared kitchen secrets. Your first teacher was likely your mother inviting you to mix the batter as she made oatmeal cookies, your father teaching you to flip a pancake on a Sunday morning and later your college roommate showing you how to make the perfect margarita. Food is the common denominator, a meal shared is the ultimate communication.

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A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking a cooking class in Marrakesh at Faim D’Epices. My instructor Ilam, a lovely young woman originally from Meknes (land of olives and wine) led me through the making of a beef, pear and orange tagine (a slow-cooked stew done stovetop in a clay pot), a traditional wheat and semolina bread and msemens (Morocco’s equivalent to flour tortillas).

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The Faim D’Epices Cooking School is located about 30 minutes from the center and after you have traipsed through Marrakesh’s busy Medina (old town) the open landscape is a welcome change with orchards of orange trees and friendly dogs to welcome you.

During the class we were taught how to check the authenticity of saffron- rub a piece on white paper and the color should be yellow, never red. Saffron is the highly prized dried stigma of the crocus flower, it takes over 70000 blossoms to make a pound of saffron, making it the most expensive spice in the world.

We were also taught about argan oil. The argan tree is only found in a small region of southwestern Morocco and has not been successfully transplanted anywhere else. The argan tree has the amazing quality of pulling water from the ground and in the driest areas you will see everything brown except for the green of the argan tree. Because of this, goats have been known to climb the tree and eat the leaves. To check the authenticity of your oil you can put it in the freezer. Different oils freeze at different temperatures so they will separate and you will be able to see if your oil is pure.

18767221_10158757557275243_1599565076_oThe highlight of the class was the opportunity to meet Ilam. When touring Morocco most of the Moroccan people you interact with are men. Most of the waiters, tour guides and even hotel staff tended to be men, so I really appreciated the chance to chat with Ilam over lunch.

Overall a great experience!

 

Cooking classes in Marrakesh: http://www.faimdepices.com/

Cooking Classes with me in Huatulco, Mexico: http://www.huatulcocookingclasses.com/