lunes, 13 de mayo de 2019

Coconut Milk Mole

Labor intensive, allow yourself a day to make this sauce.

Makes about 1 liters worth of mole sauce


6 dried red chiles (guajillo or similar), seeded and rinsed

3 dried ancho chiles, seeded and rinsed

9 dried chile de arbol chiles, seeded and rinsed

2 cans coconut milk (400 ml each)

6 cloves garlic, minced

Yellow Onion, half of one, diced

Shelled pecans, 200 grams

Vegetable oil, or high heat oil, 150 ml

Ground cardamom, 1 tbsp

Ground oregano, 1/2 tbsp

Ground Smoked paprika, 1 tbsp

Ground cinnamon, 5 tbsp

Ground cloves, 2 tbsp

Unsweetened cocoa powder, 8 tbsp

Dark honey, 100 ml

Sea salt, 1/2 tbsp

In a large bowl, add all the dried chiles. Pour the coconut milk in the bowl in order to cover the chiles. Allow this to soak for half a day or overnight on the counter away from direct heat or sun. Once soaked, blend the mixture in a blender until everything is smooth and has no tiny clumps at all. Set this mixture aside but still leave in blender.

In a non-stick fry pan, toast the pecans on medium heat. Mix around frequently. Don't burn the pecans, just toast them nice enough to be able to smell the oils and give the nuts a bit of a crisp outer texture, takes about 10 minutes depending on heat and pan. Once toasted, set aside.

In a large saucepan, fry the garlic and onions in a little bit of oil. Once onions have become semi translucent, you're ready to add the spices. Add about 150 ml more oil to the pan and bring to medium heat. Add the cardamom, oregano, smoked paprika, cinnamon, cloves, and cocoa powder to the saucepan and continue to mix until the spices become a bit more cooked. It will look like a clumpy mess at first with all the cocoa powder, but continue to mix and add a bit more oil if needed to make it a bit smoother (remembering that the big chunks are the onion and garlic).

Once the spice mixture is fragrant, add the toasted pecans and continue to cook for about 2 minutes just to mix the pecans in and coat them well. Do not burn anything, and turn off the heat.

Add the spices and pecan mixture to the blender and blend. The mixture should still be quite thick, but feel free to add oil (not water) little by little if the mixture is not blending smoothly in the blender. Think of the consistency of a super thick smoothie that looks like it will almost stick to the cup if you flipped it over.

Once smooth in the blender, pour the mixture into a large saucepan and raise heat to medium. Add dark honey and sea salt and stir slowly but continuously. Once mixture has heated up, lower heat, and continue to stir slowly but without stopping and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Place this mixture from the saucepan into a large glass bowl, and allow to cool down on the counter away from direct sunlight. Once the mixture is cool, cover the large bowl, and place it in the fridge for at least overnight. On the next day, the mole is ready to use. You can also save the sauce in sealed glass jars for a few weeks, or freeze whatever you have left to be preserved for a long time. The mole will only taste better with time, so each day becomes more and more delicious.

You can use this sauce to cook sweet potatoes or yams (my favorite way to use it). In a large pot, cook about 2 large yams in a tiny bit of water until they are soft but not cooked all the way through. Add about 400 ml (1 and 1/2 cups about) of the mole sauce to the pot and add a bit more water as needed. You want the mole to be really thick and creamy, not watery at all, but play around with ratios that suit your taste. Stir the yams and mole to mix everything. Cover and cook on low heat for about half an hour, stirring occasionally. The lower the heat and the longer the cook time, the more time the mole has to mesh with whatever it is cooking, and the flavor tastes way better.


martes, 7 de mayo de 2019

Chile colorado

*Not vegetarian version*

Makes 7-10 small servings


6 dried large red chiles (guajillo or similar), seeded and rinsed

9 dried chile de arbol, seeded and rinsed

Roast meat, 1.5 kg

Garlic, 6 cloves minced

Yellow onion, 1 whole, diced

Oil, veggie or high heat oil

Ancho chile powder, 2 tsp

Cayenne pepper powder, 2 tsp

Smoked paprika, 1 tbsp

Black pepper, 1/2 tbsp

Red wine, good quality Cabernet Sauvignon, 200 ml (about 1 cup)

