Food, Living, Mexico

Chile Poblano Soup

11 poblano chiles
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 liters of milk, divided
2 tablespoons powdered chicken stock
1/2 white onion
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons white flour

Roast the chiles:
Gas stove or oven method.
Gas stove: place poblano chiles on the open flame and cook until charred.

Oven: Preheat oven to 425°F. Rub whole poblano chiles with one tablespoon of vegetable oil, and place on baking sheet. Roast 30 to 45 minutes, or until charred on all sides, turning with tongs.

Transfer to bowl, cover, and let steam 15 minutes. Rub off skins and remove seeds and stems.

Add the steamed chiles, 1 liter of milk and powdered chicken stock to blender. Puree until very smooth. Transfer to a large soup pot.

Make Roux:
Saute onion in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil on low for 7 minutes. Add butter and melt. Add flour and mix well with a whisk until blended with the onion.

Add roux to blender with 1 liter of milk. Blend.

Add roux/milk to blended poblano in the large soup pot.

Bring to boil and then lower temp and let simmer 15 minutes.

Food, Living, Mexico

Shrimp Mousse

When using shrimp in a cooking class I always encourage students to buy shrimp with the heads, if they can. While cleaned and deveined shrimp are a convenience when you need to cook something quickly, there is something to be said for the meditative aspect of cleaning your shrimp, and ripping the heads off is a better release than squeezing a stress ball. In addition, the heads and peels are a flavorful base for seafood stock. Here is one of my favorite recipes using shrimp heads which showcases the versatility of a ‘waste not, want not’ attitude. Happy cooking and eating!


Shrimp Mousse

Ingredients:
10 shrimp heads rinsed in cold water
1 tomato
2 tbs. garlic oil
sprigs of dried thyme
1/2 dried guajillo chile- seeds removed
1 package cream cheese
Splash of white wine
Salt


Saute all ingredients on medium heat, except cream cheese, in a frying pan
for 10-15 minutes. Cool.
Puree shrimp head mixture with cream cheese in a food processor until
smooth.
Pass through a sieve to remove any pieces of shell.
Pour into a ramekin or teacup and place in the fridge for a couple of hours to set.
Serve with toast or crackers.

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!

Living, Mexico

Good vs. Evil – this month’s editorial from The Eye

“The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil.” Marcus Tullius Cicero

The biggest villain of our time used his political position to divide the world. He rose to power “through charm, violence and cunning negotiations. He was an excellent speaker and surrounded himself with people who, like him, were not afraid to use violence to fulfill their political objectives.” historyonthenet.com

Once elected, as head of the state, he convinced lawmakers to grant “him temporary “emergency” powers for four years, enabling him to act without the consent of parliament or the country’s constitution.” He then divided his nation by singling out minorities and effected “decrees and regulations on all aspects of their lives. The regulations gradually but systematically took away their rights and property, transforming them from citizens into outcasts.” encyclopedia.ushmm.org

This leader is so despised that I once met a man who confessed that he had his name changed to prevent any associations with the genocidal maniac. A leader who separated families and put children in prisons- their only crime being their birth. When I first heard of this monster at the age of ten, I remember asking my mother ‘why didn’t you do anything?’ She would have barely been out of diapers when he reigned but it made me realize how helpless we can be in the face of such evil. It makes itself known in small increments and we are like lobsters in a pot with the temperature rising. We are unaware of our eroding morality as the bar for what we will tolerate moves further and further away from decency.

We have very conveniently bisected the world into good and evil which allows us to step over to the good side and feel ok about the chaos around us. We rise above the fray in our self-righteousness and we point the finger at the drug dealers, the ring leaders of organized crime, the terrorists, we watch Narcos and we tell ourselves we would never be that bad.

It is the comfort that we are ‘good’ that makes it possible to read the news about children being put in cages or traveling on rafts across dangerous waters to escape violence. Geography is the only thing that separates us from them, yet we see their situation as outside of ourselves. We do our part by sharing a post on social media and then we go about our business, our conscience relatively unscathed.

But if we want to be really good, really humanitarian, don’t we need to step back take ownership of our cog in the wheel?

I recently toured the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. It was haunting to see the rooms where she spent WWII hiding for her life. I cried at the testimonials they showed at the end of the exhibition about what an icon Anne Frank has become and how brave she was. I didn’t cry for Anne. She was an ordinary girl facing horrible adversity- inhumane adversity! I cried for all the ordinary girls currently facing inhumane challenges today and I do nothing. We all do nothing.

We are the villains when we endure leaders who put power above human dignity.

Living

How important is money?

Here is my editorial from this month’s issue of The Eye magazine.

“Money doesn’t grow on trees.” English proverb

The above is one of my least favorite idioms. As a kid when someone would say this to me I would think, “money is made of paper and paper comes from trees so actually money DOES grow on trees.” Nobody thought my logic was very funny.

As an adult, I understand the meaning behind the proverb and I still don’t like it. Money IS just paper, or these days usually plastic. Money’s only use is the value we place on it. Its power lies in how it is spent.

In fact, more than ever we exercise our power, our political choices and our values in how we decide to spend our money. We are living in the consumer age.

