Friday, January 30

Salivation is Free

Salivation, salivation, salivation is free! If you haven't noticed, I can't help myself when it comes to plays on titles, songs, anything that has words I can change to be about food I guess. Also, if you don't understand that reference, shame, shame, and please go here to be informed.
I've been extremely busy at work this week. The end of the semester is nearing and besides the normal scramble, two of my classes' partial and final exams were pushed up several weeks. Yuck.
So I've been busy, rushed, tired, and apathetic in the kitchen (the few moments I've been in the kitchen). This doesn't mean, however, that I haven't found (or been presented with) a few delicious things to salivate over in my time at the office. I thought I would share a few things that gave me salivation this week, and maybe you will find some inspiration for the weekend or just work up a good appetite for your next meal.

A lovely (albeit brief) Bon Appetit article my friend sent me. All about Oaxaca! I'm so proud. It mentions a few lovely places and some delicious restaurants in Oaxaca.

Epicurious--perfect enough on its own, but I've especially been finding solace in Around the World in 80 Dishes. It spotlights "the globe's most iconic recipes." Very delicious. I'm anxiously awaiting for them to unveil the Mexico recipes.

This Food and Wine blog-post Never Mind the Butter, Here's the Sex Pistols, appealed to me, I'll admit, just because of the title. I mean, I love butter, way more than the next girl, but I really have no use for brand recommendations here in Mexico. I like the idea of Johnny Rotten in a butter commercial though.

I've also been dropping frequently in on, which is exactly what it sounds like. They post upcoming recipe contests and links to the sites. I love inventing recipes and imagining I'm going to win something delicious for it. I'm especially excited about a grapefruit contest. Mmm.

One final lovely for you, Chowhound. Restaurants, cooking, wine, and beer recommendations. Even the description "voracious devotion to hyperdeliciousness" excites me.

Enjoy! I'm off to nosh away a good chunk of Oaxaca's natural resources. Then tomorrow a three-day weekend at the beach should recuperate me enough to resume my own expounding. Happy Friday!

Monday, January 12

No Deja para Mañana. . . .

I eat a lot of stupendous Mexican food. Loads. I love it, I crave it, and I devour it like I'm going into hibernation and need to build up fat reserves for months ahead. If I haven't had tacos in a span of a couple days I start to get edgy. I ponder over how much it might cost me to buy a whole spit of al pastor. I trade info about what restaurants have the best enchiladas verdes with my coworkers like insider stock tips. Oh and cecina. Cecina is my abusive paramour that I am always yearning for and who sometimes treats me so bad (only internally).
This is just the tip of my fanatical love of the cuisine. But for all that insanity, I rarely ever make any Mexican food.
Every time I go out to eat, which is pretty frequently, I eat these amazing dishes (Usually, there have been a few sub-stellar moments in my dining experiences). "Every time" is not much of an exaggeration either. I have eaten pizza twice at the beach and three times in Miahuatlán (once was so horrible I can't even think about it without gagging. It was like Taco Bell and Totino's got together and came out with a St. Louis style Mexican pizza. I can personally advise these companies that it would not be a wise or successful venture and if they take that venture, you have been warned).
Beyond these scattered moments, I haven't eaten anything else that wasn't Mexican food. Since I frequently partake in these bountiful resources of Mexican food that surround me, when I make dinner I'll concoct something that bears as much resemblance to Italian and Asian food as possible.
It ends now. Not the eating out or the attempt to fill the void in my life which the lack of Italian,Indian, Thai, and Vietnamese restaurants has caused, but the fact that I'm not even attempting to make some traditional Mexican dishes. I'm seizing the day. I'm taking up the mantle of a favorite quote of mine: No deja para mañana lo que puedes comer hoy. Translation: Don't leave for tomorrow what you can eat today. I love it when buds of truth spring up on the cafeteria white board.
Well the new year is upon us and at last I have a functioning stove in my new apartment. The bag is packed for my journey into traditional Oaxacan cuisine. It may be wrought with peril, but neither I nor my subjects (the people I make eat my food) are weak of spirit or stomach. I decided to begin my expedition with a dish that I have done extensive research on (meaning: I've probably eaten it at least once a week since September). Chilaquiles.
Chilaquiles rojos, chilaquiles verdes, chilaquiles con pollo, chilaquiles con huevo.
All delicious and fantastic variations of fried tortillas in a sauce. The classic chilaquiles (rojos) sound, look, and essentially are, slightly soggy chips in a tomato sauce. I know that doesn't exactly sound appetizing, but they are fantastic. Some recipes I've seen layer and bake the chilaquiles like a lasagna. I have never had them this way (and do not have the oven-capacity to make them this way), but have always been served a generous portion of tortilla "chips" messily swimming in sauce, dolloped with crema and queso fresco crumbles. I say "chips", because chilaquiles are a breakfast dish traditionally meant to use up stale tortillas. Mexico's pan perdu. You slice them up, fry them, and top with sauce. I used some really nice tortilla chips to avoid my apartment smelling like a Moby Dick's (replace Moby Dick's with Long John Silver's if you haven't lived in Kentucky.)
I consulted a few recipes, but overall just followed my well-informed gut. So here you are
friends, my first real recipe for an authentic Mexican dish. I hope you enjoy. I must say, I'm still brimming with pride over the compliments I received on them.

serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
2 medium onions
1 lb of tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup of chicken stock
2 chiles de arbol, crushed*
1 canned chipotle pepper, chopped, or 1 tbsp of a chipotle sauce**
1 bag quality corn tortilla chips
crema or créme fraiche or sour cream
queso fresco***

Heat oil in skillet on low heat. Dice garlic and 1 1/2 of the onions, add to skillet. Sauté over low heat until onions are tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, chiles de arbol, and chipotle sauce. Stir and sauté 5 minutes. Transfer tomato mixture to a blender and puree until smooth and return to skillet. Cook over low heat until thoroughly warmed. Slice remaining onion into rings. Divide chips among plates, cover generously in sauce, top with onions, queso fresco, and crema. Enjoy. Don't wait until tomorrow!

Shredded chicken or a fried egg are often found atop chilaquiles. They are a delicious way to give some extra heft to the meal.

*don't discard seeds, unless you wish to cut back the spice
**the chipotle also adds more heat, but a nice smoky flavor too. If you want to cut back the spice, cut back the chiles de arbol and taste and add more if needed.
***queso fresco can be found at many large chain groceries and always at a Mexican grocery. If you can't find it, substitute some feta or goat cheese crumbles.

Tuesday, January 6

One Size Larger Satisfaction

I could use a little bit bigger pants these days. I'm still wearing my old ones around, but I don't have the roomy comfort that pre-Christmas Margee enjoyed in them. This fact, however, is not getting me down. Not in the least. It's like a lingering euphoria from my holiday vacation in Iowa. The extra effort taken in putting these pants on is like them saying, "Whoa. You had a fantastic vacation, huh? You ate all that? And you rarely changed out of your pajamas or went outside? You drank how many different kinds of wine and delectable American beers? Sounds sweet."
Oh pants, you don't even know how sweet it was.
I wanted to relay to you all the minutiae of every meal I planned, cooked, or partook, but as my pants can testify, the food was so much.
To carry over a small bit of my gluttonous and lazy holidays, I have an array of photos (this is the gluttonous part) and no running commentary or recipes (this is the lazy part). If you see something that particularly entices you, let me know, and I can supply you with the recipe. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the photos and your constricting trousers.

Belgian Night

Christmas Eve Hors d’oeuvres

Christmas Eve Dinner

Left-Over Prime Rib Eggs Benedict Breakfast
Mother and Sister's Birthday Dinner

I would also like to mention that Christmas day, Winter Hog Roast, New Year's Eve, and New Years were all sumptuous and beautiful celebrations as well. Unfortunately (well for you, for me it really wasn't the least bit unfortunate) I was too busy eating, cooking, college football watching (wooo Hawks!), or adoring my new nephew to take any photographs of those lovely spreads. Cheers to a delicious 2009 and all the things from 2008 that have made us fatter, happier, and livelier.