Chayote squash, 3 of them cut up in big chunks

Whole wheat flour, 3 tbsp

Sea salt, 1/2 tbsp

Dried tarragon, 1 tbsp

Place the rinse and seeded dried chiles in a bowl. Add about 400 ml (about 1 and 1/2 cup) water or broth, and allow the chiles to soak in the water for at least 3 hours. Once soaked, blend the chiles and left over water in a blender on high until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. Feel free to add very small amounts of water a bit at a time during blending if the mixture looks too thick. You don't want it to be watery though, so just a bit at a time should work. Set this mixture aside.

In a large soup pot, heat about 5 tbsp oil. Once oil is hot, add garlic and onions. Continue to cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until onions are slightly translucent.

Lower heat to medium, and add ancho chile powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and black pepper. Continue to stir frequently until all the spices and onion mixture become fragrant, about 5 minutes depending on heat. You can choose to add this onion mixture to the blender and blend with the red chile sauce as well, but I didn't in this version. Up to you.

In a large saucepan, brown meat on the outside until you can cut it up in chunks. Once cut up into chunks, brown the meat some more in saucepan, and then add red wine. Let meat cook in wine until some of the wine has evaporated, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add contents of saucepan to larger soup pot with onion mixture.

In same saucepan you cooked meat, cook the chayote for a while on medium heat. No need to add more oil, but be sure to stir it occasionally. Chayote will release lots of moisture, so it shouldn't stick to the pan. If it does, turn down the heat a bit. Once the chayote is a bit softer, add the chayote to the larger soup pot. It doesn't have to be cooked all the way before adding it to soup pot.

In the same saucepan, add about 50 ml (1/4 cup about) and heat oil. The oil should be hot, but not burning. Sprinkle the wheat flour into this hot oil and let it cook for a bit, sort of like making a roux for curry. Once it is cooked after about 5 minutes, but not burnt, slowly add in the red chile mixture from the blender.

Cook the red chile mixture for about 10 minutes in the saucepan. Then transfer everything in the sauce pan with the chayote into the larger soup pan. Add the sea salt and dry tarragon, and allow everything to cook on a lower heat for about half an hour or so.

Serve hot and enjoy with tortillas, or rice, or a bowl of beans, or whatever you want. Enjoy!

sábado, 24 de noviembre de 2018

Green Vegan Pozole

I went grocery shopping early to buy stuff to make pancakes, and then I saw some green chiles and suddenly craved pozole. I've been watching a lot of cooking shows, and I've been thinking a lot about fusing techniques and ingredients, so I thought about making a sort of pozole that incorporates a few things from my life experiences. For one, I always like to make vegan pozoles, I wanted to use tofu like I used to in Japan and incorporate vinegar somehow, I wanted to involve curry somehow, and I of course was craving some fresh green poblanos. It may not look like your traditional "pozole" because of its thickness, but it is equally as delicious. Please note that this recipe is just suggestive, and I've tried my best to record the times in minutes, but that will inevitably vary depending on what kind of heat source you have. Like most of my recipes, you'll notice that time and sequential order of things is super important. I can't stress this enough. It's taken me years to figure out when the right time to add an ingredient is based on smell, but I know what I like, and have a keen sense of smell (and taste, like the time I told my roommate all the ingredients that were in a homemade salsa just by tasting a bit of it, and she was shocked I was spot on). If you don't pay attention to your smell and develop that keen sense (along with taste and sight), then your food will always lack that extra "something" you can't figure out. For me it's been the difference between having a good meal at someone's place just because, and having a meal that creates fond memories for the rest of your life. I'm all about creating memories with smells and food, just ask those I've fed ha ha. Anyway, I jotted down this quick recipe, and as you might be able to tell, I used ingredients I had laying around. Feel free to use whatever you want, it's more the idea of being adventurous and being successful in your flavors that counts. Cooking for me is a journey, a meditation, and a form of self expression in a lot of ways, and I hope you find what cooking means to you as well.

