Sunday, August 14, 2016


Man, it’s been hot this week. Not like it’s been any different than any other day this summer. I think we’ve only had a handful of days where it was below 90ºF since the beginning of June. I took the kids to a baseball game last week and got sunburnt really bad, and now it’s peeling. Lovely. Otherwise, school is going well for the kids so far, and the job is coming along. But without further ado, I know the kids were pretty excited about Mexican food. As am I. 

This was the best. I love this so much. Next time, I might use more butter in the topping to see if it'll work better.

However, this meal came at one caveat: this is not a Taco Bell meal. No tacos, no burritos, no enchiladas, no chips and salsa. I wanted something more authentic. So, the first thing I started with was the bread: conchas. The first thing I did was stir in my yeast packet into ½ c warm water. Then I mixed in ½ c of evaporated milk, 3/8 c of sugar, 1/3 c melted butter, 1 tsp salt, 1 egg, and 2 c flour. After I mixed all this together, I slowly added in another 2 c of flour with a ½ tsp cinnamon. When it all came together, I kneaded it for 5 minutes or so until it became a soft dough. I greased the bowl and placed the dough in the bowl, covering it with some cheesecloth and letting it rest in a warm place for about an hour. While it was resting, I made the topping for it. In another bowl, I creamed together 2/3 c sugar and ½ c butter until it was light and fluffy. There’s no feeling like the feeling of squishing cold butter into sugar. Then I stirred in 1 c of flour until it was closer to a thick paste-like consistency. Then I divided this into two parts: mixing in 2 tsp cinnamon into one and 1 tsp vanilla extract into the other. The problem is that it got very dry. I tried adding in a few drops of the evaporated milk into it, but it didn’t really do what I wanted, so I had to add a little flour back in. It was quite a mess. Once the dough was finished resting, I divided it into 12 pieces. I shaped each piece into balls and placed them on a cookie sheet with enough room between them. Then I divided each topping part into six balls each, flattening each topping ball into a disk and wrapping it over the dough ball. After I pressed it down slightly, I took a knife and cut scallop-like or clamshell-like shapes into the top, which was way easier said than done. Or you could do spirals. It’s kind of up to you. I covered these and left these to rise for another 45 minutes. Setting my oven for 375ºF, I baked these for 20 minutes or until they were golden brown. Although they didn’t look as pretty as I imagined (since the topping part was so dry), they did taste good, though. I still don’t think I got my butter and sugar creamed well enough, and that may have been part of the problem. But otherwise, these were rather tasty.

Oh, I don't know. I think this may be the best. Clearly one of my new favorite things.

The next thing I made was a soup called posole (I’ve also seen it spelled pozole). I took all my poblano peppers and put them on a baking sheet and placed them in an oven and roasted them at 425ºF for about 20 minutes or so. (The skin should be starting to blister and char.) I saved eight peppers for the next recipe and used the biggest one for this recipe. Once I took them out, I wrapped them in plastic wrap to help them steam while they cool. After this, I took one pepper and discarded the skin and chopped up the rest of it (saving the others for later). After setting this to the side, I fried up my bacon and put it on a paper towel on a plate to drain.  Then I put my cubed pork (I used pork loin cutlets) in the same skillet I just fried my bacon in and browned my pork in the bacon grease. After it was browned, I removed the pork and sautéed my onion and garlic until my onion was soft and started turning brown. Then I added in my diced poblano chiles, some diced jalapeño peppers, oregano, cumin, chile powder, cloves, salt, and cilantro, letting it sauté for a minute. Then I transferred this to a larger pot and let it heat up a minute before I added in my chicken stock (I used two of the 32 oz boxes) along with some mild red enchilada sauce. After stirring, I added in my crumbled bacon and diced pork let it simmer for about 30 minutes before adding in two large cans of hominy. I continued to let this simmer for nearly an hour. This, my friends, was so completely awesome that I’m having trouble putting words together to describe it. If I had been served this as a kid, I wouldn’t have avoided hominy with such a fervent passion for so many decades. I love the flavor of the pork cooked in bacon grease – it added so much to it. I loved everything about this.

For some stupid reason, my photo of poblano chile rellenos won't load, so here's a photo from that looks very similar to how mine turned out, except I had salsa on top of mine.

And now for my other recipe: Poblano Chile Rellenos. Since I already roasted my peppers earlier and wrapped them, it’s now time to remove their skins. One suggestion was to run them under cold water and peel the skin off that way. Then I made a slit down one side of the pepper and removed all the seeds and any pepper guts. I chose to make my salsa at this time: I mixed together a large can of crushed tomatoes, some diced jalapeños, some minced garlic, a couple of scallions, a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, a little oregano, cilantro, and salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, I prepared the stuffing by mixing together the cheese with the spinach; then I put enough mixture into each pepper to fill it while still making sure the pepper can still close. Now it comes time to make the beer batter. I separated my eggs (egg whites went into a smaller separate bowl, while my egg yolks went into the batter bowl). In the bowl with the egg yolk, I also mixed in salt, flour, and beer (I used Dos Equis) and stirred this together. Then I went back and whisked the egg yolks until they had stiff peaks, pouring this into the beer batter mix. The point is to try to keep as many of the bubbles as possible. I heated up some oil in my skillet, and after dipping my pepper into the batter, I laid it seamside down in the skillet. It’s supposed to fry for about 3-4 minutes on each side before taking it out to drain on a paper towel. These are then served topped with the salsa I made earlier. The kids weren’t so wild about these, but I really liked them. I had only had chile rellenos one time before this, but it was stuffed with a beef mixture. So, this was pretty tasty, and a great vegetarian recipe if you’re needing one. 

And of course, I can't find a recipe from 2 years ago of my rice pudding, so this is from ChowHound. This looks like mine, except I used golden raisins because I don't really like raisins all that much, except goldens.

And finally, an afterthought I’m amazed I remembered to add. A couple years ago when my daughter was in 3rd grade, her class was assigned Mexico for the Multicultural Fest. And somehow out of a moment of weakness, I volunteered to bring rice pudding. I doubled my recipe, but it was difficult to make. I burnt the bottom of my rice just a tad, and it’s amazing how that burnt rice flavor permeated throughout the entire pot. I tried adding more vanilla extract, and even though I ended up using all I had, it still tasted burnt. So, I added in some almond extract, too. It was better but I could still taste burnt rice. Alas, I was running on deadline. I had to take it in. In the end, her teacher said she absolutely loved it! Maybe she likes burnt rice, I don’t know. Maybe she was ust being nice. Most likely.

My beautiful, wonderful meal. It was everything I imagined it would be.

If I were to describe this meal, the words excelente, delicioso, and maravilloso come to mind. These are definitely recipes to repeat and ones that can be amended as well. I’ve learned a lot about Mexico, what Mexicans have accomplished, and more about their culture than what I already know (my pre-knowledge was probably more than other countries). Our cultures have merged so much, and now Mexicans and other Latinos now make up the largest minority group in this country. Almost everything is translated into Spanish and English. And Spanish immersion programs like where my kids go to school are becoming more popular. We absolutely love it and are glad our kids have the opportunity to go to school in such as diverse environment. But it scares me that we have a presidential candidate who incites ill feelings toward our Mexican friends (among many other groups of people). It’s definitely not the way to go. We’re better than that. I sincerely hope things get better on that front. But for now, I’ll just sit here with some posole, my Dos Equis, rocking out to Deorro, and dream of visiting Mexico one of these days.

Up next: Micronesia

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