What is your relationship with money? Do you read the menu from right to left – allowing price to dictate your tastes? Do you feel resentful when paying your bills or are you filled with gratitude about the services and goods you received in exchange? How much money do you need to be satisfied? Do you dream of fancy cars and big houses or is it enough that you can treat friends to dinner or a concert without feeling affected financially?

We live in an age where getting a deal is a badge of honor and growing your money is a source of pride. But what if every purchase came with a different criterion than cost? What if we valued paying more knowing that the people who made our goods were earning more? Low priced goods, from clothing to electronics to food, come with costs beyond money. Low wages, poor working conditions, GMOs that produce environmental damage, are all things that we endure to get the lowest price we have come to value.

What if when you bought a sweater you didn’t just check the price and the washing instructions? What if you checked to see where it was made and by whom? What if before buying a new computer you researched the company’s ethical practices in relation to its workers and the environment, rather than just looking at consumer reports about the functionality of the product?

This brings me to one of my favorite proverbs… “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Someone is always paying. Our affluent and comfortable lifestyle has been built on the labor and exploitation of others.

So spend compassionately! Tip well! Pick up the check! Buy less crap and spend more on ethical well-made products! Invest in experiences! Follow your money beyond your purchase and see where it’s really going.

See you next month,

Jane

Check out more of issues of The Eye: www.theeyehuatulco.com

 

Living, Mexico

What’s your Spiritual Journey?

My editor’s letter from the February 2019 edition of The Eye magazine.

http://www.theeyehuatulco.com

‘Silence is a source of great strength. ‘

Lao Tzu

I am a big fan of quiet. It is why I don’t mind long bus journeys or often prefer to stay home rather than go out and socialize. While I enjoy talking with people, I take great comfort at the end of the day in the quiet of the world. 

Last September I attended a 10-day silent meditation retreat held in Oaxaca City through Vipassana Mexico. I felt slightly daunted about the no talking, no eye contact days that would stretch ahead of me, but I was more worried about forgoing my evening wine and reading (yes, no reading or writing!) than embracing the quiet. The retreat was held in a convent in the center of the city and the sounds of the outside world gave some solace to our otherwise silent days that began at 4:30am with a couple of hours of meditation before our vegan breakfast. 

There were about 50 women attending and 20 men; however, the only non-gender-segregated space was the meditation hall, where women were on one side and men on the other. It was a beautiful experience to be in a woman-only space and not be distracted with small talk or worrying if people like you – I could just be.

There were a few difficult moments but as I felt my heart slow down, my mind followed, allowing me to truly embrace the present moment. During difficult times I would stroll through the gardens of the convent looking at flowers or slip my shoes off and luxuriate in the feeling of the ground underfoot. 

When the 10 days were up I felt completely rejuvenated. 

This month our readers explore spiritual journeys and you can see from the articles that what each of us defines as a spiritual journey is very individual. The word spirituality is connected with the Latin word “spiritus”, meaning breath. In French there is the word “esprit” referring to a person’s joy or vivaciousness. 

What moves you? Beyond the drudgery of the tasks of everyday living, what does your spirit yearn for? Maybe when you read this question the answer leapt into your mind without hesitation. Maybe your mind flitted and you are not sure what could possibly be the spiritual journey for you.

Sit in silence. Listen to your breath. The answer will reveal itself.

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

Living, Mexico

Sad New World

 

future_handmaid_promo.jpg

I try not to read the news too often. Not because I don’t want to be informed, but because I don’t want it’s depravity to leak into my everyday life. I can do this. I am incredibly privileged. Today alone I was able to make a thousand small decisions about how to spend my time, what to put in my body, I was able to hug my daughter on her final day of high school, pay her tuition to a top university and pour myself a glass of wine at 5 o’clock.

I lay down on the couch, turned on the AC (it’s muggy in my tropical bubble) and I purchased with a few keystrokes season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale. While season 1 was a fabulous retelling of one of my favorite Margaret Atwood novels, season 2 seems to echo a sad commentary about contemporary life. When I had first read the novel in high school it had been billed as a science-fiction dystopia, much like Orwell’s 1984, and we all know how far ‘big brother’ has come.

This morning however, I had read the news.  I had read about Sarah Sanders’ use of the bible to defend the actions of the Trump administration and Jeff Sessions’ separation of children from their families at the US border. The bible? Is this for real? As long as US government officials quote the bible, family rights, the rights of women and the rights of children are in jeopardy. I respect everyone’s right to religion but when we mistake religion for law, we condemn ourselves to intolerance and a cultural of homogeneity.

MSNBC reported that 2000 children have been separated from their families and are being held in ‘detention’ centers at the border- according to news reports many of these children are under the age of 4. If you are a parent and you have ever held your four-year-old’s hand, I hope you are so mad right now at the thought of a government official taking your child away from you and then justifying it with bible verses.

While there are a few story lines of children being separated by their mothers in The Handmaid’s Tale, it was the idea of children being held in an old Walmart that really made me feel ill. Contrast this with dozens of handmaids in an abandoned Fenway Park about to be hanged and read scripture about obedience and you begin to realize that rather than a science-fiction dystopia, The Handmaid’s Tale is a commentary on the sad and pathetic state of a government which is based on a strong nationalism, an extreme level of authoritarianism, corporatism, militarization and hostility towards liberalism. Fascism anyone?