Makes 10-15 servings


Olive oil

1 or 2 large shallots, diced

3 ripe vine tomatoes, chopped into chunks

10 serrano chile peppers, diced (leave seeds in for spice)

2 large poblano peppers, chopped into chunks (seeds removed)

3 to 4 cups vegetable broth (low sodium)

1 tablespoon each: ground cumin, smoked paprika, turmeric, cinnamon

2, 4 oz. small cans diced green chiles (hot), not drained

2, 25 oz. cans hominy, drained

1/2 cup GOOD dark red wine (like cabernet sauvignon)

1 block firm tofu, diced

Dried tarragon leaves, 1 tablespoon

Dried parsley, 1 tablespoon

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 and 1/2 tablespoon sea salt

In a large soup pot, fry the diced shallots in olive oil (3 tablespoons or so) until they are nice and fragrant and semi-translucent.

Then add the cut up tomatoes, diced serrano peppers, and chopped poblano peppers to the pot.

Continue to fry everything for a few minutes until the chiles start to sweat out a bit, but before they become fully cooked and change color.

Add enough vegetable broth to barely cover everything in the pot, about 3 to 4 cups. Bring to a low boil, and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Turn off heat, and allow pot to rest for about an hour. Go ahead and watch 2 or 3 episodes of the Golden Girls while waiting.

After the hour, put all the contents in a blender and blend until everything is liquified. You don't want any chunks (or maybe you do). Let sit in blender or separate container.

In the same big pot, add about 4 to 5 tablespoons of olive oil, and allow it to get hot (but NOT burnt) on low-medium heat. Working very rapidly, add all of the ground spices, and stir with a wooden spoon constantly. Once the spices smell like they've blended and are nicely meshed (anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes depending on heat), then add the diced canned green chiles. Continue to mix with a wooden spoon and cook the mixture. Allow for the chiles to cook in the spices for a good few minutes, and you'll notice the smell will begin to change.

Then add the hominy and continue to mix. You might want to turn up the heat, but be careful not to burn the spices. You want to get a good cook going on, like if you're trying to cook the hominy, but not exactly. Continue to stir with the wooden spoon frequently so nothing burns.

Once everything in the pot seems really hot and cooked a bit, then add the dark red wine. Again, allow this to cook on low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes. It's good to go once the bitter red wine smell goes away (I do love the bitter smell though).

Add the contents of the blender to the pot now, and mix with the wooden spoon. Add the diced tofu and the dried parsley and tarragon. Mix softly with a wooden spoon, and allow everything to come to a boil on very low heat.

Simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes, then add the balsamic vinegar. This will give it a bit of acidic taste to balance out the spice from the chiles. Mix gently.

Add the salt, and continue to cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, and until the hominy has become softer (not mush, just softer).

Turn off heat, and let pot sit for about an hour. When ready to serve, reheat in pot, and serve.

These types of soups tend to be better the next day, so you might want to make this batch, cool it off, then refrigerate it until the next day or day after. I always like to taste a bit when it's first made, then save the rest for the following days. Just eat it within a week, as the tofu will not taste the same anymore, and it may begin to taste weird after a week, and change the flavor of the soup.


domingo, 21 de octubre de 2018

Green Reflections

I wrote this post about 3 years ago, but never posted it. It feels timely now. Although I'm not vegetarian anymore as I dabble here and there, I still find this post holds pretty true for me.

No recipe this post, more like a reflection and some thoughts on my food choices.

It's sometimes hard to believe that growing up, I was the chubby kid. I was usually always the tallest in my class, but I also had a good share of spare tire. I've always had a pretty good appetite, and if it was good, I tended to eat it, sometimes I had to be coaxed by a persistent grandmother though. Once I started stretching out, my waist disappeared, my cheeks lost their fluff and I went from being chubby and plump to a very tall skinny guy. What I've learned over the years about food is that just like anything in life, it can be a very personal experience and should be about self discovery.

