poblano

Hegui and I first tried tostones in Miami Beach. This was at least ten years ago! Too long. We’ve a friend in Florida who was dating this lovely Cuban man at the time. Aside from being marvelously good-natured and pleasant company, Luis also happened to be an incredible chef. He cooked for us our entire visit, and every dish was astounding. I was most amazed by his fried plantain appetizer, tostones. He served them with two toppings: one a thick green salsa with cilantro and avocado chunks; the second, some kind of tomato-based red sauce with shrimp. I was so enchanted with this dish on our visit, that I actually bought the little wooden implement to press the plantain pieces into shape for tostones.

tostones with shrimp, poblano pepper and heirloom tomato salsa

tostones with shrimp, poblano pepper and heirloom tomato salsa

Of course, this was the first time I ever used the device, more than a decade later. Better late than never, I guess.

I think that the plantains are supposed to be fairly green to get the crisp potato-like texture and flavor. Ours were relatively ripe. They turned a lovely golden color and became quite sweet, but didn’t crisp up at all. Not like I recall from Luis’ kitchen though very tasty nevertheless.

tostones with shrimp, poblano pepper and heirloom tomato salsa

two plantains
1 cup large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups chopped heirloom tomatoes
½ onion, finely chopped
½ poblano, ribs and seeds removed, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for frying
Lime wedges for garnish

my plantains

my plantains

Peel plantains and cut into about one inch long rounds. Fry on medium high heat until they begin to color, about five minutes. Remove to a plate covered in paper towels. Let cool then gently press into round disks.

first round of frying the plantains

first round of frying the plantains

plantains after the first frying

plantains after the first frying

Return to oil and fry on higher heat to crisp them. Remove from oil to plate covered with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.

pressing the plantains into the right shape for the second frying

pressing the plantains into the right shape for the second frying

To make sauce, add olive oil to a skillet on high heat. Once it starts to smoke, add onion and poblano. Sauté until onions become translucent. Add garlic. Sauté for about a minute more. Add shrimp and cook until they just turn pink. Add tomato, salt and black pepper to taste. Toss in cilantro and remove from heat. You just want the tomatoes to warm up, but not lose their shape.

To serve, place tostones on a large platter. Top with shrimp, poblano, tomato salsa. Garnish with lime wedges.

{ 8 comments }

I’ve slightly adapted this recipe from Savoring Mexico, a wonderful book in the Williams-Sonoma “Savoring” series. Readers of this blog might recognize that my recipes for tomatillo salsa, smoky ancho salsa and spicy chipotle salsa all derive from this marvelous guide.

chiles rellenos stuffed with spinach and cheese filling

I don’t make the stuffed poblanos or chiles rellenos often only because it’s a lot of work to peel and clean the peppers. Fortunately, Hegui was my sous chef this time, greatly simplifying my bother. I have seen the poblanos pre-cleaned and canned if you want to skip the step using the fresh ones. I haven’t yet tried it that way and sort of wonder if it would taste the same. Certainly the stem would be missing which would make the final dish look slightly less exciting.

I made this last minute so I didn’t have the time to get the proper Mexican cheeses: queso fresco and crema. Instead I got Monterey Jack and sour cream which worked pretty well. The original uses fresh spinach, pine nuts and less onion and garlic than I like. I’ve changed these here.

roasting poblanos for stuffing

If you’ve ever had chiles rellenos before, it was probably the deep fried type. These are baked, not fried, so they’re a bit more healthy.

I had more stuffing than pepper and my peppers sort of fell apart a little. All that means is that they didn’t photograph as cutely as I’d wished. The taste was superb!

some key ingredients for chiles rellenos with spinach and cheese filling

Chiles Rellenos Stuffed with Spinach and Cheese

6 fresh poblano peppers
Monterey Jack cheese, in pieces for stuffing
1 box frozen spinach, thawed and drained
¼ cup and 1 to 2 tsps. olive oil
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup raw pepitas
1 lb. roma tomatoes
½ onion
6 cloves garlic with peels on
Sour cream or crema to garnish
Kosher salt to taste

Clean and roast fresh poblanos over an open fire or with your oven broiler. Once the skin becomes bubbly and blackens, remove from heat to a paper bag. Allow to steam until cool enough to touch. Remove skin. With a paring knife, carefully slit each pepper open lengthwise being sure not to detach the stem. Remove ribs and seeds.

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

In a large skillet, add ¼ cup olive oil and heat till smoking. Add spinach, raisins, raw pepitas and salt to taste. Cook, stirring often, until dry.

cooking the filling

Fill each prepared pepper with a piece of Monterey Jack cheese and some of the spinach stuffing. Place tightly together on a baking dish. When all peppers are filled, cover with foil and bake for about 20 to 30 minutes until cheese melts.

Meanwhile, prepare tomato sauce by roasting whole tomatoes, unpeeled garlic and onion in a cast iron pan (I use a coated one) for a few minutes. Remove garlic peels and woody tomato parts. Place garlic, onion and tomatoes in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add salt as desired.

Heat remaining olive oil in a pan and “fry” tomato sauce on medium for a few minutes. Be careful for splashing.

frying the tomato sauce

To serve, place a ladle-full of tomato sauce on a large dish. Float a stuffed pepper over sauce and drizzle sour cream or crema over the dish as garnish.

I served this with warm corn tortillas and margaritas. Hegui made spring greens with cherry tomatoes and roasted red bell pepper dressing, which went perfectly. Cheers!

