Archive for April, 2009

Chiles En Nogada

April 17, 2009
Chiles en Nogada

Chiles en Nogada

A classic Mexican dish popular on Cinco de Mayo with green poblano chiles, white walnut cream sauce, and red pomegranate seeds depicting all the colors of the Mexican flag.  Cinco de Mayo commemorates the defeat of the French army by the peasants of Puebla in 1862…shortly thereafter the French army triumphed again to overtake the country.   Mexicans celebrate Cinco de Mayo because of the heroic efforts of the peasants, the holiday has nothing to do with mayonnaise or Mexican Independence Day.   Everyone is a little Mexican on Cinco de Mayo just like everyone is a little Irish on St. Patty’s Day.  Parties abound at pubs, restaurants and homes.  You can have your own party and celebrate this fun holiday with mariachi music, dancing, sombreros, margaritas, lots of flamboyant zinnias, piñatas, and wonderful Mexican food like this chile stuffed with beef or pork picadillo.

  • 6 large green poblano chiles
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef or pork
  •  3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp blanched almonds, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp raisins, softened in 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Tbsp oil for frying
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or honey
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped fine
  • fresh pomegranate seeds for garnish

Roast chiles over a flame or under a broiler until blackened.  Let rest in a plastic bag for 5-10 minutes.  Remove skins, slit open one side of each chile and remove the seeds and veins.  Warm oil in a skillet over medium high heat, add meat and brown until nearly done.  Add the garlic, onion, apple, almonds, spices, raisins, and cilantro.  Cook for 5-7  minutes.  In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, sift flour over egg whites and fold in, then fold in beaten egg yolks  with a pinch of salt.  Warm 2 Tbsp of oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Stuff chiles with meat mixture, dip each stuffed chile in the egg mixture and fry until golden brown, turning once.  Whisk sour cream with evaporated milk, add walnuts, sugar or honey, and pour over hot chiles just before serving with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds on top.  Serves 6.

Napalitos Salsa (Cactus Paddles)

April 17, 2009
nopal11Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) is just around the corner so this recipe is timely, delicious and a cut above the usual fresh salsas.  Napale cactus paddles are harvested from April to August when they are young and tender yet thin and firm.  Most mercados or markets state-side now sell napales without the spines, ready to grill or boil.  They are also very cheap and contain vitamin A and C.  Think of Napale cactus as a green vegetable with green bean flavor. 

To Prepare Napalitos

It’s important to scrub each paddle before cooking with a brush and remove any node where new thorns are developing.  Slice the  paddles from top to bottom about 1/2 inch wide and dice to 1/2 inch.  Place in cold water and bring to a boil for 5-6 minutes, drain and repeat the boil until the napalitos are fork tender.  This will remove the slimey liquid ( called babas) similar to aloe vera juice.  Napalitos can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and are best added to soups, stews, burritos, salads, salsa and scrambled eggs with chorizo.

Ingredients for Salsa

  • 1 lb napalitos, prepared and chilled
  • 6 to 8 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 or more jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced (or minced chipoltes)
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 or 2 Mexican oregano leaves, minced (or 1/4 tsp dried oregano)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup or more of shelled pumpkin seeds


Combine all ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or longer so flavors will blend.  Serve with tortilla chips, nachos, burritos, or as a condiment with meat dishes.  Substitute sunflower seeds, pine nuts, or almonds for pumpkin seeds.  Use northern beans, kidney beans, or pinto beans instead of black beans or a combination of beans works well also.

Old Fashion Pea Salad

April 16, 2009

peasThis dish was inspired by an old friend in Tyler, TX.  She made it with just peas, cheese, onion and mayonnaise.  I’ve kicked it up a bit with the addition of bacon, mint, and red onion.  It is so simple to make and great for a buffet or pot-luck.  The recipe is for frozen peas but if you’re not opposed to shelling your own fresh peas by all means do use fresh sweet peas from the garden or Farmers Market.  Just steam fresh peas for 5-7 minutes and plunk them in ice water to chill, then drain before assembling the salad.  Also, to reduce fat and calories you may dress the salad with a mint vinaigrette instead of mayonnaise.  Red onions are pungent so you may want to use Walla Walla sweets or another white onion variety.   Try this with left over chicken or ham instead of bacon.  The substitutions are endless.

  • 14 oz pkg frozen sweet peas, thawed under warm water
  • 6 strips bacon, fried crisp and chopped
  • 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, cubed about 1/2 inch
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced paper-thin
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup real-mayonnaise – homemade is best
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Drain peas thoroughly, add all other ingredients and fold together until well combined.

Poached Tarragon Salmon

April 3, 2009

poached-salmon-thumb-135xautoThis recipe takes 10 minutes to prepare and goes great with rice, pasta, or steamed spaghetti squash, a crisp salad with feta and kalamata olives, a loaf of garlic bread and a glass of wine.

  • Salmon fillets or steaks
  • olive oil to sauté veggies
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped coarse
  • fresh tarragon leaves, 2-3 sprigs
  • fresh parsley, curley or Italian flat leaf, chopped
  • a dash of Tabasco
  • 1/3 cup white wine or lemon juice

Salt and pepper salmon fillets, sauté onion, garlic, and tomatoes in a little olive oil until aromatic.  Add fresh herbs and Tabasco and cook 2 minutes more.  Deglaze pan with wine or lemon juice, poach salmon in liquid until just barely done, or to your preference.  Top salmon with sauté and serve.   

  • note:  cook fish 10 minutes per each inch of thickness.  So if your fillets are 1/2 inch thick, only cook 5 minutes total time, whether you turn them or not.