I think there's a lot of truth in the saying "you are what you eat," especially if you help cultivate and nourish what you will consume. Since your body is the only one you have, it makes a ton of sense to me to invest much time and effort in learning about all the many things that you could potentially consume. Growing your own food really makes you rethink your food (and by extension your life) choices and I believe brings about a more beneficial outcome.

I was always exposed to plants as food growing up. Coming from a rich Mexican tradition and having a family who used plants for all sorts of things, I've never really been too distant from my connections to nature. But because I was born into the modern world, and especially because I was born in the U.S. at the time, I was taught by many people outside of my grandmother's house that herbs were witchery, were not effective, and that you could never really "know" nature and what you are in a deeper sense. I'm glad I never truly bought in to all of this, and it's likely that because of my interest in plants and nature, the knowledge from my ancestors will be passed down in its own way.

When I first started getting serious about plants, I very much took the approach that modern science tells you to take. I read books upon books and lists of uses for all sorts of plants and their potential uses for all sorts of ailments. The information was overwhelming, and I often wondered why we had decided to classify everything to death and why things always had to be specific and were very rarely integrated with other disciplines. I was a product of my time, and it would take years of discovering myself and staying true to my convictions to realize something profound about nature: nature does not follow human rules because we tell it to, nature will have its way with us, and you choose to enjoy it or not. That sounds a bit more deterministic and fatalist than it actually is, but the truth of the matter is that when it comes to nature, there is no us and them, and so things like free will can and do exist while at the same time you are an organism influenced greatly by the ebbs and flows around you.

I thought, silly me, when I first started growing plants that I would somehow have to read so much, follow others advice, and be some sort of plant specialist in order to "get it right." I was still stuck in the frame of mind that experts and specialists will always know more than you. I still hadn't learned how to use all that information, but to also learn how to trust your gut and your own experiences, the most important thing.

I started growing plants because I was confused with my life and felt like something was missing. Initially, I thought I would have to learn so much, and read so much material in order to be good at growing plants. What I hadn't expected, but had sort of felt all along, was that the plants would be the ones teaching me. Then after gaining trust, we would begin to nourish each other.

It is very difficult for me now to conceptualize the thoughts I used to have about plants. Things like all leaves looking similar, plants are not all that extraordinary nor are they as smart as us, and plants are not that essential to our well being. I can't imagine now that I used to at least agree with these ideas to some extent, especially since now I very much feel like a plant.

When I finally made the decision to be vegetarian "for real" this time, it was based on a strong desire to not kill animals. Now however, I feel staying vegetarian and learning so much about the plants I put in my body every day has helped me realize that life and death are not ends of a spectrum, but part of an endless cycle of being. After all, plants must "die" in order to feed me. But as I watched my watermelon grow day by day, as I saw mint burst out of a huge pot I had though it had died in, and as I planted my first chile plant here, I began to think differently about plants. Those tiny seedlings would become these bigger organisms that would help feed me, and I would help nourish them. I would take their fruit, and in exchange I would provide water and access to sunlight for these beings I cared for.

This is the first year I have started growing edible plants from seeds I saved and been successful. Most of them are chile peppers, but I also sprouted 2 pumpkin plants from seeds I had saved. The rest of the many plants I care for were already saplings I bought at the local farmer's coop. Tomorrow I'm supposed to receive a cucumber plant from one of my schools too, and I'm going to give them a red pepper plant.