{ 2 comments }

spicy southwestern sweet corn

by Stevie on November 13, 2009

spicy southwestern sweet corn

spicy southwestern sweet corn

Hegui was in the mood for red Bordeaux last night. Too bad I had no idea what to make that would match. We had all the fixin’s for Tex-Mex, so we tried the Bordeaux while I was cooking and sipped tequila at the table.

I don’t really “love” corn but I do enjoy spicy food. The spiciness here distracts me from the “corniness” that I find so unappealing. I’ve seen this corn dish made dozens of different ways. Usually the variations have different kinds of fresh chiles, various spices and sometimes black beans are added directly to the corn instead of served as a side dish, like we ate it last night.

Spicy Southwestern Sweet Corn

1 package frozen sweet corn
2 shallots, minced
2 red jalapeños; stems, ribs and seeds removed; minced
1/8 tsp. dried pasilla powder (or chili powder)
1/8 tsp. cumin powder
Salt to taste
2 tbs. olive oil
1 small bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
12 green olives with pimentos, cut in halves

Boil corn per package directions until almost fully cooked then rinse with cold water to stop cooking. In a large pan, add olive oil, shallots and fresh chiles. Sauté for a minute or so until shallots become translucent. Add corn, pasilla powder, cumin and salt. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, until corn stops steaming and is a bit drier. Add cilantro and olives. Adjust salt. Serve.

Tex-Mex dinner with spicy southwestern corn

Tex-Mex dinner with spicy southwestern corn

We had this one with jasmine rice with toasted pumpkin seeds, homemade tomatillo salsa, black beans, pico de gallo and fresh avocado slices. The Bordeaux tasted great but wasn’t quite right here. The Patrón silver with lime slices was divine!

{ 0 comments }

homemade baechu kimchi

by Heguiberto on October 12, 2009

homemade baechu kimchi

homemade baechu kimchi

I have always been fascinated by kimchi. And I’ve been curious about making it at home but never got around doing it till last week. The reason I didn’t try it before is that I was afraid I was going to mess something up in the process of making it, thereby poisoning myself and the entire household. But then I read this inspiring book, Wild Fermentation, and decided that it was about time for me to overcome my phobia!

Some foods are preserved with salt or sugar, vinegar or dried by the Sun or with cold air. Well, fermentation is just another way of preservation. Think wine! It breaks down enzymes your body would not otherwise digest from certain foods(e.g soy beans); it lends additional layers of flavors and texture to foods; it adds nutritious elements to the food; and it helps you get through periods where fresh food might be scarce (well not so much nowadays as food keeps traveling across oceans).

I was surprised as to how easy it was to make kimchi. Now I’ve got a big jar of it in the fridge, waiting. Last Friday Steven made a beautiful sautéed tofu dish with my homemade kimchi. That was good.

Because it is Fall, I opted to make the traditional baechu kimchi. Baechu is the name for Napa Cabbage in Korean but the word is also related to the way this particular kimchi is made.

I am a bit sensitive to smells and kimchi has this pungent aroma that rings bells in my brain signaling me to ‘chuck this thing away immediately!’ It’s spoiled! I am sure everybody has issues with certain food smells here and there… think of anchovies, fish sauce, shrimp paste or preserved tofu, all stinky but extremely healthy. My sister-in-law hates the smell of alcohol so abstains from all wine, beer and spirits. Poor girl! I have to admit, that I struggle with the smell of certain wines. I could not conceive the idea of living without so many dishes that you can make with these amazing legacy ingredients left to us from our ancestors. Don’t be shy, give it a try!

Here’s my recipe adapted from the book:

Homemade Baechu Kimchi

1 medium Napa cabbage, rinsed and roughly chopped
2 carrots cut into fine strips
1 bunch of red radishes rinsed and sliced
6 tbsp of sea salt
1 large onion cut into chunks
8 cloves of garlic (or more)
1 (or more) red Poblano pepper, seeds removed
3 (or more) red Jalapeño peppers, seeds partially removed
5 tbsp fresh grated ginger

How to:
Fill two deep salad bowls with cold water. Add equal amounts of salt to them and mix till dissolved. Add Napa cabbage, carrots and radishes and cover with a plate to soak for 4-6 hours making sure veggies are submerged at all times. Drain vegetables (do not discard the brine). Taste. The Napa cabbage should already be slightly tender at this point. It should be salty but not too salty. If too salty rinse some with cold water.

fresh ingredients for kimchi

fresh ingredients for kimchi

Add peppers, garlic and grated ginger to food processor and pulse to form a smooth paste. Add onion and pulse till smooth. Transfer pepper paste to vegetables and mix well. Stuff veggies into a clean 2 liter glass jar. Press them down to add as much as possible. Veggies must be completely submerged at all times. If needed, add a bit of brine just to top off. Using a small zip lock bag, fill it with some brine and place it on top of the veggies as a weight.

Let jar stand at room temperature till ready for use. San Francisco is not that warm so it took about six days. If you live somewhere warm, taste it every day for doneness as it’s likely to be ready sooner. When it’s sufficiently ripened, move jar to the fridge for longer term storage.

Eat your kimchi as a side dish with your meals. Mine turned out fairly mild so I’ll add more pepper next time. I am super proud of my first kimchi! I will definitely experiment with different veggies and roots in the future.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

{ 0 comments }