Monday, June 18, 2012

Mezze--Mexican

Tortillas
4 cups/1 lb 4 oz flour (use up to half whole wheat if desired)
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp oil
1 ½ to 1 2/3 cup very hot water

Place the flour, salt, and sugar into a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Rub the oil into the flour with your fingertips or using the beater attachment for a stand mixer. Pour the hot water over the flour and stir to thoroughly incorporate. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic and allow the mixture to sit for 20 minutes. Kneed for five minutes or until the dough is smooth but not too elastic. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and use a bench scraper or knife to divide it into 16 roughly equal pieces. Place a crepe pan over medium heat. Form each piece into a ball and roll into a very thin circle. You may need to lightly dust your rolling surface with flour to prevent sticking. Place the tortilla in the pan and allow it to cook until it begins to bubble. Flip the tortilla to finish cooking. Remove the tortilla and place it between two plates to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining dough. You will get into a rhythm with this dough.

GLUTEN FREE OPTION: Make true Mexican tortillas out of masa and using a tortilla press. This is something I plan to learn how to do soon and have heard is easy.

Refried Beans with Cotija
I generally use canned refried beans or reconstituted dried refried beans. Perhaps I will graduate to making my own sometime. Cotija is a great alternative to cheddar cheese. A slightly sweet, slightly spongy white cheese, cotija crumbles decoratively on top of refried beans.

VEGAN OPTION: Top the beans with a thin drizzle of chili oil and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Chili-Lime Corn Salad
3 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed.
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 to 1 tsp chili powder
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 lime juiced
Salt to taste

Place the oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat and add the chili powder. Toast until fragrant and add the corn kernels. Saute briefly and toss to coat evenly. Remove from the heat and allow the corn mixture to cool slightly. Whisk together the mayonnaise and lime. Stir the mayonnaise mixture into the corn mixture until evenly coated. Adjust salt to taste. Chill if not serving the salad immediately.

VEGAN NOTES: Use vegan mayonnaise.

Melon with Chili Powder
1 medium melon, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch balls or cubes
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 to 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar

Combine the lemon juice, chili powder, salt, and sugar. Toss with the melon and adjust seasonings.

Guacamole
2-3 avocados
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 lime, juiced
¼ tsp salt
½ onion, minced
1 jalapeno (include seeds and ribs for spicier guac), minced OR ½ tsp chili powder

Mash all of the ingredients together and place the guacamole in the refrigerator with plastic wrap directly on its surface. Adjust seasonings prior to serving.

Salsa
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 jalapeno, chopped fine (include seeds and ribs for spicier salsa)
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 lemon or lime, juiced
½ to 1 tsp salt
1 handful cilantro, chopped
Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender and process until the desired consistency is reached. If you do not want puree style salsa then you should just pulse a couple of times. Place the salsa into the refrigerator to allow the flavors to meld and adjust seasonings before serving.

Mexican Bread Pudding
After one too many bad flans on a trip to Central America I find that I am unable to bring myself to make flan for dessert. This bread pudding is an pleasant alternative dessert.

6-8 cups staleish bread cubes, preferrably from biscuits or stiff bread
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
2 Tbsp butter, cold

Grease a 8-inch square baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Place the bread in the greased dish. Place the water, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Whisk together the sour cream, milk, vanilla, and salt. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the bread and spread the sour cream mixture over the bread. Pour the syrup over all and dot the top with butter. Bake for 30 minutes or until the syrup is absorbed into the bread and the top is toasty. Allow the pudding to cool slightly or serve at room temperature. Serve with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

GLUTEN FREE: Use gluten free bread or biscuits.
VEGAN: Use vegan biscuits (no lard or eggs), soy or almond yogurt and milk, vegan chocolate chips and margarine.

© Katherine C. Otterstrom, June 2012

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