As I reflect on my love for plants over the years and who I have become, I can't help but think that this whole time the plants have been watching me. That it is not I who have exactly cultivated them, but they are the ones who have cultivated me. It makes sense, them knowing this about me. After all, I love to grow plants, and cultivating someone like me would be evolutionary beneficial for the spread of seed and plant production. In return, I get a world of beautiful dreams and colors, delicious fruits and vegetables, and clean air. After all, the plants know that if they help keep me healthy, I help them produce, and everyone benefits from that relationship. I'm not sure what my next step in life may be, but I've learned how to trust and believe in nature. The plants always provide, and it's the simple things in life that tend to be the most complexly beautiful. I find plants to be one of the most beautiful things I know.

sábado, 20 de octubre de 2018

Leek Mushroom Broth with Brown Rice

I made a potato leek soup the other day, and I still had the green upper stalk parts of the leeks in my fridge. I didn't want to throw them away, but I couldn't think of what to do with them. Ive been watching my fair share of cooking documentaries lately, and I felt like it was time to cook something warm and savory. A pre winter kind of meal. So I thought I'd use the leeks to make a broth, and since I had mushrooms, I'd use those too.

One of my aunts would always make button mushrooms in red wine that I loved during cold winter holidays. The recipe is simple, butter, wine, mushrooms, time. I always loved these, and since then I have made many a variation. I decided I wanted some sort of broth I could also pour over rice, so I concocted the recipe below.

It was hearty and delicious, just what I wanted. It served as a reflection of my own experiences, the rice making me remember all my cooking escapades on Tsushima, the mushrooms making me think of happier holidays with my aunt, the avocado to add some richness and umph because why not, and the overall mushroom soup and saltiness to remind me of those heavenly shiitake broths I used to make on Tsushima. I didn't have soy sauce handy in my fridge, and oh how I would have loved to have some local Tsush soy sauce, but the amino acids seemed to work well too.

Trust your palette, and adjust spices and flavors as needed. As always though, there is no substitute for time. That's probably why I make such dishes on weekends as I'm doing chores, which allows for all day cooking in spurts as I go about my day. Allowing a broth to marinate in itself over time is always worth it.

Makes 2-3 Servings

16 ounces of meatier mushrooms (I used baby bellos), rinsed thoroughly
2 leek stalks (green parts, washed thoroughly)
4 cups low or no sodium vegetable stock
1/2 stick butter
Dried tarragon, 3 tbsp.
1 cup red wine (good quality)
Ground black pepper, 2 tbsp, and more for garnish
Amino acids, or soy sauce, 5 to 7 tablespoons.
Brown rice, 1 cup, soaked for a few hours in mushroom stock
Avocado, for garnish

In a large pot, bring the leek stalks and the vegetable stock to a low boil. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes to 45 minutes on very low heat. Remove leek stalks completely.

Add butter, mushrooms, tarragon, black pepper, and red wine to pot with stock. Cook on lowest possible heat for about one hour.

Allow mushrooms and broth to cool for about 30 minutes.

Empty soaking water from brown rice, and ladle or pour enough of the broth from the large pot into a small pot with the brown rice. Don't put any of the mushrooms in, just the broth. Don't pour all the broth from the mushrooms pot into the rice, just enough for it to cook the rice over time.

Once you've ladled enough of the broth to cook the rice, add the amino acids or soy sauce into the large pot with the mushrooms (not the rice pot). Gently mix everything around, and let sit. This is done instead of adding salt to the mushroom broth initially, and so as not to add the saltiness to the rice.

Allow rice to further soak in the broth you poured for about 45 minutes to an hour. Once soaked, cook rice on low heat for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until rice is soft.

Once rice has cooked, slowly reheat the mushrooms in the same pot with the broth that was left over. Scoop out the rice into a shallow soup dish, and scoop out slices of avocado and place around rice. Scoop out the mushrooms and place on top of the rice. Then slowly pour the broth into the dish, just enough to cover a bit of the rice, but not too much as to make the whole dish like a soup. Just pour enough broth to get things a bit wet, since the broth is really rich, a lot of it won't taste too good if you eat too much of it all at once.

Grate some more black pepper on top of the mushrooms, and serve hot.


Reserve any left over broth for use in some sort of delicious way later.

viernes, 13 de marzo de 2015

Vegan Menudo, Second Batch

After making a few batches, I finally made one I really enjoyed and decided to write the "recipe" down so I'd remember what the hell I put in it. Menudo has long been one of my favorite dishes since I was a child, even though I always picked out all the meat and just ate the hominy if they'd let me. Technically, menudo is the type of meat that's used in the dish, so the naming of this dish as menudo is "wrong" but oh well, it's still as delicious. This is one of my go to comfort foods, and holds such a cultural significance as well as strong memories for me. The toppings I included in this recipe are the toppings my family uses when eating this, but feel free to eat it with whatever you damn well please. Also, not all canned hominy is the same, so try a few different brands to get your own likes and flavors a chance to shine. All veggie bouillon cubes are not the same either fyi, so same thing applies. Did I mention that this menudo is vegan? It'd fool my family for sure, and I'm sure they'd eat this stuff up just as easy. Feel free to change the ratios to make smaller batches, as I recommend you refrigerate the entire batch for at least a day before serving so the flavors can soak into the hominy better. It'll make a huge difference in flavor I promise. This batch had a spicy level that my family would enjoy, i.e. for most other people who aren't as used to spicy food, it might have a good kick. You can play around with the amounts of dried chiles used if you think it might be too spicy for you. Specifically, the chile de arbol and guajillo are the kickers. I don't recommend changing the amount of chile rojo though, as this might make the soup really watery. If you don't have ancho chile, you can add about 3 more rajas of chile rojo. Happy cooking!

Makes 15 servings

1/2 onion, chopped into chunks
6 cloves garlic, chopped into chunks
Coriander seed, 1/2 tablespoon
Olive oil, 5 to 7 tablespoons
Dried Chile Rojo, 7 to 10 rajas (i.e. pieces)
Chile ancho, 1
Chile de arbol, 7 to 10 rajas
Chile guajillo (or similar), 4 small rajas
Vegan no salt added bouillon cubes, 4 pieces, I like using Rapunzel brand
Rock salt, 2 to 3 tablespoons
Hominy, 1 big ass can (a bit more than 100 ounces worth), I prefer Juanita's brand

For topping:

Finely chopped onion
Finely chopped cilantro or parsley
Red chile pepper powder
Squeeze of lime or lemon juice
Dried oregano

In a large large pot, put the onion, garlic, coriander seed, and olive oil. Turn the heat to medium and cook, mixing constantly, until onions are a bit soft. Turn off heat.

Rinse off all the dried chiles and add them to the pot. Add enough water to slightly cover everything, and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, and let everything sit still for about 10 to 20 minutes while it cools off a bit.

Put all the contents of the pot into a blender. Allow the mixture to blend for a good while, about 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile, break up the bouillon cubes into the big pot. Open the hominy can and place the hominy in the pot. Pour the blender contents over this and mix well. Add enough water to cover everything well, but don't make it too watery. Add the rock salt, mix well. Turn up the heat to medium.

Once the mixture has come to a good rolling boil, boil for another 10 minutes on medium, then lower heat to low. Boil on low for 1 and a half hours or until the hominy is a bit softer. Then turn off the heat and let everything cool off. Although, you should serve yourself a fresh bowl of course before it gets cold, you know, to taste your creation.

If your kitchen is not ice cold in the winter like mine is, you'll have to pour the contents of the pot into a large ass glass jar. Put in the refrigerator and let the flavors soak into and soften the hominy for a day. Then when ready to serve the next day, heat up the batch and get to eating. This is a soup that tastes way better when it's had time to soak. Serve with toasted buttered french bread. This shit is SO good!

martes, 9 de diciembre de 2014

Open Faced Sandwich

No real recipe, just a list of what I stuck on this delicious sandwich

On butter toasted sliced French bread, stack the following:

Sliced pickled chile peppers, grilled tofu, a few splashes balsamic vinegar, avocado, and shiitake mushrooms sauteed with olive oil, soy sauce, rosemary, and fresh garlic. Nothing to it :)